Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday January 31 Ag News

Two More Dow AgroSciences Seed Facilities Accredited Through USDA Program

Two additional seed production sites for Dow AgroSciences Refuge Advanced® powered by SmartStax® have been certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Accredited Seed Conditioning Program (ASCP). The two sites, at Marshalltown, Iowa and York, Neb., achieved certification after a rigorous USDA auditing process.

In April 2011, Dow AgroSciences achieved the nation’s first ASCP certification for its REFUGE ADVANCED powered by SmartStax production facility at Grand Ridge, Ill.

“Having ASCP certification at three production sites allows us to provide customers with a premium refuge-in-the-bag product. The process gives us great confidence that REFUGE ADVANCED products meet or exceed regulatory and seed industry standards,” says Michael Joseph, lead quality manager for Seed Production at Dow AgroSciences.

To qualify for this program, Dow AgroSciences has complied with stringent USDA criteria for REFUGE ADVANCED seed blending as well as meeting the USDA’s Process Verified Program standards. Requirements include conducting trait purity checks on component seed lots, as well as maintaining standard operating procedures for the seed-blending process, including traceability, conditioning flow and product carryover procedures. The company must calibrate blending and weighing equipment and maintain records for seed blend products, making records available for USDA review. The USDA performed an audit to determine compliance with these requirements.

REFUGE ADVANCED contains a blend of 95 percent high-yielding SmartStax seeds and 5 percent high-quality non-insect-traited refuge seeds. It is a single-bag solution with no separate refuge required in the Corn Belt.1 While developing REFUGE ADVANCED® powered by SmartStax, Dow AgroSciences consulted with growers on the key attributes they were looking for in a refuge-in-the-bag product.

“This additional certification reinforces our commitment to quality, blending accuracy and uniform distribution of the refuge seed in each and every unit sold,” says Cole Hansen, Dow AgroSciences traits marketing manager. “The process required for this accreditation helps ensure we are meeting our customers’ expectations.”

Iowa Governor Pledges Statewide Committment to Child Health and Wellness through Fuel Up to Play 60 

Today, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad pledged his commitment to child health and wellness through Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school health and wellness program that encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The Governor joined Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds; Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey; Director of Department of Public Health, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks; Director of Department of Education, Dr. Jason Glass; the program advisor and student body from Capitol View Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa; former Kansas City Chiefs player, Eddie Kennison; Iowa dairy farmers; and members of Midwest Dairy Council to sign the symbolic pledge.

At a celebratory school assembly at Capitol View Elementary School, the Governor praised the commitment to wellness from Iowa students and pledged his support for Fuel Up to Play 60, indicating the program is a positive next step toward helping Iowa students achieve pathways to better nutrition and fitness for life. “Fuel Up to Play 60 will play a key role in helping achieve our goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation,” Governor Branstad said. “The program sets our schoolchildren up for success by providing healthy food choices and encouraging exercise or play for at least 60 minutes every day.”

Lieutenant Governor Reynolds spoke about impact the program will have on future generations. “The children in our state are the future of Iowa. I’m thankful that Fuel Up to Play 60 teaches healthy habits that will help improve the quality of their lives in years to come.”

Launched by National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, Fuel Up to Play 60 has activated more than eight million students in 70,000 schools nationwide, including more than 436,000 students in Iowa, to be healthy, get active and make a difference. Today, more than 1,100 schools across Iowa are designated Fuel Up to Play 60 schools.

“As dairy farmers, we have always cared about legacy and the importance of passing on a better future to the next generation,” said dairy farmer Jason Brockhaus, from Ocheyedan, Iowa. “To date, the dairy community has awarded more than $129,000 in funding to Iowa schools to help jumpstart and champion school wellness efforts.”

Any school in Iowa can enroll in the free program, thus becoming eligible to apply for funds to help increase awareness of and access to nutrient-rich foods and physical activity opportunities for students. As part of Fuel Up to Play 60, schools can receive a free Quick Start Resources kit with planning tools and in-school collateral materials to help them implement healthy eating and physical fitness plans. The program, now in its second year, also encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The ultimate goal is to ensure changes made at school are sustainable and to provide children with more opportunities to be physically active and choose nutrient-rich foods.

“As a physical education teacher, I am excited and proud to have the opportunity for Capitol View Elementary to get involved with Fuel Up to Play 60. We already have been taking physical activity opportunities outside of the walls of the gym. Our teachers and students engage in daily brain breaks, which get our kids up dancing, moving, and re-focuses them for learning. Fuel Up to Play 60 is going to provide additional skills and opportunities for our student to lead healthy lives, including the importance of fueling their bodies with proper nutrition. I would like to thank Governor Branstad for recognizing the huge need for physical education and to guide our students on the path to healthier lifestyles by endorsing Fuel Up to Play 60,” says Monica Sherman, physical education teacher and Fuel Up to Play 60 program advisor at Capitol View Elementary.

To learn more about Fuel Up to Play 60, visit FuelUpToPlay60.com or MidwestDairy.com.

Iowa Stray Voltage Bill Would Restrict Farmer Claims

The Iowa Legislature concluded its third week, and legislators are handling several bills since many of those introduced in 2011 are still viable, said Iowa Cattlemen's Association Lobbyist Kellie Paschke. Nonetheless, legislative leaders have indicated that they intend to adhere to session timelines, including adjournment by or before April 17.

Last week, legislation was introduced that would significantly restrict the ability of dairy farmers to bring stray voltage claims against Iowa utilities. HSB 558 was proposed by the Rural Electric Cooperatives (RECs) and is supported by Alliant Energy and other utilities. The bill has been assigned to the House Commerce Committee, and subcommittee members include Rep. Stew Iverson, Clarion (chair), Rep. Lance Horbach, Tama, and Rep. Brian Quirk, New Hampton.

HSB 558 would require stray voltage claims by dairy farmers to be brought to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), which is given exclusive jurisdiction to handle such claims. Currently, such claims are brought in district court, with no involvement by the IUB.

The bill would make IUB's determination binding if it finds in favor of the utility. However, there is no such binding authority if the IUB sides with the farmer. Additionally, the IUB does not have jurisdiction to handle or order any damages.

Essentially, the farmer must start the process all over again at the court level. The bill provides no measure of damages for costs and legal fees. Any claims for damages must be pursued as a negligence claim, and landowners are prohibited from pursuing nuisance claims against the utility.

Subcommittee meetings on HSB 558 are scheduled to be held next week. While utilities support the legislation, many groups are registered against the bill including: Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Dairy Foods Association, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and Iowa Farmer's Union.

New online tool: Farmer Legal and Regulatory Guide

The Iowa Soybean Association’s Environmental Programs and Services (ISA EPS) team announces a new, free online tool for farmers wanting to know what rules and regulations impact their operation.

Organized in a question and answer format, the “Iowa Farmer’s Legal and Regulatory Guide to Environmental Issues” is intended to help farmers navigate issues to figure out what are their rights and responsibilities and where to find more information. Topics include: air quality, animal production, fertilizers, fuel storage, leasing, manure management, pesticide use, soil conservation programs, water quality and more. It also includes information about incentive programs provided in the law that farmers can benefit from.

The website can be found at www.iasoybeans.com/environment/legal/

Funded by the soybean checkoff and Congressional allocations through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the guide was compiled by the Drake Agricultural Law Center, under direction of Neil Hamilton, a leading authority on ag law. It fills a gap by making information available and understandable to nonlawyers, and pointing them in the direction of more information.

Hamilton cautions that the guide does not replace one’s own attorney. “We don’t know the facts of a particular situation, but the information we provide can probably tell enough for a farmer to know if they have an issue and need to contact an attorney.”

The website can be especially helpful for farmers involved in ISA’s CEMSA (Certified Environmental Management Systems for Agriculture).  ISA Technical Assistance Manager Martha Zwonitzer and other trained CEMSA staff currently work with more than 250 participants to develop custom-fit management plans to measure soil, nutrient, pest and energy management, and improve farmers’ efficiency and profitability. One section of completing the CEMSA process requires farmers to address the legal and regulatory issues they face and show they are staying abreast of environmental issues. This website can help them do that.

Whether a farmer is involved in CEMSA or not, the website offers a wealth of useful, easy-to-use information. 

January Farm Prices Received Index Increased 7 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in January, at 186 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 7 points (3.9 percent) from December. The Crop Index is up 10 points (5.1 percent) but the Livestock Index decreased 1 point (0.6 percent). Producers received higher prices for cattle, broilers, soybeans, and corn and lower prices for eggs, milk, wheat, and lettuce. 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 corn, soybeans, cattle, and rice offset decreased marketings of milk, broilers, cotton, and cottonseed.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 20 points (12 percent) from January 2011. The Food Commodities Index, at 171, increased 2 points (1.2 percent) from last month and 12 points (7.5 percent) from January 2011.

Prices Paid Index Up 2 Points
The January Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 207 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is up 2 points (1.0 percent) from December and 12 points (6.2 percent) above January 2011. Higher prices in January for feeder cattle, interest expenses, taxes, and land rent offset lower prices for complete feeds, LP gas, concentrates, and diesel.

Prices Received by Farmers

All crops: The January index, at 208, increased 5.1 percent from December and 10 percent above January 2011. Index increases for feed grains & hay and potatoes & dry beans more than offset index decreases for commercial vegetables, food grains, fruits & nuts, and oilseeds.

Food grains: The January index, at 225, declined 4.3 percent from the previous month but is 2.3 percent above a year ago. The January all wheat price, at $6.86 per bushel, is down 33 cents from December but 17 cents above January 2011.

Feed grains & hay: The January index, at 255, is up 0.8 percent from last month and 22 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $5.90 per bushel, is up 4 cents from last month and 96 cents above January 2011. The all hay price, at $172 per ton, decreased $5 from December but is $60.00 higher than last January. Sorghum grain, at $10.40 per cwt, is 10 cents less than December but 91 cents above January last year.

Cotton, Upland: The January index, at 144, is down 1.4 percent from December but 6.7 percent above last year. The January price, at 87.4 cents per pound, declined 1.1 cents from the previous month but is 5.3 cents above last January.

Oilseeds: The January index, at 211, is down 0.5 percent from December but is 1.9 percent higher than January 2011. The soybean price, at $11.70 per bushel, increased 20 cents from December and is 10 cents higher than January 2011.

Livestock and products: The January index, at 156, declined 0.6 percent from last month but is 14 percent higher than January 2011. Compared with a year ago, prices for cattle, milk, broilers, hogs, calves, turkeys, and eggs increased.

Meat animals: The January index, at 161, is up 3.2 percent from last month and 15 percent higher than last year. The January hog price, at $62.40 per cwt, is $1.10 lower than December but increased $6.60 from a year ago. The January beef cattle price of $124 per cwt is up $4.00 from last month and $17.00 from January 2011.

Dairy products: The January index, at 147, is down 3.3 percent from a month ago but 15 percent higher than January last year. The January all milk price of $19.20 per cwt is down 60 cents from last month but is $2.50 higher than January 2011.

Poultry & eggs: The January index, at 152, declined 6.2 percent from December but is 7.8 percent higher than a year ago. The January market egg price, at 66.7 cents per dozen, is 43.3 cents less than December but 0.7 cents higher than January 2011. The January broiler price, at 49.0 cents per pound, is up 2.0 cents from December and 4.0 cents above a year ago. The January turkey price, at 66.0 cents per pound, is down 5.4 cents from the previous month but is up 9.6 cents from a year earlier.

Fertilizer Prices Stagnate

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of January 2012 continue to show prices sitting fairly steady. For the second straight week, no major fertilizer decreased or increased at any significant level in terms of price.  Seven of the eight major fertilizers were lower compared to the fourth week of December, however, these drops were fairly slight. DAP had an average price of $666/ton, MAP $716/ton, urea $555/ton, 10-34-0 $824/ton, anhydrous $797/ton, UAN28 $389/ton and UAN32 $435/ton.  The remaining fertilizer, potash, was slightly higher compared to last month. Potash had an average price of $660/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.60/lb.N, anhydrous $0.49/lb.N, UAN28 $0.70/lb.N and UAN32 $0.68/lb.N.

In DTN's survey, four of the eight major fertilizers are continuing to show double-digit increases in price compared to one year earlier. Leading the way higher is 10-34-0. The starter fertilizer skyrocketed in price last year but has fallen back some in recent months. It is now 29% higher compared to the fourth week of January 2011.  Potash has jumped 15%, urea 13% and UAN28 10% in the same time period.

Three fertilizers have seen just slight price increases compared to a year earlier. Anhydrous has climbed 8%, UAN32 7% and MAP 2% compared to last year.  The remaining fertilizer, DAP, is now actually lower compared to one year ago. The phosphorus fertilizer is now 1% lower.

AFBF, Plaintiffs File for Judgment in Chesapeake Bay Case

The Environmental Protection Agency's Total Maximum Daily Load regulation for the Chesapeake Bay watershed establishes new controls on land use that trespass into territory Congress legally reserved for state governments, according to the opening brief for summary judgment, filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation in the case, 'AFBF vs. EPA.' The TMDL will impact all economic activity in the watershed with potentially devastating impacts for agriculture within the watershed, according to AFBF.

"We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "This lawsuit is about how we reach that common goal. Farm Bureau believes EPA's new regulation is unlawful and costly without providing the environmental benefit promised. Farmers in the watershed have clearly delivered a documented track record of continuous improvement, through conservation and sound stewardship and will continue their dedicated efforts."

The TMDL dictates how much nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment can be allowed into the Bay and its tributaries from different areas and sources. According to the brief, TMDL proposals are 'informational tools' under the Clean Water Act. But, in this action, EPA's final TMDL goes far beyond traditional and lawful scope and authority. "It imposes detailed pollutant allocations among sources throughout the Bay's vast watershed," the brief charged. "These mandatory allocations of allowable pollutant loading among farms, towns, and homeowners amount to nothing short of a federal TMDL implementation plan. This plan directly encroaches on state authority over land and water quality planning--not only in states bordering the Bay, but in states hundreds of miles away. EPA’s action is not authorized under the (Clean Water) Act." The brief also charges that the EPA's TMDL is based on flawed technical analysis and computer models that have proved to be fundamentally unworkable, and not appropriate as a basis for any regulatory program.

The Farm Bureau says a major economic study has also indicated that enforcement of the EPA's Bay plan would be expensive. In 2004, a Blue Ribbon Panel report estimated that achieving water quality standards for the Bay would cost $28 billion in total upfront capital costs, plus $2.7 billion in subsequent annual costs.

Joining AFBF as plaintiffs in the case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, are the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, The Fertilizer Institute, National Pork Producers Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Turkey Federation, and the National Association of Home Builders.

Biodiesel Industry Calls for Quick Action on Tax Extenders

The U.S. biodiesel industry's record growth and resulting job creation is at risk without immediate action from Congress to reinstate the industry's tax incentive, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said in written testimony submitted Tuesday to the Senate Finance Committee.

The $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive expired on Dec. 31 for the second time in three years, despite clear evidence that the incentive is working to stimulate production and economic activity.

In her testimony, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel emphasized that when the incentive was reinstated last year after a lapse in 2010, it helped boost biodiesel production to a record volume of nearly 1.1 billion gallons in 2011. That volume - triple the production in 2010 - supported more than 39,027 jobs and $3.8 billion in GDP, according to a recent study conducted by Cardno ENTRIX, an international economics consulting firm.

"The biodiesel industry is poised to continue that momentum so long as Congress and the Administration continue supporting strong policies such as the biodiesel tax incentive," she said. "The recent expiration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax incentive poses a significant threat to the industry's continued growth."

Under projected expansion, with the tax incentive in place, the industry is expected to support more than 74,000 jobs by 2015 and some $7.3 billion in GDP.

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to extend the tax incentive for three years. Wednesday's hearing before the Finance Committee was titled, "Extenders and Tax Reform: Seeking Long-Term Solutions."

RFA Raises GATT, WTO Concerns over recent anti-trade tax in Brazil

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk urging him to investigate the news that the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo was imposing a 25% tax on all imported ethanol.  Port Santos in Sao Paulo is the main port of entry for U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil, which accounted for an estimated 400 million gallons in 2011.  

“Because ethanol produced in Sao Paulo is tax exempt, ethanol imported into Sao Paulo from the United States and other areas is at a substantial economic disadvantage,” wrote RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.  “We believe this action is discriminatory and may severely—and immediately—restrict the exportation of U.S. ethanol to Brazil.”

In early December, the nation of Brazil extended a temporary suspension of a 20% federal tariff on imported ethanol.  While the RFA welcomed that news, it cautioned that the decisions surrounding Brazil tariffs are neither permanent nor transparent and additional trade barriers could be constructed at any time.  The actions of the state of Sao Paulo are such an example.

“This action not only effectively reinstates the tariff on U.S. exports, but increases it by 5%,” wrote Dinneen.  “Moreover, we believe the action taken by the state of Sao Paulo is in violation of Article III:4 of the Generalized Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and possibly Article 2.1 of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.”

This year, exports of U.S. ethanol shattered previous records, reaching  more than 1 billion gallons in volume and some $2.5 billion in value. More than one-third of U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil in 2011; and, prior to this action, prospects for increased shipments to Brazil in 2012 were bright.

“These exports have helped to sustain the industry’s growth and profitability as we work to remove artificial barriers to the consumer market for ethanol in the U.S.  It is no doubt that this recent decision will result in the erection of another significant barrier to U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil.  We are hereby seeking your assistance in addressing this and other persisting trade distortions in Brazil,” wrote Dinneen.

Wheat Organizations Want an Open Border for U.S. and Canadian Farmers

Signaling a desire for more market efficiency, the boards of directors of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) each passed a resolution on Jan. 29 calling for an open border with Canada that provides reciprocal bilateral wheat trade.

Under a December 2011 law, which still faces some legal challenges, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) will lose its grain marketing monopoly Aug. 1, allowing western Canadian farmers to sell their wheat and barley in the open market.

The United States is routinely Canada's top wheat export market, but Canada's open market changes could affect the ways wheat moves into the United States. 

“We believe that in an open market, some Canadian wheat will move to U.S. country elevators near the border,” said Gordon Stoner, a Montana wheat farmer who serves as the head of the USW/NAWG Joint International Trade Policy Committee.

“Our wheat farmers are ready to accept that outcome as long as we similarly have a fair opportunity to deliver into the Canadian handling system. This resolution gives NAWG and USW the authority to work with farmers, the grain trade and government agencies here and in Canada to give U.S. farmers reciprocal access to the Canadian market. We seek an open border — in both directions.”

Stoner said some key issues must be resolved before U.S. farmers could sell their wheat to cash markets in Canada, such as Canada’s narrow wheat class variety eligibility lists that do not allow most U.S. varieties to be marketed in the country as top grade milling wheat.

“Ultimately, open trade across the border will be good for both Canadian and U.S. wheat farmers by adding efficiency and allowing Canadian and U.S. wheat handlers, users and growers to compete on the basis of quality and location,” Stoner said. "At the same time, with the CWB monopoly gone, the international market that determines our prices will become more transparent, fair and efficient."

Nothing Sweet About Flawed HFCS Research

Problems with recent reports attacking high fructose corn syrup demonstrate the need for clarity and caution on the part of research scientists, the National Corn Growers Association said Monday. Even though researchers may acknowledge specific limitations, the mainstream media does not always act so prudently as they report the news.

"Even peer-reviewed research has limitations and caveats that need to be clearly stated by the authors and reported by the news media, so consumers have a clear understanding of what the research really means," said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. "When it comes to high fructose corn syrup, it's important to avoid biases based on unfounded attacks. The science is clear that, enjoyed in moderation, there is no difference between HFCS and other sugars."

Niemeyer pointed out that not only do table sugar and HFCS have a similar composition, according to the American Medical Association, but the American Dietetic Association has found that, once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners are "indistinguishable."

One example of problematic research is a study by researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University that, according to the Corn Refiners Association, draws unfounded conclusions about cardiovascular risks associated with consuming fructose, which is found in many sweeteners. The authors failed to provide needed perspective, CRA reports.

"This study erroneously suggests that consumption of high fructose corn syrup is increasing, and many of the markers they tracked for being 'known to increase risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes' were actually measured in the study to be within normal ranges for all subject groups," said CRA President Audrae Erickson.

Further, the authors clearly acknowledge several limitations of their study. Their results relied upon the memory of adolescents about what they ate - which may not reflect actual intake.

Another example pointed out by the CRA is a study published in the journal Metabolism that attempts to evaluate certain effects of HFCS compared to sucrose. The authors of the study conceded the study had "several limitations," and were unable to draw meaningful conclusions based on their data.

"This study does not compare high fructose corn syrup to sugar made from cane and beets, and it did not use real-life diets as a model," Erickson said. "In fact, the authors noted that the sugar, or sucrose, had 'broken down' into the very same sugar compounds contained in HFCS. The study is also inconsistent with the great weight of scientific authority showing the nutritional and metabolic equivalence of HFCS and sucrose."

A leading expert on metabolism and sweeteners found significant flaws in the research methodology.

"This was not a comparison of HFCS and sucrose as the authors claim in the title and abstract, but rather a comparison of HFCS and an inconsistent product that at the end contained almost no sucrose," according to cardiologist James M. Rippe, M.D., founder and director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Central Florida. "Results of this study cannot be used to form conclusions about the similarities or differences between HFCS and sucrose."

Butter Prices Falls to 21-Month Low

Monday's spot trade was dominated by offers to sell, and dairy products were no different. The CME says butter fell 4.5 cents to $1.5050 and Grade A NDM dropped 7 cents to $1.38.  The butter price hasn't been this low since April 13, 2010.

"Churning activity across the country is strong as cream supplies are plentiful and clearing from one region to another to find processing capacity," says USDA's Dairy Market News. "Butter producers are gearing up production schedules and often, churns are running at capacity levels. With churning as active as it is, production is greatly surpassing demand, thus clearances to inventory are heavy."

Butter production in 2011 was up more than 16 percent, and end-of-year stocks were 29 percent higher than the prior year.

Pioneer Study Shows Corn Responses to Crop Rotation, Reduced Nitrogen Environments

Corn grown in rotation with soybeans requires less nitrogen fertilizer than continuous corn, while producing higher average yields per acre, according to a recent research study by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.

"Our research shows that corn residue acts like a 'sponge' immobilizing the fertilizer, making it temporarily unavailable to the corn plant," says John Shanahan, Pioneer agronomy research manager. "Growers working with continuous corn need to be mindful of crop residue from the previous year and adjust (and likely increase) their nitrogen fertilizer rates accordingly."

These findings are part of a long-term, multi-location study by Pioneer that began in 2006 to examine the response of corn in limited nitrogen environments. Evaluations have been conducted yearly at Pioneer research stations in Johnston, Iowa; Champaign, Ill.; Windfall, Ind.; and York, Neb. (Note: The 2011 results were from only the Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska locations.)

"While many studies have tested corn response to nitrogen fertilizer, there has been limited information on corn hybrid performance in nitrogen-deficient environments," Shanahan says.

The nitrogen treatments in the study were standardized to five rates as a percentage of university economic optimum recommendations (from 0 to 130 percent), applied to corn in continuous production as well as corn in rotation with soybeans, and positioned on the same plots from year to year.

"As expected, corn yield increased with increasing nitrogen rates in both continuous corn and rotated corn and decreased with reduced rates," Shanahan says. "But what's interesting is that across all tested nitrogen rates, the average yield was higher for corn in rotation versus continuous corn by 33 percent or about 45 bushels per acre."

Furthermore, reducing nitrogen rates resulted in much more substantial yield decreases for continuous corn than for rotated corn. For example, rotated corn with no applied nitrogen yielded more than continuous corn with 50 percent of the normal nitrogen rate applied. In addition, reducing rates caused nitrogen stress sooner and with more yield impairment for continuous versus rotated corn.

Similar results have been observed by several university researchers and generally can be attributed to the higher residue levels for continuous corn, leading to Pioneer's recommendation that growers pay key attention to crop residue and fertilizer rates.

To provide further assistance to growers in the future, Pioneer is starting to look into the response of specific hybrids to nitrogen rates and crop rotations. This will be part of the ongoing study as researchers evaluate nitrogen use efficiency among different corn genetics.

"There is a lot of value in analyzing corn responses to crop rotation and reduced nitrogen environments," Shanahan says. "Our goal is to help growers make the best decisions, from hybrid selection to crop management, for their fields."

Monday, January 30, 2012

NE Weather: Warm and Dry in January

Agricultural Summary:
For  the month of January 2012,  temperatures averaged well above normal while precipitation was well below normal across most of the state, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  Precipitation was light during January with most areas receiving less than a quarter of an inch of moisture, and at the end of the month, most of the State was free of snow cover.   Topsoil moisture supplies were rated as short to very short across two-thirds of the State and adequate in the remaining counties.  Wheat condition continued well above year ago levels, but declined during the month. Cattle are in good condition with the first calves of the season being born.  Cattle have had access to stalk fields, limiting the need for supplemental feeding.

Weather Summary: 
Below normal precipitation fell during January across most of the state.  This resulted in little or no snow cover at  the end of January.   By  region,  snow cover was  the greatest  in  the northern  third of  the State; however, depth averaged only one  inch.   Little or no snow was on  the ground across most of  the southern two thirds of  the state.  Temperatures averaged 10 or more degrees above normal during the first half of the month. Temperatures averaged three degrees below normal the third week but returned to above normal reading again at the end of January.  During the last week of the month, soil temperatures ranged from 29 to 32 degrees.  

Field Crops Report:  
Wheat conditions statewide rated 0 percent very poor, 3 poor, 32 fair, 61 good, and 4 excellent, well above last year.   Hay and forage supplies rated 0 percent very short, 5 short, 93 adequate and 2 surplus, near year ago levels.

Livestock, Pasture, and Range Report: 
Cattle and Calves condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 8 fair, 83 good, and 9 excellent, above last year. 

Current Weather & Crops County Comments

Survey Date: 01/29/2012

Very little moisture, warmer than normal conditions and several very windy days during the month.

The very mild weather has left most cattle in corn stalks. Producers are supplementing them with hay and silage. A total of 4 inches of new snow in January has nearly all melted. Most fields are clear of snow. Hay remains in good supply since a very limited amount has been used to feed livestock.

The open, mild winter has resulted in an abundance of feed on hand. As a result, cost normally related to the winter months have been held to a minimum. Producers are in the income tax season and preparations are being made for the spring planting season.

Dry fertilizer is being applied to crop ground since the mild weather. Also, cattle continue to graze stalks so the hay supply is in good shape. It's been several months since we've had rain or snow. Conditions are dry.

Supply of round bales is adequate but small square bales are scarce. Grazing of crop residues has been great.

Continued pressure to move hay south. Recent wet snow has wetted surface and halted pasture and fenceland conversion to cropland.

Primary activities have been care of livestock, marketing of grain and planning for the next crop season. It has been a great winter for care of livestock but there is uneasy concern about the lack of moisture in the soil profile.

Supply of round bales is adequate but small square bales are scarce. Grazing of crop residues has been great.

We have not received much snow this winter but we are just slightly below normal on precipitation for the Oct 11' to Jan 12' period.

Monday January 30 Ag News

Upcoming 2012 No-Till Seminars Will Benefit Farmers and Save Money

The Upper Big Blue NRD, along with University of Nebraska Extension Education are sponsoring two No-Till and Crop Management Seminars.  The dates and locations are as follows:           
-  February 13:  BRUNING — Bruning Opera House.
-  February 14:  COLUMBUS — Ag Park Exhibit Hall.

Both meetings will begin with refreshments at 8:30 a.m., and an official start at 9:00 a.m.  The end of the seminars will wrap-up around 3:00 p.m. with a FREE meal to be provided over the noon hour.  There is no charge for any part of these programs.

Speakers include Paul Jasa (UNL) on February 13 and 14, Dwayne Beck (South Dakota State University) on February 13 and 14, Ray Ward (Ward Laboratories, Inc.) on 13, Dan Gillespie (NRCS) on February 14, and Al Vyhnalek (South Dakota State University) on February 14.

These speakers will share their experiences with no-till farming on such topics as No-Till Equipment, Becoming Successful with No-Till, No-Till Economics, How No-Till Improves Soil Structure and Fertility, Cover Crops, and How to Increase Organic Matter and Soil Carbon.

RSVPs for both events must be made by February 10th.  Those planning to attend the Bruning event should RSVP to Patty Kyhn at the Upper Big Blue NRD at (402) 362-6601. Those planning to attend the Columbus event should RSVP to Rod Wilke at UNL-Extension at (402) 370-4000.

Mid Winter to Spring Grain Storage Management

Tom Dorn, UNL Extension Educator, Lancaster County

We had good weather for harvesting and drying grain in fall 2011 and hopefully many of you were able to dry your grain to a safe moisture content —15% for corn and 13% for soybeans — for winter storage. I also hope you remembered to cool the grain as air temperature allowed. A rule of thumb is that at a given grain moisture content, the shelf life of corn almost doubles for every 10 degree drop in the temperature down to about 40°F. However, don’t drop the grain temperature below freezing so you can provide additional aeration if we get a few days of warmer temperatures in February.

Winter and Spring Aeration Management
If you didn’t get your grain as dry as you wanted last fall and the forecast calls for a warm spell with low humidity, you may want to take advantage of the good weather and turn on the aeration fan to do more drying. However, initially, you may actually add moisture content to the grain, depending on the grain temperature. For example, when air temperature is 50°F and the relative humidity is 50%, the dew point temperature is 32°F. Likewise, if the air temperature is 50°F and the relative humidity is 60%, the dew point temperature is 37°F. When the grain temperature is lower than the dew point temperature, air will condense moisture onto the grain until the air stream warms the grain mass above the dew point temperature.

If the grain temperature is below freezing, the condensation can be in the form of frost, which could add moisture to the grain and impede airflow through the grain.

Check your Stored Grain
Bins should be checked monthly in winter and spring, especially if high winds may have carried blowing snow into the bin. The danger is that the snow will melt and create a wet spot in the grain which could lead to spoilage and insect activity when warmer temperatures return in the spring.

When you check grain in a bin, open the access hatch, then start the aeration fan. Climb back up and lean into the access hatch as soon as possible after turning on the fan so you can feel and smell the air as it hits your face. You are looking for three things that could signal trouble.
-    Is the air warmer than expected?
-    Can you feel moisture on your face as you lean into the access hatch?
-    Is there condensation forming on the underside of the bin roof on a cold day?

If any of these three conditions occur, the fan(s) should run long enough to bring the entire grain mass to a uniformly cool temperature inside the bin. The best way to tell if the grain temperature is uniform is to use a grain thermometer that can be pushed three or four feet into the grain. Probe a couple of feet away from the bin wall, taking the temperature every 15 to 20 feet around the perimeter of the bin and at a minimum of three spots in the central part of the bin. If two spots differ in temperature by more than about 8 degrees, turn on the aeration fan and push air through the bin until a uniform temperature is reached throughout the grain mass.

Will you need to finish drying grain in the spring?

If you didn’t get the grain down to a safe storage moisture in the fall and the grain was cooled to 30°F for safe keeping in winter, it will need to be warmed in stages to 40° in late February or early March. This will allow you to take advantage of days with low humidity to finish drying the grain in the spring.

If you warmed the grain to do some additional drying but now the forecast is for unfavorable weather conditions, run the aeration fans at every opportunity to cool the grain again to reduce deterioration. Your goal should be to get the grain back down to 40°F.

You can keep dry corn that will be held into April at 40°. If corn will be kept into May or June, warm the grain to 60°F by May 1.

NE Farm Bureau Board Approves 2012 Legislative Priorities

Nebraska Farm Bureau's Board of Directors has approved eight priority issues Farm Bureau will emphasize during the 2012 session of the Nebraska Legislature: 
1.  Protect the rights of farmers and ranchers to use commonly accepted farming and animal care practices  to operate their farms and ranches in a profitable and efficient manner.
2.  Protect agriculture’s interests in water use, water management and compliance with interstate compacts  and seek broad-based funding to address the state’s water challenges.
3.  Create a better tax climate for farmers and ranchers by seeking reductions to agriculture’s property tax burden, maintaining sales tax exemptions critical to agriculture, assuring assessed values for land reflect the land’s agriculture use value, and seeking other tax relief consistent with NEFB policy.  
4.   Seek to ensure modifications to state commodity check-off programs are consistent with NEFB policy.
5.  Advocate for reform in the use of state dollars for land acquisition and the purchase of conservation easements. 
6.   Work to defend the property rights of farmers and ranchers. 
7.   Assure regulations on farms and ranches are reasonable, flexible, and based on scientific evidence and do not unduly burden or financially harm farmers and ranchers.
8. Seek to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ interests in health insurance matters consistent with NEFB policy.

To qualify as priorities, issues must: have statewide impact;  be of significant interest to County Farm Bureaus; and be meaningful to individual Farm Bureau members because of their impact on a farmer’s or rancher's ability to conduct business and make a profit.

NeFBF to President: Here’s Two Federal Regulations That Need Some Common Sense

Nebraska Farm Bureau has two initial recommendations for President Obama as he seeks to stop unnecessary and burdensome federal regulations: discontinue the Department of Labor’s efforts to severely restrict the kinds of work children can do on farms, and recognize that on-farm storage of fuel shouldn’t be regulated the same way as fuel storage at gas stations, airports and oil refineries.

“We’re in complete agreement with the president that government should eliminate rules and regulations that don’t make sense,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said Friday (Jan. 27). Nelson offered Farm Bureau’s suggestions on behalf of the organization’s board of directors in a letter to the president.

“The first issue we raised with the president is the Department of Labor’s proposal to limit what young people can do on farms and ranches. As farmer and ranchers, we know the hazards in agriculture and have measures in place to keep our youth safe,” Nelson said.

The proposed rules are written so broadly that they severely limit young people’s exposure to livestock and farm machinery, he said.  “’Learning by doing’ is critical to young people becoming excited about agriculture and careers in ag and related occupations. Limiting their ability to get their hands dirty keeps them from learning and developing a passion for agriculture. We need to do everything we can to encourage the next generation of food producers.”

Farm Bureau’s second recommendation would further modify the EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule, which the president referred to in his State of the Union address. He noted that a provision requiring dairy producers to have a plan to contain spilled milk had been eliminated from the rule.

“Farmers fought for that change and there are other parts of the rule that also need changing,” Nelson said. “The SPCC rule was developed in the 1970s to cover only very large oil storage facilities such as refineries but it’s been expanded over time to include farms and ranches. Currently if you have more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground fuel storage, you need an SPCC compliance plan, which as the president noted, can cost $10,000 a year,” he said.

As the size of agricultural equipment continues to increase, farmers and ranchers need to have on-farm access to larger quantities of fuel, Nelson said. “Most of the time you can save a lot of money by buying fuel in a large quantity, because the supplier can make one trip to your place instead of several if you have less storage, and you have it when you need it.” He noted that the maximum amount of fuel that can be stored under the current limit is only enough to run a combine and tractor for two weeks during harvest.

He urged the president to increase the number of gallons of fuel that could be stored on the farm before a spill prevention plan is required. In an informal online survey conducted by Nebraska Farm Bureau last year, respondents said 10,000 gallons of fuel storage would be a reasonable maximum.

Under Heavy Insect Pressure, CruiserMaxx Protected Soybean Yield

Thomas Hunt, UNL Extension Entomologist

CruiserMaxx seed treatment trials were conducted at four locations in Nebraska to determine the effects on yield in early planted (early May) and later planted (late May-early June) soybean. The sites, part of the 2011 Soybean Management Field Days, were Bancroft (northeast Nebraska), Clay Center (south central), Cortland (southeast), and Elba (central).

Research Model
The design used in this study was a randomized complete block for both planting dates, with two treatments for each planting date. Treatments were CruiserMaxx (thiamethoxam + mefenoxam) treated seed and untreated seed. Plots were four rows wide and approximately 20 feet long. Standard soybean production practices were conducted. Yield was the primary measure, but plant stand, seedling defoliation, and bean leaf beetle numbers also were measured to help explain any effects. All yields were adjusted to 13% moisture. No disease measurements were made.

Due to planter malfunction, the Clay Center and Cortland late planting dates were compromised. Cool and wet weather resulted in uneven emergence, particularly at Clay Center. Bean leaf beetle counts were generally very low, but defoliation indicated beetle presence, particularly at Clay Center during VC-V1.

There were no significant differences (α = 0.05) in yield between CruiserMaxx treated and untreated soybean at Bancroft, Cortland, and Elba for the early planting, and at Bancroft and Elba for the late planting.

There was a significant difference in yield between CruiserMaxx treated and untreated soybean at Clay Center for the early planting date. CruiserMaxx treated soybean was approximately 15 bu/ac higher than the untreated soybean. This likely was in part the result of bean leaf beetle feeding, as all untreated plants had feeding (up to 100%) injury at VC-V1, and feeding likely continued through V2-V3. Although feeding was present at other sites, it did not reach yield-damaging levels.

Corn Yield Challenge Open to Youth in 2012

Aaron Nygren, UNL Extension Educator in Colfax County

UNL Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board have teamed up to offer the first Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 and older as of Jan. 1, 2012) or FFA members (in-school members), will guide youth through all aspects of corn production, as well as provide information on agricultural careers related to corn production. Youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield.

Economics and sustainability of the practice also will be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.  Youth will work with an adult mentor throughout the process. Mentors can be UNL Extension faculty, ag teachers, or other qualified agronomy professionals.

Cash prizes and plaques will be given to the first, second, and third place teams. First place will receive $1,000, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. A data completion and innovation award also will be given.

To participate, youth must complete and return an entry form by March 1 to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva. More information and registration forms are available in the CropWatch Youth section (http://cropwatch.unl.edu/web/cropwatch-youth/home) under Activities at 2012 Innovative Youth Corn Challenge (http://cropwatch.unl.edu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=5a947ee6-dbc5-4215-a37d-b567c2ac8e37&groupId=4555409&.pdf). For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at bvandewalle2@unl.edu or 402-759-3712.

Center Pivot Irrigation Management Short Courses in February

Adopting advanced irrigation management practices can help you enhance the value of the water you apply. Learn how at two Center Pivot Irrigation Management Short Courses to be held in Gothenburg and York this February.  The Feb. 6 program will be held at the Monsanto Water Utilization Learning Center near Gothenburg and the Feb. 8 short course will be at the Cornerstone Ag and Event Center on the York County Fairgrounds in York. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with a welcome at 9:30 a.m.

Program topics will include:
-    Performance of center pivots
-    Soil water management
-    Matching sprinklers to soils
-    Sprinkler package selection
-    Minimizing pumping costs
-    Estimating crop water use
-    Water balance and consumptive use/limited irrigation
-    Center pivot technology and variable rate irrigation
-    Center pivot management

Keynote speakers for each of the programs will begin at 2:20 p.m.and close out the program.  These two short courses are sponsored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Reinke, Valley, T-L Irrigation, Lindsay, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.  The program is free; however, participants are asked to register so adequate materials and meals will be available. To register:
-  For the Feb. 6 Gothenburg meeting call 308-995-4222 or email cburr1@unl.edu
-  For the Feb. 8 York meeting call 402-362-5508 or email gzoubek1@unl.edu

Additional information can be found at: http://water.unl.edu/web/cropswater/home.

U.S. Pork Sandwiches Showcased in East Japan Railway Campaign

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently launched a marketing campaign with Becker’s, a casual, café-style restaurant chain operated by JR East Food Business, a subsidiary of the East Japan Railway Company. With locations inside many high-traffic stations, Becker’s attracts thousands of commuting consumers. In fact, about 2.65 million commuters per day pass through the 24 railway stations in which Becker’s restaurants are located.

U.S. pork sandwiches entice commuters at 24 railway station locations in Japan

Becker’s has traditionally taken a very conservative approach to marketing its menu selections, but chose to collaborate with USMEF for a large-scale promotion of a new menu featuring sandwiches made with U.S. pork trimmings. The promotional campaign, which runs Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, prominently features the U.S. Pork logo and is supported by the Pork Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP). Becker’s is also promoting the sandwich menu on its website and with consumer magazine coupons. During the three-month promotional period, Becker’s estimates approximately 7 metric tons (nearly 15,500 pounds) of U.S. pork trimmings will be used.

“For Becker’s, this is the first time it has featured U.S. pork on its menu,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF-Japan’s senior marketing director. “We are very pleased to be partnering with Becker’s on this promotion, as the campaign is reaching a tremendous number of consumers and providing outstanding exposure for U.S. pork.”

Foodservice promotion is just one of the marketing tools that helped push U.S. pork exports to Japan to new heights in 2011. Through November, exports (including both muscle cuts and variety meat) had already set a new value record of $1.79 billion, on a near-record volume of 451,509 metric tons (995.4 million pounds). When December results are available, pork exports to Japan will have achieved a new volume record and the export value will approach the $2 billion mark.

Iowa Lawmakers to Consider 'Ag Gag' Legislation, Again

A bill that would impose the nation's toughest legislation restricting undercover operations by animal rights activists will return in the Senate as part of a procedural motion. House File 589, known as the "ag gag bill," which would make it illegal to videotape at farms or other animal operations while undercover. Farmers say the legislation is needed to protect the state’s agricultural economy against activists who deliberately cast their operations in a negative light and continue videotaping rather than reporting abuse immediately.

Animal welfare officials say undercover recording is vital to protect livestock and food safety and that they must document multiple instances of abuse to show a pattern.

The House passed the bill last year but it stalled in the Senate after the Iowa attorney general's office said the bill would most likely face constitutional challenges because of provisions that would have made it illegal to possess or distribute audio or video recordings. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that films exposing animal cruelty represent the exercise of free speech.

The Senate late in last year's session introduced a sweeping rewrite that scrapped an effort to establish new offenses of fraud to prohibit animal advocates from obtaining access to livestock facilities by false pretenses. Instead, the Senate rewrite legislation beefs up language regarding trespassing, making it a crime to enter or remain at an agricultural operation or to have a recording device at such operations without express permission.

Critics contended last year that current trespassing law already makes such activities a crime and that the Senate version also poses constitutional problems because it would require anyone who makes undercover recordings while trespassing to turn over the recordings to authorities.

Roy Motter Elected USW Secretary-Treasurer

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) board of directors elected Roy Motter, Brawley, CA, to serve as Secretary-Treasurer for 2012/13 at its meeting in Washington, DC, January, 29, 2012. The Board also elected Darrell Davis, Ipswich, SD, as Chairman and Dan Hughes, Venango, NE, Vice Chairman. New officers officially begin their duties at USW’s Summer Board Meeting July 6 to 9 in Spokane, WA. At that time, current Chairman Randy Suess, Colfax, WA, will replace Don Schieber, Ponca City, OK, as Past Chair and USW Budget Committee Chair.

“As an active USW director for California for the last four years, I have had the opportunity to attend USW-organized regional buyers' conferences for Latin America and South Asia,” Motter said. “I have been impressed by the quality of the staff and work done by USW and welcome this opportunity to take a larger leadership role in the organization.”

Motter is managing partner of Spruce Farms, LLC, a diverse operation in California’s Imperial Valley that includes Desert Durum®, lettuce, cabbage, onions, sugar beets, sugar cane, alfalfa seed and hay, sudan grass, melons and tomatoes. He has been a member of the California Wheat Commission since 1998, currently serving as vice chairman, and has served as
president and vice president of the Stockman’s Club of Imperial Valley.

Davis operates a fifth-generation family grain and cattle operation and is a member of South Dakota Wheat Inc., the South Dakota Soybean Association, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, and the South Dakota Cattleman’s Association. Davis is a board member and past president of North Central Farms Elevator. He is an alumnus of the South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership, a program dedicated to advancing leadership in the state’s agricultural and rural communities.

Hughes is a third-generation wheat farmer in the southwest corner of Nebraska. His operation includes hard red winter wheat for domestic use and export, as well as hard white wheat grown under contract for ConAgra. He also is a commissioner of the Nebraska Wheat Board, serving as chairman from 2008 to 2010.

Suess manages a three-year rotation of soft white winter wheat, spring wheat, and peas in eastern Washington’s Palouse region. He is a member of the Washington Wheat Commission (WWC) and served as its Chairman for two years. Suess served as a state board member and chairman of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers public information committee, a trustee of the Washington Wheat Foundation, and president of the Whitman County Association of Wheat Growers.


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is currently accepting applications for several special initiatives promoting organic agriculture, energy conservation, and water quality and quantity measures.

Applications are accepted anytime at local NRCS offices but interested participants are encouraged to apply soon.  The first cutoff date for ranking applications is Feb. 3, 2012, but additional ranking periods will be available throughout winter and spring.  Interested applicants will have until June 1, 2012, to apply for financial and technical assistance through these special initiatives, but are encouraged to apply well in advance of the final cut off date to ensure funding availability.

These special initiatives are available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

Funding is currently available for the following special initiatives:

On-Farm Energy Initiative:
The On-Farm Energy Initiative offers assistance to producers in two ways: 1) it enables the producer to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through an on-farm energy audit, and 2) provides financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices recommended in the energy audit, such as residue and tillage management, and Farmstead Energy Improvement. 

Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative:  
The Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative helps producers plan and implement high tunnels, which are steel-framed, polyethylene-covered structures that extend growing seasons.  High Tunnels can help producers improve plant and soil quality, reduce nutrient and pesticide transportation, and reduce energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce.

Organic Initiative:
The Organic Initiative provides financial and technical assistance to help organic growers implement approved conservation practices that address significant natural resource concerns, and assists growers transitioning to organic production with developing and implementing conservation plans.

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative:
Funding through this initiative will provide technical and financial assistance to producers to install conservation practices that help conserve water and protect water quality within priority areas located in the Ogallala Aquifer.  A map of the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative priority areas is located at www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

Agricultural Water Enhancement Program Initiative (AWEP)

AWEP is a voluntary conservation initiative that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement agricultural water enhancement activities on agricultural land to conserve surface and ground water and improve water quality within AWEP project areas.  A map of the AWEP project areas is available at www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

For more information about these special initiatives please visit your local NRCS field office or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

CWT Assists with 13.8 Million Pounds of Butter and Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 17 requests for export assistance from Bongards, Dairy Farmers of America, Darigold, Land O’Lakes, Upstate Niagara subsidiary O-At-Ka and United Dairymen of Arizona to sell a total of 1,288 metric tons (2.840 million pounds) of Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gouda cheese and 4,969 metric tons (10.955 million pounds) of butter to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered January through June 2012.

After reviewing several market fundamentals, CWT determined that it should begin assisting member cooperatives in making sales of butter overseas. CWT’s strategic plan, approved by the CWT Committee last year, called for funds to be budgeted in 2012 for that purpose.

In 2012, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in making export sales of Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gouda cheese totaling 13.2 million pounds and butter totaling just less than 11 million pounds to 12 countries on four continents.

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

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

Consumers Overwhelmingly Support National Legislation Sought by Egg Farmers

American consumers overwhelmingly support the national legislation regarding egg production that was introduced last week in Congress, according to a new survey released today.

Consumers said they would support federal legislation that would transition egg production from the existing conventional cages used for egg-laying hens to enriched cages by a margin of 4-to-1. Furthermore, consumers said that federal legislation was preferable to state legislation by a margin of 2-to-1.

The study was conducted by an independent research company, The Bantam Group, and commissioned by United Egg Producers which represents the majority of egg farmers in the U.S. and which supports the federal legislation. However, the survey's sponsorship was anonymous so as to not bias any of the 2,000 respondents, all of whom were registered voters.

Consumers support the transition to enriched cages for egg production by a margin of 12-to-1. Consumers also said that the two most important groups to support this transition outlined in the federal legislation (H.R. 3798) to enriched cages are UEP and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), both of which support the bill, as do more than 11 egg and farm groups, 10 animal protection groups, and the National Consumers League. Fifty-nine percent of consumers said they would be "more supportive" if they knew that UEP and HSUS supported such legislation; only 1 percent said they would be more opposed.

Enriched cages provide egg-laying hens nearly double the amount of space they currently have in conventional cages, plus provide perches, nest boxes, and scratch pads which allow the hens to exhibit their natural behaviors.

"This is legislation that egg farmers and consumers overwhelmingly support," said David Lathem, a Georgia egg farmer and chairman of UEP. 

The survey was fielded by an independent research group, Bantam, which conducted two nationwide surveys, of 1,000 registered voters each, December 27, 2011 through January 20, 2012. The first survey investigated consumer support for enriched cages, the second survey investigated consumer support for the federal legislation.

The question of federal versus state legislation is important because several states already have established, or are in the process of establishing, different laws regarding the housing and sale of eggs in each of their states. The Supreme Court last week ruled in favor of pork and beef farmers who argued that a federal law regarding livestock processing pre-empts a state law that was passed in California.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday January 27 Ag News


All cattle and calves on hand January 1, 2012,  in Nebraska totaled 6.45 million head, up 4 percent from a year ago according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.    All cows on hand January 1, at 1.94 million head, were 6 percent above last year.  The 2011 calf crop was estimated at 1.69 million head, up 2 percent from 2010.   Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all Nebraska feedlots on January 1 totaled 2.65 million head, up 4 percent from last year.

All cattle  and calves  in  Iowa as of  January 1, 2012  totaled 3.90 million head, according  to  the  latest USDA, National Agricul tural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This estimate is unchanged from January 1, 2011.  Beef cows, at 895,000 head, were 7 percent above last year.  Milk cows, at 205,000 were down 2 percent from last year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over, at 920,000 head, were down 7 percent  from  last year.   Heifers  for beef cow  replacement were  up 17 percent to 140,000 head;  heifers for milk cow replacement at 140,000 head were up 8 percent from the previous year; and all other heifers were down 14 percent to 640,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were down 4 percent  from  last year at 1,300,000 head.   Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago at 60,000 head.  Calves under 500 pounds on January 1 totaled 520,000 in 2012, up 16 percent from last year.

The 2011 calf crop was estimated at 1.05 million head, up 4 percent from the 1.01 million born in 2010.  Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2012 was at 1,300,000 head down 6 percent from one year ago.

January 1 Cattle Inventory Down 2 Percent
All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2012 totaled 90.8 million head, 2 percent below the 92.7 million on January 1, 2011. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 88.1 million on hand in 1952.  All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.1 million, were down 2 percent from the 40.0 million on January 1, 2011.
  • Beef cows, at 29.9 million, were down 3 percent from January 1, 2011.
  • Milk cows, at 9.2 million, were up 1 percent from January 1, 2011.

Other class estimates on January 1, 2012 and the change from January 1, 2011, are as follows:
  • All heifers 500 pounds and over, 19.4 million, down 1 percent.
  • Beef replacement heifers, 5.2 million, up 1 percent.
  • Milk replacement heifers, 4.5 million, down 1 percent.
  • Other heifers, 9.6 million, down 2 percent.
  • Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, 16.1 million, down 2 percent.
  • Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, 2.1 million, down 5 percent.
  • Calves under 500 pounds, 14.1 million, down 3 percent.
  • Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots, 14.1 million, up 1 percent.
  • The combined total of calves under 500 pounds, and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds outside of feedlots was 25.7 million, down 4 percent.

Calf Crop Down 1 Percent

The 2011 calf crop was estimated at 35.3 million head, down 1 percent from 2010. This is the smallest calf crop since the 34.9 million born during 1950. Calves born during the first half of 2011 are estimated at 25.7 million, down 1 percent from 2010.

2012 Beef Feedlot Roundtables at Three Locations in February

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and supporting industry personnel will learn the latest in feedlot health, nutrition, environment, and economics at the 2012 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 14-16 in West Point, Lexington and Bridgeport with remote connections to locations in Iowa.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Roundtables will be offered Feb. 14 at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point, Feb. 15 at the Holiday Inn Express in Lexington and Feb. 16 at the Prairie Winds Community Center in Bridgeport.

Registration is from 7:45-8:15 a.m. with introduction and welcome at 8:15 by local extension personnel.

University and industry representatives will speak on feedlot animal health, nutrition, and environment topics which include a producer panel on manure management, the environmental impact of cattle, and a research update.

The Nebraska Beef Council will give an update on new beef products and sponsor lunch.

Feedlot economics and research topics include feeding options with more expensive inputs, use of technology, and risk protection. The program will conclude with a research update and adjourn by 4 p.m.

Preregistration is available by phone, fax, e-mail or mail and requested by Feb. 3. Cost is $25 and will be accepted with a preregistration at the door. Cost for those who have not preregistered will be $40. For more information or a registration form contact Matt Luebbe at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave I, Scottsbluff NE 69361, phone 308-632-1397, fax 308-632-1365 or e-mail mluebbe2@unl.edu.

The Beef Feedlot Roundtable is sponsored by UNL Extension in the University's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Morning topics will cover feedlot economics and environment with the following presentations: market outlook and risk management, Shane Ellis, Iowa State University; feedlot cattle footprints, Terry Mader, UNL Extension; manure values and BFNMP$ program, Matt Luebbe, UNL Extension-Panhandle Research and Extension Center; producer panel on manure value and challenges, local producers and industry; and Beef Council update, Lisa Brass and Ann Marie Bosshamer.

Afternoon sessions will cover feedlot health and nutrition with the following presentations: Digital Dermatitis: an emerging challenge for feedlot cattle, Jan Shearer, Iowa State University; grain adaptation and roughages, Galen Erickson, UNL Animal Science; use of technology and impact on feedlot production, Heather DePra, UNL Extension; research update: Galen Erickson, UNL Animal Science, Terry Mader, NEREC, and Matt Luebbe, PHREC.

Total Sheep and Lamb Inventory Down 2 Percent

All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on January 1, 2012, totaled 5.35 million head, down 2 percent from 2011. Breeding sheep inventory decreased to 3.98 million head on January 1, 2012, down 3 percent from 4.08 million head on January 1, 2011. Ewes one year old and older, at 3.16 million head, were 2 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2012, totaled 1.37 million head, down 2 percent from January 1, 2011. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Twenty-two percent were lambs under 65 pounds, 12 percent were 65 - 84 pounds, 22 percent were 85 - 105 pounds, and 38 percent were over 105 pounds. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2011 lamb crop of 3.51 million head, was down 2 percent from 2010. The 2011 lambing rate was 109 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2011, an increase of 2 percent from 2010.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2011 was 29.3 million pounds, down 4 percent from 2010. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 4.03 million head, also down 4 percent from 2010. The average price paid for wool sold in 2011 was a record high $1.67 per pound for a total value of 48.9 million dollars, up 40 percent from 35.0 million dollars in 2010.

Sheep death loss during 2011 totaled 240 thousand head, an increase of 4 percent from 2010. Lamb death loss increased 3 percent from 370 thousand head in 2010 to 380 thousand head in 2011.

Total Goat and Kid Inventory Down 4 Percent

All goat inventory in the United States on January 1, 2012, totaled 2.86 million head, down 4 percent from 2011. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.38 million head, down 4 percent from 2011. Does one year old and older, at 1.78 million head, were 3 percent below last year's number. Market goats and kids totaled 487 thousand head, down 5 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2011 totaled 1.88 million head for all goats, down 2 percent from 2010.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.36 million head on January 1, 2012, down 4 percent from 2011. Milk goat inventory was 360 thousand head, unchanged from January 1, 2011, while Angora goats were down 15 percent, totaling 146 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2011 was 865 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 149 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.8 pounds. Mohair price was $4.12 per pound with a value of 3.56 million dollars.

Sheep and Lambs:  77,000 head, +4% from last year;  62,000 breeding head and 15,000 market head
Lamb crop:  70,000 head, +4% from last year

All  sheep  and  lambs  inventory  at 195,000 head  is down nearly 3 percent  from last  year  according  to  the  latest  USDA, National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service  – Sheep  and  Goats  report.    Total  breeding stock,  at  143,000 head,  is  approximately 13 percent  higher  than  a  year  ago. Compared  to  last  year,  market  sheep  and lambs  decreased  nearly  29 percent  to 52,000 head,  and  the  lamb  crop  decreased nearly 3 percent to 155,000.

Rasby to discuss cow-calf nutrition at Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference

Dr. Rick Rasby, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln cattle feeding expert, will discuss the opportunities for including forages in cow-calf operations at the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference, which is scheduled for February 7-8 at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney.

“With higher grain prices, the market is saying to use more forages,” Rasby said. “We’ll discuss how can we optimize the use of forages.”

He noted that while grazing is a tremendous opportunity, especially here in Nebraska, there are times of the year when feeding harvested forage will be necessary. “It is important to know the nutrient quality of that forage,” he said, “because you need to make sure you’re meeting the needs of the beef cow.”

Rasby joined the staff at the University of Nebraska in 1986 as extension beef specialist with primary responsibilities in cow/calf management, reproduction and nutrition. He received a B.S. from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University. Since arriving in Nebraska, his extension programs have focused on economical feeding programs incorporating forages for beef cows and evaluation of reproductive performance of the cow herd. He was also instrumental in development of the beef website, beef.unl.edu.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (N.A.M.A.), the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference is designed especially for alfalfa producers, livestock/dairy producers and others who are involved in alfalfa production, purchasing, hay feeding or processing.

Other speakers include Dr. Ron Hansen, ag economics professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, who will provide a session on multi-generational family farm ownership; Dr. Al Dutcher, Nebraska climatologist, who will discuss weather patterns and forecasts for the coming crop year; and Trent Loos, well-known commentator, columnist and ag advocate.

Registration includes admission to all presentations and programs, a Tuesday afternoon reception, dinner Tuesday evening, admission to the large alfalfa industry trade show and the opportunity to bid in the fundraising auction that takes place Tuesday afternoon. The auction features a wide range of items including seed, harvesting equipment, supplies and other valuable products and services.

Registration is $10 per person in advance (tickets must be purchased by noon, February 3, 2012) and $20 at the door. Participants under the age of 18 are admitted at no charge. Registration is available online at www.AlfalfaExpo.com.

New Water for Food Institute Director to be Heuermann lecturer Feb. 20

Global water and food issues take center stage Monday, Feb. 20, when Professor Roberto Lenton, one of the world's foremost water management and development experts, presents the February Heuermann Lecture in the Hardin Hall auditorium, 33rd and Holdrege, on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

"Water for Food: Think globally, act locally," is the topic for the 3:30 p.m. public lecture.

Lenton is founding director of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska as of Feb. 1. He comes to the university after serving since 2009 as chairman of the independent World Bank Inspection Panel.

"We must continue to have ample and high quality water for human use, and we must use water wisely to grow food to feed the world's growing population," said Ronnie Green, IANR Harlan vice chancellor and moderator of the Heuermann Lectures. "Roberto Lenton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his Heuermann Lecture and to his work as the new executive director of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute."

Lenton will discuss the world's growing food needs and the growing competition for scarce water resources as he analyzes important trends, emerging challenges and looming threats around the world.

"There is a global interconnectedness of water and food issues," Lenton said, "and we need to think both globally and locally to successfully meet the challenges before us.

"For instance -- both globally and in Nebraska, we need to effectively manage our groundwater resources as we face the challenges of increasing water productivity. To do that successfully, we must have solutions specific to our local conditions and needs."

Lenton also will discuss unique contributions the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute can make in addressing local and global water and food issues.

"The University of Nebraska has an outstanding group of faculty and staff with a long track record of addressing water and food security issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives," Lenton said. "We must draw on all resources across the university engaged in water and food issues to fully capitalize on Nebraska's experience in efficient water use while combining that knowledge and experience with research and practice in other parts of the world. That way we can create synergy that provides collaborative knowledge in which the sum is greater than all of its parts."

With some 40 years of international experience in water resources and sustainable development, Lenton has served as chairman of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and of the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership. He was director of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Division of the United Nations Development Programme in New York, and director general of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Sri Lanka.

Under his leadership, IWMI grew from a small project-based organization to a major institute with more than 300 people in 10 countries and an annual budget that had tripled in size.

Lenton served as program officer in the Rural Poverty and Resources program of the Ford Foundation in New Delhi and New York, co-chaired the United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on Water and Sanitation, and was lead author on that task force's final report, and more.

Heuermann Lectures in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL focus on meeting the world's growing food and renewable energy needs while sustaining natural resources and rural communities. They are made possible through 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.

A 3 p.m. reception in the Hardin Hall lobby precedes the lecture.

Iowa Pork Congress Review:  2012 Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance Winners Announced

A chef from the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque was proclaimed the winner of the 2012 Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance competition this week in Des Moines.  Chef Jon Nelson was named Chef Par Excellence in the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s 25th annual culinary contest Jan. 23. He prepared a pork dish he titled “Pur Porc.” Nelson earned a plaque, $1,000 and the opportunity to compete in the National Taste of Elegance event in California this spring.

Another Dubuque chef placed second in the contest and earned the title of Superior Chef. Chef Andrew James Weis of Caroline’s Restaurant at the Hotel Julien Dubuque prepared an entrée titled “Pork Ribeye Specialty” and he won a plaque and $500.

The third place winner was Chef Aaron King of Dos Rios/Big City Burgers and Greens/Catering DSM in Des Moines. As Premier Chef, King received a plaque and $250. His “Pork 3 Ways” entrée featured Honey and Cider Caramelized Pork Belly, Morse Farms Satsuma Mandarin Marmalade, Pig Skin Ravioli, House-cured Whiskey Smoked Ham and Lentil Parfait, and Adobo Pork Loin with Negro Mole.

Chef Joseph Weisz of the Iowa Stater Restaurant in Ames took home the People’s Choice Award. The 2011 Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance Superior Chef was a last-minute replacement in the contest and he won a plaque and $250 with an entrée he called “Tre Carbonara.”

A total of eleven chefs from Iowa restaurants competed for the top prize in this year’s contest at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. A visiting chef from Manitoba, Canada, competed, but was only eligible for the People’s Choice Award.  Each of the chefs was required to use a fresh pork cut in an original entrée. The winning pork dishes were selected on the basis of taste, appearance and originality by a panel of judges.  Following the day’s competition, nearly 300 invited guests enjoyed the evening reception and samples of each contestant’s entrée, as well as samples from several Central Iowa wineries.

West Delaware HS student named 2012 Iowa Pork Queen
A student at West Delaware High School in Manchester will serve as the Iowa Pork Queen for 2012.  Lindsay Reth, the daughter of Russ and Dianne Reth of Manchester, was crowned pork queen Jan. 25 at the 40th annual Iowa Pork Congress Banquet in Des Moines. The 2012 Iowa Pork Princess and Iowa Premier Pork Youth Ambassador also were selected.  Reth, the current Delaware County Pork Queen, is a senior at West Delaware High School. She plans to attend Wartburg College in Waverly after high school graduation and major in business administration.  The new Iowa Pork Princess is Sterling Schnepf of Granville in Plymouth County. The daughter of Richard and Sharon Schnepf, Sterling attends Iowa State University in Ames and is a sophomore majoring in animal science pre-graduate studies. She was named Plymouth County Pork Queen last spring.  A total of seven county pork queens entered this year’s competition.

An Iowa State University junior will serve as the 2012 Iowa Premier Pork Youth Ambassador. Jacob Swanson of Ottumwa in Wapello County is majoring in public service and administration in agriculture. He is the son of Don and Pat Swanson.  Swanson won the title over four other youth ambassador contestants.

All of the contestants participated in interviewing and communications exercises and were judged on their skills, poise, presentation and overall knowledge of the pork industry and Iowa agriculture.  Reth, Schnepf and Swanson will serve as representatives of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and assist with various pork promotional and educational activities throughout the year.  The new Iowa Pork Queen and the Iowa Premier Pork Youth Ambassador each receive a $2,000 scholarship and the Iowa Pork Princess earns a $1,000 scholarship from the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Cold Weather Kicks in Limits on Winter Manure Application in Iowa

Most producers recognize that winter manure application can result in loss of important nutrients and cause runoff problems.  Iowa state law, however, actually prohibits some producers from applying liquid manure on snow-covered ground after Dec. 21 and frozen ground after Feb. 1 unless it's an emergency.  The law does not apply to manure from open feedlots or dry manure.  It applies to confinement (totally roofed) facilities with liquid manure that have 500 or more animal units. Generally, 500 animal units would be 1,250 finishing hogs; 5,000 nursery pigs; 500 steers, immature dairy cows or other cattle; or 357 mature dairy cows.

"We've been lucky this year having very little snow on the ground," said Ken Hessenius, supervisor of the DNR Spencer field office. "But now that we have a little snow, we want to remind all livestock and poultry producers that they need to protect water and prevent pollution as they land apply manure."

In addition, the law limits liquid manure application from confinements from Dec. 21 to April 1 if the ground is snow-covered. If manure can be injected or incorporated, it can be land applied during this time. Snow-covered ground is defined as soil having one inch or more of snow cover or one-half inch or more of ice cover. Starting Feb. 1, confinement producers with 500 or more animal units will also be limited to emergencies if applying liquid manure on frozen ground.

Under those conditions, producers can apply only in emergency situations, defined in the law as unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the producer such as natural disaster, unusual weather conditions, or equipment or structural failure.

Confinement producers must call the local DNR field office before they apply to report emergency applications. They can apply manure only to fields identified for emergency application in their manure management plans that have a Phosphorus Index of 2 or less. DNR field specialists will ask several questions about the application area and amount. They may have ideas or suggestions for producers who have questions about a specific site or risks. Field office locations and phone numbers are available at www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/DNRStaffOffices/EnvironmentalFieldOffices.aspx .

Hessenius added that if the manure is surface applied, producers and commercial applicators need to observe the separation distances, generally applying at least:
-- 750 feet from buildings such as residences, businesses and schools;
-- 200 feet from environmentally sensitive areas such as a drinking water well, lakes, rivers, streams or ag drainage wells; and
-- 800 feet from high quality water resources.

"The research shows that the later in the season and the closer to spring snowmelt that you apply, the greater the risk that manure-laden runoff will reach a stream," he said. He recommends that producers who might run out of storage this winter consider emergency application early in the winter, not late.  "Most important, they should use good common sense, applying on flat land with the least snow cover, located far from a stream," Hessenius said.

Iowa Soybean Association announces award winners

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) announces the winners of new awards the association has established this year to recognize those who have demonstrated commitment and leadership in the field of agriculture. “These awards provide an opportunity for ISA to recognize farmer leaders in all stages of their careers, as well as partners who have supported Iowa soybean farmers,” says ISA President Dean Coleman. “The recipients have all made contributions to the soybean industry and are all very deserving of this recognition.”

Awards were presented in five categories: Environmental Stewardship, Rising Star, New Leader, Legacy of Leadership and Friend of the Iowa Soybean Farmer.

The Friend of the Iowa Soybean Farmer Award, presented by AGP, was awarded to Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, recognizing her support of Iowa soybean farmers through her actions and efforts.  Reynolds was recognized as a strong advocate for agriculture and Iowa’s rural communities. She often offers direct assistance to a variety of ISA initiatives, including serving as co-chair of the Iowa Food and Family Project’s “Special Delivery: Homes, Help, Hope for Haiti” project.

The Legacy of Leadership Award, presented by Stine Seed, was presented to the family of the late Curt Raasch, of Odeboldt, Iowa.  Raasch demonstrated a passionate and relentless commitment to growing the soybean industry in Iowa. A fourth-generation farmer, he was very active in the soybean industry for more than two decades, culminating with serving as chairman of the United Soybean Board in 2006.

The New Leader Award, presented by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, was awarded to Lindsay Greiner, a soybean farmer from Keota, Iowa. Greiner, who has been actively involved in his ISA district advisory council, has shown outstanding involvement and commitment to promoting the soybean industry and agriculture as a whole.  In addition to volunteering with ISA, Greiner serves as vice president of the Keota Community School Board of Education. He also serves on the board of the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement, known as the “Sale of Champions” at the Iowa State Fair.

The Rising Star Award, presented by Farm Credit Services of America, recognizes an ISA member’s son or daughter who is actively involved in promoting agriculture through involvement in local, state and national activities and organizations and who is preparing to continue ag studies in college. This year’s award winner is Kendra Wuthrich, the daughter of Roger and DeAnn Wuthrich of Bloomfield, Iowa. Wuthrich, a senior at Davis County High School, is active in school activities 4-H and FFA. She plans to study agricultural business.

The Environmental Stewardship Award, presented by Iowa Select Farms, was awarded to Robert Ballou of Monticello, Iowa. The award is presented to an ISA member who has demonstrated a commitment to installing and maintaining practices that improve environmental sustainability.  Ballou is a member of ISA’s Environmental Programs and Services Advisory Council, and serves on the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board. He is actively involved in improving conservation practices on his farm using grid sampling and guided stalk sampling and other practices, and is in the process of developing a Certified Environmental Management Systems for Agriculture (CEMSA) plan for his farm.

Biodiesel Production Breaks 1 Billion Gallon Mark

The U.S. biodiesel industry reached a key milestone by producing more than 1 billion gallons of fuel in 2011, according to year-end numbers released by the EPA on Friday.  The total volume of nearly 1.1 billion gallons is by far a record for the industry and easily exceeded the 800 million gallon target required under the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The previous record for biodiesel production was about 690 million gallons in 2008.

"We've been seeing a lot of stories about setbacks in the renewable energy sector recently, and I think our success in 2011 reflects the bigger picture reality, which is that strong energy policy is working to stimulate production of clean, American-made energy," said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

"Specifically, our success clearly demonstrates that the biodiesel tax incentive and the Renewable Fuel Standard are working just as Congress envisioned," Steckel added. "Our industry is creating jobs, reducing our dependence on imported fuel, and improving the environment."

A recent economic study commissioned by NBB found that biodiesel production of 1 billion gallons supports 39,027 jobs across the country and more than $2.1 billion in household income. An additional 11,698 jobs could be added between 2012 and 2013 alone under continued growth in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and with an extension of the biodiesel tax incentive.

"Now is not the time to be second-guessing the RFS or eliminating the biodiesel tax incentive," Steckel said. "We're proving that the policies work, that American innovation and competitiveness can pull us away from our dangerous dependence on imported fuel. Just as President Obama said in his State of the Union this week, we need to stay the course to continue creating jobs and building America's energy capacity."

The biodiesel industry's success in 2011 comes after Congress reinstated the fuel's $1-per-gallon tax credit in December 2010 and as the EPA's RFS program for biodiesel completed its first full year of implementation. Without those policies in place in 2010, production dropped dramatically as dozens of plants shuttered and thousands of people lost jobs.

The tax incentive has since expired again, on Dec. 31, 2011, and the biodiesel industry is urging Congress to reinstate it. In addition, the industry is calling on the EPA and the Obama Administration to finalize the EPA's proposal to boost the biodiesel volume requirement under the RFS to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013.

The latest EPA numbers show that a record 160 million gallons of Biomass-based Diesel were produced in December alone.

EPA Determines Palm Oil Biodiesel Not Qualified Under RFS

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in its Federal Registry today that palm oil biodiesel and renewable diesel does not qualify under the Renewable Fuel Standard due to lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.  EPA said that it has determined that GHG emission reductions from biodiesel and renewable diesel produced from palm oil are 17% and 11% respectively compared to the statutory baseline petroleum-based diesel fuel used in the RFS program. 

"This analysis indicates that both palm oil-based biofuels would fail to qualify as meeting the minimum 20% GHG performance threshold for renewable fuel under the RFS program," EPA said today.  The EPA will be accepting comments on the analysis of palm oil biodiesel and renewable diesel until Feb. 27.

Wind Energy Continues Substantial Growth in 2011

The U.S. wind industry experienced a fourth quarter that shows wind power is forging ahead into new states like Ohio and Nevada while doubling down on installations in existing strong wind markets in California, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, the American Wind Energy Association said.

AWEA reports that the U.S. wind industry installed just more than 6,810 megawatts (MW) in 2011, 31 percent higher than 2010, and has more than 8,300 MW under construction, setting the stage for a strong 2012.

While California topped the list for megawatts installed in 2011 with 921, Illinois also had a very strong 2011, coming in with the second most megawatts installed for the year and rising to fourth on the overall list. Other traditional stalwarts like Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma rounded out the top five. Ohio came in as the fastest growing wind power state in 2011 with 101 megawatts installed leading to a more than 900% growth rate.

Meanwhile, South Dakota joined Iowa as the states receiving the highest percentage of their electricity from wind with 20 percent. Overall, 30 states brought wind projects online in 2011 and construction is ongoing for 2012 projects in 31 states, including the first wind projects in Nevada, Connecticut and Puerto Rico.

Kansas tops the under construction list with more than 1,188 megawatts of wind scheduled to come on line in 2012.

“This shows what wind power is capable of: building new projects, powering local economies and creating jobs,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Traditional tax incentives are working. This tremendous activity is being driven by the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) – which leveraged an average of more than $16 billion a year in private investment over the last several years and supported tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

“In hard economic times we’re creating jobs and delivering clean, affordable electricity,” Bode stressed. “But we will lose all these consumer benefits and a brand new, growing manufacturing sector if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire. Businesses need certainty. That is why it is urgent that Congress extend the PTC now, before the end of the first quarter, or risk losing a bright new manufacturing sector to foreign countries.”

A recent report by Navigant Consulting finds that if Congress allows the PTC for wind to expire, jobs in the wind industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one third cut to American wind manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds. And Navigant found that these job losses will begin now and accelerate with each month the PTC nears the expiration deadline at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, extending the PTC will allow the wind industry to grow to almost 100,000 American jobs in just four years and stay on track toward supporting 500,000 American jobs by 2030.

Grower Team Stewards Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association's Production and Stewardship Action Team traveled to Fresno, Calif., this week to tackle issues related to sustainability, water quality and other conservation and environmental concerns.

 At the meeting, Gary Edwards and Ken McCauley, who serve as NCGA organizational appointees on two sustainability initiatives, spoke to growers about sustainability efforts in the agricultural industry.

McCauley, an NCGA past president who farms in eastern Kansas, discussed the importance of corn farmers playing an active role in the development of farm management systems that will help producers to achieve verifiable sustainability outcomes that satisfy performance expectations of manufacturing supply chains and still maintain farm productivity.

Such is the mission of the National Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, McCauley noted, which expects to implement model systems developed through producer leadership and participation in November of 2012 across a variety of crops and regions. McCauley stressed the importance of farmers making sure sustainability efforts in production agriculture do not run counter to yield and operational productivity.

Gary Edwards demonstrated to the group the Field to Market's FieldPrint Calculator.  "This calculator is a step in the right direction for farmers to discover the management practices applicable to their operations, which achieve sustainable results without sacrificing productivity," said Edwards.

The team also heard a presentation by Debbie Reed of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, regarding large global corporations' approaches to sustainability. Reed talked about corporations linking their need to secure an adequate supply of agricultural resources to grow their businesses to corporate social responsibility. She described how Mars, one of the world's leading food manufacturers, realized that they needed to work in cooperation with farmers to adapt more sustainable production practices in order to secure the cocoa supply need to grow their global businesses. Reed also urged farmers to take a leadership role in defining what sustainable agriculture will mean to the global food chain.

The meeting will include a visit Thursday to the University of California's Kearney Ag Research Center as well as Golden State Feed and Grain. Before they conclude their work Friday, the team members also will have presentations from the Western Plant Health Association and the California Farm Bureau.

Low-oil DDGS Becoming Increasingly Available

Ethanol plants in the United States, which also produce the feed ingredient distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), continue to upgrade equipment to extract non-food grade corn oil during the ethanol production process.  While regular DDGS may contain 10-15 percent oil, the low-oil variety contains much less and has different characteristics and feeding values than regular DDGS.  Of the roughly 200 corn dry mills that produce ethanol, about 90 have oil extraction capabilities, and 105 plants will by this summer.

“On a production basis, about 40 percent of U.S. DDGS produced today is low-oil, and 58 percent will be low-oil by this summer,” said Randy Ives of Gavilon, LLC, and U.S. Grains Council Value-Added Advisory Team Leader.  Ives explained that low-oil DDGS has higher crude protein and higher levels of amino acids. The concentrated amino acid profile is positive for monogastric animals like poultry and swine, while dairy animals may be able to utilize more product thanks to the lower level of fat in low-oil DDGS.  While its appearance is the same as regular DDGS, the dried, low-oil product has improved flowability.

The Council noted research is underway to help quantify the characteristics of low-oil DDGS. Results will become available later in 2012.

While buyers and sellers often add the protein and fat numbers together as part of a sales contract, that may need to change going forward.  “This makes asking questions and communicating important,” Ives said. “What we really need to do is go back to requesting specific protein and fat levels and then build in a discount schedule to make up for slight differences in the final shipment.”  Low-oil DDGS is a great product that has different values for different buyers, depending on the end use, Ives commented. “It’s important for buyers to ask questions and hold suppliers accountable,” he added.

Why extract oil?
Just five years ago, few ethanol plants had the ability to extract non-food grade corn oil because the equipment was expensive, and the oil had little value. Now, however, the value of non-food grade corn oil has increased, and plants can extract the oil more efficiently due to improved emulsifiers and centrifuge technology, lowering the payback on oil extraction equipment to as little as six months.  For example, an ethanol plant using 16 million bushels of corn to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol can also produce 135,000 tons of low-oil DDGS and 8 to 12 million pounds of oil.  “With such a positive return, the adoption rate has been incredible,” Ives said.

Brazil Summer Corn Numbers Continue To Shrink

Forecast numbers for the Brazilian summer corn crop continue to shrink on the dry weather in the south.  On Friday, local farm consultancy lowered its estimate to 34.9 million metric tons (mmt) from 36.4 mmt last month.  The harvest will now be smaller than last year's (35.9 mmt), despite a 10% increase in planted area, it said in a report.  The heaviest losses will be in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, where yields are seen 42% lower than last year. Parana, Brazil's No. 1 corn state, will see yields fall 18% on the dry weather.

Baucus Named NAWG’s 2011 Wheat Leader of the Year

Senate Finance Committee Chairman and longtime agricultural advocate Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was named this week as the National Association of Wheat Growers’ 2011 Wheat Leader of the Year.  The Wheat Leader of the Year Award, the wheat industry’s highest public service award, is given annually to one Member of Congress based on his or her demonstrated commitment to the well-being and goals of the wheat industry.  Baucus was chosen by NAWG’s leadership to receive the 2011 award because of his tireless support of three free trade agreements that were approved last year; his efforts to protect crop insurance within the federal budget; and his general advocacy for agricultural priorities.

“We in Montana know how much Sen. Baucus and his staff care about our state’s farmers and about farmers around the country,” said Bing Von Bergen, NAWG’s second vice president and a wheat farmer from Moccasin, Mont. “Sen. Baucus has proven time and time again that he’s a champion of the wheat industry. He understands our concerns and does a spectacular job of fighting for them.”  Baucus received his award at a NAWG open house Thursday evening, held during the Wheat Industry Winter Conference in Washington, D.C.

“America’s farmers commend Chairman Baucus for his leadership in the effort to approve trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and for his strong defense of essential programs that support the foundation of our nation’s economy – agriculture,” said NAWG Chief Executive Officer Dana Peterson.

Baucus is a repeat winner of the Wheat Leader award, having also won it in 2008 and 2002.  Previous Wheat Leaders include Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) (2010); Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) (2009 and 2007); Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) (2006); Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) (2005); Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) (2004); Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) (2003); Rep. Larry Combest (R-Texas) (2001); Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) (2000); and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) (1999).

The Wheat Advocate Award is given annually to Members of Congress who have demonstrated support for the wheat industry above and beyond the norm.  Those receiving 2011 Wheat Advocate awards include:
    Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
    Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio)
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)
    House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)
    Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
    Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio)
    Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho)
    Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

The Friend of Wheat Award is given annually by NAWG for superior action in support of the goals and policies of the wheat industry. This award is given to Congressional and administrative staff members who have demonstrated support for the wheat industry above and beyond the norm.  The 2011 Friend of Wheat Awards were given to:
    Jonathan Coppess - Senate Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Ryan Flickner - Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
    Krysta Harden – USDA’s Office of the Secretary
    Tina May - Senate Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Jim Miller - Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
    Bill Murphy - USDA-Risk Management Agency
    Clark Ogilvie - House Agriculture Committee Minority Staff
    Joe Schultz - Senate Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Mike Seyfert - Senate Agriculture Committee Minority Staff
    Anne Simmons - House Agriculture Committee Minority Staff
    Alexis Taylor - Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

House Ag Approves Six Bills to Amend Dodd-Frank Swaps Regs

(from NAWG newsletter)

Members of the House Agriculture Committee approved on Wednesday six bills to amend the portions of the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law related to over-the-counter swaps.  The bills were all approved by on voice votes and emanated from oversight work the Committee has done with regards to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) proposed regulations under the new law.

The bills approved include:
    H.R. 1840, to require CFTC to assess the costs and benefits of proposed actions.
    H.R. 3336, the Small Business Credit Availability Act, which ensures banks and farm credit institutions can continue providing interest rate swaps for customer loans without being classified as swap dealers.
    H.R. 2682, which ensures end users can continue to use derivatives to manage business risks without being subject to costly margin requirements.
    H.R. 2779, which provides clarification that inter-affiliate transactions, when the parties to the transaction are under common control, are not to be regulated as swaps.
    H.R. 3527, which clarifies the definition of swap dealer to ensure energy and agriculture end-users are not misclassified and subject to costly new regulatory requirements.
    H.R. 2586, which prohibits regulators from requiring a minimum number of participants to receive or respond to quote requests.

In a release, the Committee said it has held seven hearings in the past year to review the portions of the law over which it has oversight, taking testimony from market participants.  Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said the changes would prevent regulations that could deter businesses from hedging risk.

NAWG and other agricultural groups have also communicated concerns about the Dodd-Frank rulemaking process to the CFTC.  In a letter sent earlier this month, agricultural groups told the agency that too rigid financial reform regulations could make it impossible for individual farmers and small agricultural companies to access much-needed financial risk management services. That full letter is available at http://www.wheatworld.org/issues/othercorrespondence/.

John Deere Marks the Company's 175th Anniversary

In 2012, Deere & Company marks the 175th anniversary of its existence, which began when company founder John Deere successfully manufactured and marketed the self-scouring plow in 1837.

"John Deere revolutionized agriculture and he made farming in the tough soil of the U.S. Midwest a productive and profitable venture," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer of Deere & Company. "Our recognition of this special anniversary reminds us of the many thousands of John Deere employees who came before us to make this company a world leader."

Deere had moved from his home in Vermont to start a small blacksmith shop in Grand Detour, Illinois. He later moved the business to Moline, Illinois, where the world headquarters is still located. The company was incorporated as Deere & Company in 1868. From the one-man shop at its inception, Deere currently has more than 60,000 employees worldwide.

John Deere is the world's leading manufacturer of agricultural and forestry equipment as well as a leader in construction and turf care equipment. Additionally, Deere manufactures engines and powertrains for its own equipment and that of other OEMs, provides credit and other financial services to those who purchase equipment, and is a world leader in precision irrigation.

"John Deere instilled four core values in his company," Allen said. "Today John Deere employees still deliver on the important values of integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation and we believe these values have been the key to the longevity of our enterprise."

Recognition of the 175th anniversary began recently when the John Deere Foundation made a $175,000 grant to help fund Feeding America's BackPack Program that provides children nutritious and easy-to-prepare food they need over the course of a weekend. Since 2007, the John Deere Foundation has been an active supporter of BackPack programs in several communities where Deere has facilities.

That grant is one of many ways Deere's 175th anniversary will be recognized as the year progresses. Deere & Company's recently issued annual report announces the milestone with the number "175" printed in large type on a simple silver cover. The publication reports the story of Deere's record-setting business performance for 2011 on the company's website at www.JohnDeere.com.

Various Deere business units around the globe will recognize the special anniversary for employees as the year progresses and Deere will engage in a citizenship activity that will have a positive impact in many of the communities where John Deere employees live and work. Deere will periodically highlight the anniversary on the company's popular social and internet media channels.