Friday, June 29, 2012

USDA June 29 Hogs and Pigs Report

United States Hog Inventory Up 1 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2012 was 65.8 million head. This was up 1 percent from  June 1, 2011, and up 1 percent from March 1, 2012.  Breeding inventory, at 5.86 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 60.0 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from last quarter.

The March-May 2012 pig crop, at 29.4 million head, was up 1 percent from 2011. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.92 million head, up slightly from 2011. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.09 for the March-May period, compared to 10.03 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.50 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.20 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.90 million sows farrow during the June-August 2012 quarter, down 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2011, and down 1 percent from 2010. Intended farrowings for September-November 2012, at 2.89 million sows, are down 1 percent from 2011, but up slightly from 2010.

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






NEBRASKA HOG INVENTORY DOWN 2 PERCENT

Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on  June 1, 2012, was 3.10 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  This was down 2 percent from June 1, 2011, but unchanged from March 1, 2012.  Breeding hog inventory, at 385,000 head, was up 1 percent from June 1, 2011, but down 1 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.72 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, but up slightly from last quarter.  

The March-May 2012 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.85 million head, was down 3 percent from 2011.  Sows farrowing during the period totaled 175,000 head, down 5 percent from last year.  

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 175,000 sows during the June-August 2012 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for September-November 2012 are 175,000 sows, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  



IOWA HOG INVENTORY TIES RECORD HIGH


On  June 1, 2012  there were 20.1 million hogs and pigs on  Iowa farms,  according  to  the  USDA  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs  report  issued  June 29, 2012.   That  ties the  record  high  inventory  of  September  2011.    The  June  1 inventory was up two percent from both a year ago and  March 1, 2012.

The March – May 2012 pig crop was 5.04 million head.   A  total of 485,000 sows farrowed with an average litter size of 10.4 pigs per sow.

As of June 1, producers planned  to farrow 480,000 head of sows and gilts in the June – August 2012 quarter.  Farrowing intentions for  the  September  –  November  2012  period  were  estimated  at 480,000 as of June 1, 2012.



Friday June 29 Ag News

Website, Workshops Help Ranchers in Time of Drought

As drought continues to take hold of the state, managing drought on the range becomes ever more important.

Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch is a website at http://drought.unl.edu/ranchplan from the National Drought Mitigation Center that can help livestock producers get through the current drought and continue to manage their pastures when not in drought.

The NDMC developed the site in collaboration with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension researchers Pat Reece (now owner of Prairie and Montane Enterprises), Jerry Volesky and Matt Stockton. The NDMC also consulted with ranchers, federal grazing experts and other researchers from UNL, South Dakota State University and Texas A&M University. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency.

"The website has a number of things available to producers related to animal nutrition, etc., but the most important thing is that producers really do need to make adjustments in overall grazing plans and stocking rates," said Volesky, UNL Extension range and forest specialist. "With these drought conditions, we have seen pasture growth and production that is only 20 percent to 50 percent of normal."

On the positive side, in the last three to four years, the Sandhills and Panhandle have had good rainfall and there is a lot of previous years' grass left in pastures, he said. Unfortunately, the quality isn't very good.

Volesky said warm season grass started to grow, but it has stopped. So, using pastures overall is very important now through July.

"Once we get into August and September, it usually is inevitable that pastures are grazed heavier than we'd like."

The website is home to several resources for developing a ranch drought plan: assembling a planning team, identifying goals and objectives, inventorying resources, setting critical dates, developing a monitoring system, identifying strategies for preparing for and managing through drought, and implementing and evaluating the plan. Each step includes links to resources, tools and worksheets.

In addition, there are links to upcoming and past workshops related to managing drought archived on the site.

One upcoming workshop sponsored by the NDMC, Colorado State University Extension and University of Wyoming Extension is the Eastern Colorado 2012 Range and Drought Clinic July 31 in at the Burlington Community and Education Center in Burlington, Colo.

Another workshop at which the NDMC's drought team will be speaking is the annual Nebraska Grazing Conference. The team will speak the entire morning of Aug. 15 during the two-day conference in Kearney. Information about the workshops can be found on the Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch website.

The Managing Drought Risk on the Ranch website is designed to take users through the steps of developing a ranch drought plan. The "Inventory and Monitor," "Before Drought," "During Drought" and "After Drought" sections provide in-depth information and resources that will help users develop a drought plan.

"The primary focus is the plan," Volesky said. "Producers who have a plan already started putting their plans in place at the first signs of drought this past spring. For producers who don't have a good drought plan, this drought should stimulate them to start putting together a plan now."

In addition, the site includes a "Drought Basics" section, which provides in-depth information on climate and historical drought occurrence; the effects drought has on livestock, grasses and grazing management; geographic variability in precipitation and forage growth; and drought-related financial considerations.

NDMC is housed in UNL's School of Natural Resources in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.



Nebraska Soybean Board July Board of Directors Meeting


The Nebraska Soybean Board will meet July 24 and 25, 2012, at the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center on the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) campus in Curtis, NE. The meeting will begin at approximately 8:00 a.m. on July 24th and conclude around noon on July 25th.  Business items to be considered by the Board include a review project proposals for FY13 in program areas of Producer Communications and Domestic Marketing and the Strategic Plan. 



USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing of CRP Acres for Six Counties in Nebraska


Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Dan Steinkruger today announced that six counties are authorized for emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for 2012.

The counties approved for CRP emergency grazing are Banner, Dawes, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Sioux.  The CRP emergency grazing authorization for 2012 is effective immediately and currently ends on September 30, 2012.

The Nebraska State FSA Committee reviewed the provisions for the emergency haying and grazing and made a number of recommendations to officials in the national office.  These recommendations are under consideration.  At the present time haying of CRP is not authorized until the July 15 nesting date.

 "Eligible producers who are interested in emergency grazing of CRP must request written approval from the Farm Service Agency before grazing eligible acreage," said Steinkruger.  "Producers must also obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that outlines permitted grazing practices," he said.  There will be a 25 percent annual payment reduction for CRP acres used for grazing under these emergency provisions.

To take advantage of the emergency grazing provisions, authorized producers can use the CRP acreage for their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage.  The eligible CRP acreage is limited to acres located within the approved county.

Eligible producers who are interested in grazing CRP under the emergency authorization and current CRP participants who choose to provide land for grazing to an eligible livestock producer, must first request approval to graze eligible acreage through the FSA and obtain a modified conservation plan from the NRCS to include grazing requirements.

For more information and/or to request approval for emergency grazing of CRP acres contact your local FSA office.  Additional information is available at www.fsa.usda.gov.



Experts Say Midwest Poised for Sweet and Biomass Sorghum


A group of scientist from Purdue, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Illinois and Cornell University believe sorghum could benefit from the rail system, grain elevators and corn ethanol processing facilities already in place in the Midwest region of the U.S. Released in the journal Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining, the scientists argue that no single plant is an answer to biofuels, but sorghum should be a larger part of the conversation than it is today. The article also suggests sorghum is a crop farmers may be more willing to grow because they are familiar with it and it is already a low input crop that could be genetically developed to maximize cellulose, minimize seeds and minimize inputs.



New Publication Illustrates Energy Used in Row Crop Production


Each year, approximately three-fourths of Iowa’s farmland is planted with corn or soybeans. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach shows the proportions of energy used to grow a typical corn or soybean crop in Iowa.

tanks“Energy Consumption for Row Crop Production” (PM 2089W) is available to download from the Extension Online Store, https://store.extension.iastate.edu.

“Due to the fact that so many Iowa farmers raise corn and soybeans, a quick review of the energy inputs used for row crops is helpful for managing farm energy expenses,” said Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer.

This publication gives an overview of annual energy consumption for corn and soybean production. Energy use typically falls under one of three categories: field operations, fertilizers and pesticides or artificial drying. For example, diesel fuel consumption is required to plant crops, but total consumption can be reduced with less aggressive tillage.

Nitrogen fertilizer application rates can be adjusted to meet the needs of the corn crop while avoiding excessive fertilizer application. Though chemical inputs such as fertilizer and pesticide are often considered an indirect energy expense for the farming operation, the manufacturing processes used to produce them require large amounts of energy.

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, visit http://farmenergy.exnet.iastate.edu



Iowa Soybean Association Responds to USDA Crop Report


This morning the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual acreage report, the calculation of planted acres in U.S. farmland. The data, based on field surveys taken during early June, updates the USDA’s March estimates from its prospective plantings report.

Nationally, planted soybean acres are estimated at 76.1 million acres, up from 74.98 million acres in 2011, and up from the March estimate of 73.9 million acres. Corn acreage is estimated at 96.4 million acres, up from 91.92 million acres last year and higher than the March estimate of 95.86 million acres.

Iowa leads the nation in acres planted to soybeans with 9.5 million acres.  That is up from 9.35 million acres in 2011, and 700,000 acres higher than the 8.8 million projected in March. Iowa’s planted corn acres are estimated at 14.0 million, down from 14.1 million in 2011, and 600,000 lower than the March projection of 14.6 million.

Soybean stocks are estimated in this report at 667 million bushels, compared to last year’s June 1 estimate of 619 million bushels and current trade estimates of 644 million.

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Dean Coleman, who farms near Humboldt, says farmers have obviously responded to the markets and planted more soybeans than anticipated in March.

“Clearly, world demand remains strong, particularly from China, as confirmed during our visit there in March. We would not be surprised to see exports increased further, which will draw down the stocks more than the USDA is estimating. With the short South American crop and weather concerns for the U.S., this fall will be tight.”

He adds, “Where the market goes in the short term will primarily be in response to the weather. It remains dry over half of the state of Iowa but a lot of the growing season for soybeans remains.”



Tentative Deal Reached on Highway Transportation Bill


Republicans and Democrats in Congress have reached a tentative agreement on a two year deal to finance the nation’s highways. The $8.4 billion dollar bill comes just days before the previous Transportation Bill expires on Saturday June 30, 2012. The legislation will reportedly help to create around 3 million jobs.

In the agreement Wednesday, Republicans from the House gave up several key points including a provision that aimed to speed up authorization on the Keystone Pipeline. Democrats, meanwhile, agreed to ease certain environmental rules, including shrinking the time frame regulators have to survey project sites.

Congress is also looking to attach a measure to the bill before the deadline on Saturday that will extend student loans at their current interest rate.

The bill carries several important provisions for the agriculture and wheat community. Amongst these is an exemption from the regulation of farm trucks that would otherwise place limits on hours of service and requirements for commercial licenses.

The exemption will apply to farm vehicles that weigh less than 26,000 pounds and are carrying commodities, livestock or equipment and are operated by a farmer, rancher or their employee. Trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds are exempt within 150 miles of the farm or ranch. This exemption is particularly important to farmers that carry goods and supplies across state lines.

Congress is expected to take up and pass the bill before the July 4 recess.



NCBA Supports Highway Bill


After nine extensions and more than a thousand days, the highway bill comes to an end tomorrow, June 30, 2012. In a last minute decision, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate today, June 29, 2012, passed a transportation bill (MAP-21)  that resulted from an agreement made Wednesday. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D. expressed approval for the legislation but said there is still work to be done.

“This very important bill is another example of legislation that resulted from bipartisan compromise. This bill has been on a road to nowhere for more than three years. Cattlemen should be relieved that progress has been made,” said Alexander, who is a cattleman from Pilger, Neb. “Specifically, this bill is a big deal to farm and ranch families across the country. Many do not realize just how important this transportation legislation is to farmers and ranchers.”

Alexander said the legislation includes many provisions that are good for cattlemen and women. The final agreement includes the Farmers’ Freedom Act (H.R. 2414), which was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Alexander said H.R. 2414 will prevent certain farm vehicles from vigorous federal requirements, such as commercial driver’s licenses, designed for fulltime commercial drivers. Among the provisions included in H.R. 2414, the legislation provides additional uniformity across state lines. Also included on that list of provisions is H.R. 3265, which was introduced by Congressman Sam Graves (R-Mo.). This legislation waives certain driving restrictions during planting and harvesting seasons for farmers who are transporting commodities. 

Alexander said NCBA supports making transportation policies more efficient for cattle producers by creating uniform transportation laws across all states and helping states adopt transportation laws that increase allowable weight, length and trailer requirements. Alexander said NCBA, the oldest and largest national cattle organization, was disappointed that truck weights were not directly addressed in MAP-21.

“State governments need to be given the option to increase truck weights with an additional axle to livestock and semi-trailers. This will increase braking power and place less total weight on each axle, making livestock transportation safer, more economical and less stressful on U.S. roadways,” said Alexander.

Alexander said transportation was included in NCBA’s top five priorities in 2012. He said the organization supports the agreement reached and was pleased that another extension was avoided. However, he said NCBA will continue working with members of Congress to address other NCBA transportation priorities.



NCBA Statement on WTO Ruling on Country of Origin Labeling


The World Trade Organization (WTO) today, June 29, 2012, issued its final ruling on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), which was originally released in November of 2011 and appealed on March 23, 2012, by the U.S. Trade Representative. National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President Bob McCan issued the following statement.

“The World Trade Organization has been extremely clear that mandatory Country of Origin Labeling is a clear WTO violation. This most recent decision is very similar to the initial ruling made three months ago. Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, we wasted three months and taxpayer dollars on an appeal process. This did nothing more than jeopardize our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of U.S. beef. The Obama Administration prolonged an issue that could have been resolved quickly.

“NCBA worked with Canada and Mexico to prevent any retaliatory action that could have occurred from the unfortunate decision made by the U.S. government to appeal the initial ruling.

“Cattlemen deserve a government that fights for and protects our opportunities. We need a government that not only demands WTO compliance of our trade partners but one that ensures the United States is abiding by these same guidelines. We are committed to working with this administration and Congress to find a permanent solution to this issue in order to bring the United States back into compliance. It is absolutely critical that the United States leads by example.”



NPPC Asks U.S. To Abide By WTO MCOOL Ruling; Wants Harmonization For North American Hog Markets

The National Pork Producers Council today said it will urge the Obama administration to comply with a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision against the U.S. Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (MCOOL) law and will work to promote harmonization of the North American hog market.

The WTO Appellate Body today upheld a previous WTO dispute settlement panel ruling that the meat labeling law violates U.S. trade obligations under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. NPPC opposed MCOOL when it was under consideration in the U.S. Congress.

“We believed when it was being debated in Congress that MCOOL would be an unnecessary burden to trade,” said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. “We have maintained that belief consistently from the outset, and we will be working to achieve U.S. compliance with today’s WTO decision.”

Hunt pointed out that the United States risks retaliation from Canada and Mexico, both of which filed complaints with the WTO over the U.S. labeling law, if it refuses to comply with the MCOOL ruling. Canada complained that MCOOL hurt Canadian livestock producers.

NPPC’s position on MCOOL is consistent with its longstanding support for harmonization of North American meat and livestock policies with regard to product labeling, food safety, animal health and subsidy programs.

On the latter two issues, NPPC has asked the Canadian government to recognize the U.S. swine herd health status as equivalent to Canada’s – recognition that will facilitate pork trade between the countries – and to reform its hog subsidy programs, which distort the North American hog and pork market, limiting the growth of U.S. pork production, employment and profitability.

Ontario’s Risk Management Program, for example, which over five years would boost Canadian hog production by more than 606,000 animals, would cut U.S. pork production by more than 430,000 hogs worth more than $73 million and cost nearly 600 U.S. pork industry jobs, according to an estimate by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.

“As we work with our government to reform the U.S. labeling regime for meat,” Hunt said, “we hope the Canadian government will recognize the negative effects its programs have on our producers.”



Drought Could Cost Farmers with Future Delivery Contracts


Drought conditions could hit farmers in the pocketbook in more ways than one, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt says. Not only could water-starved corn and soybean crops produce smaller yields and cut into farmers' revenues, but they also could force some growers who signed future delivery contracts with grain buyers to buy back some bushels they are unable to supply.

"We've been hearing of producers calling their grain managers and talking with them about the possibilities of dealing with these yield reductions," Hurt said. "Right now it's hard to say what will happen because nobody knows where grain prices are going to go."

With some parts of Indiana now nearing a month without significant rainfall and the critical pollination phase of corn either already started or about to begin, large crop losses appear likely for some farmers. Those losses would be especially painful for farmers who sold a large percentage of their anticipated corn crop this spring in forward cash contracts.

In forward contracts, producers promise to deliver a specified amount of grain to buyers well before their crops are harvested. In turn, farmers are guaranteed a set price for their grain, even if grain prices fall below that set price before their deliveries are made.

Farmers face a double whammy if the drought persists, Hurt said. On one hand, they could fail to produce enough crop to meet their contractual obligations. On the other, they could lose additional revenue if prices rise above their locked-in rate.

Hurt gave the example of a farmer who agreed to sell corn at $5 a bushel based on an anticipated production of 150 bushels per acre, for $750 in revenue per acre. If drought reduced the farmer's production to 120 bushels per acre and pushed cash prices to $6 a bushel, the farmer would deliver that smaller crop at the price agreed upon but then have to pay the buyer for the 30 bushels per acre the farmer was unable to supply. That undeliverable charge would be $30 per acre, based on the $1 per bushel more than the contract price the grain is now worth.

"That 120 bushels delivered would only generate $600 for the farmer," Hurt said. "Then, after the farmer paid the $30 on the non-delivered grain, they would have only $570 of revenue per acre, or $180 per acre less revenue than they had originally planned."

He urges farmers who are concerned that they have sold more bushels than they might produce to contact their grain buyers and discuss delivery alternatives.

With July corn futures moving prices to about $6.60 to $6.70 a bushel, old-crop cash corn should push past $7 per bushel, Hurt said. "If we go above $6.75 or $6.80 on July futures, then I think we've got a real shot at retesting the all-time highs at around $8."



NCGA Board Member Participates on Biotech Panel for the State Department


This week, NCGA Corn Board member Bob Bowman participated on a panel at the U.S. State Department National Foreign Affairs Training Center.  Bowman, who also serves as board liaison to the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, was the first agriculture producer invited to speak during the State Department's course.  The panel focused biotechnology and global challenges related to trade, food security, energy and climate change.

"Improved seeds give farmers new choices to cope with new challenges, such as plant diseases and difficult weather conditions, and help feed a rapidly growing global population in an environmentally sustainable way," Bowman said.  "Corn farmers have embraced modern biotechnology and, because of that, we have seen the use of fewer pesticides and fuel while improving yields."

The panel leading the session included three speakers representing a diversity of views on modern biotechnology including representatives from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Consumers Union. This course looked at the wide array of questions surrounding and views on agricultural biotechnology, the ability of biotech crops to address global challenges and various positions on labeling biotech products.



G20 Leaders Discuss Sustainable Agriculture

(from NAWG newsletter)

Heads of state convened last week in Los Cabos, Mexico, for the annual G20 Summit. Amongst the issues the summit considered was sustainable agricultural production. The G20 Agriculture Vice Ministers and Deputies estimated global population will rise to 9.3 billion by 2050.

To accommodate this rapid growth of population, the group predicted an overall increase in agricultural production of 50-70%, and up to 100% in developing countries, would be needed to meet demand.  The group’s final report addressed the needs and goals for continuing to develop sustainable agriculture.

The group highlighted the joint work done by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which identified public and private investment, and research and development as major factors affecting a successful outcome. The report from FAO/OECD stressed the need for investment and development directed particularly toward small-scale farms in undeveloped and underdeveloped regions of the world, in order to maximize the productive and efficient use of land.

The FAO/OECD report also highlighted a number of initiatives underway in support of developing sustainable agriculture, notably the International Research Initiative for Wheat Improvement (Wheat Initiative). The Wheat Initiative was created as a result of the 2011 G20 Summit, and is a science-driven project with the goal of bettering the coordination of international research on wheat genetics, genomics and agronomy related to both bread and durum wheat. (The Wheat Initiative Scientific Board will meet this week in Fargo, North Dakota).

Looking ahead to next year and to implementing the principles outlined during the summit, the G20 leadership called on the FAO, OECD, and other relevant international organizations to create a non-binding sustainable agriculture framework for analysis, which could be voluntarily adopted by G20 member nations, by the end of 2012. 



Cargill to build new feed facility in Bovina, Texas


Cargill announced today it will build a new facility in Bovina, Tx for various feed product production including its Sweet Bran® and RAMP specialty feeds. The facility will be located on an adjoining property to an existing Cargill Cattle Feeders (CCF) location.

“We are very excited about the possibilities for serving the growing livestock market from this location in Bovina,” said Mike Lewis, vice president, Feed, Cargill Corn Milling North America. “This is a very progressive, growth-oriented community.  And it’s in the heart of one of the biggest cattle feeding regions in the world.”

Cargill’s Sweet Bran® feed product is a highly palatable corn milling feed product.Cargill’s Sweet Bran® feed product is a highly palatable corn milling feed product that drives more consistent and greater energy intake in feedlot and dairy cattle resulting in increased production of meat or milk at a lower cost.  RAMP is a complete starter feed product designed for commercial cattle feeding operations which makes starting cattle easier and results in improved performance.

“We are extremely pleased that Cargill has chosen Bovina for this investment,” said Frank Gonzalez, Mayor of Bovina. “Our community leaders recognize the value of having Cargill as a partner in our community and in our economy. They have one existing facility here now, and have proven themselves to be good neighbors and good corporate citizens. We very much look forward to continuing the relationship.”

The facility is expected to bring 37 full-time jobs to the community, along with contractors. Construction is expected to begin in August 2012 and is scheduled to be completed sometime in late summer 2013.



New EverGolTM Energy Fungicide Seed Treatment from Bayer CropScience Available to Growers on Pioneer® Brand Soybeans

Soybean producers in the U.S. now will have access to a state-of-the-art fungicide seed treatment that can provide long-lasting protection against Rhizoctonia and other fungal diseases to help ensure greener and fuller plants, better crop establishment and improved growth.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, has entered into an exclusive agreement with Bayer CropScience to provide EverGolTM Energy fungicide seed treatment to growers planting Pioneer® brand soybeans, beginning with the 2013 growing season.

EverGol Energy seed treatment fungicide, recently registered for use in the U.S. by the Environmental Protection Agency, is a next-generation technology with multiple modes of action, providing enhanced protection against a broad spectrum of early-season diseases. EverGol Energy also promotes better stands under disease pressure and improves crop vigor, which can lead to more efficient use of water and nutrients.

"The launch of EverGol Energy demonstrates Bayer CropScience's commitment to providing innovative seed solutions to farmers, and our relationship with Pioneer provides another opportunity to deliver on that promise," says Ethan Luth, corn & soybean product manager at Bayer CropScience LP. "Including this new fungicide seed treatment technology for soybeans into the Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment (PPST) program will help farmers better protect their crops, maximize their investment and, ultimately, feed more people."

EverGol Energy fungicide expands the choices offered to Pioneer soybean customers as part of the PPST offering. Other PPST offerings include insecticides, an insecticide + nematode protectant and a proprietary biological/polymer for more complete protection of each soybean seed.

"Pioneer conducts extensive research evaluations of a broad range of seed treatment products among different growing conditions throughout soybean-producing areas to choose the best products for our customers," says Warren Richardson, senior marketing manager-North America seed treatment. "EverGol Energy fungicide meets those high standards and complements Pioneer's high-yielding soybean genetics to bring immense value to our soybean customers."




June 29 USDA Acreage and Stocks Report

Corn Planted Acreage Up 5 Percent from 2011
Soybean Acreage Up 1 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 3 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Down 14 Percent


USDA reports corn planted area for all purposes in 2012 is estimated at 96.4 million acres, up 5 percent from last year and represents the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1937 when an estimated 97.2 million acres were planted. Growers expect to harvest 88.9 million acres for grain, up 6 percent from last year.

Soybean planted area for 2012 is estimated at 76.1 million acres, up 1 percent from last year and is the third highest on record. Area for harvest, at 75.3 million acres, is up 2 percent from 2011. Record high planted acreage is estimated in New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania, and the planted area in South Dakota ties the previous record high.

All wheat planted area is estimated at 56.0 million acres, up 3 percent from 2011. The 2012 winter wheat planted area, at 41.8 million acres, is up 3 percent from last year and up slightly from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 30.0 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 8.3 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.5 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2012 is estimated at 12.0 million acres, down 3 percent from 2011. Of this total, about 11.4 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2012 is estimated at 2.20 million acres, up 61 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2012 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, 14 percent below last year. Upland area is estimated at 12.4 million acres, down 14 percent from 2011. American Pima area is estimated at 235,000 acres, down 24 percent from 2011.



NEBRASKA’S JUNE 1, 2012 ACREAGE REPORT

Nebraska producers increased acreage planted to corn, soybeans, sorghum, dry edible beans, and oats from a year ago, while decreasing acres planted to winter wheat, hay, proso millet, sunflower, and sugarbeets, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  

Nebraska corn growers planted 9.9 million acres for all purposes in 2012, up 1 percent from last year and the largest total since 1933.  Biotechnology varieties accounted for 91 percent of the planted acreage, down 2 percentage points from a year ago.

Soybean producers planted 5.1 million acres, up 4 percent from the previous year and second highest of record, behind only the 5.15 million acres planted in 2010. Biotechnology varieties resistant to herbicides accounted for 95 percent of the planted acreage, down from 97 percent last year.

Last fall, winter wheat was sown on 1.4 million acres, down 8 percent from 2011. Area for harvest, at 1.32 million, is down 9 percent from 2011.

Sorghum growers planted 165,000 acres, 10 percent more than 2011.

Alfalfa hay acreage for harvest, at 790,000, is up 1 percent from last year.  Other types of hay, at 1.6 million acres, are down 6 percent from a year earlier.  Dry edible bean producers planted 165,000 acres, up 50 percent from a year earlier.  Oat seedings, at 80,000 acres, are up 33 percent from 2011.  Proso Millet plantings of 65,000 acres are down 19 percent from a year ago.  Sunflower acres of 35,000 are down 41 percent from 2011.  Sugarbeet plantings of 51,000 acres are down 1,300 acres from last year.




Iowa Planted Acreage

Corn  planted  area  for  all  purposes  is  estimated  at 14.0 million  acres,  down  100,000  acres  from  2011  and 600,000  acres  below  the March  intentions  according  to the  USDA  National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service  – Acreage  report.    Corn  to  be  harvested  for  grain  is forecasted at 13.6 million acres.

Soybean acreage planted is estimated at 9.50 million acres, up 150,000 acres from 2011,  and  700,000  acres  above  the  March  intentions.  Soybean  acreage  to  be  harvested  is  forecasted  at  9.44 million  acres.  

Acreage  seeded  to  oats  is  estimated  at 130,000 acres, up 10,000 acres from 2011.  Oat acreage to be  harvested  for  grain  is  forecasted  at  60,000  acres.  Acreage  seeded  to winter wheat  last  fall  is  estimated  at 25,000  acres.   Winter wheat  acreage  to  be  harvested  for grain  is forecasted at 15,000 acres. The acreage estimates in  this  report  are  based  on  data  collected  from May  30 through June 18.

Producers  also  reported  the  percent  of  genetically modified (GM) seed varieties used to plant the 2012 corn and soybean acres.  The percent of corn acreage planted to insect  resistant  (Bt)  varieties  is  estimated  at  12 percent, herbicide  resistant  only  varieties  were  planted  on 15 percent  of  the  acres,  and  stacked  gene  varieties were planted on 64 percent of the acres.   Overall, 91 percent of the corn acreage was planted  to GM  seed.   Ninety-seven percent  of  Iowa’s  soybean  acreage  was  planted  with herbicide resistant GM seed.



USDA Grain Stocks, June 29, 2012
Corn Stocks Down 14 Percent from June 2011
Soybean Stocks Up 8 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 14 Percent


Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 3.15 billion bushels, down 14 percent from June 1, 2011. Of the total stocks, 1.48 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 12 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 1.67 billion bushels, are down 16 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2012 indicated disappearance is 2.87 billion bushels, compared with 2.85 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 667 million bushels, up 8 percent from June 1, 2011. On-farm stocks totaled 179 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 488 million bushels, are up 22 percent from a year ago. Indicated disappearance for the March - May 2012 quarter totaled 707 million bushels, up 12 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop all wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 743 million bushels, down 14 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 112 million bushels, down 14 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 631 million bushels, are down 14 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2012 indicated disappearance is 457 million bushels, down 19 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop Durum wheat stocks in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 25.6 million bushels, down 28 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 15.2 million bushels, are down 31 percent from June 1, 2011. Off-farm stocks totaled 10.4 million bushels, down 22 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2012 indicated disappearance of 10.2 million bushels is down 51 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop barley stocks in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 60.1 million bushels, down 33 percent from June 1, 2011. On-farm stocks are estimated at 9.67 million bushels, 63 percent below a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 50.4 million bushels, are 20 percent below June 1, 2011. The March - May 2012 indicated disappearance is 33.7 million bushels, 31 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Old crop oats stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 55.0 million bushels, 19 percent below the stocks on June 1, 2011. Of the total stocks on hand, 11.1 million bushels are stored on farms, 24 percent lower than a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 43.9 million bushels, 17 percent below the previous year. Indicated disappearance during March - May 2012 totaled 19.8 million bushels, compared with 18.7 million bushels during the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 58.5 million bushels, down 27 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 4.12 million bushels, are up 31 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 54.4 million bushels, are down 29 percent from June 1, 2011. The March - May 2012 indicated disappearance from all positions is 49.6 million bushels, down 46 percent from the same period last year.




NEBRASKA JUNE 1, 2012 GRAIN STOCKS

Nebraska Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 355 million bushels, down 18 percent from 2011 and the smallest total since 2004, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  Of the total, 170 million bushels are stored on farms, down 11 percent from a year ago.  Off-farm stocks, at 185 million bushels, are down 24 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 63.8 million bushels, up  42 percent from last year.  On-farm stocks of 10 million bushels are down 9 percent from a year ago while off-farm stocks, at 53.8 million bushels, are up 59 percent from 2011.

Wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 20.7 million bushels, down 41 percent from a year ago.  On-farm stocks of 700 thousand bushels are up 8 percent from 2011 while off-farm stocks of 20.0 million bushels are down 42 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions on June 1, 2012 totaled 4.3 million bushels, down 7 percent from 2011 and the lowest since 1957.  On-farm stocks are 300 thousand bushels, down 25 percent from a year ago and the lowest on record.  Off-farm holdings, at 4.0 million bushels, are 5 percent below last year.




Iowa Grain Stocks June 1, 2012

Iowa  corn  stocks  in  all  positions  on  June  1,  2012  totaled 689 million bushels, 12   percent below a year ago, according  to the  USDA  National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service  –  Grain Stocks  report.   Of  the  total  stocks,  48  percent were  stored  on-farm.   The March  - May  2012  indicated  disappearance  totaled 599  million  bushels,  23  percent  more  than  the  488 million bushels used during the same period last year.

Iowa  soybeans  stored  in  all  positions  on  June  1,  2012  totaled 147 million bushels, 5 percent more than the 139 million bushels on  hand  June  1,  2011.    Of  the  total  stocks,  30 percent  were stored  on-farm.    Indicated  disappearance  for  the March  - May 2012 period was 148 million bushels, 39 percent more  than  the 107 million bushels used during the same quarter last year.

Iowa oat  stocks  stored  in all positions on  June 1, 2012  totaled 6.81 million bushels, up 4 percent from the 6.56 million bushels on hand June 1, 2011.  Of the total stocks, 10 percent were stored on-farm.



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday June 28 Ag News

Nebraska Corn Board offers new blender pump grant incentive for fuel retailers

The Nebraska Corn Board recently allocated funds in its 2012-13 fiscal year budget to further develop the renewable fuel infrastructure in Nebraska.

Through a grant program, Nebraska Corn Board will award qualifying retailers $30,000 for the first blender pump and installation and $10,000 for a second pump. The maximum grant allowed per retail site is $40,000. Blender pumps allow retailers to more easily offer additional ethanol blended fuels, expand their fuel offerings and provide a point of distinction in the marketplace while serving the growing number of motorists driving flex fuel vehicles.

Such pumps also provide opportunities for stations to more easily offer E15, which is approved for use in all model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks and SUVs.

Grants are available on a first come, first served basis. Once funding is exhausted, retailers will be placed on a waiting list and awarded grant money in the order applications were received, if additional funding becomes available.

“We recognize the cost to install blender pumps can be a hurdle, and this grant program is designed to help station owners move forward and upgrade their system,” said Curt Friesen, a farmer from Henderson and secretary-treasurer of the Nebraska Corn Board. “We especially would like to see new pumps installed in larger cities where there are more drivers, which means more flex fuel vehicles capable of using ethanol blends beyond E10 and E15.”

There are more than 120,000 flex fuel vehicles in Nebraska and that number is increasing everyday, said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development with the Nebraska Corn Board.

However, there are only about 20 blender pumps and an additional 40 pumps offering E85 across the state. “Nebraska is the second largest producer of ethanol in the country yet the state is lagging behind in ethanol infrastructure,” Clark said.

Station owners who install blender pumps may benefit from the blending economics and a higher volume of ethanol sales, while their customers enjoy a new array of fuel choices at the pump. “Flex fuel vehicle owners of today and tomorrow will appreciate the ability to pull up to a pump and find higher blends of ethanol fuel such as E30 or E85,” Friesen said.

Clark said E15 should be available for sale in the state by the end of the year.

“Blender pumps are the perfect opportunity to offer E15 along with E10 and other ethanol blended fuels,” she said. “Station owners who lay the foundation for the future of renewable fuels now will really be in a good position in the years to come.”

For more information about the grant program or to request an application for a grant, contact Clark at kim.clark@nebraska.gov or telephone 402-471-2676.



Saunder County Soybean Growers Plan Summer Meeting


The Annual Meeting and Dinner of the Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization will be on Sunday evening, July 15th - 6:00 p.m. for Social Time, 6:30 p.m. for the Dinner.  This event will be held at the American Legion Hall in Valparaiso.  A PRIME RIB dinner will be served. 

Featured speaker for the evening will be Monty Gartin - Health, Safety & Security Team Leader for Cargill processing in Blair.   His topic will be “Flood of  2011 – How did Cargill protect it’s site, suppliers and customers”

They have secured a number of Agri-Businesses as sponsors for the meeting and dinner. They will be recognized that evening.

If you know someone who is a prospective member, please extend an invitation to join us at this gala event and become a part of our organization.

If you have questions, contact one of the Saunders County Soybean Growers Association Directors listed below:
Jeff Hanson– President
Kent Langemeier – Vice President
Gary Hellerich – Secretary / Treasurer
Allen Mumm
John Trutna
Richard Tvrdy
Ray Kucera
Nathan Cernik
Dennis Fujan – District 5 Director NSA
Doug Bartek – Saunders County Director NSA

Please RSVP no later than Friday, July 6. Please call the Saunders County Extension Office at 800-529-8030. We have to place a meal count with the caterer and if you don’t call ahead, we have no idea that you’re coming. 



CORN-ON-CORN CLINIC IN NEBRASKA TO OFFER AGRONOMIC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MANAGING CONTINUOUS CORN

Continuous corn production presents special agronomic challenges for farmers. Monsanto is sponsoring a Genuity® Corn-on-Corn Clinic on Wednesday, July 25, in Norfolk, Neb., to provide area farmers with management recommendations from academics and other industry experts for maximizing yield potential associated with corn-on-corn acres.

Scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Divots Conference Center at 4200 W. Norfolk Ave., the event is open to farmers at no charge and will include lunch. Participants can register online by visiting www.genuity.com/Corn-on-Corn-Clinic.

Genuity Corn-on-Corn Clinic Topics and Speakers:
·    Insect Management – Dr. Bob Wright, University of Nebraska Research and Extension Entomologist 
·    Fertility Management – Dr. Ray Ward, founder of Ward Laboratories Inc., an agriculture testing laboratory serving farmers and ranchers
·    Residue Management – Steve Petersen, Monsanto End Use Manager
·    Disease Management – Dr. Tamra Jackson-Ziems, University of Nebraska Extension Plant Pathologist

In addition to these presentations, the event will feature a panel of Nebraska farmers discussing their experiences with continuous corn production, followed by a question and answer period. All farmer attendees will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Cabela’s gift certificate.

Continuous corn production is often accompanied by high corn rootworm pressure, and a strong focus on integrated pest management practices helps to manage high corn rootworm populations. Monsanto’s Genuity® SmartStax® RIB Complete® corn blend is a single bag refuge management technology that provides multiple ways to protect against above- and below- ground insects in the Corn-Growing Area, including full-season control of corn rootworm.

“Farmers who grow continuous corn face additional challenges not typically encountered in a traditional corn-soy rotation,” says Ty Vaughn, Monsanto’s Corn Product Management Lead. “The Genuity Corn-on-Corn Clinic will focus on key agronomic practices to help farmers in this environment maximize their success.”

Genuity Corn-on-Corn Clinics are also being held July 31 in Spencer, Iowa; Aug. 1 in Cascade, Iowa; and Aug. 7 in Burlington, Colo.



BASF announces On Target Application Academy schedule


As advanced crop protection products and spray technologies come to market – and weed resistance continues to challenge growers across the country – it’s simple to say that today’s weed management environment is becoming more complex.

Developed by Bob Wolf, Ph.D., of Wolf Consulting and Research, TeeJet Technologies and BASF, with insight from a grower roundtable, the On Target Application Academy is a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity to provide growers extensive hands-on training for better awareness of herbicide application best practices.

“State certification courses and exams are important steps in ensuring proper herbicide application,” said Wolf. “The On Target Application Academy supplements these efforts, offering more detail around best management practices and factors that affect proper application.”

The On Target Application Academy educates growers on new application technologies, plant biology and advancements in new product chemistries to help them achieve the most effective and sustainable weed control possible – and to help mitigate off target applications, which is a continuous area of focus for the agricultural industry.

Schedule of events include:

July 17
Iowa State Advanced Spray Technology Clinic
Iowa State Field Extension Education Laboratory, Ames, Iowa
Two sessions: 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

September 5
BASF Grower Field Day
BASF Research Farm, Beaver Crossing, Nebraska
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

September 27
Iowa State University Advanced Spray Technology Clinic
Iowa State Field Extension Education Laboratory, Ames, Iowa
Two sessions: 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

“We’re excited about the programs we’ve been able to join as they not only provide a great opportunity to reach growers, but also include academic, manufacturer and industry representatives who will cover an array of topics, including plant biology, research and weed resistance management programs,” Luke Bozeman, Technical Market Manager, BASF, said.

Bozeman said growers will walk away with a deeper understanding of new technologies to ensure on target applications, better train employees, maximize yields, protect input investments, and protect lifelong investments in their crops.

Wolf, who is the lead trainer for the On Target Application Academy, said, “At the heart of the training is a detailed overview of new product and equipment technologies, training on proper equipment set up, including calibration, nozzle selection and clean-out, and a review of best practices for self-application.”

The On Target Application Academy recommends the following best practices:
• Always read and follow label directions.
• Develop proactive weed resistance management plans.
• Evaluate environmental factors before you spray.
• Select the proper nozzle for best results.
• Calibrate your sprayer.
• Be aware of cropping rotations in your area.
• Clean your equipment.
• Select proper spray adjuvants to maximize product performance.
• Configure your equipment to achieve on target application for effective  weed control.
• Keep proper records.
• Handle, store and dispose of products according to label directions.



Farm Beginnings Nebraska Twilight Tour and Potluck


Join the 2012 Farm Beginnings Nebraska participants as their final two tours of the season. Many farmers met the aspiring farmers at the annual conference. Participants will be hosting a meet and greet event on June 30 near Ceresco. The afternoon will get started at 2:30 p.m. at Woody Creek Lavender farm.

A short drive from both Lincoln and Omaha, the group is opening the first U-Pick lavender farm in Nebraska at Woody Creek Lavendar. The farm's first planting was in 2010 with 400 plants and 13 varieties. The owners plan to provide many services including fresh and dried lavender, oil distillation, wedding items, and products with events held here at the farm.

The afternoon (about 4 p.m.) will continue with another tour at Darby Springs Farm, just down the road.

Darby Springs' goals are to develop a farm that provides good, healthy food for family and the community, while enhancing the native ecosystems we live in. The farm is a tall grass prairie flowing down into a saline wetland, with at least three springs that we've found so far. The farm has the opportunity to steward these two rare ecosystems.

Then after the pasture walk at Darby Springs Farm, the group will have a potluck and bonfire. Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society members and supporters, past and present, are encouraged to attend and meet the new crop of farmers.

For directions please email William A. Powers, executive director, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, at healthyfarms@gmail.com.



Iowa Energy Summary


Crude Oil Summary -- Crude oil had a significant drop this week, closing at $79.36, a $4.67 decline over last week's price on the West Texas Intermediate. Brent crude oil also fell, closing $4.95 lower at $90.19 per barrel.  Brent crude oil also fell in price this week, finishing at $90.19 per barrel on Tuesday's close, down $4.95 from the previous week.  One year ago WTI crude sold for $90.61 and Brent crude was at $104.57.

Motor Fuels -- As of Tuesday, the price of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.43 across Iowa according to AAA. This is a decrease over the previous week of $.06 and down $.07 compared to one year ago. The national average on Tuesday was $3.38, down $.11 from last week's price.

Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa were down $.05 on the Tuesday report with a statewide average of $3.58. One year ago diesel prices averaged $3.85 in Iowa. The current Iowa diesel average is $.11 per gallon lower than the national average of $3.69.

Wholesale ethanol prices were up $.08 this week, closing at $2.19. The price of Mid-Grade Blend in Iowa (10% ethanol) closed at $3.35 per gallon, down $.06 from last week's price and down $.07 compared to one year ago.

Heating Fuels -- Natural Gas prices in Iowa rose $.11 over last week's report, ending the week at $2.70 / MMbtu.



Trade Sources say Biodiesel Demand Weak due to Oversupply


Biodiesel producers and traders continue to experience challenges moving their physical fuel due to an oversupplied market.  Trade sources maintain blenders bought so much biodiesel before the end of 2011 to capture a now expired tax credit that storage tanks remain brimming with product.  In addition, demand has been lackluster for petroleum diesel causing corresponding weak demand for biodiesel. Trade sources used words like "slow" and "quiet" to describe the market for the past two weeks.



Natural Gas Prices Drop 3 Percent


The price of natural gas dropped more than 3 percent Thursday following reports of an unexpectedly large increase in U.S. supplies.

The U.S. Energy Department said that natural gas, which is burned for heat in the winter and electricity in the summer, grew in supply by 57 billion cubic feet last week. That's more than the 51 billion to 55 billion cubic feet that analysts were predicting. Prices tend to fall as supplies go up.

Natural gas futures fell by 9.3 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $2.705 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York. The price had risen about 24 cents in the past four sessions and about 88 cents, or 45.5 percent, since April, when natural gas hit a 10-year low.

The U.S. has been slowly burning off an abnormally large surplus of natural gas this year. Stockpiles had jumped following a boom in North American production and a relatively warm winter. Supplies are still growing, though rising temperatures from the Midwest to the East Coast have recently kept those supply increases relatively moderate.

America's natural gas supply is about 25 percent higher than average for this time of year, the government said.

Retail U.S. gasoline prices fell by 1.4 cents to a national average of $3.369 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded has dropped by 56.7 cents since prices peaked in the first week of April.



USDA:  June Farm Prices Received Index Increased 3 Points


The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in June, at 181 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 3 points (1.7 percent) from May. The Crop Index is up 2 points (1.0 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 1 point (0.7 percent). Producers received higher prices for hogs, oranges, eggs, and broccoli and lower prices for hay, corn, soybeans, and broilers. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of wheat and hay offset the decreased marketing of oranges, corn, cattle, and strawberries.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 1 point (0.6 percent) from June 2011. The Food Commodities Index, at 170, increased 4 points (2.4 percent) from last month but decreased 1 point (0.6 percent) from June 2011.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The June Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 215 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is unchanged from May but 12 points (5.9 percent) above June 2011. Higher prices in June for complete feeds, concentrates, nitrogen, and supplements offset lower prices for diesel, hay & forages, LP gas, and gasoline.

Prices Received by Farmers

The June All Farm Products Index is 181 percent of its 1990-1992 base, up 1.7 percent from the May index and 0.6 percent above the June 2011 index.

All crops:

The June index, at 210, increased 1.0 percent from May and 0.5 percent from June 2011. Index increases for fruits & nuts and commercial vegetables more than offset the index decreases for feed grains & hay, oilseeds, food grains, and potatoes & dry beans.

Food grains: The June index, at 213, is 2.3 percent below the previous month and down 12 percent from a year ago. The June price for all wheat, at $6.37 per bushel, is down 30 cents from May and $1.04 below June 2011.

Feed grains & hay: The June index, at 265, is down 2.9 percent from last month but 1.1 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $6.25 per bushel, is down 8 cents from last month and 13 cents below June 2011. The all hay price, at $183 per ton, is down $16.00 from May but $20.00 higher than last June. Sorghum grain, at $9.95 per cwt, is 45 cents below May and 55 cents below June last year.

Cotton, Upland: The June index, at 137, is down 2.1 percent from May but unchanged from last year. The June price, at 83.1 cents per pound, is down 1.5 cents from the previous month and 0.2 cent below last June.

Oilseeds: The June index, at 245, is down 2.0 percent from May but 3.4 percent higher than June 2011. The soybean price, at $13.70 per bushel, decreased 30 cents from May but is 50 cents above June 2011.

Livestock and products:

The June index, at 152, is 0.7 percent above last month but down 0.7 percent from June 2011. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, broilers, calves, turkeys, and eggs. Prices for milk and hogs are down from last year.

Meat animals: The June index, at 161, is up 1.3 percent from last month and 10 percent higher than last year. The June hog price, at $66.90 per cwt, is up $4.10 from May but $2.80 lower than a year ago. The June beef cattle price of $122 per cwt is unchanged from last month but $15.00 higher than June 2011.

Dairy products: The June index, at 123, is down 0.8 percent from a month ago and 24 percent lower than June last year. The June all milk price of $16.10 per cwt is 10 cents less than last month and $5.00 lower than June 2011.

Poultry & eggs: The June index, at 164, is up 0.6 percent from May and 5.8 percent above a year ago. The June market egg price, at 68.8 cents per dozen, increased 9.4 cents from May and is 0.1 cent above June 2011. The June broiler price, at 52.0 cents per pound, is down 1.0 cent from May but 3.0 cents above a year ago. The June turkey price, at 73.9 cents per pound, is up 1.3 cents from the previous month and 4.4 cents above a year earlier



Farm, Energy, Technology Groups Tell EPA, NHTSA CAFE Rule as Proposed Poses Risk to Rural Economy

A coalition of rural energy interests says proposed new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards could cap and constrain U.S. biofuel production, posing a risk to the nation’s rural and energy economy.

In comments filed today with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the organizations say the proposed rule establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and CAFE standards for 2017 and later model-year, light-duty vehicles “does not sufficiently incentivize the production of FFVs (flex fuel vehicles),” and “does not adequately value the greenhouse gas reduction potential of biofuels.”

Seeking changes to the proposed rule, the groups argue that “[t]ogether, these oversights place the rule in conflict with other established national priorities, policies, and legislation,” including the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), “while ignoring the economic, public health, and environmental benefits that can only be achieved through increased biofuel usage.”

The comments were submitted by the 25x’25 Alliance, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Seed Trade Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union and the National Sorghum Producers.

The groups make the case that “[T]he continued production of flexible fuel vehicles and the advancement of a range of biofuels into the market are critical to expanding renewable fuel use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing air quality.”

There are currently 12 million FFVs operating on American roadways and the use of midlevel ethanol blends and E85 in FFVs is a cost-effective and efficient way to help meet the federal agencies’ ambitious standards for improving tailpipe emissions through biofuels utilization, the organizations state.

“Ethanol and other advanced biofuels such as biobutanol facilitate CO2 emission reductions both within the vehicle, and, more importantly, throughout its production and combustion life cycle,” the groups assert in their comments.

“Furthermore, increased biofuel use contributes to public health,” the groups state. “Higher ethanol blends reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM 2.5 and ultrafine particles) resulting from the burning of aromatic hydrocarbons like benzene, toluene, and xylene found in conventional fuels.”

The groups contend that despite the many benefits of biofuels, including the enhancement of U.S, national energy security, the proposed rule does not ensure they will be realized.

“The proposed rule effectively eliminates statutory incentives intended to promote their use,” according to the comments. “Moreover, it appears to pick favorites by providing much more generous credits to other ‘advanced vehicle technologies,’ such as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

Changes to the rule proposed by the farm energy groups to EPA and NHTSA include addressing the lack of parity for FFVs by providing a level playing field for each vehicle technology, and recognizing the “lifecycle” CO2 reductions provided by ethanol.

Representatives from the groups will soon meet with officials at EPA and the NHTSA to press their case. They will also meet with officials at the Department of Agriculture and State Department to discuss the effect that the proposed rule could have on commodity prices that would, in turn, impact global markets.



USDA/GIPSA Approves Aflatoxin Test


A three-minute test that detects aflatoxin in feed and grain has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.  The test, developed by Charm Science, is approved for more than 20 commodities, including corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum and dried distillers grains.  The Charm Rosa Fast Aflatoxin Quantitative test is an immunreceptor assay that uses a simple lateral flow strip format. A diluted extract is applied to test strips. The strips are incubated and results are read on a Rosa-M Reader.



Dairy Situation and Outlook, June 26, 2012

Bob Cropp, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension


Production of dairy products continues to run well above a year ago. Compared to April a year ago, butter production was up 7.2%, cheddar cheese 3.6%, total American cheese 3.5%, total cheese 2.1% and nonfat dry milk 31.1%. Latest sales data, January through March compared to a year ago show Butter up 0.7%, American cheese up 0.1%, other cheese up 2.5%, but fluid (beverage) milk sales down 3.2%. Dairy exports continue to be positive compared to a year ago. Exports for the January through April period were up 8% for nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder, whey proteins up 2%, cheese up 12% and lactose up 5%, but butterfat down 33%. On a total solids basis exports were equivalent to 13% of U.S. milk production, the same as a year ago. While butter and nonfat dry milk stocks continue to grow cheese stocks are lower than a year ago. Compared to a year ago, May 31st butter stocks where 55.4% higher. American cheese stocks were just 0.1% higher but total cheese stocks 1.9% lower. April 30th nonfat dry milk stocks were 54.2% higher than a year ago.

Good news for milk prices is milk production is slowing down. For the 23 reporting states January through April milk production on a daily basis was 4.0% higher than a year ago due to both increases in cow numbers and more milk per cow. But, cow numbers dropped by 3,000 head in May and with milk per cow up 1.2% total milk production increased just 2.1%. For the U.S. estimates are that after increasing month-to-month since October of 2010 cows numbers dropped by 4,000 head in May. With cow numbers now just 0.8% higher than a year ago and milk per cow up 1.2% May milk production was estimated to be just 2.0% higher than a year ago.

Cow numbers had been increasing in California but dropped by 2,000 head in May. Milk production was up 3.2% in April for California but up just 1.9% in May. Arizona’s milk production remained strong being up 5.0%. Production was 2.5% higher for Idaho, but only 1.4% higher for New Mexico and 0.7% for Texas. In the Northeast, production was 3.5% higher for Michigan, 4.4% higher for Ohio and 2.5% higher for New York. But, Pennsylvania’s production was 2.1% lower due to 1.3% fewer cows and 0.9% less milk per cow. In the Midwest fewer cows and less milk per cow resulted in production 1.3% lower in Iowa, with no change in Minnesota and 2.4% higher for Wisconsin.

Also good news for milk prices is improved prices during June for both butter and cheese and price firmness for both nonfat dry milk and dry whey. CME butter averaged $1.35 per pound in May and is now $1.52. CME barrel cheddar cheese averaged $1.47 per pound in May and is now $1.66 and 40-pound cheddar blocks averaged $1.52 per pound in May and are now $1.64. West nonfat dry milk is trading in the $1.13 to $1.20 per pound range, and dry whey which was trading as high as $0.70 per pound early in the year is now in the $0.45 to $0.52 range.

The June Class III price could show some strength at around $15.65 compared to $15.23 in May. However, the Class IV price is likely to show little change from the $13.55 May price. The Northeast and Midwest have experienced hot weather and forecast is for temperatures to remain hot for the week ahead. This hot weather along with milk production on its seasonal decline and lower milk composition during the summer has improved the outlook for milk prices over what appeared to be the case a month earlier. It now looks like the Class III price could near $16.75 for July and be above $17.00 by August and peak near $17.50 by October or November.



US Department of Labor announces $5 million grant competition to pilot test guidelines to reduce child and forced labor in agricultural imports

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs today announced a competitive solicitation for a $5 million cooperative agreement to pilot test the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines to reduce child labor and forced labor in imported agricultural products.

Worldwide, an estimated 60 percent of children who work do so in the agricultural sector. The USDA’s 2011 Guidelines for Eliminating Child and Forced Labor in Agricultural Supply Chains lay out the key elements of effective company programs to reduce the likelihood that child or forced labor is used in agricultural products or commodities imported into the United States.

Prospective applicants must represent a partnership that includes a nongovernmental organization and a company that is active in agricultural supply chains. Applicants must demonstrate expertise in areas such as international children’s issues, labor issues and company supply chain compliance programs. The project funded as a result of this competition will involve piloting a program for one or more companies to reduce child labor (and forced labor if applicable) in an agricultural supply chain in one country. In addition, the projects will involve documenting lessons learned and recommendations for future application of the USDA’s guidelines.

Eligible applicants must respond to the entire scope of work outlined in the solicitation. Applications must be submitted by Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. EDT electronically via http://www.grants.gov or as hard copies to the U.S. Department of Labor, Procurement Services Center, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-4307, Washington, D.C. 20210, Attention: Brenda White and Jim Kinslow. 

The cooperative agreement award – possibly more than one – will be made by Dec. 31. The solicitation for grant applications is available online at http://s.dol.gov/T6.



Pioneer Hi-Bred is Now Being Called 'DuPont Pioneer'


Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, will be known as DuPont Pioneer as of July 1.

Company officials say DuPont Pioneer is an important element in extending DuPont's efforts in the agricultural and food industries. The change in the name reflects a joint mission to find solutions to ensure that the world's growing population has enough food.

A news release from Dupont says the DuPont Pioneer goal remains the same: 'to provide the best products, services and information to help growers get the highest return on every acre they farm. Nothing in that commitment will change, and Pioneer remains an important brand as it has been for more than 85 years.'

The original Hi-Bred Corn Company was started in 1926 and was renamed Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. in 1970. DuPont acquired about 20-percent of the company in 1997 and purchased the rest of its shares two years later.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday June 27 Ag News

Triple Digit Temperatures Mean Watching Cattle for Heat Stress

With temperatures hitting the triple digits, cattle producers need to take steps to ward off heat stress in their herds, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln beef specialist said.

Cattle can begin to experience some level of heat stress when the heat index approaches 80 degrees, with most cattle being severely stressed when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees, said Terry Mader, beef specialist at UNL's Haskell Agricultural Laboratory near Concord.

Also, when early morning temperatures and/or the heat indices are in the mid-70s, chances are cattle did not adequately cool down at night, and feedlot managers should be prepared to provide as much relief to cattle as possible during the day.

Water is probably the best way to dissipate heat, Mader said.

Cattle normally take in about 5 to 8 gallons of water per day. However, when temperatures rise, that amount can double or even triple.

"It's important to have plenty of available water," he said. "When there is competition for water, it creates problems because the dominant animals will occupy waterer space and not allow other animals access."

If cattle are crowding around the watering trough, add more waterer capacity or move some of the animals to pens that will give them adequate access to water, Mader said.

In an emergency, cattle can be sprayed with water to cool them down. However, once producers do that, they need to repeat or continue spraying until the heat subsides. Spraying cattle with water will allow the animal to rapidly dissipate heat through evaporative cooling processes but this may limit the animal's ability to adapt to the heat.

If the pen surface is dry, wetting the pen also will provide relief to confined animals. It is always beneficial to start the wetting or cooling process in the morning before the cattle get too hot.

Another suggested heat stress mitigation tactic is to use bedding to decrease surface temperatures animals are exposed to, Mader said. Generally it's thought bedding is for insulation against cold stress. However, straw can aid in breaking up or diffusing the solar heat load that often contributes to heating up dry, bare ground. The degree bedding is effective in doing this is unknown. However, if used, it is suggested bedding be placed in the pen early in the morning when the ground has cooled; otherwise, heat will be trapped in the pen surface. Also, wetting the bedding would allow for additional cooling to occur when the animal uses it.

Producers should avoid handling cattle when it's hot and never after 10 a.m. Cattle body temperatures can rise an additional 0.5 to 3.5 degrees during handling.

Cattle yards also should be free of any structures that restrict airflow. Cutting down vegetation around pens and moving cattle away from windbreaks can all help. Building earth mounds in pens also can increase airflow by preventing cattle from bunching together. Other heat stress mitigation strategies include: providing shade, controlling biting flies and other parasites, keeping very current on cattle marketings and being mindful of heat effects on personnel as well.



NCBA Encouraged by House Hearing on Superfund Legislation


The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hosted a hearing today, June 27, 2012, to deliberate on the “Superfund Common-Sense Act” introduced by Congressman Billy Long (R-Mo.) According to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President J.D. Alexander, the legislation (H.R. 2997) would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the courts from imposing what Alexander called expensive liability and needless regulation on U.S. agriculture.

NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald said the legislation would restore the original intent of Congress under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly called the Superfund Law, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

She said the Superfund Law was originally passed by Congress in 1980 to prevent toxic waste from polluting U.S. waters and was never intended to elevate extreme agendas by imposing liability on U.S. farmers and ranchers in the same fashion as toxic waste polluters. The legislation would exempt cattle manure from all liability under these laws.

“Congress never intended manure to fall under the jurisdiction of CERCLA. However, some activists groups and attorneys in Texas and Oklahoma have worked to increase the law’s reach by attempting to convince courts that livestock producers should be subject to CERCLA liability,” said McDonald. “Subjecting farmers and ranchers to CERCLA liability could place the financial burden of nutrient reduction for an entire watershed on a single producer. This kind of liability could easily reach into the many millions of dollars and bankrupt family farmers and ranchers.”

This legislation discussed today is identical to a bill (S. 1729) introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). Alexander said both bills would amend CERCLA to provide that naturally occurring, organic manure and its nutrient components are not considered a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.  He said NCBA strongly supports the legislation and considers the fact a hearing was held to discuss the legislation is a victory for cattlemen.

“In Washington, everything is one step at a time. This hearing is a very important step towards passing this legislation in the U.S. House. The hearing shows that regulatory relief may be within reach,” said Alexander. “We encourage the U.S. Senate to follow suit and move on S. 1729 as quickly as possible.”



House Committee is Told that Animal Manure Should be Exempt from Superfund Regulations


Congress needs to make clear that regulations designed to protect the environment against toxic waste do not ensnare dairy farmers and others who raise farm animals, the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy was told Wednesday.

The hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill reviewed legislation introduced by Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), designated as H.R. 2997, or the Superfund Commonsense Act.  It would clarify that manure is not included in the meaning of “hazardous substance” as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) regulations, and also would eliminate the reporting requirement for releases associated with manure under the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) regulation.

The National Milk Producers Federation has been working for several years with Congressman Long and others to provide greater regulatory assurances to dairy farmers that these laws and regulations are not designed or intended to impact dairy farmers.  The CERCLA law was created more than 30 years ago to regulate Superfund sites, and the EPCRA law was created after that for similar purposes.

Testifying on behalf of the dairy industry, Walter Bradley, who works for Dairy Farmers of America, reminded committee members that concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and their environmental releases are subject to both state and federal laws.  Bradley told the panel that “we are not seeking an exemption from the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) or the Clean Air Act (CAA) or similar state laws including any federal or state worker protection laws. We are merely seeking clarification under CERCLA and EPCRA that animal manure does not necessitate an emergency response nor does it create a Superfund site.”

Without the clarity provided in Rep. Long’s legislation, Bradley told the House panel that “the courts are left to redefine the regulation. Animal manure has been safely used as a fertilizer and soil amendment all over the world for centuries.”

“In recent years, however, we have seen litigation challenge the use of animal manure as a fertilizer by claiming contamination and damage to natural resources. The issue of CERCLA/EPCRA’s applicability to the livestock industry has been discussed in Congress several times in the last decade. I believe congressional intent is clear. When the law was passed, Congress did not intend for manure to be regulated as a hazardous substance,” Bradley said.



TESTIMONY DISCOURAGES SUPERFUND REGULATION OF MANURE


Today Walter Bradley, government and industry relations representative for Dairy Farmers of America, testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy in support of H.R. 2997, the Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011. This measure seeks to clarify that livestock manure should not be classified as a hazardous substance under nations’ Superfund laws.

Congress created the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to assist with cleaning up toxic waste sites, including hazardous materials such as petrochemicals, inorganic raw materials and petroleum oil used to make hazardous products and waste. H.R. 2997 seeks clarification under CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act regulation that animal manure does not necessitate an emergency response nor does it create a Superfund site.

“The last few years have posed extraordinary challenges for dairy farmers across the country, but one thing Congress can deliver to our dairymen is regulatory surety,” Bradley said. “We do not believe that animal manure necessitates an emergency response.”

The phosphates in manure are not now, nor have they ever been, equivalent to the harmful chemicals that CERCLA has been addressing for the last 32 years. During that same time span, numerous laws have been passed and initiatives undertaken to encourage rural America to participate in the renewable energy field through the development of on-farm energy production. Congress has acknowledged manure’s value by funding research, and passing tax credits and mandates for its use for producing biogas, electricity and biodiesel.

“It is not logical to encourage dairy producers to invest millions of dollars in technologies to support the nation’s energy needs without addressing the threat that manure might be classified as a hazardous substance,” Bradley said in his testimony before Congress.

Aside from its use in bioenergy production, manure is frequently spread on fields as a nutrient-laden fertilizer containing vital nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Manure also is a valuable source of organic matter, which increases the water-holding capacity of coarse-textured sandy soils, improves drainage in fine-textured clay soils, reduces wind and water erosion, among other benefits. Additionally, its use reduces an operation’s dependence on man-made petroleum-based chemical fertilizers, which are exempt from these laws.

“Animal agricultural operations are subject to a vast array of federal, state and local environmental laws and authority to deal with every conceivable environmental problem. There has been no indication that environmental laws such as these are inadequate,” Bradley noted, urging swift passage of H.R. 2997 to protect dairy farmers’ interests.



USDA Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook June 2012

Growth in Pork Exports Continues 

Beef/Cattle:  Producers are beginning to market calves and beef cows at increasing levels as pasture and range conditions begin to deteriorate.  Projected cattle feeding margins are increasingly negative at current price levels.  Packer margins are currently positive, but declining byproduct values are adversely affecting them.

Beef/Cattle Trade:  U.S. beef exports through April were 11 percent below year-earlier levels; beef imports were 22 percent higher through the same period. 
 
Pork/Hogs:  Slight reductions in second-quarter slaughter are expected to be more than offset by year-over-year higher estimated average dressed weights.  Second-quarter hog prices are expected to be almost 14 percent below a year ago.  For 2012, hog prices are expected to lag last year by almost 9 percent.  April pork exports—at 451 million pounds—were 7 percent larger than a year ago 

Poultry:  Broiler meat production in April 2012 was 2.99 billion pounds, an increase of 0.7 percent from the previous year.  The broiler meat production estimates for both the second and third quarters of 2012 were revised upward to 9.3 billion pounds.  The forecasts for the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2012 ending stocks were all increased by 25 million pounds.  The estimate for turkey meat production in second-quarter 2012 was increased by 25 million pounds to 1.53 billion, 4 percent higher than the previous year. 

Poultry Trade:  April 2012 broiler and turkey shipments were up from a year ago. Broiler shipments totaled 598 million pounds, an increase of 20 percent from April 2011 shipments. Turkey shipments totaled 64 million pounds, a 22-percent increase from  last year.  

Sheep/Lamb:  Prices have declined throughout the early spring, with declines expected to continue well into the summer months. Lower prices are due to both softer demand and an increase in the number of overfinished  slaughter animals. 

Dairy:  Milk production continues a slow rise, and herd reduction may be more modest than earlier forecast; milk per cow continues to rise.  Producer margins could improve as feed costs fall.  Milk and product prices remain steady as continued exports offset production gains. 

Click here for the entire report... http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/814098/ldpm216.pdf



Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/22/12


According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 883,000 barrels per day (b/d) – or 37.09 million gallons daily.  That is down 17,000 b/d from the week before and the second-lowest weekly output figure of the year. The 4-week average for ethanol production stood at 902,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.83 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 20.8 million barrels. Gasoline demand for the week averaged 371.5 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.98%, only the second time this year the percentage has been below 10%. Year-to-date U.S. ethanol export data implies annualized export demand of approximately 900 million gallons.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.388 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 98,545 metric tons of livestock feed, 87,854 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.60 million pounds of corn oil daily.



Volatility and Uncertainty Causing Record Farmland Sales Volumes


Market forces and strong commodity prices continue to create record demand and sales activity for farmland, but there are several unknowns that could impact the coming year, according to Farmers National Company, the nation’s leading agricultural services company. This uncertainty is creating strong sell-side interest and buy-side activity, leading to record levels of land changing hands for Farmers National Company. 

“Although across the Midwest the inventory of land for sale is still really tight, Farmers National Company is experiencing increased sales activity. The demand continues to be very strong with increasing prices even at current levels,” said Lee Vermeer, AFM, ALC, vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National Company. “Sales volume at Farmers National Company is up 40 percent compared to 2011, setting a record pace. We are projecting that the remainder of 2012 will see continued interest from landowners regarding potential land sales.”

Farmers National Company sold $600 million of farmland in the past 12 months, with $350 million of that in past six months. This equates to 800+ farm sales during that time period, Vermeer said.

A balance of positive and negative market pressures, along with many uncertainties, is driving current market activity. The positive news for land owners is that demand for grain from world markets remains strong and there is still a limited supply of land, boosting land prices. In addition to that for land owners, returns have been strong over last year even though input costs have increased. 

The uncertainty comes from unpredictability in Europe, potential for inflation, and the looming possibility of tax law changes that would increase capital gains taxes. Also, a good growing season could lead to record production levels and lower commodity prices reducing land profitability. These and other potential changes could slow the land market slightly, according to Vermeer.

“I believe that sales activity will remain strong until some of the market uncertainties become known,” said Vermeer. “People still see land as a safe, tangible investment and are willing to keep their money there over the long-term.”

High auction activity continues to help boost land prices with Farmers National Company conducting nearly 160 in the past six months alone. However, according to Vermeer, he is still seeing some landowners selling well below the market, leaving thousands of dollars on the table because they are not adequately exposing their property to the market. 

“In a competitive real estate market like we are in, the only way to take full advantage of it is to allow the market to work for you,” said Vermeer. “Full exposure to the market is the only way to know you received the full value available.”



Tunisia on Track to Become Top U.S. Corn Oil Export Market


Tunisia, a major producer and exporter of olive oil, is on track to become the largest international export market for U.S. corn oil for back-to-back years. Traditionally Turkey and Saudi Arabia are largest export markets for U.S. corn oil, but due to biotechnology constraints in Turkey, Tunisia quickly stepped in to the number one slot in 2011.

A large portion of the U.S. corn oil exports to Tunisia are refined in country and then sold into Libya, This is also common for refined corn oil brought into Tunisia to then be trucked into Libya.

Sunflower oil is usually the cheapest vegetable oil option on the grocery shelves in Tunisia, but Libya has grown to favor corn oil over other vegetable oils over the years, giving U.S. corn oil a qualitative advantage in this market.

According to the U.S. Grains Council, roughly 70 percent of the total corn oil exported to Tunisia, eventually ends up in Libya. There are also some direct sales to Libya and Egypt has been a growing market for U.S. corn oil the last few years.



'Fields of Champions' Cookout to Showcase Iowa Ag


A "Fields of Champions" Cookout celebrating food and farming will be a highlight of the Summer Iowa Games Athlete Jamboree and Opening Ceremony July 13 in Ames.

The cookout, coordinated by the Iowa Food & Family Project, begins at 5:30 p.m. in parking lot S6 east of Jack Trice Stadium on the Iowa State University campus. The meal --featuring beef and pork burgers, Kay's Naturals soy snacks, yogurt, fruit and milk -- will be served to the first 2,200 people. It will be provided by farmers for a free-will donation to help food banks serve Iowans in need of food assistance.

Throughout the evening, farmers and attendees will converse about the continuous improvements made in farming and how rural and urban Iowans share common goals related to environmental quality, wholesome food and vibrant communities.

"Fields of Champions" Cookout partners include the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Farm Credit Services of America, Iowa Select Farms, Iowa Turkey Federation, Midwest Dairy Association, The Soyfoods Council, United Soybean Board and Iowa Food Bank Association.

"We're excited to have farm families play such an important part of the Athlete Jamboree and Opening Ceremony celebration," says Clarence Hudson, executive director of the Iowa Sports Foundation. "Wholesome food and good health go hand in hand as do the fitness and farming communities. They come together at this event in a very positive and engaging way to the benefit of Iowa's families and communities."

In addition to the cookout, the Athlete Jamboree is packed with family fun and entertainment including inflatable games, photo booth sponsored by the Ames Hotel Council, JumpRopeSprint demonstration, Team X Trials Show (gymnastics on two wheels) and the Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team.

The opening ceremony, sponsored by the Iowa Army National Guard, 3M and Ames Rotary Club, begins at 7 p.m. It features the Parade of Athletes, Arrival of the Torch, Oath of Athletes and Lighting of the Cauldron. A fireworks display at approximately 7:30 p.m. kicks off a free concert with singer Sunny Sweeney and country duo The Lost Trailers.

Hudson says the celebration is also about helping the nearly 380,000 Iowans -- or 13 percent of the state's population -- who are food insecure or struggle with hunger. Food insecure Iowans miss an average of 167 meals each year, equal to 56 days with no breakfast, lunch or dinner.

"Healthy, nutritious and affordable food is essential for human development and vitality, and no one is more committed or involved in providing it than Iowa's farmers," he says.

The Iowa Food & Family Project (www.iowafoodandfamily.com) is a purpose-driven initiative created by the Iowa Soybean Association and dedicated to inspiring greater awareness and understanding between farmers and consumers in today's farms and farming methods. It involves the participation of more than 30 agriculture, retail and association partners and proudly serves as presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and supporter of Live Healthy Iowa. It's funded in part by the soybean checkoff.



Russia 2012 Grain Harvest Sees Early Start But Low Yields


Russia's grain harvest this year began 10 days earlier than normal, because crops matured faster in the current hot weather, but yields averaged just 2.72 metric tons a hectare on June 27 compared with 4.8 tons a hectare on the same date last year, the Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry said Russia harvested nearly one million tons of grain to June 27.

The ministry expects the country's grain harvest this year to fall, to 85 million metric tons from 94.2 mmt in 2011, because of the damage done to crops by unusually severe frosts in winter and the current drought.

Russia's domestic grain consumption in the 2012-2013 marketing year is estimated at 72.7 mmt. Including grain left over from the previous marketing year, the country's export potential is expected to be 20 mmt.



StatsCan 2012 Acreage Summary


Wednesday's Statistics Canada planted-acreage report showed a record canola area. However, the number came as no surprise to most market participants as it fell within their expectations.

The report shows figures as of June 7. The number for planted canola area was at 21.27 million acres, which compares to 20.37 million acres estimated in their March 2012 report, and 18.86 million acres in 2011.

Wednesday's number for all wheat was 23.81 million acres from 24.33 million acres in March 2012. The number compares to 21.46 million acres in 2011.

Oats fell below trade expectations, at 3.07 million acres, which compares to expectations of 3.1 million to 3.5 million acres, and the March report number of 3.39 million acres.



Declare Independence from Foodborne Illness this Fourth of July


When celebrating our nation’s independence this Fourth of July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reminds Americans that proper food handling practices can prevent their “Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness” from being threatened by foodborne illness. The warm temperatures that draw crowds of people to outdoor celebrations also encourage the growth of bacteria, and incidents of food-related illnesses rise in summer months. But four simple steps—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill—can help families declare freedom from foodborne illness at Independence Day celebrations.

“We want to provide families with important information that will help reduce the risk of foodborne illness during their Fourth of July celebrations,” USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said.  “Small children and the elderly are among the most vulnerable to foodborne illness, and this information is essential in protecting loved ones at family barbecues and picnics.”

In time for the Fourth of July holiday, FSIS has created a new infographic in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Ad Council featuring food safety tips from the Founding Fathers. The infographic, fact sheets, videos and podcasts about safe food handling and preparation in warmer months can be found on FSIS’ “Grill It Safe” webpage at www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/Grill_It_Safe.

Additionally, representatives from FSIS’ Meat and Poultry Hotline will answer consumer questions in English and Spanish from the Twitter handles @USDAFoodSafety and @USDAFoodSafe_es on June 28 at 1 p.m. ET.

Clean
Freedom from foodborne illnesses starts with clean surfaces and clean hands. Be sure that you and your guests wash your hands before preparing or handling food. Hands should be washed with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Equally important is making sure that the surfaces that come in contact with raw and cooked foods are clean before you start and are washed frequently.

Separate

Raw meats and poultry should be prepared separately from vegetables and cooked foods. As you chop meats and veggies, be sure to use separate cutting boards. Juices from raw meats can contain harmful bacteria that could spread to raw veggies and already cooked foods.

As you take the cooked meats off the grill, be sure to place them on a clean platter, not on the dish that held them when they were raw. The juices left on the plate from raw meat can spread bacteria to safely cooked food.

Cook
Never begin cooking without your most important tool—a food thermometer. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often brown quickly and may appear done on the outside, but still may not have reached a safe minimum internal temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, and beef should be cooked to 145 °F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, followed by a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. Hamburgers and other ground beef should reach 160 °F. All poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be cooked to 145 °F. Fully cooked meats like hot dogs should be grilled to 165 °F or until steaming hot.

If you are smoking meats, the temperature in the smoker should be maintained between 225 °F and 300 °F for safety. Be sure to use your food thermometer to be certain the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

Chill

Keeping food at a safe temperature can be a concern at outdoor picnics and cookouts. Too often, food is prepared and left to sit out while guests munch over the course of several hours. Bacteria grow most rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F, so perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours. If the temperature is higher than 90 °F—which is common in the summer—food should not sit out more than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has been sitting out too long.

It is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods can be kept hot on the grill and cold foods can be kept chilled with ice packs or ice sources in a cooler.

Still have questions? Ask Karen!

Whether you are cooking in the kitchen or grilling out this Independence Day, make Mobile Ask Karen the first guest on your list. Ask Karen is USDA's virtual food safety representative available 24/7 at www.AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov on your smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Android app store. On June 26, 2012, FSIS launched “Mobile PregĂșntele a Karen,” the Spanish-language version of Mobile Ask Karen. Mobile PregĂșntele Karen and the desktop-based PregĂșntele a Karen also are available 24 hours a day at m.PregunteleaKaren.gov or PregunteleaKaren.gov.

Consumers can email, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from these apps. To use these features on the app, simply choose "Contact Us" from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

This seasonal food safety outreach is part of a multi-faceted USDA initiative to prevent foodborne illness. As part of this initiative, USDA has joined the Ad Council, the FDA and the CDC to launch Food Safe Families, a consumer food safety education campaign. It is the first joint public service campaign to empower families to further reduce their risk of foodborne illness at home by checking their key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. For more information, go to www.foodsafety.gov.

Today's action is in addition to other FSIS has put in place during President Barack Obama's Administration to date to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. These initiatives support the three core principles developed by the President's Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. Some of these actions include:
-    Test-and-hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final, because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known.
-    Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped products.
-    Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database with information on public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.
-    Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens. After two years of enforcing the new standards, FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the new Campylobacter standards, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the revised Salmonella standards each year.