Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday August 30 Ag News

Take Steps to Avoid Harvest Fire Hazards
Paul Jasa, UNL Extension Engineer

While many areas of Nebraska received some rain the past couple of weeks, it wasn’t enough to significantly reduce the extent of drought or fire hazard across the state. On Thursday the National Weather Service issued a red flag fire warning for almost all of Nebraska, indicating a high risk of fires. With an early harvest season just beginning, growers are encouraged to reduce their fire risk by cleaning and maintaining their equipment and being prepared in the event a fire does develop.

Identify and monitor potential hazards on the combine.

-    Do a “dry run” of the combine before entering the field to listen for worn bearings or moving parts and check for any over-heated bearings. Push/pull shafts and sheaves often to check for worn bearings.
-    Check wires and wiring harnesses for damaged insulation to prevent an electrical short. If you’re having problems with blown fuses, try to find the source of the problem instead of constantly replacing the fuse. Exposed wires could be causing the short and creating sparks which could start a fire.
-    Never put in a fuse with higher capacity than those recommended as the wires may overheat and start a fire.
-    As harvest continues, those outside the combine should listen and watch for potential problems.
-    If you're using other equipment (grain cart or rotary mower) in the field during harvest, also keep an eye on it for possible problems.

Clean debris from your combine before and at regular intervals during harvest.

-    Clean any area where chaff or plant material accumulates often, especially those near moving parts. Check areas around the engine, exhaust manifold, fan shrouds, fuel/oil tanks, and chaff spreaders to ensure they are free of debris. Using a leaf blower or compressed air tank is an easy way to remove debris material that builds up on the combine.
-    Closely monitor any belts that are frayed or worn as they can produce enough heat to start a fire.
-    Any time you think you smell smoke, stop and examine the combine completely. Chaff and plant materials may smolder for some time before an actual fire starts, sometimes even after the combine has been shut down.

Take precautionary measures and be prepared to respond if a fire does occur.

-    When harvesting on windy days, if possible, start on the downwind side of the field. This way, in case a fire does occur, at least the wind will carry it away from the standing crop.
-    Consider carrying a water tank with a pump to the field and always keep a fire extinguisher handy.
-    Some growers keep a tractor with a tillage implement close by to till a fire break if necessary.
-    Most recommend keeping at least two fire extinguishers with the combine at harvest — one in the cab and one accessible from ground level. Check your fire extinguishers annually to ensure they are charged properly and always remember proper extinguisher use. Stand a few feet from the fire and aim at the base/source with a sweeping motion.

If a fire does occur, always remember that your personal safety is the most important thing. Don’t put yourself or others in any unnecessary risk. Always call 911 as soon as you notice a fire, then try to put it out.

Vilsack Extends Emergency Grazing to Assist Ranchers Impacted by Drought

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a two-month extension for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres, freeing up forage and feed for ranchers as they look to recover from this challenging time.  This flexibility for ranchers marks the latest action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide assistance to producers impacted by the drought, which has included opening CRP and other conservation acres to emergency haying and grazing.

To assist producers, USDA is permitting farmers and ranchers in drought stricken states that have been approved for emergency grazing to extend grazing on CRP land through November 30, 2012, without incurring an additional CRP rental payment reduction.  The period normally allowed for emergency grazing lasts through September 30.  The extension applies to general CRP practices.  New grazing requests should be submitted to Farm Service Agency (FSA) field offices indicating the acreage to be grazed.  USDA’s continuing efforts to add feed to the marketplace benefits all livestock producers, including dairy, during this drought.

The extension of emergency grazing on CRP acres does not apply to the following environmentally sensitive practices:  CP8A-Grass Waterway-Non-Easement; CP23-Wetland Restoration; CP23A-Wetland Restoration-Non-Floodplain; CP27-Farmable Wetlands Pilot Wetland; CP28-Farmable Wetlands Pilot Buffer; CP37-Duck Nesting Habitat; and CP41-FWP Flooded Prairie Wetlands.

There is no extension of emergency haying which ends August 31, 2012.

Nebraskans Asked to Consider Putting More Meat on the Grill

Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking Nebraskans to consider adding more steak, pork chops and chicken to their grills this holiday weekend and throughout the rest of the tailgating season. “It’s one way Nebraskans can help and show support for Nebraska’s livestock farmers who have been hit particularly hard by the drought that’s stretched across the state and most of the country,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

The drought has been difficult on many farm and ranch families, but beef, pork, dairy and poultry farmers have felt the greatest pinch of the drought. According to Nelson, many Nebraska ranchers have watched the drought eliminate the pastures and other forages they depend on to feed their beef animals, forcing many to reduce and liquidate beef herds. Pork, poultry, beef and dairy farmers are also feeling the pressures of the drought as the price of corn and soybeans, primary livestock feeds, have climbed considerably as a result of drought ravaged fields and expected shortfalls in crop yields.

“It’s a difficult situation for livestock farmers who are operating in the red due to higher feed costs and a loss of market value of their animals because of the herd liquidations. There is a lot of meat in the market place and one way to make things better for Nebraska farm and ranch families who raise livestock is for some of that meat product to move through the food chain and off of grocery store shelves,” said Nelson.

Labor Day weekend tends to be a good weekend for meat sales with lots of activity from grilling enthusiasts.  The start of tailgating season helps add to the mix of meat buyers.  “We hope people will consider throwing a little extra of their favorite meat on the grill in the coming weeks.  Nebraska farmers and ranchers are proud to produce high quality protein for Nebraska consumers and for people across the country and the world.  Meat sales are always critical to livestock farmers, but it takes on added importance given the year we’ve had with the drought,” said Nelson. “The difficulties of the drought are another reason we continue to push for farm bill passage this year.”

FY 2013 Exports Forecast at a Record $134.5 Billion; Imports at a Record $117.0 Billion

Fiscal 2013 agricultural exports are projected at a record $143.5 billion. Horticultural products are forecast up from the fiscal year 2012 forecast on strong demand from Canada, Europe, and Japan.  Grain and feed exports are expected up, driven largely by higher wheat volume and value, but also supported by higher corn unit values. The forecast for oilseeds is up from 2012, based on record soybean and soybean meal prices attributed to tight exportable supplies.  Cotton exports are forecast down on falling unit values.  Exports of livestock, poultry, and dairy products are forecast marginally lower as declines in dairy, pork, and poultry outweigh growth in beef.

U.S. imports are projected at $117 billion in 2013, up from the revised 2012 forecast of $106.5 billion. For 2012 tropical oils (coconut, palm, and palm kernel), olive oil, coffee and cocoa beans, sugar, and rubber have all experienced price declines as world demand has weakened.  These downward price adjustments are expected to boost U.S. agricultural import volume in 2013. 

The forecast trade balance for fiscal 2013 shows a surplus of $26.5 billion, down $3.5 billion from the revised 2012 forecast. The revised trade surplus for 2012 is $30 billion.

Export Products

Fiscal year 2013 grain and feed exports are forecast at a record $39 billion, up $4.4 billion from the 2012 estimate, driven largely by higher wheat volume and value, but also supported by higher corn value.  Coarse grain exports are forecast at $13 billion, up $800 million, mostly on higher corn and sorghum unit values. Corn volume is forecast down sharply by 5.5 million tons to 33.5 million tons due to tight U.S. supplies and high prices. Feeds and fodders are up $700 million mostly because of exports of distiller’s dried grains (DDGs) to China.

Fiscal 2013 wheat exports are forecast at $12.3 billion, an increase of $3.2 billion due to sharply higher unit values and volume. Higher values are largely supported by high corn unit values. Despite higher unit values, tight exportable wheat supplies in most major exporting countries boost U.S. competitiveness, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East.  Rice exports, at $1.9 billion, are down on reduced sales to Northeast Asia and lower overall exports caused by smaller supplies.  

The fiscal 2012 estimate for grain and feed exports is unchanged at $34.6 billion; however, there are offsetting changes.  Corn exports are cut $800 million to $11.7 billion due to lower volume reflecting weaker-than-expected demand for feed grains in recent months as old-crop supplies tighten.  Wheat exports are up $600 million to $9.1 billion as higher unit values more than offset reduced volume.  Rice exports are down slightly to $2 billion despite higher unit values and a marginal boost in quantity.  In recent months, sales shifted from higher-cost medium grain to Northeast Asia to more long grain, including rough rice, to South America.      

Fiscal 2013 oilseed and product exports are forecast at $28.1 billion, up $400 million from the 2012 estimate, driven by record soybean and soybean meal unit values attributed to tight exportable supplies.  Record unit values boost soybean export value by nearly $800 million to $19.9 billion even with a decline in export volume.  Soybean meal exports are projected lower as reduced crush limits export potential.  Soybean oil exports are also down as lower production, tight stocks, and strong demand for biodiesel constrain exports.  

Fiscal 2012 oilseed exports are forecast to reach $27.7 billion, up $1.3 billion from the previous forecast due to exceptionally strong late season sales attributed to smaller South American supplies.  Sales of soybeans to China and soybean meal to the Philippines are the primary factors driving export growth. 

Fiscal 2013 cotton exports are forecast at $4.8 billion, down $1.9 billion from the 2012 estimate. Export volume is forecast to decline slightly to 2.6 million tons.  Unit value is expected to fall by nearly 25 percent, as cotton prices have fallen from the historic highs of the past two years. 

The fiscal 2012 estimate for cotton is raised $300 million to $6.7 billion on stronger end of year shipments.

Fiscal 2013 livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are forecast marginally lower ($200 million) at $29.9 billion from the previous year.  Declines in dairy, pork, and poultry outweigh growth in beef.  Dairy exports are forecast to decline $200 million to $4.8 billion as high feed costs are expected to reduce producer margins, leading to lower milk output and reduced dairy product supplies.  As a result, export volumes are anticipated to decline.  Pork exports are forecast $100 million lower to  $5.6 billion as higher prices and tighter exportable supplies are expected to impact shipments to more price-sensitive markets in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Poultry exports are forecast to decline by $50 million to $6.2 billion amid higher unit values and tighter exportable supplies.  However, exports to Mexico, Canada, and Angola are expected to remain strong.  Beef exports are forecast to rise $200 million to $5 billion on higher volumes and unit values.  

The fiscal 2012 export value for livestock, poultry, and dairy products is raised $500 million from May to $30.1 billion with gains in dairy, poultry, and pork. 

The fiscal 2013 export forecast for horticultural products is a record $32 billion, up $3.5 billion from the 2012 estimate.  Fresh fruit and vegetable exports are forecast at a record $7.6 billion, up $700 million.  Exports to Canada, Europe and Japan are expected to continue expanding. Processed fruit and vegetable exports are forecast at $7.4 billion, up $700 million. Unit values for several processed products are expected to continue rising with demand from major markets.  Whole and processed tree nuts are forecast at $7 billion, up $800 million primarily due to China’s growing demand for almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.  The fiscal 2012 export estimate for horticultural products is unchanged at $28.5 billion.
Import Products

U.S. imports of agricultural products in fiscal year 2012 are reduced by $1 billion to $106.5 billion from the May estimate of $107.5 billion.  This still represents a 13-percent increase from fiscal 2011.  Zero growth in U.S. personal consumption expenditures for food and beverages (purchased for home use) over the past four quarters has slowed import demand for agricultural products.  The index for food quantity consumed at home has also been flat over the past year.

In 2012, tropical oils (coconut, palm, and palm kernel), olive oil, coffee and cocoa beans, sugar, and rubber have all experienced price declines as world demand has weakened.  These downward price adjustments, however, are expected to boost U.S. agricultural import volume in fiscal 2013.  The U.S. dollar continues to strengthen vis-à-vis the Euro, the Canadian dollar, and the Mexican peso.  This currency appreciation with respect to top trading partners boosts the dollar’s purchasing power.

Livestock and dairy import projections in 2012 are up $200 million from the preceding forecast as imported cattle, pork, and dairy products increase in value and volume.  In 2013, however, cattle imports are expected down while beef, pork, and dairy products increase in value and volume.  Cattle imports are forecast lower at 1.9 million head as improved pasture conditions and declining inventories in Mexico slow shipments.  Beef and veal imports are forecast higher in 2013 to nearly $4.2 billion due to strong demand for processing beef and lower domestic cow slaughter.  Pork imports are up $50 million in 2013 as tight domestic supply and high prices boost shipments from Canada.  Imported dairy products continue their steady rise from 2010 as butter, casein, and miscellaneous milk products lead demand.  The overall boost in 2013 of livestock and dairy products is $700 million, raising total imports to $14.1 billion from the projected $13.4 billion in 2012.

Lower world prices for sugar, coffee beans, cocoa beans, rubber, and other tropical crops in the past year reduced the estimated import value for sugar and tropical products to $30.2 billion from the previous $31-billion forecast.  The largest forecast declines are for coffee beans and natural rubber.  Coffee (Arabica) prices are down 29 percent from July 2011 and rubber prices are 35 percent lower.  The import price for sugar is also down 24 percent and cocoa bean prices are down 26 percent from a year ago.  These sharp price declines will boost their demand in 2013 as personal disposable incomes continue rising (albeit slowly) and as the dollar appreciates.

Increased imports of palm kernel, palm, rapeseed, and olive oils have more than offset lower shipments of coconut oil thus far in 2012.  Although prices for these vegetable oils are down, except for rapeseed (canola) oil, their higher volumes have kept the total import value at $6.1 billion.  These lower prices will raise import volumes in 2013 such that $400 million more in import value is expected.  Greater oilseed and oilmeal imports in 2013 will boost total imported oilseed products to $10.5 billion from the estimated $9.1 billion in 2012.

Imports of processed and bulk grains and animal feed are projected to continue growing from $9.6 billion in 2012 to $10.6 billion in 2013.  This import hike is driven in part by the 2012 drought in grain-producing States that has reduced domestic grain supplies and stocks.  Wheat imports are projected higher as lower-priced, feed-quality wheat will, to some extent, replace corn in feed rations.  For oilseeds, however, overall production in 2012/13 is smaller that results in higher corresponding imports and lower exports.

The $300-million smaller horticulture import projection for 2012 is attributed to downward corrections for fruit juices, fresh vegetables, wine, and essential oils.  Except for wine and citrus fruits, import unit values of horticulture products have generally not declined thus far in 2012.  Import quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as processed fruits and vegetables, except fruit juices, remained relatively strong.  These import unit values and volumes are expected to carry over to 2013 and lift total horticulture imports by more than $3 billion to $45.3 billion.   Import demand for fresh fruits has continued to increase strongly since 2000 and is forecast to reach $8 billion in 2013, the largest among horticulture product groups.

Vilsack on Latest Forecast for Farm Exports

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement today on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's export forecast for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, which shows a level of U.S. agricultural exports unmatched in our nation's history.

"Today's export forecast marks indication of an historic achievement for America's farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. Even with tough odds due to extreme weather, U.S. agriculture is now poised for three consecutive years of record exports, smashing all previous records and putting America's agricultural sector on pace to achieve President Obama's goal under the National Export Initiative of doubling exports by the end of 2014. These exports will support more than 1 million jobs in communities across the country.

"Exports of U.S. food and agricultural products are expected to reach $143.5 billion in fiscal 2013, well above the record set in 2011. At the same time, the forecast for fiscal 2012 is revised upward to a near-record $136.5 billion. Since 2009, U.S. agricultural exports have made gains of 50 percent.

"When we look beyond the remarkable results, we see two strong storylines. The first is a story of American innovation and resiliency. U.S. agriculture as a whole is resilient thanks to producers' ability to innovate, reduce their debt and capitalize on expanding market opportunities. The second is a President who has laid the groundwork for success in rural America. Since 2009, under the President's National Export Initiative, the Obama Administration has renegotiated and implemented important trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia, expanded trade in organics with the European Union, removed hundreds of unfair barriers to trade for American companies, and provided businesses the credit, knowledge and connections they need to reach new markets.

"At the same time, the Obama Administration has invested in rural America's future with support for renewable energy and bio-based products that provide rural communities with a sure path toward a sustainable period of growth and innovation.

"Thanks to this successful partnership, U.S. agriculture is stronger today than at any time in our nation's history, supporting and creating good American jobs for millions.

"Congress needs to help ensure that this success continues by passing a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides greater certainty for farmers and ranchers."

EPA Releases July Biodiesel Volume

The EPA said Thursday that 100 million gallons of biodiesel were produced in July, reporting year-to-date production of just under 658 million gallons through the end of the month.  Biodiesel production is reported under the EPA's Biomass-based Diesel category in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA numbers show a total of 108 million gallons of Biomass-based Diesel for the month of July, but that figure also includes renewable diesel production.

Last year, the biodiesel industry set a new production record of nearly 1.1 billion gallons, supporting more than 39,000 jobs across the country. Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel that's produced on a commercial scale across the U.S. It is produced in nearly every state in the country and is used in existing diesel engines without modification.

NCGA Requests Extension for RFS Waiver Comments

Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency started the 30-day comment period on the waiver request of the Renewable Fuel Standard.  Today, NCGA President Garry Niemeyer sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting an additional 30-day extension, citing harvest and the uncertainty of this year's corn crop.

"Across the nation our members are beginning harvest, one of the busiest times of the year," Niemeyer wrote.  "Given the demands of harvest, I am concerned that the proposed 30-day comment period will not provide sufficient time for a thorough analysis of the proposed waiver and would hinder farmer participation in this important policy process.  Also, with the crop still in the field, it is too early to determine this year's final corn supply."

Currently, the comment period will close at the end of September.  After that time, EPA will have an additional 60 days to make a decision. NCGA plans to submit comments before the deadline.  During the previous comment period in 2008 for a partial waiver of the RFS, EPA received more than 15,000 submissions from throughout the country.

National FFA Organization chooses 74 chapters for local environmental grants

FFA chapters in 27 states and Puerto Rico that developed a plan to tackle an environmental issue in their communities now have the funding from a national grant to bring their ideas to life.

Chapters from 74 communities learned recently that they received up to $2,000 in a grant from the National FFA Organization's Living to Serve: Environmental Grant program and will begin their yearlong environmental project when the school year resumes. The Living to Serve: Environmental Grants are provided through funding from CSX, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Each winning project includes plans to invest the time of FFA members, community members and local leaders in a service-learning project that tackles issues of environmental nature. One grant recipient chapter, the Wilson FFA Chapter in Wilson, Kan., has plans to increase the output of a local recycling program by 50 percent. They intend to educate the community with recycling awareness, as well as purchase and placing new recycling bins around the school. The FFA members will be tasked with maintaining the program and collecting recycled materials.

Another recipient of the LTS: Environmental Grant program was Connecticut’s Bloomfield FFA Chapter at the Harris Agriscience and Technology Center. FFA members there intend to tackle an invasive species – the Asian Longhorned Beetle – that is attacking local trees. Their program intends to first educate the local community about the insect via four community workshops, establish a student-run blog that explains the problem to fellow students and also survey 20 percent of their town’s trees to inspect for signs the beetles. The data will then by shared with the USDA to help slow or stop the beetle infestation. The National FFA Organization makes grant funds available for FFA chapters to develop service-learning projects that impact environmental issues in their community. Chapters may apply for up to $2,000 to support yearlong service-learning projects focused on developing and implementing projects that address local environmental needs. The service-learning method challenged members to identify, research, develop and implement solutions to needs within their school or community.

These projects illustrate the final line of the FFA motto ("Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve") by encouraging FFA members to unite in service within their communities. The LTS: Environmental Grants take community service one step further to service-learning, which provides a meaningful way to apply leadership and education skills learned in school and FFA. More info about the grants is available online at

Animal Ag Alliance Welcomes New Board Members

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is excited to announce additions to its board of directors and executive committee.

Mark Etienne (Potash Corporation), Billy Frey (Alltech), Scott Oler (Vance Publishing Corporation), Dr. Paul Matzat (Genus/PIC), and Dr. Kathy Simmons (National Cattlemen's Beef Association) recently joined the full list of 27 Board members, who each serve a term of three years. Jeff Cannon (Diamond V) and Dr. Jamie Jonker (National Milk Producers Federation) were added to the Board's Executive Committee.

Current chairman Dr. Chris Ashworth (Elanco Animal Health) also welcomed Paul Pressley (U.S. Poultry & Egg Association) as the Alliance's new Chair-Elect and Sherrie Niekamp (National Pork Board) as Treasurer.

All major sectors of animal agriculture are represented on the Alliance's Board of Directors, making the organization truly unique. The Alliance's legacy of leadership makes it the key organization for building meaningful coalitions across diverse industries to strategically address issues critical to the future of animal agriculture.

"We are pleased to welcome such knowledgeable and dedicated champions for agriculture to our Board," Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith said. "The future of the Alliance is in good hands."

Earlier this year, the Alliance launched its first Issues Management Committee. The standing committee unites stakeholders from across animal agriculture to address emerging challenges proactively. The next meeting will be held in mid-September. Alliance members are encouraged to inquire about participation.

"The Alliance's Issues Management Committee will bring together leaders from across agriculture to engage in strategic discussions about challenges and opportunities that could shape the future of the industry," Alliance chairman Dr. Chris Ashworth said. "The committee will ensure that the organization continues to serve as an effective, proactive voice."

A new Issues Management Listserv is also being created to help Alliance members and allied groups stay updated on current issues. Alliance staff will provide updates on topics of importance to the collective animal industries. If you would like to be added to the news listserv, contact Kerry Lynch.

The Alliance celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012.

Vilsack Announces Grants to Support Beginning Farmers and Ranchers across 24 States

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $18 million in grants to organizations across 24 states that will help beginning farmers and ranchers with the training and resources needed to run productive, sustainable farms. Under the Secretary's leadership since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has driven a number of efforts meant to spur interest in agriculture and provide the necessary support to young, beginning and socially-disadvantaged producers. At the Farm Progress Show today in Boone, Iowa, Vilsack said investing in beginning farmers, ranchers and producers is not only a smart investment, but one that is vital to our nation's national and economic security.

"In the past few decades, U.S. agriculture has become the second most productive sector of the American economy thanks to farmers adopting technology, reducing debt, and effectively managing risk," said Vilsack. "Last year, America's farmers, ranchers and producers achieved record farm income and record exports. To protect and sustain these successes, we must continue to build an agriculture industry diverse and successful enough to attract the smartest, hardest-working people in the nation. These grants will help beginning farmers and ranchers overcome the unique challenges they face and gain knowledge and skills that will help them become profitable and sustainable."

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the grants through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) established through the 2008 Farm Bill. In his June 30, 2010 testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, the Secretary reminded Congress of the need to attract thousands of new producers in the coming years as American farmers and ranchers continue to age. Vilsack urged members of Congress to address this critical need when drafting a 2012 Food, Farm and Jobs bill. That legislation remains unfinished, while the current Farm Bill is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2012.

USDA makes BFRDP grants to organizations that implement education, training, technical assistance and outreach programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers, specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer. At least 25 percent of the program's funding supports the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as well as farm workers who want to get a start in farming and ranching.

In the first year of USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, three-year grants supported training for 5,000 beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2011, grants supported training for more than 38,000. For example, the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project in Western North Carolina has directly assisted 865 farmers across 20 rural counties. Of the total participants, 46 percent were women. In addition, a group of seven organizations is working in rural communities in Arkansas and Oklahoma to educate, train, and foster mentorships for a variety of target groups, including military veterans. In the first year, the project created 32 mentorship opportunities and completed 12 internships with experienced farmers.

BFRDP will provide $18 million in funding this year, the fourth year of the program. Future funding is dependent on congressional reauthorization. For more information on the BFRDP program, and for a list of fiscal year 2012 awards, visit

Beginning farmers, by USDA definition, are individuals with 10 years or less experience operating farms. Beginning farmers are in all age ranges, racial and ethnic groups, and both male and female. Currently, 30 percent of principal operators of farms are 65 years old or more, while the average age of U.S. farmers has climbed from 54 in 1997 to 57 in 2007. Research by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) finds that the two most common and important challenges faced by beginning farmers are (1) having the market opportunity to buy or rent suitable land and (2) having capital to acquire land of a large enough scale to be profitable.

BFRDP is just one tool to address these challenges, along with greater access to credit including a new microloan program, a new land contract guarantee program, risk management education for beginning and socially disadvantaged producers, and new online resources such as and the Know Your Farmer Compass.

Since 2009, USDA has provided 128,000 loans to family farmers totaling more than $18 billion. Between 2009-2011, the number of loans to beginning farmers and ranchers climbed from 11,000 to 15,000. More than 40 percent of USDA's farm loans now go to beginning farmers, while over 50 percent of loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers during the same time.

With expanded access to credit, USDA is helping a new generation of farmers sustain and build upon what is now the most productive period in history for American agriculture. To that end, in May the Secretary proposed a new microloan program to help small and family operations progress through their start-up years with needed resources, while building capacity, increasing equity, and eventually graduating to commercial credit. The microloan proposal allows producers to apply for loans of less than $35,000 using simplified and streamlined procedures. The goal of the microloan program is to better meet the credit needs of small farm operations while making more effective use of FSA resources.

The Land Contract Guarantee Program provides a valuable tool to transfer farm real estate to the next generation of farmers. Guarantees will be offered to the owner of a farm who wishes to sell real estate through a land contract to a beginning farmer or a farmer who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group. In January, the Secretary expanded the Land Contract Guarantee Program from six states to all 50 states.

USDA's Risk Management Agency supports crop insurance education and outreach in 47 states to beginning, small, and historically underserved farmers and ranchers. From October 2010 through September 2011, a total of 77,000 farmers and ranchers attended educational sessions or were reached by direct mailing with educational information.

Wheat Risk Management: Supply Factors Worth Watching

Casey Chumrau, U.S. Wheat Associates Market Analyst

Wheat buyers everywhere should pay close attention now to world wheat supply to help manage their risk, even though three quarters remain in marketing year 2012/13. The Northern Hemisphere’s harvest provides some concrete supply information, but much uncertainty remains, so buyers should stay current and aware of factors affecting exportable supplies and prices.

World wheat production is the most basic, but important, factor shaping world supply. Prospects for the 2012/13 crop have deteriorated since the first estimates in May due to worsening weather conditions in several key production areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently estimates world output at 663 million metric tons (MMT), down from the May forecast of 678 MMT and below the five-year average of 666 MMT. The International Grains Council also lowered its August world production forecast to 662 MMT, down from its May estimate of 676 MMT.

The overall world production number, however, does not tell the entire story as individual outlooks for each key wheat-producing region look very different. For example, notwithstanding the publicity of a devastating drought, the United States will produce a wheat crop that is above average (reported on Aug. 16). In fact, USDA estimates production will increase 14 percent from last year to 61.7 MMT, greater than the five-year average of 59.7 MMT. Canada is also poised to have an excellent harvest. Statistics Canada expects 2012/13 Canadian wheat production to reach 27.0 MMT, up 7 percent from 2011/12 and the second highest production in 15 years.

USDA expects production in several other major wheat-producing countries to remain relatively close to last year’s output levels. When combined, the 27-country European Union is the world’s largest wheat producer. Both USDA and French-based Strategie Grains project 133 MMT for the 2012/13 EU wheat crop, just 3 percent lower than the prior year’s 137 MMT. The People’s Republic of China produces more wheat than any other single country in the world. According to USDA's projections, Chinese production will reach 118 MMT for the second consecutive year. USDA does expect a significant 8 percent (7.03 MMT) production increase in India. However, as reported here June 21, 2012, while China and India will account for more than 30 percent of total estimated world supplies in 2012/13, together they accounted for less than 1 percent of world exports on average for the past five years. 

In contrast, Black Sea region wheat production will fall far below last year’s record levels and accounts for much of the drop in world production. Harvest reports indicate that minimal snow cover and extremely cold temperatures caused a lot of damage to their winter wheat. Ukrainian agricultural consultancy UkrAgroConsult reduced its 2012/13 wheat production forecast to 14.2 MMT in August, lower than USDA’s August estimate of 15.0 MMT and 36 percent below last year’s output. USDA also expects Kazakhstan’s production to fall more than 50 percent from last year to 11.0 MMT.

Russia’s production and the government’s potential response arguably bear watching the most this marketing year. While the Russian government’s official 2011/12 wheat production estimate stands at 45.0 MMT, Russian agricultural analyst SovEcon reduced its estimate today to 38.0 MMT (see chart below). If realized, production would fall short of the 2010/11 crop of 41.5 MMT, which led Russia to impose a year-long export embargo. SovEcon also reported that the country’s exportable grain surplus could run out by November if the high export pace continues. As a result, many industry participants question whether another ban is on the horizon. Russian officials have repeatedly declared that an export ban is not an option in calendar year 2012, but the speculation alone is enough to create uncertainty in the world market.

Concerns about harvest in the Southern Hemisphere and ongoing U.S. drought conditions further add to market uncertainty. Argentina’s planted wheat acreage is at a 40-year low and USDA estimates Australian production down 12 percent, with weather conditions threatening to decrease that number even further. Soil moisture conditions in the United States will also affect winter wheat planting decisions over the next two months.

At this early stage in the marketing year, we must wait to see how these supply factors will turn out and influence the overall wheat market. The current level of uncertainty leads to price fluctuations and represents risk for world wheat buyers. For this reason, it is important to stay vigilant.

NFU, Feeding America Partner to Combat Hunger

National Farmers Union and Feeding America announced their partnership to help fight hunger throughout the United States with the Howard G. Buffet Foundation. For the second consecutive year, the foundation has pledged matching funds up to $50,000. According to Feeding America, one in six Americans struggles with hunger, including one-fifth of all children.

"We are honored to be working again with Feeding America to aid in ending hunger in America," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "Every dollar donated by Farmers Union members and their communities will be matched by the foundation, up to $50,000. We are up to the challenge and are excited to do our part to help this important cause again this year."

All member-driven donations go to food banks that serve hungry people in their communities. Feeding America's more than 200 member food banks serve 61,000 agencies across the United States that addresses hunger through emergency food assistance and programs.

Through Buffet's challenge, every dollar donated helps provide $17 worth of food and groceries to Americans in need. With the Buffett Foundation's matching grant, NFU members will see that number double to $34. If Farmers Union members can reach the goal set of $50,000, it will provide $1.7 million worth of food.

"Ensuring all Americans have a safe, reliable, affordable food supply is something that those of us in agriculture are very concerned about," said Johnson. "Currently, 37 million Americans are facing hunger, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Partnering up with Feeding America gives us an opportunity to lend our part in providing fresh food for families who need it most."

The campaign concludes on Dec. 15.

No Grain Export Ban for Russia

Russia's Agriculture Ministry said Thursday that it saw no imminent need to discuss an export ban on grain -- a move likely aimed at calming jittery global markets ahead of a closely watched government meeting to discuss weakening harvests.

Just two years ago, a Russian blanket ban on exports following a severe drought sent global grain prices soaring.

"The prices are fairly stable and can withstand inter-sectoral needs for crop production and for the production of animal products. There are large-scale stores of grain. There is no need to talk about it [a ban]," Deputy Agriculture Minister Ilya Shestakov said.

A meeting announced for Friday between Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who oversees farm policy, and Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov, has sparked fears that the government might be preparing to curb exports, sending ripples through global markets.

Mr. Shestakov did caution that the government could choose to intervene in the market in certain regions, but that it would likely not make any decision before December.

The Agriculture Ministry lowered its forecast last week for the 2012 grain harvest to 75 million metric tons. It had earlier projected a yield of 75 million to 80 million tons.

Mr. Dvorkovich has said the present situation is unlike that of 2010 and that the expected 75 million ton harvest and existing stockpiles should satisfy domestic requirements and leave 10 million to 12 million tons for export.

Pursuit of 300: The Road to Higher Yields

The Mosaic Company, Plymouth, Minn., introduced Pursuit of 300: The Road To Higher Yields at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. The aspirational program uses U.S. farmers' real-world experiences as a launch pad for agronomists, researchers, retailers and industry stakeholders to discuss and create the next generation of cropping systems--and one day grow 300 bushels of corn per acre.

Centered on the digital journals of select corn growers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska, Pursuit of 300 chronicles innovative techniques used on each farm's 100-acre plot for a full production year. These Pursuit of 300 Farmers and collaborative partners will share their yield challenges and solutions at, a one-stop digital hub for social media dialogue, agriculture news, case studies, and university, industry and retail resources. Watch the " Pursuit of 300: The Road To Higher Yields " video about Mosaic's passionate call to innovate, increase yield and help the world grow the food it needs.

For some corn growers, 300 bushels per acre might seem like an unattainable yield number. However, Pursuit of 300 aims to bring together all facets of the corn production chain to help the agriculture community conquer and surpass the 300-bushel barrier.

"For these farmers, the Pursuit of 300 is not just a test plot or a yield contest; it's 100 acres of soil, plants and resources managed to improve yields through innovative thinking, research, technology and practices that best suit their land," said Kevin Kimm, Senior Director of Marketing at The Mosaic Company. "We're interested in using Pursuit of 300 to help determine effective, full-farm techniques to boost future yield. It will be great to see how local yield innovation can improve agriculture on a global scale."

Since 1980, American farmers have increased corn production by 88 percent. Farms have improved the efficiency of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer use by 50 percent in corn production. The adoption of variable rate technologies, high-yield corn hybrids, micronutrient application, improved weed and disease control tools, and state-of-the-art agronomic practices has boosted yields to all-time highs--with experts from all parts of the industry contributing to the high-yield success story.

Wednesday August 29 Ag News

Connecting Young Nebraskans Summit Oct. 25-26 in North Platte

Registration is now open for the 2012 Connecting Young Nebraskans Summit Oct. 25-26 in North Platte.

The summit, designed to connect and empower young Nebraskans, will be at the Sandhills Convention Center.

Keynote speaker Peter Shankman, an author and entrepreneur, will share his innovative thoughts about networking and how it applies to this group of young leaders.

The summit will begin at the Golden Spike Tower on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. with a social in which participants can choose from activities including laser tag, navigating a corn maze, or gathering around a fire pit to enjoy products from Nebraska's wineries and breweries.

Coffee-shop discussions are planned Oct. 26, an opportunity for networking, as well as professional, community and civic breakout sessions. Topics will include "Understanding How the Affordable Healthcare Act Will Affect Me," "Non-Biased Political Information We All Hunger For" "Creative and Smart Ways to Invest in Your Future" and more.

CYN's goal is to help young leaders have an impact on their communities through networking and learning experiences. For more information about CYN or to register for the summit, visit Find CYN on Facebook (, or follow CYN on Twitter (@youngnebraskans). The official summit hashtag is #CYN2012.

Livestock Producers Affected by Disasters Urged to Keep Good Records

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today urged livestock producers affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Isaac to keep thorough records of their livestock and feed losses, including additional expenses for such things as feed purchases because of lost supplies.

“There are extraordinary circumstances caused by a variety of disasters from fires in the west, floods in Florida, Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf region, storms in the Mid-Atlantic and drought and heat affecting the heartland,” Garcia said. “Each of these events is causing economic consequences for ranchers and producers including cattle, sheep and dairy operations, bee keepers and farm-raised fish, and poultry producers.”

FSA recommends that owners and producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including:
-          Documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses;
-          Dates of death supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts;
-          Costs of transporting livestock to safer grounds or to move animals to new pastures; and
-          Feed purchases if supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed.

Secretary Vilsack also reminds producers that the department’s authority to operate the five disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2011. This includes SURE; the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). Production losses due to disasters occurring after Sept. 30, 2011, are not eligible for disaster program coverage.

Iowa to Require Testing Milk for Aflatoxin Starting Aug. 31

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will require aflatoxin screening and testing of milk received in Iowa beginning August 31, 2012 and continuing indefinitely.

The order announced requires milk processors to screen all Grade A and Grade B farm bulk milk pickup tankers and farm can milk loads for aflatoxin on a weekly basis.

Aflatoxin can sometimes be found in drought-stressed corn. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established action levels for aflatoxin in milk and feed.

"We were well aware that aflatoxin could be an issue this year due to the historic drought conditions," Northey said. "Now that farmers are starting to harvest silage, and corn in some cases, it is appropriate to begin this screening process to make sure our milk supply remains safe."

The Department is also instituting a state-wide corn sampling program.

The FDA has established guidelines for acceptable aflatoxin levels in corn based on its intended use. Corn containing aflatoxin in concentrations of greater than 20 ppb cannot be used for human consumption and cannot be used for feed for dairy animals or for immature livestock of others species. Corn containing aflatoxin at 100 ppb or less can be used in breeding cattle and swine and mature poultry. Corn with 200 ppb or less can be used with finishing swine greater than 100 lbs. in weight and corn with 300 ppb or less can be used in finishing beef cattle.

On Aug. 15, the Department submitted a request to FDA to allow corn containing more than 20 ppb of aflatoxin to be blended with non-aflatoxin containing corn for animal feed. The FDA has granted a similar request in previous years when aflatoxin has been present in Iowa.

More information about aflatoxin in corn can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach "Dealing with Disasters" page at

IPPA kicking off college football season with new tailgating contest

Iowa State and Iowa football fans who love tailgating with pork have a new chance to win great prizes from the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

IPPA is holding the Iowa Pork Playoffs promotion for all Iowa State and Iowa home football games and by entering their best pork recipe at, fans can win pork coupons, grilling gift baskets and more.

Depending on their favorite team, fans can enter either the Cyclone Pork Playoffs or the Hawkeye Pork Playoffs.

“Pork and football just seem to go together and a lot of fans regularly tailgate with pork, so we’re trying to create some added excitement to the football season and inspire fans to share their best pork recipes with us for a chance to win some nice prizes, including free pork,” said IPPA Promotions Committee Chairman Curtis Meier, a pork producer from Clarinda. “We take great pride in responsibly raising safe and affordable pork.”

Those entering a favorite pork recipe at are asked to describe their recipe and what inspired the dish and submit a photo of it for posting to the IPPA web site. Entries will be judged on the contestant’s ability to communicate their passion for their pork recipe. A winner will be selected from all entries prior to each ISU and Iowa home game throughout the season.

USDA is Now Surveying Producers for Final Small Grains Estimates and Hog Inventory

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is asking approximately 73,000 producers across the country to respond to some of the most important surveys involving wheat, barley, oats, rye and hogs. From August 30 to September 17, NASS is gathering final information about the 2012 U.S. small grains crops focusing on harvested acreage, crops produced and stored.  There will also be a hog survey of current inventories. 

“With NASS’s most recent crop production report forecasting corn and soybean production at the lowest levels in years and wheat production up, it is as important as ever that farmers, livestock producers, grain dealers, policy makers and others who use the statistics receive the best estimate possible of small grains harvest and off-farm stocks for year-end business decisions,” said Bob Bass, director of NASS’s data collection and processing center. “The data, which is equally available to all parties, is a direct result of accurate and complete responses to the surveys.”

In addition to small grains, NASS is asking hog producers about their summer pig crop, farrowing intentions for the next six months and current inventory for the quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.  

Many respondents have already received their surveys for both small grains and hog information in the mail and can fill out the questionnaire using NASS’s easy and secure online system or mail it back. NASS representatives will also contact producers who do not respond to the survey to help them provide responses over the telephone.

 “By participating in the surveys, farm and ranch operators can help ensure the data are complete and accurate,” said Bass.  “We do recognize that farmers and ranchers are having a rough summer. We hope they realize the value of the information to their businesses, communities and industries and that they will take the time to respond to these surveys.”

As with all NASS surveys, the information collected in the September surveys is kept strictly confidential, as required by federal law. NASS will not publish any individual’s information. By law, individual information is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and is not shared with anyone, including other government agencies. Survey results are available in aggregate form only and are equally available to all parties. For more information about these surveys, visit

US Ethanol Inventories Steady

U.S. ethanol inventories were little changed last week, rising 1,000 bbl to 18.494 million bbl during the week ended Aug. 24, while up 3.4% from the year-ago level, the Energy Information Administration's data showed.

Production of ethanol by domestic plants fell 4,000 bpd or 0.5% to 819,000 bpd last week, while operating rates are down 7.8% compared with a year ago.

Implied demand, as measured by refiner and blender net inputs, rose 5,000 bpd or 0.6% to 845,000 bpd for the week-ended Aug. 24. Refiner and blender net inputs represent a major portion of implied demand for ethanol.

The EIA reported implied demand for motor gasoline eased, falling 17,000 bpd to 9.064 million bpd for the week-ended Aug. 24. Four-week average gasoline demand through Aug. 24 is 9.1 million bpd, down 1.0% from the level seen a year ago.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.418 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 91,403 metric tons of livestock feed, 81,486 metric tons of which were distillers grains.  The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.26 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Walmart Joins Field to Market Group

Walmart has officially joined the Field to Market initiative to map out sustainability efforts within agriculture and the food sector.

Field to Market announced Tuesday that the world's largest retailer had joined the group, which completes the circle given that the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, which founded Field to Market, was created in part due to the push by Walmart to improve sustainability in the agricultural supply chain.

“Walmart is proud to be the first retailer to join Field to Market. As the world’s population grows to 9 billion people, the entire supply chain – from growers to processors to food companies – must develop deep collaboration and partnership to rise to the challenge of feeding the future,” said Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of Walmart Sustainability. “We are committed to advocating with Field to Market for their outcomes-based approaches to continuously improve profitability and sustainability throughout the food chain.”

Field to Market has a growing list of businesses and groups ranging from the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association to Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Mills and the World Wildlife Fund.

Field to Market released a study earlier this summer conducted by IHS Global Insight that determined major commodity groups are grown more sustainably than 30 years ago

USDA Celebrates the Start of a Healthier School Year for America’s Kids

Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon today announced that America’s students will see healthier and more nutritious foods in the cafeteria as they return to school this year. The new nutrition standards for school meals, implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, will help to combat child hunger and obesity and improve the health and nutrition of the nation's children.

“Improving the nutrition of school meals is an important investment in the future of America’s children,” said Concannon. “We know that healthy food plays a vital role in strengthening a child’s body and mind and the healthier school meals will help to ensure our children can learn, grow, and reach their full potential.”

Starting this school year, schools will phase in the nutrition standards over a three-year period. Schools will focus on changes in the lunches in the first year, with most changes in breakfast to take place in future years. The new meal standards:
-          Ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
-          Substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods and low-fat milk or fat-free milk varieties;
-          Limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
-          Focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

The new meal requirements are raising standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improving the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier school meals are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday August 28 Ag News

Grassland Studies Schedules Fall Seminars

The 18th annual fall seminar series offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Center for Grassland Studies will include lectures on topics ranging from impacts of the 2012 wildfires in Nebraska to flying robots that collect turf data to improving the quality of forages fed to beef cows.

The seminars, which may be taken for academic credit and are also free and open to the public, are held most Mondays during the fall semester from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Nebraska East Union (see kiosks for location).

The series features David Engle, this year's Frank and Margaret Leu distinguished lecturer. Engle is Regents Professor and director of the Water Research and Extension Center at Oklahoma State University. He will address whether production agriculture and conservation of biodiversity can co‑exist on our rangelands.

"We are fortunate to secure an individual as prominent and well-known as Dr. Engle to present the Leu Distinguished Lecture this year," said Martin Massengale, director of the center and instructor of the seminar course. "Dr. Engle's visit is a great opportunity for faculty and students to meet and interact with a highly regarded researcher and teacher in biodiversity, crop and rangeland ecology."

Below is the schedule for the remaining seminars:
Sept. 10 – Rob Mitchell, research scientist, USDA‑Agricultural Research Service, "Improved Grasses for Perennial Pastures"
Sept. 17– Rick Rasby, professor, Animal Science, UNL, "Enhancing Forage Quality Fed to Beef Cows"
Sept. 24 – Keenan Amundsen, plant breeder‑turfgrass, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, UNL, "Aerial Robotics Improve Turf Data Collection Efficiency"
Oct. 1 – Gerry Steinauer, botanist, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, "Using Fire and Tree Thinning to Manage Missouri River Oak Woodlands"
Oct. 8 – Ron Bolze, coordinator, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, "Overview of the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition"
Oct. 29 – David Engle, Regents Professor and director of the Water Research and Extension Center, Oklahoma State University, "Can Production Agriculture and Conservation of Biodiversity Co‑exist on Great Plains Rangelands?"
Nov. 5 – Terry Klopfenstein, professor, Department of Animal Science, UNL, "Cattle, Forage, Corn, Ethanol and Residues"
Nov. 12 – David Wedin, professor, School of Natural Resources, UNL, "Grassland Resilience and the Stability of the Nebraska Sandhills"
Nov. 19 – Chris Helzer, director, Eastern Nebraska Program, Nature Conservancy, "Impacts and Initial Lessons from the 2012 Wildfires Along the Niobrara River"
Nov. 26 – Mark Brohman, executive director, Nebraska Environmental Trust, "Twenty Years of the Nebraska Environmental Trust Preserving, Protecting and Restoring Nebraska's Grasslands and Other
Dec. 3 – Brian Wienhold, research scientist, USDA‑Agricultural Research Service, "Potential Effects of Corn Stover Grazing on Soil Properties"

Videos of the seminars will be available for checkout from the center. For more information, contact the Center for Grassland Studies at (402) 472-4101, e-mail, or visit

The schedule is subject to revision. Any changes will be noted on the center's web site.

Four Ex-secretaries of Agriculture to be Featured in Sept. 28 Heuermann Lecture

Four former U.S. secretaries of agriculture will discuss meeting the world's growing food needs when the first Heuermann Lecture of the 2012-2013 season begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, 12th and R.

"The Land-Grant Mission of 2012 – Transforming Agriculture for the 2050 World" is the timely topic amid predictions the world's demand for food will double within the next 30-plus years.

The lecture is the highlight of a week at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which brought land-grant universities into being.

The former secretaries participating are Nebraska's U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, Nebraska native Clayton Yeutter, John Block and Dan Glickman.

Heuermann (pronounced Hugh-erman) lectures are free, but tickets are needed for this event.  Starting today (Aug. 28) free tickets are available by calling the Lied Center ticket office – 402-472-4747 in Lincoln; 1-800-432-3231 outside the Lincoln area.  Unclaimed tickets will be released at 7:15 p.m. the night of the lecture.

"This lecture addresses one of the chief challenges of our time," said Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president and Harlan vice chancellor, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which is home to the Heuermann Lectures.  "Providing food for an ever-increasing population is a topic of both conscience and self-preservation.

"Having four experts of such stature together doesn't occur often. This is a topic that touches everyone who eats, and where better to host this discussion than in Nebraska, a powerhouse agricultural state."

Johanns was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 2005-2007. During that time he worked to expand foreign market access for U.S. producers, promoted the growth of the renewable fuels industry and advanced cooperative conservation.  He developed an in-depth farm bill proposal that became the foundation for improvements and reforms adopted in the 2008 farm bill.

As a senator he serves on five committees, including Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.  He served as Nebraska's governor, on the Lancaster County Board, the Lincoln City Council, and as Lincoln's mayor.

Yeutter was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1989-1991.  During that time he steered the 1990 farm bill through Congress, laying the groundwork for a more market-oriented policy structure in American agriculture.

Currently a senior adviser at the law firm of Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., where he practices in the international trade and food agriculture areas, Yeutter also has served as counselor to the president, U.S. trade representative,  Republican National Committee chairman and president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Block was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1981-1985, playing a key role in developing the 1985 farm bill.  Before that he built a large and successful hog operation in Illinois, his home state, and served as Illinois director of agriculture.  He also has served as president and chief executive officer of Food Distributors International, formerly National American Wholesale Grocers Association.

Now a senior policy adviser at OFW Law in Washington, D.C., he also does a weekly radio commentary titled "John Block Reports from Washington," addressing matters that concern the farm community.

Glickman was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1995-2001, leading the department in modernizing food safety regulations, forging international trade agreements to expand U.S. markets, and improving its commitment to fairness and equality in civil rights.

Glickman currently is vice president of the Aspen Institute and executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program.  For 18 years he represented Kansas's  4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He has been director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.

Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Green will moderate the discussion.  Raikes served as president of Microsoft's Business Division before joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2008 the NU Board of Regents renamed the J.D. Edwards Honors Program in Computer Science and Management the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management.  He has served on the school's board since it began in 2001.

Green was senior director of Pfizer Animal Health, overseeing global technical services for animal genetics, before joining IANR in 2010.  A Virginia native, he has served on animal science faculties at Texas Tech University and Colorado State University; from 2003-2008 he served as the national program leader for animal production research for USDA's Agricultural Research Service.          

This lecture will stream live at, and will be archived at that site shortly after the lecture.  It also will be broadcast nationally on RFD-TV and RURAL TV.

Heuermann Lectures in IANR at UNL focus on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the people of the world, and on securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs.

Heuermann Lectures are made possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

IFB Members to Set State, National Policy for 2013

Media are invited to attend the 2012 Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Summer Policy Conference Aug. 30-31 at the Farm Bureau office in West Des Moines, Iowa. The conference kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 30.

Leaders of all 100 county Farm Bureaus have gathered the opinions of their members on issues impacting agriculture and rural Iowa over the past several months. The Summer Policy Conference aggregates those ideas to form statewide policy for Iowa's largest grassroots farm organization.

"For 94 years, Iowa Farm Bureau members have set a strong course by inviting every member to weigh in on policies important to them and this is the culmination of those efforts," says IFBF President Craig Hill. "We have always been driven from the grassroots and while our policies do change over time, our commitment to listening to members doesn't," says Hill.

A few of the issues expected to generate the most discussion at this year's conference include: crop insurance, road funding, FSA office closures and the RFS target, which has come under pressure in the wake of drought-driven high corn prices. "Individual commodity groups have their own policies on the RFS target, but as a general farm organization, we have both crop and livestock farmers and a unique grassroots policy development process, which should bring lively discussion of RFS policy positions for 2013," says Hill, also a livestock and crop farmer from Milo.

Century and Heritage Farms Recognized During Iowa State Fair

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey recognized Century and Heritage Farm families during a ceremony at the State Fair again this year. To qualify, a family must have owned at least 40 acres for 100 years or more in the case of Century Farms and 150 years or more for a Heritage Farm.

This year 345 Century Farms and 69 Heritage Farms were recognized.

"The Century and Heritage Farm program is a celebration of Iowa agriculture and the farm families who feed the world and care for the land. It is always a special privilege and a great joy to be able to honor these families who represent the rich legacy of Iowa Agriculture," Northey said.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has partnered with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation since 1976 to recognize families that have owned and worked a farm for 100 years or more. Including this year's recipients, now 17,486 farms from across the state have been recognized.

The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and now 583 farms have been recognized.

The 2012 Century and Heritage Farms Program ceremony was held at the Iowa State Fair. Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, or Joe Heinrich, vice president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, joined Northey in recognizing the award recipients.

"The program acknowledges the deep roots of Iowa agriculture and the special bond that exists between Iowa families and the land they farm," Northey said. "The Iowa State Fair is a celebration of Iowa and Iowa Agriculture, so it's an ideal place to recognize the Century Farm and Heritage Farm recipients."

Storm Causes Elevators, Grain Barges to Stop

U.S. grain elevators on the Gulf coast were shut and barges carrying grain and other goods on the lower Mississippi River were halted in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaac, which was due to make landfall either late Tuesday or early Wednesday. According to Reuters, Archer Daniels Midland closed four elevators in New Orleans, while Cargill said elevators in Westwego and Reserve, Louisiana, will be closed.

Isaac, if it stays on its current track, is due to slam into the Gulf Coast between Florida and Louisiana by Tuesday night or early Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The Mississippi River is a major channel for the movement of grain produced in the Midwest farm belt to export terminals at the Gulf of Mexico for shipment across the world. Grain movement is set to pick up in the coming weeks as farmers in the Midwest -- where 75 percent of the country's corn and soy crops are grown -- begin harvesting in earnest.

Meanwhile, the harvest is already underway in southern areas of the United States, the world's top grain exporter, increasing supplies available for export.

Grain shipments and barge transportation on the Mississippi River were disrupted in 2005 by Katrina.

The suspension of barge traffic costs facilities that move cargo on the river system $300 million a day.

US Farm Income Seen at 40-Year High

Increase Fueled by High Crop Prices, Insurance Payouts

Income on U.S. farms is expected to climb this year to its highest level in nearly four decades, the Department of Agriculture said, despite the severe drought that has afflicted much of the nation's farm belt.

The USDA on Tuesday forecast net farm income will rise 3.7% this year to $122.2 billion, the highest level since 1973 on an inflation-adjusted basis.

The increase comes as the U.S. faces a widespread drought that by some measures is the worst since the 1950s, with hot dry, conditions stretching across the Midwest and Great Plains. Federal forecasters earlier this month sharply cut their estimates for the fall harvest, expecting corn growers to have their lowest-yielding crop since 1995.

The expected rise in income is fueled by a combination of surging prices for corn and other crops -- a result of expected declines in the supply -- and by the widespread use of government-backed crop insurance, which pays farmers for crops damaged by drought. But those factors aren't benefiting all farmers. The USDA forecast shows livestock and poultry producers are struggling with rising feed costs without the same price rise, while dairy farms face both higher costs and a decline in milk prices.

"It is important to understand and remember that thousands of farm families, particularly livestock and dairy producers, continue to struggle with drought," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

The dry weather is severely cutting into the size of crops for farmers from Ohio to Colorado. Still, the shrinking harvest has been counteracted by prices for corn and soybeans that have hit record levels, not accounting for inflation. Those prices are driving a forecast 6.7% increase in crop revenues from a year ago.

The USDA also expects a rise of $8.4 billion, or 39%, in what is known as other farm income, driven overwhelmingly by increased farm-insurance payouts. The forecast doesn't include an estimate for crop insurance payments alone.

A majority of corn and soybean farmers carry crop insurance, which has become the predominate federal safety net for growers. Still, the effects of the drought will vary from farm to farm depending on the level of insurance coverage and when farmers locked in prices for their crops.

Pork Industry Faces Record Losses

A tsunami of red ink is about to wash across the pork industry, which is facing losses unseen even in the fall of 1998 when hog prices at times approached zero value. According to a Purdue University Extension economist, the stressors include: more hogs than expected, rapid sow liquidation now under way, and record feed prices. Losses in the final quarter of this year could be $60 per head, exceeding the previous record quarterly losses of $45 per head in the fall of 1998.

"Slaughter numbers in the past two weeks have been up 6 percent when only about 1 percent more hogs were expected," said Chris Hurt. "This has caused a $10 per hundredweight drop in live prices since late July, with prices now in the low $60s.

"The source of those extra hogs is probably related to some delayed marketings due to the summer heat, to a desire to sell pigs more quickly before prices really tumble moving into fall, and to high-sow slaughter. Projected prices for the final quarter this year are in the mid-$50s, using current lean hog futures as a base. Tragically, costs of production are expected to be above $75 per live hundredweight for the remainder of the summer, this fall, and winter," Hurt said.

Hurt predicted losses per head this summer to be estimated at $30, followed this fall by record quarterly losses of $60 per head. Losses in the first and second quarters of 2013 are projected to be $38 and $5 per head, respectively. Over this one-year span, losses may average about $33 per head, meaning total losses of around $4 billion for the U.S. industry.

"There is strong evidence that the initial wave of breeding-herd reduction began in early August and has intensified," Hurt said. "Sow-slaughter data show that around 30,000 sows were liquidated in the month of August alone. This would represent a reduction of about 0.6 percent of the national sow herd in one month. This rate will continue, and perhaps even increase, if corn prices stay at current levels or move higher. The breeding herd may decline by 4 to 6 percent in the six months from August 2012 through January 2013. The rate of liquidation is expected to slow sharply after this coming winter," Hurt said.

Hurt described the dilemma for the industry to be the enormous losses for pigs that are already born. Continued liquidation of sows will not reduce slaughter numbers until next summer and so does not address the short-term financial disaster.

"Short of euthanizing young pigs, reduction of weights can reduce total pork supplies, use less feed, and enhance hog prices," Hurt said. "The economics of reducing weights is largely related to packer-buying programs. Generally, it is not economical for producers to sell at lighter weights that receive a discount. Perhaps packers would consider lowering those threshold weights in this emergency. Producers should recognize that this could be costly to packers and to not expect one packer to do so unless all agreed," he said.

Hurt said that President Obama authorized the purchase of a modest amount of pork. "That volume is so small as to reduce the losses by less than $1 per head," Hurt said. "Other demand stimulation could help increase pork prices, but the program would need to be much larger and more money would likely have to come from a Congress that has not had a strong record of agreement or accomplishment in recent months.

There remains a small amount of hope that a partial waiver of the ethanol RFS for 2013 could reduce corn use for ethanol and lower corn prices. However, evaluations at the University of Illinois, Purdue, and Iowa State all indicate that such a partial waver may have only small impacts on volume of corn used for ethanol.

"Financial losses of the magnitudes projected here will cause massive erosions of family equity and some bankruptcies," Hurt said. "Unfortunately, losses in 2008 and 2009 were not fully recovered by the profits in 2010 and 2011 so that some producers face this tsunami in weakened financial condition.

"Family hog farms with a sizable land base will have land equity to draw on," Hurt said. "Larger hog producers with a minimum land base will need to draw on corporate equity and then their lenders. Lenders will make the final decisions for the weakest, but will strive to keep companies in operation as they seek new buyers. This means that another round of consolidation of ownership can be anticipated," he said.

Hurt concluded by saying that unfortunately individual producers are going to need to find their own way through the short-term carnage. "The irony is that hog production may return to profitability by mid-summer 2013 when meal prices begin to moderate, hog prices move to record highs, and rain and reasonable temperatures bless our nation's corn and soybean fields once again," he said.

Mixed Bag for Fertilizer Prices

While drought has put a damper on fertilizer prices, anhydrous seems the exception to the rule, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of August.  It was the only fertilizer that was higher by any significance for the third straight week. With a fall fertilizer application rapidly approaching in some locations, the nitrogen fertilizer was 7% higher compared to the third week of July and had an average price of $817 per ton.  This marks the highest average price of anhydrous since the second week of Nov. 2011. The average price of anhydrous that week was $819 per ton.

The other fertilizer that was higher compared to a month earlier was MAP. The phosphorous fertilizer was just slightly higher and had an average price of $666 per ton.

Leading the way lower, like it has many times in recent months, was urea. The dry, nitrogen fertilizer was 10% lower and now has an average price of $611 per ton. Urea's price has now dropped $155 per ton since Memorial Day.  Also somewhat lower was 10-34-0. The starter fertilizer declined 8% compared to a month earlier. 10-34-0 had an average price of $640 per ton.  Four other fertilizers were also less expensive but just slightly lower. DAP had an average price of $632 per ton, potash $623 per ton, UAN28 $386 per ton and UAN32 $425 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.66/lb.N, anhydrous $0.50/lb.N, UAN28 $0.69/lb.N and UAN32 $0.66/lb.N.

Two of the eight major fertilizers are still showing a price increase compared to one year earlier. Urea is now 4% higher while anhydrous is 2% higher compared to last year.  Six fertilizers are actually lower in price compared to July 2011. Potash is 1% lower, UAN28 is 2% lower, UAN32 is 4% less expensive and MAP is 7% lower.  The remaining fertilizers are now down double digits from a year ago. DAP is now down 10% while 10-34-0 is now 17% less expensive from a year earlier.

DuPont Exec: Sufficient 2013 Corn Seed

DuPont Co.'s seed division will have sufficient overall supplies of corn seed to sell for planting next year in the U.S., but supplies of some hybrids will be limited due to damage from drought to the seed-corn crop, a senior executive said Tuesday.

DuPont Pioneer this year planted a "significantly larger" seed-corn crop than last year, but it has been damaged by the severe U.S. drought just like other crops, said Paul Schickler, president of the chemical company's seed subsidiary, in an interview at the Farm Progress Show.

"Will every grower get their No. 1 choice [of hybrid] in the quantities that they want? Likely not. But we've got good second choices and third choices to make up," Mr. Schickler said.

"Supplies are going to be tight when you get down to the hybrid level," he said, "but if you just look at the overall ... we are going to have a good supply" in the U.S. and Canada.

Pioneer's corn-seed production is spread geographically across the Farm Belt to help reduce overall weather risks for its crop, Mr. Schickler said. The company also plants extra crops to account for such risks, and nearly 70% of the company's seed crop is irrigated, he said.

Pioneer is also starting to produce corn seed in Argentina and Chile that could help "fill in gaps" in U.S. supplies next year, he said.

Pioneer this week will likely harvest at least some corn at all of its production sites, so it will have more information over the next few weeks on its actual seed supply, he said.

Alltech’s Allzyme SSF: Getting More Bang for Your Feed Buck

With limited rainfall and record-breaking temperatures scorching much of the country this summer, the nation’s crops and forage have suffered from moderate to extreme drought conditions. Dire reports have filled the news, including a recent report from The New York Times that more than half of the corn crop is either in poor or very poor condition, and soy doesn’t look much better. As a result, corn and soy prices are soaring, and farmers will face significant challenges with the cost of feeding their animals. Alltech’s Allzyme®SSF is a natural solution for pig and poultry farmers looking for ways to get more from their feed and provide their animals the nutritional support they need.

“There is no time when it is more important to focus on feed efficiency and return of feed cost than when corn and soy prices are high,” said Aidan Connolly, Alltech’s vice president for corporate accounts.

Allzyme SSF is a natural complex that maximizes nutrient release, helping producers optimize the performance of their animals’ diets. Through solid-state fermentation, a strain of Aspergillus niger works in synergy with the animals’ digestive systems to break down layers of the feed that were previously inaccessible through digestion.

“Now is the time to take steps to innovate and utilize cutting edge technology” said Dr. Mark Lyons, Vice President Corporate Affairs at Alltech. “The natural enzyme complex in Allzyme SSF is produced using a proprietary strain of Aspergillus niger that has the ability to break down the complex matrices of sugars, starches, proteins, and fiber found in agro-industrial residues that monogastric animals are otherwise unable to digest.”

This process exposes more nutrients, including amino acids, energy, calcium and phosphorus. By allowing animals to better utilize their feed, Allzyme SSF allows for flexibility in formulation through the inclusion of by-products and alternative raw materials, or by reducing nutrient density in the diet.

“The energy locked up in cellulose and hemicellulose offers a tremendous opportunity for improving feed efficiency and reducing production costs, which is an important factor with the feed prices we are facing now and, with all likelihood, for the foreseeable future,” Lyons said. “Producers and farmers can achieve more efficient performance from their current feeds, and also consider including alternatives to corn and soy. This can help manage and reduce costs while maintaining optimal animal performance.”


    The unparalleled, proven technology of the Case IH Steiger® Quadtrac™ will now be available in the new 2013 Steiger Rowtrac™.
    “Case IH extends its track technology leadership with the new Steiger Rowtrac, proving again that four tracks are superior to two in row-crop applications,” says Mitch Kaiser, Case IH Steiger Marketing Manager. “Customers told us they wanted a Steiger Quadtrac with more flexibility for more jobs, while maintaining the power, performance and innovation they’ve come to expect. The Case IH four-track, positive-drive system is the only factory-integrated drive system of its kind in the world. It puts more power to the ground, improves traction and simplifies transport, allowing users to cover more ground in less time, even when field conditions are less-than-optimum.”

Adaptability and Versatility

The Steiger Rowtrac will be one of the highest horsepower, tracked row-crop tractors in the market with the capacity to pull larger implements. It will have the advantages of Quadtrac technology for both primary and secondary tillage and field applications, including planting, side-dressing, fertilizing and specialty applications. In fact, the narrow track, with adjustable row spacing will easily adapt to North American row-crop farming applications. Available in three models – 350, 400 and 450 – Case IH has a tractor to fit the needs of every farming situation. 

More Power to the Ground
         Four tracks transfer more power to the ground than two, and the Steiger Rowtrac will provide more options and greater flexibility for customers. With equal-sized, independent, oscillating drives on all four corners, farmers can get in their fields sooner, especially in adverse field conditions. The wheelbase has been extended from 154 to 160 inches, so each track has more ground contact, resulting in better transfer of power to the ground. In addition, the unique design delivers less ground pressure, better traction and the most comfortable ride in the industry.
“Better traction helps reduce compaction by minimizing slippage on the soil surface,” says Kaiser. “Compared to two-track systems, operators will see no ridging or berming in turns. In addition, each track drive oscillates up and down up to 10 degrees to maintain consistent ground contact no matter what the conditions. Not only will farmers be able to plant seed sooner, but the seed will have a better environment in which to germinate and develop strong root systems that extend down into the soil area, with better access to nutrients. Less in-row compaction translates to earlier emergence of crops and the opportunity for increased yields.”
Although the Rowtrac suspension looks similar to that of the Quadtrac, it is uniquely different. On each end of the roller beam, a mount controls pitch roll and yaw along with some vertical load, and two mounts in the center handle the primary vertical load. While the tractor is oscillating in the middle, each track moves independently. The exclusive Case IH design fits in a very narrow undercarriage width for row-crop applications.

Greater Flexibility

       The Steiger Rowtrac gives operators more adaptability and versatility for different cropping systems, with 20-inch, 22-inch, 30-inch and 40-inch row-crop spacing options, and the track width to suit many types of operations.
The undercarriage features a new advanced suspension system. Rubber “donuts” act like shock absorbers and keep the suspension from shifting from side to side, which helps the tractor remain accurate on the row. The new track suspension system allows for operation in a variety of row-crop planting, side-dressing, fertilizing, tillage and specialty applications. The Steiger Rowtrac’s architecture is designed with a small overall size and packaging in mind for excellent visibility and a tight turning radius, so the Quadtrac four-track, positive-drive system is highly maneuverable in the field. It also is very transportable on the road for farmers with large operations and several locations to manage.

Increased Efficiency

       The Steiger Rowtrac provides increased traction with a narrow footprint to perform well in a variety of row-spacing applications. At the same time, the operator can maintain a narrow transport width for faster travel to the next field location, which shortens travel time and increases efficiency.
“Steiger tractors are famous around the world for superior power and performance, no matter what the conditions,” notes Kaiser. “The new Rowtrac 350, 400 and 450 tractors continue that heritage with a convenient size and configuration to match every farm operation’s high-horsepower needs.
“Thanks to a best-in-class engine, every Steiger Rowtrac delivers power and responsiveness, even in the most demanding applications,” he continues. “With the unique Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) emissions system operating outside the engine, Tier 4 Case IH FPT high-horsepower engines burn an average of 10 percent less fuel than comparable Tier 3 models. Plus, oil-change intervals have been lengthened to 600 hours. This gives operators powerful, smart, simple technology to get more done with fewer inputs, while still providing the Efficient Power they need for maximum performance.”
Like other Steiger models, the Rowtrac machines have Power Boost to provide extra power when needed with hydraulics, PTO, during transport and in other challenging conditions. New features provide even more flexibility: the 113-gallon-per-minute parallel flow hydraulic system for use with a three-point-hitch and PTO offers increased efficiency and adaptability for more planting and grain-cart applications.
    In addition, the patented Rowtrac system uses independent, same-size tracks to deliver more power to the ground, so users experience less slippage with large planters and tillage applications. Operators can get more done with less horsepower.
The Steiger Rowtrac offers:
·    Best-in-class fuel economy and operating cost leadership with Tier 4 Case IH FPT engines
·    The industry’s heaviest frame – welded using 1/2-inch-thick steel – to handle heavy tillage equipment
·    Superior hydraulics with a 113-gallon-per-minute flow to easily handle the largest planters and seeders

Unmatched Comfort and Convenience

       Comfort is a high priority when operators spend long days in the field, and Case IH delivers, thanks to input from customers. The Steiger Surveyor™ cab is the largest, most comfortable cab in the industry on a row-crop chassis. The fully suspended cab gives a ride similar to what operators would experience in their cars on the highway. It’s also the quietest, so operators can talk on their phones or multitask as needed to run their businesses. The industry-leading, 40-degree right-hand seat minimizes neck strain and fatigue, while the MultiControl Armrest keeps nearly all of the operation controls within easy reach.
The Steiger Rowtrac also will feature factory-installed Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) AccuGuide™ auto-guidance to increase efficiency and accuracy in terms of field applications.
"Factory-installed AFS AccuGuide is available for fully automated guidance in both forward and reverse,” Kaiser explains. “This is the first integrated system to allow operators to automatically align with the next guidance line while backing up."

Maximum Uptime Delivered

      Operators will appreciate having more productive days with the ability to get in fields faster and stay longer, thanks to these sensible conveniences:
·    Easy maintenance – all engine, transmission and hydraulic/axle fluids are
serviced from ground level, and fluid site gauges are at ground level
·    Narrow undercarriage for simple maintenance and lower cost of operation
·    See-through bearing covers to quickly and easily monitor lubrication levels
·    600-hour oil-change intervals
·    More convenience and simplicity with the new flow-compensated, quick-connect hydraulic valves that automatically compensate for temperature and flow
·    No weighting or ballasting required
·    No flat tires or tire air pressures to check
“Our customers have multiple choices with the best line of four-wheel-drive tractors in the industry,” states Kaiser. “Now they can choose four tracks or wheels on all Steiger models, from 350 to 600 horsepower. It’s all in an effort to help our customers Be Ready to embrace the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in agriculture – today and in the future.”

Novozymes and Terranol to market advanced biofuel yeast

Novozymes, the world leader in bioinnovation and industrial enzymes, and Terranol, a Denmark-based biotechnology company specialized in yeast, today announced an agreement that will ensure the final optimization of the Terranol C5 yeast strain and give Novozymes the rights to register and market Terranol’s C5 yeast technology. C5 yeast is an essential component in the production of cellulosic ethanol, and the partnership will allow Novozymes to speed up global rollout of Terranol’s yeast to customers in the cellulosic ethanol industry. Wide availability of a high-performing and cost-efficient yeast will enable the nascent industry to fast-track the transition from today’s demonstration-scale production to large-scale commercialization.

“We want to make sure there are no biotech-related hurdles to the creation of a cellulosic ethanol industry,” says Poul Ruben Andersen, Vice President Bioenergy at Novozymes. “Terranol’s C5 yeast is currently one of the best strains developed, and by getting it registered and marketed around the world, we can help make it available to the biofuel industry. This will provide a higher degree of certainty in the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol.”

“With our combined R&D capabilities we can ensure the final optimization of the strain in order to achieve maximum economic performance for our cellulosic ethanol customers,” says Claus Crone Fuglsang, Vice President R&D at Novozymes.
C5 yeast key to advanced biofuel

Advanced biofuels are approaching large-scale commercialization, but various steps in the production process can still be improved to make production cheaper and more efficient. When producing cellulosic ethanol, enzymes convert cellulose and hemicellulose in biomass such as corn stover and wheat straw to sugars, which are then fermented into ethanol. To obtain optimal yields it is important to ferment not only the easily accessible C6 sugars (glucose), but also the more difficult C5 sugars (xylose and arabinose).

“A yeast that ferments C5 sugars is essential to cost-efficient production of cellulosic ethanol,” says Birgitte Rønnow, CEO of Terranol. “Our C5 yeast is among the furthest developed in the industry and by leveraging Novozymes’ global marketing muscle we can speed up its commercialization.”

In February, Novozymes launched Novozymes Cellic® CTec3, the best-performing enzyme on the market for production of cellulosic ethanol. The first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants are scheduled to open later this year.


Monsanto announced today at the Farm Progress Show that 176 school districts in 35 states have been selected to receive grants of up to $25,000.   The America’s Farmers Grow Rural EducationSM program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, will invest $2.3 million in rural schools across the United States during the 2012-2013 school year.

“School districts were innovative and creative in their applications,” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto Fund President. “We are really looking forward to seeing the proposals come to fruition and learning how the students benefit from them.”

After being nominated by local farmers, school districts completed an online application and finalists were chosen by math and science teachers from ineligible school districts. The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council, a group of 26 prominent farmers from across the country, then reviewed the finalists’ applications and selected the winners.

“Who better to judge the practical content and quality of these applications from rural school districts than experienced, working farmers?” said Jim Andrew of Jefferson, IA, America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Farmer Advisory Council Member.  “We devoted many hours at home evaluating and scoring the applications and then met as a group in St. Louis for two days to discuss and select the schools we recommended to the Monsanto Fund for grants.  It was personally very rewarding to read the creative and practical grant applications that were eventually selected by our advisory group to receive the grants.”

There were 176 school districts in 35 states that received grants of up to $25,000. Winners are posted at and below. America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education started with a successful pilot in Illinois and Minnesota in 2011, in which farmers were given the opportunity to nominate public school districts in 165 eligible counties in those two states. The Monsanto Fund awarded more than $266,000 to local schools in sixteen Crop Reporting Districts. Now, the program has expanded to 1,245 eligible counties in 39 states.


-George Little Rock Community Schools, Hampton-Dumont Community School District, Lamoni Community School District, Logan-Magnolia School District, Mormon Trail Community School District, New Hampton, New London Community School District, North Tama County Community School District, Northeast Community School District, Riceville Community School District, Schleswig Community School District, Sidney Community School District


-Cambridge Public Schools, Falls City Public Schools, Hayes Center Public Schools, Lyons-Decatur Northeast Schools, Mitchell Public Schools, Northwest Public Schools, Osceola Public Schools, Rock County Public Schools, Thayer Central Community Schools

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund to help farmers positively impact their communities and support local rural school districts. This program is part of the Monsanto Fund’s overall effort to support rural education and communities. Another program that is part of this effort is America’s Farmers Grow Communities, which gives farmers the opportunity to direct a $2,500 donation to their favorite community nonprofit organization in their county. Farmers can participate in this program through Nov. 30, 2012 by visiting

About the Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at


The DEKALB brand’s custom 100th Anniversary Bike revved up the excitement at the 2011 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., when the bike made its engine-roaring debut to a crowd of onlookers at the main gate of the show.

Today, the bike’s year-long tour comes full circle as Rick Brandt, CEO of BRANDT from Springfield, Ill., was announced the online auction’s highest bidder, at the 2012 Farm Progress® Show in Boone, Iowa. Through multiple DEKALB fundraising opportunities, including the chopper auction, American farmers raised a grand total of $250,000 for the American Red Cross. Jason Hoag, DEKALB Brand Lead and Rick Brandt, on behalf of America’s farmers, presented a check to Leslie Schaffer, Regional Chapter Executive Officer for American Red Cross, Greater Iowa Region.

“The American Red Cross is grateful for this generous donation and so honored to be a part of the celebration of DEKALB, with whom we share a history of providing for Americans.” said Schaffer. “When disasters strike, the Red Cross mobilizes volunteers and supplies into affected areas to shelter, feed and provide emotional support to disaster victims and responders. The support of DEKALB, Brandt and American farmers enables us to help heal communities and assist families in getting back on their feet.”

Mr. Brandt is proud to be the new owner of such a one-of-a-kind piece of DEKALB history.“On behalf of all the members of the BRANDT Team, we are thrilled to win the DEKALB anniversary bike,” said Mr. Brandt. “Next year is our 60th anniversary serving professional growers around the globe: What better way to celebrate the history of agriculture while helping the American Red Cross?”

When asked what aspect of the bike was his favorite, Mr. Brandt replied, “It just captures the independent spirit of the American farmer.”

Features of the bike include a vintage tractor-seat, winged-ear wheel spokes and a retro wood finish to represent the wooden agricultural crates used when DEKALB was founded 100 years ago in DeKalb County, Ill.

The DEKALB 100th Anniversary Bike, designed in 1912 style, pays homage to the DEKALB brand’s 100 year legacy of strong performance and industry leading innovation.

“It has been an exciting anniversary year for the DEKALB brand, and the celebration wouldn’t have been complete without the chopper,” said Hoag. “This bike was designed with farmers in mind, and it is those farmers that will be central to our mission and our success for the next 100 years.”

No surprise, Wall Street Journal rejects ethanol point of view

As promised, the Renewable Fuels Association submitted an opinion piece for publication in the Wall Street Journal.  After all, in a recent editorial, the Journal editorial staff said they were more than happy to give RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen space to voice his opinion.

Not surprisingly, the Journal rejected Dinneen's submission.  Apparently, their willingness to include divergent views applies only when they can have enough time to criticize it on the same day it appears.

Nevertheless, here is Dinneen’s op ed in full as submitted to the Wall Street Journal. 

Beyond the Biofuel-bashing Editorials: Ethanol Really Reduces Prices at the Pump
Bob Dinneen, President, Renewable Fuels Association

When I was growing up, I learned to watch out for guys who pat you on the back with one hand and then sucker-punch you with the other.

On the same day that the Journal called me “our indefatigable friend” and published my letter to the editor responding to an editorial entitled “Ethanol vs. the World” (Aug. 11), they published yet another sarcastic screed, “How Ethanol Causes Joblessness” (Aug.16). The latter editorial ridicules what it claims was the methodology behind a study by academic economists showing that America’s growing use of domestically produced ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices from what they would otherwise have been by an average of $1.09 per gallon last year.

Over the past year alone, the Journal has published ten editorials against ethanol. By way of comparison, to select an issue that looms larger to most people, the Journal has editorialized about immigration only nine times.

If this one-sided obsession were about an entirely esoteric subject, this controversy would be confined to journalism reviews and economic journals. But the constant bashing of biofuels distorts the debate about issues that matter to most Americans: Can we hold down prices at the pump? Reduce America’s addiction to imported oil, some of it coming courtesy of strongmen such as Hugo Chavez whom the Journal usually wants to weaken? Dump fewer pollutants into the atmosphere at a time when extreme weather is causing drought in the Midwest?

Debating these issues requires factual analysis, not philosophical autopilot. Last year, the American ethanol industry produced 13.9 billion gallons of biofuels, an increase from 13.2 billion gallons in 2010 and only 1.63 billion in 2000. Most of this ethanol is sold in a blend of 10 percent biofuels and 90 percent gasoline – E10. Because ethanol makes up 10 percent of the nation’s gasoline pool today, it significantly reduces demand for oil, putting downward pressure on gasoline prices at the pump.

While it is difficult to imagine that gasoline prices could have been higher than they were at their worst points over the past year, the pain at the pump would have been even worse without ethanol. Why?

First, adding 13.9 billion gallons of biofuels to the motor fuel pool – and blending it with gasoline in E10 – has a similar effect to the US oil refining industry finding a way to extract 10 percent more gasoline from a barrel of oil. It’s Economics 101: When you increase the supply of something, there’s a downward pressure on its price.

Second, ethanol has been priced at a larger-than-usual discount to gasoline. From 2010 to 2011, average crude oil prices increased from about $80/barrel to about $95/barrel.

Third, the additional fuel supply has alleviated the periodic gasoline shortages, resulting from limited refinery capacity, that contribute to price spikes.

Fourth, American ethanol reduces our dependence on the OPEC cartel and unfriendly or unstable regimes who used to raise prices at will. Eighty percent of the new motor fuel produced in the US since 2005 has been ethanol.

Fifth, the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has indeed encouraged higher ethanol inclusion in motor fuel, up to 10 percent today. But the RFS isn’t the whole story. In recent years, oil refiners have blended 2.5 billion more gallons than required under the RFS because it made economic sense.

The same commonsense economics informs the study that the Journal ridicules without refuting. Prepared by economists Dermot Hayes of Iowa State University and Xiaodong Du of the University of Wisconsin, the study was peer-reviewed, published in an academic journal, and updated annually. This study found that American ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, $0.89 per gallon in 2010, and an average of $0.29 per gallon since 2000.

In similar studies, the US Departments of Energy and Agriculture found savings ranging from 20-35 cents per gallon, while Merrill Lynch reported a 50-cents-per-gallon reduction. Meanwhile, agricultural economists Hassan Marzhoughi and P. Lynn Kennedy of Louisiana State University found savings of 78 cents per gallon.

As for the paper that the Journal cites as refuting the Iowa State University study, it hasn’t been peer-reviewed or published – and it actually agrees that ethanol reduces gasoline prices at the pump, although its estimate is only 13 cents-per-gallon.

Suspend the Renewable Fuel Standard? Maybe the Journal really wants to repeal the law of supply and demand.