Saturday, September 29, 2012

Friday September 28 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2012, was 3.15 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  This was down 3 percent from September 1, 2011, but up 2 percent from June 1, 2012.  Breeding hog inventory, at 380,000 head, was equal to September 1, 2011, but down  1 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.77 million head, was down 3 percent from last year but up 2 percent from last quarter.  

The June-August 2012 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.79 million head, was down 6 percent from 2011.  Sows farrowing during the period totaled 170,000 head, down 6 percent from last year.  

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 170,000 sows during the September-November 2012 quarter, down 6 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for December 2012-February 2013 are 165,000 sows, down 6 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  


On September  1,  2012  there were  20.6 million  hogs  and  pigs  on  Iowa  farms  according  the  the  latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Hogs and Pigs report.  The September 1 inventory was up over 2 percent from a year ago and became the highest inventory on record.

The June 2012-August 2012 pig crop was 5.07 million head.  A total of 485,000 sows farrowed with an average litter size of 10.45 pigs per sow.

As of September 1, producers planned to farrow 480,000 head of sows and gilts in the September-November 2012 quarter. Farrowing intentions for the December 2012-February 2013 period were estimated at 475,000 as of September 1, 2012. 

United States Hog Inventory Up Slightly

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2012 was 67.5 million head. This was up slightly from September 1, 2011, and up 3 percent from June 1, 2012. 

Breeding inventory, at 5.79 million head, was down slightly from last year, and down 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 61.7 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up 3 percent from last quarter.

The June-August 2012 pig crop, at 29.3 million head, was down slightly from 2011. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.89 million head, down 1 percent from 2011. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.13 for the June-August period, compared to 10.03 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.60 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.20 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.85 million sows farrow during the September-November 2012 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2011, and down 1 percent from 2010. Intended farrowings for December-February 2013, at 2.82 million sows, are down 1 percent from 2012 and down 1 percent from 2011.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 46 percent last year.

Land-Grant Universities a Great Success Over 150 Years, But Face New Challenges

             Lest the nation's land-grant universities be tempted to rest on their laurels as they celebrate 150 years of their nation-changing tradition, four former U.S. secretaries of agriculture and the leader of one of the world's leading philanthropic organizations laid out an ambitious to-do list for them for the next few decades.

            The opening Heuermann Lecture of 2012-13 Friday night capped the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's weeklong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act. The legislation, passed at the height of the Civil War, helped transform the nation by opening up higher education to the masses through a system of land-grant universities.

            The four former agriculture secretaries featured in the Lied Center lecture -- Clayton Yeutter, Mike Johanns, Dan Glickman and John Block -- pronounced the act an unqualified success in its creation of a system of agricultural research, extension and teaching that has helped transform agriculture in the United States into the most technologically advanced, profitable, efficient and productive system in the world.

            The discussion's title, "The Land-Grant Mission of 2012: Transforming Agriculture for the 2050 World," is a nod to the land-grant system's challenges today: Helping to feed a world whose population is expected to increase from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050.

            Nebraska native Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-moderator of Friday's lecture, said some estimates are that agricultural outputs actually will need to increase by 70 to 100 percent to meet that 2050 population's needs because as people in the developing world become wealthier, they will seek out more protein-rich diets.

            "If you're going to feed the world … you're going to need science and you're going to need technology and you're going to need the best of land-grant universities," said Johanns, now a U.S. senator from Nebraska.

            "We've got to do everything better than we do it today," Yeutter said.

            Yeutter turned to Ronnie Green, Harlan vice chancellor of UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the other moderator of the lecture, to call on UNL and other land-grant universities to be "bold" in their research, extension and teaching.

            The panelists cited several goals for land-grant universities in the next few decades:
            -- Increase public-private partnerships, especially given federal budget limits that mean fewer government dollars for research.
            -- Help farmers continue to adjust to climate change and its impact on production.
            -- Continue to pursue biofuels options, notable cellulosic ethanol, that do not pit fuel vs. food as crop uses.
            -- Help farmers in the developing world increase their productivity and efficiency.

            Johanns stressed that last point. While American farmers are justifiably proud of their role in feeding the world, he said, meeting the needs of 2050 and beyond will require producers in Africa and elsewhere to get more efficient. American scientists, many of them in land-grant universities, can play a key role in training them to do so.

            "Nothing will buy more good will for the United States of America," Johanns added.

            "They want our help. They want to feed themselves," Glickman agreed.

            Although farmers now comprise fewer than 2 percent of Americans -- compared to 60 percent when the Morrill Act was passed -- the ag sector actually is positioned to have greater political, social and economic influence than ever because of concerns about the expanding population's food needs, panelists agreed.

            In fact, Glickman said, if the movie "The Graduate" were made today, the one-word career advice to Benjamin Braddock would be "agriculture."

            "Over the long term agriculture and food is poised to be a very dominant industry in America," Glickman said.

            This year's punishing drought has increased the interest of people who normally don't think about agriculture, Block said.

            "They don't know about farming, they don't care about farming, but they do care about having enough food," he said.

            The four former agriculture secretaries, all but one of whom -- Glickman -- served Republican presidents, generally agreed on the issues and challenges, but for a good-natured exchange between Block and Glickman over organic agriculture, which the former dismissed as largely insignificant, while Glickman noted that consumers nowadays do want food that's been treated with fewer chemicals. "That doesn't mean they want to be vegetarian hippies from the 1960s," he joked.

            Johanns and Glickman agreed that today’s consumers do want more information about the food they eat, and they expect choices in the marketplace they didn’t expect in years past.

            This lecture will be archived later at, as well as broadcast later on NET2 World, RFD-TV and RURAL TV.

Over 800 4th Graders to Attend Ag Festival near Mead

With continued urban growth, many youth do not have as much exposure to agriculture as in the past. Many communities are losing touch with Nebraska's greatest resource - agriculture. An upcoming ag awareness festival will provide an opportunity for youth to take a close-up look at agriculture.

The festival will be held at the University of Nebraska's Agricultural Research and Development (ARDC) near Mead, Nebraska on Oct. 2, 3, 4, and 5.   Sessions run from 10 a.m. – 1:40 p.m.    It is aimed at 4th grade students.  Omaha schools and surrounding schools attending this year include:
Oct. 2 - St. Robert Bellarmine, Oakdale, Mary Our Queen, and Blumfield
Oct. 3 - Wilson Focus, Mt. View, Wildewood, Meadows, Yutan, and Seymour
Oct. 4 - St. Wenceslaus (Wahoo), Holy Name, and Ackerman
Oct. 5 - Ashland/Greenwood, Lothrop, and Minne Lusa

While at the festival, students will learn about beef, dairy, grains, and swine.  Production, technology, and products in agriculture are covered. 

15,121 Students Attended Ag Awareness Festivals

The first fall festival was held in 1996 at the UNL's Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) near Mead, Nebraska. The one-day event served as a pilot project for 200 Omaha Public School sixth-graders. It has since grown to four days annually and hosted up to 950 fourth-grade students, primarily from Douglas, Sarpy and Saunders Counties.

Over 10,979 students have attended the fall festival from 1996-2011. In an effort to reach more urban youth, a spring festival was added in 2001 at the Lancaster County Event Center in Lincoln. This festival is primarily for Lancaster County youth. It, too, started as a one-day festival and has grown to 2 days.

Over 4,100 students have attended the spring festival. At the festivals, students learn about beef production/products and food safety, ruminant nutrition, dairy production/products and nutrition, grain production/products, farming technology, and swine. Horses, poultry, goats, and horticulture have also been included, depending on the time available.

Students and teachers consistently give the festivals excellent reviews.

Evaluations from teachers attending in the past have noted the following impacts on their students:
·        The festival made the students from the city aware of how much agriculture is a part of their lives.
·        Students saw and experienced different kinds of agriculture, which helped them understand how dependent we are on it.
·        Students were introduced to the contributions that Nebraska farming and ranching make to the global economy.

University of Nebraska Launches Rural Futures Institute

Partnering with rural communities to help them meet their economic and social challenges is a natural mission for land-grant universities in the 21st century, the president of the University of Nebraska said Thursday.

James B. Milliken made his comments in Columbus as the university formally launched the Rural Futures Institute, an NU-wide institute that will tap faculty expertise across all four NU campuses for research, education and engagement involving partner organizations and rural communities across the Great Plains.

Milliken said it wasn't by accident that the announcement was made during the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's week-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which created land-grant universities.

The land-grant tradition of establishing research and extension in agriculture is "what gives us our grounding today," Milliken said.

"What does it mean to be a land-grant university in the 21st century?," Milliken asked. In Nebraska, he said, it will be a focus "on a range of issues in the rural economy and the rural life."

What separates the Rural Futures Institute from previous university-based rural-development efforts will be a commitment from the university's uppermost leadership, inclusion of all four of NU's campuses and collaborations with communities across the state, he added.

Nebraska's efforts already have gained national, even international, attention, Milliken said. A Rural Futures Conference in Lincoln in May drew participants from around the world.

Ronnie Green, NU vice president and Harlan vice chancellor of the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said he, Milliken and other university administrators knew it was time to "elevate the effort."

Green said the institute will begin with a $1.75 million budget its first year, growing to $3.5 million in a couple of years. Green added that $750,000 has been set aside for a first round of research-engagement and teaching-engagement grants to be awarded early in 2013.

Doug O'Brien, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for rural development, said, "We are in a time that presents more opportunities for rural communities and for people who live in them than we've seen in generations."

But the challenges are significant, too, he said. Partnerships and innovative ways of doing business will be more important than ever at a time when federal, state and local governments have less money to spend on development.

Representatives of all the NU campuses – UNL, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska Kearney and the University of Nebraska Medical Center – discussed their institutions' roles in the RFI, each pointing to programs already under way that can be incorporated into the new initiative and strengthened as they work together with others in the system.

Chuck Hassebrook, NU regent and executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, said, "This has the potential, if we do it right, to be the premier program in the nation ... I'm excited about this; it's a big deal."

In an interview this summer, Green said Nebraska is the perfect place to lead such an effort.

"No one else is doing this ... I think we're better positioned than anyone else" to lead it, Green said. "We have the best living laboratory for it in the country."

The Rural Futures Institute will go before the NU Board of Regents for formal approval this fall.

Grants Available to Retailers for Biodiesel Blender Pump Infrastructure

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is seeking potential diesel retailers to be awarded grants to invest in equipment used to sell biodiesel blends at retail stations.   NSB is offering up to $60,000 per station for blending reimbursements.  The requirements are that the station offers B5 in the winter months and B20 in the summer months for at least 2 years.  In addition to the grant money, the Nebraska Soybean Board will provide technical assistance with handling and storage of diesel and biodiesel blends, provide fuel quality monitoring services and even assistance with procuring biodiesel if needed.

Nebraska is one of the top soybean producing states in the US and soybeans are currently the primary feedstock of biodiesel. These funds are provided by the Nebraska Soybean checkoff.  The Nebraska Soybean Board has invested heavily into this emerging industry and would like to see biodiesel more readily available to users of diesel throughout the state of Nebraska.  The goal of this program is to promote biodiesel use in Nebraska and further the industry nationally. To inquire about blender pump funding, please contact Andy Chvatal at, or call 402-441-3240.

New Uses for Old Tools Could Boost Biodiesel Output

Tried-and-true techniques could help optimize oilseed yield for biodiesel production, according to studies conducted by USDA scientists.

For more than 30 years, near infrared (NIR) reflectance spectroscopy has been used as a rapid and nondestructive method for measuring protein, moisture, and oil levels in whole grains. Now Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research leader Dan Long is studying how to use remote sensing tools to quickly assess seed oil quality and quantity before and after harvest.

ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this sensory tool research supports what USDA officials say is priority of developing new sources of bioenergy.

Long, who works at the ARS Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center in Pendleton, OR, used a special NIR sensor to assess seed oil content in 226 canola samples from Montana, Washington and Oregon. Seed oil concentration is used to estimate extraction efficiency, which is the percentage of oil recovered in relation to the amount of oil in seed.

Using these technique, Long was able to determine that oil concentrations in the samples ranged from 32 percent to 46 percent, and that the NIR sensor estimated seed oil content with an average error of 0.73 percent. A bout of abnormal weather affected results from one group of seeds in this study. If the group had been excluded from the analysis, the overall error rate would have been less than 0.5 percent.

Long believes that NIR sensors could be installed in seed crushing facilities to rapidly and continuously measure the oil content of clean seeds flowing into the expeller, where they are crushed to obtain the oil. Using NIR to monitor extraction efficiency might enable workers to adjust the choke setting on the expeller to compensate for oil loss in meal. Enhancing efficiency would boost profits associated with seed processing, and lower the costs of the oil feedstock that is converted into fuel, Long said.

The Future of the Farm Bill

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

This summer I sat down with a farmer on the front porch of his farmhouse in the heart of Nebraska’s cattle country.  This farmer has seen it all.  We talked about the current drought and those of the past, cattle prices, input costs, biofuels, and all the complex things that make up modern agriculture.  Overlooking cornfields and blue sky, our discussion was far removed from the halls of Congress, but we in Nebraska understand the importance of agriculture – one of our economy’s few bright spots - to our nation’s well-being.

Last week, Congress left Washington without reauthorizing a new “Farm Bill,” the overarching policy that directs the administration of our nation’s farm, conservation, and nutrition programs.   Enacted in 2008, the current Farm Bill expires this Sunday (farm legislation typically spans over a five-year period).

The U.S. Senate passed its version of new farm policy back in June.  The House Agriculture Committee, on which I serve, advanced its own Farm Bill proposal in July.  Though the bill wasn’t perfect, I supported it as an opportunity to chart a new way forward for America's farmers and ranchers while still respecting the federal government's severe budgetary constraints.  I was hopeful our proposal would receive a vote before the entire House of Representatives so we could move forward in sending a five-year Farm Bill to the President.  Unfortunately, a House vote did not take place and Congress left town with the current Farm Bill set to expire.

Many Nebraskans are now asking about the consequences of this inaction and what it means for farmers and rural communities.  You may have heard that if we do not enact new farm policy by the end of this year, the United States will revert back to “Permanent Law,” which is the 1938 and 1949 statutes—clearly written for another era.  The most immediate impacts would be on dairy and certain conservation management programs, which are based on the calendar year.  Commodity programs are covered under the expiring Farm Bill until the next harvest.  The next winter wheat crop will be the first affected.  Current Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts will not be affected, nor will crop insurance coverage for farmers.  

Although the current uncertainty about the bill is not preferable for planning purposes, Congress has a few more months to pass a new Farm Bill.  Clearly, it is better to act on a five-year bill.  Congress may also choose to extend the current Farm Bill, but then the reforms and budget savings achieved in the new proposal will be lost. 

Agriculture is critical to America's economic security, energy security, and national security.  Farm policy goes beyond farms, farmers, and rural America – it benefits all of America.  We have the lowest food prices in the world, we export and provide food to others, we create clean energy from homegrown sources, and we encourage environmentally responsible management practices that protect and conserve natural resources.  A reasonable long-term Farm Bill plays an important role in these efforts, helping farmers manage risks, plan for productive harvests, and uphold the strong outcomes and traditions of the American agriculture community.

Iowa Cattle Sickened by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Thursday said that more than fifteen cattle herds primarily in western Iowa have had animals contract the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) virus.

EHD is a virus that is spread by biting midges and primarily affects deer. A hard freeze kills midges and will stop the spread of the virus.

EHD can cause illness in cattle, including fever, ulcers in the mouth and gums, swollen tongue, excessive salivation, and lameness or stiffness when walking. Death loss is uncommon in cattle and there is no evidence that the EHD virus can infect humans.

EHD rarely affects cattle, but the wild whitetail deer population in southern and western areas of Iowa and surrounding states is seeing the disease at high levels. EHD is common in whitetail and other deer in some years and can be fatal in these deer.

Cattle farmers are advised to use insect control as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of having cattle that become infected. Farmers who notice signs of illness in cattle are encouraged to immediately contact their veterinarian.

Pork Month celebrates pork producers doing the right thing

Decades ago, October was the major month in which large amounts of hogs would be brought to market. Though times have changed and production practices have evolved, October Pork Month is one way in which history and tradition have lived on in the pork industry. October is the month to celebrate pork, and you can show your support by taking part in October Pork Month activities wherever you might find yourself.

“Over the years the pork industry has seen many changes and advancements, but what hasn’t changed is the dedication producers have for providing a safe and healthy product,” said National Pork Board President Conley Nelson, a farmer and pork executive from Algona. “As an industry, we are as committed as ever to doing the right thing.”

With a nod to their past, producers also are looking toward the future. Thanks to the availability of new technology and tools, producers are becoming more sustainable, as shown in a study released this year that compared farm data from 1959 to the same production information for 2009. By reducing their carbon footprint 35 percent and the land needed to produce a pound of pork by 78 percent, producers are showing their ability to do more with less.*

Producers understand it is their responsibility to make sure that they are doing the best they can at every stage of production, not just when it comes to the environment. Nelson points out that the creation of programs like Pork Quality Assurance® Plus and Transport Quality Assurance® have helped demonstrate the industry-wide commitment to animal care and food safety to consumers. All of these programs are designed to increase traceability and trust within the food supply chain.

Producers also are working hard to employ the six ethical principles of the We CareSM initiative. These principles help to build trust with the public while ensuring that producers are doing their part to provide a safe work environment for their employees, humane animal care for their pigs, and a safe and wholesome product.

“We Care and the established ethical principles are a way for producers to highlight and reinforce their passion and dedication for what they do,” Nelson said. “Providing safe food, safeguarding natural resources, working to better the community, and all of the other principles are things that have been the focus of pork production for years.”

Farmers work hard to produce a safe and healthy product. Recently the cooking temperature for pork was lowered to 145° with a three minute rest period, boosting pork’s flavor while still ensuring its safety. Pork isn’t just tasty, but it’s healthy as well. A pork loin is ounce for ounce as lean as a skinless chicken breast. This year for October Pork Month, take the time to express your appreciation to the producers that provide you with a safe, nutritious and sustainable protein source.

Pork Quality Assurance® Plus: Ensuring good production practices

Iowa pork producers know that consumers rely on them to provide a safe and nutritious product that was raised in the best way possible, both for the animal and the farmer. One way producers show their commitment to these ideals is by becoming Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus)-certified and by achieving PQA Plus site status.

To date in Iowa, 15,539 people have been certified through PQA Plus and 5,970 sites have been assessed. Across the country, 56,414 people are PQA Plus-certified and 16,599 sites have been assessed.

“PQA Plus is one of the many tools that pork producers use to show their commitment to doing the right thing,” said Conley Nelson, an Iowa farmer and pig-production executive from Algona and president of the National Pork Board. “PQA Plus certification shows producer’s commitment to the industry as well as continuous improvement.”

The education component of PQA Plus stresses 10 good production practices that cover all phases of production. Proper handling techniques promote animal well-being, while observing proper antibiotic withdrawal times through medical records helps producers provide safe meat.

PQA Plus site status is designated through on-farm site assessments. This on-farm assessment is a way of taking the program an extra step. It gives producers the chance to demonstrate their understanding and commitment to good production practices while doing what’s right for their animals and their farm. 

Certification in PQA Plus and the achievement of PQA Plus site status helps strengthen trust in producers and their dedication to doing the right thing. “It gives consumers confidence in the care that our animals are receiving and in the safe meat that we, as producers, are providing,” Nelson said.

Youth also are taking the initiative to show their dedication to using good production practices by becoming certified through the Youth PQA Plus® program. The program is taught to people ages eight to 19 and addresses the topics of PQA Plus in an age-appropriate way. Currently, 609 Iowa youth and nearly 31,000 kids around the U.S. are certified through the program. “The PQA Plus and Youth PQA sessions taking place around the country show just how much producers do care,” Nelson said.

To ensure that PQA Plus truly reflects what consumers want and what producers are doing, the program is revised every three years. The latest version of the program aims to be more user friendly than ever and will be rolled out at World Pork Expo in 2013. For more information on PQA Plus or Youth PQA Plus log on to, and click on the “Certification” tab at the top of the page.

ASA Endorses Bill to Eliminate New Pesticide Permitting Rules

Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) last week introduced the Restoring Effective Environmental Protection Act. The measure is being endorsed by the American Soybean Association, along with a coalition of other agriculture stakeholders.

The bill includes identical language from H.R. 872, which clarifies that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. In 2011, H.R. 872 was passed by the House with bipartisan support and approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee by voice vote.

The REEP Act, which has nine bipartisan cosponsors, also asks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to report back to Congress on whether the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment from pesticide applications.

As a result of this new regulation, EPA has estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users, including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators, and forest managers that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually, will be required to obtain Clean Water Act permits. This is nearly double the number of entities previously subject to permitting requirements.

Sponsors of the bill hope it will be acted upon in the lame duck session of Congress that will start in November.

USDA Announces Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Sign-Up Period for 2011 Crop Losses

Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan Garcia announced today the sign-up period for the 2011 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program will open Oct. 22, 2012. The SURE program is part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill). Under the 2008 Farm Bill, SURE authorizes assistance to farmers and ranchers who suffered crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through Sept. 30, 2011.

“Any eligible producer who suffered losses during the 2011 crop year is encouraged to visit a local FSA office to learn more about the SURE program and how to apply,” said Garcia.

As of Sept. 30, 2011, the Department’s authority to operate the SURE program expired along with four other, important disaster assistance programs: 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.

To be eligible for SURE, a farm or ranch must have:

At least a 10-percent production loss on a crop of economic significance; A policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for all economically significant crops; Been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Secretary of Agriculture under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Without a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers may be eligible if the actual production on the farm is less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster. A “farm” for SURE purposes means the entirety of all crop acreage in all counties that a producer planted or intended to be planted for harvest for normal commercial sale or on-farm livestock feeding, including native and improved grassland intended for haying.

Producers considered socially disadvantaged, a beginning farmer or rancher, or a limited resource farmer may be eligible for SURE without a policy or plan of insurance or NAP coverage.  Farmers and ranchers interested in signing up must do so before the June 7, 2013 deadline.  For more information on the 2011 SURE program, visit any FSA county office or

KSU Researchers Examine DDGS Particle Size for Finishing Pigs

Kansas State University researchers are hoping that further feeding trials will prove that grinding dried distillers grains with solubles into smaller particle sizes affects finishing pig growth performance.

Jon De Jong, graduate research assistant in swine nutrition in the animal science department at Kansas State University, was a member of a research team that recently decided to see if smaller particle size DDGS would increase digestibility and improve feed efficiency in finishing pigs.

De Jong said that research has already shown that decreasing the particle size of corn and sorghum will improve digestibility and feed efficiency, so the team set out to see if the same holds true for DDGS.

A total of 1,235 barrows and gilts were all fed a corn-soybean meal diet, but with one difference: half were fed DDGS straight off the truck (about 780 microns), and half were fed the more finely-ground DDGS (about 691 microns). The DDGS was reground using a roller mill grinder with two sets of rollers on top of each other, De Jong explained.

The differences were not significant, although numerically, the finer particle size had slightly better feed efficiency for each weight phase, he said.  "It was tough not being able to have the particle size we wanted, but it gave us a little glance of what grinding distillers can do," De Jong said.

The KSU team is in the process of planning a second study to use a large-size difference in DDGS particles that will be conducted in the next six months.

NYC 'Bioheat' Mandate Begins Oct. 1

A New York City mandate to blend 2% biodiesel into heating oil known as Bioheat takes effect Monday, Oct. 1.

"All heating oil sold within the city of New York must contain 2% biodiesel, regardless of the fuel's grade or the building's application," John Maniscalco, CEO of the New York Oil Heating Association.

He noted the mandate is for all five New York City boroughs.

The Bioheat law is the third in a series of laws affecting biodiesel and petroleum-based diesel fuel for heating oil. The first is a state law that allows consumers to deduct 1.0 cent for every percentage of biodiesel they blend into heating oil. Thus a 2% biodiesel blend is a 2.0-cent credit for each gallon used in the year. The second is a New York City law which began July 1 to require heating oil in the city to have the same sulfur requirements as ultra-low sulfur diesel, which is 15 parts per million or less. The 2% Bioheat mandate is the third piece of legislation.

"The council finds that the use of Bioheat fuel would reduce the emission of air pollutants, reduce cleaning and maintenance costs, increase the ease of handling fuel oils, provide other operational benefits, strengthen the alternative fuels market, support regional farmers and local businesses, and increase energy independence and the diversity of our energy supply," the law states.

Feedstocks permitted under the NYC Bioheat law define biodiesel as fuel derived from "soybean oil, oil from annual cover crops, algal oil, waste oils, fats or greases" and non-food grade corn oil.

Meantime, the ULSD mandate has reduced diesel sulfur emissions from 2,000 parts per million to 15 ppm, Maniscalco said. "When you combine (ULSD) with Bioheat, now I'm as clean as natural gas," Maniscalco said, adding Bioheat "practically eliminates acid rain," caused in part from emission of sulfur dioxide.

NYC heating oil with 2% biodiesel reduces sulfur dioxide and fine particulates emission by about 99%, according to the National Biodiesel Board.

"This is groundbreaking legislation," said Paul Nazzaro, who spearheads the Bioheat education program for the NBB. "The consumer is the ultimate benefactor of this law, now having access to truly 21st Century heating oil."

Nazzaro added that the entire petroleum supply chain "deserves credit for making the changes needed to embrace blending biodiesel with heating oil to deliver Bioheat."

During the winter season, EIA data shows heating oil demand between 130,000 and 170,000 barrels per day (bpd), while averaging 70,000 bpd year-round in the Empire State.

Japanese Flour Millers Seek Firsthand Knowledge of U.S. Grain Marketing System on Annual Visit

Four Japanese flour millers will visit the United States Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 to meet with all sectors of the grain trade – from wheat breeders to grain inspectors and many more in between. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is sponsoring the team with assistance from the North Dakota Wheat Commission, Washington Grain Commission, Idaho Wheat Commission and Oregon Wheat Commission.

“USW provides continual updates to our Japanese customers on the quality of U.S. wheat, but flour millers want to know even more about the U.S. grain market and inspection systems,” said USW Country Director Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, who will lead the team. “Visits like this one give team members not only the information they are looking for, but also the chance to interact with U.S. wheat farmers, breeders, traders and exporters.”

This year’s members of the annual mid-level management trade team will make stops in North Dakota, Idaho and Oregon. Specifically, the team members will learn about the influence of Canada’s new free market system, current crop quality of hard red spring, durum and soft white wheat in addition to exchanging views on desirable end-use quality characteristics and development of biotech wheat.

U.S. wheat farmers have maintained a close connection with Japan since 1949, when the Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) organized a trade delegation to Japan. That visit resulted in a variety of marketing and educational activities, including a school lunch program and a “Kitchen on Wheels” that travelled through rural Japan from 1956 to 1960. Since that time, Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any other country, importing more than 133 million bushels per year on average for the last five years. Total U.S. wheat purchases now conservatively reach $700 million per year, more than 10 percent of total U.S. wheat exports.

RhinoGator® Changes the Game in Pivot Tires

If you thought "tire" automatically meant "rubber", a revolutionary plastic tire for pivot irrigation systems will likely change your mind. RhinoGator® is a new generation of rugged industrial-quality, high-density plastic tire designed specifically for the daily rigors, weight and environmental conditions that are common under pivots.  Its distinctive green color is just a hint at the differences that make RhinoGator stand out.

RhinoGator is rugged and rigid—and never goes flat. RhinoGator is waterproof and will not fill up with water or mud. The tough, high-density plastic resin formulation was specifically chosen for a wide range of conditions unique to pivot systems including bearing weight, stress and torque, material consistency, ease of handling and exposure to sunlight, moisture and chemicals. The formulation includes renewable plastic made from corn. RhinoGator carries the longest UV protection package available in the plastics industry.

RhinoGator is manufactured in the U.S. under controlled conditions for consistent sizing and reliable fit. Bolt holes are molded into the tire, not hand-drilled. Pre-cut bolts are included, eliminating the safety concerns and labor of hand-shearing bolts to length.

The RhinoGator tread design was computer-engineered for maximum ground-gripping traction on wet soils—even up inclines that challenge standard rubber tires. The non-directional tread ensures maximum performance clockwise or counterclockwise. The beefy center rib makes for a lower profile sidewall for added strength, reduced hill slippage and better self-cleaning. The large anti-slip plate ensures that RhinoGator stays firmly on the rim and doesn't slip.

RhinoGator can be easily installed using standard wrenches and typical safety equipment. RhinoGator is currently available in three standard sizes: 11.2-38, 11.2-24 and 11-24.5. RhinoGator can be installed in combination with ordinary rubber tires on a pivot system. RhinoGator is also available in a ready-to-mount tire-wheel assembly.

RhinoGator is available exclusively from Dawson Tire & Wheel of Gothenburg, Nebraska, North America's leading supplier of tires and wheels for agriculture use. For more information on the rugged RhinoGator plastic pivot tire, visit or call toll free 1.888.604.3403.

Creative Cutting Keeps Consumers

Take it or leave it.

Too often, that’s the attitude the beef industry has taken with its customers, but in an effort to retain and grow demand, a third option has emerged. It’s a “we’ll help you deal with it” kind of approach, said Phil Bass, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) meat scientist at the recent Feeding Quality Forum.

Economic incentives continue to point to heavier carcasses, but what does that mean for chefs?

“People’s stomachs aren’t getting that much bigger,” Bass said. “People are getting bigger, but our stomachs aren’t getting that much bigger.”

As those beef primal get bigger, simply cutting steaks into larger portion sizes isn’t an option, nor is cutting thinner steaks.

Bass illustrated that at the late August meetings in Grand Island, Neb., and Amarillo, Texas, by fabricating a ribeye for the attendees.

“Middle meats—the striploin, the tenderloin, the ribeye— traditionally have been fabricated as a large piece and you start cutting steaks right down from one end to the other,” he said.

However, cutting a specific and relatively small portion size out of a large primal can create a very thin steak. That makes cooking a challenge.

“Raw or cremated—those are the two degrees of doneness you can get with that steak,” Bass exaggerated to make his point. “If you’re in a restaurant and you pay $30 for this, you’re going to want it cooked the way you ordered it.”

A thicker cut looks better on a plate, he said. “It also gives chefs a little more cooking flexibility. It helps maintain that flavor, juiciness and tenderness that are so critical for palatability.”
Creativity is the solution for getting desired products out of today’s heavier carcasses.

Cutting a filet of rib from the center leaves behind parts of that valuable primal, which then become tasty and tender medallions or tournados. Another option includes cucina steaks and then tying the remainder into a farmer’s roast or roullade.

“Any major subprimal you can think of, we have an alternative fabrication style that you can use to break down these big carcasses,” Bass said. “We give the customer what they want, instead of saying, ‘Here’s what I’ve got.’”

The larger carcasses haven’t brought only challenges, he noted.

“Can we have a high-quality animal and still have a lot of meat coming off that animal?” he asked. “Absolutely. We’re seeing it today.”

Producers are getting more value out of each head, and historically higher grading trends have been good for the end-users, too.

“As marbling increases, so does the overall eating experience, so does the overall value to the consumer,” Bass said.

The trick is in education and training on what to do with the changing carcasses. CAB is an active participant in both arenas, teaching merchandisers the cutting mechanics and providing marketing materials to help sell consumers on the new offerings.

“We’re using what you folks produce and trying to make that connection and that balancing act,” Bass said, “because if they don’t eat it, you’re out of business.”

The seventh annual meetings were co-sponsored by CAB, Pfizer Animal Health, Purina Land O’ Lakes, and Feedlot Magazine.

For more information or to view past presentations, visit

Friday, September 28, 2012

USDA September 28 Stocks and Small Grains reports

USDA Grain Stocks - September 28, 2012
Corn Stocks Down 12 Percent from September 2011
Soybean Stocks Down 21 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 2 Percent

Old crop corn stocks in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 988 million bushels, down 12 percent from September 1, 2011. Of the total stocks, 314 million bushels are stored on farms, down slightly from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 675 million bushels, are down 17 percent from a year ago. The June - August 2012 indicated disappearance is 2.16 billion bushels, compared with 2.54 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Old crop soybeans stored in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 169 million bushels, down 21 percent from September 1, 2011. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 38.3 million bushels, down 21 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 131 million bushels, are down 21 percent from last September. Indicated disappearance for June - August 2012 totaled 498 million bushels, up 23 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Based on an analysis of end-of-marketing year stock estimates, disappearance data for exports and crushings, and farm program administrative data, the 2011 soybean production is revised to 3.09 billion bushels, up 37.5 million bushels from the previous estimate. Planted area is revised up 70,000 acres. Harvested area is revised up 140,000 acres to 73.8 million acres. The 2011 yield, at 41.9 bushels per acre, is up 0.4 bushel from the previous estimate. A table with 2011 acreage, yield, and production estimates by States is included on page 17 of this report.

All wheat stored in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 2.10 billion bushels, down 2 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 573 million bushels, down 9 percent from last September. Off-farm stocks, at 1.53 billion bushels, are up 1 percent from a year ago. The June - August 2012 indicated disappearance is 908 million bushels, up 27 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 67.8 million bushels, up 6 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 43.1 million bushels, are up 23 percent from September 1, 2011. Off-farm stocks totaled 24.7 million bushels, down 14 percent from a year ago. The June - August 2012 indicated disappearance of 39.7 million bushels is up 79 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 197 million bushels, up 12 percent from September 1, 2011. On-farm stocks are estimated at 112 million bushels, 20 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 85.3 million bushels, are 4 percent above September 2011. The June - August 2012 indicated disappearance is 83.4 million bushels, 19 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 85.0 million bushels, 8 percent above the stocks on September 1, 2011. Of the total stocks on hand, 34.1 million bushels are stored on farms, 10 percent higher than a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 50.9 million bushels, 7 percent above the previous year. Indicated disappearance during June - August 2012 totaled 34.0 million bushels, compared with 42.9 million bushels during the same period a year ago.

Old crop grain sorghum stored in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 22.9 million bushels, down 16 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 1.16 million bushels, are down 43 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 21.8 million bushels, are down 14 percent from September 1, 2011. The June - August 2012 indicated disappearance from all positions is 35.6 million bushels, down 32 percent from the same period a year ago.

Old crop sunflower stocks in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 194 million pounds, down 25 percent from a year ago. All stocks stored on farms totaled 27.3 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 167 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 101 million pounds; of this total, 21.8 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 79.3 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 92.8 million pounds, with 5.50 million pounds stored on the farm and 87.3 million pounds stored off the farm.


Old crop corn stocks in all positions on September 1 totaled 93.9 million bushels, down 21 percent from September 1, 2011 and the lowest since 1996, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  Of the total stocks, 28 million bushels are stored on farm, up 17 percent from a year ago.  Off-farm holdings of 65.9 million bushels are down 31 percent from 2011.

Old crop soybeans stored in all positions totaled 17.7 million bushels, up 15 percent from last year.  On-farm stocks totaled 2.9 million bushels, up 16 percent from 2011. Off-farm stocks of 14.8 million bushels are up 15 percent from last year’s holdings. 

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 62.0 million bushels, down 21 percent from a year ago.  On-farm stocks of 7.7 million bushels are down 8 percent from 2011.  Off-farm stocks, at 54.3 million bushels, are down 22 percent from last year.

Old crop sorghum stored in all positions totaled 1.2 million bushels, down 32 percent from last year and the lowest since 1957.  On-farm stocks of 200,000 bushels are unchanged from a year ago, and off-farm stocks, at 987,000 bushels, are down 37 percent from 2011 and the lowest since 1957.

Iowa corn stocks in all positions on September 1, 2012 totaled 226 million bushels, 16 percent below a year ago.  Of the total  stocks,  27  percent  were  stored  on-farm.    The  June  -  August  2012  indicated  disappearance  totaled  463  million bushels, 10 percent less than the 514 million bushels used during the same period last year.

Iowa  soybeans  stored  in  all  positions  on  September  1,  2012  totaled  38.8  million  bushels,  18  percent  less  than  the 47.1 million  bushels  on  hand  September  1,  2011.    Of  the  total  stocks,  24 percent  were  stored  on-farm.    Indicated disappearance  for  the June  - August 2012 period was 108 million bushels, 17 percent more  than  the 92 million bushels used during the same quarter last year.

Based on an analysis of end-of-marketing year  stock estimates, disappearance data  for exports and crushings, and  farm program administrative data, the 2011 soybean production is revised to 475 million bushels, up 9.23 million bushels from the previous estimate. The 2011 yield, at 51.5 bushels per acre, is up 1 bushel from the previous estimate.

Iowa  oat  stocks  stored  in  all  positions  on  September  1,  2012  totaled  6.61 million  bushels,  down  9  percent  from  the 7.26 million bushels on hand September 1, 2011.  Of the total stocks, 29 percent were stored on-farm.


The final 2012 production for Nebraska wheat totaled 53.3 million bushels, 18 percent below last year’s crop and the smallest since 2002, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  Area harvested for grain, at 1.3 million acres, is 150,000 less than last year.  Average yield in Nebraska, at 41 bushels per acre, is 4 bushels below last year and the lowest since 2006.

Oat production in Nebraska during 2012 totaled 1.0 million bushels, 21 percent below the 2011 crop and the smallest production since 1868.  Planted acreage, at 75,000, is 25 percent above 2011.  Area harvested for grain, at 18,000, is 2,000 below the level set a year ago.  Yield, at 57 bushels per acre, is down 8 bushels from last year.

Iowa’s  2012  planted  oat  acreage,  at  130,000 acres,  is  10,000  acres  higher  than what was  planted  last  year, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service –Small Grains report. Oat acreage harvested for grain, at 58,000 acres,  is 16 percent higher  than  the previous year.  Iowa’s 2012 oat yield, at 65.0 bushels per acre,  is unchanged from 2011.   Iowa’s oat grain production, at 3.77 million bushels,  is 16 percent higher than last year.

Iowa’s 2012 winter wheat acreage harvested  for grain,  at 13,000  acres,  is 3,000  acres  lower  than  last  year.  The yield is 53 bushels per acre, 8 bushels per acre above last year.  The state’s production, at 689,000 bushels, is 4 percent lower than the previous year.

USDA Small Grains 2012 Summary

All wheat production totaled 2.27 billion bushels in 2012, up 13 percent from 2011. Grain area totaled 49.0 million acres, up 7 percent from the previous year. The United States yield is 46.3 bushels per acre, up 2.6 bushels from the previous year and matches the record high from 2010. The levels of production and changes from 2011 by type are winter wheat, 1.65 billion bushels, up 10 percent; other spring wheat, 542 million bushels, up 19 percent, and Durum wheat, 82.0 million bushels, up 62 percent.

Oat production is estimated at 64.0 million bushels, up 19 percent from 2011. Yield is estimated at 61.3 bushels per acre, up 4.2 bushels from the previous year. Harvested area, at 1.05 million acres, is 11 percent above last year. This is the second smallest acreage harvested for grain on record.

Barley production is estimated at 220 million bushels, up 41 percent from 2011. Average yield per acre, at 67.9 bushels, is down 1.7 bushels from the previous year. Producers seeded 3.64 million acres in 2012, up 42 percent from last year. Harvested area, at 3.24 million acres, is up 45 percent from 2011. These represent the first increases in seeded and harvested area since 2008.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday September 27 Ag News

Corn Residue Creates Opportunity for Cattle Industry

This year's drought means producers are looking for options to feed their cattle.  University of Nebraska-Lincoln beef specialists suggest grazing corn residue.  Corn plants create as much residue as they do grain, and growers then have to figure out how to dispose of the residue before it chokes next year's crop.

Stalk shredding and tilling will help manage excess residue, but Terry Klopfenstein, UNL animal scientist, said it's better to give it to the cattle industry.  As the amount of available conventional forage decreases following the drought, he suggests giving around 10 percent of corn residue to cattle for grazing.  "The cattle do the work," he said. "You don't have to spend money on equipment, fuel or labor."

He said more than a decade of research at UNL shows no decrease in yield when cattle are allowed into the fields to graze the corn residue. Their data actually show a three percent increase in yield. While not statistically significant, Klopfenstein said, it at least demonstrates that yield should not decrease.  "Taking off some residue is just good for crops," he said.

Despite worries about the effect of the cattle, they actually seem to have minimal impact on the soil and yield. Compaction can be a problem in the spring when soil is muddy, but the risk is very small after fall harvests.  "It's probably a positive because they're mixing the soil and the residue," Klopfenstein said.  The cattle first eat any grain that harvest may leave behind, but most often they eat the husks and leaves. They generally leave behind the stalks, the most beneficial part of the plant for the soil.

Farm Service Agency Changes Reporting Methods of IRS Forms 1099-G and 1099-MISC

In accordance with the Internal Revenue Codes, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will change how it provides IRS Forms 1099-G and 1099-MISC to producers.  “Beginning with 2012, these forms will not be issued by FSA to recipients that received less than $600 in the calendar year,” stated Josie Waterbury, Thurston FSA County Executive Director. 

The Farm Service Agency is issuing 2012 final direct payments under the 2008 Farm Bill and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments to farmers and landowners in October 2012.  Many of these payments are less than $600.  Producers should retain the record accompanying the check or the direct deposit statement for 2012 income tax purposes.

An additional budget saving step taken by FSA is to consolidate reporting information from multiple counties into a single 1099-G or 1099-MISC form.  Producers are encouraged to maintain small payment records and/or contact their tax advisor to determine if these payments need to be reported on their tax returns. 

Contact your local Farm Service Agency for additional information.

USSEC Board Elects New Chairman, Executive Committee

Soy industry representatives and farmer leaders gathered in New Orleans last week to appoint the new U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) Board and elect officers for the coming year. USSEC appoints, or reappoints, a board of directors comprised of 15 members – four representing ASA, four representing the United Soybean Board (USB) and seven representing industry and state soy organizations.

ASA farmer-leaders selected to serve on the USSEC Board include:  Chairman Randy Mann, Jim Miller (Belden, NE), John Heisdorffer, and Ron Kindred. 

USB directors selected include: Vice-Chair Sharon Covert, Jim Call, Vanessa Kummer, and Tom Rotello.

Kirk Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association CEO, and John Wright, of Owensboro Grain Company, were elected to serve as secretary and treasurer, respectively. Visit to view the full list of the 2012-2013 USSEC Board.

RFA Elects New Leadership for 2013

At its annual membership meeting held this week in Omaha, Nebraska, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced new Officers of the Board of Directors. The RFA elected Neill McKinstray, President of the Ethanol Division, The Andersons, Inc. as Chairman of the RFA Board of Directors. McKinstray previously served as the Vice Chairman for two terms, and will be succeeding Chuck Woodside, General Manager of farmer-owned KAAPA Ethanol. Woodside served as Chairman for two terms.

McKinstray was named President of the Ethanol Division, The Andersons, Inc. in late 2011. He had previously served as Vice President of The Andersons, Inc. grain and ethanol group since 2005. He began his career with The Andersons in 1976. McKinstray is primarily responsible for the management of The Andersons, Inc. ethanol biorefineries in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. He is also responsible for managing and directing third-party ethanol services provided by The Andersons.

“Today, ethanol is presenting the U.S. with a critical opportunity to expand domestic energy production and reduce foreign oil imports by millions of barrels. The future of energy independence and a stronger America is being realized right here, right now, every day, in ethanol plants across the country,” said McKinstray. “It is important that the industry continues to drive forward, ensuring that we maintain critical policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), extend key tax policies for new fuel commercialization and investment in renewable fuel infrastructure so that we can continue to provide American consumers with more clean fuel options.”

“The members of the RFA have worked tirelessly  to ensure the continued growth and evolution of this industry and future years hold great promise.  I am honored to have been elected to help lead this organization, and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Joining McKinstray as elected officers of the association are:
• Vice Chairman Randall J. Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont, Minnesota.
• Treasurer Walter Wendland, CEO of Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa.
• Secretary Mick Henderson, General Manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
• President Bob Dinneen, CEO of Renewable Fuels Association, Washington, DC.

Win Free Groceries for Year from Iowa Farmers

While Iowa farmers are currently focused on harvesting their fields and caring for their livestock, they also understand the need to open their doors to consumers interested in seeing how food is grown and raised. This fall, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is offering the Iowa Farmers Feed US sweepstakes program which invites Iowans to meet today's farmers, take video tours of their farms and register for a chance to win free groceries for a year.

Following the sweepstakes, there will be two free grocery grand prizes of $5,000 each from Iowa Farmers Feed US' grocery partner, Fareway Stores, Inc., awarded to Iowa residents drawn at random from those who register at The site offers an up close and personal look at eight Iowa farm families and a chance to tour their farms, which include hog barns, white corn fields and turkey barns. Website visitors can register for the sweepstakes with each of the eight farmers, each day of the sweepstakes, which runs from noon today until noon on Oct. 31.

"My family is involved in the Iowa Farmers Feed US project because we understand that while not everyone is involved in raising food, nearly everyone is interested in seeing how animals are cared for, how crops are raised and how we protect Iowa's soil, air and water," explained Justin Dammann, who raises cattle, corn and soybeans in Page County. "This website offers that opportunity for people throughout the state of Iowa, many of whom have never been on a farm. It's a great opportunity for farmers to showcase our commitment to growing safe, wholesome food today."

The website features beef cattle, turkey, corn, dairy cattle, hog and soybean farmers from across the state, each sharing their personal stories about their history in agriculture, farm families and dedication to producing food. Featured farmers include:
-- Justin and Jennifer Dammann, white corn farmers, Essex
-- Russ Yoder, turkey farmer, Wayland
-- Eric and Emily Crossman, hog farmers, Ogden
-- Jim Brown, soybean farmer, Churdan
-- Pam Johnson, corn farmer, Floyd
-- Stephanie Dykshorn, dairy cattle farmer, Ireton
-- Matt Schuiteman, hog farmer, Sioux Center
-- Tim Kaldenberg, beef cattle farmer, Albia

Additional Iowa agriculture groups supporting this initiative include the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Midwest Dairy.

Renewable Fuel Stakeholders Launch National Campaign

A large coalition of advanced and traditional renewable fuel stakeholders today joined forces to defend America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the economic, employment, domestic renewable energy and national security benefits the RFS provides. The new coalition, Fuels America, spans the full spectrum of domestically-grown renewable fuel, national security, renewable energy and other stakeholders.

The coalition also launched an online platform at and a Twitter presence @FuelsAmerica.

The launch comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a request to “waive” the RFS, a move that coalition members stressed would have serious consequences for America’s rural communities, renewable technology innovators and energy independence.

“Fuels America is built around one core idea: renewable fuel is essential to the U.S. economy, our nation’s energy security, our rural communities and the environment,” said former Congressman Jim Greenwood, President and CEO, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “More than 400,000 American jobs are supported by renewable transportation fuel, and America leads the world in renewable fuel innovation. That is why Fuels America’s diverse membership has come together to reset the national conversation on renewable fuel, protect the progress that has been made and ensure that America’s Renewable Fuel Standard continues its success.”

Fuels America members include:
25x25                                                              Growth Energy
Abengoa Bioenergy                                            National Association of Wheat Growers
ACORE                                                            National Corn Growers Association
Advanced Ethanol Council                                  National Farmers Union
American Coalition for Ethanol                           National Sorghum Producers
American Security Project                                   Novozymes
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)          POET
DuPont                                                             Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)

The Fuels America campaign will be a national effort, including advertising, beginning in Washington, DC and several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Delaware and Montana. Each state will have its own online platform reachable through and feature the stories of renewable fuel innovators and communities with a stake in maintaining the RFS.

“In this election year all eyes are on Ohio, and in Ohio our eyes are focused on growing our state’s economy,” said Pam Hall, President of the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce in Marion, OH. “For a rural community with a declining population and other economic challenges, the 2008 opening of a renewable fuel plant in Marion County was clearly something to celebrate. Today 68 million gallons of ethanol are produced at our plant by 41 individuals who add to our local and state tax base. That plant would not have been built without the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that is exactly the type of industry our community needs to improve our economic future.”

“Renewable fuel matters to everyone in Colorado, from farmers in the eastern part of the state to researchers at our universities and entrepreneurs in our clean tech economy,” said Jim Imbler, President and CEO of Lakewood, CO-based ZeaChem Inc. “ZeaChem has grown from an innovative idea for producing cellulosic fuel to a scaled operation ready to manufacture. The investor certainty created by the Renewable Fuel Standard is essential to our continued growth, and to the growth of other advanced biofuels and bio-based chemicals companies like ours.”

Members of the Fuels America coalition also stressed that renewable fuel plays a central role in increasing America’s energy independence. Since 2000, domestically-grown renewable fuel has contributed to a 25 percent reduction in oil imports from the Persian Gulf, making the nation more energy independent and driving down prices at the pump. Americans saved $50 billion on imported fuel costs in 2011 thanks to renewable fuel.

“America’s energy security and national security depend on expanding our renewable fuel sector, said Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn (Ret.), President of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). “The renewable fuel innovation we have seen across the country since the RFS was created is helping break America’s dependence on foreign oil and giving our armed forces new assets on the battlefield. Protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard will protect that progress, improve our country’s energy security and protect our men and women in uniform.”

Coalition members noted that the rapidly emerging advanced renewable fuel sector has benefited directly from the RFS, with advanced facilities now producing fuel in Florida, Louisiana, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has created billions in investment and created hundreds of thousands of careers,” said Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America. “If the RFS is altered or undermined, companies like ours will have to make tough choices about where to put our long-term dollars. Keeping those dollars, and the jobs they will continue to create, in America means keeping the RFS in place. It’s a market-based signal to innovators and investors – and it works.”

September Farm Prices Received Index Increased 7 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in September, at 200 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 7 points (3.6 percent) from August. The Crop Index is up 5 points (2.2 percent) but the Livestock Index was unchanged. Producers received higher prices for wheat, milk, cattle, and eggs and lower prices for corn, hogs, sweet corn, and broilers. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of soybeans, corn, apples, and peanuts offset the decreased marketing of cattle, wheat, broilers, and grapes.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 20 points (11 percent) from September 2011. The Food Commodities Index, at 184, increased 6 points (3.4 percent) from last month and is 17 points (10 percent) higher than September 2011.

Prices Paid Index up 3 Points

The September Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 219 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is up 3 points (1.4 percent) from August and 14 points (6.8 percent) above September 2011. Higher prices in September for complete feeds, supplements, feeder cattle, and diesel offset lower prices for nitrogen, mixed fertilizer, feed grains, and feeder pigs.

Prices Received by Farmers

All crops: The September index, at 236, increased 2.2 percent from August and is 16 percent above September 2011. Index increases for fruits & nuts and food grains more than offset the index decreases for oilseeds and feed grains & hay.

Food grains: The September index, at 273, is 3.8 percent above the previous month and 11 percent above a year ago. The September all wheat price, at $8.49 per bushel, is up 45 cents from August and 95 cents above September 2011.

Feed grains & hay: The September index, at 309, is down 1 percent from last month but 14 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $7.35 per bushel, is down 28 cents from last month but 97 cents above September 2011. The all hay price, at $187 per ton, is up $3.00 from August and $7.00 higher than last September. Sorghum grain, at $12.20 per cwt, is 90 cents above August and $1.70 above September last year.

Cotton, Upland: The September index, at 119, is up 0.8 percent from August but 23 percent below last year. The September price, at 72.3 cents per pound, is up 0.9 cents from the previous month but 21.2 cents below last September.

Oilseeds: The September index, at 270, is down 5.9 percent from August but 34 percent higher than September 2011. The soybean price, at $16.30 per bushel, increased 10 cents from August and is $4.10 above September 2011.

Livestock and products: The September index, at 155, is unchanged from last month but up 2.0 percent from September 2011. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, broilers, eggs, calves, and turkeys. Prices for milk and hogs are down from last year.

Meat animals: The September index, at 153, is down 1.9 percent from last month but 2.7 percent higher than last year. The September hog price, at $56.50 per cwt, is down $10.40 from August and $10.60 lower than a year ago. The September beef cattle price of $120 per cwt is up $3.00 from last month and $8.00 higher than September 2011.

Dairy products: The September index, at 146, is up 5.0 percent from a month ago but 9.9 percent lower than September last year. The September all milk price of $19.10 per cwt is $1.00 higher than last month but down $2.00 from September 2011.

NASS to Publish Organic Survey Results

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will publish the results of the 2011 Organic Production Survey on Thursday, October 4 at 3 p.m. EST. NASS contacted all USDA  certified organic producers in the United States to gather information on current organic production practices. This report will include acreage, production, and sales data for a variety of certified organic crop and livestock commodities as well certified organic marketing practices. The report will be available online at

Brazilian Pork Exports on the Rise

The volume and value of pork exported by Brazil during July and August were higher than in the same months of last year.

According to the latest figures from ABIPECS, Brazil exported 44,243 tons of pork in July, 22.5 percent more than in same month the previous year. For August, the volume was up by 19.2 percent to 54,717 tons. The total amount of pork exported for the first eight months of 2012 is 367,743 tons, compared to 348,843 tons in 2011, representing an increase of 5.4 percent.

The value of export sales in July was almost $108.3 million, up 15.4 percent from the same month last year. For August, the value of exports was 10.1 percent higher than 12 months previously at a little over $134.4 million. The total value of exports in 2012 up to the end of August was a little over $930 million, compared to $951.2 million at the same point in 2011.

Average values of pork exports in July and August were $2,447 and $2,457, respectively, per ton or 5.9 and 7.7 percent below the figures for the same months in 2011.

The average price for pork exports for the year to date is $2,529 per ton, down from $2,727 last year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday September 26 Ag News

WSA response to ConAgra decision on Pork Gestation Crates
Michele Ehresman, Executive Director, We Support Agriculture

“We are extremely disappointed by ConAgra’s decision to support the elimination of gestation stall housing for sows. The fact that a long-time, Nebraska-based, food company would choose to follow the agenda of an extreme animal rights organization such as the Humane Society of the United States will do nothing to improve the care provided to sows, but only place a significant burden on Nebraska’s farm families that raise pork.”

“Nebraska farmers and ranchers are caring people who know how to care for their animals properly and have a moral responsibility to do so. They go to great lengths to protect their animals from disease, predators and the harsh Nebraska climate, all the while working to provide an abundant and nutritious food supply for their neighbors. We Support Agriculture was established to defend Nebraska farm families from misinformation campaigns designed to discredit farm families under the false pretense of promoting humane treatment of animals. ”

“Nebraska agriculture is vital to our state’s economy and the Nebraska way of life, creating one out of every three Nebraska jobs. The Washington D.C. –based HSUS has clearly stated goals of “reducing, refining, and replacing” meat in the diets of American consumers, a goal that poses a real threat to Nebraska’s economy and Nebraska’s farm families. The drought that has plagued the Midwest has already created major challenges to the viability of many of Nebraska’s livestock farmers including those involved in raising pork. Decisions like the one made by ConAgra, will ultimately harm livestock farmers by pushing smaller farms that cannot afford these changes out of the livestock business forcing further consolidation. ”

“It is our sincere hope that future decisions by Nebraska-based companies relating to farm animal care practices will not occur without some engagement with the Nebraska farmers and ranchers who will most certainly feel the pinch of decisions made in board rooms that are removed from the day-to-day animal care practices on Nebraska farms and ranches.”

Cornstalk residue an opportunity for corn and beef producers to stretch forage supplies

This year’s drought has taken a significant toll on grazing land and hay supplies, two critical feed sources for Nebraska’s beef producers. As of Sept. 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 98 percent of Nebraska’s pasture and rangeland is in poor to very poor condition.

“Much of a beef cattle’s diet is forage, from calving through finishing, and cow-calf operations rely significantly on range and grazing land,” said Jon Holzfaster, a cattle and corn farmer from Paxton who is a member of the Nebraska Corn Board. “In total, beef cattle achieve 70 percent of their growth on forage, and years like this can dramatically limit hay supplies and raise prices for that forage.”

However, Holzfaster noted, there are opportunities for corn farmers to work with cattle producers to graze cattle on cornstalk residue left in the field after harvest or take advantage of baled cornstalk residue. Jim Ramm, a cattle producer from Atkinson and president of Nebraska Cattlemen, said cornstalks give cattle producers some much needed fall grazing or supplemental baled forage to stretch supplies.

“We’re encouraging cattle producers to consider the opportunity of cornstalk grazing because saving existing stored feedstuffs and hay supplies for winter feed is very important for making it through a drought,” Ramm said. “Cornstalk residue can be a good feed when managed properly, and we’re fortunate that the University of Nebraska has some great resources available.”

Rick Rasby, an Extension beef specialist with the University of Nebraska, said beef experts at the University continue to compile a drought resource webpage for beef producers at – just click on ‘Drought’ from the left-hand side of that page.

“Fact sheets, feeding recommendations, ammoniating opportunities for crop residue like cornstalks and more, are all collected on that page,” Rasby said. “There are also several short videos that discuss using cornstalk bales and links to webinars that provide additional details, ideas, and resources for managing forages during a drought.”

One of those webinars, titled “Cornstalk Grazing – Understanding the Values to Cattle Producers and Corn Farmers,” is scheduled for Oct. 2 from 12:30 to 1:10 p.m. Information about the webinar can be found at It will be recorded and made available afterwards for cattle producers and corn famers who cannot view it live.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) said it is encouraging farmers with available cornstalks to work cooperatively with livestock producers to ensure access to as much quality forage as possible due to the ongoing drought conditions. Hay production, pastures and grasslands have all been greatly reduced as the fall and winter months approach.

“In light of the ongoing drought conditions, I’d like to encourage our farmers and ranchers to work together to ensure as much quality forage as possible is available to our beef cattle herds this fall and winter,” said NDA Director, Greg Ibach. “The department has created a Hay and Forage Hotline to assist farmers and ranchers in finding hay and forage products, and it is a good starting point for those seeking feedstuffs.”

The Hay and Forage Hotline can be found at It lists hay and forage, including cornstalks and stover that is available either for sale or by donation. Those looking to list hay, forage, cornstalks and other feed sources such as silage can do so by calling 800-422-6692.

“We collectively appreciate the work by the University, NDA and others to spread the word on the programs, opportunities and partnerships that can happen not only this year but every year,” Holzfaster said. “Working together is what keeps agriculture strong in Nebraska.”

Heineman Meets with China Sister-State Delegation

Gov. Dave Heineman today met with an official delegation from the Shaanxi Providence, China, in the Nebraska State Capitol. The Governor and the Chinese delegation discussed current and future economic development and education collaboration.

“I am pleased to welcome our friends from our Sister-State, Shaanxi, to Nebraska,” said Gov. Dave Heineman. “Our ongoing communication and relationship is important to both China and Nebraska. There are many opportunities for our state and the Shaanxi Province that we are discussing, including business, educational and cultural connections. I know this delegation of special guests will enjoy their time in Nebraska, as we enjoyed our visit to Shaanxi in July.”

In July 2012, Gov. Heineman led the Governor’s Trade Mission to China, where he and his delegation ushered in a new era of Nebraska-China relations in Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi Provence. After years of economic development efforts, educational exchange and cross-cultural exchange, Gov. Heineman and Shaanxi Governor Zhengyoung Zhao signed a letter of intent to form a Sister-State relationship between the two states. Today’s meeting furthered those efforts.

Today’s meeting included Mr. Liu Yaming, Deputy Director-General of Shaanxi Foreign Affairs Office; Mr. Fan Fuhui, President of Shaanxi Information Industry General Survey Research Institute; Mr. Ma Ning, Director Assistant of the Investment Promotion Bureau of Xi’an Hi-Tech Industries Development Zone; Ms. Yang Li, Shaanxi Delegation member; and Mr. Jiang Shuidong, Interpreter of Shaanxi Foreign Affairs Office, Sister Cities representative. The Governor’s meeting was also attended my members of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Governor’s Office.

Director of Economic Development Catherine Lang is officially hosting the group of government and business officials. Dir. Lang added, “By hosting these individuals in Nebraska, we are excited to share Nebraska with them first-hand. We are building economic development between our regions, and we are honored to host our guests in Nebraska.”

While on the Governor’s Trade Mission in July, Gov. Heineman and his delegation spent two days in Shaanxi. An inland province with a strong agricultural industry and rich history, Shaanxi and Nebraska share many similarities and relationships. Geographically, Shaanxi is near the center of China. Economically, Shaanxi is a strong province that has rapidly grown its economic ties with the U.S. during the last ten years.

Nebraska’s first Chinese investment came from Easyway International, located in Shaanxi Province and was a result of the 2008 Reverse Trade Mission. In addition to economic and geographic similarities, Nebraska and Shaanxi also share numerous educational and cultural ties. The Department of Economic Development and Sister-State Division of Shaanxi Provincial Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries are implementing the formal relationship.

Iowans among soybean partners celebrating AGP’s expanded facility at Grays Harbor

Several Iowa soybean leaders were among the unique set of partners who gathered in Aberdeen, Washington, for the Grand Opening of Ag Processing Inc.’s (AGP’s) expanded facility at the Port of Gray’s Harbor on September 13. The celebration marked a win-win situation for all who were represented: for the local community, many of whose officials were on hand; for AGP; for Pacific Rim customers; and for Midwest farmers, represented by several states’ soybean association leaders.

Iowans in the group included Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Directors Cliff Mulder from Pella and Tom Oswald of Cleghorn, as well as ISA Director of Market Development Grant Kimberley and Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek.

The event celebrated the completed construction of AGP’s new 3 million-bushel port terminal elevator, a concrete structure consisting of eight 350,000-bushel storage tanks and four 80,000-bushel shipping bins. The facility’s grain handling equipment has a capacity of 60,000 bushel s per hour.

Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson familiarized the group with the Port’s strategic location, just 1½ hours from the Pacific Ocean and closer to Asian customers than any other terminal in the Pacific Northwest. Frequent destinations are the Philippines, Malaysia and China.

Shipping soybeans from Grays Harbor to China takes 18 days, compared to the 35 it would take to travel from the Gulf of Mexico, or the 45 days it takes soybeans to reach China from Brazil, thus saving considerably on transportation costs.

AGP’s newly constructed storage facility is aimed to further speed up the process by expediting the loading of ships.  The goal is to have enough product on hand to load a full vessel with 50,000 to 55,000 tons when a ship arrives.

AGP Director of International Trade Chris Schaffer said, “This storage is tremendous for us. Previously, we had room for 400-500 train cars and the train had to stay until it was unloaded directly on a ship. Now trains are always coming and going.”

Since 2007, more than $200 million in private investments have been made in the port, with public funds of another $30-40 million. For example, as AGP spent $70 million on silos, the publicly owned Port invested in $18 million on rail improvements.

Mulder said, “The enormous joint expenditure between AGP on the private side and the port authority on the public side to put together this amazing infrastructure shows how government and industry can work together to fill a void. As farmers, this gives us another venue to sell our product. With time being of the essence in today’s world, it shortens the time it takes to get our product to the Asian market.”
Construction on the terminal began in August 2010, and the facility began receiving grain in December 2011.

General contractor for the project was Todd & Sargent, Inc., from Ames, Iowa. Two silos went up at a time, adding 12-15 inches an hour, with crews moving the forms up as they did a continuous pour, finishing two silos in 5.5 days.

Meanwhile, the Port of Grays Harbor invested in a second loop and additional track to make it possible for the AGP terminal to handle 400-600 covered hopper cars a week.
Port of Grays Harbor Deputy Executive Director Leonard Barnes, who is also Chamber president, expressed appreciation for what AGP has brought to his community. “AGP is our premier partner and awesome to work with. It’s interesting to think how we’re connected to both growers and buyers. We’re all partners.”

Schaffer, who manages AGP exports at the Port, echoed the sentiment. “We have an excellent relationship with the port management. Work happens seamlessly between the Port and AGP.”
The Port of Grays Harbor was founded in 1911 in a community that feels similar to a rural area, made up of three small towns with a combined population of about 24,000. In the early 2000s, the area was economically depressed, due to the decline of the logging industry.

The partnership began when AGP learned of underused docks and the availability of a rail loop with connection to both the Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific railroads via the shortline operator Puget Sound and Pacific (PSAP).

After several years, AGP realized the need for more permanent infrastructure to deal with increased demand from the Pacific Rim. For Asian ships, sitting in port waiting for trains was expensive. That need led to the construction of the new facility.

The Port of Grays Harbor now bustles with the export of thousands of cars each week, in addition to wood pulp, logs and more.

“Since 2007, our business has grown 500 percent,” says Barnes. “And that is while the rest of the country has had an economic downturn. This has happened by providing infrastructure for exports.”
With all the growth, Grays Harbor staff estimates that rail use may be at 25 to 30 percent of capacity.

“There’s a lot of room to grow,” says Barnes. “We look forward to doing that with AGP.”

Oswald observed, “What is really interesting that the turnaround for this port began with AGP. As Midwest farmers we’ve been assisting in that change, and it’s great to be part of that.”
For Pacific Rim customers beginning their annual harvest sampling tour through the Midwest, the stop at Grays Harbor was a bonus.

Zhijun Du is president of the Chinatex U.S. office. Chinatex is one of China’s three largest soybean crushers. He noted that the next two ships to be loaded at Grays Harbor would be for his company. “After today’s trip, we are very excited, and we have very strong confidence in AGP’s management—in the facilities, in their equipment and in the team,” he said. “Trade is not simple and to figure out our business with AGP is very good. Chinatex plans to continue to expand our business with AGP.”

US Ethanol Stocks, Production Ease

Domestic ethanol inventories eased last week after climbing during the prior two weeks, with total stocks drawn down 66,000 barrels (bbl) to 19.259 million bbl for the week-ended Sept. 21 data from the Energy Information Administration released Wednesday showed, placing stocks 1.9 million bbl, or 10.9%, above a year ago.

Production of ethanol by U.S. plants fell 25,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 3.0%, to 809,000 bpd last week, while down 3.8% compared to the year-ago level.

Implied demand, as measured by refiner and blender net inputs, rose 10,000 bpd, or 1.2%, to 819,000 bpd for the week-ended Sept. 21. Refiner and blender net inputs represent a major portion of implied demand for ethanol.

Elsewhere, the EIA reported that implied demand for motor gasoline rose last week by 139,000 bpd to 8.77 million bpd for the week-ended Sept. 21, while four-week average gasoline demand at 8.8 million bpd was down 1.0% from the consumption rate seen a year ago.

Cargill Sues Over Fake Biodiesel RINs

Biodiesel producer Cargill Inc. confirmed Wednesday it is suing a New York broker for selling Cargill 1.2 million fraudulent biodiesel Renewable Identification Numbers.  RINs are assigned to biofuels when the fuel is generated and can be sold separately for obligated parties -- refiners, blenders and importers -- to meet their annual Renewable Volume Obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency administers the RFS and has uncovered four companies selling fake RINs in 2010 and 2011.  In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York, Cargill said it bought the RINs from a New York broker in 2010.  Cargill was not fined and did not receive a notice of violation from the EPA for the fraudulent RINs.

Brazil Ramps Up Corn Exports in September

Brazilian corn exports have accelerated in September, adding weight to ideas that shipments could reach 17, 18 or 19 million metric tons (mmt) in the 2012-13 season (Feb-Jan).  Corn shipments totaled 2.37 mmt in the first three weeks of September, closing in on the 2.7 mmt shipped in the whole of August.  If this pace were maintained, monthly exports would reach a record 3.2 mmt this month.  A record second crop of around 38 mmt has allowed Brazil to step into the gap in the export market left by crop losses in Argentina and the U.S. As a result, the South American farm giant will probably be the world's No. 2 corn exporter this year.

IRS: Drought-Stricken Farmers Have Time to Replace Livestock

Farmers and ranchers who previously were forced to sell livestock due to drought, like the drought currently affecting much of the nation, have an extended period of time in which to replace the livestock and defer tax on any gains from the forced sales, the Internal Revenue Service announced.

Farmers and ranchers who, due to drought, sell more livestock than they normally would may defer tax on the extra gains from those sales. To qualify, the livestock generally must be replaced within a four-year period. The IRS is authorized to extend this period if the drought continues.

The one-year extension of the replacement period announced today generally applies to capital gains realized by eligible farmers and ranchers on sales of livestock held for draft, dairy or breeding purposes due to drought. Sales of other livestock, such as those raised for slaughter or held for sporting purposes, and poultry are not eligible.

The IRS is providing this relief to any farm located in a county, parish, city or district, listed as suffering exceptional, extreme or severe drought conditions by the National Drought Mitigation Center, during any weekly period between Sept. 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2012. All or part of 43 states are listed. Any county contiguous to a county listed by the NDMC also qualifies for this relief.

As a result, farmers and ranchers in these areas whose drought sale replacement period was scheduled to expire at the end of this tax year, Dec. 31, 2012, in most cases, will now have until the end of their next tax year. Because the normal drought sale replacement period is four years, this extension immediately impacts drought sales that occurred during 2008. But because of previous drought-related extensions affecting some of these localities, the replacement periods for some drought sales before 2008 are also affected. Additional extensions will be granted if severe drought conditions persist.

Details on this relief, including a list of NDMC-designated counties, are available in Notice 2012-62, posted today on Details on reporting drought sales and other farm-related tax issues can be found in Publication 225, Farmer's Tax Guide, also available on the IRS web site.

USDA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Work to Boost Access to Farm Programs in Indian Country

Officials from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have signed two memorandums of understanding (MOU) designed to foster improved access to USDA and BIA programs by tribes and tribal members. The memorandums apply to programs administered by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development at USDA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior (DOI). The MOUs will further improve the important government-to-government relationships and also the services offered between USDA, BIA and the tribal governments and the communities they serve.

"This agreement between USDA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will help us increase efficiency, reduce redundancy and improve communications and services between our agencies and the tribes," said Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. "These improvements will help to spur economic development, strengthen the communities and improve the lives of the people of Indian country."

"We look forward to working closely with USDA to serve Indian Country. American Indian farmers are a vital part of Tribal economies and the nation's agricultural industry. Agriculture is the backbone of the nation," BIA Director Mike Black said. "With these MOUs in place, we will be able to work with USDA and its programs as partners in helping American Indian farmers maintain their farms, strengthen the local tribal economies, and bring their produce to market for the benefit of all Americans, and the world."

"This partnership shows the important role tribal lands play in conservation stewardship in America," NRCS Chief Dave White said. "Landowners across the U.S., including those on tribal lands, contribute to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better homes for wildlife. This memorandum is one effort of many in which NRCS, BIA and Indian landowners and land users can join together to nurture a better landscape."

"The Farm Service Agency is eager to implement this agreement," said FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia. "We respect and honor the centuries of stewardship that the Indian tribes participating in our conservation and farm programs have shown for the land we all share. We are pleased to solidify our partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conserve the soil, care for our water and air, and help the tribe's maximize their agricultural production."

The MOUs set up a framework for consultation, training, coordination, and the provision of technical assistance which will increase the amount of Indian land enrolled under USDA conservation and farm loan programs and improve service delivery on those lands. Farming and animal management, grazing, ranching and related food and agricultural operations will be supported through improved interdepartmental coordination. The MOUs, which are in place for five years, also support establishment of Native rural businesses, renewable energy development, and job creation. Additionally, the BIA will work with Rural Development to increase homeownership, home repair, and rehabilitation opportunities, and improve energy efficiency of homes on Indian lands through improved coordination of program delivery. Finally, the MOUs will complement the USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) work with BIA to implement and administer the Substantially Underserved Trust Areas (SUTA) provision of the 2008 Farm Bill to increase affordability and availability of RUS-supported infrastructure on Indian lands.

The MOUs also help further the objectives of the Keepseagle settlement agreement, which resolved a lawsuit regarding past discrimination by USDA against Native American farmers and ranchers concerning its farm loan program.

ConAgra Food Reports Increased Sales

ConAgra Foods, one of North America's leading packaged food companies, has reported diluted Earnings Per Share from continuing operations of $0.61 in the the first quarter of the 2013 financial year, up 177 percent over $0.22 earned in the year-ago period.

Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods' chief executive officer, said: "We are very pleased with our strong start to fiscal 2013. Based on continued momentum in our potato operations, effective margin management initiatives across the portfolio, and contribution from acquisitions, we are able to post a strong EPS performance in the midst of difficult marketplace conditions.

"It is clear that our operating capabilities, strategic initiatives, and prudent capital allocation are accelerating EPS performance. We have raised our EPS expectations for fiscal 2013 while continuing to make strong levels of marketing investment as part of long-term brand building initiatives."

The Consumer Foods segment posted sales of $2,043 million and operating profit of $235 million for the first quarter. Sales increased eight percent, reflecting eight percent contribution from acquisitions.

Brands posting sales growth for the quarter include ACT II, Lightlife, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip, Ro Tel, Rosarita, Slim Jim, Wesson, and others.

Operating profit of $235 million grew 20 percent over $196 million in the year-ago period, as reported.

After adjusting for $7 million of net expense in the current period, and $16 million of net expense a year ago, from items impacting comparability, current-quarter operating profit of $242 million increased 14 percent over the comparable $212 million a year ago.

Monsanto Provides Royalty-Free Access to Biotech Innovations

Monsanto Company Tuesday announced that it will provide a royalty-free research license to the academic community and other non-profit research institutions to a newly issued US Patent related to the Agrobacterium transformation method.

Today's announcement, which is expected to benefit the academic community and other crop researchers, has the potential to further advance research and development of new technologies in key dicot crop plants. Dicot crops include major row crops such as soybeans, cotton and canola, as well as specialty crops such as alfalfa, potatoes, tomatoes and sugarbeets.

"We hope that access to one of the leading agricultural biotechnologies can further both the enablement and development of key agriculture solutions for farmers and consumers alike," said Robb Fraley, Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto Company and also one of the leading scientists behind this breakthrough discovery.

The Agrobacterium transformation process was first invented by Monsanto scientists in the early 1980s. Today, plant researchers around the world use several transformation methods to introduce novel trait technologies into crop plants -- some of the primary methods include the Agrobacterium transformation process and the biolistic transformation process. Through these methods and continued advancements in breeding, plant researchers have been able to develop crops with improved nutritional profiles, plants that can better mitigate the effects of drought, as well as other agronomic improvements such as herbicide-tolerance and insect-protection.

Fraley noted that the continued, successful development of crop products and novel agriculture technologies by both the public and private sector represents an important part of supporting the growing food, feed and fuel demands of our planet and its finite resources. Experts estimate that the agriculture sector will need to double food production to feed a growing global population estimated to be at 9 billion by mid-century.

Products developed through biotechnology have proven to be a valuable tool in protecting and advancing on-farm crop yields for farmers since their initial introduction in the mid-1990s and since that time have generated a number of secondary benefits beyond the farm.

In 2011, nearly 17 million farmers grew biotech crops on approximately 400 million acres in 29 countries around the world. From 1996 to 2010, ISAAA experts note that biotech crops have supported an increase in crop production estimated at US$78.4 billion and supported the alleviation of poverty by improving the productivity or income of millions of small-holder farmers. A recent summary report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the European Commission Joint Research Centre highlighted that "models estimate that world food price increases would be significantly higher in the absence of [the] cultivation [of biotech crops], by 10 percent to 30 percent depending on the crop and the underlying assumptions." The JRC-FAO report noted that these "price effect benefits all consumers globally through trade."

"Royalty-free access to research tools like the Agrobacterium transformation process is critical for solving important global agricultural problems, establishing industry-academia collaborations, and training students," said David Conrad, executive director of NUtech Ventures, a nonprofit organization responsible for building partnerships between the University of Nebraska and the private sector. "We applaud Monsanto for this initiative and encourage other agribusiness companies to adopt a similar approach within the academic and non-profit sectors."

This week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued patent claims to Monsanto for this enabling technology following its original filing in 1983. With the patent's issuance, Monsanto wanted to underscore its support for the advancement of public sector research that can continue to deliver improved crops that are critically important for food security and our world's growing demands. Interested parties can access a downloadable request form for the royalty-free research license on the company's Facebook site at:, on Monsanto's website at or by contacting the company at:

Monsanto remains committed to broadly licensing its seed, trait and enabling technologies to support research and commercial developments that benefit farmers and the customers they serve. Monsanto's Agrobacterium transformation technology has been previously licensed to other major technology developers for commercial purposes. The company noted it will continue to make commercial licenses available for this enabling technology as it has proven so beneficial to advancing innovation in global agriculture.

The company has a long-standing commitment of supporting partnerships and research collaborations with public agricultural researchers around the world. Monsanto's work is aimed at improving crops important for food security; providing advice on environmental stewardship and information on food safety; as well as providing access and licenses to patented technologies. Many of these partnerships are particularly important in developing countries, including cassava, corn, mustard, papaya potato, rice and sweet potato.

EFSA Will Soon Publish GM Corn Study

The European Food Safety Authority said Wednesday it will publish next week a preliminary review of a study which alleges a genetically engineered corn made by Monsanto Co. (MON) causes cancer.

The EFSA said a multi-disciplinary task force will analyze the paper from the University of Caen in France and publish an initial scientific review as the first step in a two-stage process.

If information gaps are identified, the EFSA said will then contact the authors with a request for further details of the methodology used in the two-year study.

It said this material would contribute to a more comprehensive assessment that the EFSA will publish in coming weeks as the second part of its evaluation.

The study published last week in the Food and Chemical Toxicology scientific review, found that rats fed for two years on Monsanto's NK603 corn, grown with or without the company's Roundup brand glyphosate weedkiller, developed more tumors and other severe diseases than a control group fed regular corn. The study also found that rats exposed to Roundup exhibited more disease symptoms than the test group.

The researchers recommended conducting more studies to evaluate toxic effects of genetically modified crops on humans, especially when combined with a weedkiller. NK603, which Monsanto sells as Roundup Ready corn, is resistant to the weedkiller. Monsanto markets the two products together as a weed-control strategy for farmers.

The EFSA said it will work in close cooperation with member state food safety agencies throughout the process, with the matter being raised with national representatives at its Advisory Forum meeting this week.

It added that the group of EFSA scientists from the GMO, pesticide and scientific assessment units may call upon additional external expertise if needed.

The European Commission asked the EFSA to look into the study's findings and it has been asked to consider their significance as part of its ongoing remit to monitor scientific developments in its field.