Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday November 30 Ag News

Lt. Governor Sheehy Announces Holt County Designated Livestock Friendly

Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy today announced the official designation of Holt County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County. With the addition of Holt County, there are now 21 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program, including: Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Cuming, Dawes, Deuel, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Jefferson, Kimball, Keith, Lincoln, Morrill, Saline, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Wayne, and Webster Counties.

“Holt County has shown it is committed to supporting the county’s livestock industry and related economic development,” said Lt. Gov. Sheehy. “Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is a way to recognize the tremendous impact the livestock industry has on Main Streets and the local economy. It provides jobs for those working with animals and a marketplace for grain and hay producers, while also adding value to those products.”

Lt. Gov. Sheehy presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Holt County Commissioners Ralph Metschke, Don Butterfield, Donald Hahlbeck, Marvin Scholz, William Tielke, Robert Snyder, and Robert Young. The county will receive road signs bearing the program logo to display along highways. The program is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said the official designation makes a positive statement about Holt County. Dir. Ibach stated, “It was clear from the submitted materials that Holt County officials have given some purposeful thought to supporting the livestock industry.”

To apply for a livestock friendly county designation, the county board must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution to apply. A completed application is then submitted to Department of Agriculture for review. Local producers or community groups can encourage their county board to submit a livestock friendly county application.

Additional information on the Livestock Friendly County program is available by contacting NDA toll free at 800-422-6692, or by visiting the Department of Agriculture website at and clicking the Livestock Friendly County link.

Smith Discusses Trade, Agriculture with EU Parliament Members

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) along with other members of the House Committee on Ways and Means met with Members of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade to directly discuss trade issues, including the possibility of a transatlantic U.S.-European Union (EU) trade agreement.  During the meeting, Smith stressed the importance of addressing agriculture trade barriers as part of any trade agreement with the EU.

“A comprehensive agreement would deepen our economic relationship with the EU.  Additionally, it creates a unique opportunity to address many longstanding barriers to U.S. food and agriculture exports in the European market.

“I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this important issue with our counterparts, and hope our meeting will serve as a constructive step towards reducing trade barriers in Europe for Nebraska’s exporters.”

The meeting today was part of the semi-annual Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue, which was established in 1999 to facilitate coordination and the exchange of information between the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament.

$10,000 to Purchase iPads for Ag Education Projects

The Nebraska Corn Board is pleased to announce they are the recipients of a $5,000 DuPont Pioneer grant towards iPad® technology for agricultural literacy.  In addition to this grant, the Nebraska Corn Board is matching the grant with an additional $5,000.

“At DuPont Pioneer, we are dedicated to developing seed that will help provide the food, fuel and fiber demands of a rapidly growing global population.  What we also recognize is how important agricultural education is to inspire the next generation of ag leaders who will provide the solutions needed locally and across the globe,” said Steve Reno – DuPont Pioneer western business unit director.  “We are proud to support ag literacy efforts like these that will help create a healthier, safer world.  We are truly all in this together.”   

“For the past year, I have been an agriculture consultant from my farm in Davenport, Nebraska with a classroom in an urban school in Texas using wireless technology,” said Mark Jagels, District 2 director for the Nebraska Corn Board.  “We need more agriculture in the classroom and using technology, such as the iPad, is the easiest way to do this.  Partnering with DuPont Pioneer to put more iPads into the school systems makes sense and we are able to reach many more school children.”

Nebraska schools can apply to receive an iPad for their school or classroom through the Nebraska Corn Board.  The application process begins on January 1 and ends on February 28.  For more information on the project and how to apply visit the Nebraska Corn Board website at

Don't Neglect Stored Grain This Fall and Winter

Tom Dorn, UNL Extension Educator

As most dryland corn producers know, you cannot assume that the 2012 corn in the bin has not been contaminated by molds, including mold species capable of producing mycotoxins. The only defense against mycotoxin contamination in corn is to manage the grain moisture content and grain temperature to minimize mold growth in the grain.

In an August 31, 2012 CropWatch story, I made several recommendations to help you protect your stored grain:

-- Dry dryland corn down to 13% moisture if it's to be stored for more than a month.

-- Run aeration fans whenever the air temperature was 10 degrees cooler than the grain temperature since the rate of mold growth is slower at cooler temperatures.

-- Cool stored grain down to 30°F (plus or minus 5 degrees) to stop mold growth. If you have not cooled the grain to the recommended temperature for late fall and winter , do so soon, especially if you plan to keep the grain into the new year.

-- In fall and winter, grain next to the bin wall will be cooled while grain in the center of the bin will stay warmer. The difference in temperature can result in convection air currents migrating through the grain. The warmer air in the center of the bin rises and the grain next to the cold bin wall sinks. When the warm rising air encounters the colder air at the top of the bin, the escaping air can go below the dew point temperature of the rising air and deposit moisture on the grain. This can create a wet spot in the top-center of the bin.

-- If the grain is warm enough for microbial activity, a hot spot can form and molds can grow, even in winter. This includes molds that can produce mycotoxins.

-- Run the aeration fan(s) at least once a month when the humidity is low and the ambient air temperature is 30 to 35 degrees. To conduct a preliminary check on grain quality, start the aeration fan(s), then climb up and lean into the access hatch. If the air coming out of the hatch is 1) warmer than you expected, 2) has a musty order or 3) If condensation forms on the underside of the bin roof on a cold day, continue to run the fan(s) long enough to push a temperature front completely through the grain.

--A rule of thumb is, the time (hours) to push a temperature front through a bin of grain is 15 divided by the airflow-cubic-feet per minute per bushel cfm/bu.

For example, a bin used for drying grain should be able to produce about 1.0 cfm/bu so it would take about 15 hours to push a temperature front through the grain (15/1 = 15). In another example, a bin equipped with a fan able to push only 0.3 cfm/bu could push a temperature front through in 50 hours (15/0.3= 50).

Master Conservationist Program Seeks Nominations

Recognizing long-term water conservation, innovation and implementation, the 2013 Master Conservationist recognition program is seeking nominations. 

A winner will be selected from each of the three established categories: agriculture, community and youth.  Production agriculture includes individual producers, partnerships and family farm or ranch corporations.  The community category is for groups, individual agencies or businesses that have carried out a water and/or soil conservation program for a minimum of two years.  The youth category seeks to recognize any individual or group of individuals 19 years old or younger for their conservation efforts. 

Master Conservationist brochures, which include details on the program, are available at local Natural Resources District and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offices. Applications can also be found online by visiting and clicking on "In the Community" link. Entries are due Feb. 1, 2013.          

All entries are judged by members of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Master Conservationists will be recognized at the annual banquet of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, Sept. 23, 2013, at the Younes Conference Centre in Kearney.  They will also be featured in the Omaha World Herald in September.

The Master Conservationist program is sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.

'I Am Angus' Features Five UNL Feedlot Management Interns Dec. 3 on RFD-TV

Like many occupations, a career in agriculture evolves with experience – Up-close, hands-on, real-life experience that builds student appreciation and knowledge in a field of study. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln provides that through its one-of-a-kind Feedlot Management Internship Program.

The internship prepares students to meet a growing need for trained, responsible feedlot managers. And interestingly, many of the enrolled students are women.

In an upcoming episode of "I Am Angus," a documentary series produced by the American Angus Association, five UNL women are featured in a discussion about future leaders in the cattle industry.

"The business of producing beef requires a number of steps – from the ranch to the retailer, and everywhere in between," said Galen Erickson, UNL animal science professor. "And we need talented people involved to provide a quality product for consumers. That's why young people are fundamental to this industry."

"I Am Angus," airs at 7 p.m. Central Dec. 3 on RFD-TV. UNL students involved in the Feedlot Management Internship Program and featured on "I Am Angus" are: Stephanie Moore, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Caitlin Swartz, Winchester, Ky.; Kaylee Reedy, Maryville, Mo.; Meredith Bremer, St. Edward, Neb.; and Feedlot Internship Recruiter Kari Gillespie, Kevin, Mont. For more information visit

"I Am Angus," focuses on the heart of the Angus cattle business – its people, their heritage and why they are involved in agriculture. The hour-long documentary series explores each corner of the beef industry, Angus heritage and how animal agriculture meets the challenge of feeding a growing population.

Sponsored by the Angus Foundation, "I Am Angus" broadcasts on RFD-TV. The channel is distributed by more than 625 cable operators, and can be found on DirecTV channel 345 and Dish Network channel 231. Check local listings for more information.

For more information or to watch segments from past shows, visit the association's website at or YouTube Channel at

The American Angus Association serves nearly 30,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers.

For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association's programs and services, visit

Landowner Attorney for NEAT to Address Pipeline Issues At 99th NeFU Convention

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) would like to let all landowners and Nebraska citizens know that Brian Jorde, an attorney with Domina Law Group, will be speaking about the recently formed Nebraska Easement Action Team, better known as NEAT, at the 99th Annual NeFU State Convention.  The Convention will be held at the Midtown Holiday Inn in Grand Island.

Jorde will be presenting on Saturday morning December 8th at 11:25am, and NEAT will have a booth where landowners and citizens can get more information on the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) review process of reroute, and also how to become a member of NEAT.  Sign-up sheets will also be available at the NEAT Booth in the Exhibitor/Break Area at the Midtown Holiday Inn.

NEAT is a non-profit landowner rights group with the purpose of creating a standard and strong Nebraska easement designed to protect Nebraskans from all oil pipelines and oil pipeline companies.

“Many new landowners on the new route have many questions in dealing with TransCanada easements.  This will be an awesome opportunity to get some facetime with a true easement expert in Domina Law Group Attorney Brian Jorde.  Every landowner should attend this event”, said Public Affairs Director Graham Christensen.

This event is timely as it falls shortly after the December 4th NDEQ public comment session and hearing at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Albion at 6pm.

The agenda for the entire NeFU Convention December 7th and 8th can be found at:  Registration begins at 8am Friday morning. Convention begins at 9am Friday, and resumes 8:30am Saturday.  As always, everybody and anyone are welcome.   For more information call the NeFU State Office at 402-476-8815.

Cost for Iowa to Meet Hypoxia Targets to Be Discussed at IFBF Meeting

"What would it cost, how long would it take and would the water quality improvement methods impact Iowa's economy and food costs down the road?" Those questions and more will be addressed as part of a panel discussion about Iowa's proposed nutrient reduction strategy and its role in protecting Iowa surface water and reducing the Gulf Hypoxia Zone at the 94th Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) annual meeting in Des Moines. The Dec. 4-5 meeting will be held at a new location this year: the newly remodeled Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

The panel will feature Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey; Dean Lemke, natural resources engineer with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS); and Dr. Matt Helmers, professor and ag engineer from Iowa State University (ISU).

"The IFBF annual meeting education seminars always draw quite a crowd because they feature expert advice and guidance on issues that today's responsible farmers need to know to be sustainable as farmers and community leaders," says IFBF President Craig Hill. "We're especially excited about the Nutrient Reduction Strategy seminar because it is a science-based, detailed study which establishes a benchmark of what strategies farmers, cities and industries in Iowa can do now to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous loss."

The water quality plan is the beginning of a coordinated, intensified effort to improve Iowa water quality and satisfy the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan, which challenged Iowa and other Mississippi River basin states to find ways to reach a 45 percent reduction in nutrients into the Gulf, which cause concerns for marine life. IDALS, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and ISU researchers studied the issue for two years; they'll discuss their draft plans and options for conservation with farmers at the IFBF meeting in Des Moines.

"One thing this study will illustrate is that conservation is not a 'one size fits all' issue. There are literally thousands of types of soils, multiple terrains and many land uses in this state, and we have to continue to feed a growing world from the same amount of land. This plan needs to focus on feasible solutions that help us make the real, immediate improvements our farmers are seeking, while being fiscally responsible," says Hill.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey agrees. "We will discuss Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy which studied several science-based management practices, including cover crops, wetlands, and nitrogen application timing, and looked at their impact on food production, farm profits, and water quality," says Northey. "Iowa farmers know the importance of protecting the land and water and have shown increasing willingness to voluntarily implement management practices to improve Iowa's water quality and downstream waters."

Members can register for the 2012 IFBF annual meeting at their county Farm Bureau offices. For more information about the annual meeting, visit

Iowa DNR, Corps to Meet in Hamburg on Floodplain Permits

An informational public meeting on state and federal floodplain permit processes, as well as post-flood sediment disposal, will be held Dec. 10 at the Waubonsie State Park lodge.

The meeting, jointly hosted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will take place in the lodge's meeting room from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The park is located at 2689 State Highway 2 near Hamburg.

A short informational presentation on how to gain appropriate state, federal and local approvals for projects along the river and in the floodplain will begin at 2 p.m. The presentation will provide details on the different types of approvals and the step-by-step application processes.

The Corps of Engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will have staff available before and after the presentation to answer specific project questions and provide technical assistance as needed.

New Higher Ethanol Fuel Blend E15 May Cause Consumer Confusion

Although the Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of the new E15 fuel in model year vehicles 2001 and newer, many automakers do not support the EPA’s position, says AAA. The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use the new E15 fuel blend, which contains 15 percent Ethanol, are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles, and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) are on record saying their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Seven additional automakers (Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 may void warranty coverage. To help prevent any problems, AAA is urging consumers to carefully read fuel pump labels and know your auto manufacturer’s fuel recommendations before using any type of new fuel blend.  Fuel recommendations are listed in the vehicle owner’s manual.  Currently, more than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States contains up to 10 percent Ethanol.  Only ten fuel outlets in the Midwest currently offer the new E15 fuel. The stations are located in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.


A recent survey by AAA finds a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent approval of E15 gasoline. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15 percent ethanol. With little consumer knowledge about E15 and less than five percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected. 

Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers. AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false “check engine” lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15.

“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said Kevin Bakewell, AAA Chief Public Affairs Officer, The Auto Club Group. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”

Unsuspecting consumers using E15 could end up with engine problems that might not be covered by their vehicles’ warranties. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) are on record saying their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Seven additional automakers (Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.

The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use E15 are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. These approvals extend only to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs). The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles.

“The sale and use of E15 should be suspended until additional gas pump labeling and consumer education efforts are implemented to mitigate problems for motorists and their vehicles,” added Bakewell. “Consumers should carefully read pump labels and know their auto manufacturer’s recommendations to help prevent any problems from E15.”

AAA urges fuel producers and regulators to do a better job of educating consumers about potential dangers before selling E15 gasoline. This outreach should include a consumer education campaign and more effective pump labels, among other potential safeguards to protect consumers and their vehicles. AAA also recommends additional testing to conclusively determine the impact of E15 use on vehicle engines and fuel system components. At least 10 gas stations currently sell E15 and that number is expected to grow, which means now is the time to suspend sales before more retailers begin offering the fuel.

The EPA in June officially approved the sale of E15 after receiving a waiver request from producers interested in expanding the use of corn-based ethanol. Despite objections by auto manufacturers, the EPA approved the use of E15 gasoline in flex-fuel vehicles and 2001 model year and newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles and SUVs. AAA urges consumers to follow the recommendations of manufacturers to truly protect themselves from voided warranties or potential damage.

AAA supports the development and use of alternative fuels. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Lower ethanol blends should remain available to consumers while the challenges with E15 are addressed.

The survey findings related to consumer knowledge of E15 are from a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,012 adults comprising 504 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States.

AAA Reaction:  Big Oil Voids More Car Warranties Than E15 Ever Could. Where’s AAA Outrage?

In response to an E15 statement by AAA this morning, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), commented:

“If AAA weren’t so deep in the Big Oil politics, they would stop manufacturing concern about the efficacy of ethanol blend use and report enthusiastically about ethanol’s consumer gasoline price savings.  Their misplaced concern today, that E15 should be further tested before being offered for sale reflects a pathetic ignorance of EPA’s unprecedented test program before approving E15 for commercial use.  The fact is E15 has been the most aggressively and comprehensively tested fuel in the history of the Agency.  The miles driven on E15 equate to 12 round trips to the moon and back without a single failure, unless you want to count the deer that was killed on the test track!  E15 is a safe fuel, as evidenced by the fact auto manufacturers are now providing warranty coverage for it.”

Dinneen continued, “AAA’s antipathy toward ethanol is well known and tired.  But when put in contrast to gasoline quality issues AAA continues to ignore, one has to wonder whose interest they’re truly trying to protect, consumers or oil companies?  For years, refiners in vast swaths of the country have sold sub-87 octane fuel, which no auto company warranties today.  Where’s AAA’s outrage and concern about that?”

“You would think in this struggling economy, AAA would support a domestic renewable fuel that reduced wholesale gasoline prices by a national average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011, according to an updated study authored by professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University.  In the Midwest, savings were even greater at $1.69 per gallon.”

Dinneen concluded, “American consumers are looking for a choice when it comes to fueling their vehicles, and they now have one more domestic, renewable fuel option with E15.   Ethanol has helped reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil by 45 percent in 2011 and is supporting more than 400,000 jobs across the country that can’t be outsourced.  There is a lot to like about this high octane green fuel.”

The RFA is working diligently with the petroleum industry, gas retailers, automakers, and consumers to ensure E15 is used properly.  For more consumer information, please visit

ACE criticizes AAA for trying to scare consumers about E15 blends 

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is dismissing concerns raised by the American Automobile Association (AAA) over the usage of E15 blends in most motor vehicles.

ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty says the warning from AAA is inaccurate and irresponsible.

“AAA has always had a bias against ethanol, so in that respect, this is not surprising. But in this situation, they appear to be relying on a study funded and supervised by Big Oil, while they are apparently unaware of three years and six million miles of testing by EPA, the Department of Energy, and other federal labs that do not have a financial stake in the outcome. Either that, or they are aware of the federal testing that showed no problems running E15 in the approved vehicles, and have chosen to ignore it” said Lamberty. 

The automotive group warned its members in an email message today that E15 usage could damage vehicles and void car warranties. “You would also think that AAA would have a better understanding of automobile warranties, and would defend their members from possible fraud by car dealers who want to avoid making warranty repairs. Not even the Big Oil study suggests any engines would have any kind of actual “break down.” Statements like this one – that ignore the huge volume of evidence that proves E15 is safe – amount to AAA providing cover for unscrupulous mechanics who want to charge motorists for expensive repairs that were never made.” Lamberty said.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this statement came out during a week when lobbying groups for both Big Oil and Big Food have started up their latest PR campaign against ethanol. The price of oil is down, and Big Oil is spending tens of millions trying to eliminate competition, while Big Food is turning the drought into an opportunity to increase prices and pad their bottom lines.” said Lamberty.

Petroleum Industry Targets Biodiesel with Latest RFS Challenge

The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed a lawsuit Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to require 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2013. API and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) also filed petitions directly with EPA asking them to reconsider the 2013 requirement. The National Biodiesel Board indicated that they are reviewing the lawsuit and the petitions and will vigorously defend the program.

EPA previously denied another AFPM petition for reconsideration of the 2011 cellulosic and advanced biofuel volume requirements, and recently confirmed the biomass-based diesel volumes for 2012/2013 in denying the RFS waiver requests. Any court battle will last well into 2013, which means the volume of 1.28 billion gallons will go into effect on Jan. 1.

The statute creating the RFS mandated minimum annual biomass-based diesel volumes of 1 billion gallons from 2012 through 2022 and gave the EPA discretion to set annual targets higher.

In its petition challenging the decision, AFPM claimed that the decision would increase consumer fuel prices. AFPM also contends that the biomass-based diesel volume requirements will not help U.S. energy security because the country is a net exporter of diesel fuel. As part of the announcement of the lawsuit and petition, API said it will launch a full-scale effort to repeal the RFS in 2013.

Higher U.S. Soybean Yields Lead to Revised Global Soybean Production

The London-based International Grains Council Friday revised up its forecast for global soybean output in the current marketing year due to higher-than-expected yields in the U.S. and an expected record crop in South America.

Global soybean output is forecast to rise 12% to 267 million tons in the 2012-13 marketing year that began Oct. 1, the council said in a report. The council revised up its forecast for this marketing year by 3 million tons.

Soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade hit a record in September due to successive droughts in South America and the U.S., the world's largest suppliers. A rebound in output would likely drag down prices.

After initial delays due to dryness in central areas of Brazil, notably in Matto Grosso, the country's largest soybean producing state, recent precipitation has allowed plantings to advance, with farmers also replanting some of the fields, the council said.

If the weather remains favorable and the forecast 7% expansion of Brazil's soybean plantings is realized, the country's output will rise 20% to 80.5 million tons, it said.

In Argentina, output is projected to rise by one-third despite recent heavy rains and flooding to 54 million tons.

The rise in output will shore up global soybean inventories that were depleted earlier this year because of the droughts. Stocks in the three major exporting countries--the U.S., Argentina and Brazil--are forecast to rise 50% to 10.5 million tons.

The IGC raised its forecast for global trade in soybeans in 2012-13 by 1.2 million tons to a record 96.8 million tons. This would be a 5.1% on-year increase, which the council attributed largely to further strong demand growth from China.

The IGC forecast China's soybean consumption to rise 7% on year to a record 75.1 million tons in 2012-13, mainly due to stronger animal feed demand. It put China's soybean imports at a record 61 million tons, up 7% from 57 million tons in 2011-12.

The IGC said the global soymeal trade is also expanding. It forecast a 4% on-year rise to a record 59.1 million tons in 2012-13 due to strong demand in the European Union and East Asia.

It said soymeal imports by the European Union, the world's largest importer, will likely rise around 7% on year to 23 million tons on the back of tight supplies of alternative feed ingredients such as rapeseed, also known as canola. The EU is switching to direct imports of soymeal in lieu of buying soybeans, it said.

Soymeal exports by India, Asia's largest exporter, are forecast at 4.6 million tons, down from 5 million tons in 2011-12, the IGC said.

It forecast global canola output in 2012-13 to fall by 2% to a four-year low of 58.9 million tons due to lower output in Canada and Australia.

U.S. Soy Industry Hosts First Sustainable Supply Forum in Mexico

The American Soybean Association (ASA), the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council hosted the first Forum for Sustainable Supply of Grains and Oilseeds for the Americas, Nov. 13-15 in Puerto Vallarta. The event drew more than 80 top executives from international soy trading companies, U.S. exporters and U.S. grower leaders to discuss key issues affecting the oilseed and grain trade in North and South America.

Experts from Mexico, Central America, and the Andean and Caribbean regions presented valuable market intelligence highlighting drivers and inhibitors to expanding market share for U.S. soy in the region. The U.S. supply and demand situation was presented by USSEC Board Member and USB Director Tom Rotello, ASA Executive Committee member and Trade Policy & International Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Henry, USB consultant John Baize, and North American Export Grain Association President and CEO Gary Martin.

Topics discussed during the conference included risk management and procurement strategies to reduce cost and be more competitive; change management; biotechnology; food security; international certifications and regulatory standards; branding and digital marketing; and nutritional genomics. Audience response devices were utilized to allow conference participants to provide feedback in real time and helped drive meaningful discussions and informed conclusions.

The conference allowed participants to discuss emerging issues and reflect on the challenges and opportunities that face the soy industry. Linking buyers and suppliers for meaningful discussions and networking opportunities translates into an effective platform for trading and relationship building. This was the first such conference held in the Americas, and another first-time buyers conference is scheduled for Dec. 12-13 in Dubai, when American Soybean Association International Marketing (ASA-IM) will launch its new office there covering the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Subcontinent region.

The full program and speaker profiles are available in both English and Spanish on the forum website:

Checkoff-Funded Tool Highlights Importance of Animal Ag for State Economies

Because animal agriculture is universally important to all U.S. soybean farmers, the soy checkoff developed an easy-to-use tool to allow farmers access to data about animal agriculture in each of the 50 states. Use the tool online here...

The "Impact of Animal Ag" tool highlights the economic output, earnings, employment and taxes produced by farmers who raise poultry, hogs, cattle and other livestock. The tool, which uses information taken from a recent soy checkoff study on animal agriculture, also details economic growth of animal agriculture over a 10-year period in each state and looks at animal production in each state and soy meal use by each animal species.

A few of the interesting facts that can be found using this tool include:
-  Where’s the beef? Cattle production in Texas declined by 7 percent between 2001 and 2011, but still stands at over 7 billion pounds annually.
-  Rivaling small countries. Animal agriculture in Minnesota generates annual revenue of $13.6 billion, which is equal to the 2011 gross domestic product of the country of Iceland and more than double the GDP of both Liechtenstein and Montenegro.
-  Northeast staples. In 2010, Maine farmers used the meal from more than 1.4 million bushels, with most of it going into egg production (70 percent) and milk production (21 percent).
-  Top-ranked. Iowa was the leading user of soy meal in animal agriculture at 3.4 million tons, followed closely by North Carolina with 2.8 million, and then Georgia at 1.9 million tons and Arkansas and Minnesota at just under 1.7.

November Farm Prices Received Index Down 6 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in November, at 203 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, decreased 6 points (2.9 percent) from October. The Crop Index is down 7 points (3.0 percent) but the Livestock Index increased 5 points (3.1 percent). Producers received lower prices for soybeans, corn, and apples and higher prices for broilers, eggs, and milk. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of corn, milk, cattle, and cotton offset the decreased marketing of soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, and sunflowers.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 19 points (10 percent) from November 2011. The Food Commodities Index, at 188, decreased 8 points (4.1 percent) from last month but increased 16 points (9.3 percent) from November 2011.

Prices Paid Index Down 1 Point

The November Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 217 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is down 1 point (-0.5 percent) from October but 11 points (5.3 percent) above November 2011. Lower prices in November for concentrates, diesel, supplements, and gasoline offset higher prices for feeder pigs, mixed fertilizer, supplies, and complete feeds.

Prices Received by Farmers

All crops: The November index, at 230, decreased 3.0 percent from October but is 12 percent above November 2011. Index decreases for feed grains & hay, oilseeds, and fruits & nuts more than offset the index increases for commercial vegetables, potatoes & dry beans, and food grains.

Food grains: The November index, at 265, is unchanged from the previous month but 11 percent above a year ago. The November price for all wheat, at $8.42 per bushel, is up 4 cents from October and $1.12 above November 2011.

Feed grains & hay: The November index, at 290, is down 1.0 percent from last month but 15 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $6.71 per bushel, is down 6 cents from last month but 88 cents above November 2011. The all hay price, at $193 per ton, is unchanged from October but up $19.00 from last November. Sorghum grain, at $12.30 per cwt, is 10 cents below October but $1.60 above November last year.

Cotton, Upland: The November index, at 114, is unchanged from October but 26 percent below last year. The November price, at 68.8 cents per pound, is down 0.3 cent from the previous month and 23.8 cents below last November.

Oilseeds: The November index, at 245, is down 0.4 percent from October but 14 percent higher than November 2011. The soybean price, at $13.80 per bushel, decreased 40 cents from October but is $2.10 above November 2011.

Livestock and products: The November index, at 168, is 3.1 percent above last month and up 7.0 percent from November 2011. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for broilers, milk, cattle, eggs, and calves. Prices for hogs and turkeys are down from last year.

Meat animals: The November index, at 161, is unchanged from last month but 1.9 percent higher than last year. The November hog price, at $62.10 per cwt, is up 10 cents from October but $2.30 lower than a year ago. The November beef cattle price of $123 per cwt is unchanged from last month but $3.00 higher than November 2011.

Dairy products: The November index, at 169, is up 2.4 percent from a month ago and 7.6 percent higher than November last year. The November all milk price of $22.10 per cwt is up 60 cents from last month and $1.60 from November 2011.

Poultry & eggs: The November index, at 183, is up 10 percent from October and 19 percent above a year ago. The November market egg price, at $1.02 per dozen, increased 18.3 cents from October and is 15.8 cents above November 2011. The November broiler price, at 57.0 cents per pound, is up 6.0 cents from October and 12.0 cents above a year ago. The November turkey price, at 74.9 cents per pound, is down 2.0 cents from the previous month and 3.2 cents lower than a year earlier.

A Good Year for US Sorghum in Japan

Tommy Hamamoto, U.S. Grains Council Director in Japan

With the holiday season around the corner, many may be looking for new recipes to try out. In Japan, the use of sorghum in food is not widely known. The U.S. Grains Council has been advocating the use of U.S. sorghum throughout Japan. The Council has launched a sorghum dedicated website, held a recipe contest, participated in trade shows, in-store tasting events, conducted seminars and had multiple visits with food companies.

There is now a new series of white sorghum food products available in the Japanese market, thanks to the Council's sorghum promotion during the Japan Health Ingredients Show last month. Organic Foods Life Co., Ltd., has developed and started sales of several non-allergy products using U.S. white sorghum. They sell the pre-mix flour and ready-made sorghum pancakes, hotcakes and waffles online and in specialty food stores around Tokyo, including Nissin World Delicatessen and National Azabu Supermarket. Organic Foods Life Co., Ltd., also created a creamy salad dressing and frozen sorghum risotto.

Another company who visited the booth has also begun incorporating sorghum into recipes. The Norice Company presented samples to the Council of cookies, pound cake, and bread baked with a mixture of rice flour and white sorghum flour. They are continuing to find new ways to use white sorghum as an additional ingredient to improve the quality and flavor of their rice flour baked goods.

The Council will continue to educate and encourage the use of U.S. sorghum as a healthy ingredient to use in food. There have been positive results from the Council's efforts and we hope the Japanese continue to embrace sorghum in the food industry.

Study: Monetization Offers Benefits, Doesn't Disrupt Trade

A new report announced this week at a Capitol Hill briefing found that monetization of food aid generates multiple benefits for recipient countries and does not disrupt commercial trade when carried out properly.

The study was conducted by Informa Economics and commissioned by the Alliance for Global Food Security, which is made up of private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and cooperatives that are engaged in food aid, agriculture, nutrition and food security programs in more than 100 developing countries.

About 85 percent of food aid commodities are directly distributed overseas, while the remaining 15 percent are “monetized,” or sold in food-deficit countries to generate funds that support development activities. All food aid programs are planned in advance and approved by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or USDA.

Monetization has two major benefits to a food insecure country: it provides a commodity that is in short supply and generates funds to carry out programs that improve food security and economic development.

The Informa study found that this combination allows monetization to offer additional value. Monetization puts commodities into recipient countries’ marketing systems to generate economic activity and addresses constraints to imports presented by small volumes and lack of hard currency and credit.

Proper design and implementation of monetization programs can also avoid interfering with local commodity production or displacing commercial sales.

The report release was followed by a panel discussion about the implications of its findings and food aid policy more broadly.

Oklahoma Wheat Commission Executive Director Mike Schulte was one of the panelists available, speaking about food aid policy from a farmer’s perspective.

Wheat is one of the top commodities given as food aid, and monetization can increase availability of better quality wheat in recipient countries.

For instance, Informa studied programs in Uganda and Mozambique where millers were able to purchase wheat in their local currency at local prices, which would not be possible without monetization.

NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates are committed to global food assistance and encourage policies that include the full range of options to help countries attain lasting and sustainable food security.

The full report out this week is available at the Alliance’s website,

Hormel Foods Achieves $2B in New Product Sales

Hormel Foods Corporation announced that it has met its ambitious "Go for $2B by 2012" goal by achieving $2 billion in total sales from new products created since 2000 by the end of fiscal year 2012.

By attaining this goal, Hormel Foods continues its successful track record of creating innovative, new products to grow the company's brand portfolio. The "Go for $2B by 2012" goal built upon the company's success with its earlier Billion Dollar Challenge, which was to generate $1 billion in sales from new products launched in the decade, beginning fiscal year 2000 and ending fiscal year 2009. By the end of fiscal year 2007 -- two years early -- Hormel Foods reported total sales of $6.19 billion with more than $1 billion generated from new product sales.

"Our company was founded on innovation and that spirit continues to guide us today," said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hormel Foods. "Generating more than $2 billion in sales from products that didn't exist 12 years ago is a remarkable accomplishment. I am proud of all our 19,600 employees around the world whose hard work and commitment to making Hormel Foods successful continues to propel our company forward."

Hormel Foods was able to meet this challenge because of the success of new products across its business divisions. The most successful new products include Hormelparty trays, Hormel Natural Choice deli meats, Hormel Compleats microwave meals and Jennie-O Turkey Store oven ready items and turkey burgers. It is based in Austin, Minn., and is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, many of which are among the best known and trusted in the food industry.

Thursday November 29 Ag News

Biofuels Have the Momentum Says Novozymes President

Novozymes, the world leader in converting biomass – from corn stover and energy crops to household trash – into biofuels, congratulated the Senate on the passage of Senator Kay Hagan’s biofuels amendment, making it two days in a row the Senate has voted to support biofuels.

“Biofuels have the momentum,” Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America, said. “In the last two days the Senate has voted twice to support biofuel development. Congress is moving America forward with public/private partnerships that are putting steel in the ground and creating careers on advanced biofuel projects while providing the stability and security the Department of Defense wants.”

“We appreciate the thoughtfulness and diligence of Senator Hagan of North Carolina in this effort. She has been a champion of these initiatives and today she and her Senate colleagues recognized that bioenergy is a chance for Congress to – once again - come together and help America’s economy, national security and environment.”

In May 2012, Novozymes inaugurated the largest enzyme plant dedicated to biofuels in the United States with the opening of its advanced manufacturing plant in Blair, Nebraska. Funded with $200 million in private investment, the plant created 100 career positions and 400 construction jobs, and specializes in enzymes for both the conventional and advanced biofuel markets.

NCGA Joins Urban Air Initiative

The National Corn Growers Association recently joined the Urban Air Initiative, an organization that promotes the human health and environmental benefits of ethanol.  Focusing on ways to reduce the impact of particulate matter emitted from automobiles, UAI brings a new coalition of partners together to support government standards that recognize the important role ethanol plays in lowering these harmful emissions.

"Joining UAI will benefit corn farmers by involving NCGA in important conversations about how ethanol can help our nation achieve important health and environmental goals," said NCGA Ethanol Committee Chair Chad Willis. "Additionally, joining UAI builds relationships with a variety of influential groups, such as those representing asthma interests, with whom we share common interests but have not previously collaborated.  Conversations about reducing the harmful effects modern traffic has upon our respiratory health and the health of our planet play a major role in the formation of public policy. It is imperative that we join in and make sure farmer voices are heard."

Several of NCGA's state affiliates have provided funds to support the UAI, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Corn Growers Association, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association. NCGA will have three seats on the steering committee, which will be held by NCGA Ethanol Committee Vice Chair Paul Taylor, NCGA Director of Biofuels Pam Keck and a grower leader who has not yet been selected.

UAI focuses on the impact that ethanol has in improving urban air because those living in urban communities are the most seriously impacted by pollution concentrated in areas with a significant amount of automotive traffic and freeways. With certain components of gasoline classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as Hazardous Air Pollutants, UAI focuses on how ethanol can reduce the emissions of automobiles when blended with traditional gasoline. UAI uses research on the comparative emission impacts of ethanol and gasoline to promote fuel standards that make use of ethanol to improve public health and the environment.

"Efforts to improve our air quality, and thus our personal and environmental health, date back to the 1970s," said Willis. "For decades, our industry has recognized the role ethanol plays in meeting these goals. UAI provides another channel for NCGA and its state affiliates through which we can promote the real-world benefits ethanol offers today."

Legislation promoting clean air was first enacted in 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act. Created to foster the growth of a strong American economy and industry while improving human health and the environment, the legislation was revised in 1990 with amendments designed to curb four major threats to the environment and to the health of millions of Americans: acid rain, urban air pollution, toxic air emissions and stratospheric ozone depletion.

In a recent report on the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act, the EPA notes that air quality has greatly improved in recent years, but acknowledges that "vehicles on the road - even newer, cleaner models - still account for over 25 percent of air-polluting emissions nationwide."

Fortenberry Selected to Serve on House Appropriations Committee

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry today was selected by his colleagues in the House of Representatives to serve on the Appropriations Committee in the 113th Congress, which starts in January.

“I am honored to be entrusted with the important responsibility of this position,” Fortenberry said.  “To govern is to choose, and to choose is to budget.  I hope to work constructively to build a culture of fiscal prudence, strategic foresight, and creative collaboration within the fiscal process.  The work is particularly difficult.  The Committee is tasked with the hard job of meeting the obligations of the federal government while also reducing the deficit through balanced spending and oversight decisions.”

The Appropriations Committee writes the policies authorizing all expenditures made by the U.S. Government.  It has been 22 years since a Nebraskan served on the House Appropriations Committee.  The position was last held by Congresswoman Virginia Smith. 

Farmers Clarify Where Money from Higher Food Prices Goes

As the Northeast continues to deal with the effects of Hurricane Sandy, other parts of the United States are still dealing with the most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years. And that drought has spurred some talk about whether consumers will pay more for food at the grocery store.

While the current USDA food-price forecast for 2012 is below some recent food-inflation rates, such as the spikes in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011, shoppers can expect to pay a little more at the grocery checkout this year. And U.S. farmers, who saw firsthand the effects of the drought on their crops and livestock, want to be sure that consumers understand exactly where those extra food dollars end up. (Hint -- it isn't farmers' pockets.)

"Believe me, as a farmer and a mom of one child, with another on the way, I definitely pay attention to food prices because they affect my family's pocketbook, too," says Iowa farmer and CommonGround volunteer Sara Ross. "I know it can sometimes be tough to look past the price tag. But it's important for families to remember that, as Americans, we are very fortunate to only have to spend 10 percent of our income on food, versus the 18-25 percent spent by people in other countries around the world."

Where does the money that families pay for their food go? CommonGround walks through the truth about food prices in an online infographic.

Have a question about your food? Find CommonGround online:
-- Website:
-- YouTube:
-- Twitter:
-- Facebook:

CommonGround is a grassroots movement to foster conversation among women -- on farms and in cities -- about where our food comes from. The United Soybean Board (USB) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers through the use of a wide range of activities. USB and NCGA provide support and a platform for the volunteers to tell their stories.

FY 2013 Exports Forecast at a Record $145 Billion; Imports at a Record $115 Billion

Fiscal 2013 agricultural exports are forecast at a record $145 billion, up $1.5 billion from the August forecast and $9.2 billion above fiscal 2012 exports.  Grain and feed exports are forecast down $1.9 billion mostly due to lower corn exports.  Oilseed exports are up $3.3 billion on much higher volumes and record prices.  Cotton exports are forecast down $200 million in part due to reduced Chinese demand.  Horticultural exports are unchanged at a record $32 billion.  The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy is down $100 million on lower poultry, beef, and cattle exports.

U.S. imports are projected at a record $115 billion in fiscal 2013, up 11 percent from 2012’s imports of $103.4 billion, but down $2 billion from the August forecast for 2013.The reduced forecast for 2013 is largely due to significantly lower prices for tropical oils, processed fruits and vegetables, sugar, coffee, rubber, and cocoa. 

The forecast trade balance for fiscal 2013 shows a surplus of $30 billion, down $2.4 billion from 2012.

Export Products

Fiscal 2013 grain and feed exports are forecast at $37.1 billion, down $1.9 billion from the August estimate, due to both lower volume and values across most grains, except some higher-value products.  Coarse grain exports are forecast at $11.6 billion, down $1.4 billion, due to sluggish corn export sales and weakening prices amidst stiff foreign competition. Corn volume is forecast at 31.0 million tons, down 2.5 million.  Feeds and fodders are down $300 million largely due to lower exports of DDGS with strong domestic demand for feedstuffs.

Fiscal 2013 wheat exports are forecast at $11.6 billion, a decrease of $700 million from the August forecast due to lower prices and volume.  Although prices are down somewhat, values are still high from an historical perspective and expected to remain strong through the summer months.  Volume is down slightly as a result of higher competition from India, Russia, and Ukraine.  Rice exports are up $200 million to $2.1 billion due to higher prices and volumes.  Trade volume is up 0.2 million to 3.6 million tons with strong sales to South America.

Fiscal 2013 oilseed and product exports are forecast at $31.4 billion, up $3.3 billion from the August forecast, propelled by a 6.4-million ton (20 percent) rise in forecast soybean exports and continued record soybean and soybean meal prices.  Early September rainfall from hurricane Isaac contributed to higher yields resulting in a significant rise in exportable supplies.  Strong demand by China, coupled with limited South American competition has kept exports brisk while supporting prices at record levels.  Soybean meal exports are forecast higher on strong demand and larger crush attributed to the increased crop.    

Fiscal 2013 cotton exports are forecast at $4.6 billion, down $200 million from the August estimate.  Unit value is unchanged, while export volume is forecast 100,000 metric tons lower, at 2.5 million tons.  The decline in exports is in response to a slightly smaller U.S. crop and falling global import demand, primarily in China.  High domestic support prices in China continue to weaken the spinning industry. 

The fiscal 2013 export forecast for livestock, poultry, and dairy is lowered $100 million to $29.8 billion, with losses in poultry, beef, and cattle outweighing gains. Beef exports are forecast at $4.8 billion, down $150 million as marginally higher prices do not offset slightly lower volumes. Tight supplies on lower U.S. production constrain shipments despite strong global demand. Despite higher broiler meat exports, poultry exports are forecast down $100 million to $6.1 billion, due to lower unit values and volumes for turkey meat and poultry offals. Exports of dairy products are forecast higher by 4 percent to $5 billion as stronger international prices are expected to offset lower volume sales, particularly of cheese, skim milk powder, and butterfat.

The fiscal 2013 export forecast for horticultural products is unchanged at a record $32.0 billion.  Fresh fruit and vegetable exports are forecast at a record $7.6 billion.  Exports to Canada, Europe and Japan are expected to continue expanding.  Processed fruit and vegetable exports are forecast at $7.4 billion.   Unit values for several processed products are expected to continue rising with demand from major markets.  Whole and processed tree nuts are forecast at $7.0 billion.
Import Products

The slower U.S. economic growth is reducing the forecast for U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal 2013 from $117 billion in August to $115 billion.  This value still represents a 11-percent increase from 2012’s $103.4 billion import bill, which is higher than 2012’s 9.4-percent rise from 2011.  The reduced forecast for 2013 is largely due to lower prices for tropical oils, processed fruits and vegetables, sugar, coffee, rubber, and cocoa.  U.S. import demand for food is also weak as seen in zero growth in expenditures for food (consumed at home) from the second half of 2011 to the first half of 2012.  This is in part the result of three consecutive declines in quarterly real personal disposable income in 2011.  Higher food imports in fiscal 2012 were helped by a 3.2 percent growth in spending for food services.

Compared with 2012, sugar and tropical product imports are up $4 billion and imported horticulture products are $2.8 billion larger.  The remaining import gains are posted by oilseeds and products (up $1.3 billion), grains and feed (up $2.1 billion), and livestock and dairy products (up $900 million).  Total U.S. agricultural imports grew by 12.2 percent annually on average during 2010-12, following the recession-induced decline in 2009.  The corresponding average growth in import volume was 5.2 percent, which indicates that import prices rose over the past 3 years.  However, the strong import volume expansion of 9 percent in 2012 (based on aggregate metric ton units), after 5 percent in 2011 and 1.5 percent in 2010, suggests a strengthening trend in real import demand in 2013.  This scenario assumes no significantly higher taxes or large domestic spending cuts by the Government in 2013.

Although the sharpest forecast reductions are for sugar and tropical products, their gain from 2012 represents 38 percent of the overall $10.6 billion additional imports expected in 2013.  The downward adjustments from the previous projections are accounted for by lower prices for sugar, coffee beans, and natural rubber in 2012 from 2011.  Tropical commodity prices peaked recently during the first two quarters of 2011 and have sharply declined since then.  The U.S. import price for sugar fell from 38 cents per pound in October 2011 to 24 cents in October 2012.  Imported coffee bean prices dropped from $2.50 per pound to $1.70 over the past year.

Lower tropical product prices also apply to coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils.  Coconut oil prices dropped by more than $300 per metric ton in the past year and by $150 per metric ton for palm oil.  While these prices appear to continue falling, the price of olive oil (extra virgin) is climbing sharply.  Average prices of tropical oils are significantly lower between 2011 and 2012.  These favorable lower import costs resulted in a 1.5-percent reduction in the U.S. import bill for tropical oils in 2012 despite a 6.2-percent rise in their import volume.  Even if these prices continue to fall or stabilize, the sharp gain in olive oil price since July will partly offset their lower import cost.

Although reduced $100 million from August, the beef import forecast for 2013 shows a 13-percent gain in import value over 2012 as domestic beef supplies tighten and demand for processing-type beef remains strong. Fewer cattle imports are expected in 2013 as cattle inventories in Mexico are lower and herds are rebuilt in Canada.  However, the forecast is unchanged from August. The pork import estimatefor 2013 is lowered $30 million from the August forecast to $1.3 billion because of relatively tight exportable supplies in Canada, our top supplier. Similarly, expected swine imports are trimmed by $24 million. 

U.S. demand for imported grain products has continued to rise in fiscal 2013, with an additional $500 million expected, and bulk grain imports are expected to jump by $1.5 billion.  With the U.S. corn crop hurt by drought in 2012, there is a strong incentive for East Coast pork and poultry producers to import corn from South America, especially during their harvest price lows, around April 2013.  In 2012, import demand for grain products—wheat, wheat products, barley, oats, coarse grain products, and processed animal feeds—all posted greater volumes and unit values.  In value, the top suppliers of grains and products to the United States are Canada (wheat, grain products, and feeds), Mexico (grain products), Thailand (rice), and China (animal feeds).  Imported grains, grain products, and feeds are projected to total more than livestock and meat imports in 2013. Grains and feed products are also larger than oilseeds and products in import value.  In fact, grain products, such as baked goods and snacks, will likely outpace vegetable oils in 2013as tropical oil prices deflate and as wheat prices hover around $360 per metric ton.

Lower prices for processed fruits and vegetables and for tree nuts are behind the reduced import forecasts for these products in 2013.  Nevertheless, these high-value products (along with fresh fruits) posted positive growth in import volume and unit values in 2012, demonstrating continuing firm demand.  Their combined estimate in 2013 amounts to more than $740 million worth of additional imported products.  The bulk of the $2.8-billion growth in 2013 horticulture imports is attributed to expected $800 million more fresh fruits and vegetables, $600 million more wine and beer, and about $200 million more essential oils and nursery products.  For over two decades, the U.S. import value for horticultural crops and products has registered positive annual gains, except during the last recession in 2009.

Vilsack on Soaring U.S. Exports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its second Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade in fiscal year 2013 today, and the latest forecast continues an astonishing trend for American farm exports that began in 2009. In the years since, U.S. agricultural exports have climbed more than 50 percent in value, from $96.3 billion in 2009 to the most-recent forecast of $145 billion in 2013. Overall, these exports support more than 1 million American jobs. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement on the forecast:

“Today’s forecast is further confirmation of the concerted effort by President Obama to expand export opportunities and level the playing field for American businesses and workers. Because USDA is working harder than ever to remove unfair barriers to trade and provide businesses with the resources they need to reach new markets, American agriculture is booming. Demand for products like American soybeans, wheat and tree nuts is surging across the world, with notable gains in China, Europe, and Southeast Asia expected to support strong cash receipts through year. Earlier in the week, USDA forecast net farm income at its second-highest level since the 1970s. Taken together, this data shows a robust agricultural economy poised to recover from the worst drought in more than a generation.

“Since 2009, more than 1,000 U.S. companies and organizations—mainly small and medium sized businesses—participated in 110 USDA-endorsed trade shows in 24 countries, racking up 12-month projected sales estimated at more than $4.2 billion. We’ve led nearly 150 U.S. businesses on trade missions to China, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Peru, the Philippines Vietnam and Russia. And we’re keeping good-paying jobs here at home by resolving issues and removing barriers to trade that have freed up billions of dollars in American-grown products.

“As our farmers and ranchers look forward to a new growing season, agriculture will continue to be a major contributor to the President’s goal of doubling exports under the National Export Initiative by the end of 2014.

“It is important that Congress help ensure that this success continues by passing a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides greater certainty for farmers, ranchers and businesses, and their millions of customers around the world.”

USDA Trade Mission Aims to Create Opportunities for U.S. Agriculture in Russia

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse will lead a mission to promote U.S. agricultural exports to Russia, Dec. 3-7. Representatives from the states of Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as 23 American companies will attend. Two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Russia was valued at roughly $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, with American farm exports accounting for 97 percent of the total—a significant contribution to the U.S. agricultural trade surplus.

Today, only 1 percent of U.S. companies export, and yet 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside the borders of the United States, creating significant opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture. At the same time, the American agricultural economy is experiencing its strongest period in history with record exports and near-record income for farming families, altogether supporting 1 in 12 jobs in the United States.

"People around the world continue to demand U.S. food and agricultural products, boosting American businesses and supporting our rural communities," said Scuse. "To ensure these successes continue, USDA has aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade. Less restrictions abroad, stronger trade deals for U.S. agriculture, and greater export assistance for U.S. businesses supports more than 1 million Americans jobs in industries from packing and shipping, to food processing, to transportation. This is an American-made success story that we're bringing to Russia and many other nations demanding the highest-quality, American-grown products."

Exports of U.S. food and agricultural products are expected to reach $143.5 billion in fiscal 2013, well above the record set in 2011, while exports in fiscal year 2012 achieved the second-highest level of all time. Even with tough odds due to extreme weather, U.S. agriculture is delivering for the American economy, putting our nation's agricultural sector on pace to achieve President Obama's goal under the National Export Initiative of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

This Russia trade mission is the second major USDA agricultural trade mission this year for U.S. companies. A successful trade mission to China was held in March. Companies attending the Russia trade mission represent a wide variety of agricultural products including cattle, meat and poultry, fruit and nuts, consumer-oriented products and more.

USDA's goal is to provide participants with first-hand market information, access to government decision makers and one-on-one meetings with business contacts, potential agents, distributers and importers so they can position themselves to enter or expand their presence in the Russian market.

With its recent World Trade Organization (WTO) accession and rapidly expanding economy, Russia is an important market for U.S. agricultural products. Top U.S. exports include red meat, poultry, live cattle and tree nuts.

Lucas to Continue as Chair of House Ag Committee

Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas has been re-elected to a second term as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.  On Wednesday the House Republican Conference re-elected the long-time Republican representitive, who is a farmer and rancher from western Oklahoma. He was re-elected to an 11th term in Congress during the general election.

Lucas told the Associated Press that one of his top priorities is getting a new farm bill passed.  He also touted the committee's oversight of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency to ensure producers aren't being burdened with bureaucratic red tape.

Congressional Leaders Discuss Farm Bill

Agriculture committee leaders in the Senate and House met Thursday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss jump-starting negotiations on the stalled $500 billion, five-year farm bill.

The previous 2008 farm bill expired at the end of December, but House lawmakers are deadlocked over issues such as how much to cut spending for food stamps. The Senate passed its version of the bill in June.

"We're going to do everything we can to work together to get a farm bill done," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) after the 40-minute meeting with Vilsack, Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D., Minn.).

Stabenow said she was open to the proposal of attaching a new farm bill to any legislation passed to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But to do that the Senate and House would have to come to agreement on devise issues such as food stamps and farm subsidy levels.

Farm bill specifics were not discussed at the meeting, lawmakers said.

The Senate approved a farm bill that cuts $4.5 billion in food stamp spending. The House Agriculture Committee produced a farm bill proposal that sought to cut $16 billion, but it never got a full vote on the House floor.

Vilsack said his goal for the meeting was to "get all four folks who are critical to this process in a room at the same time to talk to each other and we accomplished that."

October US Biodiesel Output at 98.37 MG

The Environmental Protection Agency's latest data shows 98.37 million gallons of biomass-based diesel were produced in October that generated 150.5 million D4 tradable compliance credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers or RINs.

Those figures reflect an increase from September data that showed 96.77 million gallons produced, generating 147.4 million D4 RINs.

The latest EPA data also show 77.5 million gallons of advanced biofuel were produced last month, generating 68.28 million D5 RINs. That's down from 77.7 million gallons produced in September, generating 78.43 million D5 RINs.

On renewable fuel, which is accounted for mostly by corn-based ethanol, the EPA data shows 1.055 billion gallons were produced in October, which generated a similar number of D6 RINs and were up from 985.6 million D6 RINs for the prior month.

So far in 2012, there have been a total of 1.5 billion D4 biomass-based diesel RINs generated, the EPA data show. A total of 399.43 million D5 advanced biofuel RINs have been generated so far this year. Renewable fuel D6 RINs generated so far this year totaled 10.89 billion, with 20,069 D4 cellulosic biofuel RINs generated during the first 10 months of 2012.

RINs are the credits used by obligated parties—refiners, blenders and importers—to show compliance in fulfilling their annual renewable volume obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

AFBF Urges Presidential Declaration for Mississippi River

The American Farm Bureau Federation has urged President Barack Obama to issue a presidential declaration of emergency for the Mississippi River. In a letter this week to the president and top administration officials, AFBF, and nearly 20 other national organizations, said there could be an economic catastrophe in America's heartland as soon as mid-December if the administration does not take emergency action to ensure that water levels do not fall below the level needed to support commercial navigation.

Because of this year's severe drought, waterborne commerce on the middle Mississippi River is in danger, especially now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun to implement plans to reduce the release of water to the river from dams on the upper Missouri River.

"The Mississippi River is a critical national transportation artery, on which hundreds of millions of tons of essential commodities are shipped," stated the letter. "Substantial curtailment of navigation will effectively sever the country's inland waterway superhighway, imperil the shipment of critical cargo for domestic consumption and for export, threaten manufacturing industries and power generation and risk thousands of related jobs in the Midwest."

Aside from issuing an emergency declaration, the groups requested that President Obama direct the Corp to immediately remove the rock pinnacles along the river and release enough water from the Missouri River reservoirs to preserve a nine-foot navigation channel on the Mississippi River.

Attached to the joint letter were letters from the governors of Missouri, Illinois and Iowa, 15 U.S. Senators, and 62 U.S. House members urging prompt federal action on Mississippi River navigation.

Smaller World, Bigger Markets: Registration Now Open for U.S. Grains Council’s Marketing, Membership Meeting

Every year, technology and know-how are bringing more people together to exchange ideas, conduct business, and develop new opportunities. At the same time, global markets are growing as more people make strides economically and move into the middle class. Keeping U.S agriculture ahead of these trends and maintaining U.S. leadership in an increasingly competitive world are never-ending challenges.

“These trends are changing the global marketplace as we know it,” said Don Fast, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council. “They also help define our theme for the year, ‘Smaller World, Bigger Markets,’ and provide some key discussion points on the agenda for our annual membership meeting and marketing conference.”

The U.S. Grains Council’s 10th International Marketing Conference and 53rd Annual Membership Meeting is scheduled for Feb. 11-13, 2013, in Charleston, S.C. Registration for the meeting has opened and can be found at

This meeting is where Council Advisory Teams gather and sector meetings are held to review global strategies and set an operational course for the Council for the coming years.

“Member, agribusiness and industry input are critical as we develop our strategic plan, and that’s the primary purpose of the Charleston meeting. In addition, we’ll further explore the dynamics of trade and its importance to the competitive future of U.S. agriculture,” Fast said. “It promises to be an excellent, informative meeting of interest to anyone involved in the future of agriculture and trade.”

Hotel details, the meeting agenda and optional tours can also be found at

NE-IA; Two of Best-Run States in the Nation

North Dakota is ranked the best run state in the nation, according to the annual 24/7 Wall St. study. The national study looks at data on financial health, standard of living and government services to determine how well each state is managed. The top five best-run states were: North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah and Iowa.

"This study recognizes that North Dakota's sound fiscal policies are working," North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. "We are in a strong position to provide tax relief, maintain a healthy reserve while also investing in our priorities."

The study determines how well states are run by looking at fiscal management, taxes, exports, and GDP growth by sectors, as well as, quality of life components such as poverty, income, unemployment, high school graduation, crime and foreclosure rates. All of the best- run states had certain characteristics in common, including well-managed budgets, high-education levels and low-unemployment. The study also reports that each of the top 10 states has a perfect or near-perfect credit rating.

"This study simply reinforces that North Dakota has great qualities to offer businesses and workers," Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said. "State and local leaders have worked hard to build an environment that supports business growth and creates a good quality of life for our citizens. It's great to see this hard work being recognized by 24/7 Wall St."

This is North Dakota's first time to be ranked the best-run state in the 24/7 Wall St. study. It's also the first time the study included data on state industry, exports per capita, tax burdens and current tax business climate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday November 28 Ag News

FCSAmerica Growing On 2013 Meetings Underway

Presented by Farm Credit Services of America, GrowingOn 2013 is an educational meeting being held in 31 locations in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota designed to help producers plan and reduce risk.  Steven D. Johnson, Ph.D., Farm & Ag Business Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension, will present Beyond Outlook: Managing Crop Price Risks. Learn how outside markets, investors and the U.S. and global economies will impact you in 2013 and what the prospects for the Farm Program are. Also, find out how the online program Manage Profits can help you plan grain sales while managing your risk through the use of a case study.  Manage Profits lets you use your crop insurance data and your production history to create a marketing plan.  Also, hear from Farm Credit Services of America crop insurance specialists. The 2012 growing season strongly confirmed for many producers why they invest in crop insurance. It also emphasized the need for selecting the correct crop insurance mix for their operation and working with an expert agent. Learn what they recommend you should revisit for 2013.  Seating is limited. Reserve your seat today. Go to


        December 10, 2012
        Embassy Suites
        1040 P St
        Lincoln, NE
        877-244-1284 (Beatrice) or 888-396-3276 (Lincoln)
        Registration: 11:30 AM CST
        Meal: 12:00 PM CST
        Program: 1:00 PM CST

        December 11, 2012
        New World Inn
        265 33rd Ave
        Columbus, NE
        Registration: 9:30 AM CST
        Program: 10:00 AM CST
        Meal: 12:00 PM CST

        December 11, 2012
        Divots Conference Center
        4200 W Norfolk Ave
        Norfolk, NE
        800-777-1853 (Norfolk) or 888-293-9008 (O'Neill)
        Registration: 5:30 PM CST
        Meal: 6:00 PM CST
        Program: 6:45 PM CST

        December 12, 2012
        Riverside Golf Club
        2820 Riverside Drive
        Grand Island, NE
        Registration: 9:30 AM CST
        Program: 10:00 AM CST
        Meal: 12:30 PM CST

        January 15, 2013
        Marina Inn
        4th & B St.
        South Sioux City, NE
        Registration: 9:00 AM CST
        Program: 10:00 AM CST
        Meal: 12:00 PM CST


        January 17, 2013
        Carrollton Inn
        1730 Hwy. 71 N
        Carroll, IA
        Registration: 6:00 PM CST
        Meal: 6:00 PM CST
        Program: 7:00 PM CST

PwC Study: Renewable Fuel Standard Is Estimated to Cost Chain Restaurants Billions

The National Council of Chain Restaurants today released a new, comprehensive report on the impact of federal ethanol policies, specifically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, on the chain restaurant industry, commodity prices and the food supply chain. The 32-page report, which can be read in its entirety at, was released during a Capitol Hill press conference.

“The use of corn-based ethanol required by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard mandate has dramatically distorted the market and increased costs throughout the food supply chain,” said NCCR Executive Director Rob Green. “The RFS has had an adverse effect on the chain restaurant industry, which has witnessed marked increases in commodity prices and associated costs to the tune of billions of dollars a year.”

To study the impact of federal ethanol policies on the chain restaurant industry, NCCR commissioned PwC US to research, analyze and estimate the potential cost and economic impact of the federal RFS mandate. PwC reviewed numerous public and private reports and combined these findings with chain restaurant survey data to calculate the overall cost of the RFS mandate to chain restaurants.

“Policies encouraging the use of ethanol not only impact the corn market, but have unintended consequences for other parts of the economy,” the PwC report said. “Corn is an input into the production of a wide variety of food products, from baked goods to meat production.”

PwC estimated the impact under several scenarios and concluded that the RFS mandate could cost chain restaurants up to $3.2 billion annually, with quick-service restaurants witnessing cost increases upward of $2.5 billion, and full-service restaurants seeing increases upward of $691 million.

“The RFS mandate artificially inflates the price of corn, which increases costs throughout the system, from cattlemen and poultry and pork producers to dairy farmers and restaurant operators,” Green said. “The RFS mandate forces small business owners, franchisees and their suppliers to spend higher and higher sums on commodities, which ultimately drives up prices on the end-user, the consumer.”

“Chain restaurants aren’t all mega-corporations,” said Ed Anderson, owner of a four unit Wendy’s franchise in Virginia and Chairman of Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Cooperative. “Many are systems of small business franchises like the one my family owns.”

“The government picked winners and losers when they passed the RFS mandate,” Anderson said. “This mandate is costing me $20,000 to $30,000 per restaurant. It is blatantly unfair and we urge Congress to repeal it.”

The production of ethanol and its byproducts represent the largest use of U.S. corn production with roughly 45 percent of all U.S. corn dedicated solely to ethanol production. Reflecting that use, the price of corn has nearly quadrupled since the RFS mandate was established in 2005. Higher corn prices have translated into higher commodity prices, grain prices, feed prices and consumer prices.

“The federal RFS mandate is essentially an ethanol tax on consumers and should be repealed,” Green said.

Chain Restaurants Serve Up Scare Tactics on RFS

The fast food industry is playing fast and loose with the facts when it comes to the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on food prices. Today, the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) is rolling out a campaign of scare tactics and half-truths.  In both a study released this morning and a Wall Street Journal guest opinion piece, NCCR managed to avoid any discussion of  what really drives food prices—energy costs.

“Clearly, Big Food and Big Oil are on the defensive.  They lost in their bid for a waiver of the RFS, so now they are resorting to super-sized myths about the impact of the RFS on food prices. Every reasonable analysis of the factors influencing food prices has concluded that the cost of diesel fuel, gasoline, and other energy inputs is the major driver. This study conveniently avoids that issue,” said Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association. “The bottom line is the RFS is working. Renewable fuels have already displaced 10% of annual gasoline demand and dramatically lowered fuel costs for all Americans.”

Dinneen also pointed out that, contrary to NCCR’s scare tactics, food prices are not advancing abnormally. According to USDA and the Department of Labor, annual food inflation in 2012 and 2013 will be right in line with the 20-year average. In fact, food inflation rates since the RFS was adopted in 2005 have, on average, been lower than they were throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.The analysis released by NCCR today relied in part on a study by Farm Econ that is now more than four years old and has been thoroughly debunked. When considering more recent studies, the NCCR analysis found the RFS would increase corn prices by no more than four percent in 2015. When that marginal increase in corn prices is worked through to the wholesale and retail levels, the impact on consumer food prices is almost indiscernible.

“It is important to mention that Price Waterhouse Cooper did no original analysis.  They simply reviewed select studies – in one case, a four year old discredited analysis – while ignoring more recent peer-reviewed work that did not support the funder’s political position,” said Dinneen.

Curiously, the NCCR study chose not to include the findings of a recent analysis commissioned by the International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development. That study found that corn prices wouldn’t have been any different at all in 2009/10 (the last year examined) with or without the RFS in place. That study also found prices for beef, broiler meat, pork, and eggs would have been no different from 2005-2010 with or without the RFS.

Also contrary to the NCCR study’s claims about the effect of the RFS on prices for other crops, the ICTSD study showed 2009/10 prices for wheat and rice were higher by less than 1% because of the RFS, while soybean prices were 1.7% higher. Clearly the RFS is not affecting the prices for these crops in a noticeable way.

Facts worth noting:
• Ethanol is not produced from the sweet corn that humans consume.  It is made from field corn, which is used for livestock feed and industrial purposes.
• One-third of every bushel of grain used in the ethanol process is returned to the market as nutrient-dense livestock and poultry feed.
• Less than 3% of the global grain supply will be used by the U.S. ethanol industry in 2012.
• 39 million metric tons of animal feed were produced by ethanol plants in 2011.  That’s 6,000 pounds of feed per beef cow at feedlots across the United States.
• 7 hamburgers per person worldwide could have been produced from the ethanol industry’s 2011 animal feed output.  That is 50 billion hamburgers.
• Only 14 cents of every dollar spent on food is related to agricultural ingredients.  The remaining 86 cents goes to energy, packaging, food processing and other costs.
• There is a near perfect correlation between U.N. food price index & World Crude Oil prices, highlighting the fact that energy costs drive food prices.

Specifics on recent food prices:
• Big Food complains that “food prices have spiked nearly 18% since 2005,” the year the first RFS was passed by Congress. That’s an average of just 2.57% per year, which is right in line with the 20-year average for annual food inflation, and far below food inflation rates from the 1970s and 1980s. Further, food prices since 2005 have advanced at a slower rate than general inflation. That’s hardly a “spike” in our book.
• Additionally, 2010 saw the lowest year-over-year food inflation in nearly 50 years. Meanwhile, the ethanol industry produced a record amount of fuel that year. In fact, the ethanol industry used more corn in 2010 than it will use in 2012.
• The food groups decry the 18% “spike” in food prices since 2005, but fail to mention the 55% increase in retail gasoline prices, the 60% increase in diesel prices, and the 68% increase in crude oil prices since 2005. If there was any truth to the myth that retail food prices have increased abnormally since 2005, it would be mostly because of surging energy prices. Every step in the food supply chain is affected by energy prices.

NCGA: Chain Restaurants’ Ethanol Report Full of Empty Calories

The following is a statement from National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson on a report released today by the National Council of Chain Restaurants attacking the Renewable Fuel Standard:

“A half-baked report from the lobbyists for chain restaurants does not serve up an accurate picture of ethanol’s impact when it comes to boosting jobs in rural America, lowering fuel prices or helping increase energy independence by expanding domestic, renewable fuel use in the United States. These are all points that make the Renewable Fuel Standard an important policy we need to protect and defend.

“The fact is, the NCCR study by PricewaterhouseCoopers was limited to only two possible scenarios. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its look at the RFS earlier this month, its researchers looked at 500 scenarios and made the right decision to reject an unnecessary waiver request. Eighty-nine percent of these 500 scenarios, according to the EPA, showed ‘no impacts from the RFS program at all’ when it comes to corn, food and fuel prices.

“Further, the study falsely states that more corn goes into ethanol than other uses. Its reliance on the general USDA categories without diving deeper ignored the fact that nearly twice as much corn is used for livestock feed than for ethanol. On such a complicated issue, it’s important to take a more comprehensive approach.”

ACE says Chain Restaurants are ‘out to lunch’ on the Renewable Fuel Standard

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) responded strongly today to a study funded and released by the National Council of Chain Restaurants on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the council of chain restaurants is ‘out to lunch’ on the RFS.

“It appears the National Council of Chain Restaurants invested in a report that would give them an excuse to raise food prices. Contrary to their claims, a recent fact-based analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA showed that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has virtually no impact on food prices, so we encourage the media to take this fast-food study with as much salt as you’d find in one of their meals,” said Jennings.

In denying recent requests to waive the RFS on November 16, EPA said it analyzed 500 different market scenarios and found that in 89 percent, “we see no impacts from the RFS program at all” on corn, food and fuel prices.  In the 11 percent where there was an impact, EPA said the RFS on average increased the price of corn by just 7 cents a bushel. In consultation with the USDA, EPA also estimated how these projected changes in corn prices would influence U.S. food prices. They found that a $0.07/bushel decrease in corn prices would result in a 0.04% decrease in the food consumer price index (CPI). Furthermore, a $0.07/bushel decrease in corn prices would result in a reduction of U.S. household expenditures on food equal to $2.59 in 2012/2013.

Jennings also noted there are consequences for the huge amount of ‘food away from home’ eaten by Americans at chain restaurants.

“Americans notoriously pay much more for eating out, not because of ethanol or even the food served at chain restaurants, but because of marketing, transportation, labor, and other expenses driven by the price of oil,” said Jennings. “We refuse to take criticism from an industry that charges consumers four times what fast-food companies pay for food, and then literally throws millions of dollars’ worth of food in the trash every year. Our industry manufactures more than 33 million metric tons of distillers grain every year, which is enough cattle feed to provide every person in the U.S. with 4 quarter-pound hamburgers every week for a year.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 11/23/2012

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 803,000 barrels per day (b/d) – or 33.73 million gallons daily.  That is down 8,000 b/d from the week before.  The 4-week average for ethanol production stood at 816,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.51 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 18.3 million barrels. That is a 3.2% decrease from last week.

Imports of ethanol showed 27,000 b/d, up from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 353.9 million gallons daily, down significantly from the previous two weeks.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.53%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.175 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 89,617 metric tons of livestock feed, 79,894 metric tons of which were distillers grains.  The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.18 million pounds of corn oil daily.

USDA is Counting End-of-Year Row Crop and Hog Inventories

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is asking approximately 85,000 producers across the country to respond to important surveys involving corn, soybeans, sorghum, rice, cotton, and hogs. From November 29 to December 17, NASS will be gathering final information about the 2012 U.S. row crops focusing on harvested acreage, as well as crops produced and stored.  There will also be a hog survey that will capture  current inventory figures. 

“It is important to note that responses to these surveys will be included in the County Agricultural Production Survey data and used in calculating county yields,” said Bob Bass, director of NASS’s data collection and processing center. “Producers should not underestimate the importance of their participation in these surveys because USDA uses county yields to evaluate and administer vital farm disaster and insurance programs.”

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

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

"After another growing season with unprecedented weather-related challenges in many parts of the country, farm and ranch operators can help ensure that the farm and insurance programs USDA administers  appropriately meet producer needs by providing the Department with complete and accurate data,” said Bass.  “We can’t underscore enough the value of their participation in these surveys. The information collected can considerably help rural businesses, communities and industries, and so we urge producers to take the time to respond to these important surveys.

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

Feed, Lean Hog Prices Lessen Drought's Blow to Producers

An increase in lean hog prices and a decrease in feed costs have combined to reduce the drought's effect on the pork industry, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist says.

During the height of the drought, when December corn futures reached $8.49 per bushel and December soybean meal futures reached $540 per ton, markets anticipated heavy liquidation of sows. That feared liquidation dropped December lean hog futures to $70, and producers anticipated per-head losses of $50-$60, Chris Hurt said.

"A panic response might have been to cover substantial amounts of feed needs at record high prices, to forward-price lean hog futures before the outlook worsened or to just sell out altogether," he said. "Now that the damage from the 2012 drought is better known, those who did not panic are facing much smaller losses than what were feared at the height of the crisis."

In drought years, feed prices often peak at or just after the height of the drought, then decrease. That trend has continued in 2012, with December corn futures now near $7.40 per bushel and December soybean meal futures closer to $425 per ton.

According to Hurt, a $1-per-bushel reduction in corn prices and a $100-per-ton reduction in soybean meal prices lower hog production costs by about $12 per head.

"Lower feed prices are important to the reduction in anticipated losses, but improved lean hog prices have been even more significant," he said. "December lean hog futures are currently above $80, which represents at least a $10 increase over drought-induced liquidation fears in early September. A $10 increase in lean hog prices means more than a $20 reduction in anticipated losses."

The increased lean hog prices combined with lower feed costs have translated into reduced losses of about $30 per head - about 40 percent coming from the lower feed prices and 60 percent from higher lean hog futures, Hurt said.

That's not to say that sow liquidation didn't occur. Producers increased sow slaughter in early July and continued that trend through mid-October.

"During this 14-week period, sow slaughter averaged 4 percent higher than for the same weeks of 2011 and likely resulted in a national breeding herd reduction of about 2 percent," Hurt said. "In the weeks since mid-October, sow slaughter has dropped below previous-year levels as optimism for a much-improved outlook in 2013 was unfolding."

That optimism might be warranted. Hurt said a return to profitability could come as early as spring. While he estimates losses of about $15 per head will continue through the first quarter of 2013, live-hog prices are expected to reach the break-even point by early May. The second and third quarters of 2013 could bring a return to profitability of about $10 per head.

Lower feed prices could keep the pork industry profitable into fall 2013 and winter 2014, Hurt said.

But even with a projected return to profitability, he warned producers not to be hasty with thoughts of expansion.

"Some producers might want to jump the gun and get expansion started in the spring of 2013. But one glance at the current Drought Monitor tells us that normal crop yields in the U.S. for 2013 are far from assured," Hurt said. "The uncertainty should keep most producers from expansion fever until the crops are more nearly assured in late-July and August."

USDA Scientists and Cooperators Sequence the Wheat Genome in Breakthrough for Global Food Security

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists working as part of an international team have completed a shotgun sequencing of the wheat genome, a paper published in the journal Nature reported today. The achievement is expected to increase wheat yields, help feed the world and speed up development of wheat varieties with enhanced nutritional value.

"By unlocking the genetic secrets of wheat, this study and others like it give us the molecular tools necessary to improve wheat traits and allow our farmers to produce yields sufficient to feed growing populations in the United States and overseas," said Catherine Woteki, USDA's Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. "Genetics provides us with important methods that not only increase yields, but also address the ever-changing threats agriculture faces from natural pests, crop diseases and changing climates."

Olin Anderson and Yong Gu, scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) based at the agency's Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., played instrumental roles in the sequencing effort, along with Naxin Huo, a post-doctoral researcher working in Gu's laboratory. All three are co-authors of the Nature paper.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and the work supports the USDA goal of ensuring global food security.

As the world's largest agricultural research institute, USDA is focused on reducing global hunger by increasing global cooperation and collaboration on research strategies and their implementation. For example, through the U.S. government's Feed the Future initiative, USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are coordinating their research portfolio with ongoing work of other donors, multilateral institutions, and government and non-government entities at the country level to effectively improve agricultural productivity, reduce food insecurity and generate economic opportunity.

Grown on more land area than any other commercial crop, wheat is the world's most important staple food, and its improvement has vast implications for global food security. The work to complete the shotgun sequencing of the wheat genome will help to improve programs on breeding and adaptation in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for wheat crops that could be drought tolerant and resistant to weeds, pests and diseases.

ARS is one of nine institutions with researchers who contributed to the study. The lead authors are based in the United Kingdom and were funded by the British-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Funding also was provided by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA. NIFA focuses on investing in research, education and extension programs to help solve critical issues impacting people's daily lives.

The study represents the most detailed examination to date of the DNA that makes up the wheat genome, a crop domesticated thousands of years ago. The wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome, giving it a complexity that makes it difficult to study. The researchers used the whole genome shotgun sequencing approach, which essentially breaks up the genome into smaller, more workable segments for analysis and then pieces them together.

Another international team of scientists is working on a long-term project expected to result in more detailed sequencing results of the wheat genome in the years ahead. But the results published today shed light on wheat's DNA in a way that will help breeders develop hardier varieties by linking genes to key traits, such as disease resistance and drought tolerance.

Wheat evolved from three ancient grasses, and the ARS team, working closely with partners at University of California, Davis, sequenced the genome of one of those three parents, Aegilops tauschii. That sequencing, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, was instrumental in the study. It allowed researchers to identify the origins of many of the genes found in modern-day wheat, a key step in linking genes to traits and developing markers for use in breeding new varieties.

Wheat growers face numerous challenges each year. Acidity in the soil can make wheat difficult to grow in some areas. Stem rust, a fungal disease, can wipe out entire crops, and a particularly aggressive form of stem rust has developed the ability to knock out genetic resistance in many popular wheat varieties and is causing major losses overseas.

USDA scientists have conducted similar genomic studies that have helped to increase the productivity of dairy operations, enhance cattle breeding and improve on varieties of a number of other crops, including tomatoes, corn and soybean. In 2010, another ARS team published a paper in Nature detailing the sequencing of Brachypodium distachyon, a model plant used to study wheat, barley and biofuel crops.

Recent international research collaborations have been critical to meet challenges such as combating wheat rust and increasing wheat productivity, fighting aflatoxin contamination in food, and sequencing genomes of important crops.

Sioux Falls Biodiesel Blending Facility Opening Today

A grand-opening event was held today at the Harms Oil Biodiesel Blending facility in Sioux Falls to celebrate the availability of biodiesel year-round in southeast South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota and northwest Iowa. The biodiesel blending facility at Harms Oil incorporates a heated tank to allow for year-round blending of the renewable fuel.

The event will include representatives from the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, the National Biodiesel Foundation and Harms Oil.

Harms Oil has installed two 20,000 gallon underground tanks. One tank is heated and will hold biodiesel in the winter, while the second tank will also hold biodiesel during warmer months.

Trailers coming through the facility will already have diesel on board and will be bottom loaded with biodiesel to achieve the desired blend level.

Jill Long Thompson Named Chair and CEO of Farm Credit Administration

President Barack Obama has designated Jill Long Thompson Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) effective Nov. 27, 2012. She succeeds Leland A. Strom, who served as Chairman and CEO since May 2008. 

Dr. Long Thompson has served as a member of the FCA Board since her appointment by President Obama in March 2010. 

As Chair of FCA, Long Thompson will be responsible for policymaking, adopting regulations, and overseeing the examination and regulation of the institutions that compose the Farm Credit System (System), including the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac). The System has $239.7 billion in assets. As of September 2011, it held approximately 43 percent of the nation’s farm business debt. 

Strom will remain a member of the Board pending future action by the President and the U.S. Senate. Kenneth A. Spearman, who was appointed to the Board by President Obama in 2009, serves as the third member. He also serves as Chairman of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation.

Long Thompson has many years of leadership experience. From 1989 to 1995, she represented northeast Indiana as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving on the Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. As a congresswoman, she introduced one of the nation’s first pieces of legislation banning members of Congress from accepting gifts; this legislation also expanded disclosure requirements for lobbying activities. 

From 1995 to 2001, she served as Under Secretary for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she oversaw an annual budget of $10 billion and a staff of 7,000 employees. In this position, she managed programs that provide services to the underserved areas of rural America. 

The first and only woman to be nominated by a major party to run for Governor of Indiana, Long Thompson is also the first and only Hoosier woman to be nominated by a major party to run for the U.S. Senate.

Prior to her government service, Long Thompson taught at Indiana University, Valparaiso University and Manchester College for many years. She is also a former fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She holds an M.B.A and Ph.D. in Business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a B.S. in Business Administration from Valparaiso University.

Long Thompson grew up on a family farm outside of Larwill, Ind. Today, she and her husband, Don Thompson, reside on a farm near Argos, Ind.

FCA is a bipartisan, independent regulatory agency. Initially created by Executive order of the President in 1933, the agency now derives its powers and authorities from the Farm Credit Act of 1971, as amended. 

BASF completes acquisition of Becker Underwood

BASF  has completed the acquisition of Becker Underwood  from  Norwest Equity Partners, a U.S.-based private equity investment company, for  a purchase price of US$1.02 billion (€785 million).  With the acquisition, BASF is now a leading global provider of technologies for biological seed treatment  as well as  seed treatment  colorants and polymers. BASF has also expanded its product portfolio  in the areas of biological crop protection, turf and  horticulture, animal nutrition and landscape colorants and coatings.

“The acquisition  fits very well with our long-term growth strategy.  It will provide our customers with an even broader range of innovative solutions  for agriculture.  And it also  provides our new colleagues with access to BASF’s global R&D platform as well as new markets and customers,”  said Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, member of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors  responsible for the Agricultural Solutions segment and Research Executive Director. 

In the coming months, a detailed integration plan will be developed by a joint team of BASF and Becker Underwood employees. Most businesses  of  Becker Underwood  will  join  the newly  established global business unit Functional Crop Care as part of BASF’s Crop Protection division. Within  this new unit, BASF will merge its  existing research, development and marketing activities in the areas of seed treatment, biological crop protection, plant health, as well as water and resource management  with  those of Becker Underwood. Becker Underwood’s animal nutrition business will be integrated into BASF’s Nutrition & Health division. 

The newly formed global  Functional Crop  Care  unit will become effective January 1, 2013. It will be headed by Dr. Juergen Huff, Senior Vice President. 

Dr. Peter Innes, currently CEO of Becker Underwood, has accepted the position of Global Senior Advisor to the Crop Protection division. He will support the integration of Becker Underwood into BASF  and the implementation of the Functional Crop Care unit.

“Now we  are focused on  an  integration  which is as seamless as possible  for our customers and our employees,”  said Markus Heldt, President of BASF’s Crop Protection division.  “Becker Underwood will be a cornerstone of our Functional Crop Care unit and we are looking forward to  further developing our business together with  our new colleagues.”

In 2011,  BASF’s Crop Protection division  reported  sales of  around €4.2 billion and is expecting another  record  year in 2012. With its products and services, BASF helps growers to improve their yields and the quality of their products. 

EU: No Need to Re-Evaluate GE Corn

The European Food Safety Authority, or EFSA, said Wednesday there is no need to re-evaluate the safety of genetically engineered corn made by Monsanto Co. because a study linking the crop to cancer in rats published in September had serious defects in its design and methodology.

The EU's decision comes after the French government said last month it would no longer pursue an immediate ban on EU imports of the corn made by the St. Louis-based chemicals giant, known as NK603, after its food-safety regulator, ANSES, also concluded the study was flawed.

ANSES said the number of rats included in the study was too small to make any finding statistically significant.

The University of Caen study, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, concluded that rats fed for two years on NK603 corn, or exposed to the company's Roundup brand of glyphosate weed killer designed to be used with the corn, 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.

Monsanto officials responded to the study by saying they didn't believe it presented any information that justified a change on the approval of NK603 imports or broader views on the safety of the genetically modified products.

"Conclusions cannot be regarded as scientifically sound because of inadequacies in the design, reporting and analysis of the study as outlined in the paper," the EFSA said in a statement. "Consequently, it is not possible to draw valid conclusions about the occurrence of tumours in the rats tested, based on the information published by Seralini et al."

The EFSA made similar criticisms of the paper last month but also requested additional information from the study's authors related to experimental design, reporting and analysis of findings to help inform its final assessment. "No such material had reached the Authority before publication of this statement," it said.

Before reaching its conclusions, the EFSA said it considered independent assessments of the Seralini study by organizations in the EU member states of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Potash Ridge Raises Less Money Than Expected From Initial Public Offering

Potash Ridge Corp., which is developing a potash mine in Utah, raised $20 million dollars from its initial public offering, about half of the amount originally targeted, according to people familiar with the offering.

The smaller-than-expected issue again highlights the fragility of the Canadian IPO market amid continued global economic uncertainty and equity volatility, and investors' particular concerns over slow demand for commodities.

Last month, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT), the world's leading potash producer, reported a 22% drop in third-quarter earnings, citing declining sales to China and India. Further, Potash Ridge's IPO comes at a time when some analysts are predicting development of a spot market for potash, which could drive potash prices lower and create more price volatility.

Potash Ridge, which is expected to list its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange, had originally aimed to raise $40 million, pricing the offering between $1 and $1.25 a share. However, the company had to cut the offering's size to $20 million and price the issue at $1 a share to generate sufficient demand.

Potash Ridge plans to use the IPO proceeds to explore and develop its Blawn Mountain project in Utah.