Friday, November 23, 2012

Ag News - Thanksgiving Update

 All-Time Monthly Record High Pork Production in October

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.58 billion pounds in October, up 7 percent from the 4.27 billion pounds produced in October 2011.

Beef production, at 2.34 billion pounds, was 6 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.95 million head, up 3 percent from October 2011. The average live weight was up 29 pounds from the previous year, at 1,318 pounds.

Veal production totaled 10.3 million pounds, 2 percent below October a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 72,900 head, up slightly from October 2011. The average live weight was down 11 pounds from last year, at 242 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.21 billion pounds, up 9 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.86 million head, up 10 percent from October 2011. The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 274 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 14.2 million pounds, was up 21 percent from October 2011. Sheep slaughter totaled 207,100 head, 18 percent above last year. The average live weight was 137 pounds, up 3 pounds from October a year ago.

January to October 2012 commercial red meat production was 41.1 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2011. Accumulated beef production was down 1 percent from last year, veal was down 9 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 6 percent.

State .................:    Million pounds ..  % of last year

Nebraska ...........:          677.6               106     
Iowa ..................:          627.6               107     
Kansas ..............:          476.0                109     

USDA Cold Storage Report  

According to the latest Cold Storage report, total meat supplies in freezers were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 14 percent from last year.  Frozen pork supplies were down 4 percent from the previous month but up 24 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 22 percent from last month and up 119 percent from last year.  Total pounds of beef in freezers were down slightly from the previous month but up 2 percent from last year.

House To Consider GOP Immigration Bill

(AP) -- House Republicans are planning a vote next week on immigration legislation that would both expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families to the U.S.

Republican leaders made it clear after the election that the party was ready to get serious about overhauling the nation's dysfunctional immigration system, a top priority for Hispanic communities. Taking up what is called the STEM Jobs Act during the lame-duck session could be seen as a first step in that direction.

The House voted on a STEM bill -- standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- in September, but under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority. It was defeated, with more than 80% of Democrats voting against it, because it offset the increase in visas for high-tech graduates by eliminating another visa program that is available for less-educated foreigners, many from Africa.

Republicans are changing the formula this time by adding a provision long sought by some immigration advocates -- expanding a program that allows the spouses and minor children of people with permanent residence, or green card, to wait in the United States for their own green cards to be granted.

There are some 80,000 of these family-based green cards allocated every year, but there are currently about 322,000 husbands, wives and children waiting in this category and on average people must wait more than two years to be reunited with their families. In that past that wait could be as long as six years.

The House proposal would allow family members to come to the U.S. one year after they apply for their green cards, but they wouldn't be able to work until they actually got the card. It applies to the families of green card holders who marry after getting their residency permits.

Bruce Morrison, a former Democratic congressman from Connecticut who chaired the House immigration subcommittee and authored a 1990 immigration law, said the bill neither increases the number of green cards nor gives people green cards early. But people "get the most important benefit of being able to live legally in the United States with their spouses."

Morrison, an immigration policy lobbyist who advocates for groups such as American Families United, called the bill a stepping-stone to more comprehensive immigration reform, That Republicans initiated it "to me is a positive gesture that they want to do business on this subject," he said

Megan Whittemore, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., a key proponent of the STEM Act, said the bill is "family friendly, helping spouses and minor children who would otherwise be separated from their families for extended periods of time."

The bill will be taken up this time under normal procedures requiring only a majority vote, and it is almost certain to pass the Republican-led House. It remains to be seen whether it will engender enough Democratic support to give it momentum as it heads to the Democratic-controlled Senate.

It would give 55,000 green cards a year to doctoral and masters graduates in the STEM fields. The measure, strongly backed by U.S. high-tech companies, would make it easier for people trained in the United States to put their skills to work for American companies rather than non-American competitors.

But the legislation would still eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery Program which gives out a similar 55,000 green cards a year to those from countries, including many in Africa, with traditionally low rates of immigration to the U.S. That prompted the House's Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to all come out against it in September.

The three caucuses said Republicans were trying to increase legal immigration for people they want by ending immigration for people they don't want.

Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the bill is a message from Republicans that "we are here and we are ready to talk about immigration reform."

But she said she doubted it will make much progress in the Senate during the short lame-duck session. People "are now starting to think about broader reform," she said, adding that a limited bill that doesn't increase visas won't get a lot of support.

Sample Hay Correctly
Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Forage tests can tell you the nutrient concentration in your hay. But only if the sample you collect accurately resembles your hay.

Nutrient concentration varies considerably in all forages. That is why I recommend hay testing be a regular part of your livestock operation.

There is one catch, however. For hay tests to be effective, your sample must accurately represent your hay. Reaching into a bale and pulling out a hunk of hay will not give you a good sample. Nor will gathering a single flake of hay.

The only effective method to sample long hay is by using a core sampler. If you don't have one, you can buy one from many ag supply catalogues and forage testing labs. Also, some local extension offices have hay probes available for loan.

Once you have a hay probe, use it to collect one core each from 15 to 20 bales that came from the same field and cutting. Collect your sample from the center of the twine end of the bales. Then combine all the samples from this group into one larger sample to send to the lab.

If there is decayed or moldy material that you will discard or your animals will not eat, do not include it in your sample. That way you will have a sample that is similar to the actual diet of your livestock. However, if you plan to sell the hay, then you need to include this less desirable material in your sample to accurately represent all the hay to be sold.

Follow these sampling techniques and you will get accurate nutrient analyses of your hay and be able to use it more effectively.

Valmont Acquires Manufacturing Assets of Katana Summit

Valmont Industries, Inc., Omaha, a leading global manufacturer of engineered products for infrastructure, mechanized irrigation equipment for agriculture, and a provider of coating services, announced today that it has acquired manufacturing assets of Katana Summit, LLC. The 300,000 sq ft facility resides on 75 acres of land in Columbus, Neb. Valmont intends to repurpose the facility for manufacture of steel transmission structures for the utility industry. The specific terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"The addition of the Columbus, Nebraska facility will immediately provide needed incremental manufacturing capacity to serve our utility customers. I expect when modifications are complete in 2014, the plant will have approximately $100 million in additional annual capacity," said Earl Foust, group president of Valmont's Utility Support Structures division.

Valmont is the global leader in designing and manufacturing poles, towers and structures for lighting and traffic, wireless communication and utility markets, industrial access systems, highway safety barriers and a provider of protective coating services. Valmont also leads the world in mechanized irrigation equipment for agriculture, enhancing food production while conserving and protecting natural water resources. In addition, Valmont produces a wide variety of tubing for commercial and industrial applications.


With harvest wrapping up across the state the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reminds farmers and ranchers that now is the time to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Those interested in EQIP are encouraged to sign up before Dec. 21, 2012.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program available to private landowners and operators. Through EQIP, farmers and ranchers may receive financial and technical help with conservation practices on agricultural land.

According to Craig Derickson, NRCS State Conservationist, there are several options available to producers under both programs.

“EQIP is one our most versatile programs.  It offers cost share and technical assistance to apply conservation measures on cropland, rangeland, as well as for animal feeding operations and establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat.  There are special initiatives to help conserve water in the Ogallala Aquifer, help producers conserve energy on the farm or ranch, and provide assistance to convert to organic agriculture.  There are many, many opportunities available, and NRCS staff can help landowners and operators sort out their EQIP options,” Derickson said.

EQIP has become the most widely applied conservation program in Nebraska with more than 7.7 million acres under contract.  The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to protect their natural resources, resulting in cleaner air, water and more wildlife habitat.

“EQIP provides a good option for working lands.  These contracts protect natural resources on lands still in production and generating income.  That’s a win-win situation for all Nebraskans,” Derickson said.

Individuals interested in entering into an EQIP agreement may file an application at any time, but the ranking of applications on hand to receive funding will begin Dec. 21, 2012.  Producers are encouraged to sign up soon since all funding for EQIP in Nebraska could potentially be obligated by March 1, 2013.  The first step is to visit your local NRCS field office and complete an application.

For more than 75 years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has helped agricultural producers with conservation plans.  NRCS Conservationists will work with landowners on their farm or ranch to develop a conservation plan based on resource goals.  Conservation planning assistance is free and does not require participation in financial programs.

For more information about EQIP and the other available conservation programs visit your local NRCS field office or

IFB Names New CFO, Regional Manager, Producer-Writer

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is proud to welcome Farm Bureau employees to new roles this fall.

Jim Gardner has been named IFBF chief financial officer and controller, following the retirement of Jim Christenson. Gardner will be responsible for directing all financial and technology affairs of the federation; including finance and accounting, information resources and community resources. He will serve as a member of the IFBF executive team and represent the federation on the affiliated companies' benefits administration committee.

Gardner has been a member of the Farm Bureau family since 1996, serving as the finance and accounting manager. He has worked extensively with the county Farm Bureaus and spearheaded the new county accounting system. He serves as a member of the Insurable Risk, Investment and Exempt Hay committees.

Prior to joining IFBF, Gardner served as audit manager with Meriwether, Wilson and Co., P.L.C. in West Des Moines. He currently serves as treasurer of the Iowa FFA Foundation Finance Committee and chairs its finance committee.

Gardner has also served on the boards of directors of the Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation Council, Dallas Center-Grimes Youth Football, First Presbyterian Church in Grimes, Valley Apparel Co. in Cedar Rapids, and the Wakonda Christian Church in Des Moines.

Gardner became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 1987 and earned his bachelor of arts degree in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa.

IFBF also welcomes a new staff member to the organization's field service team. Jeremy Coyle has been named Regional Manager for region 11, which includes the counties of Boone, Dallas, Greene, Polk and Story. Coyle will work with county officers, committees and members to help develop and carry out program activities, organize and assist with the annual membership campaign and supervise the operation of county Farm Bureau offices in the region.

Coyle grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Pisgah in western Iowa. He is a graduate of Iowa State University where he majored in journalism and mass communications with an electronic media emphasis. Coyle joined IFBF in 1997 and served as the senior producer/writer.

Aaron Siskow joins the Marketing and Communications staff as producer of digital multimedia services. Siskow comes to the IFBF with nine years of experience in the video and digital multimedia field. He was most recently the senior multimedia developer for Farm Bureau Financial Services.

Siskow has extensive experience in writing, producing and directing video and digital multimedia communications. He is the winner of an Iowa Motion Picture Award of Excellence for Lighting Design and the winner of a Research Excellence Award for his outstanding research accomplishments in Iowa State's graduate program.

In his new position, Siskow will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of IFBF's video/digital multimedia services including the creation of IFBF's multimedia presentations, video and television and radio content, helping to share agriculture's story to our members and all Iowans.

Siskow grew up in Sheffield and is a graduate of Iowa State University, where he studied journalism, earning a bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees.

Leaders to make policy decisions at Iowa Soybean Association Annual Meeting Dec. 12

Crop insurance, property taxes and transportation are critical issues affecting agriculture and will be discussed when directors and delegates gather for the Iowa Soybean Association’s annual meeting and policy conference Wednesday, Dec. 12 in Ankeny.

ISA President Mark Jackson says the meeting is the culmination of district advisory council meetings held this fall. The goal is to effectively adapt soybean policy to changing times.

“I find it to be an exciting time to express our opinions to other soybean farmers while establishing direction for ISA's legislative, regulatory and trade efforts,” says Jackson of Rose Hill. “Getting involved is the best way to achieve our mission of expanding opportunities for Iowa's soybean growers."

Several keynote speakers are scheduled to address ISA leaders on timely topics important to their farms and businesses. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sharon Bomer will highlight trade issues and Stephen Frerichs, lobbyist with AgVantage LLC, will discuss the status of federal legislation affecting agriculture, including the farm bill. Erin Herbold-Swalwell, chair of the Iowa State Bar Association Agricultural Law Committee, will examine estate tax issues.

Chinese Buyers Visit U.S. Soybean Farms during Harvest Crop Tour

A Chinese crop tour team in the U.S. to attend the Soy and Grain Trade Summit in New Orleans toured soybean farms in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. During the trip, Chinese delegates visited with soybean farmers, elevator managers and co-op executives. The hands-on tour allowed Chinese buyers to see all aspects of the U.S. soy industry, from farming, warehousing and handling to marketing and transportation logistics.

Through the farm tours, the Chinese buyers were assured of the steady supply of U.S. soy despite this year’s severe drought. Crop conditions turned out to be much better than previously estimated due to late-season rain and the adoption of biotech crops. The team inspected soybean fields, soil and farm equipment and visited with soy farmers about production costs and farming practices such as biotechnology, seeds, tillage, machinery and chemical uses. Some of the    

team members even rode in a combine with the hosting farmers for the first time to observe soybean harvest. Many commented on the efficiency and reliability of U.S. soy production, which will ensure food security in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Checkoff-Funded Video Highlights Benefit of Using Soy in Aquaculture Operations

A new soy-checkoff-funded documentary highlights the many benefits of using U.S. soy as an ingredient in fish feed.

The video, produced by the soy checkoff and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), showcases the aquaculture production process at Pacifico Aquaculture’s operation at Isla Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico, which raises native white bass and hybrid striped bass, among other species.

The process begins with a fingerling transfer from the hatchery at Research Institute, and then follows fish stocking at the Pacifico site for grow-out and harvesting. Finally, the fish are processed at Santa Monica Seafoods and consumed at the Sushi School of Los Angeles.

Fishmeal is typically used in aquafeed formulations, but high prices and low supplies have opened the door for soy to be used as a more sustainable protein source in many formulations. Both the United Soybean Board (USB) and USSEC fund research at Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and Pacifico Aquaculture on the benefits of replacing fish meal and fish oil with U.S. soy in feed for aquaculture.

As consumers demand more and more seafood and fish, the global aquaculture sector holds significant opportunity for U.S. soy for use as a main ingredient in feeds, says Sharon Covert, a soybean farmer from Tiskilwa, Ill., and USB International Marketing program chair.

"We have research and studies that show many species of fish have superior rates of growth and weight gain when fed soy-based feeds," says Covert. "With this mini-documentary, we are now able to show others in the aquaculture sector how sustainable soy is and what a good product soy-based feeds can help to produce."

Weekly Ethanol Production for 11/16/2012

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 811,000 barrels per day (b/d) – or 34.06 million gallons daily.  That is down 13,000 b/d from the week before.  The 4-week average for ethanol production stood at 822,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.60 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 18.9 million barrels. That is a 6% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol showed 6,000 b/d, the lowest in 7 weeks.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 373.7 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.11%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.297 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 90,510 metric tons of livestock feed, 80,690 metric tons of which were distillers grains.  The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.22 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Deere 4Q Net Income Up 2.7%

Farm and construction gear maker Deere & Co. reported a bigger fourth-quarter profit as it sold more equipment at higher prices, but results still missed analyst expectations.

Deere said its net income rose 2.7 percent to $687.6 million, or $1.75 per share for the quarter ended Oct. 31. Revenue rose 14 percent to $9.79 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.88 per share. A year ago, Deere's net income was $669.6 million, or $1.62 per share.

Deere revenue got a boost from a 4 percent increase in prices, although some of that gain was offset by unfavorable foreign currency exchange that hurt sales by 3 percent.

Equipment sales rose to $9.05 billion, topping analyst forecasts of $8.93 billion. Sales were strong in the U.S. and Canada, rising 26 percent for the quarter. Elsewhere, sales fell 2 percent. Sales of agriculture and turf equipment rose 16 percent, while construction and forestry equipment sales rose 7 percent.

Deere predicted that equipment sales would rise about 5 percent for the fiscal year that began this month, and would increase 10 percent in the first quarter. It expects full-year 2013 net income of about $3.2 billion. That's a little more than analysts are expecting.

Deere is in a good position to carry out its growth plans, but "present global economic and fiscal concerns warrant continued caution," Chairman and CEO Samuel R. Allen said.

Moline, Ill.-based Deere is the world's largest maker of agricultural equipment. It also makes construction and forestry equipment, including backhoes, excavators, riding mowers and leaf blowers. Since it touches so many important manufacturing markets, it has a unique look into the state of the economy, in the U.S. and abroad.

Deere expects worldwide sales of agriculture and turf equipment to rise 4 percent in the upcoming year, boosted by high crop prices. However, sales are expected to be flat in the U.S. as livestock and dairy farmers remain cautious. It expects full-year sales in Europe to be flat to down 5 percent. It predicted 10 percent growth in South America. Deere expects worldwide growth of 8 percent for construction equipment, "due in part to modest improvement in U.S. economic conditions."

For the full fiscal year, Deere earned $3.07 billion, or $7.63 per share, up from $2.8 billion, or $6.63 per share, during the prior year. Revenue rose 13 percent to $36.16 billion for the year.

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