Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday November 26 Ag News

Normal Winter Forecast, But April Showers Could Bring Drought Relief

Current forecasts suggest the state will not see any significant increase in precipitation this winter to reverse the drought, according to the state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"We're probably going to see a more normal winter," said Al Dutcher, state climatologist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.

December through February typically is a dry period for the state, he said.

"To eliminate the drought, we would have to set a record snow season, and even then, I don't know if it would be enough," he said.

Those hoping winter will be more like last year's with above normal temperatures also are most likely out of luck.

Dutcher said the critical period to determine if the state will have another significant drought will be March into next spring.

"It's going to take an exceptionally wet pattern next April through May to have a decent shot at reducing the drought," he said.

Dutcher said as the state progresses through this fall, forecasts are backing off on a projected El Nino event, which would typically bring cooler and wetter conditions to the southern one-third of the United States.

"Models were indicating a potential El Nino into the late summer, but sea surface temperatures haven't cooperated," he said.

Sea surface temperatures must average at least 0.9 Fahrenheit above normal for three consecutive months in the central and eastern Pacific Equatorial Basin to qualify for an El Nino weather pattern.

"There will be occasional bursts of the southern jet that will resemble El Nino, but then we'll have a more normalized winter pattern with a big player being the northern jet stream," he said.

Dutcher said the problem last winter was La Nina and the northern jet remained far north and kept very cold air from infiltrating the southern and northern plains. Currently the state is not in a La Nina or El Nino weather pattern.

Dutcher said the northern jet stream already has carved out significant troughing east of the Rocky Mountains bringing decent snow pack in central and southern Canada and the northern third of North Dakota.

"Therefore, we do have a snow foundation in place, so that will make a big difference. It should reduce the likelihood that we'll see the extent of the above normal temperature pattern that we experienced last winter," he said.

Dutcher said portions of the Nebraska Panhandle have nearly accumulated half the snow it received last year. And while central and eastern Nebraska hasn't seen any substantial snowfall yet, there is light snow in the forecast this week.


Bobbie Kriz-Wickham, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, has scheduled a meeting of the Climate Assessment Response Committee (CARC) for Thursday, November 29.  The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Farm Service Agency Office located at 7131 A Street in Lincoln.  Climate officials will brief CARC members on existing, as well as predicted weather conditions and provide a water availability outlook.  For more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341.

Four Nebraska Companies Receive Payments Totaling More Than $965,000 from USDA’s Support for Advanced Biofuels

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager has announced payments to 189 companies to support the production and expansion of advanced biofuels.  Four are from Nebraska.

Ag Processing, Inc. headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska will receive $942,335 in payments for biodiesel production from soybean, canola and waste vegetable oils at their St. Joseph, Missouri, Sargeant Bluffs, Iowa, and Algona, Iowa production facilities. Chief Ethanol Fuel, Inc. will receive $10,110 in payments for ethanol production from sorghum at its plant located in Hastings, Nebraska. Cornhusker Energy Lexington, LLC will receive $12,105 in payments for ethanol production from sorghum at its plant located in Lexington, Nebraska. KAAPA Ethanol, LLC will receive $658 in payments for ethanol production from sorghum at its plant located in Minden, Nebraska.

“These payments support the nation’s expanding alternative fuels industry by encouraging the use of renewable feedstocks and helping to create a stronger energy future,” Tonsager said. “Advanced biofuels production is a key component of the President’s 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, which is designed to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil.”

The payments total more than $15.7 million. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Under this program, payments are made to eligible producers based on the amount of biofuels produced from renewable biomass from a wide variety of non-food sources, including waste products.

Examples of eligible feedstocks include but are not limited to crop residue; animal, food and yard waste material; and vegetable oil. Through this program and others, USDA is working to support the research, investment and infrastructure necessary to build a strong biofuels industry that brings enhanced economic opportunity to rural areas.

Fiscal Cliff Threatens Farmers and Ranchers

Senator Mike Johanns

A lot of time has been spent discussing how the fiscal cliff will impact our nation’s economy. In Nebraska, a large part of our economy is based on agriculture, so it’s worth studying how these tax increases and automatic spending cuts will affect our state’s ag producers.

Along with the many expiring tax provisions we face at the end of the year—like the child tax credit and the marriage penalty—two major changes stand to cause grief for farmers and ranchers across the state and country if the fiscal cliff is not avoided.  The estate tax and capital gains tax rates are scheduled to revert to alarming levels in January and have already caused much uncertainty as producers plan for their future.

The estate tax currently provides an exemption for all estates valued at $5 million or less.  Anything valued in excess of $5 million is taxed at a rate of 35 percent when it is passed to beneficiaries. If this tax policy is left unaddressed, those rates will significantly change come January.  The exemption will drop to $1 million, with anything above that taxed at a staggering 55 percent.  A $1 million threshold might seem like a lot, but rising farmland prices are pushing the value of ag operations into the stratosphere. The average price for an acre of farmland has ballooned from $1,503 in 2010 to $2,425 today, according to the University of Nebraska Department of Agricultural Economics. Nebraska’s average farm size is 966 acres. Thus, one could estimate the average farm value based on land alone at more than $2.3 million, well above the lowered exemption.

Farmers and ranchers, many of whom have had land in their families for generations, should not be forced to pay Uncle Sam more than half the value of their estate. And producers should not be forced to sell land to avoid the impacts of the fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, I’ve already heard from Nebraskans who are facing this very dilemma.

Another big issue if the fiscal cliff is not addressed is capital gains tax rates, which would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent next year. Ag producers already stand to pay significantly more in capital gains taxes at the current rates because of the increased land values.  Tacking on an additional five percent would further burden ag producers.  Absent some change in policy, estimates are that an average acre of land purchased in 2010 and sold in 2013 would incur a capital gains tax of about $185—nearly $50 per acre more than the current rate.

Although these changes would begin next year, they are already causing heartburn for ag producers who are trying to plan for the future of their farms today. Congress and the President have an obligation to act. No more kicking the can down the road.

Our state’s ag-based economy has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal national economic landscape.  Allowing our farmers and ranchers to fall victim to such draconian policies is not only unfair to them, but dangerous for our country’s economic recovery. The fact that Congressional Leaders are meeting with the President is a good sign. But there is much progress needed. I am optimistic that a solution is within reach, and stand ready to do all I can to ensure that farmers, ranchers and all families are not left paying the price for failed leadership in Washington.

CRA's 2012 Corn Annual Offers Interesting Insight into Innovative Corn Uses

Last week, the Corn Refiners Association released the 2012 Corn Annual. The publication, titled Made in America: Corn Refined Products Help U.S. Industries Thrive, explains how many U.S. industries are able to thrive, in part, because of the versatility, functionality and affordability of the refined corn ingredients.

"The 2012 Corn Annual serves as an excellent supplement to the data offered in NCGA's 2012 World of Corn," said NCGA Growers Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt, farmer from Nebraska. "As NCGA serves growers by providing credible, comprehensive information about corn farming and the issues impacting farmers, CRA works diligently to give a reliable and interesting account of the incredible products made from corn through the wet milling industry."

The report details how many of the products produced by the corn wet milling industry, such as corn starch, syrup and oil, are easily recognized ingredients used in many common foods Americans enjoy. Additionally, the publication documents how many of these same products also play a "silent" role in industrial applications.

"This edition of the Corn Annual highlights the integral role that our member companies and their products play in the fabric of our nation," said CRA President Audrae Erickson. "We are proud of the contributions they make and their products that contribute meaningfully to the high quality of life many Americans enjoy. We are equally proud of the people who work in our industry and their commitment to quality, safety and their communities."

A valuable resource for anyone interested in the role corn plays in the U.S. economy and in the daily lives of Americans, the 2012 Corn Annual can be accessed online by clicking here. 

ISU Extension and Outreach Announces 2013 Crop Advantage Series Locations and Dates

The 2013 Crop Advantage Series offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be held at 13 Iowa locations during January. Crop Advantage meetings provide crop producers with the most current information necessary for making profitable decision for the upcoming growing season.

All Crop Advantage meetings feature general sessions with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists covering topics of common interest to Iowa producers. Erin Hodgson, extension entomologist, will discuss corn rootworm management strategies and the increasing concern regarding rootworm resistance. Antonio Mallarino and John Sawyer, extension soil fertility specialists, will review nutrient management research and getting the most from soil fertility plans. Recognizing crop and pest management issues are different for each area of the state, the meetings are tailored to fit the needs of producers in that area.

A full agenda of workshops focusing on local needs and production issues is included at each location. “Workshop topics include crops, pests, soil fertility and farm management,” said Joel DeJong, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach in northwest Iowa. “This allows attendees to personalize their agendas to meet their individual needs.”

Extension field agronomists select workshop topics based on concerns of area producers. “Producers are interested in so many of our topics, they find it hard to get to all the sessions they want,” said Jim Fawcett, extension field agronomist from east central Iowa. “The topics are in great demand. We think it’s a good problem to have.”

The meetings are approved for Certified Crop Adviser continuing education credits. Each location also offers the opportunity for private pesticide applicators to receive continuing education credits.

Registration for each location is $35 and includes workshop materials, lunch and refreshments. An additional fee is charged for CCA credits and private pesticide applicator recertification. Registration materials are available at or from local ISU Extension offices.

2013 Crop Advantage Series meeting dates and locations
-    Jan. 3 - Sheldon
-    Jan. 8 - Honey Creek/Moravia
-    Jan. 9 - Okoboji
-    Jan. 10 - Mason City
-    Jan. 11 - Burlington
-    Jan. 15 - Ames
-    Jan. 16 - Storm Lake
-    Jan. 17 - Atlantic
-    Jan. 22 - Carroll
-    Jan. 23 - Fort Dodge
-    Jan. 24 - Waterloo
-    Jan. 29 - LeMars
-    Jan. 30 - Iowa City

Launched in 2002, the meeting series has impressive attendance numbers. “Response from producers has been very positive,” said DeJong. “In addition to providing the latest research information from Iowa State, the meetings have been a valuable way for producers to provide input back to ISU researchers and specialists on what their needs are. It works both ways.”

Wanted: Beef Quality Assurance Producers & Marketers

Quality beef begins with quality care. The Iowa Beef Industry Council wants to recognize beef producers and marketers who diligently care for and properly handle cattle in order to provide consumers with safe and wholesome beef. Applications for the 2012 Iowa Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are now being accepted.

BQA is a national program for beef cattle production that assures the highest standards of animal care and treatment. It was developed with guidance from leading animal health and well-being experts and outlines essential elements for cattle care. More than 90 percent of all U.S. beef is raised under the BQA program.

The Iowa BQA program recognizes an outstanding beef producer and/or beef marketer who best demonstrate BQA practices, including sound animal husbandry practices. Nominees should be BQA-certified and work to continually improve BQA on their operations while operating sustainable cattle businesses. The desire to encourage fellow producers to implement BQA and communicate what the industry is doing to ensure quality cattle care is a plus. The award is open to all segments of the industry -- commercial cow-calf, seedstock, backgrounders, feedyards, dairy operations, auction markets operators and veterinarians.

"The BQA program's mission is to maximize consumer confidence in beef while exceeding their eating expectations," said Doug Bear, director of industry relations for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. "The BQA Award is a way to recognize the men and women who put great tasting beef on our consumer's plate".

Entries are due Dec. 3. The State BQA Award winners will be selected by a committee of fellow cattle producers, veterinarians, pharmaceutical representatives and others who have a "steak" in the future of the beef industry. Nominations can be submitted by any organization, group or individual on behalf of an Iowa beef producer or marketer. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves; however, the nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. For further information on the award or to download the application, please visit and click on the For Producers tab.

ISU Extension and Outreach Adds Ag Education Specialist in Northwest Iowa

Kaye Strohbehn has been hired as an agriculture producer and consumer education specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in northwestern Iowa. Strohbehn began serving Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties Nov. 5 as education specialist after serving the region as an extension county program coordinator.

“My primary role as education specialist will be to educate producers and the general public about the agriculture industry in Iowa,” said Strohbehn. By working with individuals, organizations, agencies and educational institutions she will bring new perspectives to agricultural education.

Her programming will focus on educating Iowans on the social values related to livestock production, environmental, soil and water conservation issues, as well as the importance of sharing the road. She also will assist producers on effectively educating consumers, youth and neighbors on ways food safety is ensured throughout production processes.

“I am looking forward to telling the agriculture story. We have a powerful message to share -- a message that is becoming more and more important to share with consumers as fewer and fewer people are directly involved in agriculture,” she said. “Northwest Iowa has rich traditions in agriculture, and I’m looking forward to continuing that strong tradition through my work with producers and consumers.”

Strohbehn comes into the position with a master’s degree in agricultural education from Iowa State University, several years of experience working with ISU Extension and Outreach, and extensive 4-H beef production and horticulture project experiences. In her new role she will assist with initiating a Young Farmer program and expanding the Ag Citing program for school age youth.

“I am excited to work with Kaye and the four counties in Northwest Iowa to improve the communications and knowledge about the role of agriculture in rural communities – to help consumers better understand food production,” said John Lawrence, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension director.

Strohbehn can be contacted at the Sioux County Extension office in Orange City by calling 712 737-4230 or emailing  

Great Plains Growers Conference and Trade Show Planned for Jan. 10-12

The Great Plains Growers Conference and Trade Show will be Jan. 10-12, 2013 at the Fulkerson Center on Missouri Western State University’s campus in St. Joseph, Mo. The event is a five-state collaborative effort of growers associations and University Extension from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

"Interesting and useful information will be presented on production and marketing of vegetables, cut flowers and fruit," said Ajay Nair, extension vegetable specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "Experienced commercial vegetable growers and those with a dream of starting to grow and sell produce will find value in the conference.”

Six day-long workshops begin the conference on Thursday, Jan. 10. Participants will select one topic from the following: high tunnel production, soils and irrigation, fruit production, honeybees and beekeeping, introduction to vegetable production for Spanish speakers, and farm to school program.

More than 60 presentations covering organic and conventional crop production are planned for the second and third days of the conference, including opportunities to follow tracks on small fruit, tree fruit, cut flowers, beginner and advanced organic, marketing and beekeeping. Sessions on urban horticulture and community gardens have been added this year.
Conference registration

Registration for the Jan. 10 workshop is $55 per person, except for the Introduction to Vegetable Production (Spanish) track, which is $35 per person due to grant funding. Early bird registration for the Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 sessions is $45 per day; after Dec. 27, registration is $55 per day. Reduced registration for students is $25 per day. Registration includes meals and breaks.

The full program, registration information and updated details of the conference are available at: For more information about the program and a registration form, contact Mary Beth Alpers at or phone 816-279-1691.

NCBA:  Pre-Convention Tour to Highlight Florida's Rich Agricultural History

Participants registered for the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show can count themselves in for an exciting, jam-packed week. In addition to participating in policy committee meetings, educational events and networking with thousands of cattlemen and women, convention participants will also have the opportunity to learn about Florida’s rich culture and history during a pre-convention agricultural tour on Feb. 4-5, 2013.

“This year’s pre-convention tour will give cattlemen and women the opportunity to see Florida’s vibrant agricultural economy and explore the state’s unique history,” said NCBA President J.D. Alexander. “From a visit to a central Florida cattle operation to a stop at a vineyard, tour participants are going to have a fun and educational experience during this tour.”

The tour kicks off with a Monday night dinner at the Florida Cattlemen’s museum exhibit and Cracker Country, a rural Florida living history museum recreating rural pioneer Florida history and folk life during 1870-1912. The Florida Cattlemen’s museum exhibit traces cattle ranching from its early beginnings in colonial Florida through present-day cattle ranching. Some of the topics included in the exhibit are colonial Florida, Seminole cattle ranching, cracker cowboys, cow dogs, auctions, oral traditions and rodeo.

On Tuesday, the first stop on the tour will be Barthle Brothers Ranch, a diversified agricultural operation in central Florida. The Barthle family breeds purebred American Brahman cattle, raises American quarter horses, produces crossbred calves and offers guided quail and turkey hunts at the ranch.

The Crystal Springs Preserve at Two Rivers Ranch is the next stop. Known as “Florida’s Premier Living Laboratory,” Crystal Springs Preserve is a 525-acre sanctuary devoted to environmental education and dedicated to the preservation of Florida’s natural environment. Don’t forget to wear closed-toe shoes that can get muddy or wet!

Tour attendees can bring back some fresh picked strawberries from Wishnatski Farms Strawberry Farms in Plant City. Wishnatski Farms is committed to providing the best quality produce to its consumers and has taken the lead on developing a program to ensure the highest standards in food safety and traceability.

The tour concludes with a visit to Keel and Curley Winery. Keel and Curley Winery was started in spring of 2003 in the kitchen of founder and owner, Joe Keel, a central Florida blueberry farmer who wanted to find something to do with his end of crop blueberries. The result is a host of fruit wines that will suit any palate.

Participants must pre-register to take part in this tour. Spots will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited. For more information on how to pre-register and for a schedule of the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, visit

$1,500 Beef Industry Scholarships Available to Outstanding Students

CME, National Cattlemen’s Foundation Recognize 10 Future Beef Leaders

Ten scholarships of $1,500 each are being awarded to outstanding students studying for a future in the beef industry. The awards are sponsored by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) in cooperation with the National Cattlemen’s Foundation to graduating high school seniors or full-time undergraduate students enrolled at two-year or four-year institutions for the 2013-2014 school year.

Deadline for scholarship applications is Dec. 14, 2012.

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to a career in the beef industry through classes, internships or life experiences. Fields of study for potential scholarship recipients must be related to the beef industry and may include education, communications, production, research or other appropriate areas. Chairman of the National Cattlemen’s Foundation Board of Trustees John Lacey said the scholarship program helps the industry build stronger industry leaders for the future.

 “The future of the beef industry is represented in students who are studying to be a part of it,” said Lacey, a beef producer from Paso Robles, Calif. “These scholarships support the work of students dedicating their education to keeping the industry viable.  We thank CME for demonstrating its commitment to the beef industry through these National Cattlemen’s Foundation scholarships.”

All submissions for the 2013-14 CME National Cattlemen’s Foundation Scholarship must be postmarked or received via email or fax by Dec. 14, 2012. Applicants must be members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. To download the scholarship application online, visit To have an application sent to you, or for more information, contact Sue Dolph at or

Brazil Soy: Planting Progresses; Southern Dryness a Concern

Brazilian soybean planting progressed well across the vast grain belt over the last week, amid alternating periods of rain and sunshine.

Farmers had planted 76% of the crop as of Nov. 23, moving forward ten percentage points in seven days, but still behind the 86% registered at the same point last year, Safras e Mercado, a local consultancy, said Monday.

Precipitation of greater intensity and regularity has hit the center-west and northeast over the last couple of weeks, creating soil moisture levels conducive to planting and germination.

As a result, farmers are now optimistic about the crop, putting behind them the anxiety spawned from the drier-than-normal weather experienced in September and October.

In Mato Grosso, the top soy state, planting is almost complete at 96% and farmers in nearly all regions are reporting healthy crops. In neighboring Goias, where fieldwork was more severely delayed by the October dry weather, farmers have seeded 76% of the crop, down on 92% at the same point last year, but crops look generally good.

More showers are forecast for the center-west and northeast this week.

However, weather concerns are mounting over the soybean crop in the south of the country.

Dry weather in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul since October has put back planting, which is only 44% complete compared with 73% last year.

October Egg Production Up 2 Percent

U.S. egg production totaled 7.90 billion during October 2012, up 2 percent from last year. The USDA says production included 6.88 billion table eggs, and 1.02 billion hatching eggs, of which 952 million were broiler-type and 69 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during October 2012 averaged 340 million, up 1 percent from last year. October egg production per 100 layers was 2,321 eggs, up slightly from October 2011.

All layers in the U.S. on November 1 totaled 342 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 342 million layers consisted of 291 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 49.1 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 2.82 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on November 1, 2012, averaged 75.4 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from November 1, 2011.

Egg-type chicks hatched during October 2012 totaled 39.1 million, up 4 percent from October 2011. Eggs in incubators totaled 35.0 million on November 1, 2012, down 7 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 196 thousand during October 2012, down 26 percent from October 2011.

CNH Committee Recommends Fiat Merger Plan

The special committee of the board of directors of CNH Global N.V. announced that it has recommended the merger agreement entered into between CNH and Fiat Industrial S.p.A.

As part of the plan, FI and CNH will merge into a newly-formed company organized in the Netherlands. CNH shareholders will receive 3.828 NewCo shares for each CNH share and FI shareholders will receive one NewCo share for each FI share.

CNH shareholders will also receive a special cash dividend of $10 per CNH share to be paid to CNH shareholders prior to December 31, 2012, to the extent possible, and in any event prior to the closing of the merger; the special cash dividend to be received by FI on its 88% of the CNH shares will be deferred and paid only in the event that the merger agreement is terminated.

The committee says it gave careful consideration to the enhanced offer submitted by FI on November 19 and determined that the terms are fair and in the best interest of CNH and its stakeholders.

Resulting in the formation of one of the largest capital goods companies in the world, the combination will have a number of industrial and operational benefits for CNH and its stakeholders. These include the ability to more effectively utilize the financial services and treasury operations of the broader group and achieve greater scale in emerging markets as well as guaranteeing access to a stable supply of engine know-how and industrial capabilities.

In addition, the combination is anticipated to enhance the appeal of the broader group in the capital markets and to result in greater clarity and liquidity for investors.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2013, subject to customary regulatory approvals and limited closing conditions.

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