Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday December 30 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Snow has covered a lot of winter pasture acres for quite a few days already this winter.  How has it affected your winter grazing?  Stay tuned for some ideas.

It seems to me that it has been colder and snowier than usual, at least for early in the season.  If this is correct, it can affect the ability of your cattle to get the nutrition they need from grazing corn stalks or winter pasture.

When cattle graze, they often select plant parts like corn husks and grain or grass leaves that contain higher amounts of protein or energy than do the coarser stalks and stems.  With all this snow, it can become difficult or impossible for them to make these selections.  So your cattle eat what they can get to easily.  The end result may be a diet that is less nutritious than usual.  If this goes on for very long your cattle might lose weight and go out of condition.

So – what can you do about it?  Obviously, you can’t turn on a heater to melt the snow.  Instead, you need to estimate how much different your animals’ diets are from normal and provide supplements to replace those nutrients that are unavailable because of the snow.

This isn’t difficult.  Normally you probably supplement your cattle after they have grazed the best plant parts.  All the snow does is force you to begin a little sooner or increase the amount they receive by a small amount.

Of course, I assume you normally supplement correctly.  If your cows usually are a bit fat following winter, maybe they don’t need the extra supplement.  But if you usually end up with cows with just enough weight to be healthy, some extra might be needed this year.

That little extra might make all the difference this snowy winter.


Moldy hay.  No matter how hard you try, eventually you have mold in some of your hay and need to decide about feeding it.  Here are some guidelines.

Feeding moldy hay to livestock is a tough decision.  Although all hay contains some mold, when mold becomes easily noticeable the decisions become important.

Usually, mold makes hay less palatable, which can result in lower intake or even in animals refusing to eat the hay.  Many other problems from mold occur because of mycotoxins produced by certain mold fungi.  This also is part of the decision problem since not all molds produce mycotoxins and the amount produced by those that do is unpredictable.

Direct negative affects of moldy hay are difficult to document.  Horses may be the most sensitive to mold among common livestock.  For instance, mold spores often contribute to respiratory and digestive problems like colic or heaves in horses.  Cattle apparently are less affected by mold, but certain molds can cause mycotic abortions or aspergillosis.  People, too, can be affected by mold spores.  Mold can cause a condition called farmer’s lung, where the fungus actually grows in lung tissue.  So try to avoid breathing in many of these spores.

The best course of action often is to minimize feeding moldy hay to more sensitive animals, like horses or pregnant cows.  This may require a keen eye or sensitive nose when selecting hay to feed each day.  Mixing moldy hay with other feedstuffs can dilute problems sometimes, but be careful that you don’t make your animals sick by tricking them into eating bad hay that they normally would refuse.

Mold is a difficult problem to deal with.  Common sense and good observation often are your best decision aids.


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for December 2013 averaged $6.55 per bushel, a decrease of 21 cents from the November price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary December corn price, at $4.45 per bushel, decreased 1 cent from the previous month.

The preliminary December sorghum price averaged $7.30 per cwt, an increase of 15 cents from November.

The preliminary December soybean price, at $12.90 per bushel, was up 40 cents from last month.

The preliminary December dry edible bean price, at $40.00 per cwt, was down $3.20 from November.

The December alfalfa hay price, at $153.00 per ton, was down $4.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $120.00 per ton, was up $7.00 from last month.

Iowa Monthly Prices

The preliminary December 2013 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa is $4.30 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This is a decrease of $0.09 from the November price and $2.62 lower than December 2012.

The preliminary December Iowa average soybean price, at $12.90 per bushel, is up $0.20 from November, but $1.40 lower than the previous December.

The preliminary December oat price is $4.25 per bushel, up $0.01 from November and $0.10 above December 2012. 

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $176.00 per ton in December, down $8.00 from November and $22.00 per ton less than December 2012.  Alfalfa hay prices fell $25.00 per ton from one year ago, to $195.00 and other hay prices were $15.00 per ton lower than last year, at $130.00.  

Iowa dairy farmers received an average of $22.40 per cwt for milk sold in December, up $0.20 from November, and $0.70 per cwt above one year ago.

December Farm Prices Received Index Down 4 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in December, at 180 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, declined 4 points (2.2 percent) from November. The Crop Index is 6 points (3.1 percent) lower and the Livestock Index is down 1 point (0.6 percent). Producers received lower prices for corn, oranges, wheat, and hogs but higher prices for soybeans, milk, eggs, and rice. 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. Decreased marketing of corn, cattle, soybeans, and calves more than offset the increased monthly movement of wheat, milk, broilers, and cotton.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is down 19 points (9.5 percent) from December 2012. The Food Commodities Index, at 185, declined 3 points (1.6 percent) from last month and 1 point (0.5 percent) from December 2012.

All crops:

The December index, at 186, decreased 3.1 percent from November and is 18 percent below December 2012. Index decreases for feed grains & hay and food grains more than offset the index increase for oilseeds.

Food grains: The December index, at 223, is 2.2 percent below the previous month and 17 percent below a year ago. The December price for all wheat, at $6.59 per bushel, is down 26 cents from November and $1.71 below December 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The December index, at 192, is down 0.5 percent from last month and 35 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $4.31 per bushel, is 4 cents lower than last month and $2.56 below December 2012. The all hay price, at $168 per ton, is down $3.00 from November and $21.00 from last December. Sorghum grain, at $7.44 per cwt, is 6 cents higher than November but $4.76 lower than December last year.

Cotton, Upland: The December index, at 123, is down 0.8 percent from November but 4.2 percent above last year. The December price, at 74.5 cents per pound, is down 0.8 cents from the previous month but 2.7 cents higher than last December.

Oilseeds: The December index, at 230, is up 1.8 percent from November but 9.4 percent lower than December 2012. The soybean price, at $13.00 per bushel, increased 30 cents from November but is $1.30 lower than December 2012.

Livestock and products:

The December index, at 172, is 0.6 percent below last month but up 4.2 percent from December 2012. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, market eggs, milk, calves, and turkeys. Prices for broilers and hogs are lower than last year.

Meat animals: The December index, at 167, is down 1.8 percent from last month but 4.4 percent higher than last year. The December hog price, at $62.10 per cwt, is down $1.50 from November and 30 cents lower than a year ago. The December beef cattle price of $130 per cwt is unchanged from last month but $6.00 higher than December 2012.

Dairy products: The December index, at 167, is up 1.2 percent from a month ago and 5.0 percent higher than December last year. The December all milk price of $21.80 per cwt is up 20 cents from last month and $1.00 higher than December 2012.

Prices Paid Index Down 1 Point

The December Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 213 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is down 1 point (0.5 percent) from November and 4 points (1.8 percent) below December 2012. Lower prices in December for complete feeds, concentrates, supplements, and potash & phosphate more than offset higher prices for LP gas, feeder pigs, diesel, and self-propelled machinery.

PED-Positive Submissions: Cases Continue to Rise

The total number of swine accessions and diagnostic case submissions testing positive for the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) virus now stands at 1,764, according to data collected by USDA APHIS VS NVSL National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and cited by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

By farm class, this figure for the total number of positive laboratory swine accessions/diagnostic case submissions as follows between the weeks of 15 April and 15 December: suckling, 379 (+24); nursery, 340 (+29); grower/finisher, 538 (+23); sows/boars, 215 (+7) and 308 (+38) unknown. The total is up 119 from the previous week.

No states have reported their first positive results in the last week and so the total number of states affected remains at 20. Those states with 20 or more positive tests are: Iowa, 621; North Carolina, 268; Oklahoma, 267; Minnesota, 177; Kansas, 133; Indiana, 53; Ohio, 48; Illinois, 40; Colorado, 35; Pennsylvania, 28 and Texas, 23.

For the most recent week, Iowa once again leads the 'league table' in the number of new positive results, accounting for 62 of the total of 119 new cases, followed by Minnesota with 24 and North Carolina with 10.

In mid-June, the reporting system was adjusted. For the weeks prior to 16 June, laboratories were able to provide diagnostic case submissions as well as the number of premises testing positive for the PED virus (PEDv). Since 16 June, the data refer only to diagnostic cases submissions ('swine accessions').

From the week of 16 June to week of 15 December, the total number of biological (swine) samples testing positive is 5,137, up from 5,487 the previous week (+349). The most-affected states by this measure are: North Carolina, 1,569; Iowa, 1,090; Oklahoma, 988; Kansas, 609; Minnesota, 425; Ohio, 175; Illinois, 141; Colorado, 115 Pennsylvania, 84; Texas, 74 and Indiana and Missouri, both with 68. Other states, where positive, reported 50 positives or fewer.

In the most recent week reported (week of 15 December), the following states reported one or more positive results: Colorado (4), Iowa (121), Illinois (11), Indiana (1), Kansas (4), Minnesota (45), Missouri (32), North Carolina (95), Nebraska (1), Ohio (6), Oklahoma (24) and Pennsylvania (4).

The total number of environmental samples testing positive for PEDv has been reported weekly since the week of 16 June. The total has reached 1,282, which is 67 more than the previous week's figure. The totals for each state are as follows (with the increase in brackets: Colorado, 18 (=); Iowa, 163 (+7); Illinois, 38 (+6); Kansas, 162 (+11); Michigan 1 (+1), Minnesota, 418 (+12); Missouri, 35 (+14); North Carolina, 68 (+3); Nebraska, 8 (+4); New York 1 (=); Ohio, 47 (=); Oklahoma 256 (+9); Pennsylvania, 9 (=); South Dakota, 2 (=); Tennessee, 3 (=); Texas, 1 (=); Virginia, 2 (=); unknown, 50 (=).

OSHA Shouldn’t Go Against the Grain

Senator Mike Johanns
Nebraska’s vast horizon where blue sky meets rolling farmland is occasionally interrupted by towering silos that stand as proud reminders of Nebraska’s rich agricultural heritage. No doubt, grain bins and family farms go together like the State Fair and 4-H.

So, you can imagine the surprise by one of Nebraska’s family farms when the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed up and declared their grain bins separate from their farming operation. Their surprise was two-fold. First, everyone who has spent any time on a farm knows that grain storage is not only a normal, but an essential, part of many farm operations. Secondly, OSHA had no business setting foot on that farm because the law prohibits OSHA from enforcing regulations on small farms, specifically farms with fewer than 10 employees – this farm had just three.

It has been this way since 1976, when Congress first passed the small farms exemption. So while farms have been exempt from OSHA regulations for more than 35 years and grain storage has been a part of farming for generations, the agency has decided to ignore history and distort definitions to do an end-run around the law.

And here’s the kicker. That regulatory overreach came with a $132,000 fine for that Nebraska family.

This latest example of wrongful regulatory overreach further reinforces suspicions by the agriculture community that the Obama Administration is singling out America’s ag producers. I often hear from farmers and ranchers who must deal with agencies like EPA and OSHA going around the legal process by creatively interpreting the law or setting their own rules to expand their jurisdiction.  Of course farmers and ranchers care about safety.  And a safe working environment is especially important to small farmers and ranchers, whose families are often the only ones on the payroll.

I recently called on the Department of Labor, OSHA’s parent agency, to halt all activity in conflict with the long-held congressional direction regarding small, family owned farms and to send a clear signal that America’s ag producers are not going to be unfairly targeted.  It’s time they stop the irony of claiming these farmers and ranchers are in the wrong, when in reality, OSHA is the one violating the law.

OSHA and other regulators need to stand with America’s ag producers rather than standing in their way.

The negative impacts of this latest overreach and the broad implications for our ag producers is clear. The way OSHA is doing it speaks to an even larger issue. This Administration is in hot pursuit of an overly aggressive regulatory agenda. An agenda that is being pursued outside of the legal process that allows for Congressional review and public comment, and outside of the law itself.

I’m going to continue working to ensure Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers can operate free from unnecessary and unlawful obstacles brought on by Washington bureaucrats – and to keep an ever-watchful eye on this Administration’s pursuit of an all-encompassing, costly regulatory agenda.

Iowa's Young Livestock Producers Network

Colin Johnson is a young Iowa farmer who moved back to the family farm in 2009, started a family and began managing a cow-calf operation. He understands the struggles of young and beginning livestock farmers -- because he is one. He says Iowa farmers and ranchers are independent by nature and sometimes reluctant to seek advice. The day-to-day activities of a livestock operation don't allow much time to analyze the operation or connect with peers for learning or social interaction.

Livestock producers say they like to learn from other producers. They want to have more discussions and opportunities to interact with their peers -- beyond those in their neighborhood. Johnson said support for young and beginning producers is increasing across Iowa -- from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, commodity groups and agricultural organizations.

Johnson also coordinates the Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network, an Extension and Outreach initiative started in 2012. He is an extension program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and worked with the Iowa Pork Industry Center prior to returning to southeast Iowa. A primary responsibility of these roles is providing education in ways that help producers enjoy more success.

BYLPN targets livestock producers under age 35, as well as aspiring livestock producers. ISU Extension and Outreach's objective is to develop a network of producer peer groups across Iowa, connect participants with educational and mentor opportunities, and provide support to the groups as members take over leadership responsibilities.

An ISU Extension and Outreach management team is spearheading the effort and working with local commodity groups and county extension councils to establish regional peer groups and develop programs. BYLPN is an Extension and Outreach strategic initiative and receives funding from the Vice President for Extension and Outreach.

As 2013 ends, there are eight peer groups across Iowa ranging in size from 12 to 30 young and beginning producers. Each group is made up of producers from a five to eight county area and determines its focus, whether that is dairy, swine, cow-calf or general livestock production. Organizers suggest groups meet quarterly and schedule dates around seasonal workloads. Meetings are often attended by young producer couples interested in learning together and enjoying the social aspects of the peer group.

The northwest Iowa peer group is interested in learning and talking about the business side of livestock production, the economics and financial management, according to Vernon Knaack, Correctionville member. Their meetings have included speakers addressing topics ranging from production practices to risk management and credit access and local tours of allied industries.

The southwest Iowa cow-calf oriented peer group encourages group members to give peer demonstrations and visits to member operations -- because the operations are all different and it gives members a chance to discuss what each producer is doing and why. Randy Dreher, Audubon member, said he always comes away with something he can apply to his own operation.

The northeast dairy peer group members are seeing the benefits of gathering and reviewing farm data against benchmarks, and participating in a variety of financial and production education. Monica and Brian Enyart, Postville, say the peer group is a comfortable group to interact with because members are all at the same stage of life and have the same questions and same problems. Without this interaction, they'd keep doing things the same way and getting the same results. The group allows them to evaluate what they are doing, see what others are doing, and learn about different or better ways of solving their problems.

Learn more about the Beginning and Young Livestock Producer peer groups at .


Iowa veterans who want to trade the battlefield for a farm field can participate in to one-day workshops designed to help make their dreams become reality.

The newly formed Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa (FVCIA) is hosting workshops February 20 in Ottumwa, February 22 in Waterloo, March 13 in Red Oak and March 15 in Storm Lake. The workshops will provide vets interested in Iowa agriculture with networking opportunities and education.

The workshops will follow a format similar to the group’s successful statewide conference that was held December 14 in Des Moines and funded by a special project grant from the Policy Initiative at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. More than 60 veterans and agency officials attended the December conference, including more than 30 aspiring or beginning farmers.

FVCIA chair Ed Cox is an attorney with the Drake University Agricultural Law Center. He said that the statewide conference followed by four regional meetings will reach a group whose interest in farming is increasing nationwide.

“This is a distinct group of farmers, who have different challenges as well as opportunities due to their experience in the military and eligibility for different veteran programs,” said Cox, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The veterans in attendance covered the agricultural spectrum and are very diverse. Some are returning to family farm operations, while others are looking for land and capital to start growing specialty crops or value added enterprises. The thing they all have in common is a history of service and a desire to continue that service by providing secure, healthy food to their communities."

About 40 percent of military service members are from rural communities, and interest from Iowa vets in finding jobs in agriculture has been high. Given a higher than average jobless rate for young vets, and the need for economic development in rural communities, Cox said the farmer veteran assistance program offers a win-win situation for Iowa.

Farmer veterans had an opportunity to connect with more than 20 veteran and agricultural service providers who also attended the statewide conference. They also attended sessions on the challenges and opportunities of starting a farm business as well as finding employment in agriculture and rural Iowa.

Cox said conference evaluations showed that veterans want networking time and educational materials. The most requested topics for additional information related to conservation and sustainability issues, including management intensive grazing and on-farm energy production.

The workshops will feature educational presentations about farm business development, sustainability, legal issues, and any other concerns vets may have.  The attendees also will have the chance to meet with service providers from USDA, Veterans Affairs, the ISU Beginning Farmer Center, the Drake Agricultural Law Center, and more. Details on these meetings will be available at

Future Iowa Ag Leaders Go to China

China's developments in its food and agricultural systems and the increasing purchasing power of its middle class led the Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development (I-LEAD) team to identify China as its international trade mission destination for 2013. Composed of 24 talented Iowa agricultural-professionals, the group departed with 10 days ahead of them to develop a deeper appreciation for the opportunities and complexities of this rapidly growing market.

"The I-LEAD international trade mission shows our next leaders how important trade is to Iowa and the United States," said Shannon Textor, Iowa Corn Growers Association market development director, who accompanied the team. "Building relationships with key customers, like China, is a top priority in growing trade opportunities. We need to understand the opportunities and challenges and make sure they understand that we grow and produce safe and reliable food and grain."

In coordination with the U.S. Soybean Export Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the U.S. Grains Council developed an aggressive schedule covering ground from Beijing to Hebei Province, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. From seeing U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles distributed at New Hope Feed Mill to witnessing a grain ship full of U.S. corn unloading in Guangzhou to conducting meetings with port managers to discuss plans to expand grain capacity, the mission saw the dynamism of the Chinese market and worked to enhance current trade relationships.

The class was also able to commemorate the 30 year anniversary of the sister state relationship between Hebei Province and Iowa. They met with Hebei government officials to recognize the importance of their continued cooperation and partnership for years to come. The Council encourages and supports agricultural initiatives like I-LEAD, which strengthens the understanding of the global marketplace and fosters new relationships with U.S. agricultural trading partners.

Beef 2013 Wrap-Up & Look Forward to 2014...

Glynn T. Tonsor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University

Tis the season for analysts to look back at the nearly completed calendar year and to engage in speculation regarding the forthcoming year. In that spirit, I first encourage readers to make use of the growing list of available resources that summarize the situation experienced by cattle producers in 2013.[1] It is important to pause, look back and appreciate core fundamentals including historically tight beef supplies and beef demand strength that underlying the current economic situation. 

Given that foundational perspective the remainder of this piece will be devoted to outlining, albeit from what I usually describe as a cracked and cloudy crystal ball, key things I encourage producers to monitor in 2014. Namely, expect in 2014:

... uncertainty "outside" the cattle industry to persist.
        While weather uncertainty may have improved over the past several months, multiple topics including federal budget debates, regulations, farm bill details, and a host of other issues beyond the control of individual producers continue to underpin an environment of higher uncertainty than most producers are likely comfortable with. This uncertainty in 2014 will reduce and delay investment (e.g. constrain expansion of the beef cow herd) as well as decrease desire to "stay the course" by some entities operating in sectors with excess capacity concerns (e.g. feedlots and processors).

... the unexpected to become typical.
        While it is nearly impossible to predict events such as the beta-agonist use controversy (recall the surprise debate in 2012 around lean finely textured beef), producers are encouraged to recognize the trend of the public asking more questions about how their food is produced is likely to continue. Along with this trend is an increasingly complex situation around new technology development, adoption within the industry, and acceptance by the public. The entire food production system will continue to struggle with this.  

... composition of beef consuming households to continue adjusting.
        As per capita beef supplies hit historically low levels in 2014 the make-up of households remaining active beef consumers will change.       That is, there will not be a uniform reduction of consumption across all prior purchasers. Understanding this not only in aggregate both domestically and globally, but in less aggregated forms across product types and buyer characteristics will become increasingly important. Fortunately beef demand was rather robust in 2013, in part because of these non-uniform adjustments, and I remain cautiously optimistic that this trend will continue in 2014.[2]

... national policy debates within the industry to continue.
        The past year involved continued debates on national issues including animal identification and country of origin labeling. Given the above noted public interest in food production and the diversity of views and situations characterizing operations in the U.S. beef industry related deliberations are bound to continue.  

... ongoing prospects of trade deals being passed or adjusted to continue.
        It is well established that U.S. cattle producers operate in an increasingly global marketplace. The ability of the industry to send its products to the highest value market outlets and the comparative interest in countries worldwide to expand or adjust their meat consumption patterns will progressively influence economic prospects for the U.S. industry.

In summary, 2014 appears likely to be another interesting year offering profitable opportunities to many stakeholders in the beef-cattle industry. Regardless of your agreement with this or the specific issues raised here, I encourage everyone to stay informed and make use of available resources to guide decision making throughout the upcoming year.

U.S. Corn Imports on the Rise in Latin America

U.S. corn exports to Latin America continue to grow. According to the USDA, the Western Hemisphere's accumulated U.S. corn imports are more than 67 million bushels ahead of last year at this same time. Mexico, the second-largest U.S. corn market, is the largest contributor to this market change, importing 39.4 million bushels more than last year.

"It is exciting to see how free trade agreements lead to increased exports for farmers," said National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. "The work done on a policy level is having a direct impact upon markets for corn. Right now, farmers clearly understand the importance of fostering all markets, particularly given the incredible abundance grown in 2013. Tearing down the barriers that allow our customers abroad access to our supply only makes sense for American agriculture and America's economy."

While Mexico dwarfs other importers, both Colombia and Peru show significant increases of U.S. corn imports. These two dramatic turnarounds can be attributed to free trade agreements that removed trade barriers and made U.S. corn a more attractive and competitively priced product.

CWT Assists with 6.9 Million Pounds of Butter and Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 8 requests for export assistance from Bongards Creameries, Maryland Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 5.936 million pounds (2,693 metric tons) of butter and 914,919 pounds (415 metric tons) of cheddar cheese to customers in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered in December 2013 through June 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 130.324 million pounds of cheese, 97.580 million pounds of butter, 44,092 pounds of anhydrous milk fat and 218,258 pounds of whole milk powder to 40 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 3.400 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program positively impacts producer milk prices in the short-term by helping to maintain inventories of cheese and butter at desirable levels. In the long-term, CWT’s Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the farm milk that produces them.

Rains Arrive Over Argentine Corn, Soy Crops

Rains fell across Cordoba, one of Argentina's key soybean and corn-producing provinces, over the weekend. Precipitation is expected to spread across the heart of the grain belt over the next couple of days, ending a hot, dry spell of nearly two weeks that was beginning to stress plants.

Ample showers fell on some parts of Cordoba Saturday and Sunday. Bengolea in the south of the province got 3 1/2 inches, but many other areas enjoyed only lighter rains, further east in San Francisco just three-fourths of an inch fell.

But showers are forecast to spread across most of the key grain-producing regions in the next few days. According to the Argentine Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA), the outlook for the next nine days is for moderate showers across Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios provinces.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday December 27 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2013, was 3.1 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  This was up 3 percent from December 1, 2012, but unchanged from September 1, 2013.  

Breeding hog inventory, at 390,000 head, was up 3 percent from December 1, 2012, but down 3 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.71 million head, was up 3 percent from last year, and up slightly from last quarter.  

The September-November 2013 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.83 million head, was up 2 percent from 2012.  Sows farrowed during the period totaled 170,000 head, unchanged from last year.  The average pigs saved per litter was 10.75 for the September-November period, compared to 10.50 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 170,000 sows during the December 2013-February 2014 quarter, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for March-May 2014 are 175,000 sows, up 9 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  

Iowa Hog Inventory Down 1% from a Year Ago

On December  1,  2013  there were  20.5 million  hogs  and  pigs  on  Iowa  farms  according  to  the  latest USDA National Agricultural  Statistics  Service  Hogs  and  Pigs  report.  The  December  1  inventory  was  down  2  percent  from September 2013 and less than 1 percent from a year ago. 

The September 2013-November 2013 pig crop was 5.09 million head. A total of 480,000 sows farrowed with an average litter size of 10.6 pigs per sow. 

As of December 1, producers planned  to  farrow  460,000 head of  sows and gilts  in  the December 2013-February 2014 quarter. Farrowing intentions for the March-May 2014 period were estimated at 465,000 as of December 1, 2013.

United States Hog Inventory Down 1 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2013 was 65.9 million head. This was down 1 percent from December 1, 2012, and down 2 percent from September 1, 2013.  Breeding inventory, at 5.76 million head, was down 1 percent from last year, and down 1 percent from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 60.2 million head, was down 1 percent from last year, and down 2 percent from last quarter.

The September-November 2013 pig crop, at 29.3 million head, was down slightly from 2012. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.88 million head, down slightly from 2012. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.16 for the September-November period, compared to 10.15 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.00 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.20 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.83 million sows farrow during the December 2013-February 2014 quarter, up 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2013, and up slightly from 2012. Intended farrowings for March-May 2014, at 2.86 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2013, but down 3 percent from 2012.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 47 percent last year.


Bruce Anderson UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Have you ever tested the quality of your grass hay and been disappointed at the low relative feed value?  Well, maybe your worry was unnecessary.

Farmers and ranchers often tell me their prairie hay or cane hay or other grass hay looks really good but when a lab tested it the relative feed value, also called RFV, was surprisingly low, maybe in the 70s or 80s.  So what’s wrong with the hay?

Well actually, nothing may be wrong.  We need to understand how RFV is calculated and how it should be used.

First, relative feed value is calculated using only fiber values.  While protein certainly affects the value of hay, it has absolutely no affect on the calculation of relative feed value.

You see, relative feed value was initially developed for the dairy industry.  It was designed to help rank the potential energy intake of different hays by lactating dairy cows.  And it does this quite well, especially for legumes like alfalfa.

Grass hay, though, is a bit different.  Grass has more fiber than alfalfa, which lowers its calculated RFV.  But, that fiber often is quite digestible.  So grass hay frequently is ranked lower than it should be using relative feed value.

Also, RFV doesn’t predict performance by other types of animals, like beef cows, as well because potential energy intake does not have as much influence on their performance.

Basically, this means that when you feed grass hay to animals other than dairy cows, focus on crude protein and TDN.  If protein and TDN meet their needs, the animals probably will do just fine.

The RFV is much less important and could cause you to worry more than its worth.


Most winter feeding programs for dry cows rely on less expensive, lower quality forages that have low amounts of crude protein, and most of their energy value comes from fiber.  How does this work?

Cattle get energy from this fiber because microbes in their rumen can digest fiber, releasing volatile fatty acids for energy and producing microbial protein.

These microbes, however, also need specific nutrients to function optimally. Extra vitamins or minerals rarely, if ever, are needed.  They can be deficient in protein, however, especially when the cow’s diet has low amounts of protein in lower quality forages.

Not just any protein will do, however.  Non-protein nitrogen sources like urea are not used well by rumen microbes when most of their dietary energy comes from fiber.  Rumen microbes trying to grow and thrive in a high fiber/low energy environment perform better when provided true protein and amino acids rather than non-protein nitrogen.  In addition, most of this protein should be ruminally degradable so the microbes can use it rather than in the form of undegradable intake protein, which often  referred to as escape or bypass protein.  Protein from natural plant sources, like alfalfa, soybeans, and cottonseeds, often can provide the needed types of protein most economically.

When fed properly, rumen microbes break down and digest the fiber in the forage more completely and do it more rapidly.  Forage passes out of the rumen quicker, providing space for more forage.  Thus, it also increases forage intake by the cow.

Lower quality forages usually are among the least expensive feedstuffs available for the cow herd.  When they are supplemented with the proper type and amount of crude protein, they can provide adequate nutrition to maintain healthy, productive animals.

2014 Iowa Pork Congress to be held Jan. 22-23 in Des Moines

The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) will hold the 2014 Iowa Pork Congress on Jan. 22 and 23 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

The nation’s largest winter swine trade show and conference will be held in Hy-Vee Hall with show hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 22 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 23.

“The Iowa Pork Congress has established a tradition of excellence over the years and it attracts several thousand producers and others involved in the pork industry, as well as most of the top companies who serve the pork industry,” said IPPA President Greg Lear, a Spencer area producer. “We offer timely and informative seminars facilitated by some of the industry’s leading experts, great social functions and attendees have an array of networking opportunities. It really is a show for anyone who is involved in pork production, including our young swine enthusiasts.”

Interest in Pork Congress remains very strong among pork industry vendors and nearly 300 Iowa, U.S. and international companies will fill the Hy-Vee Hall trade show floor. Products ranging from equipment and nutrition to genetics and pharmaceuticals will be on display. Several exhibitors are rolling out new or enhanced products during Pork Congress.

IPPA will welcome attendees to the Pork Information Plaza on the north trade show floor where guests can visit with producer leaders and representatives from the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and other affiliated organizations.

Attendees will again have a wide range of seminars to choose from. An update on what’s happening in Washington, the latest on PEDV, an economic outlook, the Affordable Care Act and opportunities for new farmers are among the scheduled sessions. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy also will be discussed.

Sixth generation farmer and agriculture advocate Trent Loos brings his passion and wit to the 2014 Iowa Pork Congress as the keynote speaker. In “Tell that to the Crunchy Momma,” Loos will address the need to re-educate consumers on modern food production. The “Loos Tales” star will address attendees at 2 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Hog farmers also will be able to obtain or renew their PQA Plus and TQA certifications, and a certification session for confinement site manure applicators is again being offered.

“We try to provide the best of everything at Pork Congress, from the tradeshow to the social events,” Lear added. “This is our 42nd show and with all of the activities we have scheduled, Pork Congress should be another great event for the pork industry.”

Producers can pre-register to attend Pork Congress through Jan. 9, 2014. IPPA members can attend the tradeshow and conference at no cost by registering by the deadline. Register at or by using the form in the November issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine.

Non-IPPA members can save $5 off of the normal $10 admission cost by registering online by the deadline. Registrations will be accepted after the deadline through each day of the show, but the cost will be $10.

Pork Congress week will start on Jan. 20 with the annual IPPA Taste of Elegance contest and reception. The IPPA Annual Meeting will be held Jan. 21 and the annual Iowa Pork Foundation Kickoff Reception and Auction will take place that evening. The Pork Congress Banquet is on Jan. 22. The IPPA Youth Swine Judging Contest will be held in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Jan. 23.

For more information, contact IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or visit

Premium U.S. Pork Promotion Makes Waves in Taiwan

The people of Taiwan love home-grown pork, but high-quality American pork is becoming the media darling in this meat-loving island nation of 23 million.

U.S. pork typically goes into processing in Taiwan, but a crowd of gourmet bloggers and reporters from newspapers, television and magazines showed that Taiwanese are hungry for news about premium consumer-ready U.S. pork by covering a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) event produced with support from the Pork Checkoff.

Celebrity chef Chen of ShenYen Teppenyaki entertained the assembled reporters while serving samples of French-cut bone-in loin, Boston butt and spareribs combined with local ingredients in six delicious dishes. Interviews with the chef discussing the attributes of U.S. pork and his distinctive recipes were carried in the many media outlets attending including the China Post, Taiwan News, China Times, Commercial Times and SET-TV.

“Using high-quality ingredients is a delightful experience,” said Chef Chen. “You know that they are special and different from other ingredients.”

The goal of the promotion was to help U.S. pork gain a larger share of the food service sector by capitalizing on demand for branded, premium pork dishes at high-end restaurants and hotels.

“The finest hotels and restaurants want to distinguish themselves from their competition by serving distinctive dishes such as dry-aged pork steaks and branded pork,” said Davis Wu, USMEF-Taiwan director. “Raising the awareness of high-quality U.S. pork with this audience is a good step toward building consumer demand.”

The event with Chef Chen was one part of a broader campaign that includes retail promotions and a distinctive rolling U.S. pork billboard – images of healthy young piglets wrapping a bus that commutes hourly through the capital Taipei and neighboring Ilan County.

While efforts to promote U.S. pork to processors is challenged by Taiwan’s zero tolerance for growth promotant residues, USMEF is encouraged by the positive reception to its market development program for U.S. chilled and processed pork.

“Many consumers are unaware of the quality of U.S. pork and where it can be purchased.” said Wu. “Seeing Chef Chen demonstrate easy-to-cook pork recipes while discussing the positive attributes of U.S. pork for high-end foodservice sends a strong message to those chefs searching for unique food ingredients.

“Developing consumer-oriented activities for the Taiwan market enables us to better control the messages and communicate directly to the end consumer,” added Wu. “That helps create a new atmosphere for U.S. pork and elevate it to a higher-quality status.”

While Taiwan is 94 percent self-sufficient in pork, consumers here enjoy significantly more red meat than their Japanese and South Korean counterparts and slightly more than mainland China, and pork is by far the local favorite.

Despite the growth promotant residue issue, USMEF has made inroads in expanding the market for U.S. pork beyond the processing sector, including at the retail level, with growth supported by a younger generation that shops more in supermarkets and hypermarkets than traditional wet markets. There are growing opportunities for U.S. pork niche items such as natural pork and unique processed and branded items.

Through September, Taiwan has purchased 15,431 metric tons (34 million pounds) of U.S. pork valued at nearly $34 million, increases of 17 percent and 14 percent respectively over last year.

Oil Closes Above $100

(AP) -- Oil prices closed above $100 a barrel Friday, the first time it crossed that threshold since October.

Benchmark U.S. oil for February delivery rose 77 cents to close at $100.32 in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The price of oil got a boost from a drop in applications for unemployment benefits, the latest sign of recovery in the U.S. job market, and expectations of a decline in U.S. crude stockpiles. Optimism about the U.S. economic recovery lifted expectations for the country's energy demand.

The last time oil traded above $100 a barrel was Oct. 21. The last day it closed above $100 a barrel was Oct. 18. During the abridged holiday trading week, oil gained $1.

A report from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration released Friday showed that U.S. crude stockpiles fell 4.7 million barrels last week to 367.6 million barrels. The supply fell in the last week from 23.4 days' worth of oil to 22.8 days.

At the gas pump, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.28. That's up 6 cents from a week ago, and up 2 cents from this time last year.

Ethanol Stocks, Demand Up; Output Down

Total U.S. fuel ethanol inventories edged slightly higher for the fourth straight week last week, adding 35,000 barrels (bbl) of supply to lift domestic stocks to a three-month high at 15.66 million bbl despite another decline in domestic production and higher implied demand, according to new data released Friday, Dec. 27, by Energy Information Administration.

Total supplies are 4.7 million bbl, or 12.9%, below a year ago, according to the data for the week-ended Dec. 20.

The EIA data also showed ethanol production at U.S. plants eased last week for the second straight week, falling 2,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 926,000 bpd during the week profiled, while up 92,000 bbl, or 11%, from a year ago.

This the ninth consecutive week domestic production has stayed above 900,000 bpd. Four-week average production at 928,000 bpd was up 12% from a year earlier.

No ethanol imports came into the country for the 12th straight week during the week-ended Dec. 20, the data showed. Refiner and blender inputs, a proxy for demand, rose 49,000 bpd, or 5.9%, to 876,000 bpd for the week profiled, while up 26,000 bpd or 3.2% from a year earlier. Four-week average implied demand was up 2.7% year-over-year.

EIA also reported motor gasoline product supplied, a proxy for gasoline demand, increased 160,000 bpd to 9.176 million bpd last week. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged 8.9 million bpd, up 3.9% from the same period last year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday December 26 Ag News

Nebraska Beef on the Marquee in Macau

The rich beef culture of Nebraska and the world's gambling capital were the perfect pair last week as several hundred leaders of Macau's food service and game industry gathered to sample expertly prepared U.S. beef at The U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Second Annual Great American Barbecue - Nebraska in Macau.

One of the special administrative regions of China - Hong Kong being the other - Macau has a small population of just over 500,000 that pales in comparison to its visitor load, expected to reach 30 million this year. But, as the world's gambling hub with 2013 revenue exceeding $40 billion - dwarfing U.S. gambling revenue - it is a magnet for high rollers who love a good meal at any price.
Jim to provide.

Funded by the Nebraska Beef Council, The Great American Barbecue - Nebraska in Macau was the second annual Nebraska beef barbecue event in the territory, and with approximately 200 attendees it topped last year's inaugural event by more than a third, providing testimony to the growing interest in beef from Nebraska and the United States.

"Macau is a vacation destination - the only legalized gaming spot in China - where people from Mainland China go for recreation and can enjoy many options for fine dining" said Myron Danner, Nebraska Beef Council director, who attended the event. "While U.S. beef is locked out of mainland China, we're getting great exposure in the region through Macau."

The invitation-only event drew key representatives from a wide range of Macau food and beverage enterprises, including chefs and senior managers from all the gaming and hotel properties, plus end-users from independent restaurant and retail chains.

"These were the players," said Danner. "These were the people who import the beef and distribute it to restaurants. Many sent executive chefs. The quality of food at the event was as good as you'd find anywhere, and the exposure was phenomenal. Our unique Nebraska high quality beef has struck a chord in a market where extravagant entertainment options are many."

The outdoor event was held at the Hard Rock Hotel Macau, one of several hotel properties situated in the Cotai Strip's City of Dreams complex. U.S. beef packers and exporters donated Nebraska-harvested beef cuts for the event, ranging from whole roasted prime ribeyes to chilled chuck flap tail seared tataki.

U.S. beef is shipped to Macau through Hong Kong, as there is no formal protocol for direct trade. Macau food safety authorities allow U.S. beef into Macau when accompanied by a USDA health certificate issued for Hong Kong.

While the exact volume of U.S. beef exported to Macau through Hong Kong is unknown, according to Hong Kong re-export statistics it is estimated that 542 metric tons of U.S. beef valued at $6.7 million were shipped to Macau during the first 10 months of 2013 - a 57 percent increase over the same period of 2012.

"U.S. beef shipments to Macau are set to grow in future years as Macau offers more entertainment beyond gaming," says John Lam, USMEF's regional programs manager based in Hong Kong. "Macau is a special administrative region of China, and Chinese central authorities have recently encouraged the territory to increase non-gaming offerings to mainland visitors."

Major infrastructure improvements are expected to drive more mainland visitors to Macau in the years ahead. The $10 billion Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge is expected to open in 2016, replacing an hour-long ferry ride on the South China Sea with a 20-minute drive. Macau boasts 35 casinos, and another eight large-scale properties are in development, including resorts being built by Nevada-based gaming companies.

Tax Reform Tops Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Top 5 Agriculture Stories of 2013

Tax reform talks, which started last January with a state legislative proposal to put new sales taxes on the purchase of agriculture inputs, machinery and equipment, then later evolved into a broader discussion about providing property tax relief to Nebraska farm and ranch families, is the state’s top agriculture story of 2013, according to officials at the Nebraska Farm Bureau in releasing its annual list of the Top 5 Nebraska Agriculture Stories for the year.

“It didn’t matter the size of your operation, whether you raised livestock, or if you had dryland or irrigated crops, the reality is if you were a farmer, feeder, or rancher in Nebraska you would have been significantly impacted by the initial sales tax proposal,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson. “In twelve months we’ve gone from talking about new taxes on Nebraska farm and ranch families to having a Legislative Tax Committee make recommendations highlighting the need to address the property tax burden that has been a major point of concern not just for farmers and ranchers, but for people all across our state,” said Nelson.

The Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee unveiled recommendations for tax reform in early Dec. and the Legislature will reconvene in early Jan. to determine the future of tax relief for Nebraskans.

The other top stories, in no specific order, are:

The impacts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on farm and ranch families.

“Health insurance out-of-pocket costs are typically much higher for those that are self-employed and have to buy coverage on their own as they don’t have the benefit of their employer paying for part of the coverage. Many farmers and ranchers fall into that category.  These individuals are the ones who are seeing significantly higher premiums, deductibles and, in many cases, significantly higher overall costs associated with purchasing health care coverage due to implementation of the ACA and the mandates and rules associated with it,” said Nelson.

The failure of Congress and the President to pass a farm bill.

“The fact that we were talking about passing a farm bill last year at this time and are still sitting here today without a bill in place is extremely disappointing. While there is a lot of talk about action on the farm bill after the first of the year, there is no guarantee and that continues to be troubling for Nebraska farmers awaiting some certainty about farm programs. Food security is national security. The farm bill is a key piece of that equation and it is disappointing that connection is not being made in Washington,” said Nelson.

The state’s recovery from drought and statewide water management.

“The impacts of the 2012 drought are still being felt today. The drought conditions only further heightened the sensitivity to water management statewide for all water users. The result has been more conversations between those parties and Natural Resources Districts on how to manage to meet the needs for all water users through periods of water shortage. The drought has left a lasting impression on the need for sound water management in Nebraska.”

The growing need for farmers and ranchers to be active in talking to the public about what happens on their operations and where food comes from.

“The ability of farmers and ranchers to produce more food with fewer resources is a great story, but it’s one people in agriculture need to be doing a better job of telling. The average American is now three generations removed from the farm and the gap in communication between farmers and the non-farming public is one we need to bridge and its important farmers and ranchers join in the broader public discussion about agriculture.”

Farm Bureau also identified what it believes will be key agriculture stories for 2014. Among those story predictions are a cooling of the broader agriculture economy, growth in precision technology on farms and greater discussion about U.S. trade policy and implications for greater movement of U.S. agriculture commodities into foreign markets.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Are you ready for a winter drought?  Its appearance is much different from a summer drought but the effect is the same.

               A summer drought occurs when a lack of rain causes greatly reduced plant growth and, therefore, much less grazing and hay production.  So what does a winter drought look like, at least from the perspective of a livestock producer in the central Great Plains or Corn Belt?

               In contrast to a summer drought where a lack of rain can cause a brown, barren landscape, a winter drought has abundant moisture.  However, that moisture is in the form of ice or deep snow, often creating what some people might characterize as a picturesque landscape.

               Despite all the moisture as snow and ice, I call this a drought because the effect on livestock is similar to a summer drought.  Corn stalks, winter range, and other grazed forages are covered by snow or ice, making them inaccessible.  Sometimes it is even impossible to get access to previously harvested and stored feedstuffs like hay and silage.

               Are you ready if this happens to you?  Some winter forage already has been covered once although the snow melted away soon so animals could get back to it.  But what if they can’t after the next snow?  What is your backup plan?  If your backup plan is hay, do you have enough?  Can you get it to your animals after an ice storm?  And if it needs to be supplemented, is that on hand and positioned to get to your animals?

               We usually are prepared for normal winter stresses and even occasional storms.  But what are your plans if this winter drought I’ve described does occur.  It can hit much more rapidly than a summer drought.

               Think about it.  And be prepared.


               Think back over the past couple of years.  Did you have ample pasture all season long, or were there times when more forage growth would have helped?

               If you have cows, horses, ewes, or other livestock that can graze year-around, one of your goals should be to graze for as many days during the year as possible.  But no matter where you are, no single pasture can meet that objective.

               Warm-season range grasses provide good summer grazing in many areas, but more green grass would be nice in early spring and for late fall grazing.  For livestock producers in many other places, though, smooth bromegrass, wheatgrass, needlegrass, orchardgrass, fescue, and other cool-season grasses grow well in spring and fall but mid-summer pasture often is limiting.

               To overcome these pasture shortages, you need to have several different types of pasture available.  For example, warm-season grasses like the bluestems, indiangrass, blue grama, and switchgrass provide excellent summer pasture.  Match them up with other, but separate, pastures or meadows that contain cool-season grasses for spring and fall grazing and you will have a good, long grazing season.

               To extend grazing even further, plant winter wheat, rye, or triticale during fall to get pasture as early as late March.  And oats planted in late July or August can be grazed through November, while turnips often provide pasture into December or even January.  Don’t forget that alfalfa and corn also can be grazed effectively throughout much of the year, giving you even more options for timely pasture.

               Start looking at your pasture gaps.  Maybe next year you can extend your grazing season with new and varied pastures.

Midwest Dairy Associaiton Update - FUEL UP TO PLAY 60

A new five-year agreement has been signed to continue Fuel Up to Play 60. National Dairy Council, National Football League, GENYOUth Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Education extended the agreement during an event in Chicago this month. The program – the nation’s largest in-school nutrition and physical activity program, founded under the leadership of America’s dairy producers – reaches students in more than 73,000 schools nationwide. Because of it, last year 14 million students made better food choices by selecting nutritious options like low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Additionally, 14 million students are getting more physically active during the school day.

The $250 million public/private partnership is supported by health professional, education, physical activity, nutrition, government and corporate organizations that come together to positively impact school health. Midwest Dairy’s chairman, Jerry Messer of North Dakota, also serves as chairman of National Dairy Council and led the announcement of the new agreement. Also on hand were Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner; Dr. David Satcher, 16th U.S. surgeon general; Carla Hall, celebrity chef and co-host of ABC’s The Chew; and former Chicago Bears lineman and 1985 Super Bowl Champion Otis Wilson as well as other partners, program advocates and students.

New Dairy Trends Identified

Midwest Dairy participated in the International Dairy Show in Chicago, learning more about consumer trends, and innovations in equipment, packaging and products. Among those they noted were:
-    Lactose-free and gluten-free -- Consultants advised processors and manufacturers to develop products for this growing segment and talked about products which are naturally free of lactose and gluten. Interestingly, they also advised not to insult the consumer with unnecessary gluten-free product claims, such as a recently observed gluten-free claim on bottled water.
-    Alternative sweeteners - including monk fruit juice used to sweeten flavored milk, which can be helpful in maintaining flavored milk in schools.
-    Ice cream - flavors are becoming more and more unique in response to consumer demand.
-    Coffee, coffee, coffee - many product options were available using coffee as a base.

NE Divison Update

In Omaha recently, nineteen registered dietitians working in clinical, community and private practice settings participated in a day-long training focusing on how to communicate ways for those with lactose intolerance to keep dairy foods in their diet. We covered common myths and misperceptions about lactose intolerance, including its prevalence, as well as simple strategies for patients to use to still enjoy dairy foods in their diet.  Stephanie Cundith of our Midwest Dairy staff led a breakout session on social media, equipping the dietitians with tips to tweet simple, yet impactful messages. The dietitians left fully equipped to communicate with their patients, clients, classes and media outlets on how to continue enjoying dairy.

Mark your calendar for the Nebraska State Dairy Convention, March 11, at Divots Conference Center in Norfolk.  We urge all producers to attend this event, where you can visit with other producers, and participate in a “town hall meeting” to discuss your dairy checkoff, as well as other informational discussions.   More information will be coming out early in January.

Retail Meat Prices in 2013

John D. Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

Last week, USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) released their estimates of monthly average retail meat prices for November. According to this data, beef prices continue to edge higher. Both average Choice and All Fresh retail beef prices rose by about 1% compared with October. The All Fresh retail beef price in November averaged just over $5.01 per pound - the first time this price has surpassed the $5 mark. The all fresh beef price is 4.5% higher than it was last November.

By comparison, both pork and broiler retail prices declined in November compared with the prior month. Pork prices were off by just under 1% from October; however, broiler prices fell rather sharply. The November average broiler composite retail price in November worked out to 195.57 cents per pound. This is a decline of almost 4% from October. That is a fairly sharp drop in a single month. In fact, it is the largest monthly decline in the retail broiler composite price since July 2009. Broiler prices remain above the year-ago level, but not by much - about 1%.

The decline in retail broiler prices is perhaps a little striking in its magnitude, but the fact that prices are declining is not really surprising. Wholesale broiler cut prices have been falling - and falling sharply - for some time now. For example, wholesale boneless/skinless (b/s) breast prices peaked in June at just over $2 per pound but have recently slipped to just over $1.25 per pound. The change in prices on other cuts has not been that dramatic, but all - wings, leg quarters, b/s thighs, etc. - have fallen to below year-ago levels over the past couple of months.

The behavior of wholesale chicken prices raises questions about demand for that product moving forward. For much of the year, retail demand appears to have been pretty strong: the industry has managed to sustain higher year-over-year prices along with increased production. The sharply lower wholesale prices over the last couple of months along with the rapid erosion of retail price in the November data suggest that this may not continue much longer. The prospect of increasing broiler production has naturally raised concerns in the beef sector about a further loss of market share as beef production will almost certainly continue to decline in 2014. If broiler demand is really waning, as it appears to be, beef's prospects for holding onto market share may be improving.

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q4: High Global Prices to Continue as Supply Remains Tight

The Rabobank Global Cattle Price Index has risen by 6 percent since June, driven by lower-than-expected beef supply in the main exporting countries and strong Asian demand, according to a new report from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness (FAR) Research and Advisory group.

According to the report, supply will remain tight, especially in 1H 2014, driven by lower feed costs, induced herd rebuilding in the U.S. and the strong export demand from Brazil and Argentina, which will continue to support strong prices. In 2014, Rabobank forecasts continued high prices while global beef supply is expected to rise only slightly, meanwhile China’s demand for imports are expected to increase. The recent announcements to (re-)open import markets will benefit beef trade going forward.

Rabobank analyst Albert Vernooij says,  “the Rabobank Global Cattle Price Index improved further in H2 2013, supported by both continuing strong Chinese import growth and lower-than-expected supply in the main export markets making cattle prices mainly positive.”

The market has been unable to reach its full potential due to consumers’ resistance against high prices in the United States and the European Union, still two of the main beef markets. In addition, exchange rate movements have impacted the competitive position of exporters, resulting in Brazilian and Argentine beef becoming increasingly attractive and leading to a surge in exports.

For 1H 2014, Rabobank expects further upside for the global beef market, with cattle prices remaining elevated in most regions. The main question in many regions remains where to source sufficient beef supplies. With herd rebuilding as the first priority globally, supported by improving climate conditions and moderating feed costs, global beef production will increase only slightly and is expected to decline sharply in key markets like the U.S. The main demand wildcard will be consumer resistance to high beef prices and the growing availability of competing animal proteins due to the improved margin outlook as feed prices tumble.

“China’s importance and influence on the global beef market is set to continue to increase in 2014,” commented Vernooij.  “China’s imports of both frozen and chilled beef are expected to grow further, driven by the shortage of beef in the domestic market, reflected in record high retail prices. We believe that the value of the Chinese markets will grow in excess of 10 percent  annually over the next three years.”

A number of recently announced trade deals will also come to bear in the beef market over the coming months and years, including commitments to reopen closed or impeded markets for beef imports and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which set goals to improve trade between five beef-exporting countries. The removal of trade barriers will be positive for global beef trade and, combined with lower feed costs, should support renewed investment in the global beef industry.

Farm Accidents Among Young Children Are on the Rise

Childhood injuries involving agriculture and equipment were down a bit on the nation's farms last year, but unfortunately that trend was higher among kids younger than 10 years of age. That's according to new data released the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.

NCCRAHS Director Barbara Lee says an informal survey conducted by NIOSH shows that the rates of injury among children ages 10 and younger rose from 6.6 per 1,000 farms in 2009 to 11.3 in 2012.

"More than half of these injuries were incurred by non-working children," Lee said. "For example, those injured children were brought into the worksite by parents in order to 'keep an eye on them.'"

In the wake of several high-profile deaths this summer--in which children as young as one year of age were riding tractors as passengers when they fell off and were run over--the National Children's Center has renewed its campaign to 'Keep Kids Away from Tractors.'

Meanwhile, the overall rate of non-fatal child injuries per 1,000 farms has declined by 61 percent since 1998. Lee attributes the sustained decline to several factors, such as better outreach efforts to students and families; and willingness of farm owners and parents to end unsafe traditions involving children and young workers.

"Still, on average, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident every three days, and 38 children are injured each day," she says. "That equals about 115 deaths and 13,996 injuries per year."

Lee adds that the economic toll of childhood agricultural injuries is heavy, costing U.S. society an estimated $1 billion per year. Deaths cost society $420 million per year.

MAP Price Moves Lower, Other Fertilizers Steady

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of December were still fairly steady with the price of just one fertilizer showing any significant move lower.  Seven of the eight major fertilizers had lower prices compared to last month. MAP was the only one with a significant change and was 5% lower compared to the third week of November. The phosphorus fertilizer's average price was $534 per ton.

The other six fertilizers had fairly small price decreases. DAP had an average price of $498/ton, potash $480/ton, 10-34-0 was at $509/ton, anhydrous $633/ton, UAN28 $318/ton and UAN32 $363/ton.

DAP's average price dropped below the $500 per ton level for the first time since the fourth week of April 2010. The average price of DAP that week was $497/ton.  The remaining fertilizer, urea, was higher from last month, but again the move to the high side was fairly minor. Urea had an average price of $448/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.49/lb.N, anhydrous $0.39/lb.N, UAN28 $0.57/lb.N and UAN32 $0.57/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now double-digits lower in price compared to December 2012.  UAN32 is now down 14%, UAN28 is 16% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 18% lower. MAP, DAP and potash are all 22% less expensive while urea is 24% lower and anhydrous is 26% less expensive, compared to last year.

Governors Urge Administration to Reconsider Proposed Reductions to RFS

A group of Midwestern governors, all members of the Governors' Biofuels Coalition, have sent letters to President Barack Obama expressing their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. These letters come in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal which would scale back the volume of renewable fuels required under the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014.

In a joint letter to the president, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard argue in defense of the ethanol standard. The letter stresses the importance of ethanol as it diversifies America's energy portfolio, gives consumers choices at the pump, supports economic development in rural communities and reduces harmful emissions across the nation.

Providing evidence of their claims, the governors point to an Iowa State University estimate that says "corn prices alone could drop 19 cents per bushel based on the proposed rule, which could bring corn prices below the cost of production for many farmers. The proposed EPA rule could also cause a ripple effect on agri-business, our communities, and the entire economy."

The letter sends a direct request from the governors to the Obama administration asking it use its regulatory authority to support the growing renewable fuels industry.
"Specifically, we hope that you will encourage the EPA to increase the biodiesel volume to reflect current production levels, modify the cellulosic target to match production expectations, and reinstate the statutory conventional renewable fuel target since there is clearly no domestic supply shortage."

In November, the EPA proposed cutting by 3 billion gallons the amount of renewable fuels that would be blended into the U.S. fuel supply next year. It included reducing corn-based ethanol use by about 1.4 billion gallons.

In a separate letter to the president, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn directly requested that the EPA reconsider the proposed rule. Quinn stresses the economic and environmental importance of ethanol while pointing to the role the domestically-produced biofuel plays in providing jobs in rural America.

Quinn points out that the total economic impact of the 14 ethanol plants in Illinois is estimated to be approximately $5.3 billion annually and that these facilities directly provide 4,000 jobs. Displacing more than 35 percent of that state's petroleum use, he argues that the loss of demand for millions of bushels of corn would negatively impact the entire farm economy.

Recent Dry Conditions Stressing Corn, Soy

Dry, hot weather across Argentina's grain belt during the past 10 days has caused concerns among corn and soybean farmers.

Soil moisture levels have fallen in key producing regions, including western Buenos Aires, La Pampa and the south of Cordoba province, to a level where grain crops urgently need more precipitation, according to the Argentina Meteorological Service (SMN).

The biggest issue is with the corn crop, the early planted portion of which is now entering key development phases.

The high temperatures are making the lack of rain a real problem, according to Juan Pablo Ioele, an agronomist at the Argentina Agriculture Technology Institute (INTA) in southeastern Cordoba province.

The good news is that rains are forecast for the next couple of weeks in the grain-producing nucleus of northern Buenos Aires, southern Cordoba and southern Santa Fe. Rainfall of 1.5 to 4 inches will fall, according to Rosario Cereals Exchange forecasts.

Light rain is expected Thursday, which will become heavier next week.

The moisture will be welcome as, since the start of November, rainfall has been just a third of average levels in the nucleus.

NUTRIQUEST Launches a New Specialty Feed Ingredient Purpose-Built for Starter Pigs

NUTRIQUEST, the leader in real-world production solutions, is pleased to announce the launch of Evosure, its new specialty ingredient developed specifically to optimize starter pig performance. Evosure is purpose-built to meet the needs of pig producers, who are constantly on the quest for new methods of improving starter pig performance.

"Evosure has demonstrated positive results through multiple replicated trials and will be beneficial to producers operating in ever-changing economic and production landscapes,” said Dr. Chad Hagen, Senior Vice President of NUTRIQUEST.

The NUTRIQUEST team has proven experience in the design and development of yeast-based products with a team of scientists who together have a combined 110 years of experience in research and product development.

In designing Evosure, the NUTRIQUEST team utilized over 7,800 pigs in seven controlled, highly replicated research trials conducted in commercial production environments.  Research has clearly shown that in targeted starter pig application Evosure outperforms leading competitors’ products in starter feed applications.

NUTRIQUEST recommends combining its two leading yeast-based technologies to maximize starter pig performance. Using research and experience-proven second generation CEL-CAN in sow diets for heavier pigs at weaning and Evosure in starter diets to improve nursery performance optimizes overall pig performance and profitability.

Evosure is yet another stride in the continued growth of the NUTRIQUEST product portfolio, which continues our commitment to the animal agriculture industry and will ensure we deliver on our goal of developing products and technologies that enhance animal productivity in a cost effective, safe and healthy manner while respecting the environment,” said Ken Purser, General Manager of NUTRIQUEST.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday December 23 Ag News

Farmers Tax Guide Now Available

Farmers can better understand their 2013 tax returns with help from a guide available through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.  The 2013 Farmers Tax Guide has illustrated examples, a sample return and describes available deductions.  Cuming County Extension Educator Larry Howard says the tax guides are in and are free to local producers.  They can be picked up at the UNL Extension office in Cuming County, area tax preparers or any Cuming County bank.


The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is pleased to offer Allied memberships for 2014.

As an Allied member of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, your organization will gain recognition for the support you’ve provided as a partner in ensuring the success of the pork industry in Nebraska.

Allied membership demonstrates your organization’s commitment and support for the Nebraska pork industry.  Allied membership can connect your organization to producers, employees, managers, decision makers, educators, industry leaders and others. Your involvement as an Allied member can help improve awareness and visibility of your organization, while showcasing the unique products and services your organization offers too.

As an active Allied member of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association you can enjoy
·         Complimentary attendance for special events
·         On site recognition for special events and activities
·         Acknowledgement and participation in program and promotions
·         Discounted advertising rates in the quarterly Pork Talk magazine
·         Special features on many of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association media channels

If you are looking to increase awareness for your organization or increase sales leads, the unique events and activities the Nebraska Pork Producers Association offers your organization can provide countless opportunities help reach your organizational goals.

As an Allied member, there are many opportunities to tailor a sponsorship opportunity specifically designed for your organization!

Annual membership is $350 and runs on a calendar year basis.  Membership invoices will be sent the week of January 6th, 2014.


February 20, 2014
Lifelong Learning Center
Norfolk, NE

This event celebrates the accomplishments and highlights the successes in Nebraska’s pork industry. Educational seminars for pork producers are provided, including certification and re-certification classes for Pork Quality Assurance Plus. Guest speakers include Dr. Mike Brumm, Brumm Swine Consultancy; Dr. Ronnie Green, Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln; and Greg Ibach, Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Unlike the past several years, NPPA will not be hosting a tradeshow/expo in 2014.


March 18th – Beatrice, NE --- Focus on topics related to animal handling and animal welfare
March 25th – Kearney, NE --- Focus on sow related topics
April 1st – Columbus, NE --- Focus on topics related to barn safety and employee safety

These regional, educational events will provide Nebraska’s pork producers with timely information on a variety of topics from industry experts, industry supporters, and others. Producers, employees, managers, students, and others will leave each focus meeting armed with valuable information they can use now. Focus meetings will start 5:30pm with a social, followed by dinner, Allied Member updates, state and national pork industry updates, ending with a focused presentation by 8:30pm.

Iowa Beef Center Heifer Series Addresses Challenges of Rebuilding Beef Cow Herd

One of the biggest challenges facing cattlemen today is maintaining young cows in their herd long term. The Iowa Beef Center, in partnership with the Iowa Cattleman’s Association, is offering a program series focusing specifically on management practices to keep young cows in the herd to improve longterm profitability. 

The Heifer Development 2: Maintaining Your Investment series of programs is a follow-up to the 2012 series on yearling heifers, Heifer Development – Rebuilding our Future. The goal of the 2014 series is to pick up where the 2012 series left off, and looks at the nutrition, health, calving and reproductive management of bred heifers through their second breeding season.

Denise Schwab, ISU Extension and Outreach beef specialist, said there are a couple of reasons for increased numbers of heifers in cow herds and producer interest in better management of these animals. “Throughout the drought the last two years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of heifers retained for the cow herd, despite the high rate of cow culling,” Schwab said. “This resulted in one of the smallest beef cow herds in the last 60 years, but also one of the youngest and most productive herds ever. Maintaining all of these young cows in the herd long term is a big challenge to cattlemen.”

Schwab points to the research conducted by the National Animal Health Monitoring System in 2007-08 that reported 33 percent of all culled cows left the herd because they did not conceive during the breeding season, and nearly 16 percent of all culled cows left the herd before five years of age.

“If the national beef cow herd is to grow, it will require better management of the replacement heifer and young cows to improve conception and retention,” said Schwab. “This conference will give producers information they can apply to their herd management.”

All sessions include a meal for those preregistered at least two days prior to the event. The $20 fee is payable at the door. Walk-in registrations are $25 per person and a meal is not guaranteed.

Heifer Development 2: Maintaining Your Investment locations and dates
-    Jan. 16, Maquoketa – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Centerstone Inn/Suites, 1910 Nairn Drive. To preregister, call 319-472-4739.
-    Jan. 21, Nashua – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Borlaug Learning Center, ISU Research Farm, 3327 290th Street. To preregister, call 641-394-2174.
-    Jan. 21, Postville – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Postville Vet Clinic, 110 Hyman Dr.  To preregister, call 319-472-4739.
-    Jan. 23, Anita – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Anita Community Center, 805 Main Street. To preregister, call 712-769-2600.
-    Jan. 28, Spencer – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Spencer School Administration Bldg, 23 E 7th Street. To preregister, call 712-262-2264x10 or email
-    Jan. 29, Holstein – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Lohff-Schuman Community Center, 301 Lohff Schuman Dr. To preregister, call 712-225-6196 or email
-    Feb. 4, Humboldt – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ox Bow Park, Izaak Walton League, 7 Park Rd. To preregister, call 515-332-2201.
-    Feb. 5, Mount Pleasant – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Henry County Extension Office, 127 N. Main St. To preregister, call 319-385-8126.
-    Feb. 5, Albia – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monroe County Extension Office, 219 B Ave West. To preregister, call 641-932-5612.
-    Feb. 6, Winterset – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Madison County Fairgrounds, Jackson Bldg., W. Summit St. To preregister, call 515-462-1001.
-    Feb. 6, Osceola – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Clarke County Fairgrounds Event Center, Hwy 34 W. To preregister, call 641-342-331.
-    Feb. 19, Ames – 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Hansen Ag Student Learning Center, 2816 Mortensen Rd. To preregister, call 641-774-2016.

For more information contact a beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach or the Iowa Beef Center website at:

Topics of Interest to Producers Offered at Multistate Beef Conference Jan. 14

The 3-State Beef Conference will be Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Southwestern Community College in Creston. Chris Clark, beef program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the conference agenda has information for cow-calf, stocker and feedlot operations.

“The topics and speakers will provide timely information on relevant topics, and all were chosen based on producer input,” Clark said. “This year, Extension specialists from all three states – Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska – will present information in person at the Iowa location.”

Rob Kallenbach from the University of Missouri will provide information on the potential benefits of using cover crops as an alternative forage source in a grazing system.

Tim Eggers from Iowa State will present information on the decision process of moving pasture land to crop production, as well as helping participants think through challenges of deciding whether to lease pasture land or keep cow/calf pairs in drylot for longer times.

Rick Rasby from University of Nebraska—Lincoln will discuss drylot management of cows with emphasis on financial, nutritional and practical considerations.

The program at the Southwestern Iowa Community College campus in Creston begins with 5:30 p.m. registration p.m., and the first session beginning at 6 p.m.; dinner and two more presentations follow. Cost is $20 per person and includes the meal and copy of the conference proceedings. Preregistration is required by Friday, Jan. 10, by calling the Page County Extension Office at 877-596-7243. The conference brochure has information for the Iowa location.

Program details, contacts and links to brochures for all locations are available on the conference website at The conference also will be held at the Hundley Whaley Learning Discovery Center, Albany, Mo, (Jan. 15); the Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ithaca, Neb. (Jan. 16); and the Gage County Extension Office, Beatrice, Neb. (Jan. 16).

Iowa Pork Producers Association Annual Meeting

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
CCCU Convention Center, Downtown Des Moines, Iowa. 

Delegates are invited to do their part to review IPPA endeavors and develop association policy. Please note the location change to the Iowa Events Center.

Plan to attend the 2014 Iowa Pork Congress on January 22-23, 2014

Iowa Events Center, Downtown Des Moines, IA

Trade Show Hours:
Wednesday, January 22rd - 9am - 5pm
Thursday, January 23th - 9am - 4pm

Many seminars scheduled both days.

Go to to get the complete list of details.

2014 Iowa Power Farming Show To Bring Hundreds of Top Ag Companies to Des Moines

If you build it and put it on display at the Iowa Power Farming Show, over 20,000 people will come to see it. In January, over 750 ag-related companies – including the biggest names in the industry – will once again set up shop at the Iowa Events Center, where they will showcase their best and latest ag products and services to thousands of Midwest growers.

With over 1840 booths spread out across 7.0 acres of real estate on six floors in three different buildings, the Iowa Power Farming Show is the third largest indoor farm show in North America Because it takes place in January, it’s the first big opportunity of the year for farm equipment manufacturers and agribusinesses to launch new products and services or offer sneak peeks at upcoming innovations.

“The location in central Iowa means growers in the heartland can see the next big things in agriculture without incurring heavy travel expenses,” said show director Tom Junge. “And the timing early in the year means companies can introduce new innovations directly to their target customers in the Midwest.”

The 2014 Iowa Power Farming Show takes place January 28-30 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. General admission is $6 and children under 14 are admitted free.

The Iowa Power Farming Show is owned and managed by the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, which represents over 400 agricultural and outdoor power equipment dealers throughout Iowa and Nebraska.

For complete show information and directions, visit

Bipartisan Governors Come Together to Support RFS

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has brought together a bipartisan group of six governors to sign on to a letter to President Barack Obama, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their support for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that fosters diversification of America's energy portfolio, gives consumers choices at the pump, supports economic development in rural communities and reduces harmful emissions across the nation. The EPA recently proposed a rule that would significantly weaken the current RFS, and Gov. Branstad and this group of governors expressed their opposition to the EPA proposal.

The following governors signed on in support of a strong RFS: Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa), Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.), Gov. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Gov. Dennis Dugaard (R-S.D.), and Gov. Dave Heineman (R-Neb.).

In the letter, the governors write, "More than 400,000 Americans depend on renewable fuels for good-paying jobs that support rewarding careers in our states. According to the Renewable Fuels Association and LMC International, 44,500 of these jobs could be lost due to the EPA proposed rule. This proposed rule would greatly hinder our states' efforts to foster policies that create jobs, grow family incomes, and revitalize our economies.

"If the EPA's currently proposed rule becomes final, the negative impact would be disproportionately felt by rural America. According to an Iowa State University estimate, corn prices alone could drop nineteen cents per bushel based on the proposed rule, which could bring corn prices below the cost of production for many farmers. The proposed EPA rule could also cause a ripple effect on agri-business, our communities, and the entire economy."

The bipartisan letter is the latest effort by Branstad to fight for American jobs, rural communities and a strong agriculture industry by working to protect the RFS. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, and other Iowa elected leaders recently requested a hearing in Iowa on this EPA proposal. On Dec. 4, Gov. Branstad testified before the EPA in support of the RFS in Arlington, Va. The testimony followed a "Defend the RFS" rally in Nevada, Iowa, on Nov. 22.

USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 1 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 3 percent from the previous month and down 2 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 81 percent from last month and up 103 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2013 were down 18 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 50 percent from last month and down 14 percent from November 30, 2012.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on November 30, 2013 were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from November 30, 2012.  Butter stocks were down 33 percent from last month and down 5 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 4 percent from last month and up 11 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 4 percent from last month and down 1 percent from a year ago.

Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook - Exports and Demand Dynamics Provide Price Support

(USDA Economic Research Service)

Beef/Cattle:  With declining feed costs and improving pasture conditions, cattle sector margins are improving more rapidly than the beef sector margins.  However, despite wholesale cutout values that have improved somewhat over the last several months and record and near-record retail beef prices, packer margins continue to be squeezed.  

Beef/Cattle Trade:  U.S. beef imports and exports increased during October, rising 30 percent and 5 percent, respectively, from the previous October. The 2013 forecast for U.S. exports was raised to 2.504 billion pounds,-while imports are forecast at 2.254 billion pounds. While cattle imports have fallen this year, the forecast for U.S. imports was raised to 1.965 million head due to higher trade in the fourth quarter.

Pork/Hogs:  Strong domestic consumer demand for pork products appears to have offset soft export demand so far in the fourth quarter.  Fourth-quarter hog prices are expected to average $62-$63 per cwt, almost 7 percent above the same period last year.  October exports were almost 12 percent below a year ago, a result of weakness in important Asian markets.  Imports in October increased almost 16 percent, year-over-year, strong domestic prices likely serving as a magnet for Canadian pork products in particular.  Significant domestic production risk has recently been introduced by the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.  The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report to be released by USDA on December 27 may help to discern the impact of the disease as of December 1.

Poultry:  Higher broiler meat production has resulted in increases in cold storage holdings, which, in turn, have placed downward pressure on many broiler product prices.  Broiler meat production in fourth-quarter 2013 is forecast at 9.5 billion pounds, 3 percent higher than the previous year.  Lower turkey meat production has caused cold storage holdings of whole birds (especially hens) and parts to decline.  This has resulted in increased prices at the wholesale level for a number of turkey parts.  Turkey meat production in October was 517 million pounds, down 11 percent from the previous year.

Poultry Trade:  Broiler and turkey shipments in October were up from a year ago, while egg product exports were down.  Broiler shipments totaled 675.5 million pounds in October 2013, an increase of about 4 percent from a year earlier. Turkey shipments increased only fractionally from a year ago, totaling 77.4 million pounds, while egg exports totaled 31.5 million dozen in October 2013, a 5-percent decrease from last October.

Sheep/Lamb:  Dramatic increases in lamb prices are expected in fourth-quarter 2013. This is likely due largely to lighter weight, higher quality lambs being sold at slaughter, along with very tight domestic supplies. Tight supplies are expected to continue well into the future, which could help to bolster prices.
Dairy:  The milk production estimate for 2013 is lowered slightly from November but raised slightly for 2014.  The 2013 herd contraction is likely ended as cow numbers are forecast to rise in 2014.  Lower expected feed prices and continuing firm milk prices will improve the producer profit outlook and should cause herd expansion to ensue in 2014.  The export forecasts for 2013, on a fats basis, are raised from November.  While current year export demand for nonfat dry milk remains strong, exports on a skims-solids basis were lowered this month due to lower lactose exports but are raised for 2014.

Learning Centers Cover Variety of Timely Agriculture Topics at 2014 Commodity Classic

From soil health, succession planning and weed management—to the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard and transportation infrastructure—experts will cover these and several other agriculture topics during educational sessions at the 19th Annual Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.

Learning Center sessions are offered at Commodity Classic from Feb. 27-March 1, 2014. The 19 sessions offer in-depth discussions of current issues and topics that have a direct impact on a grower’s bottom line, with speakers from around the country.

“Commodity Classic Learning Centers are the place to experience a first-hand look at the latest in new agriculture technology and information” said Commodity Classic Co-Chairman ­­­­­Rob Elliott. “It’s a chance to hear from others in the ag industry from around the U.S. and share ideas and best practices.”

Commodity Classic features a line-up of world-class speakers from all around the U.S. to discuss timely, relevant topics. Learning Center sessions at the 2014 Commodity Classic include: a panel of growers talking about ways they increased their yield; marketing specialist Edward Usset exploring a different approach to marketing and a panel of transportation specialists, discussing U.S. infrastructure. Be sure to mark your schedule for the closing Learning Center session with Jolene Brown, Iowa grain farmer and professional speaker, who will discuss leadership, family businesses and overcoming challenges.

This year’s Learning Center line-up is sure to provide farmers with the information they need for a productive 2014 season.

For a complete list of Learning Center speakers and times, visit the 2014 Commodity Classic website.

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex.

Presented annually by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show. The event offers a wide range of learning and networking opportunities for growers in the areas of production, policy, marketing, management and stewardship—as well as showcasing the latest in equipment, technology and innovation. Check out the 2014 Commodity Classic website for additional information.

2013 Harvest Report Indicates High Quality US Corn Ready to Market

Record production, high quality and minor weather-related impacts are the top-line findings of the 2013/2014 Corn Harvest Quality Report, released last week by the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member.

"After a record drought last year, the world has been watching intently the 2013 U.S. corn crop," said USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight. "Production has rebounded, and quality is high despite some weather challenges. It's good news all around."

Total U.S. corn production of 13,989 million bushels set a new all-time record, and the average yield of 160.4 bushels/acre is the second highest on record. Weather was again the challenge, as a cold and wet spring delayed planting across much of the Corn Belt. Some areas also experienced flash-drought conditions in mid-summer, although this was generally offset by cooler temperatures.

These weather adversities slightly reduced planted acreage and yield, while harvest quality remained very high. As compared to prior years, weather related impacts were modest and predictable. Aflatoxins were significantly lower than in the 2012 crop, with 99.4 percent of the samples testing below the FDA aflatoxin action level of 20 parts per billion. Starch content was up, while protein content, which is inversely related to starch, was down slightly. Oil content was similar to 2011 and 2012. Moisture content, reflecting weather conditions, was slightly higher, as were stress cracks, but total damage levels remained very low, comparable to 2012 and below 2011 levels. Average test weight remained well above the limit for No. 1 grade corn, indicating overall good quality.

"The report compares a wide range of quality factors across time," Sleight noted, "and after the rollercoaster ride last year, the message in 2013 was that there were no surprises. A few test factors ticked up, others ticked down, consistent with weather conditions, while overall quality at harvest was very high. With record production, this is certainly a good news report."

Corn quality will be affected by further handling, so the Council annually publishes a second report, the Corn Export Quality Report, which assesses quality at the point of loading for international shipment. The full 2013/2014 Export Quality Report will be published in March 2014.

The two reports, utilizing consistent methodology to permit the assessment of trends over time, provide reliable, timely and transparent information on the quality of U.S. corn as it moves through export channels.

"The takeaway message this year is that the United States has abundant supplies of high quality corn," Sleight said. "We would remind buyers that they will get the quality level that they contract for, but with record production and good quality, it is a buyers' market as we head into 2014."

Vilsack Reports Progress at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today reported progress on a number of trade issues with China as a result of the 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which wrapped up today in Beijing.

The JCCT is the highest level bilateral forum for the resolution of trade and investment issues between the United States and China.  Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman co-chaired the JCCT with China's Vice Premier Wang Yang.

"My discussions with Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese leaders laid the groundwork for future cooperation related to our shared interests in food security, food safety, and sustainability, as well as the expansion of export opportunities for American farmers and ranchers," Vilsack said.

At the JCCT, a number of high-priority issues for agriculture were discussed, including access for beef and horticultural products, the approval process for biotechnology products, and import suspensions for four states related to avian influenza.

On beef access, the United States and China reached consensus to continued dialogue, with the intention to restore market access by the middle of 2014.

On horticulture, the Secretary re-affirmed a pathway for re-opening China's market for Washington apples and California citrus.

On biotechnology, the Secretary conveyed a need to streamline China's biotech approval process, and gave his commitment to begin implementation of a pilot program on the review of biotechnology products.  China also agreed to discuss U.S. concerns regarding China's requirement for the use of viable seed in applications for biotechnology approvals.

On avian influenza, the Secretary raised lifting bans on poultry due to avian influenza.  China responded that they were analyzing information provided by USDA.

In his separate discussions with Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, the Secretary shared a proposal for a revised Memorandum of Understanding focused on science and technology cooperation in the field of agriculture.

The two countries also committed to hold a second High Level Agricultural Symposium in 2014, with support from the U.S.-China Agriculture and Food Partnership (AFP).  The recently formed AFP also organized a kick-off reception in honor of Secretary Vilsack's visit, including a broad range of U.S. and Chinese agribusiness leaders and high-level Chinese government officials.

ADM Settles Corruption Charges

Archer Daniels Midland Co. has agreed to pay more than $36 million to settle charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that it failed to prevent bribes by its subsidiaries in Germany and Ukraine, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday.

The SEC said the subsidiaries paid more than $21 million to bribe government officials through intermediaries to receive value-added tax refunds. The alleged bribery lasted from 2002 to 2008, and netted about $33 million in illegal profits, according to the commission.

In a parallel action, the Justice Department said the company's subsidiary in Ukraine pleaded guilty to settle bribery charges and agreed to pay more than $17 million.

The company entered into a nonprosecution agreement with the department, as well.

"ADM's lackluster antibribery controls enabled its subsidiaries to get preferential refund treatment by paying off foreign government officials," Gerald Hodgkins, an associate director in the SEC's Division of Enforcement, said.

Archer Daniels Midland Chairman and Chief Executive Patricia Woertz said the company became aware of questionable transactions in 2008, conducted an investigation and then disclosed the matter to U.S. and foreign authorities in 2009.

"The conduct that led to this settlement was regrettable, but I believe we handled our response in the right way and that the steps we took, including self-reporting, underscore our commitment to conducting business ethically and responsibly," Ms. Woertz said.