Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday January 31 Ag News

2013 Young Cattlemen's Conference Creates Future Leaders

Listen to consumers’ questions and concerns regarding the beef industry. Have a goal in mind to create a great eating experience for that consumer. Work together closely with other segments of the beef industry, sharing both in the hardships and the successes.  Learn what it takes to become a leader in the beef industry. And, most importantly, be proud of what you do as a cattleman or cattlewomen in raising beef to feed the world.

These are the main focuses of the Nebraska Cattlemen Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC) which was held January 22nd thru January 24th in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Over the 3 day experience, participants were able to tour Cargill facilities in Schuyler and Nebraska City and also Sysco Corporation in Lincoln. Beef 101 training was held at the University of Nebraska Lincoln where participants learned about retail meat cutting, value-added products, and lean finely textured beef. Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach took time to meet with participants. Also, attendees were able to network and create relationships with others in industry.

Ten young cattlemen and cattlewomen join together to participate in YCC each year.  The program is a comprehensive, tour of beef industry sectors, created to enhance leadership skills in beef industry professionals. To qualify for participation, a man or woman must be nominated by one of Nebraska Cattlemen’s affiliate members, be between the ages of 25 and 50, and be a Nebraska Cattlemen member.

Food Processing Center Ice Cream Contest for High School Sophomores, Juniors

Who hasn't stood in front of a grocery freezer or in line at a dairy store and thought, "Boy, do I have a great idea for an ice cream flavor"? Well, now's your chance to back up your sweet talking.

The Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is sponsoring a contest for Nebraska's high school sophomore and junior students to create a new ice cream flavor. Participants may use extracts, colors, sauces and purees alone or in combination.  Solid additions, such as chocolate chips, cookie pieces or nuts, are allowed, but not required.  Additions may be varied and multiple, but items with a high moisture content – fruit, for example – must be stabilized so they have a good texture.  Fruit can be stabilized by cooking in a sugar base; The Food Processing Center website offers advice:  One swirl is allowed, but not required.  Making the flavor prior to recipe submission is not required; however, if you choose to do so, a base mix recipe is offered here: All submissions will be assessed by a team of experts and only a limited number will be further developed by The Food Processing Center for evaluation.  Final product development will be performed by The Food Processing Center.  The winning recipe will become the sole property of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

While considering ingredients, participants should keep in mind there will be financial restrictions to ready the recipe for commercial production.  Entries will be evaluated on the basis of uniqueness of concept, overall appeal and feasibility.  The current flavors should not be replicated; the Dairy Store website lists those flavors:

Participants must provide a list of ingredients to be used in the recipe.  A list of commercial ingredients is listed at  Those who use a "home-made" ingredient recipe should supply instructions on how to prepare the ingredients from scratch.

Entry deadline is April 2, with the winner announced by April 30.  The winning student will be notified before public announcement, and will have the opportunity to visit UNL to participate in the final production run of the winning flavor.  The public will enjoy the award winning flavor at The Food Processing Center's 30th Year Anniversary Open House June 9.

At the open house, the student will be recognized and awarded a scholarship by Rolando Flores, director of The Food Processing Center.  The $1,500 scholarship is contingent on the student enrolling at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in a declared food science and technology major.  To learn more about the Department of Food Science and Technology, visit; to learn more about The Food Processing Center, visit

Email or send your application and agreement form, found at, along with your recipe as noted on the on the form.  If you have any questions, email or call Jonathan Hnosko ( at 402-472-2267 or Lori Byrne ( at 402-472-3991.

Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers May File USDA Discrimination Claims

“Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices from the USDA must file a claim by March 25, 2013 in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness,” said Farm Service Agency Director Dan Steinkruger.

The process offers a voluntary alternative to litigation for each Hispanic or female farmer and rancher who can provide that USDA denied their applications for loan or loan servicing assistance for discriminatory reasons for certain time periods between 1981 and 2000.

Call center representatives can be reached at 1-888-508-4429.  Claimants must register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) and the claim package will be mailed to claimants.  All those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages are encouraged to contact the website or claims telephone number:
    Phone:  1-888-508-4429
    Claims Period:  Ends March 25, 2013

Independent legal services companies will administer the claims process and adjudicate the claims.  Although there are no filing fees to participate and a lawyer is not required to participate in the claims process, persons seeking legal advice may contact a lawyer or other legal services provider.

Steinkruger noted, “We have about seven weeks left in this claims period for filing.  Individuals may contact the call center or their local USDA Service Center for more information.”

ASA Backs Bill Eliminating Duplicative Pesticide Permit Requirements

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes legislation introduced yesterday from Senate Agriculture Committee members Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to eliminate the duplicative pesticide permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act. The bill, S. 175, will ensure that Clean Water Act permits are not needed for the applications of pesticides currently registered under FIFRA. ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., issues the following statement on the legislation:

“The elimination of these redundant pesticide permitting requirements has been a priority for ASA since 2010, and we are very supportive of Senator Roberts and Senator Johanns in their efforts to reduce the red tape for our farmers. Farmers are always willing to cooperate with regulations based on sound science and grounded in practical, real-world farming practices. This legislation will remove the uncertainty that the current system creates, while leaving well-established rules in place to effectively protect the environment. We commend Senators Roberts and Johanns on their work, and call on the Senate to pass this bill quickly.”

ASA’s Biotech Working Group Meets in Washington D.C.

ASA’s Biotech Working Group met Jan. 30-31 in Washington, D.C. to continue working with industry partners to advocate for the next generation of biotech soybean traits. The working group comprises farmer leaders from ASA, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC). Together with corporate members BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow, DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta, they met for discussions on the domestic and international working group’s reports and updates, U.S. regulatory environment and improvements/setbacks, a European Union (EU) biotech update, and potential future missions.

Additionally, representatives from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) including Dr. Cathy Enright, BIO’s executive vice president for food and agriculture, gave updates on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) established last fall between ASA, BIO, the National Grain and Feed Association, American Seed Trade Association, National Corn Growers Association, North American Export Grain Association, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association and U.S. Grains Council. The MOU brings together the resources of the participating organizations to strengthen communication throughout the value chain on biotech and marketability issues.

Senators Introduce Bill to Extend Expired Disaster Assistance

Three Senators introduced a bill this week to extend agriculture disaster assistance programs that expired at the end of 2011 fiscal year and were not part of the 2008 Farm Bill extension.

Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who is also chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said they hope the legislation will be approved to provide funding for 2012 and 2013 while Congress works to pass a new long-term farm bill.

The legislation introduced this week is meant to help the farmers and ranchers who have been left with no support while recovering from severe fires and drought that swept the country last year.

The livestock disaster programs that would be extended by the bill include the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP).

The legislation would allow USDA to use “such sums as necessary” to make livestock indemnity payments to producers who have suffered losses due to adverse weather or losses due to attacks by animals reintroduced to the wild by the federal government. The bill would also provide assistance for weather-related forage losses.

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) are also included in this bill, which would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to use “such sums as necessary” to provide assistance to orchardists and nursery tree growers who have faced natural disasters.

Baucus and Stabenow have a history of working together on disaster programs, including creating the Livestock Disaster Assistance Program in the 2008 Farm Bill. The language of this bill was included in the Senate-passed farm bill draft that was approved June 21, 2012, and Baucus also introduced it separately in 2012.  

2012 Brief: U.S. ethanol prices and production lower compared to 2011

(from EIA)

Spot prices for U.S. fuel ethanol were lower throughout most of 2012 compared to 2011. Prices were relatively stable during the first half of 2012, but they rose at mid-year as severe drought and scorching temperatures reduced corn yields, resulting in higher prices for corn that is used to make nearly all U.S. ethanol.

Ethanol spot prices rose from a low of around $2 per gallon in mid-June to a 2012 peak of $2.61 in late July. However, that was still 30 cents per gallon lower than the peak spot price at about the same time in 2011. Ethanol prices last year did not rise above 2011 levels until December 2012.

Higher ethanol prices during the second half of 2012 were mainly the result of higher corn prices, which rose 35% from mid-June through August because of concerns that the corn crop would be affected by the worst drought in the Midwest since the 1950s, coupled with triple-digit temperatures. During the hot and dry summer of 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 88% of the U.S. corn crop was within a drought area. The 2012-13 U.S. corn crop is expected to be the smallest in six years at nearly 10.8 billion bushels, according to USDA's January 2013 crop forecast, 13% smaller than the 2011-12 crop. USDA indicates that about 4.5 billion bushels, or 42% of the harvest, will go to make ethanol. That level is down from just over 5 billion bushels used to make ethanol during the previous crop year.

The combination of lower corn supplies, higher corn prices for ethanol producers, and weaker gasoline demand contributed to U.S. ethanol output falling from an average 900,000 barrels per day (bbl/day) during the first half of 2012 to an average of 815,000 bbl/day during in latter half, about 90,000 bbl/day less than in the second half of 2011, according to EIA data.

Ethanol production capacity was little changed in 2012. There were 194 ethanol plants in the United States at the beginning of 2012, with a maximum sustainable production capacity of 934,000 bbl/day, according to EIA. That level is slightly higher than 193 plants a year earlier, with a sustainable capacity of 929,000 bbl/day of ethanol.

Partly because of lower domestic ethanol production during the second half of 2012, the United States became a net importer of ethanol in August 2012 for the first time since January 2010. The United States continued to import more ethanol, mostly sugar cane-based ethanol from Brazil, than it exported through October 2012, according to the latest available data.

Most gasoline sold in the United States contains 10% ethanol by volume. However, gasoline that is 15% ethanol, which the Environmental Protection Agency approved as E15 in 2011 for use in vehicles built since the 2001 model year, began selling last summer. Use of E15 was extremely small during 2012, as only eight fueling stations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa were selling the motor fuel by the end of the year.

Corn Harvest Quality Report: High Marks from Foreign Buyers

"What we heard from buyers was essentially, 'this is great information, and we want more,'" said U.S. Grains Council Chairman Don Fast. "Since the Corn Harvest Quality Report was developed to serve buyers, it's good to know that we're hitting the mark."

Fast and Bill Kubecka, USGC sorghum sector director, participated recently in the rollout of the Harvest Report 2012/13 at a series of nine well-attended buyer seminars in Colombia and Mexico, two countries with a rapidly growing middle class and significant growth potential for U.S. coarse grains and DDGS exports. In only its second year, the Council's Corn Harvest Quality Report has already become a recognized and trusted resource for buyers interested in sourcing from the United States.

The Harvest Report 2012/13 presents detailed qualitative information on the current U.S. corn crop. "Since 2009, due to perceived quality issues with the U.S. crop, Colombia has been trying to diversify its suppliers," noted Fast, "and in both countries, recent price differentials have opened the door to South American competitors.

"But buyers also expressed a clear interest in continuing to buy U.S. corn, sorghum, and DDGS. The Corn Harvest Quality Report responds directly to lingering quality concerns. It puts us ahead of the competition. These markets will respond when the drought ends and U.S. production rebounds."

Fast and Kubecka were accompanied by Alvaro Cordero, manager of global trade in the Council's Washington, D.C., office, Julio Hernandez, USGC Mexico director, and Kurt Shultz, USGC regional director for the Americas. The Corn Harvest Quality Report is also being presented in other key markets by the Council's global international staff. The second annual Corn Export Cargo Quality Report, which details the U.S. crop at the point of export shipment, will be published this Spring.

EPA Proposes 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program (RFS2).

The proposal announced today will be open for a 45-day public comment period and EPA will consider feedback from a range of stakeholders before the proposal is finalized. EPA continues to support the use of renewable fuels within the transportation sector through the RFS2 program, which encourages innovation, strengthens American energy security, and decreases greenhouse gas pollution.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established the RFS2 program and the annual renewable fuel volume targets, which steadily increase to an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner and importer determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must ensure is used in its transportation fuel.

The proposed 2013 overall volumes and standards are:
-  Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.12 percent)
-  Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.60 percent)
-  Cellulosic biofuels (14 million gallons; 0.008 percent)
-  Total renewable fuels (16.55 billion gallons; 9.63 percent)

Overall, EPA’s RFS2 program encourages greater use of renewable fuels, including advanced biofuels. For 2013, the program is proposing to implement EISA’s requirement to blend more than 1.35 billion gallons of renewable fuels over the amount mandated for 2012.

More information on the standards and regulations: 

RFA on 2013 RFS Proposal: Program Working, But Imports a Concern

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released its long-awaited proposed rule for 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumetric requirements. The proposal waives the cellulosic biofuel requirement from one billion gallons to 14 million gallons, but retains overall advanced biofuel and renewable fuel requirements. In response, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen offered the following comments:

“The 2013 RFS requirements will be the catalyst that finally compels oil companies to get serious about breaching the so-called blend wall. This year’s RFS requirements will necessitate the use of more E15, E85 and other higher-level blends. Injecting larger volumes of biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply and spurring a more rapid transition to domestically produced renewables is exactly what the RFS was intended to do. The program is working as envisioned by Congress.

“EPA again considered the best available information — including projections from the Energy Information Administration — to set the 2013 cellulosic biofuel requirement. The proposed standard in no way exaggerates the volumes that will be available in 2013 based on current information, and may ultimately prove to be conservative. Cellulosic ethanol is being produced today at commercial scale in Florida, and with construction nearing completion at several other commercial sites, we fully expect 2013 to be the breakthrough year for cellulosic ethanol. At the same time, the fact that EPA waived 98.6 percent of the statutory cellulosic biofuel standard demonstrates the extraordinary flexibility and adaptability of the RFS program.

“We are concerned, however, that the proposed 2013 advanced biofuel standard will open the door even wider to imports of more expensive Brazilian sugarcane ethanol. We hope the requirement can be met with domestic advanced biofuels, like waste-derived ethanol and biodiesel. However, we must be mindful that imports accounted for 92 percent of the 2012 advanced biofuel standard. In an unconstrained fuel market where E15 and other mid-level blends were broadly available, imports would not be a major concern. However, in today’s constrained market, where oil companies continue to throw up roadblocks to E15 and other mid-level blends, every gallon of imported ethanol is one less gallon of domestically-produced ethanol that will be used. This occurs only because EPA allows more expensive imported Brazilian ethanol to claim the advanced biofuel RIN that is currently trading at $0.48. High-priced sugar ethanol imports began to cannibalize the U.S. market in 2012, and today’s decision potentially adds fuel to the fire.

“RFA will continue to encourage EPA to revisit its lifecycle analysis, which graciously assigns advanced biofuel status to sugarcane ethanol. EPA’s outdated analysis suggests sugarcane ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 52 to 71 percent relative to gasoline. However, the most recent peer-reviewed, published estimate found the range of sugarcane GHG reductions to be 40 to 62 percent, meaning nearly half of current sugarcane imports likely do not meet the 50 percent GHG reduction requirement.”

RFA will be filing comments in response to today’s proposal from EPA.

With regard to EPA's proposal to address biodiesel RIN fraud, Dinneen added, “We're encouraged that EPA has proposed a voluntary mechanism for obligated parties to assure the RINs they are using for compliance actually reflect a gallon produced. It addresses a major concern oil companies have raised regarding biodiesel RINs and assures the overall integrity of the RFS program. It is important to note that there have been no incidents of RIN fraud with ethanol gallons produced for the RFS in large part because ethanol producers generally do not separate the RINs from the gallons they produced, as is the case with other biofuels.”

Biodiesel Industry Welcomes 2013 Advanced Biofuels Proposal

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) on Thursday welcomed a proposed rule from the EPA establishing this year's Advanced Biofuels requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

"We want to thank the EPA and the entire Obama Administration for standing strong behind these important standards for Advanced Biofuels," said Anne Steckel, NBB's vice president of federal affairs. "The U.S. biodiesel industry is poised and ready to help meet these requirements, and that will mean reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a better economy and more domestic fuel choices for consumers."

"With plants across the country and more than a billion gallons of production last year, the U.S. biodiesel industry is already the leading producer of Advanced Biofuels in the country, accounting for more than 80 percent of required production to date," Steckel added. "The industry is adding new feedstocks and building capacity every year, and this policy will only help us continue that growth."

Biodiesel is the first and only domestic fuel produced on a commercial scale nationwide to meet the EPA's standards as an Advanced Biofuel - meaning it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent compared with petroleum diesel. According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent, depending on the feedstock used to produce it. The industry has exceeded the RFS production requirements for two consecutive years, and in 2012 it produced nearly 1.1 billion gallons of fuel, with plants in nearly every state in the country supporting more than 64,000 jobs.

Under the RFS, the Biomass-based Diesel requirement is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuel requirement. For 2013, the EPA's proposal calls for an overall Advanced Biofuel requirement of 2.75 billion gallons. Within that total, the Biomass-based Diesel requirement - which has already been finalized and was not a part of today's announcement - is 1.28 billion gallons. Refiners have the option of using biodiesel or other EPA-designated Advanced Biofuels to help fill the remaining overall Advanced Biofuel pool, and many experts are predicting that biodiesel will play an increasing role in doing so this year.

2013 RFS Targets For Cellulosic Biofuels On Target, Cellulosic Biofuels Coming Online

In response to the release today of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume standards for 2013, Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) released the following statement:

“The advanced ethanol industry appreciates U.S. EPA’s due diligence on getting to the right number on cellulosic biofuels. The cellulosic biofuels industry is just breaking through at commercial scale with the most innovative and cleanest liquid fuel in the world. U.S. EPA worked hard to ensure that the cellulosic biofuels volume standard for 2013 would be tied directly to the commercial production of cellulosic biofuels expected to come online this year. While weaning the United States off of its addiction to foreign oil is not easy, the volume standards proposed today will continue to provide advanced biofuel investors and innovators with a predictable and durable path forward in that effort. U.S. EPA’s acknowledgement of the Brazil situation underscores the need to knock down the ethanol blend wall quickly, so that we are not protecting 90 percent of the market exclusively for fossil fuels. The RFS is one the most, if not the most forward-looking and intelligent energy programs ever enacted in the United States. We look forward to finalizing these targets as quickly as possible to provide our investors and fuel producers with the certainty they need to meet the RFS.”

Biodiesel Industry Responds to EPA RIN Integrity Proposal

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) released the following statement Thursday after the EPA issued its proposed rule for addressing fraudulent Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard:

"While we are still reviewing the details, this proposal appears to be another positive step toward ensuring that RIN fraud is a thing of the past," said Anne Steckel, NBB's vice president of federal affairs. "We want to thank the EPA for working aggressively to address this issue and for proposing constructive solutions that will restore confidence in RIN markets."

"This problem was caused by a handful of wrongdoers who took advantage of a good policy for advancing America's energy security," Steckel added. "Two of those people are now facing significant prison time, and that enforcement along with these tightened regulations will go a long way toward preventing anything like this from happening again."

NBB intends to continue working cooperatively with the EPA and our partners in the petroleum sector in bringing this issue to closure.

January Farm Prices Received Index Increased 18 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in January, at 217 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 18 points (9.0 percent) from December. The Crop Index is up 22 points (9.7 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 2 points (1.2 percent). Producers received higher prices for lettuce, broilers, cattle, and corn and lower prices for milk, soybeans, eggs, and wheat. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of corn, soybeans, rice, and strawberries offset the decreased marketing of broilers, milk, wheat, and upland cotton.

Prices Paid Index up 3 Points
The January Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 221 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is up 3 points (1.4 percent) from December and 11 points (5.2 percent) above January 2012. Higher prices in January for cash rent, nitrogen, other services, and taxes offset lower prices for diesel, interest, complete feeds, and mixed fertilizer.

Prices Received by Farmers
The January All Farm Products Index is 217 percent of its 1990-1992 base, up 9.0 percent from the December index and 15 percent above the January 2012 index.

All crops:
The January index, at 248, is up 9.7 percent from December and 17 percent above January 2012. Index increases for commercial vegetables and feed grains & hay more than offset the index decreases for fruits & nuts and oilseeds.

Food grains: The January index, at 259, is down 2.6 percent from the previous month but 11 percent above a year ago. The January price for all wheat, at $8.10 per bushel, is down 19 cents from December but $1.05 above January 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The January index, at 301, is up 2.4 percent from last month and 15 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $6.98 per bushel, is 11 cents higher than last month and 91 cents above January 2012. The all hay price, at $191 per ton, is down $1.00 from December but $19.00 higher than last January. Sorghum grain, at $12.10 per cwt, is 10 cents lower than December but $1.30 above January last year.

Cotton, Upland: The January index, at 120, is up 1.7 percent from December but 19 percent below last year. The January price, at 72.7 cents per pound, is 1.4 cents higher than the previous month but 17.4 cents below last January.

Oilseeds: The January index, at 250, is down 1.6 percent from December but 17 percent higher than January 2012. The soybean price, at $14.10 per bushel, is down 20 cents from December but is $2.20 above January 2012.

Livestock and products:
The January index, at 168, is 1.2 percent above last month and 7.7 percent higher than January 2012. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for broilers, milk, cattle, and eggs. The price for calves is unchanged. Prices for turkeys and hogs are down from last year.

Meat animals: The January index, at 165, is up 3.1 percent from last month and 1.2 percent higher than last year. The January hog price, at $62.90 per cwt, is up 50 cents from December but 60 cents lower than a year ago. The January beef cattle price of $128 per cwt is $4.00 higher than last month and up $3.00 from January 2012.

Dairy products: The January index, at 153, is down 4.4 percent from a month ago but 5.5 percent higher than January last year. The January all milk price of $20.00 per cwt is down 90 cents from last month but $1.00 higher than January 2012.

Restricted Vessel Traffic Permitted on Mississippi River

(AP) -- The Coast Guard is permitting restricted commercial vessel traffic on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Miss., as crews work to remove oil from a leaking barge, a Guard spokesman said Thursday.

Chief Petty Officer Paul Roszkowski said southbound commercial traffic was being allowed to pass through the area during daylight hours and northbound commercial traffic will be permitted to move at night.

A 16-mile stretch of the river was closed Sunday after two oil barges hit a railroad bridge and one of them started leaking light crude.

The Coast Guard allowed the first barges to pass Wednesday to test how the movement on the river would affect efforts to clean up the leaking oil and take it off the damaged barge.

"We understand the impact that the closure has had on industry and commerce. One of our main goals besides cleaning up the accident is getting traffic moving again. We will push to keep traffic moving as long as it is safe and doesn't impact operations," Roszkowski said.

At times there have been more than 70 vessels, including tow boats, and hundreds of barges idled at the affected section of the river that separates Mississippi and Louisiana. The numbers fluctuate as the barges are let through and others arrive.

Next-generation scientists to attend National Biodiesel Conference 

Jeremy Ferrell, a Ph.D student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, sees great potential for biodiesel to help revitalize rural areas once dominated by tobacco.  It's one reason he chose to pursue a career in energy and environment science, and today he conducts biodiesel research at an industrial ecology project in North Carolina.

"What fascinates me about biodiesel is its diversity across numerous sectors," Ferrell said. "The opportunity for biodiesel to enhance rural economies is one of the things that drives my career." 

Ferrell is one of 16 college students with a unique opportunity to grow their passion for biodiesel at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Feb. 4-7 in Las Vegas.  The National Biodiesel Board views student participation as important since many students are already working on exciting biodiesel research, and are future industry leaders.

"They are often called 'student scientists,' but the reality is that these are full-fledged scientists, contributing to the large body of work that makes up biofuels research in this country," said NBB Technical Project Manager Kyle Anderson.  "There is tremendous potential for this NBB program to have a lasting impact on biodiesel research.  It's a great investment to share solid information and build relationships with tomorrow's scientific thought leaders."

The scholarships are awarded to selected applicants who are members of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, an NBB program that aims to educate and collaborate with young scientists.  The United Soybean Board also supports the program through the soybean checkoff.

"I believe the conference will present engaging information and activities that will allow me to solidify my knowledge, and strengthen research and career interests that I hope to pursue in my professional life," said Nina De la Rosa, an Environmental Studies student at Florida International University in Miami.  "The knowledge and professional network I gain from this conference will only allow my passion for biofuels to grow and strengthen my commitment to continue in a field that will remain of high importance in our quest for global sustainability."

Like many of the other scholars, De la Rosa and Ferrell will present posters on their research during the event.  This is the second year the conference has hosted a poster session. 

The scholarships are funded by state soybean organizations and USB.  The students come from a wide array of institutions, including:
    Utah State University
    Clemson University
    University of Colorado - Boulder
    Southern Illinois University
    University of Cincinnati
    Iowa State University
    Texas A&M
    University of Texas at Arlington
    Dartmouth College

Argentine Soy, Corn Gasping For Rain

Argentine soybean and corn crops are starting to really feel the impact of dry weather over the last month and productive potential is under threat, said the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange in a report late Wednesday.  After an extremely wet second half of 2012, the tap turned off in 2013 and some early-planted soybeans are already suffering badly, while most are in desperate need of moisture or their productive capacity will decline, said the report.  "Rains are needed immediately to interrupt the gradual deterioration before losses begin to take on greater momentum," it said.

Corn is also in desperate need of rain as the harvest begins in the north.  In Cordoba, a major corn area, the grains are suffering not only from a lack of rain but also high temperatures, which is affecting grain filling.  Forecast rain over the next couple of days for Buenos Aires province, the main corn area, does provide hope that some crops can recover there.

Olson, Mitchell Open National Farmers Convention in Kansas City

National Farmers President Paul Olson, Taylor, Wis., in his message at the Connect to Profit national convention in Kansas City, Mo., Jan. 29, acknowledged concerns in the ag industry regarding producers’ access to markets, increasing foreign ownership of milk buyers, lack of ag competition and the need for a farm bill.

He recognized the effects of the global food economy that touch producers every day, and how rapidly the global nature of the industry causes markets to move. He noted National Farmers staff and leaders have long been proponents and pioneers of ag risk management tools to help farmers profit.

“All this makes it more important than ever to have an agent in the markets,” he said. And National Farmers represents producers in the marketplace every day.

Another presenter agreed with Olson’s conviction for passage of a new farm bill. GIPSA Administrator Larry Mitchell addressed National Farmers members Tuesday morning and said both he and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are awaiting passage of a farm, food and jobs act. He also noted the need for implementation of the new GIPSA rule regarding livestock marketing.

Mitchell talked about the inside workings of grain inspection and GIPSA’s commitment to protect the U.S. high-quality grain reputation worldwide. He also noted his division helps protect grain and livestock producers through oversight and inspection, ensuring grain and livestock quality and payment to livestock producers.

In a question and answer session, Mitchell explained GIPSA testing is critical for the Risk Management Agency as well as for crop insurance integrity.

Mitchell said GIPSA is preparing a succession plan for staff as a majority of workers near retirement.

National Farmers annual farm business marketing meeting continues at AG CONNECT Expo and Summit in Kansas City, Mo., this week.

Persistent Drought Worries Producers

At National Farmers Connect to Profit Convention in Kansas City Tuesday, Senior Grain Marketing Analyst Pete Lorenz spoke about severe drought conditions gripping the nation’s farm lands.

We see real risk for production problems this coming year in wheat, and in some corn areas, because of the drought, Lorenz said. “In Kansas, where I live, the state’s wheat crop is in the poorest condition it has been in 50 years. And I’ve heard South Dakota hasn’t seen crop conditions this poor in history,” Lorenz emphasized.

Weather condition and potential crop losses could lead to extreme market volatility. And it makes marketing plans that much more of a necessity. A combination of all risk management tools, options, forward contracts and other marketing strategies will be needed this year. The Crop insurance sign up deadline is March 15 for Spring—planted crops.

With inadequate subsoil moisture in western Kansas, Lorenz has heard reports of people digging six feet down, without finding moisture — encountering nothing but dust. This puts Spring—planted crops at severe risk. “It will take several rain events to replenish topsoil and subsoil levels, according to Lorenz.

Last year, wheat began growing in February, because warm weather came early. “Once the wheat comes out of dormancy this year, if we don’t receive rain in two to four weeks, there could be a serious problem,” he said.

Additionally, National Farmers Crop Insurance Agent Chris Webb pointed out crop insurance is a win-win for consumers and producers. Even with the 2012 drought, government made no major disaster outlays last year, despite the historic drought.

Lorenz is presenting to grain growers in Kansas City this week during National Farmers Connect to Profit Convention, at AG CONNECT Expo and Summit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday January 30 Ag News

Johanns, Roberts Introduce Bill to Eliminate Costly and Redundant EPA Pesticide Permit Requirements

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) have introduced legislation to eliminate a burdensome, costly and redundant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit requirement for applications of pesticides.

"Not only is EPA pursuing regulations that are economically crippling, they are also pursuing regulations that are clearly duplicative,” Johanns said. “The agenda being pushed by this Administration’s EPA amounts to more red tape, more roadblocks and more needless headaches. President Obama has repeatedly promised to eliminate duplicative regulations, but actions speak louder than words. That’s why we’re acting on an economically and environmentally responsible solution to this government-made problem.”

Roberts said, “This double layer of red tape is costly to the agriculture industry and consumers. It also takes aim at public health departments by requiring permits on top of existing permits for pesticide use. This creates confusion and the potential for significant penalties. Our bill eliminates this redundant permit requirement while at the same time ensuring proper pesticide use through existing law.”

At issue is the January 2009, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in National Cotton Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that requires pesticide applications to be permitted under the Clean Water Act. This National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is now in addition to any label requirements or restrictions already placed on the use of a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Since early 2012, the EPA has enforced a now permanent rule in response to the Sixth Circuit Court ruling requiring approximately 35,000 pesticide applicators to get permits to cover about 500,000 applications per year. EPA estimates determined the permit rule will cost states, local entities and pesticide applicators $50 million and require one million hours to implement per year. Under the Clean Water Act, unlawful discharges are subject to $37,500 per day in fines.

This requirement is of particular concern for public health officials who are now restricted in their ability to control mosquitoes, and the spread of diseases like the West Nile virus. It is also a significant issue for agriculture.

The Roberts and Johanns bill, S. 175, ensures Clean Water Act permits are not needed for the applications of pesticides and amends FIFRA by stating that no permit shall be required for the use of a pesticide that is registered under FIFRA. Roberts introduced the same legislation in the last Congress where it was blocked from consideration on the Senate floor. Also in the 112th Congress, the House and the Senate Agriculture Committee passed similar legislation, H.R. 872, with strong bipartisan support.

The bill has the following original cosponsors: Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roy Blunt (R-MO) John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), David Vitter (R-LA), Michael Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK) and John Boozman (R-AR).

Farm Lending Soars at Commercial Banks

Jason Henderson, Omaha Branch Executive, KC Fed

Farm lending at commercial banks accelerated in the fourth quarter after solid gains in previous months. According to a November survey of U.S. commercial banks, bank lending for feeder livestock and current operating expenses rose sharply compared to last year. Escalating feed and livestock costs contributed to higher lending activity to livestock operations. In addition, high fuel costs during harvest and rising fertilizer and seed prices prompted crop producers to pre-pay for 2013 crop inputs. As a result, non-real estate loan volumes for current operating expenses, including crop inputs and feed, doubled year-ago volumes, and loan volumes for feeder livestock remained well above a year ago.

Banker survey respondents also reported a fourth-quarter spike in farm machinery and equipment loans. After picking up in the third quarter, lending for farm machinery and equipment surged as farmers made capital purchases prior to the expiration of accelerated depreciation at the end of 2012. In addition, lending for other intermediate loans for unspecified purposes also rose sharply during the quarter.

During the third quarter, farmland values climbed higher following an early harvest. The drought appeared to have little effect on the demand for farmland, especially in the Corn Belt and Central Plains where prices reached another record high. With a robust farmland market, commercial banks reported a surge in farm real estate loan volumes heading into the fourth quarter. Elevated farmland prices and potential changes in tax policies motivated more land owners to sell before the end of the year. As a result, most agricultural bankers expected gains in farmland values to moderate during the next year and level off at record high levels.

With ample funds for farm loans, strengthening loan demand fueled intense competition for agricultural lending activity among financial institutions. Farm interest rates fell to new lows, with some banks easing collateral requirements. Interest rates were the lowest at large banks that offered more loans with floating interest rates. Loan-to-deposit ratios firmed with higher loan volumes, and the average return on assets at agricultural banks reached a five-year high during the third quarter.  

To read the entire report, click here...  

Pre-Registration Savings for Alfalfa Expo End at Noon on Friday, February 1st

If you're planning on attending the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo and Conference on February 5 & 6 in Kearney, Nebraska, you only have until this Friday to save 50 percent on the registration costs. Registration is available online at for just $10 until noon this Friday, February 1.  Registration at the door is $20 per person. Participants under the age of 18 are admitted at no charge.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (N.A.M.A.), the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference will be held at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney, Nebraska, February 5 and 6, 2013. The event is designed especially for alfalfa producers, livestock/dairy producers and others who are involved in alfalfa production, purchasing, hay feeding or processing.

Registration includes admission to all presentations and programs, a Tuesday afternoon reception, dinner Tuesday evening, admission to the large alfalfa industry trade show and the opportunity to bid in the fundraising auction that takes place Tuesday afternoon. The auction features a wide range of items including seed, harvesting equipment, supplies and other valuable products and services.

Dr. Dan Undersander, professor of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is leading several sessions as part of an abbreviated Alfalfa Intensive Training Seminar, the full version of which was developed for the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance. Material being utilized for the Alfalfa Expo & Conference, however, is being organized and focused more intently toward producers. Winter survival following a drought and how to best manage through that situation will be one of the key topics discussed.

A new event this year, the "Forage Olympics", will pit teams of alfalfa producers and other conference participants competing in timed events such as hay strapping, stacking square bales and rolling large round bales.

For more information, call 1.800.743.1649 or visit

Iowa Beef Industry Council Elects 2013 Officers

Scott Niess, cow-calf producer and cattle feeder from Osage, was elected chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) at the January board meeting. Niess will lead the group of cattle producers who oversee the Iowa beef checkoff program.

Roger Brummett, Bedford, will serve as vice-chairman with Scott Heater, Wapello, as secretary and Daryl Strohbehn, Boone, as treasurer. Steve Rehder, cow-calf producer and cattlefeeder from Hawarden, was seated as a new director on the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC). Elected at the IBIC annual meeting in December, Rehder will serve a three-year term.

Other members serving on the IBIC Executive Committee are Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture; Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University; and Joe Wright, Knoxville, representing the Iowa Livestock Market Association.

Seven cattle producers appointed to one-year terms include Dan Schmitt, Waukon; Tom Shipley, Nodaway; Dan Cook, New Providence; Terri Carstensen, Odebolt; Scott McGregor, Nashua; Elaine Utesch, Correctionville and Helen Wiese, Manning. Retiring IBIC directors include Ed Greiman, Garner; Nancy Couser, Nevada and Tom Hotz, Lone Tree.

The Iowa Beef Industry Council administers the Iowa portion of the national beef checkoff. The 2012-2013 Iowa budget will invest about $1.6 million in state and national beef promotion, research, consumer information, and industry information programs. In addition, Iowa forwards approximately $1.6 million to the National Cattlemen's Beef Board for national beef promotion programs to market beef domestically and internationally. For more information, contact the Iowa Beef Industry Council, P.O. Box 451, Ames, IA 50010, 515-296-2305.

ASA, FMC, NACHURS Announce Soy Booster Plot Program

The American Soybean Association (ASA) announces a new partnership with FMC Corporation and NACHURS—the 2013 Soy Booster Plot Program. ASA is seeking 125 growers across the soybean-growing region to enroll by the March 2 deadline and conduct a Soy Booster field trial on their farm during the 2013 production season.

ASA, FMC and NACHURS will work with the participating growers to conduct field trials utilizing FMC’s Capture LFR (Liquid Fertilizer Ready) insecticide and NACHURS HKW6 liquid starter fertilizer on soybeans. These trials will give individual soybean farmers the opportunity to observe and measure for themselves how the application of Capture LFR insecticide with HKW6 starter fertilizer will enhance profitable production on their farm.

Growers will need to devote 20 acres treated with Capture LFR and NACHURS HKW6 liquid starter fertilizer and 20 acres untreated. Products for treatment will be provided free of charge and participants must be able to apply the starter fertilizer and liquid insecticide in-furrow to all row units as they seed soybeans.

“ASA is always working on behalf of U.S. soybean producers to increase profitability,” said ASA Vice President and Membership & Corporate Relations Committee Chairman Bob Worth. “We appreciate growers’ participation in this important research. ASA, FMC and NACHURS will partner to educate growers about the use of these tools and techniques.”

Growers who complete the Soy Booster plot program will receive a free 7” Kindle Fire HD, 16 GB with WiFi.

For more information about the Soy Booster Field Trial Program for Soybeans, go to

Soy Checkoff Welcomes Apps for 'See for Yourself'

This summer, 10 U.S. soybean farmers from across the country will get the chance to see how the United Soybean Board (USB) puts their soy checkoff investment to use. To find out who those 10 farmers will be, the national soy checkoff has begun accepting applications for its sixth annual See for Yourself program.

See for Yourself offers farmers the chance to see the checkoff in action and evaluate a wide range of checkoff activities. The 2013 See for Yourself session will take place July 21--27, 2013.

The soy checkoff invites all soybean farmers from around the country to visit and apply. The application deadline is April 1, 2013.

"See for Yourself is truly exceptional," said David Hartke, chair of the USB Audit and Evaluation committee, which sponsors See for Yourself. "Farmer-participants have the chance to see the activities of their checkoff up close, and draw their own conclusions at the same time. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Selected farmer-participants will visit several sites that demonstrate the soy checkoff's efforts to improve the value of U.S. soymeal and oil; ensure soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate; and meet the needs of U.S. soy customers.

Participants will first meet in St. Louis, headquarters of USB, to receive an overview of the organization and see how the checkoff works on behalf of soybean farmers domestically. The group will then travel to a location abroad to learn about the demand for U.S. soy internationally and to see some of the many uses for soy. Examples of what participants might see include the use of biodiesel at a major airport, the importance of soy to animal agriculture, and the use of soy by the food industry. USB will cover all travel, lodging, and meal expenses.

Weekly Production Numbers for 1/25/2013

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 770,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 33.34 million gallons daily. That is down 22,000 b/d from the week before and is the lowest reported output since EIA began collecting data in 2010.  The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 793,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.16 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 20.5 million barrels. That is a 2.3% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol showed 9,000 b/d, down significantly from last week and the lowest in 10 weeks.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 357.0 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.06% — the lowest rate since late August 2012.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 11.675 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 85,934 metric tons of livestock feed, 76,611 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.01 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Russia Confirms Plan to Ban Meat Imports From US

The head of Russia's agriculture watchdog confirmed plans to ban imports of meat and meat products from the U.S. in February amid a dispute over the feed additive ractopamine, Russian news agency Interfax reported Thursday.

Chilled meat will be banned from Feb. 4 and frozen meat will be banned from Feb. 11, said Sergei Dankvert, head of Rosselkhoznadzor.

Russia has pressed the U.S. to guarantee that pork and beef exports contain no traces of ractopamine, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has opposed the trade requirement and said it breaks Russia's commitments as a member of the World Trade Organization.

Russia is one of the top-10 importers of U.S. meat. U.S. beef exports to Russia totaled $254.5 million in the first 11 months of 2012, 21% higher than the previous year, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork exports for the period were valued at $267.8 million.

Rabobank Suggests Supply Discipline to Pork Industry

Rabobank has published a new research report on the global pork industry, in which the bank says that, as a result of continuing high feed costs, the key success factor for the industry will be supply discipline in 2013 and beyond.

Global pork prices have started 2013 at historically strong levels, but in the report, Rabobank's global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team says that it anticipates some weakness in prices in late Q1 and into Q2 due to pressures on production and limited growth in global consumption levels.

The bank forecasts that pork prices in 2013 will be impacted by swing factors including:
-- declines in European production due to sow pen regulations
-- China's appetite for import, and
-- whether U.S. production will continue to expand despite the spike in feed costs.

The pace of pork demand growth is the key unknown for industry margins in 2013, and is highly dependent upon economic growth in the developing world.

Strong Chinese demand ahead of the Chinese New Year in February supported global pork prices early in 2013. However, bank analysts say, price movements in China will be a key indicator for the year as we move into Q2; Rabobank says global pork prices may come under slight pressure because production growth in China, the U.S., Brazil, and Russia is expected to be higher than global consumption growth.

Higher prices for pork are expected and necessary for 2013, as the drought in the U.S. and Black Sea region last year has led to low inventories of feed crops, and adverse weather in pork-producing countries continues to limit production expansion. There is now no margin for error for world crop production, with pork production and pork pricing in the second half of 2013 highly dependent upon crop growing conditions. There is also uncertainty regarding the pace and magnitude of EU enforcement of the ban on sow crates, which Rabobank forecasts will reduce the sow herd, keeping EU pork prices high.

However, Rabobank predicts that global prices will be at a lower average level than previously forecast, since the expected consequence of higher feed costs - herd liquidation - has not occurred, as producers in the U.S. have managed their risk by using futures contracts.

Rabobank analyst David Nelson said, "Despite the higher feed input costs, the U.S. swine breeding herd has modestly expanded and large scale farming continues to develop at a rapid pace in China, Russia and Brazil. There seems to be limited opportunity for a significant increase in pork prices, given this expansion. Chinese hog supplies appear to be sufficient, but recovery in the Chinese economy could stimulate demand growth."

In developed pork markets, the challenge will come from managing soft demand and often excess capacity. As such, supply discipline will remain the key success factor for the pork industry's performance this year and beyond.

Oil Leak Cleanup Continues on MS River

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) -- With more than 50 vessels idled on the water for a fourth day Wednesday, authorities said they still do not know when they will be able to reopen a 16-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has been closed due to an oil spill.

A plan to pump oil from a leaking barge onto another barge -- a process known as lightering -- had been approved but it was unclear how long that would take, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally said Tuesday. He said the other barge was en route.

Severe weather that was expected to sweep through the area could shut down cleanup operations for a time, prolonging the process further, authorities said.

Crews have been working around the clock to contain and remove oil since the barge, owned by Corpus Christi, Texas-based Third Coast Towing LLC, struck a railroad bridge and began leaking early Sunday. The company has refused to comment on the incident.

Lally also noted that about 7,000 gallons of crude oil were unaccounted for aboard the barge. He said it's not clear if all of it spilled into the river or if some seeped into empty spaces inside the barge.

CWT Assists with 8.8 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 30 requests for export assistance from Bongards,
Dairy Farmers of America, Darigold, Foremost Farms, Land O’Lakes, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers
Cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association, United Dairymen of Arizona and Upstate
Niagara/O‐AT‐KA to sell 7.579 million pounds (3,438 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, 
1.160 million pounds (536 metric tons) of butter and 44,092 pounds of whole milk powder to customers in
Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. The product will be delivered February through
June 2013.

Year-to-date CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 14.617 million pounds of cheese, 9.760 million pounds of butter and 88,185 pounds of whole milk powder to 23 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 347.7 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. That is the annual production of 16,500 cows.

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.

CWT will pay export bonuses to the bidders only when delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

USDA Announces Important Updates on the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan Garcia today announced that beginning Feb. 5, USDA will issue payments to dairy farmers enrolled in the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program for the September 2012 marketings. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) through 2013 for many programs administered by FSA, including MILC. The 2008 Farm Bill extension provides for a continuation of the MILC program through Sept. 30, 2013.

MILC payments are triggered when the Boston Class I milk price falls below $16.94 per hundredweight, after adjustment for the cost of dairy feed rations. MILC payments are calculated each month using the latest milk price and feed cost.

As announced by FSA on Jan. 22, all dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically extended to Sept. 30, 2013. Eligible producers therefore do not need to re-enroll in MILC. MILC operations with approved contracts will continue to receive monthly payments, if available.

The payment rate for September 2012 is approximately $0.59 per hundredweight. The payment rate for October 2012 marketings is approximately $0.02 per hundredweight. The payment rate for November 2012 marketings is zero.

Before the October MILC payment can be issued, dairy farmers must complete a new Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) form for 2013. The new form, CCC-933 Average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information, must complete by producers before they can receive payments for a variety of programs administered by FSA and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Producers may obtain CCC-933 at their local USDA Service Center or online at Specific detail about AGI may be found here.

Dairy operations may select a production start month other than October 2012. Producers who want to select a production start month other than October 2012 must visit their local FSA office between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28, 2013, also known as a relief period.

FSA will provide producers with information on program requirements, updates and signups as the information becomes available. For more information on MILC, contact a local FSA county office or visit the FSA website at

Potash Miners Settle Antitrust Cases

Three of the world's largest potash miners said Wednesday they agreed to pay just under $100 million to settle several, private class-action lawsuits that alleged their pricing of the fertilizer ingredient violated U.S. antitrust laws.

The firms, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT, POT.T), Minnesota-based Mosaic Co. (MOS) and Calgary-based Agrium Inc. (AGU, AGU.T), all denied the accusations contained in the suits. In separate statements, they said they agreed to settle and pay fines to avoid the costs of fighting the suits further.

"These allegations are completely without merit and we deny all of the claims asserted," said Potash Corp. Chief Executive Bill Doyle, in a statement. Potash Corp. and Mosaic said they had agreed to pay $43.75 million each in fines to plaintiffs in the suits, some of which date back to 2008. Agrium said that it agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims against it. All settlements are subject to court approval.

The mining of potash, a soil nutrient, long has been controlled by a relatively small group of big players. These three companies, along with two others, account for 66% of the world's potash production.

That group sells most of its output through just two international marketing groups. That allows the industry to function essentially like a cartel, some buyers of the product have alleged over the years.

The current settlements arose out of several lawsuits dating back to 2008, filed by chemical suppliers and agriculture-sales firms, alleging that large potash suppliers, including Potash Corp., Mosaic, Agrium and Russia's JSC Uralkali (URALL, URKA.RS) conspired to fix the price of potash sold in the U.S. from 2003 onwards. The suits were then consolidated into two class-action complaints.

Uralkali, the world's largest producer of potash by volume, settled its claims in September, agreeing to pay $12.75 million. Given that settlement, most analysts expected the North American producers to follow suit.

Stabenow Named Wheat Leader of the Year

The National Association of Wheat Growers presented its highest Congressional award to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on Tuesday, as wheat growers in her home state confirmed their affiliation with the national association.

Stabenow was named the 2012 Wheat Leader of the Year, an award given annually to one Member of Congress based on his or her demonstrated commitment to the well-being and goals of the wheat industry.

Stabenow was chosen to be so honored due to her diligence and leadership on farm bill legislation in the 112th Congress.

“Though a farm bill ultimately didn’t get done last year, our growers are confident that Chairwoman Stabenow did everything in her power to push it forward, and she has already shown her commitment to do the same in this new Congress,” said NAWG President Erik Younggren, a farmer from northern Minnesota. “We are happy to honor her in this way and hope to continue our close relationship with the Chairwoman and her office in the coming years.”

NAWG was also announces the Wheat Advocate Awards and Friend of Wheat Awards
The Wheat Advocate Award is given annually to Members of Congress who have demonstrated support for the wheat industry above and beyond the norm. Those receiving 2012 Wheat Advocate awards include:
    Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
    Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
    Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)
    Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
    Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio)
    Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.)
    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)
    Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
    Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.)
    House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)
    Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
    Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.)

The Friend of Wheat Award is given annually by NAWG for superior action in support of the goals and policies of the wheat industry. This award is given to Congressional and administrative staff members who have demonstrated support for the wheat industry above and beyond the norm. The 2012 Friend of Wheat Awards were given to:
    Andrew Brandt - Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas)
    Jonathan Coppess - Senate Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Mike Dunlap - House Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Bart Fischer - House Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Max Fisher - Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
    Brandon Harder - Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)
    Joel Leftwich - Senate Agriculture Committee Minority Staff
    Dr. David Marshall – USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
    Jim Miller - Senate Budget Committee Majority Staff
    Shaughnessy Murphy - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
    Matt Schertz - House Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Joe Shultz - Senate Agriculture Committee Majority Staff
    Tara Smith - Senate Agriculture Committee Minority Staff
    Alexis Taylor - Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
    Emily Tully - Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio)

For his extensive service to the industry, the NAWG Board also recognized Oklahoma State University wheat breeder and professor, and National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) chairman, Dr. Brett Carver, with a Friend of Wheat Award. This is an exception to policy that calls for all Friends to be employed directly by Congress or an administrative agency.

Representatives from NAWG’s member-states, in town for NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates meetings and Hill visits, will deliver physical awards to all of the winners or they will be presented at a later date.

Brian O’Toole Elected USW Secretary-Treasurer

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors elected Brian O’Toole of Crystal, ND, to serve as Secretary-Treasurer for 2013/14 at its meeting in Washington, DC, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013.

The board elected O’Toole in a slate including Chairman Darrell Davis of Ipswich, SD, who will become Past Chairman, Vice Chairman Dan Hughes of Venango, NE, who will become Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer Roy Motter of Brawley, CA, who will become Vice Chairman. The new USW officers officially begin their one-year terms at the organization’s annual meeting, June 29, 2013, in Rapid City, SD.

O’Toole began his farming career after attending the State School of Science in Wahpeton, ND. He and his cousin Tom O’Toole operate O’Toole Farms where they produce hard red spring and hard red winter wheat, including seed wheat, dry beans, soybeans, corn and sugar beets. In 1996, O’Toole took over a seed cleaning and conditioning business started by his father Richard O’Toole.

“My father saw potential in wheat and that led him to start that seed business,” O’Toole said. “Now I am expanding it because like him, I still see potential in wheat. Running for this office is my commitment to get more involved in developing exports because I think no crop has more potential than wheat to feed the kids in this world.”

O’Toole is an experienced agricultural and community leader. He serves on the North Dakota Wheat Commission, on the board of the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, OR and is Chairman of SBARE Wheat Granting Committee. He is also past president of the North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association and past president of Crystal Farmers Elevator Co-op. O’Toole has received the Young Outstanding Farmer Award, Master Farmer Award and Friends of 4-H Award. Additionally, he and his wife, Sara, were Pembina County NDSU Harvest Bowl Honorees. They have four grown children, two of whom have returned to farming.

Darrell Davis operates a fifth-generation family grain and cattle operation and is a member of South Dakota Wheat Inc., the South Dakota Soybean Association, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, and the South Dakota Cattleman’s Association. Davis is a board member and past president of North Central Farmers Elevator.

Dan Hughes is a third-generation wheat farmer in the southwest corner of Nebraska. His operation includes hard red winter wheat for domestic use and export, as well as hard white wheat grown under contract for ConAgra. He also is a commissioner of the Nebraska Wheat Board, and served as its Chairman from 2008 to 2010.

Roy Motter is managing partner of Spruce Farms, LLC, a diverse operation in California’s Imperial Valley that includes Desert Durum®, lettuce, cabbage, onions, sugar beets, sugar cane, alfalfa seed and hay, sudan grass, melons and tomatoes. He has been a member of the California Wheat Commission since 1998.

Caterpillar Reports Record Sales and Revenues and Profit for 2012; Inventory Reduced $2 Billion in the Fourth Quarter
Despite economic and political uncertainty in the United States, continued economic turmoil in much of Europe and slower growth in China, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) today announced record 2012 sales and revenues of $65.875 billion, an increase of 10 percent from $60.138 billion in 2011.  Profit per share of $8.48 was also an all-time record, including the impact of the previously announced goodwill impairment charge of $0.87 per share related to Siwei.  The 2012 profit per share of $8.48 was up 15 percent from $7.40 in 2011.  Profit was $5.681 billion, an increase of 15 percent from $4.928 billion in 2011.

Fourth-quarter 2012 sales and revenues were $16.075 billion, down $1.168 billion from $17.243 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.  The impact of changes in dealer new machine inventories lowered sales by about $1.4 billion as dealers reduced inventories about $600 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with an increase of about $800 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Fourth-quarter 2012 profit was $697 million compared with $1.547 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Profit was $1.04 per share in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with profit per share of $2.32 in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Fourth-quarter 2012 profit was negatively impacted by the previously announced goodwill impairment charge of $580 million, or $0.87 per share.  Lower sales and revenues and the cost impact from sharply lower production and the $2 billion decline in Caterpillar inventory also had a negative impact on fourth-quarter profit.  Those impacts were partially offset by a $300 million positive impact related to the settlement of prior-year tax returns.

“From an operational standpoint, 2012 was a very successful year with record sales and profit in a tough economic climate.  Considering the weak economy in the United States, along with much of Europe in recession and China slowing, we had a solid year.  Our incremental operating profit pull through was very good, we made progress adjusting inventory levels, and our quality and safety indicators continued to improve,” said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman.

“I'm extremely pleased with our performance on reducing inventory $2 billion in the fourth quarter.  As the world economy began to soften at mid year, we increased our focus on reducing inventory.  Cat dealers also worked to lower their inventories, and, as a result, reduced their order rates during the second half of 2012.  The result was a substantial reduction in our production levels and inventory.  The reductions had a significantly negative impact on fourth-quarter sales and profit.  The $2 billion inventory reduction in the fourth quarter was a remarkable effort, but we're not done.  Reduced production levels are likely to continue at least through the first quarter of 2013 until inventories and dealer order rates move back in line with end-user demand,” Oberhelman added.

2013 Outlook

The outlook for 2013 is sales and revenues in a range of $60 to $68 billion and profit per share of $7.00 to $9.00.

“The range of our 2013 outlook reflects the level of uncertainty we see in the world today.  We're encouraged by recent improvements in economic indicators, but remain cautious.  While we expect some improvement in the U.S. economy, growth is expected to be relatively weak.  We believe China's economy will continue to improve, but not to the growth rates of 2010 and 2011.  We also remain concerned about Europe and expect economies in that region will continue to struggle in 2013," said Oberhelman.  

“If the recent improvement in economic indicators continues, 2013 could be another record year for Caterpillar.  We expect the first half of 2013 will be weaker than the first half of 2012, with better growth in the second half.  However, if, like the last two years, growth and confidence decline in the second half, 2013 could be a tough year.  Either way, as we demonstrated with inventory reductions in the fourth quarter, our team is prepared to execute and deliver,” Oberhelman added.

Monsanto Buys Assets From Agradis

Monsanto Co. has bought assets from a California-based company that uses microbes to improve crop production.

Monsanto also said that it made an equity investment in Synthetic Genomics Inc. and that the two companies reached a multiyear agricultural research agreement

The purchase of assets from Agradis, which Synthetic Genomics co-founded in 2011, includes the collection of microbes as well as the company's name. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The assets build upon Monsanto's agricultural biological platform, called BioDirect, launched last year. Agricultural biologicals generally refer to seed or crop treatments derived from natural materials.

Agradis has said its work includes research for corn and wheat to develop products that promote growth and protect against pests.

"Agradis' collection of plant associated microbes will support Monsanto's efforts to provide farmers with sustainable biological products to improve crop health and productivity," said Steve Padgette, head of Monsanto's research and development investment strategy.

Agradis assets not bought by Monsanto include castor and sorghum technologies, as well as a new product used to prevent fungus on fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday January 29 Ag News

2013 Beef Feedlot Roundtables at Three Nebraska Locations in February
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and supporting industry personnel will learn the latest in feedlot health, nutrition, environment, and economics at the 2013 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 19-21 in West Point, Lexington and Bridgeport with remote connections to locations in Iowa.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Roundtables will be offered Feb. 19 in the Gering Civic Center in Gering, Feb 20 at the Phelps County Extension Building in Holdrege and Feb. 21 at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point.  Registration is from 7:45-8:15 a.m. with introduction and welcome at 8:15 by local extension personnel.

University and industry representatives will speak on feedlot economics, animal health, nutrition and management which include a producer panel on adapting to the current environment, and a research update.

The Nebraska Beef Council will give an update on new beef products and sponsor lunch.

Feedlot economics and research topics include feeding options with more expensive inputs, issues related to formula pricing, animal welfare in the feedlot and current animal health issues.  The program will conclude with a research update and adjourn at 3:30 p.m.

Preregistration is available by phone, fax, e-mail or mail and requested by Feb. 14.  Cost is $30 and will be accepted with preregistration at the door.  Cost for those who have not reregistered will be $40.  For more information or a registration form contact Matt Luebbe at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave I, Scottsbluff NE 69361, phone 308-632-1260, fax 308-632-1365 or e-mail

The Beef Feedlot Roundtable is sponsored by UNL Extension, ISU Extension, and the Nebraska Beef Council.

Morning topics will cover feedlot economics and environment with the following presentations: market outlook and key issues related to formula pricing, Jim Robb, Livestock Marketing Information Center; offsetting high priced grain, Galen Erickson, UNL Extension; cow confinement, Terry Klopfenstein/Karla Jenkins; UNL Extension; producer panel on adapting to the current environment, local producers and industry; and Beef Council update, Adam Wegner; Nebraska Beef Council.

Afternoon sessions will cover feedlot health and nutrition with the following presentations:  animal welfare challenges facing the beef feedlot industry, Temple Grandin, Colorado State University; generic vs brand name parasite control, Dale Grotelueschen, Pfizer Animal Health; research update: Matt Luebbe, UNL Extension.

Beef Feedlot Roundtable Sessions Also Offered at Six Iowa Locations

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the University of Nebraska are teaming up to offer a feedlot roundtable session at six Iowa locations on Thursday, Feb. 21, from 12:45 to 3:45 p.m. Iowa State Extension beef specialist Russ Euken said the feedlot roundtable sessions are offered annually in Nebraska for feedlot operators and interested agribusiness people.

“ISU Extension and Outreach and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension have a cooperative agreement that provides for the sharing of livestock educational resources and programs,” Euken said. “The Internet allows us to offer this popular Nebraska roundtable session at selected Iowa locations. The speakers and subject matter are sure to draw interest from our state’s beef community.”

Temple Grandin from Colorado State University is the featured speaker from the Nebraska program site. She’ll speak about animal welfare challenges for the beef feedlot industry. She’s followed by Stephen Koontz, also from Colorado State University, who will present a market outlook and information on issues related to formula pricing for fed cattle. This presentation is prerecorded for the program.

The afternoon’s schedule concludes with an overview of beef feedlot industry related research and projects at Iowa State University, by Dan Loy and Stephanie Hansen. 

The $10 fee covers proceedings, meeting costs and refreshments, and is payable at the door. However, you’re asked to preregister no later than Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the location you will attend to ensure adequate materials and refreshments.

Iowa roundtable locations and preregistration contacts
-    Delaware County Extension Office, 1417 N Franklin St., Manchester. Contact Denise Schwab,319-472-4739 or
-    Howard County Extension Office, 132 1st Ave. West, Cresco. Call 563-547-3001
-    Kossuth County Extension Office, Hwy 18 E, Algona. Call 515-295-2469
-    Postville Vet Clinic, 110 Hyman Dr., Postville. Contact Julie Christensen, 563-568-6345 or
-    Sac County Extension Office, 620 Park Ave., Sac City. Call 712-662-7131 or email
-    Wallace Learning Center Armstrong Farm, 53020 Hitchcock Ave., Lewis. Contact Chris Clark, 712-769-2600 or

Penalty Relief for Farm and Ranch

The Nebraska Department of Revenue will follow the decision of the IRS to provide relief to farmers and ranchers on the estimated income tax penalty.  The IRS has announced a delay in finalizing some federal tax forms used by farmers and ranchers, so  the March 1 deadline has been moved to April 15, 2013.  This will primarily impact calculations and penalties associated with the Nebraska Individual Underpayment of Estimated Tax, Form 2210N, filed with the Nebraska Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040N.

Corn and Soybean Growers Share On-Farm Research

Corn and soybean growers are invited to attend the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research update program Feb. 11 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead or Feb. 12 at the 4-H Building at the York County Fairgrounds in York.

The program is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at both locations.

Producers will obtain valuable crop production-related information from on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with UNL faculty.

The goal of the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is to put in place a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by UNL Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board.

The February program will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2012 growing season.

Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers' fields, using their equipment.

Farm Credit Services of America serves as the corporate sponsor for this year's program which includes a complimentary noon lunch.

Farm Credit luncheon speaker at the ARDC is Bob Campbell, senior vice president, and presenting at York is Bill Davis, senior vice president and chief credit officer.  They will speak on "Managing Your Financial Position through Interesting Times".

Preregistration is requested by calling 402-624-8030 for the Feb. 11 program at the ARDC or 402-362-5508 for February 12 at the York County Fairgrounds.

To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and how to participate go to

CCA credits have been applied for and are pending approval.

Nebraska Farm Service Agency Reminds Producers of March 15 Sales Closing Date for Noninsurable Crops

Thurston County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Josie Waterbury urges producers who want to purchase coverage through the Noninsurable Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) to do so before the sales closing date of Friday, March 15, 2013.

The NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to normal disasters.

"Purchasing NAP protection is an easy way for producers to practice risk management," said Waterbury.  "2012 has proven that natural disasters can directly affect the profitability and recovery of agricultural operations," she said.

The following crops have a NAP application closing date of March 15, 2013:  Spring Seeded Mixed Forage, Alfalfa, Grass for Forage and Grazing, Oats, and Spring Seeded Vegetables.

In order to meet eligibility requirements for the NAP, crops must be noninsurable, commercially-produced agricultural commodity crops for which the catastrophic risk protection level of crop insurance is not available.  If the Risk Management Agency (RMA) offers coverage for a crop under the insurance program in the county, then NAP coverage is not available for that crop.

In the event of a natural disaster, the NAP covers the amount of loss greater than 50 percent of the expected production based on the approved yield and reported acreage.

Eligible producers can apply for coverage using form CCC-471, Application for Coverage.  Producers must file the application and service fee by the March 15 deadline.  The service fee is the lesser of $250 per crop or $750 per producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total of $1,875 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.

For more information on the sales closing dates and the NAP, contact the Thurston County FSA Office at (402) 846-5655 or by going to

Northeast Nebraska RC&D Council Off to a Good Start

The Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council met last night for their first meeting of 2013 and President Wacker welcomed new board members - Judy Rasmussen and Dan Stark, both of Plainview are Pierce County representatives; Sandy Patton, Brunswick and Jerry Fields of Tilden represent Antelope County; Chris Kreycik of Niobrara is a Knox County representative and Brad Mahon, Verdel, will represent the Lower Niobrara NRD.

The group was aggressive in approving new projects and activities.  Showcasing of the area’s entrepreneurs’ and their creations will be continued.  A Household Hazardous Waste grant is being submitted to DEQ for funding of several collection events this fall.  And plans are being developed to again host E-waste recycling.

A Wildlife Habitat Tour will be co-hosted with Nebraska Game & Parks Commission in July and the Council hopes to offer an event at the new Nissen Winery & Outlaw Trail Center following that tour.   An educational Water Operator & Well Driller training day will be this fall featuring the Wau-Col Regional Water System and geothermal systems in use at Ponca State Park. 

A report was given on the recent Energy Center meeting held with Jim Schaeffer of Cimarron Light & Power who presented information on various alternative energy systems that would be beneficial to communities.  Jim can be contacted directly at 605- 354-7626 for more information.          

The RC&D is partnering with North Central District Health Department on the distribution of radon kits.  There is no fee for the kit and they may be picked up Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays at the RC&D from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Board of Directors wants this organization to continue providing services and assistance that are requested by citizens of the six-county region.   Everyone is encouraged and welcome to make suggestions, stop in to share those thoughts, or attend the next board meeting on Monday, February 25th at 6 p.m. at the RC&D Office in Plainview.

2013 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences slated for February 25-28

The Iowa Pork Producers Association has teamed up with the Iowa Pork Industry Center and the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialists to host regional conferences February 25-28.

All sessions are hosted from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Conference dates and locations are as follows:
● Monday, Feb. 25 – Carroll, Carroll County Extension Office
● Tuesday, Feb. 26 – Sheldon, Northwest Iowa Community College, Building A, room 119
● Wednesday, Feb. 27 – Nashua, Borlaug Learning Center
● Thursday, Feb. 28 – Iowa City, Johnson County Extension Office

Conferences are free for those who pre-register or $5 at the door. Individuals can pre-register by calling IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or sending an e-mail to

“We have once again scheduled a lineup of topics and presenters with valuable industry updates and practical farm applications,” said Tyler Bettin, IPPA producer education director.

Prompt and accurate diagnostics addressing disease challenges affecting our current pork production systems can have a drastic impact on pig health and overall productivity. Diagnosis of disease may be influenced by multiple factors that include appropriate sample collection, sample quality and proper submission. Dr. Phil Gauger will share knowledge gained through experiences as a veterinary diagnostician at the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that will help make diagnosing disease on your farm practical and more effective. Particular focus will be given to diagnostic considerations in post-weaning enteric disease detection, oral fluid collection and using oral fluids as a diagnostic tool. 

Profit outlooks for livestock producers have been on rocky ground as a tremendous start to the 2012 growing season made way for drought through the summer months. The Iowa Pork Regional Conferences will welcome Iowa State University’s newest extension livestock economist, Dr. Lee Schulz, to discuss what profit opportunity may be available for pork producers in 2013 and share risk management resources available through ISU.

Maximizing feed efficiency and making sound feed management decisions are at the forefront of issues impacting profitability. Extension swine specialists will be on hand to discuss ways to stretch corn inventory, optimize selling weights, manage feed system components and determine your pig’s diet relationship to manure value and composition.

ISU swine specialists also will offer free PQA Plus training prior to each conference. Training will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at each conference location. Contact Tyler Bettin at (800) 372-7675 or for more information or to pre-register.

“We are looking forward to another round of sessions that can enhance decision making for all producers,” Bettin said. “We encourage anyone with a genuine interest in pork production to attend these conferences.”

Eastern Europe Ag Tour Offered

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in an intensive educational experience of the Black Sea region of Eastern Europe, in order to learn about the challenges and potential market competition for Iowa's agricultural products. The IFBF Black Sea Market Study Tour group will visit farmers, ag businesses, government officials and citizens of Urkraine, Moldova and Romania to learn more about the culture and customs that are shaping the region's farming and agriculture policies.

"We've chosen the Black Sea region for our organization's first exclusive trade and education tour, because it's an emerging competitive market for Iowa corn, soybeans and livestock production. For example, corn production in Ukraine has gone from 2.5 million metric tons to over 20 million metric tons in just a decade; that's nearly a 1,000 percent increase and there is more to come. This region has the right soil types and natural resources to be competitive to Iowa farming commodities in the not-too-distant future. This region is located strategically near growth markets of Africa and the Middle East, and has recently emerged as an exporter to China, so that is also an interest to Iowa farmers who understand the importance of trade issues and being competitive in a global market," says Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services.

The 2013 IFBF Market Study Tour is tentatively scheduled for June 22-July 3. Since space is limited, the trip is exclusive to IFBF members and applications need to be submitted before March 31. Members chosen for the Black Sea Study Tour will be required to fund $1,500 of the trip, to have a valid passport through December of 2014 and to give a minimum of four post-trip presentations to local, county, district or state venues. "This is a knowledge share trip and so a willingness to 'give back' to fellow Iowans is a must. Also, since the tour agenda includes a vigorous schedule, the applicant must also be in excellent health," said Miller.

For more information on the IFBF Black Sea Market Study Tour, or to complete an application, click on the rotating window on the IFBF website at

Deal with Cold Stress in Cattle

When temperatures plunge into the single digits and the winds howl, people pile on the outerwear and look for warm food and beverages to help ease the chill. Chris Clark, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef program specialist, said it’s important to remember that although Iowa cattle typically can tolerate winter conditions surprisingly well, colder temperatures can mean higher nutrition needs for cow herds.

“Iowa cattle have thick skin, grow a thick winter coat and will be insulated by any fat cover they may carry. They also have the rumen, a large fermentation vat in the abdomen that produces heat during the digestion process,” Clark said. “Even so, during times of extreme low temperatures, cows can become cold enough to have a big impact on health and production.”

For each degree of cold stress below the animal’s lower critical temperature (LCT), the animal requires about 0.7 percent more energy just to maintain its body weight. The LCT is around 20 degrees for cattle with a heavy winter hair coat, but can increase to 50-60 degrees if the animals get wet.

“Don’t forget that wind, rain, snow and other weather conditions have an impact on the animals as well,” Clark said. “Wet animals, strong winds and deep snow all add to the cold stress, so make sure to provide adequate nutrition to meet the high energy demands of fetal growth and winter weather on your cows.”

As a general rule of thumb, each additional 10 miles per hour of wind speed to which cattle are exposed has the same effect as dropping the temperature 10 degrees.

“Keep an eye on thin cows because they lack the insulation of fat cover and will be more susceptible to cold stress and hypothermia,” Clark said. “A simple windbreak or a roof to keep them dry can make a big impact on animal comfort as well as on health and productivity.”

Following the drought of 2012, some cows may have come into the winter thinner than usual, so it might be wise to sort off thin cows to a separate area, he said. This way you can provide them with a higher quality ration while eliminating competition from other cows. Also, because last year’s drought may have taken a toll on quantity and quality of available forages, some producers are feeding CRP hay, corn stalks and other lower quality forages.

“If you are using lower quality forages, it’s important to supplement those forages appropriately to meet animal requirements,” Clark said. “Nutrient requirements go up throughout third trimester and early lactation, so cows that are thin right now will need a high plane of nutrition to keep up with fetal growth, milk production and Iowa winter weather.”

CME Group to Reduce Grain Trade Hours

(below is the letter from CME Group Executive Chairman and President Terrence Duffy

At CME Group, we are committed to the integrity of our deep and liquid grain markets, and listen intently to feedback from all of our customers.  We regret that recent comments in press reports this week were not representative of that commitment.

Since implementing extended trading hours in May of 2012, we’ve received significant customer feedback from a broad cross-section of market participants, including through a formal survey we implemented last week.  Though our survey is still underway, we have enough of your responses to be able to decide to reduce trading hours for our grain and oilseed markets, pending CFTC approval.  However, as there were varying opinions on what the reduced hours should be, we are continuing to vet alternatives with our customer base.  We will be communicating more specifics on the revised hours in the coming weeks.  

In addition, with respect to market pauses during USDA reports, CME Group understands the frustration of many of our customers, and we are open to considering a market pause allowing participants to evaluate the data if all exchanges and trading venues would do the same.  We would support a halt, as long as it was unified for all venues, as that would best benefit all customers by ensuring the necessary market liquidity needed for effective price discovery during this time.

We recognize the importance of this issue, and we take customer feedback seriously.   Our entire organization will continue to work with all of you and other industry participants to ensure efficient markets going forward. 

Retail Fertilizer Trends

Retail fertilizer prices remained fairly steady the fourth week of January 2013, according to data tracked by DTN. This marks the 12th straight week prices have remained nearly unchanged.  Five of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to last month, but these moves to the high side were fairly negligible. MAP had average price of $670 per ton, 10-34-0 $611/ton, anhydrous $866/ton, UAN28 $375/ton and UAN32 $425/ton.

Two fertilizers were lower compared to the fourth week of December, but again the move lower was extremely minor. DAP had an average price of $630/ton while urea was at $569/ton.  The remaining fertilizer, potash, was nearly unchanged from the previous month. Potash's average price was $598/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.62/lb.N, anhydrous $0.53/lb.N, UAN28 $0.67/lb.N and UAN32 $0.66/lb.N.

Two of the eight major fertilizers are still showing a price increase compared to one year earlier. Anhydrous is now 9% higher, while urea is 3% higher compared to last year.  Five fertilizers are single digits lower in price compared to January 2012. UAN32 is 2% lower, UAN28 is 4% less expensive, DAP and MAP are both 6% lower and potash is 9% less expensive compared to last year.  The remaining fertilizer is now down double digits from a year ago. 10-34-0 is 26% less expensive from a year earlier.

Antimicrobial Use, Resistance Symposium White Paper Released

Antimicrobial use and resistance and a start toward seeking resolution on these polarizing and often misunderstood issues are topics addressed in a White Paper developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture. The White Paper contains a synopsis of presentations given by 13 human health, animal health and environmental health scientists and professionals and the results of four interactive sessions involving all attendees at the “A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose” symposium in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 13-15.

“This White Paper takes the complex subject of antimicrobial use and resistance and breaks it down into issues that need to be addressed, factors that need to be considered and actions that need to be taken in order to improve human, environmental and animal health,” states symposium co-chair Leah C. Dorman, DVM, Director of Food Programs, Center for Food and Animal Issues, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

Symposium co-chair Dr. Jennifer Koeman, Director of Producer and Public Health for the National Pork Board, encourages individuals to share the antimicrobial use and resistance symposium White Paper with constituents within agriculture as well as those outside of agriculture.

“This White Paper can be used as a tool to further engage in open dialogue with all stakeholders, strive towards adopting a One Health mindset and move toward consensus on a path forward,” Koeman adds.

The Antimicrobial Use and Resistance White Paper is available online at You can also view many of symposium’s PowerPoint presentations and hear the audio in full online at

Real Farmers Struggle to Succeed on "The Edge of Farming"

New reality series offers an inside look at farming in the most demanding environments

With just one bad turn of the weather, a farmer can lose a season’s worth of work. “The Edge of Farming”, a new web-based reality series starting Tuesday, Jan. 29, tells the stories of modern farmers and how they strive to raise a profitable crop without losing it all. Each of the 11 weekly episodes provides an inside look at today’s farming challenges, and the ways hardworking farmers attempt to stack the odds in their favor using state-of-the-art farming equipment and practices.

The Edge of Farming chronicles the struggles of three farming operations:
-    Dale Kitchens Farms — Dale battles West Texas winds, blowing sand and extreme heat to grow a successful cotton crop.
-    Bergstrom Ranch — Fourth-generation farmers Tor and Shannon Bergstrom race to harvest their corn and till the soil for next year’s crop before the North Dakota soil freezes.
-    T&D Farms — Kent Toler and Carey Donahue fight to raise 2,500 acres of soybeans spread across the Mississippi Delta — one of the most demanding agricultural environments on earth.

A venue for more stories of modern farming

The creators of the “The Edge of Farming” realize farmers all across North America face their own demanding environments and unique struggles every year. So, in addition to the video series, “The Edge of Farming” offers a venue for all farmers to tell their incredible stories of farming survival, triumph or defeat. Farmers can find out more about sharing their stories at Participants have a chance to win a $1,000 Cabela’s gift card and have their story featured on

New episodes will be available on every Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET starting Jan. 29. There you also will find the complete schedule, previews of upcoming episodes, cast biographies, more information about the farmer story contest, and all previously released episodes. You can also share your thoughts on and at

BASF to expand its plant biotechnology research into fungal resistance in corn

BASF Plant Science is continuing to strengthen its focus on plant biotechnology solutions to achieve higher yield in plants. BASF will expand its fungal resistance research platform by adding corn as a target crop. At the same time, research activities in Nutritionally Enhanced Corn will be stopped and the European approval processes for potato products will be discontinued.

Main focus on yield and stress
BASF will continue to focus on the development of crops that deliver higher yields and improved resistance to stress conditions. A key component of these activities in plant biotechnology is an industry leading collaboration with Monsanto for key row crops such as soybeans and corn. Both companies have jointly developed the first genetically modified drought tolerant corn, Genuity® DroughtGard™ Hybrids, which received approval for cultivation in the U.S. at the end of 2011 and was in Monsanto’s Ground BreakersSM trials in 2012. The full commercialization is expected in 2013/14.

“BASF Plant Science is where innovation yields results. Our ‘Trait Technology Partner’ strategy has proven to be successful. We continue to expand into fields where we can leverage our understanding of a plant’s behavior to achieve more yield through plant biotechnology approaches,” said Peter Eckes, President of BASF Plant Science. The company has partnerships with leading agricultural companies such as Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, Cargill, and KWS, Germany.

Expansion of fungal resistance platform into corn

The new research and development activities for fungal resistant corn will be located at BASF Plant Science’s global headquarters in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina. Field testing sites will be located in North Carolina and in the Midwest region of the United States.

“We will expand our fungal resistance platform into corn because of the attractive long-term market potential as well as the fit to our strategy to deliver more yield. Corn production suffers from severe yield losses triggered by fungal diseases, which have not been successfully addressed by conventional breeding approaches. Both modern chemical crop protection and plant biotechnology can offer solutions to secure yields. In our expanded program, we can build upon our top-quality technology platform for fungal resistance in soybeans in Limburgerhof, Germany,” said Eckes.

Nutritionally Enhanced Corn and potato projects discontinued

As part of a continuous review of the project portfolio for strategic fit and attainment of project milestones, BASF Plant Science will no longer pursue research and development activities into Nutritionally Enhanced Corn in the United States. The company will also discontinue the pursuit of regulatory approvals for the Fortuna, Amadea, and Modena potato projects in Europe because continued investment cannot be justified due to uncertainty in the regulatory environment and threats of field destructions.

The discontinuation of the Nutritionally Enhanced Corn activities will result in the closure of six BASF field sites in Olivia, Minnesota, Henderson, Nebraska, Weldon and Sycamore, Illinois, Estherville, Iowa, and one of two sites in Ames, Iowa. In total, around 40 positions will be eliminated.