Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday January 15 Ag News

Hunnicutt of Nebraska Elected YF&R Committee Chair

Members of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee elected Zach Hunnicutt from Aurora, Neb., as the committee’s chairman for 2013. He will take over as chairman in February, at the end of the committee’s leadership conference, and serve for one year. He will also serve a one-year term on the AFBF board of directors.

Zach and his wife Anna farm outside of Giltner, Neb., raising irrigated corn, popcorn and soybeans. Hunnicutt attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he earned a degree in agricultural economics. He and Anna have two children, Everett and Adeline.

Both Hunnicutts are very active in social media, working to tell agriculture’s story and helping bridge the gap between consumers and farmers and ranchers. Hunnicutt currently serves as treasurer for the Ag Chat Foundation.
With a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram (zjhunn) and Twitter (@zjhunn), he is well-versed in the opportunities social media offers for starting a conversation with consumers nationwide.

As YF&R chair, Hunnicutt said he intends to continue to build on young farmers’ efforts to connect with people outside of agriculture.

“With social media, I can reach out to people from the seat of my tractor,” Hunnicutt said. “It’s very effective.”

Hunnicutt would also like to help younger growers ramp up their involvement in the policy development process in their counties and states.

“Whether they’re just getting started or have long been a part of the policy development process, I’d encourage everyone to get more active, from the early stages of shaping policy to implementation,” said Hunnicutt.

Getting state YF&R committees to collaborate more is another goal of Hunnicutt’s.

“The committees should be a great resource for one another. We should be tapping into each other’s strengths and learning from each other’s successes,” he said.

The YF&R program includes men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. The program’s goals are to help younger Farm Bureau members learn more about agriculture, network with other farmers and become future leaders in agriculture and Farm Bureau.

From weather to pests, presentations at Alfalfa Expo to help producers best manage crops

Winter survival following a drought and how to best manage through that situation will be one of the key topics discussed by Dr. Dan Undersander at the Mid-America Alfalfa Expo & Conference to be held Feb. 5-6 in Kearney.

“We’ll piece together how all of these weather situations may impact this year’s alfalfa crop, plus how to manage the crop during a drought. We’ll talk about when to cut it, and how to help the crop recover for the next cutting,” said Undersander, professor of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Undersander is leading several sessions as part of an abbreviated and 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.

In addition to the drought and winter survival, he’ll discuss the use of trace minerals on alfalfa and tissue testing. “The environment is changing and we may need to look at different nutrients to produce the best crop,” he said. “For example, with less acid rain, some parts of the country may need additional sulfur. At the same time, companies are always promoting the latest and greatest fertilizer or product. We’ll talk about proper testing methods to know what, if anything, would help the crop the most.”

Another session will provide insight on managing insects, diseases and weeds. Undersander noted that recommendations have changed over the past few years because hay is worth more now. “Treatment options and recommendations for combating pests that were not appropriate before may certainly be a viable and good option now,” he said.

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.

Recently added to the conference speaker list is Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo of the University of Minnesota, who will discuss the animal utilization of alfalfa. Confirmed participants in a producers’ panel include dairy producer John Johnson of Johnson Dairy in Eaton, Colo.; forage producer and exporter Drex Gaunt of Pasco, Wash., and a commodity buyer from central Nebraska.

A large alfalfa industry trade show and fundraising auction are also included during the two-day event. 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.

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.

Registration is $10 per person in advance (tickets must be purchased by noon, February 1, 2013) and $20 at the door. Participants under the age of 18 are admitted at no charge. Registration is available online at For more information, call 1.800.743.1649 or visit

Valley Irrigation to Donate $1 for Every New Facebook “Like” to Planet Water

Valley Irrigation, the leader in precision irrigation, invites everybody to join the effort to provide clean drinking water to children through the Valley® Water Their World™ promotion. Starting today, for every new Valley Irrigation Facebook “Like,” $1 will be donated to Planet Water.

“We are grateful for the generous support from Valley Irrigation,” said Mark Steele, Founder and CEO, Planet Water. “This thoughtful donation will help provide clean, safe water to the world’s most disadvantaged communities through the installation of community-based water filtration systems called AquaTowers.”

“The accessibility of clean drinking water is a major concern throughout the world”, states Michelle Stolte, Global Marketing Manager, Valley Irrigation. “Planet Water does an amazing job providing clean drinking water to people who need it most and we are excited to make a donation to their cause. When you “Like” the Valley Irrigation Facebook page at, you will have an immediate impact on bringing clean, safe water to children.”

Planet Water’s goal is to help five million people gain access to safe water by 2020. Reports published by the World Health Organization and UNICEF show that 884 million people in the world do not have access to improved drinking water sources. Each year, 3.6 million people die of water-related diseases. In 2011, Valmont Industries, the parent company to Valley Irrigation, donated five Planet Water AquaTowers to rural communities in the scenic mountains of Wenshan, China, bringing clean water to 5,000 people.

Valley Irrigation has had an active Facebook page since August 2012. The Valley® Water Their World™ promotion will be cross-promoted on the Valley Twitter and YouTube accounts, as well as through the Valley Irrigation blog.

For more information about Valley Irrigation or Planet Water, visit or

Property Taxes, Water Quality Among Top IFBF Priorities

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members take on property tax reform, watery quality and infrastructure improvements in the 2013 legislative session.

Farm Bureau members say Iowa's unprecedented property tax growth impacts all Iowans. "Property taxes have increased by over $2 billion since the year 2000, an increase of over 75 percent," said Craig Hill, IFBF president. "Farm Bureau members believe the primary objective of property tax reform should be to reduce the property tax burden on all classes of property. As lawmakers address issues such as commercial property tax reform, Iowans need to be assured that any reform affecting one class of property would not bring a shift to other classes of property. In addition, reasonable property tax growth limitations are needed so property tax collections do not continue to outpace the economy and family wages," Hill said.

Controlling growth of property taxes is just one of several priorities named by IFBF. Members also support using the state's one-time ending fund balance, which will total hundreds of millions of dollars on one-time expenditures such as property tax relief or infrastructure, as opposed to being used for ongoing expenses.

"We're at the point where more and more local governments are turning to bonding as an alternative source of revenue to pay for deteriorating rural roads. Last year alone, rural property owners paid over $140 million in property taxes to their local roads and bridges," said Hill. IFBF policy calls for an increase in the fuel tax to bring additional revenue for road improvements. "Iowa's fuel tax hasn't been increased since 1989 and would insure that users of the roads, including out-of-state motorists, are paying directly for the infrastructure repairs. A user fee is definitely the most equitable and fair method of funding," he added.

Another ongoing priority for IFBF is conservation and water quality. The recently-unveiled Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science-based plan, which helps farmers and watershed stakeholders reduce or better control nutrient runoff and pollution. Developed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Iowa State University (ISU) researchers, the plan offers many options to improve targeted, voluntary watershed improvements. Under the plan, IDALS will work with farmers to maintain agricultural productivity, protect natural resources and reduce nutrient losses, and the IDNR would work with major cities and industries to reduce nutrient discharges into Iowa's waters. "This technology-based, solutions approach will be more effective than a one-size-fits-all type of program that would result from regulations," said Hill. Farm Bureau members will also work to secure adequate funding to meet the demand of conservation programs.

Farm Bureau will advocate for the Iowa Legislature to continue its long-term commitment for agriculture research at ISU, Hill added. "We support a proposed $7.5 million appropriation for bioscience research and development at ISU, which will leverage federal and private research investments and create more collaborative opportunities involving university researchers, private companies and local farmers and businesses."

Regulatory reform is also a continued IFBF legislative priority, since unwarranted or excessive regulations add unnecessary costs to farming, which impact food costs for all. IFBF policy calls for limiting the rule-making authority of state agencies, appointed boards and commissions.

Multistate Beef Conference Offers Timely Information

The 4-State Beef Conference will be held Tuesday, Jan. 29, at six locations, including two in Iowa. Chris Clark, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the conference agenda has information for cow-calf, stocker and feedlot operations.

“From feed efficiency improvement to consumer engagement, the topics and speakers will provide timely information on relevant topics,” Clark said. “Extension specialists from all four states – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska – will join nationally recognized experts on the conference agenda.”

Staff from the respective states will host the six locations, with the first and last sessions presented in-person by experts from those states. The second and third sessions feature national experts presenting via webcast. Dinner will be held between these sessions. In Iowa, people can attend the conference at the Armstrong Research Farm near Lewis or Southwest Iowa Community College in Creston.

The event begins at 5 p.m. and the final session starts at 8 p.m. Cost is $20 per person which includes a beef dinner and copy of the conference proceedings.

Registrations are requested by Friday, Jan. 25, and can be made by contacting Clark at 636-432-9437, Leann Tibken at 712-769-2600, or the Page County Extension Office at 712-542-5171.

Session information for Iowa locations

-    Session 1 – 5 p.m. “Genetic Improvement of Beef Cattle Feed Efficiency” – delivered by Stephanie Hansen (Lewis) and Dan Loy (Creston), animal science specialists, Iowa State University
-    Session 2 – 5:45 p.m. “Engaging Consumers in a Beef Conversation” – webcast presentation by Daren Williams, executive director of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
-    Dinner – 6:30 p.m.
-    Session 3 – 7:15 p.m. “Beef Industry Update and Outlook” – webcast presented by Todd Kalous, market analyst with CattleFax
-    Session 4 – 8 p.m. “The Unsettling Truth About Trichomoniasis” and “Preparing for Calving Season” – delivered by Clark (Lewis) and Sellers (Creston), extension livestock specialists, Iowa State University ; “Pasture Leasing Challenges” – by Tim Eggers (Creston), extension farm management specialist, Iowa State University

Program details and contacts are available on the conference website at The conference will also be held at the Gage County Extension Office, Beatrice, Neb.; Wamego Senior Center, Wamego, Kan.; Nemaha Community Building, Seneca, Kan.; and Hammer Memorial United Methodist Church, King City, Mo.

Farm Poll: Farmers Say Land Market Bubble Will Burst

Many farmers appear to believe that farmland is overvalued and eventually the market bubble will burst, according to the 2012 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.

“The value of farmland in Iowa and across the Midwest has risen steeply over the past few years,” said J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., a sociologist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “We wanted to know what farmers are thinking about those increases.” Arbuckle co-directs the annual Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll with Paul Lasley, another ISU Extension and Outreach sociologist.

“In the 2012 Farm Poll we asked farmers to share their perspectives regarding the future trajectory of land values and farm income, as well as their opinions about the relative importance of several factors that are driving increases in land values,” Arbuckle said. “We also asked them to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about potential impacts of rising land values on farming.”

Arbuckle said 1,296 farmers participated in the 2012 Farm Poll and on average they were 64 years old. Fifty-one percent earned more than half of their income from farming, while an additional 18 percent earned between 26 and 50 percent of their household income from the farm operation.

The future of land values

More than two-thirds of the farmers agreed that current land values are too high, cannot be sustained and are much higher than the land is actually worth, Arbuckle said. Forty-eight percent agreed that the farmland market is in a bubble that will eventually burst and lead to major drops in values. Only 10 percent believed that land values would continue to rise at double-digit rates.

“Other farmers were more optimistic,” Arbuckle said. “Forty-one percent believed land values would continue to rise, though at a slower pace. Further, 60 percent of survey participants agreed that quality Iowa cropland is still a good investment.”

Drivers of increases

Farmers were asked to rate the influence of several factors on the recent escalation of land values, Arbuckle explained. “They indicated that high grain prices are the strongest driver of increases in land values, followed by competition between local farmers who want to expand their land base.”

Farmers also see the investment potential of farmland as a driver for rising land values, Arbuckle continued. “About two-thirds of farmers indicated that low returns on other types of investments are a strong or very strong influence. Other investment-related factors were rated somewhat lower on the influence scale: about half of farmers rated the influence of individual investors or institutional investors as strong or very strong.”

Arbuckle noted that other factors were rated as strongly influential by half or fewer farmers: greed (52 percent), increased global demand for food (50 percent) and ethanol production (45 percent). The lowest-rated factor was purchase of land for hunting or recreational purposes.

Impacts of increases

“We also asked farmers several questions to gauge their opinions about how increases in land prices have impacted farming,” Arbuckle said. “Ninety-six percent agreed that rising land values have driven land rents higher, and just over 90 percent agreed that increases have made it tougher for the next generation to enter farming.”

Eighty-two percent agreed that it is more difficult to expand operations, and 70 percent agreed that increases have made it harder to pass farms to the next generation, he said.

Seventy-one percent of survey respondents agreed that rising land prices have intensified farming, and 43 percent believed that high land prices have led to “mining” of the soil, Arbuckle said. “Farmers don’t seem to believe that increases in land value are resulting in better land stewardship: just 23 percent of farmers agreed that commitment to soil conservation has increased along with land values; nearly half  — 49 percent — disagreed.”

Two survey items focused specifically on potential benefits, Arbuckle said. Fifty-four percent of respondents indicated that non-operator landowners have benefited from increases in land values more than have farmers. Forty percent of farmers agreed that land value increases have benefitted farmers.

Hart: Weather Continues to Dictate Crop Prices in 2013

The top two factors influencing crop markets in 2013 will be the weather and the potential for a rebound in demand, which diminished last year with drought-driven high prices, Dr. Chad Hart told growers at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 94th Annual Meeting. Still, despite so many uncertainties, prices for corn and soybeans will remain historically high, according to Hart, associate professor and Extension economist at Iowa State University.

"We're not done feeling the effects of the weather system that's hit us over the past couple of years," the grain markets specialist said during AFBF's session on the outlook for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton. Of the decline in corn demand, Hart said it had to happen.

"When we saw the drought coming, prices went up, demand went down. The question for 2013 is, can we move forward?"

Hart said a slight increase in demand for corn for feed suggests we can push past the pinch of high prices. In addition, better-than-expected yields and the moderating of prices bode well for upping demand.

Although the corn export market has been cut in half because of higher prices, growers are taking little notice with domestic feed needs driving much of the demand, according to Hart. On the other hand, climbing prices have had little effect on international demand for soybeans, which got a little boost from late-season rain.

On a related note, if projection holds out for this year, Brazil will surpass the U.S. as the world’s top soybean producer.

"The price story changes a bit with wheat," which has given up a lot of land for corn and soybeans, despite an increase in the use of wheat for feed. Cotton, too, has given up a lot of land, and that's unlikely to change with cotton prices depressed largely because of the large reserve of cotton."

The drought and the high-prices it led to have caused a drop in biofuel demand, which until recently was steadily climbing. Hart said that he doesn't expect much growth, if any, in the ethanol industry, at least over the next few years.

Beef Industry, Consumers Affected by Cattle Decreases

Beef production in the United States is expected to decrease 4.8 percent in 2013, the second largest year-over-year decrease in 35 years, trailing only the 6.4 percent drop in 2004. The reason is a combination of mostly steady carcass weights and a projected 5 percent or more decrease in cattle slaughter, said Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist.

"Many analysts expect the 2013 numbers to be followed by a 2014 decrease of 4.5 percent or more," he said. "These two years would represent the largest percentage decrease since the late 1970s."

Beef production in 2012 decreased by approximately 1.1 percent compared to 2011 with a 3.3 percent decrease in slaughter, which was partially offset by a 2.3 percent increase in carcass weights.

However, the effect on consumption of beef does not always match the change in production. Domestic per capita consumption will depend on production levels but must be adjusted for beef imports and exports.

In 2011, domestic per capita beef consumption decreased 3.8 percent, in large part because of a sharp increase in beef exports despite a minimal decrease in beef production.

Though 2004 had a sharper production decrease, per capita beef consumption that year increased nearly 2 percent because of a sharp drop in beef exports, largely attributed to the first case of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also referred to as BSE, in the United States.

The pressure for higher boxed beef prices will increase significantly with an expected 4.5 percent decrease in beef production in the first quarter of 2013.

Farmers Gather in St. Louis for NCGA Priority and Policy Conference

The National Corn Growers Association's annual Priority and Policy Conference takes place this week in St. Louis, bringing farmer leaders from many corn states to begin the discussion of state and national priorities for 2014 and NCGA's policies on such subjects as ethanol, public policy and biotechnology.

"This meeting provides us with an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of our state affiliates about their concerns and to work together, building a consensus that will pave a path forward in the months ahead," said NCGA President Pam Johnson, a grower from Floyd, Iowa. "These discussions come at a critical point for our industry, with another round of farm bill discussions on the horizon and renewed discussions of the future of our nation's energy policy and the role that biofuels will play. With so many issues that will impact the future of farming on the table, we will have a busy week, sharing knowledge and insight that will help form strong, forward-looking policy."

The meeting includes chairs, presidents and executive directors of NCGA's state organizations, as well chairs and vice chairs of the organization's action teams and committees. Starting on Wednesday afternoon, these leaders will discuss organizational policy and their perspective on the relative importance of each issue facing the industry.

This year, as part of a collaborative initiative with the U.S. Grains Council, the Priority and Policy Conference also includes leadership from that organization for a discussion of USGC priorities and trade issues.

NCBA Announces Impressive Speaker Lineup for 2013 Cattle Industry Convention

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is pleased to announce the lineup of speakers for the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention in Tampa, Fla. Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy will officially kick off the convention with keynote remarks during the General Opening Session, scheduled for Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. and sponsored by Boehringher Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. The Tuohys’ life was first chronicled in the bestselling book, The Blind Side which went on to become a Hollywood blockbuster film. The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless teenager turned first round draft pick NFL football player, with the support and love of an unlikely adoptive family, the Tuohys.

Two years after The Blind Side burst onto the scene, breaking box office records and inspiring individuals nationwide, the Tuohys continue to make an impact. In July 2010, they released the New York Times best-selling book In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, and established their charity, the Making It Happen Foundation which promotes awareness, provides hope and improves standards of living for all the children fighting to survive in the invisible cracks in society.

General Session II, sponsored by Bayer Animal Health, takes place Feb. 7 at 9 a.m. and features Stuart Varney, host of “Varney & Company” on FOX Business Channel. Veteran business and financial journalist Varney will offer a positive take on the economy and will discuss the current financial situation and what it means for you, your family, and your business. In this age of uncharted economic territory Varney shares his most pivotal reminder:  America, and only America, has the flexibility and confidence to lead the world out of this crisis and come out stronger than ever.

Varney appears regularly on FOX News Channel with Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly. An economist trained at the London School of Economics, Varney offers his wide-ranging and sophisticated expertise, evaluating political administrations and their effects on the economy.

"Convention attendees can expect educational, inspirational speeches from each of our keynote speakers,” said NCBA President J.D. Alexander. “We are thrilled to have the Tuhoy family and Stuart Varney join us in Tampa to help set the tone for a productive and engaging week ahead.”

For more information on the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, visit, 

USDA Finalizes New Microloan Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new microloan program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. The new microloan program is aimed at bolstering the progress of producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. The microloan program will also provide a less burdensome, more simplified application process in comparison to traditional farm loans.

"I have met several small and beginning farmers, returning veterans and disadvantaged producers interested in careers in farming who too often must rely on credit cards or personal loans with high interest rates to finance their start-up operations," said Vilsack. "By further expanding access to credit to those just starting to put down roots in farming, USDA continues to help grow a new generation of farmers, while ensuring the strength of an American agriculture sector that drives our economy, creates jobs, and provides the most secure and affordable food supply in the world."

The new microloans, said Vilsack, represent how USDA continues to make year-over-year gains in expanding credit opportunities for minority, socially-disadvantaged and young and beginning farmers and ranchers across the United States. The final rule establishing the microloan program will be published in the Jan. 17 issue of the Federal Register. The interest rate for USDA's new microloan product changes monthly and is currently 1.25 percent.

Administered through USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) Operating Loan Program, the new microloan program offers credit options and solutions to a variety of producers. FSA has a long history of providing agricultural credit to the nation's farmers and ranchers through its Operating Loan Program. In assessing its programs, FSA evaluated the needs of smaller farm operations and any unintended barriers to obtaining financing. For beginning farmers and ranchers, for instance, the new microloan program offers a simplified loan application process. In addition, for those who want to grow niche crops to sell directly to ethnic markets and farmers markets, the microloan program offers a path to obtain financing. For past FSA Rural Youth Loan recipients, the microloan program provides a bridge to successfully transition to larger-scale operations.

Since 2009, USDA has made a record amount of farm loans through FSA—more than 128,000 loans totaling nearly $18 billion. USDA has increased the number of loans to beginning farmers and ranchers from 11,000 loans in 2008 to 15,000 loans in 2011. More than 40 percent of USDA's farm loans now go to beginning farmers. In addition, USDA has increased its lending to socially-disadvantaged producers by nearly 50 percent since 2008.

Producers can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial start-up expenses such as hoop houses to extend the growing season, essential tools, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, utilities, land rents, marketing, and distribution expenses. As their financing needs increase, applicants can apply for an operating loan up to the maximum amount of $300,000 or obtain financing from a commercial lender under FSA's Guaranteed Loan Program.

USDA farm loans can be used to purchase land, livestock, equipment, feed, seed, and supplies, or be to construct buildings or make farm improvements. Small farmers often rely on credit cards or personal loans, which carry high interest rates and have less flexible payment schedules, to finance their operations. Expanding access to credit, USDA's microloan will provide a simple and flexible loan process for small operations.

CWT Assists with 5.5 Million Pounds of Butter and Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 20 requests for export assistance from Bongards Creameries, Darigold, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association, United Dairymen of Arizona and Upstate Niagara/O-AT-KA to sell 1.864 million pounds (846 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Swiss cheese and 3.657 million pounds (1,659 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South America. The product will be delivered January through June 2013.

The 2013 CWT-assisted sales will be going to 14 countries on four continents and are the equivalent of 164.4 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. That is the annual production of 7,800 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.

AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabilizer wins No-Till Product of the Year for the 8th Time

For eight years running, readers of No-Till Farmer magazine have voted AGROTAIN nitrogen stabilizer by Koch Agronomic Services the top product in the fertility/soil amendments category. Allen Sutton, who was on the product development team for AGROTAIN stabilizer, accepted the award on behalf of Koch at the National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis on Friday, Jan. 11. 

“Farmers who implement conservation tillage are some of the most knowledge‐seeking, discerning farmers in the industry, so Koch should be proud that its product has been recognized for its strong performance,” says Darrell Bruggink, executive editor and publisher of No‐Till Farmer.

AGROTAIN® stabilizer is a great fit in no‐till operations. When they add AGROTAIN® stabilizer to their nitrogen, farmers can apply urea and liquid nitrogen (UAN) to the surface without worries of losing almost half of their nitrogen to ammonia volatilization (losses into the air.)

Ammonia volatilization can be a major concern in no‐till fields, where higher levels of crop residue and soil moisture contribute to faster breakdown of surface-applied nitrogen AGROTAIN® stabilizer blocks the activity of the enzyme urease in the soil from breaking down the urea long enough for a rain event or irrigation to incorporate the nitrogen into the soil.

“Koch Agronomic Services will only sell products that we know with confidence will provide value to farmers,” says Tom Snipes, vice president, commercial operations for Koch Agronomic Services.“AGROTAIN® stabilizer is a scientifically‐proven product that performs consistently Winning the no‐till fertility product of the year repeatedly is a testament to the reliable performance that no‐till farmers have seen over the years.”

Growers are urged to ask their retailers about making nitrogen applications more efficient with proven AGROTAIN® stabilizer. Learn more about enhanced efficiency fertilizer products at and with your local university soil fertility specialist.

Achieving a Sustainable Food System with Organic Farming

Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service ( Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds.

Organic farming is now established in international standards, and 84 countries had implemented organic regulations by 2010, up from 74 countries in 2009. Definitions vary, but according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, organic agriculture is a production system that relies on ecological processes, such as waste recycling, rather than the use of synthetic inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

"Although organic agriculture often produces lower yields on land that has recently been farmed conventionally, it can outperform conventional practices---especially in times of drought---when the land has been farmed organically for a longer time," said Reynolds, a researcher with Worldwatch's Food and Agriculture Program. "Conventional agricultural practices often degrade the environment over both the long and short term through soil erosion, excessive water extraction, and biodiversity loss."

Organic farming has the potential to contribute to sustainable food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihoods in rural areas, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity. Sustainable practices associated with organic farming are relatively labor intensive. Organic agriculture uses up to 50 percent less fossil fuel energy than conventional farming, and common organic practices---including rotating crops, applying mulch to empty fields, and maintaining perennial shrubs and trees on farms---also stabilize soils and improve water retention, thus reducing vulnerability to harsh weather patterns. On average, organic farms have 30 percent higher biodiversity, including birds, insects, and plants, than conventional farms do.

Certifications for organic agriculture are increasingly concentrated in wealthier countries. From 2009 to 2010, Europe increased its organic farmland by 9 percent to 10 million hectares, the largest growth in any region. The United States has lagged behind other countries in adopting sustainable farming methods. When national sales rather than production are considered, however, the U.S. organic industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, expanding by 9.5 percent in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales.

Sustainable food production will become increasingly important in developing countries, as the majority of population growth is concentrated in the world's poorest countries. Agriculture in developing countries is often far more labor intensive than in industrial countries, so it is not surprising that approximately 80 percent of the 1.6 million global certified organic farmers live in the developing world. The countries with the most certified organic producers in 2010 were India (400,551 farmers), Uganda (188,625), and Mexico (128,826). Non-certified organic agriculture in developing countries is practiced by millions of indigenous people, peasants, and small family farms involved in subsistence and local market-oriented production.

Further highlights from the report:
-    In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, certified organic farming accounted for approximately 0.9 percent of the world's agricultural land.
-    Africa is home to 3 percent of the world's certified organic agricultural land, with just over 1 million hectares certified. Asia has 7 percent, with a total of 2.8 million hectares.
-    Despite a decline in organically farmed land in China and India between 2009 and 2010, India's export volume of organic produce increased by 20 percent.

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