Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday January 16 Ag News

Mosaic Company Names Prinz Farm and Feedlot a National Leader in the Pursuit of 300 Program

Todd Prinz is the third generation to raise livestock, corn and soybeans at Prinz Farm and Feedlot in West Point, Neb. He can’t wait until his young family is ready to work beside him, and that helps him keep focused on best practices to feed the planet and preserve the farm for the next generation.

Prinz Farm and Feedlot’s innovative work in extending corn yields and protecting the land led to a nomination by its local Central Valley Ag representative for The Pursuit of 300℠: The Road to Higher Yields, a program developed by The Mosaic Company.

The Pursuit of 300 is following the Prinz Farm and Feedlot and five other farmers in the Midwest through the end of the 2013 harvest. Each of the six Pursuit Farmers will work with their local agronomists and The Mosaic Company to improve practices on approximately 100 acres in order to boost yields. The program also provides a website,, and a magazine, Unfenced, featuring the latest information on corn yield improvements as well as updates on each of the Pursuit Farmers’ operations.

Prinz and his family make agronomic decisions both for the long-term health of the land and to support their feedlot. They work closely with their retail agronomist atCentral Valley Ag, and try always to do what’s best for both sides of the farm.

Kevin Kimm, senior director of marketing at The Mosaic Company, is overseeing the Pursuit of 300 initiative.

“Todd Prinz is exactly the type of farmer we had in mind when we established this program,” Kimm says. “He has a great long view for his farm, uses responsible practices, grounds his choices in data, and is committed to helping build the future of agriculture for generations to come.”

Prinz Farm and Feedlot has selected 155 of its acres to study with the Mosaic agronomy team in 2013, and will be finalizing its plan for yield improvement over the wintermonths.

To learn more about Prinz Farm and Feedlot’s pursuit of 300 bushels per acre, and to request a copy of Unfenced, visit

Grandin: Livestock Industry Has Improved Handling, Needs to Tell Its Story Better

            The U.S. beef industry has made huge strides in livestock handling in recent years but has done a poor job explaining that to the public, said leading animal behavior expert Temple Grandin Tuesday.

            Grandin encouraged the industry to be more transparent with the general public.  "Ag has done a rotten job of communicating," she added.

            Grandin spoke at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources' Heuermann Lectures.

            Grandin, an animal sciences professor at Colorado State University, has had a major impact on the meat and livestock industries worldwide through her research, development and outreach on use of low-stress, behavior-based livestock handling techniques and design of animal handling facilities.

            Half the cattle in North America are handled in equipment she has designed for meat plants, said Ronnie Green, Harlan vice chancellor of IANR and University of Nebraska vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

            Grandin said her autism has played a key role in her work because it attunes her to visual details that can distress cattle, pigs and other livestock but go unnoticed by most people.

            Changes in flooring surface, reflections, shadows, even something as simple as a dangling chain all can unnerve animals and make them harder to handle, Grandin said.

            "I got down in the chute to see what the cattle were seeing," she recalled. "People thought that was crazy."

            Grandin said livestock handling in the '70s and '80s was terrible, but both equipment and management practices are vastly better now. However, both the media and public still seize on occasional instances of mishandling and treat them as if they are the rule rather than the exception.

            "One of the things that frustrates me is we've improved a lot of this and nobody knows about it," Grandin said. "When I first started, maybe 10 to 20 percent did a decent job of handling animals. Now it's 80 percent."

            "I go into the meat plants now and it's quiet like church."

            The key for livestock handlers is to understand animal behavior to get them to voluntarily do what they want them to do, rather than exerting force, Grandin told the standing-room-only crowd at Hardin Hall.

            Grandin also has developed animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consults with McDonalds, Wendy's International, Burger King and other companies on animal welfare. She said animal-welfare guidelines must be specific and clearly worded and based on what is "directly observable."

            She encouraged the industry to share the progress it's made with the public.

            Grandin had a unique opportunity to do just that when HBO made a movie about her life starring Claire Danes. During Hollywood media interviews, she found reporters to be fascinated about meat processing.

            Thanks to that movie, Grandin is at least as famous for her triumph over autism as for her livestock work. Her busy day at UNL included visits with student groups involved in speech pathology and educating exceptional children.

            Heuermann Lectures in IANR are made possible by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

            The lectures are archived at shortly after the lecture, and broadcast on NET2 World at a date following the lecture.

Draining Wetlands Could Cost Producers Benefits

Nebraska farmers are urged to talk with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) officials before draining any wet areas or bringing new land into production. NRCS State Resource Conservationist Shaun Vickers says farmers are under tremendous economic pressure to produce crops, which may cause growers to consider altering wetland areas to make them more farmable.

As farmers prepare for the upcoming planting season, they should be cautious with draining, altering or filling wetlands in their fields, says Vickers, since their eligibility for USDA farm program benefits could be at stake.

"If you have a wet area which you're considering altering, come in and talk to the NRCS staff. We can do a wetland determination to know if that area is a wetland or not and keep you in compliance with your current conservation plan," says Vickers. "The ramifications of altering wetlands can be significant in terms of the potential for losing USDA financial assistance and also in the amount of time that it takes to resolve unapproved alterations."

Since the 1985 Farm Bill was passed, there have been provisions in place to protect wetlands and highly erodible cropland. Farming a wetland under natural conditions is not a violation. However, Vickers explains, "Draining, tiling, altering or filling a wetland for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity causes the farmer to become ineligible for USDA program benefits." Vickers says, "It is better to find out where your USDA defined wetlands are located and the potential consequences of altering them so as to avoid confusion later."

Some maintenance activities are allowed; however, producers should be careful to make sure the extent of the original manipulation is not exceeded. "The best thing to do is check with your local NRCS office before taking action around wetlands," says Vickers.

Vickers says producers shouldn't wait to visit with NRCS conservation staff. Some eastern Nebraska counties have several wetland determination requests already on hand, so the earlier communication begins, the better.

Landowners are also encouraged to visit NRCS staff about voluntary conservation programs that provide farmers payments for preserving or restoring wetlands. Landowners benefit by retaining ownership and access to their land. They no longer try to farm marginal cropland, and have possible income opportunities from recreation, grazing or haying. During 2012, over 4,000 acres of wetlands were restored across Nebraska with NRCS assistance.

For more information about wetlands, conservation programs or compliance issues, visit your local NRCS field office or

IFBF Honored for Grassroots Policy Programs

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) received several awards at the 94th annual national convention being held in Nashville, Tenn., for outstanding state Farm Bureau activities.

IFBF was honored with five awards of excellence in all program areas including education and outreach, leadership development, member services, policy development and implementation, and public relations and communications. IFBF earned a President's Award for outstanding grassroots programs and policy development.

IFBF also received special recognition this year: the national New Horizon Award for innovation. The AFBF New Horizon Award recognizes a new program that brings exceptional value to members through many efforts. IFBF's New Horizon Award was granted for exceptional creation of a new membership outreach and information-gathering data tool, which helps the grassroots organization engage its increasingly diverse membership.

"We are proud to receive all of these awards because our organization works hard to show the public the value of farming today. Farming in Iowa is diverse and in order to remain a vital part of our state's economy, we must embrace innovation. Our organization strives to always bring these new tools of information to benefit all our members," said IFBF President Craig Hill. "We are pleased to receive these awards because they celebrate the many ways we work to better consumer communication and policy outreach. It's about increasing the value of Farm Bureau membership for all Iowans, while ensuring the sustainability of farming and that means every day we put our motto, 'People, Progress and Pride,' to work for Iowa."

Iowa Soybean Association hires member outreach coordinator, senior writer

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is proud to welcome Kayla Reiter and Matt Wilde to its producer services and communications departments.      

Reiter serves as the district coordinator for eastern Iowa, including soil districts three, six and nine. Reiter was raised on a diversified grain and livestock farm, overseeing the management of the family’s sheep, swine and cow/calf herds. She has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Iowa State University. Reiter has been involved with the Black Hawk County 4H and FFA groups, volunteers with the Iowa Cattleman’s Association and has worked for Helena Chemical Company, serving co-ops in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

Wilde has been named senior writer for the Iowa Soybean Association. He will provide in-depth coverage of ISA activities and programs involving soybean production and research, environment and international marketing; as well as local, state and national agricultural policy of importance to soybean farmers. His work will be featured in the Iowa Soybean Review, ISA member newsletters and digital and social media.

Prior to joining ISA, Wilde served nearly 16 years as an award-winning news and agricultural reporter for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier newspaper. Before joining the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier news team, Wilde worked at the Ft. Dodge Messenger and spent four years in the Navy as a journalist. He was raised on a diversified farm near Grafton.

ISA supports Governor Branstad’s call for water quality funding

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is pleased with the support Governor Terry Branstad is offering the nation’s first, voluntary nutrient reduction strategy plan. Branstad’s proposal calls for $2.4 million in fiscal 2014 and $4.4 million in fiscal 2015 for the agriculture water quality initiative.

“This funding signals a positive step in moving this strategy into a workable plan for our farmers,” said Roger Wolf, ISA director of environmental services. “We hope the Legislature agrees with the recommendations offered by the department of agriculture. When it comes to financial support, we recognize that there are many competing interests that need to be balanced and we’re happy to see water quality on the list of priorities.”

The funding will provide support for marketing, outreach and a water quality initiative cost share program that will be matched by farmers or land owners to implement targeted conservation practices ranging from conservation tillage to bio-reactors to cover crops.

Mark Jackson, ISA president and farmer from Rose Hill, looks forward to seeing the plan put into action.

“Iowa soybean farmers have voiced their support for this strategy. The science for this plan is solid and we need to move forward now with support for funding from this Legislature,” says Jackson. “This is a comprehensive plan that needs both the input and support of everyone involved in agriculture. The effort to improve water quality needs to be holistic and inclusive. This first step is encouraging.”

The nutrient reduction plan’s public comment period is open through Friday, Jan. 18, and Jackson encourages all farmers to offer their input and insight. Comments can be submitted at

In addition, Branstad’s budget proposal included funding for bioeconomy research and an initiative supported by AgriScope.  AgriScope is supported by AgSTATE, an association that includes the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University, several commodity groups and co-ops. The initiative is designed to support research and innovation to strengthen Iowa’s agricultural production and value-added endeavors.

Iowa Approves New SRF Funding Method

The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission gave the green light Tuesday to a new method of funding water quality.

"Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Projects" will help cities, watershed organizations, landowners and others address local water quality problems. A total of $15 million will be available per year for watershed protection practices such as stream buffers, wetland restoration and green infrastructure.

The Iowa General Assembly initiated the effort in 2009 when lawmakers authorized a new funding mechanism. Previously, in Iowa Code 384.80, utility revenues could only be used for construction and improvements for the wastewater system. Now, wastewater utilities can also finance and pay for projects, within or outside the corporate limits, that cover best management practices to keep sediment, nutrients, chemicals and other pollutants out of streams and lakes.

"We hope that sponsored projects will promote greater interest in watershed issues, innovative approaches to protecting our water resources, and new partnerships," said Chuck Gipp, DNR director. "We strongly encourage wastewater utilities to include local watershed organizations, watershed management authorities, county conservation boards, and soil and water conservation districts in the planning and implementation of sponsored projects. "

This program will be implemented through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a loan program for construction of water quality facilities and practices, which is jointly administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Finance Authority. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will provide technical assistance.

"Communities and municipalities that receive an SRF Loan and sponsor a watershed project will receive an interest rate reduction," said Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Dave Jamison. "Ratepayers will not pay any more than they would for the wastewater system improvements only. This program allows the unique opportunity for two water quality projects to be completed for the costs of financing one."

A pilot project with the City of Dubuque matched a wastewater treatment upgrade with a sponsored project to repave alleys, allowing rainfall to soak in rather than running off to local streams. Environmental Protection Commission approval allows DNR and IFA to open up the program to other communities.

The application packet is posted on the News tab on, along with information about upcoming workshops for potential applicants. The application deadline is July 19.

Registration Deadline Approaching for I-29 Dairy Conference

David Okerlund and a top-notch slate of dairy industry experts will focus on sustainability and industry perspective topics at the eighth annual I-29 Dairy Conference. The 2013 I-29 Dairy Conference will be held Feb. 27 and 28 at the Ramkota Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Producers should complete the online registration form at by Feb. 18, however registration will be accepted at the door. The event is coordinated by dairy Extension specialists from North Dakota State University, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, and South Dakota State University. Additional partners coordinating the conference include Midwest Dairy Association, Southwest Minnesota Dairy Profit Group, and the Nebraska Corn Board.

David Okerlund, an International Hall of Fame speaker will be the event's keynote speaker talking about "The Joys of Stress." Okerlund grew up in the rural Midwest and was nominated as the Outstanding Young Speech Educator in the first year of teaching in Iowa. His speaking abilities gained national attention when he finished in the top three, among over 20,000 participants, of the World Championship of Public Speaking. His keynote presentation at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27, with a wine and cheese reception to follow.

"We've had a great response to the slate of speakers and are looking forward to strong attendance from dairy producers from all five states of the I-29 corridor," said Jim Paulson, University of Minnesota Extension dairy educator and program chair of the 2013 conference.

Other presentations on Feb. 28 include:
-- "Cherished Cows Sometimes Do Make the Best Burgers: How to Create a Positive Mindset about Coping with Change," David Okerlund
-- "Feeding for Uncertain Times," Jim Linn, University of Minnesota
-- "What I am Doing to Make my Farm Business Sustainable," Producer Panel
-- "Meeting the Challenges of the Dairy Industry in the Upper Midwest," Industry Perspective Panel: Roger Cady, Elanco; Jon Davis, Davisco; and Jim Tully, Pine Creek Consulting.

Registration for the full conference is $30, including the dinner, the keynote presentation, and a wine and cheese reception on Feb. 27 and sessions on Feb. 28.  More information and the full program schedule is available at:

Conference sponsors include Davisco, Midwest Dairy Association, Alltech Pfizer Animal Health, POET Nutrition, Bel Brands, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Services of America, AgStar Financial Services, United FCS, Elanco, Nebraska Corn Board, Vi-Cor, Prince Agri Products, Inc., Associated Milk Producers, Inc. (AMPI), Huvepharma, and Valley Queen Cheese Factory, Inc., Adisseo, RABO, UdderTech.

NCGA Pleased with Appeals Court Decision to Dismiss Anti-Ethanol Lawsuit

Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of E15. The suit, brought by anti-ethanol groups, was dismissed on the grounds that none of the petitioners had standing to bring the action.

"The decision of the U.S. appeals court reinforces what we have known for years that continued attempts to block consumer choice will eventually fail," said NCGA leadership.  "The EPA has tested E15 extensively and concluded that it is safe for use in cars in 2001 and newer. The science is on our side, and we firmly believe that consumer choice will prevail in the end."

The suit alleged that 15 percent ethanol blends harm engines and push up the price of both food and gasoline. While much data to the contrary exists, the lack of subject matter jurisdiction ensured the claim did not proceed.

The ruling represents another step forward for the ethanol industry and the farmers who grow feedstock for biofuels. In 2009, the EPA began consideration of a petition to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. In October 2010, the EPA approved E15 for use in cars from model years 2007 and later. Finally, the agency increased the number of vehicles approved for E15 use, broadening the decision to include cars made from 2001 to 2006.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/11/2013

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 784,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 32.93 million gallons daily.  That is down 42,000 b/d from the week before.  The four week average for ethanol production stood at 813,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.46 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 20.4 million barrels. That is an increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol showed 27,000 b/d, down from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 349.4 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.42%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 11.887 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 87,497 metric tons of livestock feed, 78,004 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.08 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Argentina Corn Exports Up

Argentina's 2012-13 corn exports are expected to rise 5% on the year to 16 million metric tons, according to the United Nations food body.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said export prices of the country's yellow corn fell in December and the first two weeks of January because of large availabilities and weak trends in international markets, but they are still around 9% higher than in the same period last season.

Planting of Argentina's 2013 coarse grain crops is virtually complete in the main producing provinces of Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Santa Fe, the FAO said, with the corn area at around 4.6 million hectares, some 8% lower than last year's record high.

It added the reduction mainly reflects heavy rains during the sowing period between October and December, which caused delays in planting, coupled with increased production costs in relation to other crops.

However, the FAO said warm and dry weather in late December and early January benefited late sowing activities and earlier planted crops, which are reported to be in good condition.

Assuming normal weather in coming months, it said 2013 corn production is forecast at 25.5 million tons, a significant recovery from last year's poor harvest of 21 million tons.

The FAO said soybean planting is about to be completed following delays due to excessive precipitation in recent months, which hampered sowing operations.

It added that official estimates indicate a planted area of 19 million hectares, around 3% higher than the previous season, mainly reflecting higher prices in the international market.

Crop conditions are reported to be good, the FAO said, with 2013's soybean output expected at a record level of 53 million tons, assuming normal to above-normal yields, significantly above last year's drought-reduced level.

Interior Secretary Salazar Leaving

(AP) -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will leave the Obama administration in March, an Obama administration official said Wednesday.

Salazar has run the Interior Department throughout President Barack Obama's first term. Before joining the Cabinet, he served as a senator from Colorado. Salazar began his tenure with a pledge to help reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. He told his confirmation hearing he would seek to expand renewable energy on public lands and promote the "wise use" of traditional energy sources.

He is the latest Cabinet secretary to leave the administration as Obama heads into his second term. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are also leaving.

Statement by the President on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s Announcement that He Will Return to Colorado
"I want to thank Ken for his hard work and leadership on behalf of the American people.  As the Secretary of the Interior, Ken has helped usher in a new era of conservation for our nation’s land, water, and wildlife.  Ken has played an integral role in my Administration’s successful efforts to expand responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources.  In his work to promote renewable energy projects on our public lands and increase the development of oil and gas production, Ken has ensured that the Department’s decisions are driven by the best science and promote the highest safety standards.  Ken has also made historic strides  in strengthening our nation to nation relationship with Indian Country, helping to resolve longstanding disputes and make tribal communities safer and stronger. I have valued Ken’s friendship since we both entered the Senate in 2005, and I look forward to receiving his counsel even after he returns to his home state of Colorado." 

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