Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday February 28 Ag News

Farmers Pride Co-op Announces Earnings and Dividends Distribution
Farmers Pride an area leading farmer cooperative, Wednesday reported earnings of $6.5 million for its 2011 fiscal year at their annual meeting held in Norfolk.  Earnings attributed to Farmers Pride operations for fiscal 2012 (Dec 1, 2011 – Nov 30, 2012) decreased 11% over the $7.3 million for fiscal 2010. Revenues for fiscal 2012 reached $200.1 million, reflecting continued higher values for the energy, grain and crop nutrients products.

"Despite tough growing conditions this year and a less than normal grain handle, we are proud of our financial results for fiscal 2012.  We are happy to continue a long history of bringing value for our producer owners who count on Famers Pride for their agronomic, grain, energy and feed needs," said Dean Thernes, General Manager of Farmers Pride.

Farmers Pride customers will share a $1.7 million disbursement of cash patronage and retired equities from 2012 earnings.  This brings the total cash returned to Farmers Pride customers over the past four years of $7.8 million.

"This cash distribution represents the value of being a cooperative owner and customer," said Jerry Dolesh, Farmers Pride board chairman and a Tilden, NE farmer. "Not only do Farmers Pride customers benefit from our services and facilities, they also share in our profits. This allows Farmers Pride’s customers to invest in the future of a local businesses and their rural community."

Patronage is based on business done with Farmers Pride by individual farmers and ranchers during fiscal 2012, while equity redemptions represent retirement of ownership in Farmers Pride earned in past years.

Farmers Pride is a leading cooperative, owned by 2,300 farmers and ranchers across northeast Nebraska with locations in Battle Creek, Bloomfield, Ewing, Madison Newman Grove, Neligh, Oakdale, Osmond, Pierce and Plainview. 

Nebraska Dairy Convention Just Weeks Away—

Nebraska dairy producers, their families and dairy industry representatives can look forward to a schedule of wide-ranging presentations, exciting activities and annual business meetings at the 2013 Nebraska Dairy Convention on Tuesday, March 12, at Divots Conference Center in Norfolk.

Throughout the day, experts will provide information and opportunities for discussion on topics including checkoff updates, animal care, dairy economics, and farm labor.

Dave Hansen, a South Dakota dairy producer who traveled with his wife on a mission to Haiti, is the headline speaker at the convention banquet at 6:30 p.m. The crowning of the new Nebraska Dairy Princess will also take place during the convention banquet, which will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m.

The convention includes a trade show that runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Nebraska Holstein Association meets at 11 a.m. and the Nebraska State Dairy Association Annual Meeting takes place at 12:30 p.m.

The 2012 Nebraska Dairy Convention is free to all Nebraska dairy producers, families and guests.  Special room rates are available at the Norfolk Lodge and Suites by calling 800-230-4134.  Questions about the convention can be directed to Rod Johnson, Nebraska State Dairy Association, at 402-261-5482 or  Attendee registration forms are available at

Annual Nebraska LEAD Recognition Banquet March 8 in Lincoln

University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen will be the keynote speaker at the annual LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) Program recognition banquet March 8.

Pillen's address will provide insight on leadership development while addressing the need for quality leadership at all levels during the banquet honoring Nebraska LEAD Group 31 at the Nebraska East Campus Union on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus.

Prior to the banquet, the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council will conduct its annual meeting at 4:45 p.m.  The council will elect 2013-14 officers to its board of directors.

Social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the 6:30 p.m. banquet.

Banquet reservations are $25 and may be made by calling the Nebraska LEAD Program office at 402-472-6810 no later than March 5.

Nebraska LEAD 31 Fellows in alphabetical order are: Sondra Anderson, Harrisburg; David Bray, Omaha; Brandon Carter, Gothenburg; Chad Eisenmenger, West Point; Brock Elsen, Sumner; Josh Fries, Imperial; Jeff Henn, Omaha; Chandra Horky, Sargent; Jerad Hutchens, Lincoln; Tom Jasnoch, Ogallala; Tony Johanson, Oakland; Suzanna Klaasmeyer, Hershey; Sara Lemburg, Ewing; Matt Miller, Mitchell;  Sean Minahan, Plattsmouth; Gerri L. Monahan, Lincoln; Brian Mumm, Geneva; Nathan Oligmueller, Alliance; Tracy Olson, North Platte; David Pandorf, Callaway; Todd Reed, Lincoln; Jeremy Reineke, Gretna; Ryan Reuter, Minatare; Kurt Rewinkel, Wakefield; Joe Richeson, Gothenburg; Jim Schneider, Aurora; Rochelle Schoneberg, Sutton; Jeff Stuehmer, Lincoln; Desiree Wineland, Cambridge; and Michael Wisnieski, Omaha.

The purpose of the Nebraska LEAD Program is to prepare and motivate men and women in agriculture for more effective leadership.

The Nebraska LEAD Program is under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a non-profit organization in cooperation with the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and is supported by Nebraska colleges, universities, businesses, industries and individuals throughout the state.

Nebraska LEAD Program offices are located at the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Argentine Agronomics – Despite High Corn Margins, Soybeans Outpacing Corn

(from USGC)

As harvest begins in South America, the world anxiously watches. Many end users are anticipating large Argentine and Brazilian crops following one of the worst droughts in recent memory in the United States. However, the dynamic of determining what Argentine farmers plant isn't as cut and dried as it is in America. According to DTN's South America correspondent, Alastair Stewart, the margins and return on investment would seem to provide a strong incentive to increase corn plantings, but Argentine farmers chose to ignore these data and increase soybean acres instead.

According to Agripac, a South American consultancy service, the first crop margin in Argentina for growing corn was an astonishing 36% higher than that of soybeans. Stewart contends this anomaly is caused by Argentina's increasing government intervention. The government manipulates corn exports via quotas, whereas soybeans can trade freely. That means, said Stewart, "that farmers can never be sure of getting full market price."

"It's really a currency play," noted Kevin Roepke, manager of global trade for the U.S. Grains Council. "Argentina is plagued with 20-30% inflation and Argentine farmers want a currency safe haven. In some aspects, it mimics why many investors have stockpiled gold around the world—growing soybeans is the safe play because there will always be a market for them."

Argentina has seen corn area harvested remain relatively flat over a 30 year time frame—up only 13.5%. Compare that to the explosive growth of Argentine soybean acres—up almost nine-fold over the same time period, according to USDA data. "It's really been a remarkable transformation," commented Roepke. "It started in the mid-80s when Argentine farmers first started to harvest more soy acres than corn. Since then, it's been an explosion."

The cost to produce soybeans in Argentina is the envy of the world. Stewart claims the cost of fertilizer and chemicals to produce an acre of soybeans in northern Buenos Airies is a resoundingly low $53 dollars per acre. Compare that to neighboring Brazil, where the cost stands at $189. Land rental is also significantly cheaper in Argentina, going for around $160 per acre. By comparison, Iowa State University's Ag Decision Maker pegs Iowa costs for herbicide tolerant soybeans following corn at $66 for chemicals and $276 per acre for cash rent.

Newly Updated Mobile E85 Locator App – More Features, More Interactive

Looking for E85 fuel?  There’s an app for that.  The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) in partnership with the Iowa Corn Growers Association is unveiling a newly updated Flex-Fuel Station Locator application for iPhones, iPads, the iPod Touch and all Android devices.  The application is free and available in the App Store or the Android Marketplace.  The Flex-Fuel Station app will help users pinpoint any station in the United States offering E85.

New features of the app, which was first introduced in 2011, include:

• A Flex-Fuel Vehicle (FFV) Identifier
o After inputting make, model and year of a vehicle, the app will alert users if their car is Flex-Fuel or not, in order to help avoid misfueling.

• Route Planner
o Adds the ability for consumers to enter a starting and end point to determine E85 stations along a certain route.

• MPG Education
o Uses educational information from and includes other factors of MPG such as low tire pressure, wind, and driver actions.

• Search
o Includes the ability for consumers to enter state, city, or zip code to determine E85 stations in the immediate area.

• Add or Remove
o Gives app users the ability to alert the database of new stations, closed stations or other corrections not presently included in the location information used by the app.

“With more than eleven million flex-fuel vehicles in America, we wanted to make it easier, faster, and perhaps more educational and fun for drivers to find E85," said Robert White, RFA Director of Market Development. “Americans increasingly demand more fuel choice at the pump.  They want alternatives to petroleum, especially foreign petroleum.  They want fuels which are domestic, renewable, and environment-enhancing.  They bought FFVs for a reason and we want to keep fueling the change.”

February Farm Prices Received Index Decreased 20 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in February, at 197 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, decreased 20 points (9.2 percent) from January. The Crop Index is down 20 points (8.0 percent) and the Livestock Index decreased 3 points (1.8 percent). Producers received lower prices for lettuce, corn, broccoli, and wheat and higher prices for hogs, celery, rice, and oranges. 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 cattle, milk, broilers, and hogs offset the decreased marketing of corn, soybeans, wheat, and grain sorghum.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 16 points (8.8 percent) from February 2012. The Food Commodities Index, at 182, decreased 15 points (7.6 percent) from last month but increased 14 points (8.3 percent) from February 2012.

Prices Paid Index Down 1 Point

The February Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 219 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is down 1 point (-0.5 percent) from January but 8 points (3.8 percent) above February 2012. Lower prices in February for complete feeds, concentrates, feeder cattle, and supplements offset higher prices for diesel, gasoline, nitrogen, and other services.

Prices Received by Farmers

The February All Farm Products Index is 197 percent of its 1990-1992 base, down 9.2 percent from the January index but 8.8 percent above the February 2012 index.

All crops: The February index, at 230, decreased 8.0 percent from January but is 12 percent above February 2012. Index decreases for feed grains & hay, commercial vegetables, and oilseeds more than offset the index increases for fruits & nuts and upland cotton.

Food grains: The February index, at 249, is 3.1 percent below the previous month but 9.7 percent above a year ago. The February price for all wheat, at $7.75 per bushel, is down 37 cents from January but 65 cents above February 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The February index, at 295, is down 1.7 percent from last month but 10 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $6.89 per bushel, is down 7 cents from last month but 61 cents above February 2012. The all hay price, at $194 per ton, is up $3.00 from January and $17.00 from last February. Sorghum grain, at $11.80 per cwt, is 20 cents below January but $1.00 above February last year.

Cotton, Upland: The February index, at 120, is up 0.8 percent from January but 21 percent below last year. The February price, at 72.7 cents per pound, is up 0.5 cents from the previous month but 19.6 cents below last February.

Oilseeds: The February index, at 248, is down 2.0 percent from January but 13 percent higher than February 2012. The soybean price, at $14.20 per bushel, decreased 10 cents from January but increased $2.00 from February 2012.

Livestock and products: The February index, at 163, is 1.8 percent below last month but up 3.2 percent from February 2012. Compared with a year ago, prices are lower for cattle, calves, and turkeys. Prices for broilers, milk, eggs, and hogs are up from last year.

Meat animals: The February index, at 162, is down 0.6 percent from last month and 2.4 percent lower than last year. The February hog price, at $65.90 per cwt, is up $2.10 from January and 40 cents higher than a year ago. The February beef cattle price of $124 per cwt is down $2.00 from last month and $3.00 lower than February 2012.

Dairy products: The February index, at 149, is down 2.0 percent from a month ago but 9.6 percent higher than February last year. The February all milk price of $19.40 per cwt is down 50 cents from last month but $1.70 higher than February 2012.

Poultry & eggs: The February index, at 180, is down 2.2 percent from January but 12 percent above a year ago. The February market egg price, at 77.6 cents per dozen, decreased 8.7 cents from January but is 10.7 cents higher than February 2012. The February broiler price, at 61.0 cents per pound, is unchanged from January but 8.0 cents above a year ago. The February turkey price, at 62.6 cents per pound, is down 0.3 cents from the previous month and 2.4 cents from a year earlier.

Japan Poised to Join TPP Negotiations

Floyd Gaibler, U.S. Grains Council Director of Trade Policy and Biotechnology

Following the recent meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan could make a decision to formally join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations as early as next week. The joint U.S. – Japan statement issued on Feb. 22 emphasized that Japan would not have to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations.

Japan's entry could transform the agreement. Japan is the world's third largest economy, after the United States and China. It is the fourth largest U.S. agricultural export market overall, despite maintaining substantial import barriers in the food and agricultural sector. Japan is also the world's largest single-country importer of feed grains and the number one purchaser/importer of U.S. corn. Japan currently is also the top importer of U.S. barley, the second leading importer of U.S. sorghum, and the fourth leading importer of U.S. DDGS

TPP, however, could create pressure for Japan to make serious policy changes to its agricultural system, potentially making it more dependent on direct supports to farmers and less dependent on import protection. Full participation in TPP would force Japan to lower or remove tariffs on imported meat and poultry products, thus exposing Japanese producers to significant new competitive pressures. Abolition of government support schemes and price adjustment mechanisms between domestic and imported products would also become necessary under full TPP participation.

Reforms of the Japan livestock and feed industry are likely to have a significant impact on feed grain and meat imports from the United States as well. The U.S. Grains Council is engaged in detailed analysis of these impacts and stands ready to assist both U.S. exporters and our long-time partners in Japan in adjusting to these changes if and when TPP is adopted.

U.S. Farm Equipment Exports Up Last Year

Exports of U.S.-made agricultural equipment increased 16 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year for a total $12.8 billion, with Africa leading the way in growth, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The AEM says the numbers were released by the U.S. Commerce Department this week.

AEM notes the 16-percent gain for 2012 follows 23-percent growth in 2011 and 12 percent-growth in 2010, after a 2009 decline of 23 percent in the depths of the recession.

"While global pressures have affected export sales of U.S. agricultural machinery, we are optimistic that worldwide sales will remain positive. Commodity prices overall have been solid, and there is continued demand for the latest equipment to improve productivity," stated Charlie O'Brien, AEM senior vice president and agriculture sector leader. "Exports are vital for growth in the U.S. manufacturing and agriculture sectors, so it's imperative that our government focus on export and manufacturing policies that maintain and create American jobs."

U.S. exports of agricultural equipment to Africa gained 33 percent compared to the previous year for a total $443 million; exports to Asia increased 18 percent for a total $1.1 billion. South America's purchases of U.S. agricultural equipment in 2012 grew 19 percent to total $1.5 billion, and exports to Central America grew 15 percent to total $1.2 billion.

Europe's purchases of U.S. agricultural equipment gained 12 percent for a total $3.3 billion; exports to Canada grew 18 percent and totaled $4 billion; and exports to Australia/Oceania increased 6 percent to $1.2 billion.

Von Bergen Installed as NAWG President At Commodity Classic

Montana wheat and barley farmer Bing Von Bergen was elected and installed as the new president of the National Association of Wheat Growers at the Association’s Board of Directors meeting Thursday.

Von Bergen is a native of Moccasin, Mont., in the center part of the state. Prior to becoming a NAWG officer, he served in the officer corps of the Montana Grain Growers Association for five years and on the NAWG Board, chairing the Domestic and Trade Policy Committee in 2008 and 2009.

In addition to running his farm, Von Bergen is the co-owner of Heartland Seed Company, which specializes in small grain seeds as well as grass and alfalfa seed. He has also served in several leadership roles in his community, including on a local co-op board, bank board and school board.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Von Bergen attended Montana State University. He and his wife Lois have two college-age children.

As president, Von Bergen will also be serving as acting chief executive officer while the Association undertakes a search process for a new staff lead.

“I am entering this new role during what some may consider a challenging time for our Association and our industry, but I see a lot of opportunity for us to grow and improve,” Von Bergen said. “I appreciate my fellow growers entrusting me with these duties and responsibilities, and I will work diligently to ensure I live up to them.”

Other NAWG officers elected and installed at the Thursday meeting include:
-    Paul Penner, Hillsboro, Kan., as first vice president;
-    Brett Blankenship, Washtucna, Wash., second vice president;
-    Gordon Stoner, Outlook, Mont., secretary-treasurer; and
-    Erik Younggren, Hallock, Minn., immediate past presiden.

Members of NAWG’s Executive Committee, known as officers, commit to serve five years when they first run for the role of secretary-treasurer. The NAWG Nominating Committee and NAWG Board reaffirms their selection each year as they move into new roles on the officer team.


           Monsanto’s search for America’s Farmers Mom of the Year is back for a fourth year to acknowledge the contributions of more than a million female farm operators in the United States.

           Anyone can nominate their favorite farm mom by visiting before April 23 and submitting a brief essay explaining how she contributes to her family, farm, community and agriculture. One regional winner will be selected by a panel of judges from American Agri-Women and Monsanto for each of the contest’s five regions. Profiles of the regional winners will be posted to, where online voting will determine the national winner, to be announced on Mother’s Day. Each regional winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize from Monsanto; the national winner will receive an additional $5,000 cash prize.

           “The number of female farm operators has grown exponentially over the past decade, and farm moms play a significant role not only on their farms and in their communities, but also to the American food supply and economy,” says Lisa Safarian, U.S. Row Crops Lead, Monsanto. “The America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest is one small tribute to the amazing women who balance the responsibilities of family, home and farm, often while volunteering or working in their community and promoting agriculture as well.”

           Last year the America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest received more than 900 nominations from 45 states. From this vast pool of worthy candidates, the judges selected five regional winners as diverse as their farming operations. Online voting on selected Debbie Lyons-Blythe, a rancher from White City, Kansas, as the national 2012 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year winner. Gov. Sam Brownback hosted a ceremony at Kansas’ Department of Agriculture to honor Lyons-Blythe in front of her family and friends as she was presented with her grand-prize check from Monsanto.

           “It’s inspiring to read so many nominations, each cast for a unique and special farm mom,” says Kris Zilliox of the American Agri-Women. “We’re looking forward to 2013 nominations, and will work diligently to select winners who represent American agriculture and the amazing women who support it.”

           “If you’ve ever lived in an agricultural community, your life was likely enhanced by a hardworking, humble farm mom,” Safarian said. “This is a great opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to that special woman, just in time for Mother’s Day.”

           Complete eligibility requirements and official rules for America’s Farmers Mom of the Year can be obtained online at or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, Attn: Nancy Hallahan, 914 Spruce Street, St. Louis, MO 63102.

           America’s Farmers Mom of the Year is an element of Monsanto’s America’s Farmers program, an advocacy effort promoting, recognizing and supporting U.S. farmers through communications, awards and special programs that highlight the importance of agriculture.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday February 27 Ag News

New Grand Ocean International opens for business in Omaha

New Grand Ocean International, a Chinese-owned agribusiness based in Thailand with operations throughout eastern Asia, cut the ribbon today on its newest—and only North American— facility in Omaha.  Joining New Grand Ocean Owner Qian Chen and Vice President Harry Hou were Governor Dave Heineman and several state, local and business representatives.

“During my trade mission to China last year, I had the opportunity to speak with Chinese Vice Premier Wang about opportunities for greater value-added exports to China, fueled in part by foreign investments,” said Gov. Heineman. “New Grand Ocean’s location in Nebraska helps with that effort. Asia’s growing population needs more food and value-added products, and it makes perfect sense for us to use our world-leading productivity to process more of those products here before shipping them abroad.”

The family-owned company is a large wholesale distributor of beef, pork and chicken products, earning $40-45 million in annual sales. The company, which expects to rely heavily on Nebraska suppliers, will immediately hire two employees. Phase two plans call for construction of a processing plant with the potential for hiring 15 to 20 people.

“We truly hope to become a great bridge between Nebraska agriculture and Asia market. We also hope to establish a long stable and constructive partnership with local business. And we will try our best to give back to the community and create more job opportunities for Nebraska,” said Mr. Chen.

“The Chamber is committed to increasing global business in the Greater Omaha area. We have made significant efforts to promote bilateral trade and investment between Omaha and Asian nations. We welcome New Grand Ocean International to the Omaha business community,” said David Brown, Greater Omaha Chamber president and CEO.

It is the latest of a number of international companies locating in the state. During the past four years, Nebraska recorded 29 international investments from 12 countries, totaling more than $4.17 billion and creating approximately 1,473 jobs.

In 2012, KPMG and the Tax Foundation ranked Nebraska as the number one state in the U.S. for newly locating corporate headquarters. Nebraska ranked second in the U.S. for manufacturing in KPMG and the Tax Foundations’ State Business Tax Climate Index.

3rd Annual Best Burger Contest Launches March 1st

Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers along with the Nebraska Beef Council have announced the launch of the 3rd annual Nebraska’s Best Burger contest. Nominations for the award will be accepted March 1 through March 31, 2013.

The public is encouraged to nominate their favorite burger by visiting and completing the online form or visiting the Nebraska Beef Council Facebook Page. The top prize last year went to Stella’s Bar & Grill of Bellevue for their Stella’s Cheese Burger.

“Hamburgers are a staple menu item in many restaurants throughout the state” said Adam Wegner, Director of Marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “This contest not only recognizes restaurants that serve great burgers, it also shows the passion Nebraskan’s have for great tasting, quality beef.”

Changes to the contest this year include the addition of the Consumer’s Choice award which will be presented to the restaurant receiving the most overall electronic votes. The top 5 nominated burgers will then be evaluated by a panel of judges to determine the overall Best Burger winner. While any restaurant can win the new Consumer’s Choice award, past grand prize winners are not eligible for the Best Burger award meaning a new winner will be announced the end of April. The Cellar Bar & Grill in Kearney, NE won the inaugural award in 2011.

For a full list of rules, contest details or to submit a nomination, visit or contact the Nebraska Beef Council at 308-236-7551.

Differentiating Forage Rye and Ryegrass

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

What comes to mind when you hear "forage rye?" What about "ryegrass?" These words can describe half a dozen, very different types of forage, which can lead to some confusion when selecting seed.

"Rye" typically refers to the cereal or small grain plant. As a forage, it can produce high tonnage but is relatively coarse and less palatable than some other forages. Like wheat, there can be either winter ryes or spring ryes. Spring-planted ryes tend to grow tall and form seed, while winter ryes stay short and produce leaves but no seeds. Fall-planted spring types grow tall but die over winter. Winter varieties stay leafy during fall, survive winter and grow tall and form seed the next spring.

"Ryegrass," though, is a very palatable, high quality forage grass. There are several types of ryegrass and variety differences within each type. For example, perennial ryegrass produces very high quality pasture but only lasts for a few years under most Nebraska conditions.

The biggest confusion comes from annual ryegrass and Italian ryegrass. Technically, they refer to the same plants but in the forage world they have acquired different meanings. Annual ryegrass refers to varieties that are used for turf or for winter and spring forage in the Gulf-state region. Spring plantings in Nebraska head out and regrow very slowly during the heat of early summer, usually dying over winter. Italian ryegrass, however, is more like a biennial and produces mostly leaves while growing throughout summer and fall if moisture is available. Many varieties survive winter and then produce seedheads the following spring.

If you aren't sure whether you want rye or ryegrass or which variety of either, be sure to carefully describe to your seed dealer  when you want to plant and how you want to use your grass. They can help you get the right kind of rye or ryegrass.

Survey Gauges Nebraska Interest in Local Food

Today, the Center for Rural Affairs released a report examining Nebraska consumers’ interest in and perceptions of local and regional foods. Nebraskans spend $4.4 billion annually on food with 90 percent of that money leaving the state. The Center for Rural Affairs report finds, however, that an opportunity and a need exist - stemming from the current positive attitude toward local foods and growing national emphasis on food security, health and environment - to create comprehensive regional food systems in Nebraska that include farming and community gardening, processing, storage, distribution and transportation, and food access.

The report, entitled, Regional Food Systems in Nebraska: The Views of Consumers, Producers and Institutions, demonstrates that Nebraska consumers are overwhelmingly interested in purchasing food directly from local producers but a large majority believe the supply of producers selling food directly is difficult to find.

“Consumers also showed a willingness to pay slightly more for locally grown food, but that willingness has a limit,” said Jon Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs Director of Rural Research and Analysis and co-author of the report. “Beyond a ten percent price increase willingness to pay decreases.”

To view or download a full copy of the Regional Food System report go to

According to Bailey, the demand for locally grown food exists among consumers, but the market, or at least the perception of the market, may be lacking. Farmers markets and grocery stores are the most common places to purchase locally produced foods. And consumers want increased grocery store and restaurant options to purchase locally produced foods.

“A number of consumers commented on the hours and location inconvenience of farmers markets, which may mean more business training is needed for those operating farmers markets,” Bailey explained.

“Producers also acknowledge that they face numerous challenges in building a regional food system. Producing sufficient volume of products and transportation were the most common challenges cited by respondents,” Bailey explained. “But a large majority of responding producers are interested in expanding their local food production capacity and a majority are interested in participating in a regional food system.”

“Our survey data paints a clear picture that the prevailing attitudes among consumers, producers and institutions toward the growth of local and regional food systems are overwhelmingly positive,” concluded Bailey. “And while real challenges exist there is also real opportunity and a desire among all parties to meet those challenges.”

Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Learning Farms Co-Host Cover Crop Field Days

Practical Farmers of Iowa joins with Iowa Learning Farms to have farmers showcase their experiences with cover crops this spring at eight field days across Iowa. County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners and Eastern Iowa Hay Producers Association are helping to sponsor the spring field days that focus on the use and management of cover crops.

A record 100,000 acres of cover crops were planted in Iowa in 2012. This increasingly popular conservation practice protects soil from wind and water erosion and captures nitrogen that can otherwise leach from the soil and pollute nearby waterways.
Iowa Cover Crop Field Day Schedule

All field days are free, open to the public and include lunch.
    Friday, March 15, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Northwest Iowa No-Till Conference, Moville Area Community Center, 815 Main St., Moville
    Tuesday, March 19, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Dustin Kaestner Farm, 7381 16th Ave., Luzerne
    Thursday, March 21, 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Buzzy’s Pizza, 414 Main St.,Welton, with field tour at Neal Engle farm (25439 Highway 64, Maquoketa)
    Friday, March 22, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Black Hawk Marsh State Game Management Area, 3575 Quincy Ave., field tour at Russ Schelle farm (10326 Granite Ave., Breda) lunch at the Breda park shelter
    Tuesday, March 26, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mike Sporrer Farm, Dedham, Carroll Co.
    Thursday, March 28, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Kent Swanson Farm, 2670 K Ave., Red Oak
    Monday, April 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dordt College Research Farm, 3598 U.S. Highway 75, Sioux Center
    Thursday, April 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Johnson’s Restaurant, 916 1/2 High St NE, Elkader, field tour at Gary Kregel Farm
    Wednesday, May 22, 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Dan Specht Farm, 12794 Pleasant Ridge Road, Monona

Each cover crop field day will include discussions and presentations including area-specific topics such as: no-tillage/strip-tillage systems, rotational grazing or grazing cover crops for livestock feed, soil and nutrient management benefits of cover crops and spring management for cover crops. For more information, contact Aaron Andrews at 515-294-4922 or Sarah Carlson at 515-232-5661.

Farm Poll Examines Where, How Farmers Get Their Information

Iowa farmers rely primarily on agribusinesses, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and state agencies for their information needs, according to the 2012 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll.

The annual poll surveyed 1,296 farmers about the information sources they rely on when making decisions that affect their farm operations, said J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., a sociologist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Arbuckle co-directs the annual Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll with Paul Lasley, another ISU Extension and Outreach sociologist.

“Farmers can choose from many sources to get the information they need to make decisions. We wanted to find out who they go to first for information on specific agricultural topics,” Arbuckle said.

“We’ve asked similar questions in previous surveys, and results show that ISU Extension and Outreach continues to be among farmers’ ‘go to’ information sources. We also asked farmers to tell us how they prefer to receive ISU Extension information and educational programming that supports their farming and farm management decisions,” Arbuckle said.

Primary Sources of Information

Farmers were asked to select the category of information provider that they would go to first when seeking information on crop production, nutrient management, pest and disease management, conservation, finances and marketing, Arbuckle explained. For each topic, farmers could choose fertilizer or agricultural chemical dealers, seed dealers, USDA/NRCS/SWCD service centers, private crop consultants, ISU Extension and Outreach, commodity associations and “other.”

For crop production — including corn production, soybean production and seed selection — seed dealers were the first choice for a plurality of farmers. A majority of farmers selected fertilizer or agricultural chemical dealers as their primary source of crop disease, insect and weed management information. Fertilizer or agricultural chemical dealers also were selected as the preferred provider of information on fertilizer application rates and nutrient management.

USDA/NRCS/SWCD service centers were designated as the preferred resource for information for both conservation tillage and soil and water conservation in general. Responses for farm financial management and marketing showed that many farmers did not select any of the listed entities as their primary information source, with 57 percent selecting other.

“Extension and Outreach ranked second or third in all categories, with the highest percentages being for pest and disease management, conservation, and farm financial management. Overall, 54 percent of farmers indicated that they would go to Extension first for at least one category of information. That said, chances are that much of the information farmers are receiving from other sources is based to some extent on Iowa State research,” Arbuckle said.

Partnerships with Stakeholders

“ISU Extension and Outreach delivers science-based agricultural information both directly to farmers and through key agricultural stakeholders who also have contact with farmers. Agribusinesses, crop consultants, commodity groups, state agencies and other ag information providers rely heavily on Iowa State research and extension information as they formulate their technical assistance recommendations for farmers,” Arbuckle said.

“These partnerships help us make sure that farmers are able to base their decisions on current research. The bottom line is that together we are able to place science-based information in the hands of more farmers across the state,” he added. Arbuckle said the Farm Poll results demonstrate the value of this approach.
Preferences for ISU Extension Information

The 2012 Farm Poll also asked farmers how they preferred to receive information from ISU Extension and Outreach. For each of several topics they could choose from a list ranging from field days and workshops to webcasts and apps. Farmers were asked to check all that applied.

“In general, results indicate that farmers are fairly diverse in their preferences. Traditional, in-person events such as field days and meetings were the most popular means of delivery for most types of information. However, substantial numbers of farmers expressed preference for electronic distribution of materials and programming through online videos, webcasts and downloaded publications. Very few, however, selected smartphone or tablet apps,” Arbuckle said.

Anderson hired to lead supply and production efforts at Iowa Soybean Association

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) has hired Ed Anderson as the organization’s senior director of supply and production systems.

In this position, Anderson will integrate ISA’s contracted research programs and supervise the teams involved with the On-Farm Network® and Environmental Programs and Services. He will collaborate with a number of entities including ISA staff, directors and members, land grant universities, United Soybean Board and North Central Soybean Research Program and strengthen relationships with a variety of soybean and agricultural industry groups.

“Ed is a proven leader when it comes to integrating technical, leadership and communication skills across a variety of teams and departments,” said Karey Claghorn, ISA chief operating officer. “For an organization like ours that produces, houses and distributes so much information, research and talent, we know that Ed’s abilities in establishing and managing efficient processes will be vital. He’ll be a catalyst in bringing all of these areas and skills together in ways that will benefit our farmers, support our supply development efforts and take ISA to the next level.”

Anderson most recently worked for DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, serving as the senior strategy manager for the disease & outputs traits/enterprise trait strategy team. In addition, he has served as an assistant professor in plant pathology at the University of Arkansas and worked as a research assistant at the graduate and post-graduate levels at the universities of Florida and Missouri.

Anderson grew up on a farm in north central Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and has a doctorate in molecular plant virology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

USDA to Survey Farmers about their 2013 Planting Intentions

Over the next several weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will survey tens of thousands of growers about their 2013 planting intentions. The results of this survey will help all participants in the agriculture sector determine what to expect this growing season after a drought-hampered 2012 season. In addition to grain growers, NASS will also survey thousands of pork producers about their hog and pig inventories and spring farrowing intentions.

“The information we collect from producers during the first two weeks of March establishes a trend that we’re likely to see in  the entire growing season,” said Bob Bass, NASS’ National Operations Division director. “This year, after a weather-plagued 2012 season, it’s more important than ever to understand planting intentions for this year.”

Most survey participants should have received their questionnaires in the mail yesterday and can now respond via NASS’s secure website or by filling out and mailing the forms back. Trained NASS interviewers will visit those who do not respond to answer any questions they may have and to help them fill out their survey forms.

“These surveys require a pretty quick turnaround so that the information is as current as possible,” added Bass. “Not only do we publish the Prospective Plantings and Quarterly Hogs and Pigs reports on March 28, but we also recognize that farmers have a very busy time ahead of them and we want to let them get back to the task at hand as soon as possible.”

As with all of its surveys, NASS keeps all individual responses confidential. The published reports will include only national and state aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operations can be identified.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/22/2013

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 812,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 34.10 million gallons daily. That is up 15,000 b/d from the week before and the highest rate of output in seven weeks. 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 19.4 million barrels, down less than 1 percent since last week.

Imports of ethanol showed 32,000 b/d.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 361.1 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.45%, the second-highest of the year.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.312 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 90,622 metric tons of livestock feed, 80,790 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.23 million pounds of corn oil daily.

All Quiet on the Fertilizer Front

According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of February 2013, prices continue fairly steady as has been the case for the last four months.  Five of the eight major fertilizers nudged lower compared to last month, but these moves were fairly small. DAP had average price of $623 per ton, MAP $665/ton, potash $594/ton, 10-34-0 $610/ton and anhydrous $861/ton.  The other three fertilizers edged higher compared to the third week of January, but again the move was insignificant. Urea had an average price of $575/ton, UAN28 $384/ton and UAN32 was at $438/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.63/lb.N, anhydrous $0.53/lb.N, UAN28 $0.69/lb.N and UAN32 $0.68/lb.N.

Three of the eight major fertilizers are showing a price increase compared to one year earlier. Anhydrous is now 11% higher while urea is 4% higher and UAN32 is 2% above last year.  Three fertilizers are single digits lower in price compared to February 2012. UAN28 is 1% less expensive, DAP is 5% lower and MAP is 6% lower compared to last year.  The remaining two fertilizers are now down double digits from a year ago. 10-34-0 is 25% less expensive and potash is 10% less from a year earlier.

NCGA Seeks a Few Good Grower Leaders

The National Corn Growers Association invites farmers who are graduates of the NCGA Leadership Academy to further hone their leadership skills by participating in the Advanced Leadership Program, sponsored by Syngenta. Applications for the program are due April 12. NCGA urges interested members to contact their state associations now for further information and to be nominated to participate.

"Building a strong cadre of well-trained leaders is an important part of growing a respected and professional association," said NCGA President Pam Johnson. "Our grower leaders serve a great role as industry spokespersons and valuable thought-leaders, and programs like Advanced Leadership give them the opportunity to learn leadership and practice what they learned in several important ways. I found my participation in Advanced Leadership to be invaluable."

The Advanced Leadership Program is open to graduates of Leadership Academy. The first session addresses personal communications, negotiation skills, transformational leadership and association management. The second session addresses advanced media training, deeper examinations of public policy issues, and working with lobbyists, NGOs and regulators.

The focus of the Advanced Leadership Program is to develop graduates into leaders who can take what they have learned and return to their state organizations or national positions and be transformational leaders for those around them. The curriculum is designed to empower this elite group of grower leaders with highly relevant training regarding issues facing state or national leadership that they can, in turn, share with others in their organization.

Prospective participants must be registered members of NCGA. Those interested should contact their state corn organization which will submit nominees for the program. The class size is limited to five to seven participants so the class may fill up quickly.

Advanced Leadership and Leadership Academy are part of Syngenta's "Leadership At Its Best" Program. Since 1986, the National Corn Growers Association, the state corn associations and, most importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from this program. More than 570 growers have gained invaluable media, communications, association management and public policy knowledge and skills over the lifetime of the program.

Applications are also available from state association offices for the Leadership Academy Program. Two applicants per state are invited to apply for that program, which are due March 29.

Farm Bureau Urges New Ag Labor Guestworker Program

A new, modern guestworker program for agricultural workers is needed so that U.S. farmers and ranchers can continue growing food, tending livestock and contributing to the nation’s economy, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman told Congress today.

“We want to keep these jobs in America for U.S. workers, not outsource them,” Stallman testified to the House’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Farm Bureau urged lawmakers to implement a new, market-based labor program administered by the Agriculture Department.

The new program would serve as a substitute for and eventually replace the H-2A program now in place, Stallman explained. It would also provide farmers with access to a legal and stable workforce over the long-term. In addition, the new program would provide employers with greater certainty that they will have access to the workforce they need, when they need it and at a competitive cost.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman testified before Congress about the need for a new, modern guestworker program for agricultural workers. Click on the image for a high resolution copy.

“Ultimately, agriculture’s goal is to develop a program that treats workers fairly, while being efficient and economical for employers to use,” Stallman said, noting that workers would be able to work for multiple employers under a structure that enforces worker rights and protects them from exploitation.

Stallman also addressed agriculture’s short-term labor needs in his testimony.

“In order to provide short-term stability and an orderly, effective transition to a new guestworker program it is imperative that any legislation approved by Congress include provisions permitting current agricultural workers who might not otherwise qualify to obtain work authorization,” Stallman said.

“Any new program will take time to be implemented fully,” Stallman said. “Granting existing experienced agricultural workers work authorization is a crucial part of making sure that there is not economic dislocation in the agricultural sector while we transition to a new program.”

AFBF economists estimate that the agricultural economy and the broader U.S. economy are facing $9 billion or more in lost productivity each year if the agriculture labor force issue is not addressed.

In closing, Stallman reiterated the cooperative efforts of a broad coalition – the Agriculture Workforce Coalition – that is working in a unified manner “to construct a model agricultural labor program that will work” for all sectors of agriculture.

RFA Releases “40 Facts About Ethanol” Video

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today released a new video entitled “40 Facts About Ethanol.”  It is a fast-paced, up-tempo, animated data-based review of ethanol past, present and future. To view this video, please visit or RFA’s YouTube channel. 

“This video proves once and for all that today’s ethanol is not your father’s ethanol. The ethanol industry has made impressive strides in the last 30 years in production volumes, foreign oil displacement, production efficiencies, co-products, job creation, and cellulose and advanced ethanol market entry. The ethanol industry has a great story to tell and this video helps us tell it with data, color and occasionally humor. Whether you think you know all there is about ethanol or you are new to the topic, this video is a must-see! It is a great primer,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA’s President and CEO.


    1982: A handful of small ethanol plants produced 350 million gallons of ethanol.
    1992: 39 ethanol plants produced 985 million gallons of ethanol.
    2002: 66 ethanol plants were in operation, producing 2.14 billion gallons.
    2012: 211 ethanol plants produced 13.3 billion gallons.
    That’s 3700% growth in 30 years.
    Today, ethanol makes up 10% of the U.S. gasoline supply. That’s up from less than 1% just 20 years ago.
    Ethanol is blended in more than 97% of U.S. gasoline today, from coast to coast and border to border. That compares to just 15% in 2002.
    Last year, ethanol displaced an amount of gasoline refined from 462 million barrels of imported crude oil. That’s more oil than we imported from Saudi Arabia.
    And it means the U.S. reduced expenditures on imported oil by $44 billion last year.
    Oil imports from OPEC are down 22% since the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded in 2007.
    And oil imports from the Persian Gulf are down 30% over the past decade.
    Oil import dependence dropped to 41% in 2012 — the lowest since 1995. Without ethanol, oil import dependence would have been 48%.
    Today’s producers get more ethanol out of every bushel—and use less energy and water to do it. That’s the definition of sustainability.
    Since 2001: Natural gas energy required to produce a gallon of ethanol has fallen 28%.
    Electricity use is down 32%. The amount of ethanol produced per bushel of corn has increased to 2.8 gallons, up more than 5%.
    Water use has fallen to 2.7 gallons per gallon of ethanol, down 40% over the last decade and comparable to water use for gasoline production.
    Producing 20 barrels of ethanol requires just 1 barrel of crude oil.
    Ethanol’s energy balance is continually improving: 1 unit of energy invested in making ethanol yields up to 2.3 units of energy available for the consumer.
    Ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40-50% when compared directly to gasoline.
    Emissions of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, air toxics and volatile organic compounds are also reduced when ethanol is blended with gasoline.
     Ethanol is the cleanest and most affordable source of octane on the market today, displacing toxic aromatics such as benzene and toluene.
    Ethanol plants are important economic engines in Rural America.
    The industry was directly responsible for 87,000 jobs in 2012 and indirectly supported 295,000 more.
    More than $43.4 billion in U.S. gross domestic product was generated by the industry last year.
    Consumers benefit too: ethanol reduced gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011.
    That means the average American family saved $1,200 on gasoline purchases in 2011 because of ethanol.
    From 2000 to 2011, growth in ethanol use reduced gasoline prices by an average of $0.29 per gallon.
    That saved the U.S. economy nearly $40 billion per year from 2000-2011 in gasoline purchases.
    Ethanol plants make more than fuel; they also generate highly nutritious animal feed.
    1/3 of every bushel processed by a plant is used to make animal feed, while 1/3 goes to ethanol, and the other 1/3 produces CO2.
    Ethanol uses only the starch in the grain—the protein, fat, and fiber components are made into animal feed, such as distillers grains.
    Distillers grains have superior feeding value to corn, but typically costs less.
    Distillers grains are fed to beef and dairy cattle, hogs, poultry, fish and other meat animals around the world.
    The industry generated 37 million metric tons of feed in 2012—enough to produce seven quarter-pound hamburger patties for every person on the planet.
    The first generation of ethanol plants primarily uses grain to produce ethanol. But a second wave of advanced ethanol plants is being built that will use a new generation of feedstocks.
    At least eight commercial advanced ethanol plants are under construction or commissioning. At least 10 more facilities are in the engineering phase, while a dozen more are in the pilot/demonstration stage.
    These plants will use “cellulosic biomass” to make ethanol; things like corn stalks, wheat straw, poplar, paper waste, forestry residues, municipal waste and other materials.
    Cellulosic ethanol promises to reduce GHG emissions by up to 110% compared to gasoline.
    Many of these plants will also produce electricity.
    The U.S. could produce 75 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels, five times the amount currently produced, according to the Department of Energy.

USDA Invests in Research to End Hunger and Address Food Security Challenges

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited South Dakota State University today to announce more than $75 million in grants for research, education and extension activities to ensure greater food security in the United States and around the world. The awards were made to teams at 21 U.S. universities to conduct research that will find solutions to increasing food availability and decreasing the number of food insecure individuals. Merrigan announced the awards at the university's campus in Brookings, S.D., with university president David L. Chicoine and Barry Dunn, dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.

"Millions of American households lack the resources to access sufficient food, and many of those, including our children, may go hungry at least once this year," said Merrigan. "The grants announced today will help policymakers and others better recognize the food and nutrition needs of low-income communities in our country, while improving the productivity of our nation's agriculture to meet those needs. Globally, the population is expected to grow by more than 2 billion people by 2050. By investing in the science of America's renowned land-grant universities, our aim is to find sustainable solutions to help systems expand to meet the demands of growing populations."

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) made the awards through the 2012 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's (AFRI) Food Security program. The program supports research that will keep American agriculture competitive while helping to end world hunger, and focuses on achieving the long-term outcomes of increasing domestic and international food availability and food accessibility.

This year's funded projects include research at South Dakota State University to examine community efforts to encourage healthy food choices; research at Purdue University to develop new strategies to defend against ear rot diseases in corn. Scientists at the University of Tennessee will identify ways to improve milk quality in the Southeast and enhance the sustainability of the Southeast dairy industry. A team at the University of California in Berkeley will work with tribal groups in the Klamath Basin in Oregon and California to build sustainable regional food systems to aid in enhancing tribal health and food security.

Fiscal year 2012 awards include:

    Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $3,963,395
    University of California, Berkeley, Calif., $3,997,212
    University of California, Davis, Calif., $3,750,000
    University of California, Riverside, Calif., $416,130
    University of Delaware, Newark, Del., $26,000
    University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $410,906
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $5,349,650
    Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa $5,358,680
    Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $2,998,931
    Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $20,195
    Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $5,500,000
    University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $2,925,456
    Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $2,989,032
    Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $2,913,199
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., $3,997,207
    University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., $2,997,040
    University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $3,730,635
    University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $1,166,650
    State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y., $3,965,003
    North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., $3,971,568
    Pennsylvania State University, University, Park, Pa., $420,000
    South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $3,964,611
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $3,000,000
    Texas AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas, $2,977,638
    Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va., $1,141,005
    Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $2,984,255
    University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., $33,400
    USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, Fla., $419,631

AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. The five AFRI Challenge Areas—food safety, global food security, childhood obesity prevention, sustainable bioenergy and climate adaptation—advance fundamental sciences and deliver science-based knowledge to people, allowing them to make informed practical decisions.

These grants complement numerous efforts by USDA and partners to end hunger. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act President Obama signed into law in 2010 is a significant investment in our children and efforts to end childhood hunger. The Act expanded the at-risk meals program (CACFP) which provides supper and after-school snacks to low-income children in all states. The Act also makes it easier for children to receive free meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs through more expansive direct certification and community eligibility using existing data sources. USDA oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit

Land O'Lakes Reports 2012 Results; Company Reports Record Sales and Net Earnings

Land O’Lakes, Inc., today released its 2012 financial results, reporting record sales of $14.1 billion and record net earnings of $241 million. Additionally, three of the business segments achieved record sales, and the Crop Inputs segment had record earnings in addition to record sales.

The company also returned $113 million to members in 2012, the fourth consecutive year in which member returns exceeded $100 million.

The strong results in 2012 continue a trend of exceptional performance. The years of 2007 to 2012 represent the top six years for net sales and earnings in company history. During the same time, the company returned more than a half billion dollars to members.

“This consistent, positive performance is a direct result of the continuing implementation of strategies designed to build our value-added, branded businesses in Dairy Foods, Feed and Crop Inputs,” said Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “These are strong, growing segments of agribusiness.”

A variety of factors influenced the 2012 performance. Among the factors were warmer-than-normal weather, which benefitted the Crop Inputs business, volatile dairy markets, and fluctuations in commodity pricing. Overall, Land O’Lakes’ results were positively impacted by the continuing implementation of strategies focused on consolidating and strengthening the company’s business platform, reducing costs and driving growth, Policinski said.

“Our growth strategy is fueled by the generation of cost savings and the enhancement of revenues in our businesses through a program we call Total Margin Management.  We use these funds to reinvest in product innovations and building our industry-leading brands,” Policinski continued. “We also completed several key acquisitions in 2012. This requires a financial strategy that balances short-term earnings and returns with long-term investment to achieve even greater future rewards.”

Sales and Earnings

Land O’Lakes 2012 net sales totaled $14.1 billion, up 10.2 percent from 2011’s net sales of $12.8 billion. Net earnings for 2012 totaled $241 million, a 31 percent increase from 2011’s $184 million.

Balance Sheet

Total balance sheet debt, including capital leases, was $1,242 million at year-end, versus $915 million as of Dec. 31, 2011. To fund its 2012 acquisitions, the company issued $300 million of senior unsecured notes.

Business Unit Performance

Dairy Foods
Dairy Foods achieved strong results in 2012 despite significant challenges in the first half of the year caused by unexpected and exceptional growth in milk supplies and volatile markets. Net sales were $4.2 billion, down 4 percent from 2011, while pretax earnings improved to $38 million, a 34 percent increase from prior year.

Within the Dairy Foods portfolio, Retail Foods recorded exceptional performance including a number of new records. Record volumes were achieved by Superspreads, which include LAND O LAKES® tub butter products. Continuing innovation generated new product offerings during the year, including Butter With Olive Oil and Sea Salt and Unsalted Butter Half Sticks, a Land O'Lakes exclusive. Retail Cheese also had a strong year; LAND O LAKES® Deli cheese products moved into several of the nation’s largest retail chains and innovation continued with the launch of a new 4 Cheese Italian Blend.

The Land O'Lakes strategy of growth also reshaped the portfolio mix of Dairy Foods in 2012. New growth initiatives included the launch of Sauté ExpressTM Sauté Starter, an on-trend, highly convenient product. Another significant growth development was the launch of Koru™ Creamery Style Yoghurt, a premium craft yoghurt that is targeted at the highly valued younger consumer.

Dairy Foods also grew through significant new acquisitions in 2012, including that of Kozy Shack Enterprises, Inc., adding this leading brand of refrigerated desserts to its product offerings. Dairy Foods also benefited from its 50 percent ownership in Eggland’s Best, LLC, a newly formed joint venture with Eggland’s Best, Inc.  Eggland’s Best, LLC provides new outlets for the LAND O LAKES brand in the high growth category of specialty eggs.

Strong results were also achieved in the Business-to-Business segment of Dairy Foods, specifically Foodservice, which provides products to schools, full-service restaurants, and government organizations. The Industrial Foods business was negatively impacted by unexpected milk volume in the first half of the year plus commodity price impacts on cheese and whey. Despite these adverse market conditions, Land O’Lakes continued to expand its relationships with large, global customers.


Purina Animal Nutrition delivered very good performance in 2012. Results were driven by strong margins throughout its portfolio plus the launch of a major new branding platform, new product lines and a key acquisition. Net sales were $4.6 billion, 15 percent more than last year while pretax earnings for the year totaled $31 million, 63 percent favorable to 2011.

Purina achieved significant margin improvement gains in the Lifestyle and Livestock businesses through improved product mix, focused pricing actions and successful risk management. The 2012 results were also favorably influenced by strong protein margins in the ingredients business and by the successful acquisition of Old Mill Troy in the premix business.

In 2012 the company unified its feed products under the Purina brand name and changed the name of the feed company to Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC. This strategy was designed to foster growth by leveraging the power of the iconic Purina brand, focusing product identity and maximizing brand marketing power to drive sales.

This brand strategy came to life with the launch of a new Purina® small animal product line, expanding the power of the Purina brand into the $500 million small pet market. Additional product innovations included the introduction of several new horse products including high-margin supplements and Hydration Hay™ Blocks. Livestock and cattle innovations included HeiferSmart® and STORM® Cattle Mineral, an industry-leading weatherized cattle mineral product.

Crop Inputs

Winfield Solutions delivered record results in 2012 bolstered by a powerful new branding strategy, continuing innovation and warmer-than-normal weather conditions that drove demand for WinField’s industry-leading products and services to new highs. Net sales for 2012 totaled $4.7 billion, 18 percent higher than the prior year. Pretax earnings for the year were $228 million, 62 percent more than 2011.

Major brand building advances in 2012 included uniting the company’s extensive lineup of product and services under the WinField brand, providing an integrated, customer-facing brand platform. This initiative was launched with a national media campaign including television and print advertising, public relations and on-line brand awareness strategies.

WinField also continued to build its leadership position in technology and innovation. The acclaimed R7® Tool continued to expand with over 300 accounts enrolled and 2,500 sellers trained to leverage Answer Plot® data in a Global Information System framework. In recognition of its achievements, WinField earned the 2012 Agriculture Technologies Award from the Agricultural Retailers Association.

In 2012, WinField also acquired Precision Turf & Chemical, Inc., the latest expansion of the company’s Professional Products Group, which markets products and services to golf courses, recreational facilities and sports venues.


The Layers segment, conducted through Moark, LLC, experienced a challenging year with unfavorable results driven primarily by high feed costs and lower commodity and brown egg pricing. Losses for the Layers segment totaled $34 million in 2012 compared with a loss of $3 million in 2011. Net sales achieved a new record of $735 million, 23 percent more than 2011.

A confluence of significant industry-wide challenges combined to produce the losses in Layers in 2012. These included lower than average commodity pricing, lower brown egg pricing due to excess supply in the market and excess production of small and medium eggs as a result of younger flocks and hot weather during the summer. The earnings challenges in Layers are being addressed through a sharpened focus on quality improvements and margin enhancement initiatives. Despite the industry-wide headwinds, Moark continued to pursue sales growth and achieved significant success with product introduction into one of the nation’s largest retailers.

DuPont Leader Updates 2013 Agriculture Research Pipeline with Investors

At the Goldman Sachs 17th Annual Agribusiness Conference today, DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Borel highlighted 2013 growth drivers and advancements of its agriculture research pipeline to sustain innovation across its seed, crop protection and nutrition and health businesses. Recent portfolio changes continue to solidify DuPont’s unique ability to address the global food security challenge by providing solutions across the food value chain.

"Ongoing global dynamics like increased urbanization in developing economies and consumer demand for protein-rich diets continue to strain today’s agriculture and food system. Farmers, grocers and food manufacturers seek new innovations to produce and package safe, nutritious food," said Borel. "DuPont is uniquely positioned to leverage science to provide options and local solutions that help feed a growing global population."

DuPont’s recent acquisition of Danisco and full ownership of Solae further strengthen the company’s ability to bring new innovation and solutions to customers across the food value chain.

Borel discussed the 2013 agriculture research pipeline that features an integrated approach to product development including germplasm, native and biotech traits, with 12 product advancements including 4 program additions as a result of sustained R&D efforts.

Following the strong commercial launches of Optimum® AQUAmax™ hybrids, Optimum® AcreMax® insect protection and Optimum® AcreMax® Xtra products in 2012, this year’s pipeline advancements underscore DuPont Pioneer’s progress in bringing local solutions to growers’ biggest challenges. Together with the solid growth of DuPont Crop Protection’s DuPont™ Rynaxypyr®, and launches of DuPont™ Cyazypyr™, Dermacor® seed treatment and Penthiopyrad, DuPont’s Agriculture pipeline is delivering today and poised for future growth.

"Our ability to unlock our strong seed germplasm potential using biotechnology, sustainable chemistry profiles and leading nutrition science demonstrates DuPont science at work for the global marketplace. Our unique routes-to-market, application development capabilities and local footprint ensures a close relationship with growers and food companies alike to bring tangible solutions from the ground up," Borel said.

Borel used the Brazil corn business as an example of successful product introductions combined with our advantaged route-to-market. Using advanced breeding and biotechnology, DuPont scientists have created unique products like Optimum® Intrasect®, with two modes of action for lepidopteran insect control, and early soybean varieties and corn hybrids uniquely designed to enable safrinha double-cropping systems. These 2 high-yielding products with native and biotech protection, delivered through our system of local sales professionals helped DuPont Pioneer achieve a multi-point gain in corn market share in the Brazil summer season and position us for continued growth in the current safrinha season.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday February 25 Ag News

Nebraska Crop and Weather Summary, February 2013

Agricultural Summary:

For  the month of February 2013,  snow  fall across  the eastern  two  thirds of  the  state brought much needed moisture to drought impacted areas, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  Snow accumulations were heaviest in the Southwest and South Central Districts with some areas exceeding 12  inches  of  snow.    However,  the  Panhandle  received  only  limited  amounts  of  precipitation  for  the  month.   Wheat condition  continued  well  below  year  ago  levels  with most  of  the  crop  rated  fair  to  poor.  Cattle  are  in  mostly  good condition with  calving underway.   Cattle made good use of  stalks  until  snow  fell during  the  third week of  the month, causing producers to rely on feed stocks.  
Weather Summary: 

Temperatures averaged 1degree below normal across  the southern Panhandle and portions of  the southeast.   Most  of  the  remainder  of  the  state was  1-3  degrees  above  normal.   Precipitation was  above  normal  in  the central third of the state while the western and eastern thirds were mostly below normal.  Snow depth averaged 6 inches across  the  state with  9-10  inches  common  in  Southwestern  and  South Central Districts.   During  the  last week  of  the month, soil temperatures ranged from 28 to 33 degrees.  
Field Crops Report: 

Wheat conditions statewide rated 14 percent very poor, 36 poor, 38 fair, 12 good, and 0 excellent, well below  last year.   Hay and  forage  supplies  rated 11 percent very  short, 38  short, 51 adequate and 0  surplus, well below year ago levels.
Livestock, Pasture,  and Range Report:  

Cattle  and Calves  condition  rated  0  percent  very  poor,  2  poor,  16  fair,  78 good, and 4 excellent, below last year.  Cows that have calved since January 1, were 18 percent. 

DIXON: Producers will be using more feed stocks following last week’s snow storm.   In general, conditions remain mild and favorable for livestock.  Any form of moisture is welcome at this point in time.
KNOX: Calving is just starting. There is very little frost in the ground.

DODGE: Wheat conditions declined a bit. Cattle continue to graze stalks until the snow. Calving is going well. 
DOUGLAS:  Big snow and we will take a lot of rain.
POLK:  A snowstorm brought 6-7 inches of snow to the area.

GAGE:  Some questions about producing annual forage crops to supplement feed and or pasture.
JOHNSON:  Nice to get the much needed moisture.  Calving is just getting started.  Activities include hauling grain and tending to livestock.

2013 Nebraska Crop Budgets Now Available Online

The 2013 Nebraska Crop Budgets have been estimated and posted online.

Fifty-three budgets for 16 crops are available from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension's Cropwatch and the Department of Agricultural Economics. They can be found at or

One challenge in estimating the budgets was determining prices for materials used in production, said Roger Wilson, extension farm management/enterprise budget analyst.

"This is accomplished through visiting with suppliers willing to share their views on price expectations," he added.

Costs per acre have increased again this year, varying from 7 to 13 percent for the corn budgets. The corn budget with the largest increase is conventionally produced continuous corn on dryland. A number of different corn budgets show a 7 percent cost increase, mostly no-till or reduced till systems.

Cost increases for the different soybean production systems range from 12 to 20 percent. The budget with the lowest per acre cost increase is for a gravity-irrigated, ridge-till system. The budget showing the highest cost increase is the pivot-irrigated, no- till system using Roundup Ready seed grown after corn.

The no-till fallow budget showed the least increase in cost (5 percent) for wheat production while the no-till following a row crop showed the most (12 percent).

In addition to estimating a total cost of production per acre, each budget also shows the cash costs of production. While these budgets do not estimate returns, they are based on a given yield which is used to calculate both a total and a cash cost per unit of production, Wilson said.

Generally, prices of inputs are higher. However, this year the price of all fertilizers included in the budgets are expected to be lower except for anhydrous ammonia.

Two areas where prices have increased substantially from last year's budgets are real estate costs and crop insurance.

It's expected that farmland prices will continue their upward trend. Since the revenue option is used to calculate crop insurance, higher commodity prices result in increased premiums. 

Wilson emphasized that the budgets are estimates based on assumptions.

"They should be examined carefully prior to being used for decision making, he said.

Feedlot Symposium at MARC

You are invited to a one day Feedlot Symposium at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center that will focus on the feedlot research program at the Center.  The event will be held from 9:00am to 3:30pm, with an optional tour of  the feedlot and feed efficiency building to follow on March 5th, 2013. The agenda will feature presentations by the USMARC scientists on areas of  research such as:
•Feedlot nutrition
•Animal Health
•Animal stress and well-being
•Resistivity technology for monitoring lagoons
•Feed efficiency
•Mitigation strategies for adulterant E. coli strains
•Meat quality

Please RSVP by March 1, 2013 to Janel Nierman at 402.762.4110 or

The Lifetime Journeys of Manure-Based Microbes

Studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are shedding some light on the microbes that dwell in cattle manure--what they are, where they thrive, where they struggle, and where they can end up.

This research, which is being conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the agency's Agroecosystems Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., supports the USDA priority of ensuring food safety. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

In one project, ARS microbiologist Lisa Durso used fecal samples from six beef cattle to identify a core set of bovine gastrointestinal bacterial groups common to both beef and dairy cattle. She also observed a number of bacteria in the beef cattle that had not been reported in dairy cows, and identified a diverse assortment of bacteria from the six individual animals, even though all six consumed the same diet and were the same breed, gender and age.

In another study, Durso collaborated with ARS agricultural engineer John Gilley and others to study how livestock diet affected the transport of pathogens in field runoff from manure-amended soils. The scientists added two types of manure to experimental conventional-till and no-till fields at 1-, 2-, or 4-year application rates. The manure had been collected from livestock that had consumed either corn or feed with wet distillers grains.

After a series of simulated rain events, the team collected and analyzed samples of field runoff and determined that neither diet nor tillage management significantly affected the transport of fecal indicator bacteria. But they did note that diet affected the transport of bacteriophages--viruses that invade bacteria--in field runoff.

Gilley also conducted an investigation into how standing wheat residues affected water quality in runoff from fields amended with 1-, 2-, or 4-year application rates of manure. The scientists found that runoff loads of dissolved phosphorus, total phosphorus, nitrates, nitrogen, and total nitrogen were much higher from plots with residue cover. The team also observed that runoff from fields amended with 4-year application rates of manure had significantly higher levels of total phosphorus and dissolved phosphorus than fields amended with 1-year or 2-year manure rates.

Results from these studies have been published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and Transactions of the ASABE.

Read more about this research in the February 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

2013 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey Follows Recent Trend

The 2013 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey followed the recent trend of small, but consistent increases in rates each year. According to William Edwards, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach economist, most operations showed increases of three to five percent over the average rates in the 2012 survey.

The values reported on the survey are the average of all the responses received for each category. The range of the highest and lowest responses received is also reported. These values are intended only as a guide.

“There are many reasons why the rate charged in a particular situation should be above or below the average,” Edwards said. “These include the timeliness with which operations are performed, quality and special features of the machine, operator skill, size and shape of fields, number of acres contracted and the condition of the crop for harvesting. The availability of custom operators in a given area will also affect rates.”

Several new operations and services were included in the 2013 survey, including vertical tillage, providing a seed tender, soybean combining with a draper head and mowing lawns.

The Ag Decision Maker offers a Decision Tool to help custom operators and other farmers estimate their own costs for specific machinery operations. The Machinery Cost Calculator can be found under Crops, then Machinery in the Ag Decision Maker table of contents.

The 2013 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey can be downloaded from the Extension Online Store,, or the Ag Decision Maker website,, as Information File A3-10, Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. Print copies will be available at county extension offices. 

EPA Approves Advanced Biofuel Pathway for Camelina

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) released the following statement Monday after the EPA finalized its rule approving camelina oil as a new low-carbon feedstock under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

"This decision adds to the growing list of biodiesel feedstocks that meet the EPA's standards for Advanced Biofuel and gives us yet another option for producing sustainable, domestic biodiesel that displaces imported oil," said Anne Steckel, NBB's vice president of federal affairs. "This is important for our energy security, for our economy and for addressing climate change, and we thank the EPA for conducting a thorough and fair review."

The RFS requires a 50% greenhouse-gas emissions reduction for qualifying Biomass-based Diesel or Advanced Biofuel. Assessing whether a fuel pathway meets that threshold requires a comprehensive evaluation of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the renewable fuel as compared to the lifecycle emissions of the gasoline or diesel fuel that it replaces. Already, a handful of biodiesel feedstocks such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats qualify as Advanced under the program.

NAFEC Leaders Head to Washington, DC to Speak with Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture

The National Association of Farmer Elected Committee’s (NAFEC) is planning their annual legislative conference this week in Washington, DC to convey to Congress and the Administration concerns their members hear about, every day in rural America.  The NAFEC leadership has planned this conference to coincide with that of the National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) conference. The County FSA employees along with democratically elected county committees provide the delivery of farm programs to producers in nearly every county in the United States.  The combined efforts of these two organizations with both Congress and USDA, provide a unified message that the Farm Service Agency should be given the responsibility to deliver all federally mandated farm programs as efficiently and effectively as possible, while maintaining the critical oversight needed.  NAFEC is proud of the local grassroots control county committee’s provide, allowing them to be a critical check and balance between the Federal government and agriculture producers.  This system provides not only protection for producers, but taxpayers as well.

According to NAFEC National President Craig Turner, a farmer and rancher from Matador Texas, “the most pressing issue facing NAFEC and our members is passage of a new five year Farm Bill.  Producers need certainty in programs so that long-term decisions can be made.  The uncertainty facing farmers and ranchers due to this delay is causing significant problems in allowing them to plan accordingly.   The lack of five year Farm Bill has also placed a huge strain on livestock producers who need disaster legislation as they continue to try and recover from the worst drought in decades.”

Other issues NAFEC support includes:
-    The need for adequate staffing in FSA offices to ensure farm program delivery and support for the one of America’s greatest assets, “Agriculture”.
-    The need for more oversight by the local County Committee’s of Private Crop Insurance.  FSA offices and locally elected committee’s are the perfect mechanism to review crop acreage and production reports to ensure the integrity of billions of dollars of federally backed crop insurance policies for the benefit of American taxpayers.
-    The need for FSA to be the administrative agency for all current conservation programs and any and all new Farm bill production programs.

E15 Hearing: No Science, Just Hyperbolic Rhetoric and Scare Mongering

In advance of tomorrow’s House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment’s hearing on E15, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association submitted a letter to both protest the one-sided, Big Oil influenced nature of the witness list as well as note for the record the extensive and quality testing prior to the approval of E15, and the cost-saving, environment-enhancing, national security strengthening benefits of this new ethanol blend.

Dinneen comments on the need for such a letter, “It both saddens and angers me that in this day and age such a lopsided, stacked hearing could actually happen. It is shameful to see how tight of a grip oil companies have on Congress.  Big Oil is running scared because their profit-gouging monopoly is threatened by Americans’ desire for fuel choice and savings.  Ethanol and E15 are gaining momentum.  Science and consumer demand are on our side.  The facts and our track record will speak louder than any scare tactic.”

The letter begins, “Fundamentally, the debate about E15 should be one of consumer choice.  There is no requirement that gasoline marketers offer E15 and no mandate for consumers to buy it.  However, for those marketers that want to offer their customers a higher octane alternative to petroleum, E15 is a great option.

“As gasoline prices across the country continue to climb, threatening household budgets and economic recovery alike, ethanol continues to provide consumer savings at the pump.  Today, ethanol is priced approximately $0.80 below the wholesale costs of gasoline.  Beyond its gasoline displacement benefit, as ethanol now represents 10 percent of the nation’s motor gasoline supply, it has greatly reduced the need for imports and provided a macroeconomic benefit to gasoline prices.  Depending on the study you choose, the increased use of ethanol in 2011 saved consumers between $0.89 and $1.09.  Those savings would only be enhanced by the use of ethanol in higher blends.”

Dinneen highlights the hypocrisy of the charges against E15 by noting the blind eye turned toward suboctane gasoline violations: “Unfortunately, due to the hyperbolic rhetoric and scare mongering by the major oil companies concerned about losing even more market share to domestically produced renewables, today there are only about 12 stations across the entire country offering this fuel to consumers with 2001 and newer vehicles.  While we want that market share to grow, the attention these 12 stations are attracting seems wildly disproportionate to the potential harm, particularly when viewed in the context of other fuel quality issues with demonstrable negative consequences for consumers and air quality.  For example, in many mountain states today refiners are selling a sub-octane gasoline that is not covered under any car manufacturer’s warranty.  It is well understood that less than 87 octane gasoline will cause engine damage and undermine emissions control systems.  Where is the outrage about that?  When will there be a Committee hearing about inferior gasoline threatening our air and engines?  The myopic focus of this Committee on E15, to the exclusion of other more significant gasoline quality issues, fuels cynicism and leads to the inescapable conclusion that this is about market share, not safety.”

The letter notes, “E15 has been the most aggressively and comprehensively tested fuel in the history of the EPA.  The miles driven on E15 equate to 12 round trips to the moon and back without a single failure.” It continues on to explain RFA’s Misfueling Mitigation Plan and recent actions to address small engine and motorcycle concerns.

In closing, Dinneen offers to work closely with the Subcommittee on a more balanced approach to E15 reviews in the future. “To leave the market artificially constrained further limits market opportunities for next generation biofuels very close to commercialization, missing an opportunity to meaningfully increase America’s use of renewable fuels and reduce our dependence on imported oil.  The RFA is working diligently with the petroleum industry, gas retailers, automakers, and consumers to ensure E15 is used properly.  The RFA looks forward to working with you to further develop and implement sound policies around the science of E15.”


Monsanto Company has announced that six recipients will be awarded research grants as part of the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Research Program.  The program was established to provide merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year for up to three years for outstanding research projects that address specific aspects of corn rootworm biology, genomics and management issues.

The CRW Knowledge Research Program is guided by a 10-person Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by Dr. Steve Pueppke, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and AgBioResearch Director at Michigan State University, and Dr. Dusty Post, Monsanto’s global insect management lead. Additional committee members include experts from academia and agricultural organizations, and were selected based on their expertise in corn rootworm biology and insect management practices.

“This program focuses the efforts of our best public sector researchers from across the United States on one of the most damaging pests of corn,” said Pueppke. “We hope the research helps provide effective and sustainable solutions and management practices that help benefit corn producers,” said Pueppke.

The six awards granted focus on a number of items from evaluating how best to manage corn rootworm under current production practices to evaluating strategies to delay the onset of resistance evolution. The award recipients are:
-    Brigitte Tenhumberg, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
-    Bryony Bonning, Iowa State University
-    Aaron Gassmann, Iowa State University
-    Bruce Hibbard, University of Missouri
-    Marcé Lorenzen, North Carolina State University
-    Kenneth Ostlie, University of Minnesota

“We were pleased with the wide range of proposals submitted which focus on corn rootworm management and biology,” said Post. “This is a challenging pest and this program is part of our continuing effort to increase our understanding of corn rootworm and to provide sustainable solutions for farmers.”

For more information on the program and Monsanto’s commitment to steward corn rootworm-protected traits, visit

CWT Assists with 2.1 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and WMP Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 12 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association and United Dairymen of Arizona to sell 1.122 million pounds (509 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese; 908,305 pounds (412 metric tons) of butter and 44,092 pounds (20 metric tons) of whole milk powder (WMP) to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. The product will be delivered February through July 2013.

Year-to-date CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 23.735 million pounds of cheese, 12.824 million pounds of butter and 132,277 pounds of whole milk powder to 24 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 498.6 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. By comparison, in the month of January, U.S. milk production is estimated to be 71 million pounds ahead of January 2012.

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.

Dairy Situation and Outlook

Bob Cropp, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension

Milk prices will be lower for the month of February before starting back up. The Class III price was $18.14 for January and will be near $17.25 for February. The Class IV price was $17.62 in January and will be near $17.50 for February. These lower prices are driven by lower commodity prices. Commodity prices often soften after the first of the year before increasing seasonally towards Easter.

On the CME both cheddar barrels and 40-pound blocks have been below their January average of $1.6388 per pound and $1.6965 per pound respectively during all of February. Barrels were a low of $1.5325 per pound on February 4th before starting to increase. Barrels reached $1.63 on February 14th, but fell during the last two trading session to $1.63. The 40-pound blocks held steady at $1.645 per pound from January 24th until February 6th and increased to $1.675 on February 18th. But, for the last two trading sessions blocks fell 3 cents to $1.645. With the earlier increases there was hope that this was the start of a higher Class III price for March. Western dry whey prices averaged $0.6063 per pound in January and have shown weakness since then. Dry whey is now $0.58. Western nonfat dry milk averaged $1.5513 per pound in January but it also has shown weakness and is now $1.52. Butter was $1.555 per pound from the end of January until February 12th but higher than its January average of $1.4933. Butter has increased to $1.605 per pound.

Milk production above year ago levels particularly in Upper Midwest states and some Northeast states has resulted in relatively high increases in dairy product production. December 2012 production compared to December a year earlier showed increases of 20.9% for butter, 6.3% for cheddar cheese with total American cheese up 4.2%, and total cheese production up 3.8%. Dry whey production was up 21.7% and nonfat dry milk production up 35.8%. With the slowdown in sales after the holidays and lower exports this increase in production increased dairy stocks. December 31st stocks compared to December a year earlier showed butter up 43%. But, while both American cheese and total cheese stocks increased by 4% and 5% respectively from November to December stocks were 1% lower for American cheese and down only slightly (-0.1%) for total cheese. Dry whey stocks were 21.7% higher and nonfat dry milk stocks which had increased 42% from November were 9.1% higher.

USDA’s release of January milk production showed milk production continues to run higher than a year ago, but just 0.5% higher. Milk cows were 17,000 head lower than a year ago for a 0.2% decline. Milk per cow was 0.7% higher. Milk cow numbers which were declining May through October have increased since then by 8,236 head. Reports are that California’s milk production has improved during February, but January’s production was 4.3% lower than a year ago. California had 2,000 fewer cows and milk per cow was 85 pounds less. Except for New Mexico which had 0.4% more milk than a year ago, other Western states all had decreased of 1.3% for Idaho, 1.3% for Arizona, and 1.1% for Texas.

Northeast states are all showing increases in milk production mainly due to better milk per cow. January compared to a year ago shows production up 3.1% in New York, 0.9% in Pennsylvania, 3.6% in Ohio and 3.1% in Michigan. Upper Midwest states also had increases. Production was up 2.4% in Iowa, 4.5% in Minnesota and 4.9% in Wisconsin. For Iowa and Minnesota all of the increase was due to more milk per cow. Wisconsin had 5,000 more cows and 80 pounds more milk per cow.

Milk prices could still start to improve beginning with March. With slow improvement in the economy sales continue to show growth. The world supply and demand situation is forecasted to remain relatively tight through at least summer giving opportunity for favorable U.S. exports. So exports ought to be a positive factor going forward for higher milk prices. And prices normally improve as we approach Easter. Milk production normally peaks around May or June giving rise to higher milk prices summer and fall. Dairy cow slaughter continues to run well above a year ago which should reduce cow numbers for at least the first half of the year. But, up to now despite heavier cow slaughter there exist and inventory of dairy replacements to increase cow numbers. Yet, cow numbers are expected to decrease for the first six months before perhaps starting to increase again during the last half of the year. That is, if milk prices improve and there is some easing of feed prices. On January 1st dairy replacements were 2% lower than a year ago but still at 49.4 per 100 milk cows. But replacements expected to calve within the next 12 months were down 4% from a year ago and averaged 31.8 per 100 milk cows. But, as indicated earlier the number of replacements has more than offset increased slaughter increasing cow numbers since October. Reports are that there may be more herd liquidations between now and spring and this could also reduce cow numbers. The number of licensed dairy herds declined by 1,960 in 2012 to 49,331 herds. Whether or not the wide spread drought of last year comes to an end in 2013 will have a major impact on cow numbers and milk production last half of 2013.

While dairy futures still show rather modest improvement in milk prices, the probability of doing better than this still exists. Current Class III futures show no improvement for March and don’t reach $18 until June and peaks at $18.55 for August and September. I still believe $19 by September and October is still very possible. There are price forecasters who have Class III as high as $20 by then. And of course there are some who forecast lower prices expecting much stronger milk production second half of the year. But, I believe the probability is better for higher rather than lower prices. But, recognizing milk prices change with relatively small changes or anticipated changes in milk production, sales or exports all forecasts are possible. This challenges dairy producers and milk processor in managing price risk.

Brazil Soy Harvest Accelerates Further

Rains eased for a second week in Brazil's center-west, allowing soybean harvesting to proceed at a breakneck pace.  As a result, Brazil-wide harvested area almost doubled in seven days, reaching 27% of the projected 68.9 million acres for 2012-13 as of Friday, AgRural reported.

While harvesting was quick across the center-west, its pace was truly astounding in the north of Mato Grosso, the No. 1 soy state, where farmers collected 30% of the crop in just seven days, taking total collected area to 61%.

For while the rain eased in the center-west, it intensified in the formerly drought-hit south.  As a result, farmers in Parana, the No. 2 soy state, struggled to harvest. Indeed, there were reports of desiccated crops losing bean weight as they sat in the fields. Still, field work remains ahead of schedule in the state at 31% complete, up on the 23% harvested last year. And with cooperatives in the top-producing west of the state reporting average yields of 49 bushels per acre, all appears on track in the state.

In the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, showers continued to fall, allowing plants to further recover from a very dry January. With the moisture arriving just as much of the crop is filling pods, and more rain forecast for this week, a decent harvest now appears increasingly likely, said AgRural.

Know How Much You Have Before Applying More

When traveling, knowing how much fuel is in your gas tank versus how much is needed to get to your destination is important. Similarly, knowing how much nitrogen you start with in the soil and how much is needed to get to maximum yields is critical. Realizing these numbers will help you be more efficient with your corn nitrogen (N) fertilizer.

“To obtain maximum yields and get the most out of your N application, it needs to be the right amount, at the right place and at the right time,” says John Shanahan, DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager.

Determining the correct N rate can be a challenge. First, assess how much is currently in the soil. One way to assess a field’s N level is by researching how much was applied and measuring how much was taken off. This can be done by multiplying 0.66 (average pounds of N a bushel of corn removes) by the number of bushels produced per acre. Then subtract from the amount of nitrogen applied per acre. This will help you estimate the amount of residual N and determine how much you need to adjust for this year’s application.

While most like to take a soil sample in the fall, taking a spring soil sample is another way to help determine the amount of N still left in the soil. After the residual amount of N has been found via a soil sample, assess the need of the coming crop to calculate an efficient N application. 

“With our N fertilizer trials, if there was a lot free N from mineralization, we didn’t see a large response after applying the N,” Shanahan reports. “We will likely see a fair amount of free N this year due to the drought and lower yields, so knowing how much N is in the soil will help you apply the right amount this spring.”

When applying N, placement is important. Applying N in a band and adjacent to the plant with incorporation can often be the most cost effective and decrease your N losses. Making sure the applicator is calibrated correctly allows you to better control and place the N.

The ideal time for plants to receive N is just after emergence. With applications of N in the spring and at side-dressing time, crops are able to utilize more of the N and increase yields. However, applications in the fall with a mild winter, like this past winter, will also   provide a sufficient amount of N in the soil at the right time.

Cattle Groups Square Off with HSUS Over Horse Slaughter

R-CALF USA joined with other groups and individuals to counter the Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS') efforts to block the humane slaughter of unwanted and unusable horses at a New Mexico slaughtering facility.

Led by the International Equine Business Association (IEBA), R-CALF USA, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA), the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association (NMCGA), and several individuals filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit initially filed by Valley Meat, LLC (Valley Meat), against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Valley Meat alleges that USDA is wrongfully refusing to provide final inspection services for horse slaughter at Valley Meat's New Mexico facility now that Congress has fully restored funding for horse slaughter inspection.

The HSUS previously filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit as well as a motion to dismiss in its effort to block horse slaughter in the United States. The HSUS also is seeking to require that USDA conduct an environmental assessment and/or an environmental impact statement for each decision to grant slaughter inspection, a requirement R-CALF USA and the other potential interveners believe would result in devastating impacts to the entire meat industry, including the cattle industry.

An affidavit filed by R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard in support of his group's intervention explains that even though horse slaughter was temporarily suspended in the United States, domestic horses continue to be slaughtered in foreign countries. He stated that these horses are being transported over extremely long distances and then slaughtered in Mexican slaughtering plants that do not follow the humane slaughtering practices required by the USDA.

R-CALF USA and the other groups seeking intervention believe that because Valley Meat would be subject to United States' humane slaughtering standards, the inhumane treatment of U.S. horses in foreign slaughtering plants would be alleviated.

Reminder: Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Must be Postmarked by March 25

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today reminded Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who allege discrimination by the USDA in past decades that there are 45 days remaining in the filing period closing March 25, 2013.

"Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices in the past from the USDA have 45 days left to file a claim in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness," said Secretary Vilsack. "USDA urges potential claimants to contact the Claims Administrator for information and mail their claim packages on or before March 25, 2013."

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

As announced in February 2011, the voluntary claims process will make available at least $1.33 billion for cash awards and tax relief payments, plus up to $160 million in farm debt relief, to eligible Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers. There are no filing fees to participate in the program.

The Department will continue reaching out to potential Hispanic and female claimants around the country to get the word out to individuals who may be eligible for this program so they have the opportunity to participate.

Call center representatives can be reached at 1-888-508-4429. Claimants may register for a claims package (by calling the number or visiting the website) or may download the forms from the website. All those interested in learning more or receiving information about the claims process and claims packages are encouraged to attend meetings in your communities about the claims process and contact the website at any time or call center telephone number Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Phone: 1-888-508-4429
Claims Period: September 24, 2012 - 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.