Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28 USDA Reports + Ag News


Corn growers in Nebraska intend to plant 9.9 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2013, down 1 percent from last year. If realized, this will represent the second largest planted acreage in Nebraska since 1933, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  

Soybean growers intend to plant 4.7 million acres, down 7 percent from last year.   Hay acreage for harvest, at 2.7 million acres, is expected to be up 5 percent from last year.

Winter wheat acres seeded last fall totaled 1.45 million acres, up 5 percent from a year earlier.  Sorghum growers expect to plant 220,000 acres, up 52 percent from last year.  Oat intentions are estimated at 135,000 acres, up 80 percent from last year. 

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 130,000 acres, down 10 percent from 2012.   Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 43,800 acres, down 14 percent from last year.   Oil sunflower planting intentions are 30,000 acres, down 3,000 acres from last year. Non-oil sunflower area is expected to total 13,000 acres, up 4,500 acres from last year. 

These acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted the first two weeks of March. This report is intended  to assist growers  in  finalizing  their acreage plans  for 2013. Actual area planted may vary from  that  indicated  due  to  farmer’s  final  assessment  of  planting  options,  effects  of  weather, availability of production inputs, and changes in price expectations for the coming crop year.

Iowa Prospective Plantings

The annual Prospective Plantings report published by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service  is based on the voluntary responses from nearly two thousand Iowa producers.  Data collection began February 27, with final interviews completed on March 19.  This report provides an indication of the acres farmers intend to plant as of March 1.  Actual plantings will depend greatly upon weather, economic conditions and the availability of production inputs at the time producers must make their final planting decisions.

Corn: Iowa farmers intend to plant 14.2 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2013.  This is unchanged from 2012 and if realized, would be 200,000 acres below the record acreage planted in 1981.
Soybeans:  Producers in Iowa intend to plant 9.4 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year, up slightly from 2012.  

Oats: Iowa farmers intend to plant 120,000 acres of oats. This is 10,000 acres less than producers planted in 2012.

Hay: Iowa farmers intend to harvest 1.10 million acres of hay in 2013. If realized, it would be 40,000 acres below the record low acreage harvested in 2011 and 2012.

USDA Prospective Plantings

Corn Planted Acreage Up Slightly from 2012
Soybean Acreage Down Slightly
All Wheat Acreage Up 1 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Down 19 Percent

Corn growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2013, up slightly from last year and 6 percent higher than in 2011. If realized, this will represent the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1936 when an estimated 102 million acres were planted.

Soybean planted area for 2013 is estimated at 77.1 million acres, down slightly from last year but the fourth highest on record, if realized. Compared with 2012, planted area is down across the Great Plains with the exception of North Dakota. Nebraska and Minnesota are expecting the largest declines compared with last year, while Illinois and North Dakota are expecting the largest increases.

All wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 56.4 million acres, up 1 percent from 2012. The 2013 winter wheat planted area, at 42.0 million acres, is 2 percent above last year and up slightly from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 28.9 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 9.67 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.39 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2013 is expected to total 12.7 million acres, up 3 percent from 2012. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The intended Durum planted area for 2013 is estimated at 1.75 million acres, down 18 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2013 is expected to total 10.0 million acres, 19 percent below last year. Upland area is expected to total 9.82 million acres, down 19 percent from 2012. American Pima area is expected to total 206,000 acres, down 14 percent from 2012.

Sidebar:  USDA Expects Record-High Combined Corn and Soybean Acreage

Determined to make up for a crop that was adversely affected by historic drought last year, U.S. farmers intend to plant a record-high combined 174.4 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2013, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). If realized, corn will represent the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1936 (102 million planted acres) and for soybeans the fourth highest acreage on record.

Corn growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres in 2013, up for the fifth consecutive year, slightly higher than last year and 6 percent higher than in 2011. With expected returns for corn historically high going into 2013, producers throughout the south and the northern Great Plains intend to plant more corn. Record high corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon. Conversely, most states in the Corn Belt which experienced severe drought in 2012 expect to plant slightly less acres to corn in 2013. The largest year-over-year decreases are expected in Illinois, Missouri and South Dakota. Iowa continues to lead the nation with 14.2 million acres of corn.

Farmers in some areas of the country remain challenged by persistent drought conditions which is limiting the amount of expected soybean acreage in some states. Therefore, nationally 77.1 million acres of soybeans are expected to be planted, down slightly from last year but up 3 percent from 2011. Compared with 2012, planting intentions are down across all of the Great Plains, with the exception of North Dakota. The year-over-year national decrease is only 72,000 acres. With planted area in most of the eastern Corn Belt and parts of the Southeast expected to rise, these increases nearly balance out the declines in the Great Plains. If realized, farmers in New York, North Dakota and Pennsylvania will also set new records for planted soybean acres.

Also affected by difficult weather conditions, U.S. cotton growers expect to plant significantly fewer acres in 2013. The expected cotton area this year is 10.0 million acres, down 19 percent from last year. If realized, planted area in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma will be a record low. As of March 24, cotton planting in Texas was 3 percent complete, 5 percentage points behind last year and 2 percentage points behind the 5-year average.

Prospective Plantings provides the first official, survey based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2013 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 83,500 farm operators across the United States.


Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 590 million bushels, down 14 percent from March 1, 2012, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office. Of the total, 285 million bushels are stored on farms, down 19 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 305 million bushels, are down 9 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 70.9 million bushels, down 42 percent from last year. On-farm stocks are 20.5 million bushels, down 36 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 50.4 million bushels, are down 44 percent from 2012. 

Wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 37.2 million bushels, down 3 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 1.6 million are down 33 percent from 2012. Off-farm stocks of 35.6 million bushels are down 1 percent from last year. 

Sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 2.8 million bushels, down 57 percent from 2012 and the lowest level since the data series began in 1957. On-farm stocks are 400,000 bushels, down 69 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 2.4 million bushels, are 54 percent below last year.

Iowa Grain Stocks

Iowa corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 1.05 billion  bushels,  18  percent  less  than  last  year  and  the  lowest March 1 stocks since 1998.  Of the total stocks, 53 percent were stored on-farm.   The December 2012 - February 2013  indicated disappearance  totaled  510 million bushels,  23 percent  less  than the 666 million bushels used during the same period last year.

Iowa soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2013  totaled 208  million  bushels,  down  30  percent  from  the  295  million bushels on hand March 1, 2012.   Of  the total stocks, 43 percent were stored on-farm.  Indicated disappearance for the December 2012 - February 2013 period was 130 million bushels, 2 percent more  than the 128 million bushels used during  the same quarter last year.

Iowa oat stocks stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 2.78  million  bushels,  down  64  percent  from  the  7.8  million bushels on hand March 1, 2012.   Of  the  total stocks, 36 percent were stored on-farm.

USDA Grain Stocks

Corn Stocks Down 10 Percent from March 2012
Soybean Stocks Down 27 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Up 3 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 5.40 billion bushels, down 10 percent from March 1, 2012. Of the total stocks, 2.67 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 16 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 2.73 billion bushels, are down 4 percent from a year ago. The December 2012 - February 2013 indicated disappearance is 2.63 billion bushels, compared with 3.62 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 999 million bushels, down 27 percent from March 1, 2012. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 457 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 543 million bushels, are down 34 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2012 - February 2013 quarter totaled 967 million bushels, down 3 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 1.23 billion bushels, up 3 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 237 million bushels, up 9 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 997 million bushels, are up 2 percent from a year ago. The December 2012 - February 2013 indicated disappearance is 436 million bushels, down 6 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 42.4 million bushels, up 18 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 21.4 million bushels, are up 20 percent from March 1, 2012. Off-farm stocks totaled 21.0 million bushels, up 17 percent from a year ago. The December 2012 - February 2013 indicated disappearance of 18.6 million bushels is up 52 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 116 million bushels, up 24 percent from March 1, 2012. On-farm stocks are estimated at 35.2 million bushels, 33 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 81.2 million bushels, are 21 percent above March 2012. The December 2012 - February 2013 indicated disappearance totaled 41.7 million bushels, 8 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 52.6 million bushels, 30 percent below the stocks on March 1, 2012. Of the total stocks on hand, 18.9 million bushels are stored on farms, down 4 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 33.7 million bushels, down 39 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2012 - February 2013 totaled 20.6 million bushels, up 374 percent from the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 91.4 million bushels, down 15 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 10.9 million bushels, are down 15 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 80.5 million bushels, are down 15 percent from a year earlier. The December 2012 - February 2013 indicated disappearance from all positions is 48.5 million bushels, up 13 percent from the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2013 totaled 1.19 billion pounds, up 31 percent from March 1, 2012. All stocks stored on farms totaled 574 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 621 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 1.00 billion pounds; of this total, 503 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 499 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 192 million pounds, with 70.4 million pounds stored on the farm and 122 million pounds stored off the farm.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on  March 1, 2013, was 3.0 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  This was down 3 percent from March 1, 2012, but unchanged from December 1, 2012.  Breeding hog inventory, at 390,000 head, was unchanged from March 1, 2012, but up 3 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.61 million head, was down 4 percent from last year, and down slightly from last quarter.  

The December 2012-February 2013 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.79 million head, was down 2 percent from 2012.  Sows farrowing during the period totaled 170,000 head, down 3 percent from last year.  The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.50 for the December-February period, compared to 10.40 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the March-May 2013 quarter, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for June-August 2013 are 175,000 sows, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  

Iowa Hogs & Pigs

On  March  1,  2013  there  were  20.3  million  hogs  and  pigs  on  Iowa  farms  according  to  the  latest  USDA  National Agricultural Statistics Service Hogs and Pigs report.  The March 1 inventory was down slightly from December 2012 but up 3 percent from a year ago.

The December 2012-February 2013 pig crop was 5.02 million head.   A total of 485,000 sows farrowed with an average litter size of 10.35 pigs per sow.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 500,000 head of sows and gilts in the March-May 2013 quarter. Farrowing intentions for the June-August 2013 period were estimated at 490,000 as of March 1, 2013.

United States Hog Inventory Up 1 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2013 was 65.9 million head. This was up 1 percent fromMarch 1, 2012, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2012.  Breeding inventory, at 5.83 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 60.1 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December 2012-February 2013 pig crop, at 29.0 million head, was up 2 percent from 2012. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.88 million head, up 1 percent from 2012. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.08 for the December-February period, compared to 9.97 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.50 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.10 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.96 million sows farrow during the March-May 2013 quarter, down 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2012, but up 1 percent from 2011. Intended farrowings for June-August 2013, at 2.91 million sows, are down 1 percent from 2012, and down 1 percent from 2011.

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

Festival to teach 4th graders about agriculture

As communities continue to urbanize, youth are losing touch with Nebraska’s greatest resource - agriculture.  The upcoming ag awareness festival provides hands-on education that will help 4th-graders learn about where food comes from and the role agriculture plays in their daily lives.

The festival will be held on April 3 and 4 from 10 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln.  Over 450 students from 8 area schools will attend the event.

While at the festival, students will learn about beef, dairy, grains, swine, horses, sheep, goats, and Nebraska’s important role in agriculture.  Presentations focus on production, technology, and products. The sessions are intended to increase youth understanding and awareness about agricultural concepts.    

The Lincoln festival started in 2001 in conjunction with a festival that has been taking place at UNL's Agricultural Research and Development (ARDC) near Mead, Nebraska since 1996.   The ARDC festival educates youth from Douglas, Saunders, and Dodge Counties each year in the fall.   

To date, over 17,000 children have attended the festivals sponsored by the Ag Awareness Coalition (Over 4,600 of those attending have been at the Lincoln festival).

The Ag Awareness Coalition and sponsorship consists of Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom, Douglas County Farm Bureau, Gifford Farm Education Center, Midwest Dairy Association, Nebraska AgRelations Council , Nebraska Agri Business Club, Nebraska Beef Council, Nebraska Corn Development, Utilization and Marketing Board, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Board, Omaha Agribusiness Club, Papillion Grange No. 401, University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Saunders, Lancaster and Douglas/Sarpy Counties.

Early Graze to Control Weeds in Native Pastures

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Have you noticed any green-up in your pastures? This usually is a good sign, except when the green is weeds in warm-season grasses. Stick around to talk about control measures.

Early weeds should be controlled in warm-season grass pastures. Weeds remove moisture that could be used for grass growth later on and they remove valuable nutrients from the soil. Early weeds also can develop so much growth that they can shade, smother, and reduce early growth of your pasture grasses.

Herbicides and prescribed burning can control many early weeds, but I think another method actually is better -- grazing. Heavy, pre-season grazing costs you nothing. In fact, you get some feed from these weeds while herbicides or burning would only kill and remove growth. Plus, this early pasture might be especially valuable this spring. It may save you from feeding expensive hay and let you wait before turning out onto pastures stressed from last year's drought.

Pre-season grazing will not harm your summer grass -- provided you stop grazing before new grass shoots get more than a couple inches tall. This usually doesn't occur until late April or early May in southern Nebraska and slightly later as we move farther north. Early, pre-season grazing of warm-season grass also removes some old growth from last year, which starts recycling nutrients trapped in dead plant tissue. In fact, about the only bad news about early, pre-season grazing is you have to get fences and water ready earlier, you need to move animals to the pasture, and you won't completely kill out these weeds in one year.

Funny thing, though. These so-called weeds might actually make pretty timely and valuable pasture. Give pre-season grazing a try, I think you'll like it.

Filing Deadline for NSB District Election is April 15th

April 15th is the deadline for filing a candidacy petition to run for a seat on the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB).  If you live in one of the Districts listed below, a soybean producer in Nebraska for the past five years and are 21 years of age or older, you are invited to run for election by filing a candidacy petition by the April 15, 2013 deadline.  This exciting opportunity will take you places you’ve never been before to see for yourself how the soybean checkoff money is invested, and become a part of the decision making.   You will become a VOICE representing your District on the board.

District seats open are:
District 2:    Counties Burt, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Stanton, Thurston and Wayne.
District 4:    Counties of Boone, Hamilton, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk and York.
District 8:    Counties of Arthur, Banner, Blaine, Box Butte, Brown, Chase, Cherry, Cheyenne, Custer, Dawes, Dawson, Deuel, Dundy,  Frontier, Furnas, Garden, Garfield, Gosper, Grant, Greeley, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Howard, Keith, Keya Paha, Kimball, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, McPherson, Morrill, Perkins, Phelps, Red Willow, Rock, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sherman, Sioux, Thomas, Valley and Wheeler.
What you must do to become a prospective candidate is collect the signatures of 50 soybean producers in your district using an official Nebraska Soybean Board Candidacy Petition and return such petition to the Nebraska Soybean Board office on or before April 15, 2013, to be eligible for placement on the ballot. To obtain a candidacy petition, contact Victor Bohuslavsky at the Nebraska Soybean Board by calling 402-432-5720.

The deadline is approaching so call Victor today!

Pork Consumers' Desires Drive On-Farm Evolution

What do records, eight-tracks, cassette tapes and CDs have in common? The simple answer is they all represent a way in which we listened, or in some cases still listen, to music; but more than that, each was cutting edge technology in the music industry at one point in time. Records are great, but you can't play them in your car, much less strap them to your arm for a morning run. CDs are nice, but when you can put thousands of songs on an MP3 player, they feel a little cumbersome to drag along. The evolution of the music industry highlights how consumer wants and needs change over time and how technology has helped meet those demands. Change is inevitable and no one is immune from its influence, including farmers and ranchers.

Jim Pillen, a third generation pork producer from Columbus, Neb. and a member of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, knows this lesson well. The evolution of pig farming might not be as visible to the average person, but the changes on the Pillen farm over generations are more than on par with evolutions in the music industry.

"I'm guessing most people would be surprised to learn the primary reason for raising pigs in Nebraska wasn't always for food. When my granddad returned home after World War I, he started raising pigs because he needed lard and soap. Protein was looked at as a secondary benefit of raising pigs," Pillen said.

As America's population and its demand for meat grew, the focus of the pig on farms shifted from role of utility player to primary protein source.

"The growing demand for pork as protein changed everything, from the way we viewed the pig to how it was raised. What you see on our farms today is a direct result of what the market place has told us it has wanted over the years," Pillen said. Chief among the changes sought by pork consumers was the desire for a leaner type of pork. A product you can't simply generate overnight or without some very specific changes in the way in which the pigs are bred and raised.

"As we've become more health conscious as a society, people wanted less fat in their diet, which means we needed our pigs to also be leaner and less fatty. We've done that through selective breeding. The off-shoot is that pigs with less fat can't survive temperature extremes, particularly harsh winters. That's one of the primary reasons people see pigs being raised inside climate controlled buildings today," he said.

The other key to raising a leaner pig is health and nutrition, something that is considerably easier to manage in a more controlled environment.

"If you want to be lean you watch what you eat. We do the same with the pigs. The use of technology combined with buildings and individual stalls, gives us the ability to ensure each animal is getting the proper nutrition and care. That's how we are able to provide the leaner product consumers are wanting," Pillen said.

For all the changes made on the Pillen's farm to meet the needs of consumers, what's more impressive is the fact that those changes haven't led to a shortage of meat protein in grocery store coolers or sacrificing in other important areas. Pillen credits that to farmer's long-term focus on sustainability and efficiency in their ability to "make more food with less."

"Over the last 50 years we've been able to raise 80 percent more pigs using 40 percent less land and 40 percent less water. We've been able to do that while helping put leaner cuts of pork on the dinner table. When you think about what we've been able to accomplish from a carbon footprint standpoint, it's really an amazing story," said Pillen.

For those wondering if farmers and ranchers are really paying attention to the wants and needs of their customers, the story of the Pillen family and others like them should be music to your matter what technology you use to listen.

Pork today is very lean and shouldn't be overcooked. To check doneness, use a digital cooking thermometer. The National Pork Board follows the guidance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recommends cooking roasts, tenderloins and chops to an internal temperature of 145° F, followed by a 3 minute rest time, resulting in a flavorful, tender and juicy eating experience. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160° F. Pre-cooked ham can be reheated to 140° F or enjoyed cold.

Scholarship Deadline April 1 for UNL Crop Science Camp

Youths interested in science, agriculture, plants, crops, insects, or diseases will appreciate the Crop Science Investigation (CSI) Big Red Camp to be held June 9-12 at UNL.

Students in grades 10-12 will work with agricultural professionals from across Nebraska to conduct experiments in nutrient management, disease management, insect and weed problems, water management, and crop production. They will practice science, problem-solving, and crop science investigative skills while learning about plants and bioscience.

Participants will also learn about the variety of agricultural careers available to them, including being an agricultural communicators, agronomist, crop consultant, crop insurance adjuster, educator, co-op manager, farmer, rancher, farm credit banker, field or lab researcher, plant breeder, soil or water conservationist, and seed, fertilizer, or chemical sales person.

Scholarship Applications

The cost for the camp is $400, but scholarships are available to help defray costs. To apply complete the 2013 Big Red Summer Academic Camp Scholarship Application and submit it along with your completed registration materials, two short essays (below), and a check for the full registration fee, postmarked by April 1, 2013. (See scholarship application details.) Winners will be notified by April 19 and will receive a refund when they arrive at camp. Scholarships are for camp registration fees only and do not cover the cost of transportation or other expenses.


The camp is limited to 15 participants to provide hands-on learning experiences and small group interactions with ag professionals. Registrations postmarked by April 1 are $400, from April 1-May 1, $450, and May 1-15, $500. Registrations will not be accepted after May 15.

To register or download a camp brochure, visit If you have questions about the camp or the required essays, please contact Brandy VanDeWalle at or 402-759-3712.

Tickets to Cattlemen's Ball in Paxton Selling Fast

Even though the 2013 Cattlemen's Ball is more than 60 days away, tickets are going fast.  In fact, about 1,000 of the 4,000 available tickets have already been sold—and the pace is picking up.   As in the past, Cattlemen's Ball officials expect to sell out well in advance of the event.

The 2013 Cattlemen’s Ball will take place June 7th and 8th on the Hanging H Ranch on U.S. Highway 30 east of Paxton, Nebraska. This year's event is co-hosted by the Ralph and Beverly Holzfaster family and the Neal Hansen family. The Cattlemen’s Ball is the state’s premier fundraiser for the fight against cancer, with 100% of the dollars raised staying in Nebraska.  This year's theme is "On the Trail to a Cure."

Top Hand tickets are $75 each and include all events beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, including entertainment, auctions, fashion show, prime rib dinner, concert performance by country music legends Lone Star and a post-concert dance.  Trail Boss tickets are $350 per person and include a Friday night reception, auction, and dance as well as a Saturday champagne brunch, Saturday luncheon and other special activities.  Tickets in each category are limited and available on a first-served basis.

"You don't have to be a cowboy or dress up to attend the Cattlemen's Ball," said Tim Holzfaster of Paxton.  "Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way—and that's why everyone is invited to attend and help us raise funds for cancer research."

The Cattlemen’s Ball is hosted by a different Nebraska ranch or feedlot every year.  Its mission is to raise money for cancer research at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, while showcasing rural Nebraska and promoting beef as part of a healthy diet.  Since its inception, the Cattlemen’s Ball has raised more than $6.3 million.  In addition to providing funds to the Eppley Cancer Center, a portion of the funds is also targeted for local healthcare organizations.

For information and to purchase tickets online, visit  Tickets may also be purchased at Adams Bank & Trust in Ogallala, Nebraska, or by calling 308.284.7883.

Registration Now Open for Iowa Swine Day 2013

Building on its successful return to Iowa State University last year, the 2013 version of Iowa Swine Day has a new format and plenty of information for pork industry members. Professor of animal science John Patience said registration for the Thursday, June 27 event is now open.

“Those who register by the early deadline of June 14 will pay $60 – that’s $20 off the full registration fee – and students of any age can attend for just $25,” Patience said. “The fee includes lunch, refreshment breaks and a copy of the conference notebook.”

The day begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. and the welcome at 9 a.m. The morning plenary session features four speakers in Benton Auditorium. Following lunch, attendees will choose from 14 breakout sessions organized into three concurrent tracks: sustaining the global competitiveness of the American pork industry, utilizing human resources most effectively in pork production and what’s new at Iowa State University. The day’s activities will conclude about 5:15 p.m.

The Iowa Swine Day program agenda, links to registration forms and sponsor list are available on the event website,

Patience, who co-chairs the event with Ken Stalder and Butch Baker of the Iowa Pork Industry Center, said the planning group has worked diligently to learn about information needs and how best to address those needs through the program, which is set in the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center in Ames. Program planning partners are IPIC, Iowa State animal science department, Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“We consulted with industry representatives to learn what they’d like included in the program and have put together a first rate program of speakers and topics,” Patience said. “Session topics include employee engagement, global success in swine production, success with group housing of sows, effects of heat stress on pig productivity and understanding the impact of the replacement gilt on system health.”

The program has been approved by the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine for two scientific credits and four management credits.

Do I Really Want to Maximize Feed Efficiency?

The measures of efficiency, performance and, ultimately, success will look different on every farm. According to Dr. John Patience at Iowa State University, applied swine nutrition professor with Iowa State University, this philosophy applies to feed efficiency.

"Feed efficiency is worth a lot of money to us," Patience said, but warned that using feed efficiency as the only target is a dangerous strategy. That's because this metric is influenced by many factors: feed composition (energy content, amino acid concentration, nutrient balance, gross deficiencies in other nutrients, feed processing and feed additives), environmental factors (temperature, health status and access to feed), and the pig itself (growth rate, protein-to-lipid ratio, starting and final weight and mortality rates).

"All of these factors play a role, and if we look at feed efficiency in isolation, we can draw some conclusions that don't take us where we want to be," said Patience.

Patience suggested that caloric efficiency might be a more accurate measurement as long as the pigs are healthy. That's because healthy pigs eat more feed and, even if they are consuming a lower energy diet, healthy pigs can maintain growth rates. With that in mind, Patience recommended producers turn their attention toward energy content.

"Energy is a really tough component of the diet to understand," Patience said. "It is the major component of pig diets and deserves much more attention than it is getting."

First, consider that not all energy sources are equal. For example, lipids have 90-percent efficiency when it comes to body lipid deposition. In contrast, starch shows 74-percent efficiency and fiber drops to 62-percent efficiency. To evaluate the energy value of a feed, you must consider how easily the animal will be able to turn that into fat or muscle. Also remember that changing the level of energy in the diet often results in changes in carcass quality.

Next, think about whether your goal is to maintain or to lay down protein or lipid. One-third of the energy a pig consumes is used for maintenance and only 20 percent drives lean gain. Thus, when considering caloric efficiency, it's important to consider how you can maximize maintenance efficiency by limiting stress.

Look at how you can decrease social stressors through pen management and limit disease challenges through tightened biosecurity programs.

Also evaluate the pig's thermal comfort. As Patience pointed out, "Every single degree makes a difference," and animal health plays a big role in thermal comfort. Metabolizing feed generates heat, but sick pigs eat less feed. As a result, they do not generate as much heat and become even more chilled.

Finally, Patience reminded producers that pigs reach a point where increased energy does not equate to increased growth rates and this point is different on every farm.

"Daily energy intake varies widely among farms," he said. "It is critical for individuals to know daily energy on a farm-to-farm basis."

ASA Details Impact of Continuing Resolution on Soybean Farmers

In response to the signing into law of the Continuing Resolution (CR) by President Barack Obama yesterday, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has examined the ramifications for soybean farmers contained in the measure, which funds the federal government through the end of the 2013 fiscal year on September 30.

“This was a large piece of legislation with many different aspects affecting many different industries. While it’s only a temporary extension for the next six months, it was necessary for us to step back and look at exactly which programs soybean farmers use most will be impacted,” said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss.


While the sequestration is separate from the CR, Congress allowed sequestration to stand, resulting in an across-the-board reduction in funding for most federal programs by 5.2 percent This follows the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which placed caps on each of the annual appropriations bills through 2021, including the Agricultural Appropriations bill. Additionally, the CR includes an additional 2.5 percent cut in discretionary spending that USDA will have to carry out before the end of FY13.


The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), a priority for ASA, was not only funded in the CR, but it was one of the few programs for which funding was increased. The program is now funded at $274.8 million, $10 million more than in FY2012. As a discretionary program, however, AFRI will be subject to USDA’s 2.5 percent reduction within the next six months. Appropriations for research at land-grant universities (often called "capacity funding"), which fund ARS and extension activities, all suffered a cut of 7.61 percent from last year's funding levels.


The CR restores funding to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), but reduces the cap on acreage enrolled in the program this year by 740,000 acres. Following the reduction, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will enroll only 12 million acres in the program in FY2013. This was a priority for ASA within the larger discussion of budget constraints and farm programs.


The CR included an amendment introduced by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) that postpones the enforcement date for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) specifications, which would have required that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills. The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container.

The rule is now postponed until the end of FY13 on Sept. 30. ASA strongly supported this postponement and is supporting legislation that would adjust the minimum capacity upward to 10,000 gallons while the aggregate level on a production facility would move to 42,000 gallons. The proposal would also place a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance if it exceeds the exemption level.


Also included in the CR was the ASA-supported Farmer Assurance Provision, language that states farmers may continue to plant seeds bearing traits that have been deregulated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) without threat of disruption as a result of court decisions. The provision addresses the potential for protracted delays in commercializing new traits pending court-ordered environmental impact reviews. Finally, the provision only applies to biotech traits that have completed the required regulatory review process, and does not restrict the right to challenge USDA’s determination that a trait does not pose a plant pest risk.


Finally, ASA welcomes provisions included in the CR that shift funding within USDA to ensure the continuation of inspections of packinghouses and slaughterhouses, averting potential furloughs for the nation’s meat inspectors and the resulting shut-down of slaughterhouses and processing plants that would have very negatively affected the livestock industry. More than 98 percent of the soybean meal produced in the U.S. goes to the livestock sector in the form of animal feed, and disruptions within that industry adversely impact soybean farmers as well.

Congress on Two-Week Spring Recess

(from NAWG)

Members of Congress are in their districts this week and next for a spring recess over the Passover and Easter holidays. The Senate is scheduled to be back in session on April 8, with the House back on April 9. NAWG encourages farmer-leaders to meet with their Members of Congress during recess to discuss priorities including the ongoing farm bill process.

Both Chambers Pass FY2014 Budget Resolutions; Obama Proposal Delayed

Both chambers of Congress passed budget resolutions before leaving town, with the Senate approving its first budget in four years early Saturday morning on a 50-49 vote. The House plan was passed 221-207 earlier in the week. As the vote totals indicate, both measures were largely partisan documents, though their passage is a step toward regular order for the Congressional budgeting and appropriations processes and a sign of some willingness to compromise on overall federal spending. Word came Thursday that the Obama Administration is planning to send its budget proposal to Capitol Hill on April 10. Typically, the president’s proposal goes to the Hill in early February, but this year’s product has been delayed in part because of uncertainty about sequestration cuts.

Chinese Pork Producers Anticipate Loss for 2013

After two consecutive years of prosperity, many Chinese hog producers are anticipating a loss for 2013. As a result of higher feed prices in the past year, hog margins have slowly eroded to a point where many producers will be lucky this year to end up in the black. A U.S. Grains Council team spent much of this week speaking with village level swine producers. Many told the Council it currently costs them 12-13 RMB per kilogram (around 91 cents per pound) to produce a hog to market weight, while the Chinese packer will give them around 12-15 RMB per kilo (about 99 centers per pound) for a live hog. According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, on March 25, the weighted average live hog price for Iowa/Minnesota was quoted at 54 cents per pound.

This is a much different market, compared to the summer of 2011, when live hog prices peaked at around 20 RMB per kilogram ($1.47/pound). One farrow to finish operator in Yunnan province, who has capacity for about 100 sows, told the Council that in 2011 he made RMB 300,000 ($48,000) to distribute amongst his family and one employee. In 2012 he made RMB 100,000 ($16,000). This year, he is projecting a loss of about RMB 50,000 ($8,000). As a result, many producers are drawing down inventories and culling sows to reduce cost. "China will continue to have large swings in the hog price cycle because, despite rapid modernization of the industry, a majority of China's pork still comes from smaller-sized farrow-to-finish operations which tend to adjust inventories more quickly as prices change," said Dr. Bryan Lohmar, USGC director in China.

Kevin Roepke, manager of global trade for the Council, accompanied the team and agreed with Dr. Lohmar. "Although Chinese swine producers have seen better days, this certainly isn't the time to get bearish on Chinese agriculture—in fact, just the opposite. Many producers are positioning themselves to rapidly build their herds back up once grain prices moderate and hog margins recover. This industry is a sleeping giant."

The rapidly evolving Chinese swine industry is a case study in change with many parallels to the general pattern of rising incomes and new development associated with China. All throughout the rural (and semi-rural) areas, hog farms dot the landscape. Many farmers started out with 2-3 sows in their backyard, feeding table scraps and feed concentrates. In less than a decade, they have quickly grown to 100-150 sow operations, with complete feed rations. This rapid growth in feed demand bodes well for long term opportunities for U.S. feed grains, and the Council continues to work closely with Chinese producers to build capacity.

Program Provides Export Market Information for Corn Hybrids

Farmers looking for information about the approval status of U.S.-grown corn hybrids in certain export markets now have access to the most current data through the National Corn Growers Association's Know Before Your Grow program. Recently updated, Know Before Your Grow, featured on the association's website, provides a comprehensive look at this vital information in an easily accessible format.

"It's important for farmers and others to know where they can find good markets for their corn," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. "Each year, we update our database so growers can stay informed and plan ahead. It's also a valuable tool for others who want or need to track which markets are accepting a certain corn hybrid."

Know Before You Grow stems from NCGA's firm commitment to the principle that U.S.-grown biotech hybrids not intended for some export markets should not be placed into export channels. Because not all hybrids are approved for all export market uses, corn growers who are selling into sensitive markets like wet millers should select hybrids with the full knowledge of whether they are conventional, fully approved for export to major markets or not yet fully approved for those markets.

Growers should read their grower agreements before planting and communicate with their grain buyers. This is why NCGA works with technology providers to publicize regular updates on the approval status of these events. Regardless of export status, there is an ample market for U.S. biotech corn.

Oil Above $97, Natural Gas Falls Back

(AP) -- The price of oil rose above $97 a barrel Thursday for the first time in five weeks, boosted by gains in U.S. stock markets and more signs of a strengthening economy.

Benchmark oil for May delivery gained 65 cents to close at $97.23 a barrel in New York. Oil has gained nearly $5 per barrel in the past week, driven by encouraging economic indicators.

U.S. stocks set another record Thursday, as the Standard & Poor's 500 topped the closing high it set before the recession. The government said the U.S. economy grew at 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, up from a previous estimate of 0.1 percent growth. And analysts think the economy is growing at a rate of around 2.5 percent in the current January-March quarter, which ends this week.

Oil's gains haven't yet factored into pump prices. The average price for a gallon of gas is $3.645, down from $3.65 a day earlier. Gas is now on average about 27 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Meanwhile the price of natural gas retreated, a day after it closed above $4 for the first time since Sept. 14, 2011. Natural gas futures fell 4 cents to end at $4.02 per 1,000 cubic feet. Natural gas has risen 67 cents, or 20 percent, this year as colder weather and greater use of natural gas for power generation have helped whittle away at a large surplus of the fuel in the U.S.

Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was down 33 cents to finish at $109.38 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the Nymex:
_ Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to end at $3.11 a gallon.
_ Heating oil was flat at $2.92 a gallon.

Initiative Promotes Animal Well-Being

Reaffirming its strong commitment to animal care and well-being, the National Pork Producers Council this week joined with the National Pork Board, the dairy industry and the Center for Food Integrity – a not-for-profit corporation that builds consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system – to launch an initiative to encourage the immediate reporting of animal abuse, neglect, mishandling or harm.

The “See It? Stop It!” initiative provides tools for farms to affirm that proper animal care is the responsibility of all employees and that animal abuse is not acceptable or tolerated. Farm workers will be encouraged to report abuse.

“Animal well-being always has been the top priority of pork producers,” said NPPC President Randy Spronk, a producer from Edgerton, Minn. “The ‘See It? Stop It!’ initiative confirms that commitment and is a way to let animal caretakers know that it’s their moral responsibility to speak up to stop any animal abuse.”

In fact, as a condition of employment, many pork operations require workers to sign policy documents that confirm their roles and responsibilities for animal care, including the reporting of any animal abuse they witness. Such policies usually include disciplinary action, including termination, for failure to report abuse.

The initiative is an adjunct to the pork industry’s “We Care” program, which promotes pork producers’ long-standing commitment to responsible pork production and to continuous improvement in animal care, handling and transportation. It also bolsters the Pork Quality Assurance® (PQA) Plus® program, which outlines best practices for proper animal care, and the Transport Quality Assurance program, which certifies people who transport hogs in proper care and handling methods.

“I’ve been a pork producer for a long time, and I know for a fact that the overwhelming majority of producers and farm workers do what’s right for their animals every single day of the year,” Spronk said. “This initiative is more proof of that and of producers’ adherence to ethical principles, including protecting and promoting animal well-being.”

Both the U.S. pork and dairy industries provided funding for the initiative. Additional information about it, including an employer checklist, guidance for integrating the initiative into existing animal well-being programs, posters for use in barns and guidance on employee training is available at

Crop Insurance Helps Farmers Bounce Back After Record Drought

As claims come in from one of the worst droughts in decades, farmers and ranchers across the country are receiving indemnity payments for the losses they have incurred. As of March 25, 2013, more than $16 billion has been sent to farmers who suffered losses.

In 2012, farmers invested more than $4.1 billion to purchase more than 1.2 million crop insurance policies, protecting 128 different crops.

Crop insurance policies protect more than 281 million acres of planted land.

$28.6 billion: The amount of money farmers have spent out of their own pockets to purchase the protection of crop insurance in the past decade.

Illinois has the highest loss ratio at 3.81.

19 states have loss ratios exceeding 1.05 – meaning that for every $1 paid in premiums, companies are paying out $1.05 in indemnities.   These states include: Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, South Dakota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Wyoming, Michigan and Ohio.

Nationally, the loss ratio is 1.44.

Zoetis and American Association of Bovine Practitioners announce call for applications for Veterinary Student Scholarships

For the fifth year, Zoetis and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Foundation are teaming up to award scholarships to deserving bovine veterinary students. Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarships.

The AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarships are funded through a unique partnership with veterinarians, animal health suppliers and dealers. Scholarships are awarded to bovine veterinary students to help offset the cost of veterinary school. In 2012, 15 students each received $5,000 scholarships through the AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship Fund, for a total of $385,000 in awards in four years.

“Each year, we’re excited to learn about the future leaders of the veterinary profession. Students should take advantage of this opportunity to reduce their debt and focus on their studies,” says M. Gatz Riddell Jr., DVM, executive vice president, AABP. “While reviewing applications, AABP and Zoetis look to support well-rounded veterinary students – those that not only excel in the classroom and clinical work but are also involved in industry-related activities rise to the top of our list.”

Scholarship applicants must be students graduating with their veterinary degree in 2014 and enrolled in colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States. Eligible veterinary students can visit for additional details regarding the scholarship program and to access the online application form. Applications must be submitted via the AABP website by June 15. Membership in college chapters of AABP or Food Animal Club is strongly encouraged.
The scholarship program is administered by the AABP Foundation with the assistance of the Amstutz Scholarship Committee. Scholarship recipients will be notified prior to the 2013 AABP Annual Conference, which is Sept. 19-21, 2013, in Milwaukee. To receive recognition, scholarship recipients will be encouraged to attend the AABP Annual Conference, with expenses paid, but attendance is not required to receive the scholarship.

Funding for the scholarships is provided by the Zoetis FFA/AABP Industry Support Program. The program, which provides funding for local FFA chapters in addition to the AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship program, is offering a 1% rebate on Zoetis cattle products from Feb. 1 through April 30, 2013. Participating partners can direct funds to any local FFA chapter(s) or to the AABP Foundation – Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship Fund. 

Mosaic Reports Higher 3Q Results

Mosaic Co.'s (MOS) fiscal third-quarter profit jumped 26% as the fertilizer producer reported increased potash sales volumes and a foreign currency transaction gain.

Although potash prices have remained under pressure in recent months, as large buyers in China and elsewhere signed supply contracts for 2013 at lower prices, demand has been better than expected, improving market fundamentals, the company said. Revenue from Mosaic's potash segment jumped 37% from a year ago.

"As we emerge from the traditionally slow third fiscal quarter, we are seeing strong demand and improving sentiment in most of our geographies," Mosaic Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko said in a statement. He added that "global farm economics remain compelling."

Prokopanko said he now expects producer inventories to be drawn down in coming months "as North American dealers prepare for what is likely to be a very strong application season."

Still, pressure on potash prices persists, and the company forecast lower average selling prices in the fourth-quarter, which has "slightly negative implications" for Mosaic and other potash producers, Cowen Securities said in a research note to clients.

The suburban Minneapolis company, also one of the world's largest phosphate fertilizer producers, currently has significant cash reserves and little debt, and executives said the top question among investors recently is how they will deploy its capital.

The company last week announced it plans to invest up to $1 billion in a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to produce phosphate, a move that would improve its access to agricultural markets in Asia.

Investors are looking ahead to May, when Mosaic can begin negotiating with Cargill Inc. family members who own Mosaic shares as part of a split-off of Mosaic in 2011. Restrictions preventing those shares from being sold start to lift in late May, with 43 million shares becoming available then. The company plans to buy back shares, Chief Financial Officer Lawrence Stranghoener told investors in a conference call following the earnings release.

"You should expect a substantially more efficient balance sheet in the future," he said. "We would carry less cash, and more debt."

But Stranghoener and other executives also pleaded for patience from investors, noting that the company can't negotiate with the shareholders until the restrictions lift, and that an announcement on Mosaic's plans won't be immediate.

For the quarter ended Feb. 28, Mosaic posted a profit of $344.6 million, or 81 cents a share, versus a year-earlier profit of $273.3 million, or 64 cents a share. The latest quarter included a per-share impact of seven cents from one-time items such as the antitrust settlement and an unrealized loss on derivatives. The year-earlier quarter included eight cents a share in charges tied to negative currency effects and other items.

Revenue rose 2.3% to $2.24 billion.

Gross margin widened to 25.4% from 23.8%, driven by higher potash volumes and lower phosphate raw material costs.

Mosaic recorded a foreign currency transaction gain of $32.3 million versus a loss of $44 million a year ago.

Potash segment sales jumped 37% amid higher volumes, partially offset by lower prices. However, Mosaic noted the segment's operating earnings dropped 8% amid a $42 million charge related to the settlement of potash antitrust litigation.

The company said phosphate sales dropped 9%, although the segment's operating earnings rose 4%.

In January, Mosaic was among a group of three potash miners that agreed to pay just under $100 million to settle several private class-action lawsuits that alleged their pricing of the fertilizer ingredient violated U.S. antitrust laws. The company said it would pay $43.75 million each in fines to plaintiffs in the suits, some of which date back to 2008, a charge reflected in the latest quarter's results.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday March 27 Ag News

In order to protect the quality of Nebraska’s agricultural and other land, Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach is designating sericea lespedeza as a noxious weed in Nebraska.  The designation will take effect on April 1, 2013.

“This weed poses a threat to our native ranges and pastureland as well as other natural areas,” Ibach said.   “It can reduce or even eliminate native grasses, and it affects the quality and quantity of pasture available to our livestock herds.”

Sericea lespedeza is a perennial that grows well in grasslands and pastures as well as along roadsides and drainage areas.  The weed currently is found mainly in southeastern Nebraska and can be spread by wildlife and livestock.  Infested areas that are utilized for hay production accelerate the spread of the weed into new areas.

With the addition of sericea lespedeza, Nebraska has 12 noxious weeds.  The list includes: Canada thistle, leafy spurge, musk thistle, plumeless thistle, purple loosestrife, spotted knapweed, diffuse knapweed, saltcedar, phragmites, Japanese knotweed and giant knotweed.

Those with questions about sericea lespedeza should contact their local county weed control superintendent.  Questions also may be directed to the NDA Noxious Weed Program Manager at (402) 471-6844.

Congress Fixes Conservation Stewardship Funding

Farmers and ranchers will again have the opportunity to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which rewards producers for conservation practices on working lands, thanks to passage of legislation that replaces the funding for 2013 CSP enrollment that was accidently cut off in the government spending bill that passed last October.

“This legislation removes the remaining obstacles to farmers and ranchers having the opportunity to enroll in CSP this year,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director for the Center for Rural Affairs. “It is a welcome move by Congress to address this oversight because there are farmers and ranchers who have been waiting to sign up for this program and each year there are twice as many, or more, applying than can receive contracts under available funding.”

According to Bruckner, USDA can now proceed with enrolling just over 11 million acres of farm and ranch land in the program this year, bringing the program to a grand total of 62 million acres by year’s end. The funding error was fixed by a bill that would provide continuing funding for the federal government for the next six months - the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year. The Senate passed the bill on a 73 to 26 vote on March 20th, followed by passage in the House of Representatives on March 21st by a vote of 318 to 109.

“We’ve pressed for this result since last October when the first government funding bill accidentally shut off CSP enrollment for 2013, so we want to celebrate this,” added Bruckner. “And we’re going to continue working with farmers and ranchers who want to apply to the program.”

Bruckner encouraged potential applicants to move forward now, before planting season is underway and many become too busy in the field to get away. While CSP is a continuous signup program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, USDA applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year, in this case spring of 2014.

"We know the previous sign-ups have yielded some great success stories for farmers and ranchers, but also some disappointments and frustrations,” Bruckner continued. “That’s why we want farmers, ranchers and others to call the Center for Rural Affairs' Farm Bill Helpline with questions about the application process and to share their experiences, both positive and negative.”

While the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has yet to decide on a deadline for farmer and rancher applications, there is speculation it will likely be in May. That short timeline should provide further motivation for farmers and ranchers to visit their local NRCS office now and start the application process right away, suggested Bruckner.

“CSP is one of the most popular conservation programs at NRCS, enrolling nearly 39,000 farmers and ranchers operating 50 million acres of farm and ranch land under five-year CSP conservation contracts worth $3.5 billion,” said Bruckner. "Through our helpline you will speak to someone who is knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program."

RIN Credits Not a Factor in Higher Gas Prices; Ethanol Reducing Pump Prices

Contrary to the recent wave of hyperbole coming from the oil industry, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its associated “RIN credits” have not been a factor in this spring’s higher retail gasoline prices, according to new analysis conducted by Informa Economics, Inc. In fact, the study found ethanol costs significantly less than gasoline at the wholesale level and is reducing pump prices for consumers across the country.

“A fact-based review of developments in the gasoline, ethanol and RIN [Renewable Identification Number] markets indicates that the Renewable Fuel Standard in general and RINs in particular have not been a demonstrable factor in the rise in retail gasoline prices that has occurred in early 2013,” the report concluded.

Responding to the independent study’s findings, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “Not surprisingly, opponents of the RFS have absurdly suggested RINs are a reason for this spring’s higher gas prices. This report puts that silly notion to rest and clearly confirms that RINs are not having any noticeable impact on gasoline prices. In fact, as the Informa analysis plainly shows, increased ethanol use leads to lower—not higher—prices at the pump for American consumers. The facts and data speak for themselves. Drivers could realize even greater savings at the pump if refiners and blenders would break down their self-inflected blend wall and give up their stubborn resistance to offering E15 and E85.”

The analysis, commissioned by RFA, found RINs are likely contributing no more than $0.004 (four-tenths of one cent) to the retail price of a gallon of gasoline. Meanwhile, ethanol’s wholesale discount to gasoline in 2013 has reduced the pump price for blended gasoline by an average of $0.044 per gallon. Thus, when the net impact of both RIN costs and ethanol’s discount to gasoline are considered, ethanol-blended gasoline is saving consumers an average of $0.04 per gallon based on straight blending economics.

“Considering both the ethanol price advantage and the direct cost of RIN prices, the net benefit to consumers from the usage of ethanol is $0.04 per gallon of gasoline…” the report found. According to the authors, this savings doesn’t take into account either the indirect benefit that ethanol has on gasoline prices by effectively lowering demand for crude oil and clear gasoline or the enhanced octane value of ethanol over gasoline.

High gasoline prices in early 2013 can be explained by several factors unrelated to the RFS, RINs, or ethanol use, the report found. “There is a distinct seasonal pattern to gasoline prices and crack spreads,” the analysis notes, adding that “[t]he increase in gasoline prices and crack spreads during the first quarter of 2013 has been generally consistent with increases experienced in 2011 and 2012, despite the fact that conventional ethanol RIN prices averaged $0.03 during the first quarter of 2011 and $0.02 during the first quarter of 2012.” Citing a Department of Energy analysis, the Informa report also notes that higher gasoline prices have stemmed from planned and unplanned refinery maintenance; the low starting level for gasoline crack spreads going into 2013; preparation for seasonal fuel specification changes; and developments in global product demand.

Coalition Urges U.S., Other Countries To Welcome Japan Into TPP

A coalition of food and agricultural organizations and companies today urged the United States and other countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to quickly welcome Japan into the trade talks.

Japan recently announced its intention to join the TPP negotiations, which currently include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

In a letter sent today to President Obama, the coalition of 75 food and agricultural organizations and companies said the inclusion of Japan in the trade talks would generate enormous interest and support in U.S. agriculture.

“The addition of Japan to the negotiations will exponentially increase the importance of the TPP to U.S. farmers and ranchers, processors and exporters as well as other sectors of the U.S. economy,” said the coalition. ‘Furthermore, it will spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America.”

Allowing Japan to join the talks also will send a strong signal to other nations that efforts to negotiate more open and transparent regional trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied.

Japan’s economy is second only to China’s in the region, and it is fourth largest agricultural export market for the United States despite maintaining substantial import barriers. U.S. food and agricultural exports to Japan in 2012 totaled $13.5 billion. Aside from Canada and Mexico, the next most important agricultural export market among the parties to the TPP is Vietnam, ranking 16th overall and totaling $1.7 billion.

“Japan’s entry into the TPP as a full partner greatly enhances the overall value of this momentous regional free trade agreement,” the coalition said.

NMPF Launches See It? Stop It!SM Initiative to Empower Farm Workers

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today joined the Center for Food Integrity and the U.S. pork sector to jointly launch “See It? Stop It!SM Animal care starts with you,” a proactive demonstration of agriculture’s commitment to farm animal care. The initiative empowers, and in fact, demands that if signs of animal abuse, neglect, mishandling or harm are witnessed, anyone working on a farm or in a farm setting has an obligation to report it immediately.

Though it is uncommon, when animal abuse, neglect, harm or mistreatment takes place, it is essential to give animal care providers resources to swiftly report what they witness. The

“See It? Stop It!” initiative provides several options to enable employees to speak up to stop animal abuse. Ultimately, empowering animal caretakers and giving them responsibility to report animal abuse immediately will help assure the best care for animals.

Betsy Flores, NMPF’s Senior Director of Animal Health and Welfare, stated, “Care of animals could not be more important to farmers. Having a system in place to contact any of several authorities is imperative, and ‘See it? Stop it!’ provides that resource. This initiative combines well with the dairy industry’s National Dairy FARM Program: Farmers Assuring Responsible ManagementTM to ensure the well-being of animals in our care.”

The initiative demonstrates to the public that farmers are committed to good animal care and calls on anyone who witnesses abuse to stop it immediately. This includes those who are on farms to videotape animal production activities. Stopping and reporting abuse quickly is the right thing to do for animals, and it demonstrates that those involved in livestock production understand their obligation to provide sound animal care. Demonstrating this commitment is important to maintaining public trust in today’s animal agriculture.

“As the nation’s oldest animal protection organization, the American Humane Association (AHA) has a long history of involvement with programs that help assure proper animal care,” said Kathi Brock, National Director of the Farm Animal Program for AHA. “It is critical for farm management to set clear expectations for animal care and to have zero tolerance for animal mistreatment. We believe ‘See It? Stop It!’ provides the tools to help set those expectations and a mechanism for reporting abuse which supports the proper care of America’s farm animals.”

“Those in agriculture are understandably frustrated by undercover videos. The actions of a few captured on video can taint public perception of the entire livestock community. Taking action to stop abuse demonstrates a genuine commitment to do what’s right for the animals on farms,” said Roxi Beck of the Center for Food Integrity, which is a not-for-profit corporation established to build consumer trust and confidence in the today’s food system. CFI’s members, who represent every segment of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and addressing important issues among all food system stakeholders.

It is the duty of farm leaders to convey the level of commitment they have to responsible animal care, while empowering employees who work with or around animals to immediately report any signs of animal abuse, neglect, harm or mistreatment.

“We depend on more than 11,000 independent livestock and poultry farmers to supply us and we believe they share our commitment to proper animal treatment,” said Dean Danilson, Vice President of Animal Well-Being Programs for Tyson Foods. “Initiatives like ‘See it? Stop it!’ and our own FarmCheck™ on-farm audit program are additional ways we can assure our customers and consumers we’re producing food responsibly. In fact, reporting animal mistreatment is one of the key elements of FarmCheck™.”

Both the U.S. pork and dairy industries have provided funding for the initiative and feel it is a great way to expand upon their already strong animal care programs.

“The Pork Quality Assurance® (PQA Plus®) program outlines best practices for proper animal care,” said Sherrie Niekamp, director of animal welfare for the National Pork Board. “The ‘See it? Stop It!’ initiative meshes well with the core principles of PQA Plus that pork producers have followed for more than 20 years.”

“This initiative confirms the commitment of every farm owner and manager to do what’s right for animals,” said Dallas Hockman, vice president of governmental regulations for the National Pork Producers Council. “‘See it? Stop it!’ expands upon the industry’s ‘We Care’ program, which is grounded by ethical principles and well-being practices. ‘We Care’ helps further establish a culture that ensures proper animal care.”

Additional information about the program, including an employer checklist, guidance for integrating the program into existing animal well-being programs, posters for use in barns and guidance on employee training is available at

Weekly Ethanol Production for March 22

Here is the weekly ethanol production data for the week ending 3/22/2013.

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 805,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 33.81 million gallons daily. That is down 4,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 804,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.33 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.4 million barrels. That is a 5.5% decrease from last week, and the lowest since December 9, 2011.

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

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 352.8 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.58%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.206 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 89,840 metric tons of livestock feed, 80,093 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.19 million pounds of corn oil daily.

March Farm Prices Received Index Up 3 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in March, at 202 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 3 points (1.5 percent) from February. The Crop Index is up 5 points (2.1 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 3 points (1.9 percent). Producers received higher prices for lettuce, broilers, corn, and eggs and lower prices for hogs, milk, wheat, and onions. 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 strawberries, corn, broilers, and milk offset the decreased marketing of cattle, soybeans, cotton, and hay.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 18 points (9.8 percent) from March 2012. The Food Commodities Index, at 185, increased 2 points (1.1 percent) from last month and is 13 points (7.6 percent) higher than March 2012.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The March Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 221 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is unchanged from February but 8 points (3.8 percent) above March 2012. Higher prices in March for nitrogen, feed grains, mixed fertilizer, and supplements offset lower prices for feeder cattle, feeder pigs, potash & phosphate, and diesel.

Prices Received by Farmers

All crops: The March index, at 240, increased 2.1 percent from February and is 14 percent above March 2012. Index increases for feed grains & hay and commercial vegetables more than offset the index decreases for oilseeds and food grains.

Food grains: The March index, at 246, is 2.4 percent below the previous month but 7.4 percent above a year ago. The March price for all wheat, at $7.66 per bushel, is down 31 cents from February but 46 cents higher than March 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The March index, at 307, is up 2.0 percent from last month and 13 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $7.18 per bushel, is up 14 cents from last month and 83 cents above March 2012. The all hay price, at $196 per ton, increased $2.00 from February and is $13.00 higher than last March. Sorghum grain, at $12.30 per cwt, is 20 cents above February and up $1.40 from March last year.

Cotton, Upland: The March index, at 123, is down 0.8 percent from February and 17 percent below last year. The March price, at 74.6 cents per pound, is down 0.7 cents from the previous month and 15.4 cents below last March.

Oilseeds: The March index, at 252, is down 1.2 percent from February but 8.2 percent higher than March 2012. The soybean price, at $14.50 per bushel, decreased 10 cents from February but is $1.50 above March 2012.

Livestock and products:

The March index, at 165, is 1.9 percent above last month and is 3.1 percent higher than March 2012. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for broilers, milk, and eggs. Prices for hogs, cattle, calves, and turkeys are down from last year.

Meat animals: The March index, at 159, is down 1.2 percent from last month and 4.2 percent lower than a year earlier. The March hog price, at $59.80 per cwt, is down $4.70 from February and $5.40 lower than a year ago. The March beef cattle price of $125 per cwt is up $2.00 from last month but $3.00 lower than March 2012.

Dairy products: The March index, at 146, is down 2.0 percent from a month ago but 11 percent higher than March last year. The March all milk price of $19.10 per cwt declined 40 cents from last month but is up $1.90 from March 2012.

Poultry & eggs: The March index, at 197, is up 9.4 percent from February and 13 percent above a year earlier. The March market egg price, at 95.2 cents per dozen, increased 17.6 cents from February and is 16.1 cents higher than March 2012. The March broiler price, at 66.0 cents per pound, is up 5.0 cents from February and 9.0 cents above a year ago. The March turkey price, at 64.1 cents per pound, increased 1.4 cents from the previous month but is down 4.9 cents from a year earlier.

Market Trends for Pork Production

Dr. Steve Meyer with Paragon Economics, Inc. said five questions will drive the markets for pork production this year: "Will it rain? Where will it rain? When will it rain? How much will it rain? Will it be hot, hot, hot again this year?"

According to Meyer, weather is the biggest influencer on markets as we look to the summer -- and it's always a gamble. For example, Meyer pointed out that last year at this time, we were worried about northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota being too dry. Little did we know that the 2012 drought would make these areas the least of our worries.

Meyer said we have never before seen two droughts like 2012's in a row, but we'll have to wait and see what 2013 holds in store. The southern Corn Belt is in good shape in terms of drought conditions and things are improving in the Southeast and Plains states. The USDA forecasts 96.5 million acres of corn planted this year. With a perfect weather yield of 163 bushels per acre, that would lead to corn prices at about $4.80. As long as the weather cooperates, Meyer said "that's very possible to do this year." He said soybeans are likely to price out at $10.50 per bushel.

Meyer said he believes changing fuel use will force U.S. policymakers to review ethanol mandates. That's because more fuel-efficient vehicles are simply using less fuel than they did in past years. Blenders can't meet the ethanol mandates when they have less total fuel to blend.

Shifting focus to the global economy, Meyer said Japan is the latest economic worry as the country has slipped into a recession and the exchange rate of the yen has decreased. Europe continues to be an economic "wreck" while the rest of the world seems to be in a recovery.

In the U.S., the housing market is slowing improving with low interest rates and job growth. Meyer said the unemployment rate is falling, but will likely stay above 7 percent. He said per capita disposable income was down in January by 0.1 percent, which does affect purchasing decisions.

According to Meyer, "everything is working against meat demand right now." The Social Security tax essentially meant that every American took a 2-percent cut in pay starting Jan. 1. That equates to $100 million per week less in the pockets of U.S. consumers. In addition, bad weather across the country has lessened public spending. As the eastern states were hit by several severe storms, many people weren't able to get to work and, thus, collect their full paychecks.

Meyer said pork exports are approaching 25 percent of total output, which he cited as "a source of pride and concern" as it brings risk dependent on the actions of other countries. He said it's not likely that we will hit record exports in 2013.

Meyer concluded by saying that the 2013 forecasts for pork have fallen again, but he's optimistic that producers should reach $90 to $92 per hundredweight this summer. The 2013 slaughter will be slightly higher than 2012; weights are still lower right now, but will probably increase in the summer months. Finally, Meyer pointed out that sow prices have "exploded" recently. He challenged producers to take advantage of the opportunity to market some of their sows and replace them with better genetics if they're in a position to do so.

NOAA Spring Weather Forecast Predicts 'Mixed Bag'

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its three-month U.S. Spring Outlook, stating that odds favor above-average temperatures across much of the continental United States, including drought-stricken areas of Texas, the Southwest and the Great Plains. Spring promises little drought relief for most of these areas, as well as Florida, with below- average spring precipitation favored there. Meanwhile, river flooding is likely to be worse than last year across the country, with the most significant flood potential in North Dakota.

"This outlook reminds us of the climate diversity and weather extremes we experience in North America, where one state prepares for flooding while neighboring states are parched, with no drought relief in sight," said Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "We produce this outlook to help communities prepare for what's likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods. A Weather-Ready Nation hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst."

The U.S. Spring Outlook identifies the likelihood of spring flood risk and expectations for temperature, precipitation and drought. The outlook is based on a number of factors, including current conditions of snowpack, drought, soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation, Pacific Ocean temperatures and consensus among climate forecast models.

After a year of reprieve, the Red River of the North between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and the Souris River in North Dakota have the potential for moderate and major flooding. Devils and Stump Lakes in northeast North Dakota have a 50 percent chance of rising approximately two feet, which would flood 20,000 acres of farmland and roadways.

The melting of late-season snow may cause minor to moderate flooding in the upper Mississippi River basin, including southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northern Missouri. The tributaries in the plains of the upper Missouri River basin, specifically along the Milk River in eastern Montana, the Big Sioux River in South Dakota and the Little Sioux River in Iowa may also see minor to moderate flooding. With significant frozen groundcover in these areas, spring flood risk is highly dependent on rainfall and the speed of the snowmelt.

CRA as It Welcomes New President

The Corn Refiners Association has announced that John W. Bode as its new President and C.E.O. As President and CEO of CRA, the National Corn Growers Association looks forward to continue joint efforts with this longtime partner in promoting opportunities for corn farmers.

"During recent meetings in Washington, the NCGA Corn Board had the pleasure of celebrating CRA's 100th anniversary with them in person," said NCGA President Pam Johnson. "Now, we celebrate the announcement of the selection of Bode as CRA president and CEO with them in spirit. Our organizations have a long history of working together for the benefit of America's farmers and wet millers. We look forward to building upon this in the coming years."

Bode comes to the CRA with 30 years of experience as a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C., representing many prominent companies.

Prior to private practice, Bode served on the Senate Agriculture Committee staff and held three Presidential appointments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he was responsible for approximately one-half of the USDA budget. John testified before Congress more than 70 times and oversaw development of approximately 90 proposed and final rules. A widely recognized speaker on food law and policy, he has been involved in every significant change in federal food law over the past 25 years.

Bode earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma and a Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law. He will begin in his new position on May 6.

"I am honored to join the Corn Refiners Association to represent this important industry," said Bode. "CRA has an outstanding staff. We look forward to making a difference for the corn wet milling industry."

Under Secretary Tonsager Is Leaving USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that Agriculture Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager will departure from USDA:  Vilsack says, “Dallas Tonsager’s efforts as Under Secretary for Rural Development have helped increase opportunity for thousands of rural families, businesses and communities. Dallas’s service to the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama Administration was the latest part of a distinguished career of service to agriculture and rural America. I’m proud of the work we have achieved together and I wish Dallas the best in his future endeavors.”

Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager says...

"After spending twelve gratifying years in leadership positions at the United States Department of Agriculture, I have decided to move on to the next chapter in my life.

I am enormously proud of USDA’s record accomplishments – especially those of my colleagues at Rural Development.  In recent years, Rural Development has carried out more work to help rural communities than at any other time in the agency’s history.  We have provided affordable, quality housing in rural America, helped tens of thousands of rural businesses, and played a key role in helping rural Americans create homegrown energy. We’ve achieved these results with a shrinking staff and an uncertain budget, but I never questioned the commitment of our team at Rural Development.  Leading this group of 5,000 talented men and women has been an honor.

As someone who has spent a lifetime working to strengthen rural America, I am excited about the future of farm country.  My sincere thanks to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack for providing me this opportunity. I look forward to collaborating with them and all of my friends as we continue to serve rural America.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday March 26 Ag News

Norfolk Drought Risk Management Seminar is March 28th

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is hosting a Drought Risk Managment seminar this Thursday, March 28, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk, NE.  The seminar is free and lunch will be provided by Nebraska Farm Bureau.  Speakers include Al Dutcher - State Climatologist, Charlie Shapiro - UNL Extension Educator in Soils, an NRD representative, and NFBF Staff - Steve Nelson, Jay Rempe and Jordan Dux.  For more information, contact Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation director of grassroots programs Jay Ferris at (402) 421-4409 or email 

Boone County Farm Bureau Awarded White-Reinhardt Ag Literacy Mini-Grant

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture awarded 14 mini-grants up to $500 to communities across the nation. Boone County Farm Bureau was the only Nebraska County Farm Bureau to win an award. They will utilize the grant dollars for classroom materials including tools directly related to animal agriculture to assist students and members with literacy and food science.

The grants are awarded through the Foundation’s White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program. The grants are used to fund new projects or expand existing agricultural literacy efforts and are distributed through county and state Farm Bureaus.

Criteria for selecting winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education, how effectively the programs encouraged students to learn more about agriculture and the food and fiber industry, and the procedures and timelines expected for accomplishing project goals.

“Teaching people, especially younger generations, about agriculture and its positive effects on our daily lives is the basis of our efforts,” said Dan Durheim, executive director of the Foundation, Feb. 28. “The mini-grant program gives Farm Bureau members vital tools to distribute to educators in their communities free of charge, helping them teach young people in rural and urban America about today’s agriculture.”

The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a project of the Foundation in cooperation with the American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. The fund honors two former committee chairwomen, Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, who were trailblazers in early national efforts to expand the outreach of agricultural education and improve agricultural literacy.

Rehabilitating Disabled Farmers and Ranchers: A Priority in Rural Nebraska

Occupational and physical therapists are invited to “Rehabilitating Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities.”  The day-long seminar is planned for Thursday, April 25th, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Valley County Extension Office in Ord, NE.  It is sponsored by the Nebraska AgrAbility Project, a joint effort of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and Easter Seals Nebraska.  Continuing Educational Units will be available for the seminar.

Most do not realize it, but when a farmer or rancher is discharged from care following an injury or serious illness, he or she is not only returning home, but is also returning to an industrial work site. 

Occupational therapists, physical therapists, OT assistants and PT assistants can play an important role in preparing farmers and ranchers to return to their homes.  When home includes the workplace, special considerations are needed to ensure a safe transition.

“Rehabilitating Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers with Disabilities” is designed to help these health care providers become more competent in their care to the agricultural population they see on a regular basis.  Lead instructor for the seminar is Dr. Christine Hutchinson, PT, DPT.  Hutchinson is a physical therapist at St. Francis Medical Center in West Point, NE.  She has extensive experience treating diverse patient populations.  Practicing in the acute care as well as rural settings has enabled Christine to treat a variety of diverse patients. UNL Extension faculty and ESN staff will also teach portions of the seminar.   

Pre-registration for the seminar is required by April 18th.   For a complete agenda or registration materials, contact Sharry Nielsen, UNL Extension Educator, (308) 832-0645, or Full refund if cancellation made by April 22nd.

NE Farm Bureau Watches Tax, Checkoff, Water bills in Lincoln

With the legislative hearing process for bills wrapping up in mid-March, Nebraska state senators now turn their full attention to developing the state’s two-year budget and handling priority bills. Each session state senators are allowed to designate one bill as their priority which if advanced from committee helps ensure that it will receive time for debate on the floor. In addition to senator priority bills, each standing legislative committee is allowed to designate two bills as priorities during the session. The Speaker of the Legislature also has the power to designate priority bills.

Tax Reform Talks

Members of the Legislature’s Executive Committee have unanimously advanced LB 613. Introduced by Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus and prioritized by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, the bill would serve as the main vehicle for broader discussion about the state’s overall tax policy. The bill moved into the spotlight after the Revenue Committee opted to go a different direction than the income tax elimination proposals offered earlier this session by the Governor.

The bill, as advanced by Executive Committee members, would create the Tax Modernization Committee comprised of 11 members of the Legislature. In addition to members of the Revenue Committee, the chairs of the Appropriations, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, and Planning Committees would also serve on the Committee. The Committee’s purpose is to “review and study Nebraska’s tax law, including, but not limited to, sales and use taxes, income taxes, property taxes and other miscellaneous taxes and credits.” As of this writing, senators are debating the bill on General File. If passed, it is expected the Committee would study Nebraska tax policy and report its recommendations to the full Legislature for consideration in 2014.

In related news, members of the Revenue Committee have advanced LB 96. The bill would remove sales tax on repair or replacement parts for agricultural machinery and equipment. Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton introduced the bill, and Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte has named it his priority for the session. These items are exempt from taxation in many states surrounding Nebraska. This difference in tax policy between Nebraska and its neighbors creates competitive problems for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. Nebraska Farm Bureau supports the bill.

Corn Checkoff Program

The Legislature’s Agriculture Committee has voted to advance LB 354 to the full Legislature for discussion. The bill, introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson, would make changes to Nebraska’s corn checkoff program patterned after Iowa’s checkoff program.

Under the bill, the Corn Checkoff Board would be changed to be a quasi-state agency and require the election of board members. The bill would continue the mandatory checkoff but provide a refund mechanism. The amount of the checkoff would continue to be 1/2 cent per bushel, with a cap of 1 cent per bushel. Any changes to the rate would require a producer referendum for approval.

An issue of concern related to the bill was whether or not the Corn Checkoff Board could continue to use checkoff funds to lobby on federal legislation. Under current law, up to 25 percent of the funds can be used for lobbying purposes at the federal level. Farm Bureau policy opposes the use of checkoff funds for lobbying.

Under a compromise reached prior to the bill’s advancement, the Corn Checkoff Board would be prohibited from lobbying on state legislation in Nebraska and engaging in political activities. The bill would be silent on federal lobbying, however, regulations would be adopted allowing the Corn Checkoff Board to share information, research or other materials with federal officials concerning market development, product utilization or foreign trade issues with federal agencies for informational purposes. The board could not publically take a position on federal legislation or regulations. Farm Bureau supports the committee amendment and bill. Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha has named LB 354 his priority bill for the session.

Water Task Force

The Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee has advanced LB 517 to the full Legislature. Introduced and prioritized by Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, the bill would create a short-lived, 28 member task force to develop priorities for water funding to be presented to the Legislature by the end of the year. The Committee Amendment would charge the task force with identifying water projects and categorizing them into funding areas. It would also be charged with creating a map of the projects identified and recommend project priorities to the Legislature. Farm Bureau supports the measure.

Weatherfest and Severe Weather Symposium at UNL April 6

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Family Weatherfest and Severe Weather Symposium is Saturday, April 6, at Hardin Hall.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the hall, at North 33rd and Holdrege streets. The free, family event explores the wonder of weather and teaches techniques for surviving – and even thriving – through severe weather events. Free parking is available.

After two straight years of extreme weather in Nebraska, many wonder what's on the horizon. UNL's Family Weatherfest and Severe Weather Symposium prepares youths and adults alike to understand and react to stunning meteorological conditions, whatever they may be.

Activities include a screening of the tornado-filled film "2012's Extreme Weather as Captured by Storm Chasers," a book sale and signing with meteorologist and author Mike Mogil, a weather balloon discussion and launch, face painting booths and an up-close and personal exploration of a real-life tornado vehicle, the Doppler on Wheels.

Other highlights this year include a keynote talk about the 100th anniversary of the deadliest tornado to hit Nebraska; tips for capturing the best photographs of meteorological events; interactive weather presentations such as "Be Weather Wise with Weather Whys," "The Megadrought Walk," and "Tornado Generator"; and exhibits from the National Weather Service, Lancaster County Emergency Management and Midland Radio. Local weathercasters will be on site from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to meet and chat with people.

Participants also will have the opportunity to meet Tern and Plover's "Pebbles" and Lil' Red's East Campus cousin, "Lil' Green," examine emergency management vehicles and take photos next to an "approaching" tornado. To enhance public safety during severe weather, Midland Radio will sell weather radios to the public. HyVee will also offer a cook-out lunch for sale.

Although Weatherfest ends at 2, the Lancaster County Storm Spotter training workshop begins at 1:30 p.m. in Hardin Hall Auditorium. Visitors are welcome to stick around and attend this workshop to learn more about this important community volunteer activity.

More information is available at and or from SNR Outreach Coordinator Ken Dewey at

Sponsors of this year's Weatherfest include High Plains Regional Climate Center, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lancaster County Office of Emergency Management, Lincoln Amateur Radio Club, National Drought Mitigation Center, National Weather Service Omaha/Valley, UNL's Student AMS Chapter, UNL's School of Natural Resources, UNL's SNR Outreach Committee, Geography Graduate Student Organization, and Midland Radio.

The event is the same day as the Huskers' spring game, and visitors will have time to take in both events.


For  the  month  of  March  2013,  any  received  precipitation  has  been welcomed  despite  the  below  average  temperatures,  according  to  USDA’s  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service,  Nebraska  Field  Office.    Livestock  producers  have  reported  favorable  spring  calving  conditions.   Topsoil moisture  supplies were  rated  37  percent  very  short,  42  short,  21  adequate,  and  0  surplus.  Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 68 percent very short, 29 short, 3 adequate, and 0 surplus.  There was an average of 1.8 inches of snow throughout the state.  
Weather  Report: 

Precipitation  and  temperature  data  are  now  being  provided  through  the  High  Plains Regional Climate Center.  See  link  below  for  the  latest  updates. A  link  to  the  latest U.S. Drought Monitor graphic is also provided.
Field Crops Report:

Wheat conditions rated 23 percent very poor, 38 poor, 33 fair, 6 good, and 0 excellent.  
Livestock, Pasture  and Range Report:

Hay  and  forage  supplies  rated  16  percent  very  short,  37  short,  46 adequate, and 1 surplus.  Cattle and calves condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 19 fair, 74 good, and 2 excellent.  Spring  calving  was  49  percent  complete.    Calf  losses  this  spring  have  been  10  percent  below average, 89 average, and 1 above average.

NE NE RC&D Learns More of Area Industry

The Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council met last night with President Dennis Wacker welcoming another new board member Bob Huntley who is representing the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.

Seth Harder, General Manager of the Husker Ag Ethanol Plant, was the featured speaker.  Nebraska is second only to Iowa in ethanol production, but together these states are number one in the world.   Husker Ag produces not only ethanol and modified-wet distillers’ grain, but also feed-grade corn oil.  Just recently they’ve entered into a partnership with Laurel Bio-Composites to make a plastic filler.  Harder also told of the blender pump initiative, a program to provide financial incentives to gas stations that want or need to upgrade their existing pumps, which they are doing in conjunction with the Nebraska Corn Board.

The Council was notified of their pending Nebraska Environmental Trust award for the Northeast Nebraska Weed Management Area project.  The funds will be used to purchase biocontrol agents for Purple loosestrife and Leafy spurge, to do an aerial survey of those weeds,  and offer educational activities for landowners.  

The next board meeting on Monday, April 22nd at 6 p.m. at the RC&D Office in Plainview. 

Iowa Sheep Assessment to Remain at a Dime per Head

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Monday certified the results from the Iowa sheep assessment referendum that was held Feb. 25 to March 15 of all eligible Iowa sheep producers. The assessment will stay at $.10 per head after a simple majority of producers that voted did not support raising the assessment to $.25 per head.

The second question on the referendum which would have allowed the Iowa Sheep and Wool Promotion Board, beginning in 2016, to change the assessment rate by $.05 every three years, was also defeated.

Any producer who is actively engaged within this state in the business of producing or marketing sheep or wool and who receives income from the production of sheep or wool was eligible to participate in the referendum.

In addition to the current assessment of $.10 per head on each sheep sold by a producer, there is also an assessment of $.02 per pound of wool sold by a producer which was not impacted by the referendum. The Iowa Sheep and Wool promotion board is governed by Iowa Code Chapter 182, which was initially passed in 1985 and was updated last year to allow for the referendum to increase the assessment rate.

In accordance with Iowa Code, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was responsible for holding the referendum election and all costs incurred by the Department will be reimbursed by the Iowa Sheep Industry Association.

Beef, Pork Prices Projected to Keep Rising in '13

The USDA's Changes in Food Price Indexes shows the price of meat has not substantially changed so far this year, but a jump is coming as grilling season begins.

The Economic Research Service reports that beef, pork and poultry will be increase by three-to-four percent. Meat prices were 3.6 percent higher in 2012, led by beef which increased by 10.2 percent in 2011 and another 6.4 percent in 2012.

Pork prices were relatively steady in 2012, increasing by 0.3 percent during the year.

Spring usually prompts higher meat prices as consumers begin grilling season, however the demand has been delayed with winter storms moving across the country.

Last week's Cattle on Feed report shows shrinking feedlot inventories with fewer placements in every weight category from the year before. The tight supplies have led cattle futures to charge higher in three of the last four sessions.

Money spent on food away from home is expected to increase this year by about 3 percent to remain in line with growth over the previous two years.

Diesel prices continue to decrease

The U.S. average retail price for on-highway diesel fuel fell to $4.01 a gallon on Monday.  That’s down 4.1 cents from a week ago, based on the weekly price survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Diesel prices were highest in the New England region at 4.17 a gallon, down 3.3 cents from a week ago.  Prices were lowest in the Gulf Coast region and the Rocky Mountain States at 3.94 a gallon, down 5.4 cents and down 3.6 cents, respectively.  In the Midwest region, the price for diesel came in at $3.979, down $0.036 from last week and  down $0.067 from a year ago. 

Gasoline prices inch down 

The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline fell to $3.68 a gallon on Monday.  That’s down 1.6 cents from a week ago, based on the weekly price survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  Pump prices were highest in the West Coast region at 3.96 a gallon, down 4.2 cents from a week ago and marking the first dip below the 4 dollar mark since mid-February.  Prices were lowest in the Rocky Mountain States at 3.47 a gallon, remaining unchanged from last week.  Here in the Midwest, the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.657, up $0.012 from last week, but down $0.242 from last year at this time.  

No Movement Again in Fertilizer Prices

Retail fertilizer prices remained very stable the third week of March, according to data tracked by DTN. This trend has been in place since of the first week of November 2012.

Five of the eight major fertilizers were lower priced compared to last month, but these moves to the low side were fairly small. DAP had an average price of $616 per ton, MAP $662/ton, potash $590/ton, urea $574/ton and anhydrous $861/ton.  The three remaining fertilizers were higher priced compared to the third week of February, but again the move was extremely modest. 10-34-0 had an average price of $613/ton, UAN28 $396/ton and UAN32 $444/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.62/lb.N, anhydrous $0.52/lb.N, UAN28 $0.71/lb.N and UAN32 $0.69/lb.N.

Three of the eight major fertilizers are showing a price increase compared to one year earlier. Anhydrous is now 13% higher, UAN32 is 6% more expensive and UAN28 is 4% higher compared to last year.  Three fertilizers are single digits lower in price compared to March 2012. Both DAP and MAP are 5% lower, and urea is 9% lower compared to last year.  The remaining two fertilizers are now down double digits from a year ago. Potash is now down 10% while 10-34-0 is 23% less expensive.

Ag Industry Launches Campaign to Promote Safe Use of Seed Treatments

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and CropLife America (CLA), two industry leaders in agricultural seed, products, services, and plant science solutions, announced today the release of The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, an industry-wide initiative to promote the safe handling and management of treated seed.

Endorsed by the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Soybean Association, The Guide provides farmers and seed companies with critical information and up-to-date guidelines for managing treated seed effectively to further minimize the risk of exposure to non-target organisms.

“The Guide serves as an all-in-one resource that addresses every stage of a seed’s journey from treatment to planting,” said ASTA President and CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. “It’s designed to be convenient, easy-to-understand and useful to the entire seed and crop production value chain.”

“The Guide will be an invaluable resource for our members,” said Pam Johnson, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “We’re encouraging all corn growers to refer to it before, during and after the corn planting season.”

ASTA and CLA began aggregating seed treatment research and safety information from universities, seed companies, international seed associations and others in early 2012 in response to growing concern about the effect of seed treatment dust on pollinators.

“The health of pollinators, especially honey bees, is crucial to agricultural production in the U.S. and worldwide,” noted Jay Vroom, President and CEO of CropLife America. “The crop protection industry, seed growers and breeders, seed treatment companies, equipment manufactures and farmers all play a role in supporting thriving bee populations through stewardship and sound science."

 The Guide contains recommendations for such processes as:
  o Planting of Treated Seed
  o Safe Use of Seed Treatment Product
  o Safe Handling and Transport of Seed
  o Selection of Treatment Product
  o Treated Seed Labeling
  o Storage of Treated Seed

The Guide, which also includes a seed treatment glossary and an exhaustive list of resources, has been shared with EPA and USDA, both of whom have applauded the industry’s initiative in this effort.

Released in advance of the corn planting dates, The Seed Treatment Stewardship Guide is available online and in PDF format at

CWT Assists with 11.1 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Anhydrous Milk Fat Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 28 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, United Dairymen of Arizona and Upstate Niagara Cooperative (O-AT-KA) to sell 7.108 million pounds (3,224 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese, 3.942 million pounds (1,788 metric tons) of butter and 44,092 pounds (20 metric tons) of anhydrous milk fat (AMF) to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and North America. The product will be delivered April through September 2013.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 41.156 million pounds of cheese, 44.849 million pounds of butter, 44,092 pounds of AMF and 218,258 pounds of whole milk powder to 28 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.359 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis, or the annual milk output of 64,700 cows.

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

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

Agroconsult Adjusts Brazil Soybean Production to 84.4 MMT

Brazil's 2012-13 soybean production will total 84.4 million metric tons (mmt), representing a substantial recovery from the 66.4 mmt produced during the last drought-hit season.  That according to Brazillian farm consultancy Agroconsult Tuesday.

The consultancy raised its forecast from 84.2 mmt following the conclusion of its crop tour, which passed through the principle soy regions between January and March.

The bump came from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, where crops had reacted better than expected to the return of rain in January and February after a dry spell.

Southern production offset the losses registered in the Northeast following dry spells in October, December and January.

In Mato Grosso, the top producing state, rain affected early harvested beans, while Asian rust and caterpillar attacks clipped potential, but high yields in the south meant statewide yields were in line with last year.

Agroconsult's figure is at the top end of market forecasts, which range from 81 mmt to 84.5 mmt.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that no marketing quota will be in effect for the 2014 wheat crop, a declaration required by current circumstances.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 authorized commodity crop programs for the 2008 through 2012 crop years with the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 providing a one-year temporary extension for the 2013 crop year. Unless superseded by new farm legislation, any actions taken by USDA pertaining to the 2014 wheat crop must be done in accordance with the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, as amended (the 1938 Act), and the Agricultural Act of 1949, as amended. Those laws require, under certain market conditions, the imposition of quotas, acreage allotments, marketing certificates and parity price support programs for wheat.

Therefore, if a new farm bill is not written or the current law extended, the 1938 Act calls for a marketing quota for the 2014 wheat crop if the total supply of the crop is likely excessive without the quota, and requires the Secretary to decide not later than April 15, 2013, whether to impose it. Based on USDA projected supply and demand for the 2014 growing season, no quota is required.

Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act Reintroduced in the House

The Public Lands Council (PLC), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Arizona Cattle Growers' Association (ACGA) expressed strong support for the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R. 1345), reintroduced with bipartisan support by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). This bill, familiar from the last session of Congress, facilitates an expedited process to reduce hazardous fuel loads on federal lands through livestock grazing and timber harvesting.

The bill proposes to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire on areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) identified as high-risk. It would streamline analyses performed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in those areas, expediting fuels-reduction activities such as livestock grazing and timber thinning. When threatened or endangered species are at risk, it would also allow for hazardous fuels-reduction projects to go forward under existing emergency provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, it adds to last year’s legislation by including contract stewardship and good neighbor authority measures, which facilitate the completion of forest management projects through public-private partnerships and cooperation with state governments.

PLC President Brice Lee and NCBA President Scott George agreed that the bill addresses the significant issue of catastrophic wildfire in the West by reducing administrative delays, expediting forest management processes, and encouraging better forest health and economic development.

“Last year, more than 9 million acres were burned in one of the worst fire seasons this country has seen in the last few decades. In that scenario, everyone bears the burden of habitat loss — ranchers, western communities, wildlife and the taxpayer, to name a few,” Lee said. “We hope that Congress acts swiftly and moves forward with passing this legislation, so that ranchers and entire communities do not remain vulnerable during what may be another devastating fire season this year.”

George added that fires threaten both rural and urban communities and impair the watersheds the public depends on.

“The red tape beleaguering USFS and the BLM when addressing wildfires is endangering the lives and operations of livestock producers, threatening the natural resources the public depends on, and hindering economic growth,” said George. “This bill seeks to put an end to these issues and allow for better management of public lands.”

Arizona rancher and ACGA President Andy Groseta spoke to the grassroots process that brought about this critical need for a streamlined agency process.

“In 2011, ACGA members developed the Save Arizona’s Forest Environment plan that gained support from dozens of cities, town, counties and other organizations locally and nationally. The residents of rural America recognize the need to return our forests back to true working landscapes governed by responsible multiple-use management,” he said. “The Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013 is a commonsense way to accomplish that and to prevent wildfires from destroying public and private lands across the West.” 

DuPont and Monsanto Reach Technology Licensing Agreements on Next-Generation Soybean Technologies

DuPont and Monsanto announced today a series of technology licensing agreements that will expand the range of seed products they can offer farmers.  The agreements include a multi-year, royalty-bearing license for Monsanto’s next-generation soybean technologies in the United States and Canada.

Through these agreements, DuPont Pioneer will be able to offer Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans as early as 2014, and Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ glyphosate and dicamba tolerant soybeans as early as 2015, pending regulatory approvals.

DuPont Pioneer also will receive regulatory data rights for the soybean and corn traits previously licensed from Monsanto, enabling it to create a wide array of stacked trait combinations using traits or genetics from DuPont Pioneer or others.  Monsanto will receive access to certain DuPont Pioneer disease resistance and corn defoliation patents.

“This technology exchange helps both companies to expand the range of innovative solutions we can offer farmers, and to do so faster than either of us could alone,” said DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler.  “The agreements broaden the Pioneer soybean line-up. Importantly, they give us greater flexibility in developing combinations of genetics and traits to help feed an increasingly crowded planet.”

Schickler reaffirmed DuPont’s existing financial growth commitments for its Agriculture segment.

“We’ve always agreed that technological innovation and farmer choice are essential to agriculture, and this agreement endorses the value of our next-generation soybean technologies,” said Brett Begemann, Monsanto president and chief commercial officer.  “This signals a new approach to our companies doing business together, allowing two of the leaders in the industry to focus on bringing farmers the best products possible while working to advance innovation and long-term opportunity for agriculture.”

Under these agreements, DuPont Pioneer will make a series of upfront and variable based royalty payments subject to future delivery of enabling soybean genetic material.  It will make four annual fixed royalty payments from 2014 to 2017 totaling $802 million for trait technology, associated data, and soybean lines to support commercial introduction.  Additionally, beginning in 2018, DuPont Pioneer will pay royalties on a per unit basis of Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield® and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ for the life of the agreement for continued technology access, subject to annual minimum payments through 2023 totaling $950 million.  DuPont is filing a Form 8-K containing additional information about the impact of these agreements on the company.  A copy of the 8-K is available on the DuPont Investor Center at

DuPont and Monsanto also agreed to dismiss their respective antitrust and first-generation Roundup Ready® soybean patent lawsuits pending in U.S. federal court in St. Louis.