Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday April 30 Ag News

Forage and Pastures Still Weak Despite Rains
Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

In early April our pasture and forage management plans were focused strictly on drought, both how last year affected our grazing and hay lands and what to do this year as it looked like we'd be starting the season dry. With recent moisture, it's easy to put drought concerns behind us, but avoid the temptation.

Plants were weak going into winter and many pastures sustained significant damage that will require years to repair. Plants will start to grow now that they have some moisture, but they still are weak. Grazing too soon will weaken them even more, causing slow regrowth, lower carrying capacity, and maybe even some plant death. Continue to follow plans to turn out livestock 10-14 days later than normal to give these plants a chance to recover some strength before stressing them with grazing.

This temptation to start grazing too early has been increased due to unusually cold temperatures in April (see. Many fields were planted with rye, triticale, or wheat last fall with plans to get some early grazing. This spring some oats were planted early, and some still need to be planted for grazing in mid-May or cutting in mid-June. This early grazing is not going to happen. There still is reasonable hope that good hay yields might be available, and even quite a bit a grazing, but the timing will be much later than we expected.

Prospects for hay yields have increased following recent rains, but don’t get lulled into thinking we are free from the affects of the drought. Summer rains will be needed. There is a long season ahead, and as last year showed, it can turn awfully dry awfully quickly.

Next Options After Rain Delays Alfalfa Planting

A wet spring may have prevented you from planting alfalfa yet and now it's time to jump into corn planting.

Normally in Nebraska we recommend that alfalfa be planted by mid-May on dryland sites or late May under irrigation. Planting later greatly increases the risk of hot, dry, windy weather killing new seedlings before they have enough root system to support the moisture needs of plants.

This spring planting by these deadlines may be difficult. If you're faced with a short planting window, consider these options.

No-till seeding. Crop residues of corn, milo, beans, and small grains are not a problem for most drills, but ridges along the rows can make the field too rough for comfortable hay-making.

Postemergence Weed Control. Weeds can be controlled post-emerge using herbicides like Poast Plus or Select for grasses and Buctril, Pursuit, Raptor, or Butyrac for broadleaves. Roundup, of course, can be used with tolerant varieties. Mowing also helps. If weeds are already present at planting, a burndown spray of Roundup or Gramoxone may be needed.

If planting is delayed further, consider waiting until August to seed alfalfa rather than seeding just before hot weather.

Summer annual grasses like sorghum-sudan hybrids and foxtail millet are good choices but little seed remains available. Bin-run corn might be possible if planted real thick in narrow rows. Berseem clover, any of the summer annual grasses, or even soybeans for hay could be used if you decide to wait a full year before trying to plant again next spring. Choose quickly, though, so you don't miss chances to plant.

CLAAS reflects on first 100 years of innovations

Over the last century, CLAAS has evolved from a small manufacturer of straw binders into a global leader of agricultural implement innovations.

August Claas founded the company in 1913 in Germany, and was soon joined by his three brothers – Bernhard, Franz Jr. and Theo -- to form the company “Gerbuder Claas.” In 1921, the “knotter” was patented as a device designed to create perfect knots. Over the next 90 years, the knotter would go on to become the hallmark of CLAAS.

Later in the decade, the company expanded to the fertilizer spreader before being persuaded to explore the combine harvester market. Manufacturing of combines began in 1936 and has become a staple of CLAAS. Since the first combine rolled off the line, CLAAS has sold over 440,000 units worldwide. In fact, the 450,000th combine is scheduled to drive off the LEXION production line in Omaha, Nebraska in the Spring of 2013.

As productivity and demand grew, CLAAS expanded beyond the borders of Germany. In 1958, a plant was constructed in Metz, France, to produce balers; the first reciprocating plunger balers were built in 1961, and the first sliding plunger balers were manufactured in 1967. Over 280,000 balers have been assembled at the Metz facility in the last six decades.

CLAAS also took a step in tractor development with the 2003 major acquisition of French manufacturer Renault Agriculture. In 2008 CLAAS fully purchased Renault and the French workforce accounts for nearly a third of all CLAAS employees.

While European expansion was taking place, CLAAS was also focusing on reaching the American market. CLAAS of America was founded as an import and distribution firm in 1979 in Columbus, Ind. The company quickly became a market leader in the sales and services of the JAGUAR forage harvester. During the late 1990s, a new factory for the production of LEXION combine harvesters was built in Omaha, Neb. Here, the largest capacity, most efficient combines in the world roll off the line in yellow and black paint.

Today, CLAAS maintains 11 production facilities around the globe. Along with four facilities in Germany, the seven global plants are spread out from Hungary to India and from Argentina to Russia. All told, CLAAS employs more than 9,000 workers worldwide.

Under the guidance of second- and third-generation CLAAS family members, Helmut Claas and his daughter Cathrina Claas-Muhlhauser, the company has stayed true to its roots as a family-run business. They have seen CLAAS become the fourth-largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world and the global market leader in the production of self-propelled forage harvesters.

As CLAAS enters its 100th year as a family-owned agricultural manufacturer, the company is releasing a book chronicling the past century of innovation. Titled “100 Years of Harvesting Excellence”, the book contains nearly 400 pages on the history of CLAAS. The book is currently available on deliusklasing.com, and will be available in bookstores this spring.

Green Plains Reports First Quarter 2013 Financial Results

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. announced today its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2013. Net income attributable to Green Plains for the quarter was $2.6 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of ($12.7) million, or ($0.39) per diluted share, for the same period in 2012. The first quarter of 2012 included a one-time charge of $2.4 million, after tax, or $0.08 per share, as a result of a legal settlement. Revenues were $765.5 million for the first quarter of 2013 compared to $775.4 million for the same period in 2012.

"We achieved a significant improvement in our financial performance for the first quarter of 2013 compared to last year," stated Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer. "The benefits of our multi-year diversification strategy, combined with operational excellence and risk management were all factors that contributed to the positive results, with nearly a $24 million increase in operating income year over year."

Green Plains' ethanol production segment produced and sold approximately 170 million gallons of ethanol, or approximately 92 percent of the Company's production capacity. Non-ethanol operating income, from the corn oil production, agribusiness, and marketing and distribution segments, was a record $21.2 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to $9.0 million for the same period in 2012.

"We continued to strengthen our balance sheet with total payments of $38.6 million on our term debt while maintaining a cash balance of more than $241 million. With an improving margin environment, we are well positioned to take advantage of our financial flexibility to further grow our businesses," said Becker.

"Ethanol margins have improved as industry production levels have rationalized and inventories have been drawn down steadily over the last several months. We expect our second quarter earnings will show further improvement compared to the first quarter of 2013. We will maintain our risk management discipline and continue to focus on locking positive forward margins. Our objective to generate $60 million of non-ethanol operating income in 2013 is on track," commented Becker.

First quarter 2013 EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, noncontrolling interests, depreciation and amortization, was $24.8 million compared to $1.5 million for the same period in 2012. Green Plains had $241.6 million in total cash and equivalents and $107.0 million available under committed loan agreements at subsidiaries (subject to satisfaction of specified lending conditions and covenants) at March 31, 2013.

Pig Stress Syndrome Linked to Gene Defect

A defect in a gene called dystrophin is the cause of a newly discovered stress syndrome in pigs, U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists have found.

Stress-related issues like transportation cost the US swine industry an estimated $50 million a year. Producers as well as researchers have long suspected that undetected stress-related syndromes are affecting the health and well-being of pigs.

This notion was confirmed when scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska, discovered a stress syndrome in two 3-month-old male siblings that died after being transported from one facility to another. The novel syndrome is different than the classical porcine stress syndrome, which was eliminated from US swine herds years ago.

Molecular biologist Dan Nonneman and his colleagues in the USMARC Reproduction Research Unit mapped the stress disorder to a genetic mutation in dystrophin. Mutations in dystrophin, which cause "Duchenne muscular dystrophy” are associated with muscle weakness that can lead to death.

To map the disease, scientists re-mated the original parents of the affected siblings to produce additional litters. The 250 offspring, which included 49 affected piglets, were genotyped, and one chromosomal region containing the dystrophin gene was associated with the syndrome.

Piglets affected by the syndrome had an abnormal heart rate when treated with an anesthesia and monitored. The heart rate of unaffected pigs undergoing the same treatments remained steady.

Nebraska Cattlemen and Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition Team Up to Host Summer Grazing Tour

Mark your calendars for the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) - Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition (NGLC) joint Summer Grazing Tour scheduled for June 11, 2013 in the southeastern Nebraska Sandhills.  The tour will involve four long standing Sandhills ranches northwest of Burwell including the Gracie Creek Ranch; the Shovel Dot Ranch; the Twin Creek Ranch, and UNL grazing research on the Barta Brothers Ranch.

Gracie Creek Ranch is a commercial beef operation managed by the Bob Price Family, and is located in the eastern Sandhills near Burwell, Nebraska. This is a family operation including Bob, son Aaron and daughter Lindsey and her husband Clayton Smith. The ranch’s main production goal is to promote grassland conservation through a profitable planned grazing system that allows for optimum levels of production and environmental services. To reach this goal, a year-round planned grazing system is implemented, supplementing when needed, and minimizing harvest feed demand. The ranch strives for management simplicity and production flexibility to account for climate and market volatility. The Price Family firmly believes conservation and agricultural production practices can be integrated, profitable, and sustainable for future generations. Conservation practices abound on the operation, and the entire ranch was recently enrolled in the USDA’s Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.

The Buell Family first took roots in the Nebraska Sandhills when Benjamin Franklin Buell homesteaded in Southern Rock County in 1882.  Since that time each generation has worked to preserve and maintain the unique landscape of the Sandhills while at the same time running a profitable ranch.  The fourth generation, Larry and Homer and their families operated the Shovel Dot Ranch as a partnership for over 30 years but in 2009, to facilitate the generational transfer of the ranch, they separated.  At the present Homer, his wife Darla, and son Chad and his wife Tricia operate the Shovel Dot Ranch while Larry and his wife Nick operate the Twin Creek Ranch along with their son-in-law Kelby and daughter Devon. Each ranch, using about 15,000 acres, is a cow calf, backgrounding, yearling operation with management of native grasses of paramount importance.  Homer and his brother Larry, starting back in the 1970s, were always quick to adopt new ideas and technology. The Grazing Manager software program is just one of the tools that they use to set up grazing plans and monitor affects on range health over time.  Other technology like Palm Pilots, Quickbooks accounting software, EID, Cow Calf 5, and AI all contribute to managing both the land and the cattle well. As stewards of the land rotational grazing, cross fencing, water pipelines, calving later, winter grazing, and close monitoring of pasture use and production have all helped to improve the quality and quantity of the native grasses. The Buell Family is proud to have the fifth generation working the land with profitable cattle ranches.  One of the goals of each generation has been to pass along a heritage that runs deep with love for the Nebraska Sandhills, its gently rolling prairies, and its landscape bubbling with life which has continued for 130 years.

Barta Brothers Ranch was gifted to the University of Nebraska Foundation in 1992 by Clifford and Jimmy Barta.  Research trials were started in 1998 on the 5,300 acre ranch resulting in eleven M.S. and eight PhD’s thus far. Some of the trials that have been conducted include:
-    Long term grazing study (10 years)
-    4- vs 8-pasture rotation system
-    Supplementing yearling steers wet distiller’s grain on native range and feedlot performance
-    Finishing yearling heifers on grass with a self-feeder
-    Lead plant utilization by beef cows
-    Bio complexity study
-    Sand dune re-stabilization
-    Fly control trials
-    Cedar tree wind break renovation
-    Prairie chicken habitat & mallard duck nesting study 

Current studies include:
-    Above ground plant production by topographic positioning since 1999
-    Plant and soil response to stocking rate and grazing period length
-    Plant, soil and yearling weight response to grazing systems(including mob grazing )on sub irrigated meadow
-    Effect of grazing period length (number of moves/day) on harvest efficiency and trampled vegetation
-    Timing of rainfall events on herbage production under drought conditions
-    Effect of pasture shape on harvest efficiency & trampled vegetation.

Do not miss this opportunity to learn from some of the most progressive grazers in Nebraska as they relate their unique incorporation of grazing techniques and time tested managerial practices that make their operations work. Box lunches will be provided for consumption en route between stops. The day concludes with an evening steak dinner at the Barta Brothers Ranch featuring a panel discussion of the owners from the tour stops and UNL grazing researchers. Come and learn more about the activities of the NGLC and NC. Registration fee is $15 per person and preregistration is required for meal counts by contacting Ron Bolze, NGLC Coordinator or by June 3... ron@nebraskagrazinglands.org. 

ISU Seeks Livestock Producers’ Input for Ethanol Coproducts Survey

Iowa State University is conducting a nationwide survey of livestock producers’ use of feed-related coproducts from ethanol production.

“The feedback gained from the survey will be used to help improve coproduct quality, which can help livestock producers with their feed costs and livestock performance,” said Kurt Rosentrater, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, who is leading the effort.

The survey is focused on the beef, dairy, swine and poultry sectors. It is being funded by a coalition consisting of the Renewable Fuels Association, the Distillers Grains Technology Council, and the Corn Utilization Councils from Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska.

Livestock producers are invited to take the survey online until June 19 at: http://humansciences.ethanolcoproducts.sgizmo.com/s3/

Compliance Deadline for EPA Oil Spill Prevention Rule Fast Approaching

The National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers that the compliance date for the Environmental Protection Agency's Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule is May 10, 2013. By that time, farmers subject to the rule must prepare and implement an SPCC plan. Farmers who already have such a plan in place must maintain that plan.

The SPCC rule regulates farms that meet all three of the following criteria:
-    The farm stores, transfers, uses or consumes oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil or animal fat.
-    The farm stores more than 1,320 U.S. gallons of the aforementioned products in above ground containers or more than 42,000 U.S. gallons in completely buried containers.
-    The farm could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.

A farmer must only count containers of oil that have a storage capacity of 55 U.S. gallons or more. Milk and milk product containers and associated piping and appurtenances; home heating oil tanks at single family homes; pesticide containers used to mix and load formulations; and pesticide application equipment are exempted from the SPCC rule.

Farmers who do not have a plan should prepare one and implementing it by the May 10 deadline. If a farm has a storage capacity of more than 10,000 gallons or has had an oil spill, the plan may need to have the plan certified by a Professional Engineer. If a farm has total on-farm storage capacity between 1,320 and 10,000 gallons in above ground containers, no container with greater than 5,000 gallon capacity, and has a good spill history, the farmer may prepare and self-certify his or her own plan.

Plan must include the contents and locations of oil containers at the farm, the procedures and methods used to prevent spills, measures installed to prevent the oil from reaching waters in the event of a spill, measures to be used in the event of a spill and a list of emergency contacts and first responders if a spill occurs. Plans must be kept up to date, especially if modifications are made, and must be reviewed every five years.

If a farm meets the above criteria and is subject to the SPCC rule, it is important to review additional information and seek assistance if needed. The EPA website which offers this information can be accessed by clicking here... http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/content/spcc/spcc_ag.htm.  Notably, it also includes links to templates for plans.

Please click here (http://www.ncga.com/upload/files/documents/pdf/EPAs%20SPCC%20three%20step%20guide.pdf) for a one-page guide, published by EPA, that offers assistance in determining if an operation is covered by the SPCC regulation and the steps necessary to ensure compliance with SPCC regulations.

April Farm Prices Received Index Decreased 12 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in April, at 189 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, decreased 12 points (6.0 percent) from March. The Crop Index is down 21 points (8.8 percent) and the Livestock Index decreased 1 point (0.6 percent). Producers received higher prices for hogs, milk, potatoes, and oranges and lower prices for corn, lettuce, eggs, and strawberries. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of cattle, strawberries, milk, and broilers offset decreased marketings of corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 11 points (6.2 percent) from April 2012. The Food Commodities Index, at 177, decreased 7 points (3.8 percent) from last month but increased 11 points (6.6 percent) from April 2012.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The April Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 220 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is unchanged from March but 5 points (2.3 percent) above April 2012.  Higher prices in April for mixed fertilizer, concentrates, LP gas, and feeder cattle offset lower prices for feed grains, diesel, nitrogen, and gasoline.
Prices Received by Farmers All crops

The April index, at 218, decreased 8.8 percent from March but is 4.3 percent above April 2012. Index decreases for feed grains & hay, commercial vegetables, fruits & nuts, and oilseeds more than offset the index increase for potatoes & dry beans.

Food grains: The April index, at 243, is 2.0 percent below the previous month but 6.1 percent above a year ago. The April price for all wheat, at $7.52 per bushel, is down 26 cents from March but 41 cents above April 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The April index, at 288, is down 5.9 percent from last month but 5.5 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $6.67 per bushel, is down 46 cents from last month but 33 cents above April 2012. The all hay price, at $200 per ton, is up $4.00 from March and $8.00 higher than last April. Sorghum grain, at $11.40 per cwt, is 80 cents below March but 80 cents above April last year.

Cotton, Upland: The April index, at 123, is down 0.8 percent from March and 17 percent below last year. The April price, at 74.8 cents per pound, is down 0.5 cents from the previous month and 15.6 cents below last April.

Oilseeds: The April index, at 247, is down 2.8 percent from March but unchanged from April 2012. The soybean price, at $14.20 per bushel, decreased 40 cents from March but is 40 cents above April 2012.

Livestock and products:

The April index, at 163, is 0.6 percent below last month but up 7.2 percent from April 2012.  Compared with a year ago, prices are down for calves, turkeys, and hogs. Prices for broilers, milk, and market eggs are higher than last year. All beef cattle prices are unchanged from a year ago.

Meat animals: The April index, at 159, is up 0.6 percent from last month but 1.9 percent lower than last year. The April hog price, at $61.10 per cwt, is up $1.90 from March but $1.70 lower than a year ago. The April beef cattle price of $124 per cwt is unchanged from last month and April 2012.

Dairy products: The April index, at 148, is up 1.4 percent from a month ago and 15 percent higher than April last year. The April all milk price of $19.30 per cwt is up 20 cents from last month and $2.50 from April 2012.

Poultry & eggs: The April index, at 188, is down 4.6 percent from March but 18 percent above a year ago. The April market egg price, at 64.6 cents per dozen, decreased 30.6 cents from March but is 0.5 cents higher than April 2012. The April broiler price, at 65.0 cents per pound, is down 1.0 cent from March but 15.0 cents above a year ago. The April turkey price, at 67.2 cents per pound, is up 2.2 cents from the previous month but down 6.5 cents from a year earlier.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Still Steady

As has been the case since the first week of November, retail fertilizers tracked by DTN for the fourth week of April 2013 continue to show little price fluctuation. But this steady price pattern may be changing depending on the form of nitrogen, according to retailers.  Six of the eight major fertilizers slipped lower compared to last month but these moves were fairly small. DAP had average price of $615/ton, MAP $659/ton, potash $585/ton, urea $571/ton, anhydrous $858/ton and UAN28 $405/ton.  The remaining two fertilizers rose higher compared to the fourth week of March but again the move was tiny. 10-34-0 had an average price of $612/ton on and UAN32 $454/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 $0.72/lb.N and UAN32 $0.71/lb.N., a much narrower range than in the spring of 2012. Back then, urea cost about 35 cents/lb. more than anhydrous.

Only one of the eight major fertilizers is showing a price increase compared to one year earlier. Anhydrous is now 12% higher compared to last year.  Four fertilizers are a single digit lower in price compared to April 2012. DAP is 3% lower, both MAP and UAN28 are down 5% and UAN32 is 6% lower compared to last year.  The remaining three fertilizers are now down double digits from a year ago. Potash has dropped 12% while urea is 20% lower and 10-34-0 is 23% less expensive.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on USTR to Investigate Controversial Anti-Dumping Decision by European Union

Fourteen Democratic and Republican Senators have joined together to sign a letter sent to the Acting United States Trade Representative (USTR), Demetrios Manatos and Acting Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank, calling on them to review and consider a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge to the European Union’s  controversial and unprecedented anti-dumping duty recently imposed on U.S. ethanol producers.

The letter was co-authored by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and cosponsored by Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), John Hoeven (R-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Commenting on the rare bipartisan agreement generated by this outrageous anti-dumping duty, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, and Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following joint statement:

“We are pleased to see that members of the United States Senate have taken action against this outrageous claim by the European Union and have asked the USTR to further investigate the matter.

“The EU Commission failed to make any particular finding of dumping by any producer or marketer investigated in connection with the case. If allowed to stand, this rule would set a dangerous precedent for trade and trade remedies in advance of important trade talks between the U.S. and the EU, and furthermore will dramatically change the boundaries and limits of international anti-dumping law.

“The EU’s recent actions are unprecedented and we believe that the World Trade Organization (WTO) will nullify this blatantly protectionist country-wide anti-dumping duty on exports of ethanol from the United States.”

Japanese Milling Executives Visit U.S. for Wheat Industry Tour

Japan was one of the first, and is still one of the largest, overseas markets cultivated by U.S. wheat growers. As part of long-term marketing development activities, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is bringing a team of Japanese milling executives to North Dakota and Washington, DC, May 1 to 7, 2013, for a firsthand look at this year’s crop.

In addition to examining current crop conditions and quality, team members will discuss market and trade policy developments with U.S. agricultural organizations.

“These team visits to the United States give milling executives more insight and perspective into U.S. wheat’s consistently high quality, reliability and value,” said USW Japan County Director Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, who will accompany the team. “They also reinforce the strong relationship built between Japanese millers and U.S. wheat farmers, starting in the late 1940’s when the Oregon Wheat Growers League organized the first trade delegation to Japan.”

Following that first visit, U.S. wheat farmers nurtured that connection through a variety of marketing and educational activities to promote U.S. wheat, including a school lunch program and a “Kitchen on Wheels” that traveled through rural Japan from 1956 to 1960.

Today, Japan consistently imports more U.S. wheat than any other country, averaging more than 118 million bushels per year the past five years. Japan typically accounts for roughly 10 percent of all U.S. wheat exports, importing significant amounts of hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS) and soft white (SW) wheat.

USW worked with the North Dakota Wheat Commission to organize this year’s team in addition to collaborating with the North American Millers Association, the North American Export Grain Association and other industry organizations.

National Turkey Federation Refutes Alarmist "Study" On Ground Turkey

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) strongly disputes the misleading findings of a Consumer Reports article about ground turkey, which makes a number of alarming claims based on an extremely small sampling of ground turkey products.

"Consumer Reports had the opportunity to foster a serious, thoughtful discussion about food safety, but instead it chose to sensationalize findings and mislead people," said NTF President Joel Brandenberger.

NTF refuted numerous misleading claims, and challenges the methodology in the report, from which essentially all the "findings" are obtained. To help better educate consumers about ground turkey, here are some important facts:
-    The magazine reported high levels of certain pathogens on the samples tested, but it is important to note that the two most prevalent, Enterococcus and generic E.coli, are not considered sources of foodborne illness.
-    By contrast, for the two pathogens of public health concern—Campylobacter and Salmonella—the magazine found almost no prevalence (5 percent for Salmonella and zero Campylobacter).  This is borne out by more extensive government testing, which finds almost 90 percent of all ground turkey and 97 percent of whole turkeys are Salmonella-free.  While the turkey industry strives to control all bacteria on its products, it focuses primarily on those bacteria that present the greatest threat to human health.
-    The article is misleading about the significance of its antibiotic findings.  One of the antibiotics for which it tested (ciprofloxacin) has not been used in poultry production for almost eight years, meaning resistance is highly unlikely to be from farm-animal use, and two other drug classes (penicillin and cephalosporin) are used infrequently in animal agriculture.  The fourth drug class tested by Consumer Reports, tetracycline, is used in animal agriculture, but is a largely insignificant antibiotic in human medicine, comprising only four percent of all antibiotics prescribed by physicians.
-    The article stated three samples contained methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureas (MRSA).  Understandably, this is cause for concern, but the article fails to put MRSA and E.coli in context.  These bacteria are ubiquitous in the environment, and are even present on our hands and in our bodies. 

NTF Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Lisa Picard, said, "Enterococcus and generic E.coli are everywhere, and there is more than one way they can wind up on food animals. In fact, it's so common in the environment, studies have shown that generic E.coli and MRSA can even be found on about 20 percent of computer keyboards."

NTF noted the last week's statement of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates antibiotic use in animals, "We believe that is inaccurate and alarmist to define bacteria resistant to one, or even a few, antimicrobials as 'superbugs' if these same bacteria are still treatable by other commonly used antibiotics. This is especially misleading when speaking of bacteria that do not cause foodborne disease and have natural resistances, such as Enterococcus." 

The magazine's parent company believes the FDA should ban all antibiotics in animal production except to treat illness, to which Picard said, "Animals, just like people, sometimes get sick. The turkey industry judiciously uses antibiotics under strict guidelines set by federal law to restore health, and to treat and control disease. This makes good sense for the turkey's health and lowers production costs, something very important to budget-conscious consumers. Proper animal health practices are an important reason the U.S. food supply is one of the highest quality, safest, and most affordable in the world."

NTF is the national advocate for all segments of the $29.5 billion turkey industry.  Get the facts on ground turkey by visiting our website on www.eatturkey.com

Protect Soybean Yields by Eliminating Weeds Early: Sonic Herbicide Proven to Perform and Enhance Control

Which weed troubles you the most? The answer is any weed taller than 2 to 4 inches. Beyond this height, controlling a variety of species becomes difficult, and in soybeans, postemergence options are limited. Sonic® herbicide controls weeds preemergence plus delivers residual activity that enhances the performance of post applications by keeping weeds smaller and easier to control.

Every inch of weed growth counts against yield. Early weed competition robs developing soybean plants of sun, water and nutrients. Southern Illinois University research shows 6 to 8 inches of dense weed growth can cause 4 to 5 bushels per acre of lost yield — and profit.

Growing Demands

Considering today’s market prices, soybean growers are motivated to protect their soybean fields and yield potential. Global demand is rising for soybeans and crop protection products.

Growth for soybean exports has predominantly come from China over the past decade, according to the Iowa Soybean Review. China accounts for 30 percent of the world’s soybean consumption, representing a market that first became an opportunity in 2000 for U.S. soybean farmers.

Sonic herbicide controls weeds preemergence and delivers residual activity that enhances the performance of post applications by keeping weeds smaller and easier to control. This is important in soybeans, as postemergence options are limited.

Retailers such as Nick Saathoff of Heritage FS in Bourbonnais, Ill., find applying a residual herbicide provides a valuable window of time to manage workloads, attend to other activities or wait out the weather.

“By spraying the Sonic preplant, we’ve got 45 days before we have to worry about going in for a spray of glyphosate application,” says Saathoff. “Therefore, the weeds are smaller when we spray with the glyphosate like Durango and much easier to control.”

In addition to saving time, programs using residual herbicides offer additional benefits to soybean growers over glyphosate-only programs.

Proven Two-pass Advantages

A two-pass weed control program including Sonic is proven to stop difficult-to-control and resistant weeds more effectively than a glyphosate-only program. The residual activity provides growers with a wide window which allows postemergence applications to be made at the right time on weeds that are smaller and easier to control.

Research shows that by incorporating Sonic in a two-pass program, growers can effectively control a broad spectrum of high-anxiety weeds such as lambsquarters, marestail, pigweed, ragweed, velvetleaf and waterhemp.


In recognition of exceptional commitment to quality and customer service, employees at Dairy Farmers of America’s Schulenburg, Texas, facility have been awarded the PepsiCo North American Foods 2012 Service Award for Contract Manufacturing. The award recognizes the Schulenburg team as leaders among 41 contract manufacturing suppliers at 63 locations across the country.

“Customer satisfaction is critical to the continued success of our contract manufacturing business,” said Edward Tilley, chief operating officer for DFA’s Contract Manufacturing Division. “This award signifies that our employees are consistently achieving the expectations set by a valued partner to the Cooperative.”

The Schulenburg facility performed at or above target on all service metrics throughout 2012. Among key initiatives that earned this prestigious recognition was a flawless introduction of nine new products. This included gaining certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for these new products and managing complex capacity needs. During the transition, the team also flawlessly executed a new line installation and service for multi-packing Frito-Lay products.

“The PepsiCo Service Awards recognize exceptional partnership and service-minded individuals who make service a reality every day,” said Kim Parise, director, Frito-Lay Contract Manufacturing Supply Chain. “The companies being honored with our annual Service Award embody the meaning of service and reliability to PepsiCo.”

The Schulenburg facility is one of five DFA Contract Manufacturing plants across the nation. Through the Contract Manufacturing Division, DFA develops and tests new food products for customers throughout the country.

DFA plants utilize state-of-the-art retort technology to make shelf-stable consumer products, including sport drinks, coffee-based flavored drinks, cheese powders and flavors, infant formula, sour cream and cheese dips for well-known brands.

At DFA’s state-of-the-art Innovation Center in Springfield, Mo., food scientists and engineers work closely with DFA customers as they develop and test new food products and create innovative packaging. In addition, flexible manufacturing capabilities allow DFA to produce products in packaging such as steel, aluminum, glass and plastic.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday April 29 Crop Progress and Condition + Ag News


For the week ending April 28, 2013, rain early in the week combined with below normal  temperatures  to  limit fieldwork until  the weekend when conditions warmed and soils began  to dry,  according  to  USDA’s  National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service,  Nebraska  Field  Office.  Moisture accumulations near 1 inch were common across the southeastern third of the State. However, precipitation was again limited in many western counties where soil moisture profiles are depleted.  Corn planting was underway as soil temperatures rose into the upper 50’s by Sunday.  For the week, temperatures averaged 3 to 6 degrees below normal.  Pastures continued  to show little growth, forcing producers  to draw on short forage supplies.  Fieldwork  was  limited  with  only  3.2  days  considered  suitable  for  fieldwork.    Statewide,  topsoil  moisture supplies  rated  13  percent  very  short,  31  short,  55  adequate,  and  1  surplus.   Subsoil moisture  supplies  rated  47 percent very short, 42 short, 11 adequate, and 0 surplus.  
Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 3 percent, well behind last year’s 40 and 26 average.   Wheat conditions  rated 14 percent very poor, 30 poor, 44  fair, 12 good, and 0 excellent. Wheat  jointed was  6 percent, well behind last year’s 66 and 28 average.  Oats planted were at 70 percent, behind last year’s 92 and 85 average.  Oats emerged were 24 percent, behind last year’s 67 and 46 average.  
Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Stock water supplies rated 7 percent very short, 20 short, 72 adequate, and  1  surplus.   Hay  and  forage  supplies  rated  23  percent  very  short,  46  short,  31  adequate,  and  0  surplus.  Cattle and calves condition rated 0 percent very poor, 2 poor, 25 fair, 66 good, and 7 excellent. Spring calving was 91 percent complete.   Calf losses  this spring has been 7 percent below average, 88 average, and 5 above average.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at: http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/nass/CropProg//2010s/2013/CropProg-04-29-2013.txt

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current/index.php?action=update_region&state=NE&region=HPRCC

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DM_state.htm?NE,HP


The week ending April 28, 2013 began with unfavorable conditions, but dry and warmer weather across Iowa late in the week allowed fieldwork to  resume.    There was  an  average  of  2.0  days  suitable  for  fieldwork during  the  week,  according  to  the  USDA,  National  Agricultural Statistics  Service.    Field  activities  included  tilling  and  application  of fertilizers and herbicides.  

Topsoil  moisture  levels  rated  3  percent  very  short,  7  percent  short, 76 percent  adequate  and  14  percent  surplus.    Subsoil moisture  levels rated 13 percent very  short, 31 percent  short  and 51 percent  adequate and 5 percent surplus.  

Although oat planting picked up pace and was 45 percent complete,  it was  well  behind  last  year’s  97  percent  and  the  five-year  average  of 79 percent.  Farmers began to plant a small amount of corn.  

Pasture and range condition rated 16 percent very poor, 23 percent poor, 40 percent fair and 19 percent good and 2 percent excellent.    


Provided by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The  past  reporting  week  began  with  unseasonably  cool  and  wet weather.   Rain began  over  the northwest  one-half  of  Iowa  on Sunday (21st) and changed to snow over about the northwest one-quarter of the state  on  Monday  (22nd).    A  few  areas  from  west  central  into  north central  Iowa  picked  up  more  than  an  inch  of  rain  while  snow accumulated up  to six inches  in Lyon County.   Light  rain  fell over  the southeast  one-third  of  Iowa  on  Tuesday  (23rd)  with  some  snow  also reported.  Very light rain fell nearly statewide on Wednesday (24th).  A welcome period of dry weather began on Thursday and continued  into Sunday (28th) with the exception of a few showers in extreme southeast Iowa on Saturday.   Weekly  rain  totals varied  from only 0.04 inches at Dubuque  to 1.84 inches  at Underwood  in Pottawattamie County.   The statewide  average  precipitation was  0.53 inches  while  normal  for  the week  is  0.94 inches.    The  rain  pushed  the  statewide  average precipitation for the month to an April record of 6.52 inches (old record among 141 years of data was 6.25 inches in 1999).  Monthly rain totals have  been  more  than  double  usual  April  totals  over  parts  of  eastern Iowa  but  were  only  near  normal  over  portions  of  the  northwest  and southwest corners of  the  state.   Meanwhile  temperatures over  the past week were well below normal through Thursday and finally climbed to well above normal over northwest Iowa by Sunday (28th).  Temperature extremes  for  the  week  varied  from  a  Wednesday  morning  low  of 21 degrees at Sibley to a Sunday afternoon high of 86 degrees at Sioux City.   Sunday’s readings were  the first 80’s recorded  in Iowa  this year and marked  the  latest  start  to  eighty degree weather  in  the  state  since 1993.    Temperatures  for  the  week  as  a  whole  averaged  4.5  degrees below normal.  Finally, soil temperatures warmed into the mid to upper 50’s  statewide  as  of  Sunday  (28th)  but  will  likely  fall  back  into  the forties when much cooler weather returns at mid-week.

Drought Outlook Improves for Eastern Nebraska

Al Dutcher, UNL Extension State Climatologist

Nebraska drought mapThe April 23 U.S. Drought Monitor depiction for Nebraska indicates the drought in eastern Nebraska has improved by one category.

Extreme southeastern Nebraska, including Auburn, Beatrice, and Falls City, has been upgraded to D1 (moderate) drought conditions. Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Columbus, and Norfolk have been upgraded to D2 (severe) drought conditions. There was no appreciable change for D3 (extreme) or D4 (exceptional) areas of central and western Nebraska.

The primary driver for the improvement in eastern Nebraska was improving soil moisture after 1-3 inches of moisture were recorded with the storm event that moved through the state April 21-22. High Plains Regional Climate Center soil moisture monitoring sites indicate that all stations contained within the D1 area have reached field capacity at the 4-, 12-, 24-, and 48-inch depth. All soil moisture monitoring sites are under grass.

All locations with the current D2 depicted area have reached field capacity at the 4-, 12-, and 24-inch level. In addition, over half of the sites are beginning to indicate a moisture response at 48 inches. Locations contained within the current D3 area have reached field capacity at the 4- and 12-inch level, but have yet to reach field capacity at the 24-inch level. It should be noted that all sites within the D3 area are showing moisture increasing at the 24-inch level, but are far short of field capacity.

All soil moisture monitoring sites in the small D4 area extending from southwest Nebraska into the southwestern Sandhills have not reached field capacity at the 12-inch level and the 24-inch depth is still at wilting point. Because of the near record to record cold observed this April, vegetative water demand has been virtually non-existent and is a major factor contributing to the recent upgrade in drought conditions across the state.

Glyphosate-Resistant Common Waterhemp Confirmed in Nebraska

Lowell Sandell, Weed Science Extension Educator

University of Nebraska-Lincoln greenhouse studies have confirmed glyphosate resistance in common waterhemp from six Nebraska counties: Antelope, Dodge, Lancaster, Pawnee, Seward, and Washington. Waterhemp, a summer annual broadleaf weed, was already one of the most problematic weeds in corn and soybean production, but glyphosate resistance adds a new wrinkle to its control. Glyphosate-resistant common waterhemp has been confirmed in 12 states over the last eight years.

Last year, we had several phone calls from growers about control failure of common waterhemp despite the repeated application of glyphosate. In fall 2012 common waterhemp seeds were collected from fields in selected counties (Antelope, Dodge, Lancaster, Pawnee, Seward, and Washington) and glyphosate dose response studies were conducted in a UNL greenhouse. Glyphosate (Touchdown HiTech) was applied at several rates (0.25x to 16x the recommended rate of 24 fl oz/acre) to confirm level of resistance in common waterhemp populations.

Dose response analysis was performed to estimate the ED50 (effective dose required to control 50% population) and ED90 (effective dose required to control 90% population) values for each common waterhemp population. Comparisons of dose response curves clearly showed glyphosate resistance at a minimum of six times the normal rate (shown as 6x) at the ED90 value (Table 1). For example, 90% control of glyphosate-susceptible common waterhemp was achieved with a labeled rate of glyphosate (24 fl oz/acre); while the population from Antelope County needed a minimum of 147 fl oz/acre or about six times the recommended rate. In some cases, as much as 599 fl oz/acre (25x) of glyphosate was required to achieve 90% control (Table 1). Overall results suggested that the level of resistance was 6x to 25x in samples collected from Antelope, Dodge, Lancaster, Pawnee, Seward, and Washington County. Regardless of whether glyphosate-resistant common waterhemp is present in a given county in Nebraska, there is a good chance it will evolve resistance at some point based upon what has happened in other states.
A Multi-Threat Survivor Warrants . . .

The confirmation of glyphosate-resistance in Nebraska waterhemp is further evidence of an ever-evolving weed spectrum, and further proof that using only glyphosate for weed control in corn and soybean is not a sustainable approach to weed management. In the face of herbicide selection pressure, common waterhemp has repeatedly proven to be an ecological survivor. In Nebraska, common waterhemp populations resistant to ALS (Pursuit), triazine (Atrazine), growth regulator (2,4-D), HPPD (Callisto), and now glyphosate (Roundup) have been confirmed. The common denominator in all instances where resistance evolved was near continuous use of the same or similar herbicide management approach with little or no diversity in herbicide mode of action used for many years.

Glyphosate-resistant weeds continue to be an increasing problem in Nebraska. Glyphosate-resistant marestail (horseweed), kochia, and giant ragweed previously were confirmed in Nebraska and have become very problematic in certain areas of the state. The confirmation of glyphosate-resistant common waterhemp will be an additional challenge to Nebraska growers. Resistance to any herbicide mode of action is troubling, but multiple-resistance (resistance in a weed population to more than one herbicide mode of action) is of particular concern. Common waterhemp populations with resistance to multiple herbicides have been confirmed in Iowa and Illinois. This resistance stacking is alarming and limits herbicide options for managing common waterhemp.

A Multi-Pronged Attack

The extended germination window of common waterhemp (May to August), increase in no-tillage crop production, and ability of waterhemp to evolve resistance to herbicide(s) have contributed to success of this weed species. Furthermore, it is a dioecious species, which means male and female flowers occur on separate plants and reproduction requires pollen movement. The resistant gene can be spread long distances via pollen and outcrossing.

A member of the pigweed family, common waterhemp is a competitive weed and the evolution of glyphosate resistance means it will require an effective integrated weed management program to achieve acceptable control. Continuing to rely only on glyphosate will only speed up the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds and diminish the effectiveness of glyphosate-based crops and weed control programs. Control of glyphosate-resistant waterhemp will require an integrated approach including:
-    residual herbicides with different modes of action followed by labeled post-emergence herbicides other than glyphosate throughout the cropping system,
-    crop rotation, and
-    a combination of tillage systems.

When combined, these efforts will help slow the evolution of new glyphosate-resistant weed populations in Nebraska.

Bean Leaf Beetle Numbers Down, but Hot Spots Still Possible

Tom Hunt, UNL Extension Entomologist
Keith Jarvi, UNL Extension Educator in Dakota, Dixon, and Thurston Counties

Heavy, early spring bean leaf beetle infestations have been less frequent the last few years. One reason is the increasing acreage planted with insecticidal seed treatments. These insecticides are very effective at controlling spring colonizing bean leaf beetles in individual fields. Another reason may be that the overall population of beetles is lower because of the widespread use of insecticidal seed treatments coupled with insecticide treatment of other pests later in the year, such as soybean aphid (or spider mites last year). However, do not let this lull you into a false sense of security, particularly if you grow soybean without an insecticidal seed treatment. Bean leaf beetles are still present, and pockets of relatively high populations can cause problems.

Appearance and Life Cycle

Bean leaf beetles have two generations a year in Nebraska. Because they overwinter as adults, three periods of beetle activity are seen in the growing season: Overwintering colonizers, F1 generation (offspring of the colonizers, the true first generation), and the F2 generation (the generation that will overwinter).

Bean leaf beetles overwinter as adults in leaf litter (woodlots) and soybean residue. They become active fairly early in the year (April-May), and often can be found in alfalfa prior to soybean emergence. As soybeans emerge, the beetles quickly move to the seedling plants, feeding on cotyledons and expanding leaf tissue. These overwintered beetles, called colonizers, mate and begin laying eggs. Females live about 40 days and lay from 125 to 250 eggs. After egg laying is complete the colonizing population dwindles as the beetles die. A new generation of beetles (F1) will begin to emerge in late June to early July. The F1 beetles mate and produce a second generation of beetles (F2) that begin to emerge in mid to late August.

Bean leaf beetles vary in color, but are usually reddish to yellowish-tan. They are about ¼ inch long and commonly have two black spots and a black border on the outside of each wing cover. These spots may be missing, but in all cases there is a small black triangle at the base of the wings near the thorax.

Because they move to soybean fields so soon after seedling emergence, early-planted fields will usually have more beetles and suffer the most injury, particularly if they are the only beans up and available for the beetles to move into. Although defoliation caused by the beetles can appear quite severe, research in Nebraska and elsewhere has shown that it usually does not result in economic damage. Soybean plants can compensate for a large amount of early tissue loss, so it takes a considerable amount of beetle feeding to impact yield. Generally, soybeans planted during the normal soybean planting window in Nebraska are not colonized by enough beetles to cause economic injury.

Research has indicated that early loss of both cotyledons can result in about a 5% yield loss. Also, these thresholds were developed from studies of soybean seedlings that had relatively large leafs. You may want to take the size of your soybean seedling leaflets into consideration — seedlings with small leaves may be more susceptible to beetle injury and a lowering of the thresholds may be justified. Again, we do not have a research base that considers seedling leaflet size, so experience will have to be your guide.

Sampling seedling soybeans can be somewhat difficult. Wind, shadows, and movement often cause beetles to drop from the plant and hide under dirt clods or in cracks in the soil. We suggest walking carefully along 10-15 feet of row, being careful not to let your shadow cover the row, count beetles on or near the plants, and calculate how many you have per plant. If you can stay at least 3 feet to the side of the row, you would be less likely to alarm the beetles. Sample at least five locations in the field.

Remember that early-planted, temporally isolated soybeans are the most susceptible. If economic thresholds are reached, many insecticides are available for bean leaf beetle control. All will do an adequate job if applied according to label directions. For those who plant early, regularly have economic levels of colonizing bean leaf beetles, and /or have a history of bean pod mottle virus (a bean leaf beetle-vectored disease), insecticide seed treatments may be warranted.

How Defoliation Affects Weed Management

We also have found seedling defoliation can result in a need for earlier weed management. For example, with no defoliation, weeds can remain in the crop up to the V4 stage (third trifoliate) without significantly affecting yield; however, at 30% and 60% defoliation, weeds need to be removed by the V3 and V1 stages, respectively.

Some producers treat bean leaf beetle on seedling soybeans to reduce the subsequent F1 and F2 generations; however, UNL Extension does not recommend this practice. There are many environmental factors that can impact beetle populations throughout the growing season, making it impractical to use spring beetle numbers to accurately predict if beetle populations will reach economically damaging levels in August.

Regular scouting and the use of the appropriate economic thresholds are the best way to manage late season bean leaf beetle in soybean. Late-season economic thresholds will be published in CropWatch later this summer.

IA Soil and Water Conservation Week April 28 to May 5

Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is an opportunity to recognize the important conservation practices placed on Iowa's landscape and bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state's soil and water resources. On Monday, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will sign a proclamation recognizing April 28 to May 5 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week.

"Soil and Water Conservation Week is a great opportunity to highlight the important work being done to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality in Iowa," Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said. "It is vital that we preserve these resources that help make Iowa agriculture so productive and such a key driver of our state's economy."

During the "Dust Bowl" years of the 1930s, the first efforts to prevent soil erosion were developed. In 1939, Iowa passed a law establishing a state agency and the means for soil and water conservation districts to organize. Over 70 years later, the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state are hosting a variety of events to highlight the conservation work being done across the state. To see details of all events being held this week visit www.iowaagriculture.gov/conservationweek.asp.

The Department's Division of Soil Conservation provides leadership in the protection and management of soil, water and mineral resources. The Division also works with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and private farmers and landowners to meet their agricultural and environmental protection needs, in both rural and urban landscapes. The Department's conservation partners include USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Iowa State University, and many others.

This year we celebrate 40 years of Iowa's Cost Share Program, the first of its kind in the nation to put conservation practices on the land. Cost share provides funds to support the construction of conservation practices that are matched by farmers or landowners. In Iowa, over half the practices placed on the land are terraces, with grasses waterways making up almost a fifth. Other practices include water and sediment control basins, grade stabilization structures and more.

Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is in coordination with the national Stewardship Week, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts. This year's Stewardship Week theme is "Where does your water shed." Currently, there are more than 57 active watershed and water quality projects across the state.

The Department, in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University, has also recently released a draft Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The strategy is a science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. The strategy uses a comprehensive and integrated approach, addressing both point and nonpoint sources of nutrients, to achieve reductions in loading of both nitrogen and phosphorus into Iowa's lakes and streams. Anyone interested in learning more about the strategy can visit www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu.

"We still have more work to do on conservation, but working together, in partnership, I'm confident we can build on the conservation ethic of Iowans and continue our efforts to improve the quality of the air, soil and water in our state," Northey said.

Branstad Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration for Iowa Counties

Gov. Terry E. Branstad signed a letter to be delivered to President Obama requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration for five Iowa counties. The five counties in the request are Dickinson, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola and Sioux.

The Governor is making the request for Public Assistance Program funding in response to severe weather between April 9 and 11, 2013. The severe weather produced damaging winds, heavy rains, thunderstorms, freezing rain, ice and snow that caused damage to utility lines, poles, trees and vegetation.

A joint federal, state and local preliminary damage assessment of the five counties found the severe weather caused an estimated $6 million of damage that could be eligible under the Public Assistance Program. Public Assistance funds may be used to rebuild damaged infrastructure that may include roads, bridges, culverts and other public facilities, or to cover costs of emergency work during and debris removal after storms.

ISU: Vaccination and Health Recommendations for Iowa Swine Shows

With the advent of county fair swine shows in Iowa just a few weeks from now, Iowa State University Extension swine veterinarian James McKean said there are specific steps that exhibitors and fair attendees can follow to decrease health risks for animals and people at these events.

“Exhibitors are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their show pigs for erysipelas, a common and rapid spreading illness in pigs. They should consult with their veterinarian about specific vaccines, follow the label dosage, observe the required withdrawal times for each vaccine and be sure to allow adequate time for the animals to develop immunity,” McKean said. “Also, they should consult with their vet about whether/which influenza vaccine should be considered at the same time.”

This recommendation is not new. At least four years ago, pre-exhibit vaccination with both erysipelas and influenza vaccines was strongly encouraged through Iowa State’s Iowa Pork Industry Center where McKean is associate director.

“With up to three weeks before full protection after a vaccination and a required three-week withdrawal period, these vaccinations need to be administered in a timely manner,” he said. “Collective action by exhibitors adds an effective tool in an exhibition’s biosecurity plan.”

Both erysipelas and influenza can spread rapidly in a group environment such as a swine barn at a fair, leading to major difficulties in providing good swine welfare. It also decreases marketing options for all swine at the exhibition. McKean said when in doubt, people should leave ill pigs at home and consult with their veterinarian about how to handle other animals that have been exposed to those pigs.

“Pigs that are off-feed, have a fever or generally appear unwell should not be brought to a show,” McKean said. “And likewise, people who’re feeling ill with influenza symptoms should not go in swine barns. Both people and pigs can bring influenza viruses to an exhibition.”

Ethanol Production Continues to Reduce Its Energy and Environmental Footprint

A new study released today entitled “2012 Corn Ethanol: Emerging Plant Energy and Environmental Technologies” found that recent innovations in corn ethanol production have resulted in increased yield per bushel even as less energy is required for production. Thermal energy use at a typical dry mill ethanol plant has fallen 9% since 2008, the study found, meaning the carbon footprint of corn ethanol continues to shrink.

The authors, Steffen Mueller, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center and John Kwik, PE, of Dominion Energy Services, LLC wrote in summary, “Our work includes an assessment of over 50% of operating dry grind corn ethanol plants. On average, 2012 dry grind plants produce ethanol at higher yields with lower energy inputs than 2008 corn ethanol.”

They continue, “Furthermore, significantly more corn oil is separated at the plants now, which combined with the higher ethanol yields results in a slight reduction in DDG production and a negligible increase in electricity consumption.”

The table below summarizes the 2012 survey results and contrasts them with 2008 operating efficiencies.

                                                                         2012 Corn Ethanol      2008 Corn Ethanol
Yield (anhydrous/undenatured, gallon/bushel)              2.82                              2.78
Thermal Energy (Btu/gallon, LHV)                            23,862                          26,206
Electricity Use (kWh/gallon)                                        0.75                              0.73
DDG Yield (dry basis) including corn oil (lbs/bu)         15.73                            15.81
Corn Oil Separated (lbs/bushel)                                  0.53                              0.11
Water Use (gallon/gallon)                                            2.70                              2.72

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), commented on the new findings.

“Once again, the innovation and dedication of this industry is borne out in the science and data. Ethanol producers are constantly evolving, innovating, and improving the production process. As a result, today’s ethanol industry is using less energy and water than ever before and greatly reducing GHG emissions associated with the corn ethanol lifecycle. Today’s ethanol producers are conscientious stewards of this country’s precious resources and this country’s energy future. The ethanol industry is a classic example of American ingenuity driving success.”

ACE tells Congress RFS is catalyst for innovation

In response to the release of the second white paper from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) entitled “Agricultural Sector Impacts,” the Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Brian Jennings submitted comments today about the benefits of the RFS for U.S. and international agriculture.

Regarding the RFS and U.S. agriculture: “The RFS provides an economic incentive for scientists and technology firms to help farmers sustainably produce significantly more bushels of corn on an acre of existing cropland.  Since the RFS was enacted in 2005, these advancements, such as new seed varieties and more sustainable tillage practices, have enabled U.S. farmers to produce, on average, nearly 20 additional bushels of corn per acre than before.  Still more innovations, like drought-tolerant genes, are being developed to improve corn yield further.  The 2012 drought-ravaged corn crop was twice as large as the drought-ravaged crop of 1988 and three-times larger than the U.S. corn crop 50 years ago.  None of this progress would have been possible without the RFS.”

Regarding the RFS and global agriculture: “From 2000 to 2011, a timeframe which includes when the idea for the RFS was developed by ACE, when it was enacted by Congress, and implemented by EPA, world corn production rose 12 billion bushels as 43 nations, mostly in Africa and the former Soviet Republic, doubled their production of corn.  Repealing the RFS would simply discourage farmers around the world from planting corn, which runs contrary to what the meat and livestock groups supporting repeal want.”

Regarding the RFS and food prices: “Despite the hysteria created by oil companies who oppose the RFS because it enables renewable fuel to compete for market share with petroleum, and food manufacturers who oppose the RFS because they feel entitled to cheap corn forever, the facts indicate virtually no correlation between the RFS or prices farmers receive for corn and retail food prices.  When we pay $1 for groceries, about 14 cents goes to the farmer.  About 35 cents of that dollar pays for the energy to make, transport, process, and preserve the food we buy.  When oil prices rise, so do food prices.  If policymakers genuinely want to reduce food prices, they should support the RFS because it replaces petroleum with renewable fuel.”

“Special interests who profited handsomely in the past from corn prices that averaged $2 per bushel and who are today heavily lobbying the Congress to repeal the RFS, profited on the backs of American taxpayers who were paying for multi-billion dollar commodity support programs under previous farm bills.  With global oil demand on the rise and global oil prices at a new equilibrium, it is highly unlikely those special interests who feel entitled to cheap corn forever will get their wish.”

AFBF: Legislation Needed to Maintain Movement of Grains

New legislation introduced in the House, H.R. 1152, The Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act, would maintain the critical movement of goods during periods of extreme weather, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"The Mississippi River is a critical national transportation artery on which hundreds of millions of tons of essential commodities are shipped, such as corn, grain, oilseeds and agricultural inputs," AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to sponsors of the bill, Reps. Bill Enyart (D-Ill.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

"Recent low water events on the Mississippi River created great uncertainty for those who depend on our waterway systems. Whether it is low water conditions or devastating floods, we need to be proactive in planning and preparing to keep the Mississippi River open for commerce," Stallman said.

He praised the recently introduced legislation because it will improve understanding of the Mississippi River system while providing additional flexibility for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to respond to extreme weather events through better water management, improved river forecasting and more effective environmental management.

"An efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports is vital to America's ability to provide affordable agricultural products domestically and to compete internationally," Stallman concluded.

Lower Feed Prices Could Help Hog Producer Profits

Hog producers should return to profitability this spring because of lower feed prices, although delayed planting could still change that, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist says. Chris Hurt said the animal industries got an unexpected boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's grain stocks report at the end of March.

"Inventories of both corn and soybeans were much higher than anticipated, and that seemingly indicates that greater supplies of both corn and soybean meal are going to be available for the rest of this marketing year," he said. "A dramatic downward movement in feed prices had not been expected until mid- to late summer."

Corn prices dropped nearly $1 per bushel and soybean meal prices about $15 per ton.

Hurt had earlier predicted that hog production could return to profitability this spring, but that was based on an expected spring hog price rally, not lower feed costs.

"Estimated costs for farrow-to-finish production had been around $70 per live hundredweight in the first and second quarter of this year," he said. "Now, my estimates for second-quarter costs have fallen to about $65.50 and to around $63 per hundredweight for the third quarter."

In the first quarter of this year, live hog prices averaged near $62 per live hundredweight. Hurt expects those prices to continue to rise to the mid-$60 range for the next two quarters.

If that happens, he said second-quarter prices should cover production costs and hog producers could see small profits of around $8 per head in the third quarter - the first profits they've seen since 2011.

If farmers are able to get the 2013 crops planted in a timely manner, feed costs are expected to continue falling for the remainder of this year and into early 2014.

Starting early this fall, total costs of hog production could drop to under $60 for the first time since 2011. But while the optimism is welcome after losses of about $26 a head for the last three quarters, Hurt said feed prices could still change and cause production costs to rise.

"Of course, weather this summer and the size of the 2013 crop production is another uncertainty of feed costs," he said. "If late planting or poor summer weather results in another below-normal production year in 2013, that could clearly push up new crop prices and maybe push them up substantially."

But on the other hand, a more normal production year for the U.S. could provide some cushion against the next small crop and help stabilize feed prices for the next few years.

Second Release of Newly Converted Sorghum Lines Made Available to Seed Industry

The Sorghum Checkoff in collaboration with MMR Genetics (NuSeeds America) and USDA-Agricultural Research Service have released 50 new sources of sorghum germplasm through the reinstated Sorghum Conversion Program.

This is the program’s second of three scheduled releases of sorghum germplasm. In June 2012, the program released 44 converted lines that were distributed to 12 public and private entities engaged in sorghum breeding for the development of new and better hybrid lines of sorghum.

The reinstated sorghum conversion program releases make more of the world’s inventory of sorghum genetics available to public and private breeding programs. The material released provides a brand new source of germplasm with potential yield-improving benefits among other desirable genetic traits. Breeding companies can capture potential traits from this new release of germplasm to incorporate into their current sorghum lines to improve the crop’s productivity.

G-8 Open Data for Agriculture Conference Aims to Help Feed a Growing Population and Fulfill New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Commitment

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, along with Bill Gates, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, today kicked off a two-day international open data conference, saying that data "is among the most important commodities in agriculture" and sharing it openly increases its value.

Secretary Vilsack, as head of the U.S. Government delegation to the conference, announced the launch of a new "virtual community" as part of a suite of actions, including the release of new data, that the United States is taking to give farmers and ranchers, scientists, policy makers and other members of the public easy access to publicly funded data to help increase food security and nutrition.

"The digital revolution fueled by open data is starting to do for the modern world of agriculture what the industrial revolution did for agricultural productivity over the past century," said Vilsack. "Open access to data will help combat food insecurity today while laying the groundwork for a sustainable agricultural system to feed a population that is projected to be more than nine billion by 2050."

The virtual Food, Agriculture, and Rural data community launched today on Data.gov-the U.S. Government's data sharing website-to catalogue America's publicly available agricultural data and increase the ability of the public to find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held by the Federal Government. The data community features a collection of more than 300 newly cataloged datasets, databases, and raw data sources related to food, agriculture, and rural issues from agencies across the U.S. Government. In addition to the data catalog, the virtual community shares a number of applications, maps and tools designed to help farmers, scientists and policymakers improve global food security and nutrition.

At the conference, the U.S. Government is also releasing an action plan to highlight a number of new and ongoing U.S. Government efforts including:
-   A partnership to support plant and microbial genebank collections that curate, store and make genetic resources available via the Germplasm Resources Information Network or GRIN-Global;
-   U.S. leadership in the United Nations Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, providing capacity building support for development and improvement of national agricultural and rural statistics; and
-   U.S. Government efforts underway to develop national policies and implementation plans that ensure direct results of federally funded scientific research are made available and useful for the public, industry, and the scientific community which will effectively implement the White House memorandum titled Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research, released earlier this year.

The action plan will also include announcements of new, publicly available datasets from the Millennial Challenge Corporation (MCC) U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USDA and others. The private and non-profit sectors will also announce the release of their own data sets at the conference.

The conference and the U.S. actions supporting open agricultural data fulfill the Open Data for Agriculture commitment made as part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was launched by President Obama and G-8 partners at the 2012 G-8 Leaders Summit last year at Camp David, Maryland.

In his remarks, Vilsack thanked the G-8, particularly the United Kingdom, which holds the 2013 G-8 presidency; New Alliance partner countries attending or tuning in to the conference livestream from Sub-Saharan Africa; and the World Bank, for partnering with the G-8 to hold the conference.

Secretary Vilsack heads the U.S. Government delegation to the conference and USDA's Chief Scientist, Dr. Catherine Woteki, is acting as alternate head of delegation and providing scientific guidance. The U.S. delegation includes wide representation from Federal agencies including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Department of State; Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC); National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and National Science Foundation.

CWT Assists with 2 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted eight requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Michigan Milk Producers Association, Swiss Valley Farms and Upstate Niagara Cooperative (O-AT-KA) to sell 925,942 pounds (420 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 1.102 million pounds (500 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia and North Africa. The product will be delivered May through October 2013.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 50.982 million pounds of cheese, 51.727 million pounds of butter, 44,092 pounds of anhydrous milk fat and 218,258 pounds of whole milk powder to 31 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.599 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. That is more than USDA’s projected increase in milk marketings for all of 2013.

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 assistance to the bidders only when delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

USDA Dairy Products 2012 Summary

Total cheese production, excluding cottage cheeses, was 10.9 billion pounds, 2.8 percent above 2011 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 25.6 percent of the production.

Italian varieties, with 4.63 billion pounds were 1.1 percent above 2011 production and accounted for 42.5 percent of total cheese in 2012. Mozzarella accounted for 78.0 percent of the Italian production followed by Provolone with 7.7 percent and Parmesan with 6.4 percent. California was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 30.7 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 4.36 billion pounds, 3.1 percent above 2011 and accounted for 40.0 percent of total cheese in 2012. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 19.0 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2012 totaled 1.86 billion pounds, 2.8 percent above 2011. California accounted for 35.2 percent of the production.

Dry milk powders (2012 United States production, comparisons with 2011)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.76 billion pounds, up 17.7 percent.
Skim milk powders - 381 million pounds, down 14.7 percent.

Whey products (2012 United States production, comparisons with 2011)
Dry whey, total - 999  million pounds, down 1.1 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.03 billion pounds, up 2.6 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 441 million pounds, up 2.4 percent.

Frozen products (2012 United States production, comparisons with 2011)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 899 million gallons, up 1.2 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 467 million gallons, up 12.3 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 46.0 million gallons, up 1.4 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 74.0 million gallons, up 18.0 percent.

Bill Would Require Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Peter DeFazio introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration to clearly label genetically engineered foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat.

"Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families," Senator Boxer said. "This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more - not less - information about the food they buy."

According to surveys, more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. In fact, many consumers are surprised to learn that GE foods are not already labeled.

Currently, the FDA requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but the agency has resisted labels for genetically modified foods. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not materially different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.

The bill's sponsors say the FDA's antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses. Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide--or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides--is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes.

The bipartisan legislation would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday April 26 Ag News

Charting a Course to Sustainable Water Management
(from NeFB)

The Chair of the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee is no stranger to water issues. Since arriving in Lincoln in 2006 to represent the people of the 38th District, Holdrege, Neb., native Tom Carlson has had his hand in numerous bills targeted at managing one of Nebraska’s most precious natural resources; water. While his experience in dealing with water bills is extensive, his latest venture into the world of water policy is a little different from the rest.

“In terms of concept and idea, this has been the most positive reaction I’ve received on a bill in my seven years in the Legislature,” Carlson said April 11 in reference to LB 517, legislation he introduced to tackle statewide water management.

LB 517 would establish a short-lived Water Funding Task Force to address the long-term, funding needs related to management of Nebraska’s state water resources. Senators gave first round approval to the bill March 28 after adopting a Natural Resources Committee amendment that tweaked Carlson’s original version. The bill, now waiting to be discussed on the second of three rounds of floor debate, calls for a Task Force made up of the Natural Resources Commission, the director of Natural Resources, the Chair of the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee and 10 additional members to be appointed by the Governor.

The bill would also allocate $3 million to the Task Force for the production of a report which would be required to be given to the full Legislature by Jan. 31, 2014. The report is to include recommendations for a plan which prioritizes water programs, projects and activities in need of funding in four broad areas: research, data and water modeling needs; rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure; conjunctive management of ground and surface water; and compliance with interstate compacts.

If the initial vote count is any indicator, the bill looks to be on solid ground following a 36-0 first round vote in favor of the measure. According to Carlson, 2003 was the last time the legislature looked to a dedicated study of Nebraska water, and he has high expectations for the current measure and the prospects of what a final report might provide.

“I hope it looks like a 20-year strategic plan for water policy in Nebraska that would have a timeline for projects that need to be done; starting with the 250 water projects that have already been identified.

As a part of that I hope through brainstorming and maybe a working subcommittee we have some actual suggestions for projects that would help us reverse the trend of 1 million acre feet of water coming into the state annually while watching 8 million acre feet of water leave. If we could tackle that issue alone, the work of this task force would be worthwhile,” Carlson said.

Carlson is also hopeful the task force is innovative in its thinking.

“We know water flows west to east and north to south, so we need to think about projects that help intercept some of the excess water in good years and hold it back to help with recharge and have it available so that we can use it. That includes a willing to move excess water from one basin to another instead of having it flow out through the Missouri River,” Carlson said.

Like Carlson, Nebraska Farm Bureau has been heavily involved in the discussions surrounding LB 517. Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Vice President of Government Relations Jay Rempe says the organization is supportive of the bill and the need to achieve long-term planning for water management.

“There are many competing uses for water in Nebraska: irrigation, domestic uses, instream flows, power generation and recreation just to name a few. Proper planning and funding is needed to assure projects and management activities to meet the needs and maximize beneficial use of water for Nebraskans,” said Rempe.

UNL Extension Pesticide Container Recycling Program Enters 22nd Year

More than 2 million pounds of plastic pesticide containers have disappeared and no longer pose a threat to Nebraska's environment and landscape.

"To be more exact, 2.1 million pounds….which is well over 1,000 tons," said University of Nebraska-Lincoln pesticide safety educator Clyde Ogg.

That's the amount of empty, plastic pesticide containers UNL Extension's plastic pesticide container recycling program has helped collect and recycle from across Nebraska over the past 21 years.

As it has since the beginning, the UNL program helps recycle 1- and 2.5-gallon plastic pesticide containers and 15-, 30- and 55-gallon plastic crop protection chemical drums.

"These are farm and ranch pesticide containers that could otherwise end up stored in barns or sheds or be improperly disposed of by casting them aside on creek banks or burning them," Ogg said.

"The program's primary message has always been that it benefits everyone to find simple, cost-effective and cooperative ways to help properly dispose of these containers and keep them out of the environment and that message has been widely embraced.

"If responsibly and properly disposed of, such as through this program, the containers pose no future environmental risk."

Plastic from collected containers is turned into industrial and consumer products like shipping pallets, drain tile, dimension lumber and parking lot tire bumpers.

Last year, about 35 tons of containers were collected.

A full list of recycling sites, guidelines and program information and details is on UNL's Pesticide Safety Education Program Web site at http://pested.unl.edu/recycling.

"Teamwork and cooperation has kept this program viable and successful. That and the commitment of a lot of people that increasingly understand that this is a simple and effective way to care for our environment," Ogg said, citing cooperation from UNL extension educators and collection site managers statewide.

"Most of the (collection) sites are at agricultural chemical dealerships or community recycling centers, which volunteer to take on this additional responsibility," he said.

The program accepts pressure-rinsed or triple-rinsed 1- and 2.5-gallon plastic pesticide containers. They must be clean and drained, inside and out. Caps, labels, booklets and slipcover plastic labels must be removed since they cannot be recycled as part of the program. Those items should be disposed of as normal, solid waste. Glued-on paper labels can be left on the container. Rinsate should be returned to the spray tank.

Of the 38 sites involved in the program, 21 accept 15-, 30- and 55-gallon plastic crop protection chemical, crop oil and adjuvant drums.

Drums must be thoroughly rinsed before delivery to collection sites and should not be cut or opened in any way. Mini-bulk, saddle tanks and nurse tanks, which can be made of fiberglass or plastics not compatible with the recycling program, are not accepted.

Nine sites collect year-around, 14 collect May through August, 11 collect on specific dates and four are by appointment only.

Program funding is by a national coalition of agri-chemical manufacturers through the Agricultural Container Recycling Council, Washington, D.C. 

County collection sites, by category, are listed below. Sites accepting 15-, 30- and 55-gallon plastic drums are noted.

Year-round collection sites:      

            Antelope: Central Valley Ag, Neligh, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
            Buffalo: Kearney Recycling Center, Kearney, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
            Cuming: West Point Transfer Station, West Point, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon, 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
            Dawes: Solid Waste Association of Northwest Nebraska, Chadron, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
            Knox: Central Valley Ag, Bloomfield, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
           Lincoln: City of North Platte Transfer Station, North Platte, Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
            Scotts Bluff: Gering Landfill, Gering, Normal business hours; accepts drums
            Washington: Washington Recycling Center, Blair, Saturday 8 a.m. to noon, accepts drums
            Wayne: Central Valley Ag, Wayne, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

May-August collection sites:                 
            Antelope: Central Valley Ag, Brunswick, Clearwater, and Elgin, accepts drums
            Burt: Helena Chemical Company, Oakland
            Dawson, All Points Cooperative, Lexington, accepts drums
            Gage: Southeast Nebraska Cooperative, Beatrice; Holt: Central Valley Ag, O'Neill; accepts drums
            Madison: Central Valley Ag, Tilden, accepts drums
            Otoe: Midwest Farmers Cooperative, Syracuse, accepts drums;
            Sarpy: Farmers Co-op, Gretna.
            Saunders: Frontier Cooperative, Mead; accepts drums, Crop Production Services, Ashland, and Reid's Farmacy, Ashland.
            Stanton: Farmers Cooperative, Pilger; accepts drums.

Sites collecting pesticide containers on specific days:

            Cass: Midwest Farmers Co-op, Greenwood, July 1-31, 8-5 p.m., accepts drums, Midwest Farmers Coop, Nehawka, July 15-19, 8-5 p.m.
            Clay: Cooperative Producers Inc., Sutton, Aug. 15 and 16, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., accepts drums
            Dakota: Central Valley Ag, South Sioux City, June and July, Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to noon (except holidays), accepts drums
            Dixon: Central Valley Ag., Newcastle, May 9 & 23, June 6 & 13, July 3 & 17, Aug. 8 & 22, 8:00 to noon
            Hamilton: Cooperative Producers Inc., Giltner, Aug. 1 and 2, 8-5 p.m, Aurora Cooperative, Aurora, July 22 thru 26, 8-5 p.m
            Kearney: Cooperative Producers Inc., Minden, Aug. 6 thru 8, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; accepts drums.
            Lancaster: Farmers Cooperative Co., Bennet, July 26, 9 a.m. to noon; Farmers Cooperative Co., Waverly, June 28, 9 a.m. to noon; both sites accept drums.
            Otoe: Midwest Farmers Cooperative, Nebraska City, July 26 thru 30, 8-5 p.m., accepts drums.

Sites collecting pesticide containers by appointment only:

            Cass: Wiles Bros. Fertilizer, Inc, Plattsmouth, 402-298-8550; accepts drums.
            Custer: Custer County Recycling Center, Broken Bow, 308-870-0313; accepts drums.
            Gage: Crop Production Services, Beatrice, 402-223-5102, accepts drums.
            Phelps: CHS Agri Services, Holdrege, 308-995-5511.

Webinar Will Explain Farm Bill Options to Producers

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension webinar will help producers sort out their options under the farm bill.

The sessions will be offered 10:30 a.m. to noon Central Time on April 29 and May 3. The first hour will feature discussion of farm bill implications and performance for last year and beyond; the rest of the time will be used for discussion of online Excel-based Nebraska ACRE tool for producers.

Both sessions will cover the same material.

Congress this year extended the 2008 farm bill to cover production in 2013.

The extension of this legislation requires producers to again make an election regarding which FSA farm program they will enroll under: the traditional DCP program or the newer ACRE program.

Timothy Lemmons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator, said it's critical that producers understand how each program has performed in the past and how it's anticipated to perform this year.

The April 29 and May 3 webinars provide an opportunity for producers to re-educate themselves on the workings of the ACRE and DCP programs, as well as  expert analysis of how these programs might extend risk management protection in the near future, Lemmons said.

"We will also demonstrate the updated Nebraska ACRE Model Excel program available for download at http://agecon.unl.edu/farmbill," he added.

Scheduled speakers include Brad Lubben, UNL Extension public policy specialist, and Lemmons.

Producers can participate in the webinar at http://connect.unl.edu/farmbillmeeting.  The webinar also will be aired at the following sites: Chase County, 135 West Fifth, Imperial, April 29 and May 3; Valley County Extension Office, April 29 and May 3; Jefferson County Extension Office, April 29 and May 3; Haskell Ag Lab in Concord, May 3 only; Washington County Extension Office, 597 Grant St., Blair, May 3 only; and Cuming County Extension Office, courthouse, West Point, April 29 only.

In addition, the sessions will be recorded and available later at cropwatch.unl.edu.

Johnson Hired as Field Agronomist for ISU Extension and Outreach

Mark S. Johnson joined Iowa State University Extension and Outreach as a field agronomist for north central Iowa on April 15. Johnson, a certified professional agronomist and certified crop adviser, returns to his alma mater to serve as a member of the Iowa State extension crops team.

"I enjoy agronomy, teaching agronomic concepts and providing farmers and agri-business research-based information related to their agronomic issues,” Johnson said. “I’m personally rewarded every time I help someone find a solution or come closer to making a good agronomic decision.”

Johnson, of Ankeny, has a B.S. in agricultural education and an M.S. in agronomy from Iowa State University. During his 30-year agronomy career in agri-businesses, he has worked frequently with members of the Iowa State extension crops team that are now his colleagues. While the soil continues to warm this spring, he will be traveling his region to introduce himself to farmers and agri-business agronomists.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the farmers, learning about the issues they face and working with the agri-businesses,” he said. Johnson can be reached by email at markjohn@iastate.edu or by phone at (515) 979-9578.

EPA Issues Final Decision on Iowa’s 2012 List of Impaired Waters

EPA has approved Iowa’s 2012 list of impaired waters requiring Total Maximum Daily Load calculations. The Iowa Department Natural Resources (IDNR) submitted its impaired waters list to EPA on April 1, 2013 for review and approval as required by the Clean Water Act.

“EPA appreciates Iowa’s efforts to rigorously monitor and assess its waters so that IDNR can prioritize its development of pollution reduction plans,” said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. “This process is an important first step toward improved water quality. The Iowa impaired waters list documents IDNR’s priorities for restoration activities. We look forward to working with IDNR and the citizens of Iowa to restore Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams.”

EPA commends IDNR for its work in preparing the list of impaired waters. In today’s decision, EPA approved the removal of 73 water bodies and the addition of 78 water bodies. Today’s action brings the total number of impaired waters on the state’s list to 479.

A water body is placed on the impaired waters list when monitoring finds that pollutant levels prevent the lake, river, or stream from attaining its beneficial uses. A water body can be removed from the list if it meets its beneficial uses or if a pollution reduction plan for a water body is approved by EPA. Beneficial uses in Iowa include human recreation, water supply, and maintaining healthy aquatic life.

EPA’s April 25, 2013, decision letter provides a more detailed description of EPA’s review and the basis for this action. The decision letter, including the final 2012 impaired waters list, is available at www.epa.gov/region7/newsevents/legal/.

Livestock Loans Raise Farm Lending

Nathan Kaufman, Economist, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank
Maria Akers, Associate Economist, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank

Commercial banks boosted lending to livestock operators in the first quarter. According to a February survey of national commercial banks, bank lending for livestock purchases rose to its highest level in almost a decade. High feeder cattle prices kept loan volumes to cattle feedlots elevated. With expectations of further declines in crop and feed prices during 2013, the potential for improved profits also supported lending activity to other livestock operations. In addition, loan volumes for current operating expenses, including feed, rose further following a fourth quarter surge. Bankers also reported a rise in the share of loans made with a floating interest rate for both livestock purchases and current operating expenses.

Real estate loan volumes also trended higher as farmland markets remained active. Potential tax policy changes looming at the end of 2012 led to a flurry of farmland sales in the fourth quarter.  Despite heightened sales activity, farmland prices surged further supported by strong farm incomes. Farmland value gains were most pronounced in the Central and Northern Plains. Irrigated cropland sold particularly well in the Central Plains due to concerns about water scarcity and land lease revenues from mineral rights pushed up farmland prices in the Northern Plains. Farmland values were expected to remain at record levels and real estate loan volumes appeared to advance modestly in the first quarter of 2013.

Profits at agricultural banks continued to improve in the fourth quarter. The average return on assets and return on equity reached their highest levels in five years. Ample funds were available for financing as agricultural banks competed for high-quality farm loans, driving interest rates for real estate and non-real estate loans to new lows. Loan repayment rates also edged higher as record crop insurance payments resulting from last year’s drought boosted farm incomes. With rising loan repayment rates, delinquency rates on farm loans trended lower and net charge-offs, particularly for real estate loans, continued to fall.

First Quarter National Farm Loan Data

Increased lending to the livestock sector helped push first-quarter farm loan volumes above year-ago levels. According to the national Survey of Terms of Bank Lending to Farmers conducted during the first full week of February, the total volume of non-real estate farm loans made during the quarter jumped 9.0 percent in the first quarter of the year. An increase in the number of loans to the farm sector more than made up for a slight decline in average loan amounts. Farm real estate loan originations also rose during the first quarter.

Loans to livestock enterprises surged to historically high levels as operators financed livestock purchases and production expenses. With feed costs expected to moderate throughout 2013, potentially improving livestock profitability, loans to purchase livestock rose sharply in the first quarter. However, low cow inventories underpinned high feeder cattle prices and contributed to higher loan volumes to feedlot operations. In addition, current operating loans jumped compared with last year as winter feeding expenses remained elevated. The crop sector also paid high input costs for fertilizer and seed, though crop insurance payments eased the effect of drought on crop incomes. After surging at the end of 2012, loan volumes for farm machinery and equipment purchases fell below year-ago levels, as did intermediate-term loans to farmers for other, unspecified purposes.

The share of loans with a floating interest rate made to livestock operations jumped in the first quarter. The share of loans made with a floating interest rate rose to almost 70 percent for feeder livestock and exceeded 75 percent for other livestock loans and current operating expenses. Commercial banks also competed intensely for agricultural loans, driving average effective interest rates to new lows. The lowest rates were reported in the Pacific Rim and the Corn Belt.

Fourth Quarter Call Report Data

Agricultural banks posted their best fnancial performance in five years with strengthening profts in 2012. The rate of return on assets at agricultural banks topped 1.1 percent at the end of the year, compared with 0.8 percent at other small banks. The average rate of return on equity at agricultural banks rose to 10.2 percent in the fourth quarter, well above the 7.3 percent reported for other small banks. In addition, the percentage of agricultural banks with negative income as a share of average equity fell to a fve-year low. Furthermore, there were only two agricultural bank failures in 2012 from the more than 50 commercial bank closures during the year.

Farm lending at commercial banks soared at the end of the year. Farm debt outstanding at all commercial banks rose almost 5 percent in the fourth quarter, the largest year-over-year jump since early 2009. High input costs and a surge in farm machinery and equipment purchases to take advantage of tax incentives drove non-real estate loan volumes 5.0 percent higher than last year. Potential changes in tax policies also enticed more landowners to sell farmland before the end of 2012, pushing farm real estate loan volumes 4.6 percent above year-ago levels. Despite higher farm loan volumes, rising deposits at agricultural banks kept average loan-to-deposit ratios steady for much of 2012. 

Farm loan delinquency rates fell during the fourth quarter. Following an uptick in the third quarter, delinquency rates on non-real estate farm loans dropped to 1.4 percent and loan charge-of rates held steady. Delinquency rates on farm real estate loans trended down for the second straight year, falling to 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. In addition, charge-of rates on farm real estate loans fell to their lowest level in four years.

Fourth Quarter District Agricultural Conditions

Bankers in agricultural growing regions reported strong year-over-year farmland value gains in the fourth quarter. Strong interest in farmland from both farmers and nonfarm investors drove real estate prices higher in many areas despite increased sales and lingering drought conditions. Robust energy production and less severe drought conditions in the Northern Plains helped push the value of non-irrigated farmland up substantially.

Cropland values in the Corn Belt continued to build on previous gains. Back-to-back years of drought in the Southern Plains limited non-irrigated farmland value gains but fueled demand for irrigated acreage. Still, most bankers expected farmland values would hold at record levels regardless of weather patterns during the coming year. Interest rates to fnance farm real estate loans continued to edge down.

Elevated crop prices and crop insurance payments due to drought supported farm incomes and capital spending in the fourth quarter. Bankers reported a surge in capital spending before year-end to take advantage of tax breaks on depreciation for qualifed farm equipment. However, bankers indicated that strong farm income was limiting demand for some loans. The volume of dairy loans was expected to remain fat though feeder cattle loan volumes were expected to rise modestly in the Dallas District. As agricultural banks competed for qualifed borrowers, interest rates on short and intermediate-term loans fell further in all Districts except Richmond.

With solid incomes, farm credit conditions generally improved in the fourth quarter. According to Federal Reserve District Agricultural Credit Surveys, more bankers reported higher loan repayment rates and fewer loan renewals and extensions at the end of the year as some farmers used income to pay off debt. In addition, the availability of funds for farm loans remained high and collateral requirements for non-real estate farm loans held relatively steady. Average loan-to-deposit ratios edged up in the Richmond District but dipped lower in the Chicago and Dallas Districts.

Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition Applauds Introduction Of Agricultural Worker Bill

The Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition today praised the introduction of legislation that would assist in establishing a stable workforce that can help sustain the rural communities where farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers grow and process the nation’s and world’s food supply.

“The introduction of this legislation, and the bill introduced in the Senate, are important first steps in the immigration reform process, which will be a dynamic debate featuring many proposals to reform our flawed immigration process,” the coalition said. “We commend Chairman Goodlatte, and we look forward to working on a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.”

The “Agricultural Guestworker Act,” introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., replaces the impractical H-2A program with a sensible guestworker program. The new program, known as H-2C, modernizes and streamlines the agricultural guestworker program and would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal agency that understands the unique needs of America’s food manufacturers and farm and ranch operations.

The existing temporary programs for general labor skilled workers are for seasonal labor only. Under the “Agricultural Guestworker Act,” the H-2C program would offer workers and employers more choices in their employment arrangements, creating more flexibility and making it easier for workers to move freely throughout the marketplace to meet demands. This new program will support food manufacturers, cattle operations, dairies, hog and poultry farms and other year-round agricultural employers.

“An effective occupational visa system may be the most important barrier to illegal immigration,” the coalition said. “The right visa system with the right screening tools will in effect be a ‘virtual border.’ The ‘Agricultural Guestworker Act’ and the creation of the H-2C program would serve the diverse interests of the agriculture and food manufacturing industries and will boost the modern agriculture labor market.”

Since not all agriculture jobs are the same or require the same level of skill and experience, the H-2C program would give employers the opportunity to invest their time in training workers for jobs by allowing them an initial stay of 36 months. Workers would then be required to leave for up to three months. After the period of leave, each H-2C visa holder would only be required to leave once every 18 months. This would provide farm labor stability and would encourage illegal farm workers to identify themselves and participate in the H-2C program.

The Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition is composed of:
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Pork Producers Council
North American Meat Association
National Chicken Council
National Turkey Federation
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
California Poultry Federation
Georgia Poultry Federation
The Poultry Federation (Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma)
Virginia Poultry Federation

USDA:  2012 Milk Production Increases Over Two Percent

Milk production increased 2.1 percent in 2012 to 200 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 21,697 pounds, was 361 pounds above 2011. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.23 million head, up 39,000 head from 2011.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2012 totaled $37.0 billion, 6.4 percent lower than 2011. Producer returns averaged $18.56 per hundredweight, 8.3 percent below 2011. Marketings totaled 199.4 billion pounds, 2.1 percent above 2011. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

An estimated 961 million pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 1.1 percent less than 2011. Calves were fed 90 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

2012 Milk Production by State

State                  Cows   -    milk/cow -  # milkfat -   % milkfat  - total production    -  $ receipts
Nebraska ...:      56,000   -   21,179    -     794     -    3.75      -   1,186,000,000  -    231,084,000         
Iowa ..........:      204,000  -    21,730   -      815    -     3.75     -    4,433,000,000  -  849,024,000        
Kansas .....:       126,000  -    21,675   -      804    -     3.71     -    2,731,000,000  -   516,610,000      

New Goodlatte/Scott Dairy Bill

There may be a new compromise on the table for overhauling the way dairy farmers are paid for their milk. On Thursday, Reps. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and David Scott from Georgia introduced a new bill that offers dairy producers margin insurance protection without requiring them to accept milk check deductions that would be collected by USDA. And the measure would not require dairy farmers to pay new administrative fees to USDA, which was part of a similar proposal last year.

Supporters say the dairy bill provides margin insurance on its own, similar to how other commodities are treated in Title 1 of the Farm Bill. Catastrophic margin insurance is offered for free up to 4 million pounds of production annually, and is offered at higher levels to all farmers without any supply management conditions. The margin insurance will also allow farmers to update their milk production every year they choose to participate in the program.

NMPF Reaction to Introduction of Goodlatte-Scott Dairy Freedom Act

Jerry Kozak, President and CEO, NMPF
“Goodlatte and Scott’s misnamed Dairy Freedom Act is nothing more than an unacceptable attempt by dairy processors to assure themselves access to a sea of taxpayer-subsidized cheap milk. Congress rejected this approach last year, and should do so again this year.

“What processors claim is a compromise is nothing more than a costly ruse that will hurt farmers and taxpayers alike.

“Because it features no mechanism to put the brakes on potential excess milk production, it offers dairy processors an over-abundant, cheap milk supply that will help their corporations’ bottom lines, while ensuring that farmers are underpaid for the milk they produce. Dairy processors are simply trying to have taxpayers make up the difference.

“The market stabilization program in the Dairy Security Act that was approved last year by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees makes our program cost-effective. Creating an effective, voluntary participation program supported by dairy farmers from coast to coast most certainly is the business of the federal government. That program is the Dairy Security Act, not this dairy processor-backed Trojan Horse.”

IGC Lowers China Soy Imports

The London-based International Grains Council Friday lowered its forecast for China's soybean imports in the current marketing year due to the outbreak of bird flu.

Imports in the year ending Sept. 30, for which the IGC has reduced its forecast by 2 million metric tons to 59 million tons, may still be higher compared with actual purchases from overseas of 57.1 million tons in 2011-12, the council said. Growth in China's soybean imports, which averaged 16% in the last five years, will slow to 3.3% in 2012-13, it said.

The bird-flu outbreak in China has led to the culling of thousands of poultry and raised prospects for reduced demand.

Soybeans are crushed to extract soymeal that is used in animal feed. China is the world's largest importer of soybeans, with a more than 60% share of global trade, securing the commodity from the U.S. and South America.

China's soybean imports fell 9% in the six months through March, according to government estimates. Traders said this was mainly due to acute port congestion in Brazil that delayed shipments which have spilled over to the second quarter.

"Bird flu will reflect in demand during the second half of the year because China has mostly covered its soybean import requirements until June," said Freddy Pranteda, director at Cosur SA, a major South American brokerage for grains and oilseeds.

The IGC cut its forecast for China's soybean consumption in 2012-13 by 800,000 tons to 75.3 million tons but said if realized, it will still be a record high.