Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday June 28 USDA Acreage, Stocks, Hogs & Pigs + Ag News - Afternoon Update

USDA:  Corn Planted Acreage Up Slightly from 2012
Soybean Acreage Up 1 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 1 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Down 17 Percent


Corn planted area for all purposes in 2013 is estimated at 97.4 million acres, up slightly from last year. This represents the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1936 when an estimated 102 million acres were planted. Growers expect to harvest 89.1 million acres for grain, up 2 percent from last year.

Soybean planted area for 2013 is estimated at a record high 77.7 million acres, up 1 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 76.9 million acres, is up 1 percent from 2012 and will be a record high, if realized. Record high planted acreage is estimated in New York, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

All wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 56.5 million acres, up 1 percent from 2012. The 2013 winter wheat planted area, at 42.7 million acres, is 3 percent above last year and up 2 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 29.4 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 9.96 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.38 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2013 is estimated at 12.3 million acres, up slightly from 2012. Of this total, about 11.7 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The estimated Durum wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 1.54 million acres, down 28 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2013 is estimated at 10.3 million acres, 17 percent below last year. Upland area is estimated at 10.0 million acres, down 17 percent from 2012. American Pima area is estimated at 226,000 acres, down 5 percent from 2012.



2013 NEBRASKA ACREAGE 


Nebraska corn growers planted 10.2 million acres, up 2 percent from last year and the largest total since 1933, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Biotechnology varieties were used on 93 percent of the area planted, up 2 percent from 2012. Growers expect to harvest 9.8 million acres for grain.
 
Soybean planted area is estimated at 4.8 million acres, down 5 percent from last year’s total of 5.05 million acres. Of the acres planted, 96 percent were planted with genetically modified, herbicide resistant seed.
 
Winter wheat seeded in the fall of 2012 totaled 1.45 million acres, up from last year’s total of 1.38 million acres. Harvested acreage is forecasted at 1.16 million acres, down 140,000 acres from the previous year.

Alfalfa hay acreage to be cut for dry hay is 700,000 acres, down from the 2012 acreage of 770,000 acres. Other hay acreage to be cut for dry hay is 1.9 million acres, up from 1.8 million acres in 2012.
  
Sorghum acreage planted and to be planted, at 180,000 acres, is up 24 percent from a year ago. The area to be harvested for grain, at 80,000 acres, is up 20,000 acres from last year.

Oats planted acres increased to 150,000 acres, up from the previous year’s total of 75,000 acres. Area to be harvested for grain, at 40,000 acres, is up from 18,000 acres last year.
 
Dry edible bean planted acres decreased to 130,000 acres, down from 145,000 acres planted in 2012. Harvested acres are estimated at 120,000 acres, down 13,000 from the previous year.

Proso millet plantings of 120,000 acres are up from 70,000 acres a year ago. 

Sugarbeet planted acres, at 46,000, are down from previous year’s average of 51,000 acres.   

Oil sunflower acres planted decreased to 28,000 acres, down from 33,000 acres last year. Non-oil sunflower planted acreage is estimated at 15,000 acres, up from 8,500 acres last year.


 
Iowa  Acreage  Report  June 28, 2013


Corn  planted  area  for  all  purposes  is  estimated  at 14.0 million  acres,  down  200,000  acres  from  2012  and 200,000  acres  below  the March  intentions  according  to the  USDA  National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service  – Acreage  report.  Corn  to  be  harvested  for  grain  is forecasted  at  13.5  million  acres.  Soybean  acreage planted  is  estimated  at  9.50  million  acres,  up 150,000 acres  from  2012,  and  100,000  acres  above  the March  intentions.  Soybean  acreage  to  be  harvested  is forecasted  at  9.43  million  acres.    An  estimated 1.11 million  acres  will  be  harvested  for  hay,  with 700,000 acres of alfalfa, and 410,000 acres of other hay.  Acreage  seeded  to  oats  is  estimated  at  130,000  acres, unchanged  from  2012. Oat  acreage  to  be  harvested  for grain  is  forecasted  at  50,000  acres.  Acreage  seeded  to winter  wheat  last  fall  is  estimated  at  36,000  acres. Winter  wheat  acreage  to  be  harvested  for  grain  is forecasted at 26,000 acres. The acreage estimates in this report are based on data collected from May 30 through June 18. 

Producers  also  reported  the  percent  of  genetically modified  (GM)  seed  varieties  used  to  plant  the  2013 corn  and  soybean  acres.  The  percent  of  corn  acreage planted  to  insect  resistant  (Bt)  varieties  is  estimated  at 5 percent, herbicide resistant only varieties were planted on  14  percent  of  the  acres,  and  stacked  gene  varieties were  planted  on  72  percent  of  the  acres.  Overall, 91 percent of  the corn acreage was planted to GM seed. Ninety-three  percent  of  Iowa’s  soybean  acreage  was planted with herbicide resistant GM seed.



USDA Grain Stocks - June 28, 2013

Corn Stocks Down 12 Percent from June 2012
Soybean Stocks Down 35 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 3 Percent


Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 2.76 billion bushels, down 12 percent from June 1, 2012. Of the total stocks, 1.26 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 15 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 1.50 billion bushels, are down 10 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2013 indicated disappearance is 2.64 billion bushels, compared with 2.88 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 435 million bushels, down 35 percent from June 1, 2012. On-farm stocks totaled 171 million bushels, down 4 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 263 million bushels, are down 46 percent from a year ago. Indicated disappearance for the March - May 2013 quarter totaled 564 million bushels, down 20 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop all wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 718 million bushels, down 3 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 120 million bushels, up 7 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 598 million bushels, are down 5 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2013 indicated disappearance is 516 million bushels, up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop Durum wheat stocks in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 23.5 million bushels, down 8 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 13.6 million bushels, are down 11 percent from June 1, 2012. Off-farm stocks totaled 9.86 million bushels, down 4 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2013 indicated disappearance of 19.0 million bushels is up 84 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop barley stocks in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 80.3 million bushels, up 34 percent from June 1, 2012. On-farm stocks are estimated at 15.8 million bushels, 64 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 64.5 million bushels, are 28 percent above June 1, 2012. The March - May 2013 indicated disappearance is 36.8 million bushels, 9 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Old crop oats stored in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 36.3 million bushels, 34 percent below the stocks on June 1, 2012. Of the total stocks on hand, 11.4 million bushels are stored on farms, 2 percent higher than a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 25.0 million bushels, 43 percent below the previous year. Indicated disappearance during March - May 2013 totaled 16.3 million bushels, compared with 19.8 million bushels during the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 39.1 million bushels, down 33 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 2.71 million bushels, are down 34 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 36.4 million bushels, are down 33 percent from June 1, 2012. The March - May 2013 indicated disappearance from all positions is 52.4 million bushels, up 6 percent from the same period last year.



NEBRASKA JUNE 1, 2013 GRAIN STOCKS


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 300 million bushels, down 15 percent from 2012 and the smallest total since 1996, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Of the total, 130 million bushels are stored on farms, down 24 percent from a year ago.  Off-farm stocks, at 170 million bushels, are down  8 percent from last year. 

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 29.0 million bushels, down 55 percent from last year and the lowest since 1990.  On-farm stocks of 7.4 million bushels are down 26 percent from a year ago and off-farm stocks, at 21.6 million bushels, are down 60 percent from 2012. 

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 20.9 million bushels, up 1 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 1.20 million bushels are up 71 percent from 2012 while off-farm stocks of 19.7 million bushels are down 1 percent from last year. 

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 1.75 million bushels, down 59 percent from 2012 and the lowest since 1956. On-farm stocks of 100 thousand bushels are down 67 percent from a year ago and the lowest on record. Off-farm holdings, at 1.6 million bushels, are 58 percent below last year. 


 
Iowa June 1, 2013Grain Stocks Report


Iowa corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 565 million  bushels,  18  percent  below  a  year  ago.    Of  the  total  stocks,  50  percent  were  stored  on-farm.    The March  - May 2013  indicated  disappearance  totaled  466  million  bushels, 22 percent  less  than  the  599 million  bushels  used  during  the same period last year.

Iowa  soybeans  stored  in  all  positions  June  1,  2013  totaled 103 million  bushels,  29  percent  less  than  the  147  million bushels on hand June 1, 2012.   Of the total stocks, 39 percent were stored on-farm.  Indicated disappearance for the March - May  2013  period  was  96.5 million  bushels,  35  percent  less than the 148 million bushels used during the same quarter last year.

Iowa oat stocks stored in all positions on June 1, 2013 totaled 4.34 million  bushels,  down  36  percent  from  the  6.81 million bushels on hand June 1, 2012.   Of the total stocks, 17 percent were stored on-farm.



NEBRASKA HOG INVENTORY DOWN 2 PERCENT

Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2013, was 3.10 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  This was down 2 percent from June 1, 2012, but up 3 percent from March 1, 2013.  

Breeding hog inventory, at 400,000 head, was up 4 percent from June 1, 2012, and up 3 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.70 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, but up 3 percent from last quarter.  

The March-May 2013 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.83 million head, was down 4 percent from 2012.  Sows farrowing during the period totaled 170,000 head, down 6 percent from last year.  The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.75 for the March-May period, compared to 10.55 last year.

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



United States Hog Inventory Down Slightly

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2013 was 66.6 million head. This was down slightly from June 1, 2012, but up 2 percent from March 1, 2013.

Breeding inventory, at 5.88 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 60.8 million head, was down slightly from last year, but up 2 percent from last quarter.

The March-May 2013 pig crop, at 30.1 million head, was up slightly from 2012. Sows farrowed during this period totaled 2.92 million head, down 2 percent from 2012. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.31 for the March-May period, compared to 10.09 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.70 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.40 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.93 million sows farrow during the June-August 2013 quarter, down slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2012, and down slightly from 2011. Intended farrowings for September-November 2013, at 2.92 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2012, but down slightly from 2011.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 46 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down from 47 percent last year.



Groups Study Dairy Industry in Dodge County, Nebraska


(AP) -- A strategic plan being studied by local stakeholders has the potential, if all goes right, to enhance the Dodge County, Neb., agricultural industry and make Nebraska a destination within the national dairy industry.

The Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce and its Agricultural Business and Natural Resources Council has been studying the potential opportunities and benefits of a revitalized and expanded dairy industry in Nebraska.

The Fremont Tribune reports the chamber developed the Dodge County Livestock and Dairy Development Plan, and is in the process of meeting with and providing education to farmers, civic groups and other stakeholders.

Ron Tillery, executive director of the Chamber, said the strategic plan is a planning document that allows his organization to proceed with any potential opportunity in an orderly and systematic way.

"We're interested in exploring ways to add value to the natural and currently existing ag enterprises in Dodge County," Tillery said. "Not every area within Nebraska is well positioned to participate in modern dairy practices. But there are certain regions in Nebraska that are virtually perfectly positioned to do that, and we think Fremont may be one of those areas."

Tillery said the Chamber has worked with the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), a nonprofit focused on opportunity and growth of Nebraska agriculture. In working with the group, Tillery said, Nebraska, the eastern side in particular, is operating with a milk deficit. Within a 100-mile radius of Fremont there are seven dairy manufacturing operations running on a milk deficit ranging from the equivalent of 30,000 to 50,000 cows.

"The danger is that if they can't get sufficient milk supplies, the plants might close and they'll move somewhere else," Tillery said. "That is not a hypothetical scenario for us. In fact a cheese processing facility that used to be in Dodge closed several years ago for the same reason."

Tillery said A-FAN has prioritized dairy development and is organizing the I-29 Corridor Initiative, which refers to the dairy operations in eastern Nebraska and northwest Iowa and seeks to increase dairy production within a reasonable transportation radius around the seven dairy facilities.

Nebraska has had declining or flat dairy production for decades, Tillery said. The ag business has been focused on beef cattle, pork and crop production rather than dairy. He said often dairy was a sideline to the family farm that might have 50 or 100 cows.

"At that level, dairy is a backbreaker," he said. "You could never leave the farm. It was just a very difficult way to make a living."

Modern dairy operations are larger - often 2,000 to 4,000 cows - more concentrated and are operated more efficiently. They also present a strong economic opportunity for rural areas.

"These larger scale dairies could offer an economic development opportunity to rural areas of counties like Dodge County," said Tillery. "It essentially is an eye opener, because it not only produces the direct impacts to the operation, which are significant, it also offers opportunities for feed suppliers in the surrounding area to reduce their transportation costs and to have a new market that's nearby. The manure management is very sophisticated and is also a valued commodity to surrounding farmers.

"A dairy like we're envisioning could invest as much as $30 million in hard assets, land and animals. That tax base is substantial, that is a new tax

base," he said. "This kind of development could be the first step in the ladder up to see additional manufacturing plants and that sort of thing."

But Tillery was careful to say the Chamber isn't going to jump head first into any initiative without thorough study and discussion with stakeholders.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We think this has a lot of appeal. We think it's a good fit, but we've got to know absolutely that it's a good fit and we're not going to do a top down kind of process here," he said. "We want to build consensus and work with key stakeholders throughout this process to push this project along. And at any point we see that it's just not right, then it's not right.

"We haven't made the assumption that it's right for us just because it's doing well and is right for somebody else," Tillery added. "We wanted to make sure that we looked at it from the standpoint of Dodge County; the topography, the geology and the regions that we have available in Dodge County that might overlay this kind of opportunity.

"Certainly our proximity to the end markets for the milk are very advantageous. We're very well positioned for that, better virtually than anybody else in the state."

Few Nebraska farmers have pursued large-scale dairy operations, while neighboring states have been more aggressive in pursuing dairy development and recruitment. Tillery said one of the bigger opportunities is to capture or recruit expanding or relocating dairies coming out of the West Coast.

He said a lot of dairies in California are relocating for a variety of reasons, and part of the strategic plan is to make those dairies aware that Nebraska is "open for business," said Tillery.

Kathy Rhea, chairman of the chamber's Agricultural Business and Natural Resources Council, agreed the opportunity could provide an economic boost to Dodge County, but re-emphasized the fact that the council is focusing first on education and evaluation.

"We are continually educating ourselves and evaluating potential economic development opportunities in agriculture and ag-related business because we feel that agriculture is extremely important to the area," she said. "We want anything we do in the line of economic development to be a good fit for the area."



Cattlewomen Host Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest


The Nebraska Cattlewomen hosted the 2013 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest on June 18th, 2013 during the Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting in Valentine, NE.  The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. Each division consisted of different events which were evaluated by a panel of judges. The intermediate and senior competition consisted of a mock consumer promotion event, a media interview and an issues response task. Junior contestants delivered a short factual presentation on the importance of the beef industry.  Winners of the contest included:

Junior Division:
    1st - Henry Beel, Johnstown, NE
    2nd - Landri Loos, Litchfield, NE
    3rd - Lindsi Loos, Litchfield, NE

Intermediate Division
    1st - Libbi Loos, Litchfield, NE

Senior Division
    1st - CaLee Thomsen, Wolbach, NE

Winners of the intermediate and senior divisions are eligible to participate in the National Beef Ambassador Contest.



Wheat Harvest Approaches Nebraska Border 

(from KBOT, KGFA, KWC, & KAWG) 

Combines are running from Norton to Marshall counties along the Nebraska border, as the 2013 harvest gets into the second big week of harvesting.

Ag Valley Co-op in Norton has seen scattered activity in the last few days, with just a few thousand bushels of wheat taken in. The crop so far has 55-56 pound test weights, but it is too early for yield and protein information. Many fields still have green cast to them, but harvest should get into full swing by early next week.

Travis Mason, manager of the Southeast Nebraska Co-op location in Herkimer, says farmers are bringing in wheat in northern Marshall County. Test weights are 60 pounds or higher, and yields are in excess of 60 bushels per acre. No protein values have been received yet.

Highway 14 seems to be a dividing line for good yields and quality, according to Jeff Bechard, president of AgMark, LLC in Beloit. The company markets grain for 20 elevators from Cawker City east to Leonardville, and Westfall north to Jewell. Wednesday was the first day that the entire area had good harvest conditions. Yields range mostly from 35 to 65 bushels per acre, with the better wheat in the eastern side of Hwy. 14; protein ranges from 9 to 11 east of Hwy. 14 and 11 to 14 west of Hwy. 14. About 25% of the crop is harvested in AgMark’s trade area, and Bechard expects this crop to be above average in terms of total bushels received.

Duane Reif, manager at the United Ag Service location in Hoisington, says the area harvest is about 50% complete. Test weights at the Hoisington location range from 56 to 62 pounds per bushel, protein from 13 to 16 and yields range from 20 to 50 bushels per acre. At the company’s Stickney location just 10 miles north, test weights average above 60 pounds per bushel and yields range from 40 to 60 bushels per acre.

Doug Johnson, manager of the Scott Cooperative location in Marienthal, says harvest just got started on Monday. At 60 pounds per bushel on average, test weight is a bit better than he expected, but yields are poor, ranging from 15 to 20 bushels per acre. In isolated cases where showers fell last fall, some farmers report 30 bushel per acre yields. However, much of the area’s crop has been destroyed. Johnson says early protein tests show 11.7 protein, but will probably improve as harvest continues. This location will take in about 35% of an average crop.



Rabobank Predicts Lower Global Dairy Prices


Global dairy prices will deflate slightly due to issues with supply, demand and pricing, according to the latest Rabobank dairy report published Thursday.

Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team reports that international dairy prices peaked at record levels in April, but fell in mid-June, falling between 10% and 12%. Still, prices remain exceptionally high by historic standards, driven by significant decreases in milk production in export and import regions.

This dip in production and weak demand should cause prices to gradually move downwards in the next two quarters as supplies increase.

A global dairy strategist for Rabobank, Tim Hunt, commented on the supply-driven price increases.

"Seldom has a rally in international markets appeared so supply-side driven as this," Hunt said. "A loss of momentum in milk production growth was expected following an unattractive milk-to-feed cost ratio in late 2012, but this has been exacerbated by atrocious weather in key growing areas in the first half of 2013. In the Northern Hemisphere, a cold and wet winter was followed by a late arriving spring, while Oceania saw a summer drought."

With the exception of a slight increase in Brazil, dwindling supplies caused decreases in milk production in the Big Seven global exporting countries (the EU, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) to fall 2.5% in March and 4.1% in April.

The world's two largest import areas have experienced decreased supplies as well. Production in Russia has been hampered by bad weather and poor margins and China's production is also lackluster. This sent importers in these areas scrounging for available supplies, squeezing other importers out of the market by causing prices to soar to record levels.

Global prices typically decrease as buyers cover short-term needs, stocks decrease and supply improves, but with such low global stocks, the market will likely pause until a supply response improves prices.

Rabobank predicts that harvest will bring a sizeable decrease in commodity feed prices, which should improve margins in most regions by Q4 2013. In the second half of 2013, only a small increase in demand is likely in the EU and U.S., so global prices will be largely swayed by how milk producers respond to improved margins and the interest of importers in increased supplies.



Feds OK Horse Slaughter Plant in NM


(AP) -- Federal officials have granted a southeastern New Mexico company's request to open a horse slaughterhouse, adding Friday that they plan to grant similar permits to operations in Iowa and Missouri.

With the action, Valley Meat Co. of Roswell is set to become the first operation in the nation licensed to process horses into meat since Congress effectively banned the practice seven years ago.

The company has been fighting for approval from the Department of Agriculture for more than a year with a request that ignited an emotional debate over whether horses are livestock or domestic companions.

The decision comes more than six months after Valley Meat Co. sued the USDA, accusing it of intentionally delaying the process because the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter.

Valley Meat Co. wants to ship horse meat to countries where people cook with it or feed it to animals.

Although the USDA granted the company's certification, it was unclear when it would actually be able to begin slaughtering horses. Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn says the USDA has to send inspectors to the plant before it can begin operation.

The plant would become the first horse slaughterhouse to operate in the country since Congress banned the practice by eliminating funding for inspections at the plants. Congress reinstated the funding in 2011, but the USDA has resisted approving Valley Meat Co.'s application, prompting the lawsuit.

The USDA also is lobbying for an outright ban on horse slaughter, and the Obama administration's budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year eliminates funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, which would effectively reinstate a ban on the industry. Both the House and Senate agriculture committees have endorsed proposals that would cut the funding. But it is unclear when an if an agriculture appropriations bill will pass this year.

"Since Congress has not yet acted to ban horse slaughter inspection, (the agriculture department) is legally required to issue a grant of inspection today to Valley Meats in Roswell, N.M., for equine slaughter," said USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe.

"The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter. Until Congress acts, the Department must continue to comply with current law."

The issue has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country's horse overpopulation and what rescue groups have said are a rising number of neglected and starving horses as the West deals with persistent drought.

Proponents of a return to domestic horse slaughter point to a 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows horse abuse and abandonment have been increasing since slaughter was banned in 2006. They say it is better to slaughter the animals in humane, federally regulated facilities than have them abandoned to starve across the drought-stricken West or shipped to inhumane facilities in Mexico.

The number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter has nearly tripled since 2006, the report says. And many humane groups agree that some of the worst abuse occurs in the slaughter pipeline. Many are pushing for a both a ban on domestic slaughter as well as a ban on shipping horses to Mexico and Canada.



Ukraine's 2013-14 Wheat Exports Seen 37% Higher 


Ukraine's wheat exports are expected to hit 9.2 million metric tons during the 2013-14 crop year, 37% higher than last season's output, prominent Ukrainian agricultural forecaster APK Inform told The Wall Street Journal Friday in its first official estimate for the current season.

The group also forecasts the country's wheat production will hit 20.5 million tons during the 2013-14 crop year--that compares with 15.7 million tons a year earlier, said Svetlana Synkovska, marketing director at APK Inform.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the country's wheat exports at 8 million tons for this season, 1 million tons higher than last year.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said Egyptian wheat imports are likely to remain slow until August, when harvests in Egypt's main trading partners of Russia and Ukraine are completed, with the country also in talks to secure shipments from Kazakhstan and India. Egypt is the world's largest buyer of wheat.

Egypt is seeking to cut its wheat imports by around 10% in 2013, to 8 million tons, the FAO said, while reports indicate the government has allocated $1.6 billion to boost domestic wheat procurement to 4.5 million tons.

European Union 2013-14 wheat exports are forecast at 18.5 million tons, the USDA said, revising down its prior forecast by 1.5 million tons after warning earlier that an increase in the availability of Black Sea origins, especially Ukraine's harvest, could compete for market share if it is of good quality.



Friday June 28 Ag News - Morning Update

Johanns Writes EPA Inspector General Seeking Investigation

U.S. Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today wrote the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Arthur Elkins, Jr., requesting further scrutiny of ongoing practices at the agency.

“This EPA has pursued an aggressive agenda that, to many Nebraskans, seems more focused on harming agriculture in America and driving up electricity bills than achieving reasonable environmental goals,” Johanns said. “The recent release of private information, use of secret email accounts with pseudo-names to conceal official business, and potential collaboration with outside groups to generate lawsuits fuel our legitimate concerns. The EPA IG needs to carefully and impartially review these practices to ensure this agency acts transparently and within its legal boundaries.”

Johanns singles out three key areas of concern, including the agency’s multiple releases of personal information to anti-ag groups, conducting official business through unofficial electronic accounts, and a practice known as “sue and settle,” where EPA negotiates settlements behind closed doors.



Lincoln Forum Promotes Humane, Sustainable Agriculture

(from HSUS)
 

At an open agricultural forum Thursday evening at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, the President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, affirmed his continued support for traditional farmers and ranchers whose practices reflect responsible stewardship of the land and animals. The event was hosted by the Nebraska Agriculture Council of The Humane Society of the United States. 

The events are part of a larger effort in Nebraska to promote humane, sustainable agriculture and raise awareness about alternatives to factory farming. “We are here to celebrate forward-thinking farmers who make animal welfare a priority and appeal to the increasing share of consumers concerned about the values of humane treatment and sustainability,” said Pacelle. “This collaboration holds great potential to create longer-term improvements for all stakeholders.”

Participants gathered at the forum to support local farmers and new programs designed to support higher animal welfare standards.  Forum speakers included Pacelle; John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union; Kevin Fulton, a Nebraska cattleman and chair of the Nebraska Agriculture Council; and Ben Gotschall, energy director of Bold Nebraska.

On Friday, Pacelle will receive a tour of certified organic dairy Branched Oak Farm from owner Doug Dittman, member of the Nebraska Agriculture Council.

In addition to supporting humane sustainable agriculture, The HSUS continues to push to eliminate four extreme industrialized agriculture practices: gestation crates for breeding pigs, barren battery cages for egg laying hens, veal crates and the needless tail docking of dairy cows. Within the last 16 months, more than 50 major American food retailers, and the largest eight supermarkets in Canada, have committed to phasing out their purchase of pork from operations that confine breeding sows.

“It’s past time for the majority of Nebraska pig producers to enter into the discussion about a careful and non-disruptive transition away from crates and toward group housing systems,” added Pacelle. “Consumers and food retailers have already made their decision, and now we all need to figure out a way forward that results in good outcomes for all stakeholders.”



NEBRASKA AGRICULTURAL PRICES


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for June 2013 averaged $7.00 per bushel, a decrease of 50 cents from the May price according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service.  The preliminary June corn price, at $7.20 per bushel, increased 21 cents from the previous month.  The preliminary June sorghum price averaged $12.20 per cwt, an increase of 20 cents from May.  The preliminary June soybean price, at $15.00 per bushel, increased 30 cents from last month.  The preliminary June dry edible bean price, at $41.70 per cwt, was up 70 cents from last month.  The June alfalfa hay price, at $224.00 per ton, was down $12.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $163.00 per ton, was down $3.00 from last month.

Iowa Monthly Ag Prices

Prices for corn, soybeans, hay, and milk were expected to increase in Iowa from May to June, while prices for oats, were expected to decrease during the same period.  Corn in Iowa sold for an average price of $7.20 per bushel in mid-June. This was up $0.14 from the May price and up $0.83 from June of last year.  Nationwide, corn prices averaged $7.02 per bushel in mid-June.  The average price for soybeans in Iowa was 15.10 per bushel in mid-June, $0.20 above the May price and $1.20 higher than the price in June 2012. The United States average soybean price in mid-June was the same as Iowa’s.  Iowa oats averaged $4.60 per bushel in mid-June, $0.06 below May’s price but up $0.82 from June of last year. Nationally, mid-June oat prices averaged $4.04 per bushel.  Alfalfa hay  in Iowa sold for an average price of $280.00 per  ton  in mid-June, $5.00 higher  than May but $138.00 above June 2012. The average price for other hay types in Iowa was $180.00 per ton in mid-June, $6.00 above May’s price and $87.00 higher  than in June of last year.



U.S. Farmer-Leaders, USSEC Discuss Minimizing Trade Disruptions to MEA Region


The US Soybean Export Council recently participated in a roundtable discussion in Amman, Jordan. The meeting was followed by a teleconference with ASA Chairman Steve Wellman (farmer from Syracuse, NE); United Soybean Board Director Scott Singlestad; Antoine Sayegh, President and Owner of Middle East and North Africa Poultry magazine; and USSEC Regional Director Mit Goblirsch. Reporters from U.S. agricultural publications were included in the conference call.

The focus of the roundtable was to help the U.S. soy industry understand and recommend opportunities for ways that Eastern Mediterranean markets can minimize U.S. soy trade interruptions during times of political unrest. Prior to the turmoil that began two years ago, the Middle East was a promising market for U.S. soy, but the events known as Arab Spring have disrupted lines of trade amid regional instability. At this meeting, the U.S. soy family listened to their customers to learn about areas in which help is most needed.

According to Goblirsch, much of what was learned at the roundtable dealt with the difficulty of moving product to get it to where it is needed. "Transportation and logistics affect every aspect of soy imports into these areas, including crush, refining, and production of meal and oil," he stated.



FISCHER OPPOSES FINAL IMMIGRATION BILL


U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) announced Thursday afternoon that she voted against the final immigration reform legislation, S.744, which passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32. Senator Fischer released the following statement:

“I am grateful to the thousands of Nebraskans who made their voices heard through phone calls, letters, and e-mails to me and my offices throughout the past several weeks. Like the majority of Nebraskans, I recognize the current immigration system is broken. Despite my efforts to amend the legislation crafted by a small group of senators, I don’t believe the final legislation adopted by the Senate is the right answer, and I could not support it.

“I had a number of concerns with the final bill. I was especially disappointed in the border security provisions, which I highlighted in detail on the Senate floor. The bill ended up being weaker than previous plans offered in 2006 and 2007 – and weaker than the border security amendment I filed. Without a fully secure border, the United States will repeat the mistakes of the past and there will be no lasting solution.”

Specifically, Senator Fischer is concerned that:
    The legislation fails to include to a biometric check system at all points of entry or exit
        Not only is this weaker than previous proposals in 2006 and 2007, it rolls back a congressional mandate dating back nearly 20 years (found in six different statutes) requiring implementation of a biometric exit system at all land, air, and sea ports.
        Forty percent of illegal immigrants are the result of visa overstays; a biometric system would help to track these individuals unlawfully here in the United States.
         The bipartisan 9/11 Commission noted in 2004 that, “The Department of Homeland Security […] should complete, as quickly as possible, a biometric entry-exit system.”
        A National Security Preparedness Group report added: “As important as it is to know when foreign nationals arrive, it is also important to know when they leave. Full deployment of the biometric exit component of US-VISIT should be a high priority. Such a capability would have assisted law enforcement and intelligence officials in August and September 2001 in conducting a search for two of the 9/11 hijackers that were in the U.S. on expired visas.”
         Since 9/11, at least 36 individuals who overstayed their visas have been convicted of terrorism-related charges.
    Determination of operational control is left to the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security.
    There is no congressional approval required to determine if the border is fully secure.
    It fails to require full operational control of the southern border before initiating the legalization process.
    It allocates $46.3 billion in federal funding (with taxpayers directly responsible for $38 billion) without first requiring a strategic plan for the implementation of a border security plan.

It contains a loophole that could allow illegal immigrants who have attained Registered Provisional Immigrant status to be eligible for means-tested taxpayer benefits, such as food stamps and Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office has indicated this will likely cost hardworking taxpayers nearly $260 billion over the next decade.



Obama on Senate Passage of Immigration Reform


With a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.

I thank Majority Leader Reid, Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, and every member of the ‘Gang of Eight’ for their leadership, and I commend all Senators who worked across party lines to get this done.

The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise.  By definition, nobody got everything they wanted.  Not Democrats.  Not Republicans.  Not me.  But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.

If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history.  It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.  It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time.  And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy.

The Senate did its job.  It’s now up to the House to do the same.

As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye.  Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality.  We cannot let that happen.  If you’re among the clear majority of Americans who support reform – from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy – reach out to your Member of Congress.  Tell them to do the right thing.  Tell them to pass commonsense reform so that our businesses and workers are all playing by the same rules and everyone who’s in this country is paying their fair share in taxes.

We have a unique opportunity to fix our broken system in a way that upholds our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  We just need Congress to finish the job.



Vilsack on Senate Immigration Bill Passage


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the Senate passage of the Immigration Bill:  "Today's strong bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate to fix America's broken immigration system is good news for farmers and ranchers, good news for farm workers, and good news for rural America. The Senate plan would ensure the stable agricultural workforce that U.S. producers need in order to remain competitive with other nations and maintain our abundant, affordable food supply. For millions of farm workers who today live in the shadows, it will provide an appropriate opportunity to earn legal status by contributing to America's agricultural economy. In addition to being a strongly pro-agriculture bill, the Senate plan would grow the U.S. economy, strengthen the Social Security system and reduce our deficit. Following today's strong bipartisan vote by the Senate, the House of Representatives must continue the momentum toward passage of comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible."



NCBA Statement on the Senate Passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation


Today by a 68 to 32 vote, the full U.S. Senate passed their comprehensive Immigration and Border Security bill, S. 744. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George, a cattle and dairy producer from Cody, Wyo., issued the following statement:

“Border security and immigration have been one of our top priorities as set by our members in 2013. I am pleased to see that the Senate has continued the conversation on this important issue that affects all Americans, but especially rural Americans and our members who live and ranch along our borders. This action by the Senate is a step in the right direction and we look forward to engaging with members of the House in ensuring the priorities of cattlemen and women are met in final legislation.

“A strong year-round workforce is paramount to the success of the cattle industry. Cattlemen and depend on a legal and stable workforce year round. We recognize that the first step in ensuring the success of our workforce is securing and maintaining our borders. The conversations taking place on the Hill right now are keeping these issues front and center and we truly appreciate those efforts.”



Senate Passes Historic Immigration Reform Bill Containing Dairy Worker Provisions


The Senate Thursday approved a comprehensive immigration reform measure that will help dairy farmers with their current and future workforce needs, and provide the entire agriculture sector with much-needed economic certainty, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

“We’ve known for years that the status quo employment situation in dairy farming is not sustainable.  Today, the Senate moved decisively past that admission, and voted to change our labor and immigration laws for the better,” said Jerry Kozak, President and Chief Executive Officer of NMPF.  “Rather than tinker with what wasn’t working, this new immigration measure builds something new and much better.”

The immigration reform measure, approved today by a vote of 68-32 strengthens the border security apparatus to discourage the flow of illegal immigrants to the U.S.  From the standpoint of farm employers, it creates an entirely new visa category for their workers, both current employees, and prospective new employers.  This new visa system will be administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making it easier for farmers and ranchers to access and use.  It will also assure a future flow of new workers, so that as the economy evolves and jobs shift between sectors, farmers will have the means to recruit and hire new dairy workers.

“Dairy farmers have been concerned that their current workers might be overlooked by the reform efforts, but the Senate bill addresses that concern, by allowing currently employed, but undocumented, workers to maintain their jobs.  This is a huge benefit, both to workers, and their employers,” Kozak said.

Kozak noted that regardless of the region of the country, many dairy farmers “face ongoing challenges finding a sufficient number of workers to care for and milk their cows. Securing a reliable and competent workforce for our nation’s farms and ranches is essential to ensuring that American consumers continue to enjoy dairy products on their grocery store shelves,” he said.

Kozak stressed that even with today’s history Senate vote, much more work on immigration reform has to be done this year on Capitol Hill.  Negotiations are continuing in the House of Representatives, which is working on a separate bill, and where broad support for a comprehensive immigration reform measure is less certain.

“The key is to demonstrate to a majority of the House that action is needed.  The bill the House will consider is going to be different than this Senate bill, but the critical thing is that a bill addressing the needs of agriculture must be passed by the House.  Inaction is not an option,” Kozak said.

Throughout the immigration reform process, NMPF has worked with other farm worker and farm employer organizations in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition.  To learn more about the AWC, visit www.agworkforcecoalition.com.



House Ag Appropriations Bill Gets a Rule But No Floor Time Yet


The House of Representative’s agriculture appropriations bill was approved by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday but has yet to receive time on the House floor schedule. The bill provides funding for USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Ag appropriations bills also contain funding for many trade and research programs that are vital to the wheat industry, including the Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, international food aid and ag research programs. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it is passed, citing the failure to adequately fund the CFTC to implement Dodd-Frank reforms and food aid language that differs from the Administration’s proposals. The Senate’s ag appropriations bill has been approved by the Appropriations Committee but is also not yet scheduled for floor time.



Grange supports ag funding, SNAP; says splitting Farm Bill may be 'last resort'


The National Grange on Thursday said reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is looking to separate the agriculture and conservation provisions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding in the current Farm Bill could be a positive move in a divisive political climate.  National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said in a statement late Thursday, "As an agriculture-oriented organization, we strongly believe in the need for continued support for America's farmers through a Farm Bill.  We, too, believe in helping those in need of food support through community-level programs and assistance through federal funds such as SNAP. If separating the two components of this massive bill allows the divided Congress to move past partisanship and toward passage of both the Farm Bill and a responsible spending plan for SNAP, the Grange stands behind such a move. This should be done as a last resort to get critical funds approved before it's too late.  America's hardworking farmers and ranchers provide food, fiber and fuel for us each and every day and cannot wait until a more united Congress is able to enact legislation. The security of our food - from the perspective of growers and those who seek assistance as consumers - should not be held hostage."



President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts


This week, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:
·         Krysta Harden – Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture
·         Alejandro Mayorkas – Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
·         Ron Binz – Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and upon appointment to be designated Chair
·         Robert Bonnie – Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Agriculture
·         Ellen Herbst – Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration, Department of Commerce
·         Katherine M. O’Regan – Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, Department of Housing and Urban Development
·         Captain Susan Rabern, USN, (Ret) – Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller, Department of Defense
·         Steve A. Linick –  Inspector General, Department of State
·         Patrick Gaspard – Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, Department of State
·         James Swan – Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Department of State
·         Kirk Wagar – Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore, Department of State
·         Alexa Wesner – Ambassador to the Republic of Austria, Department of State

President Obama said, “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

Here is the background information on those nominated for positions in USDA...

Krysta Harden, Nominee for Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture

Krysta Harden is the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a position she has held since 2011.  Prior to this, Ms. Harden served as Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations at USDA from 2009 to 2011.  From 2004 to 2009, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Conservation Districts.  Previously, Ms. Harden was the Senior Vice President of Gordley Associates from 1993 to 2004.  She served as Staff Director for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Peanuts and Tobacco from 1992 to 1993.  From 1981 to 1992, she held a number of roles including Legislative Director, Chief of Staff, and Press Secretary for Congressman Charles Hatcher.  Ms. Harden received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Georgia.

Robert Bonnie, Nominee for Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Agriculture
Robert Bonnie is a Senior Policy Advisor at the United States Department of Agriculture, a position he has held since 2009.  Prior to this, he worked for the Environmental Defense Fund where he held a number of roles from 1995 to 2008, including Vice-President of Land Conservation and Wildlife and Managing Director of the Center for Conservation Incentives.  Mr. Bonnie served on the Board of Visitors at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.  He was a member of the Board of Directors for the Piedmont Environmental Council and Scenic America.  Mr. Bonnie received a A.B. from Harvard College and an M.F. and M.E.M. from the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment.



ASA Responds to Questionable Science in Biotech Pig Feed Study


In a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday, American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy responded to a recently released study claiming a link between feed made from biotech soybean meal and stomach inflammation in hogs. The validity of the study’s claims and its methodology have since been questioned widely, as has the objectivity of the scientists and farmers that authored the study.

The study’s main author, Dr. Judy Carman, issued a statement pointing to the study as evidence of the need for further examination of the health impacts of biotechnology, a charge Murphy answered directly in his response. "[T]he further investigation Carman calls for already exists in droves," said Murphy. "Hundreds of existing studies look at the potential health impacts of biotech crops in human and animal applications, but likely much to Carman’s dismay, each says the same thing: Biotech crops are as safe as their conventional counterparts. Given this mountain of preexisting science, it would appear that Carman is less interested in "more investigation" and more interested in investigation that agrees with her anti-biotech viewpoint. That’s not science; it’s cleverly-cloaked advocacy. Advocacy is based in emotion and ideology, while to maintain its integrity, science must be based in real, tangible fact."



Walmart and Pork Make Grilling Season Sizzle


Consumers are unleashing their inner griller this summer, thanks to Walmart’s high-impact pork grilling promotion with the Checkoff.

“No one spreads a value message like Walmart,” said Rob Kirchofer, national retail marketing manager for the Pork Checkoff. “This is the right place for pork to make its move this summer.”

From Walmart’s high-quality fresh pork to its wide assortment of outdoor grilling essentials, the retail giant is inspiring consumers across the country to grill with the best for less. Walmart is highlighting pork chops and ribs from June 3 through July 6 by:
• featuring pork in its national advertising circulars
• broadcasting national radio advertisements
• promoting pork through online advertisements

“Walmart is a great partner because its customers fit our target market,” said Kirchofer, who noted that Walmart shoppers tend to skew higher than average in terms of pork purchases.

Get Your Grill On

To encourage consumers to join the grillerhood this summer, the Walmart campaign is promoting the Checkoff’s Grill Pork Like a SteakSM message. This reflects consumers’ ability to grill their favorite pork cuts just as they would a steak.

“We are focused on letting our customers know that they do not need to have a pantry full of ingredients in order to enjoy pork,” Kirchofer said. “All they need is a little salt, pepper and a grill, and they can let the great flavor and versatility of pork take over from there – just as they would their favorite beef steak.”

Head for the Grills

To keep pork at the forefront, Walmart is hosting a series of live grilling challenges at select Walmart stores leading up to the 2013 ESSENCE Festival this summer in New Orleans. Walmart is searching for the top grillmaster in the South through a series of regional cooking competitions.

Regional winners will compete for the top prize and national bragging rights at the ESSENCE Family Reunion Day Food Experience Stage powered by Walmart, which kicks off the 2013 ESSENCE Festival and will celebrate food, music and culture July 4-7. Through it all, Walmart’s promotions will keep pork top of mind with consumers.

 “As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart gives producers a lot of bang for their Checkoff investment,” Kirchofer said. “Producers appreciate the opportunity to work with Walmart and look forward to partnering again in the future.”



Contracts Solidify Soy Industry Commitment to High Oleic


The soy checkoff has entered into agreements with DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto to help put high oleic soybean varieties into the hands of farmers across the U.S. soy-growing region.

The contracts call for each company, both of which hold high oleic patents, to roll out these varieties to farmers in additional maturity groups more quickly than they had originally planned.

"Usually, you don’t see seed-technology companies entering into agreements like this with their customers," said Jim Stillman, chairman of the United Soybean Board (USB) and a soybean farmer from Emmetsburg, Iowa. "These collaborations show how committed the soybean industry is to developing quality, high-yielding high oleic soybean varieties and to developing the markets for them."

High oleic soybeans deliver an oil with increased functionality for some customers when compared to commodity soybeans. USB first identified this need for improved functionality in soy oil in the late 1990s. Soybean breeders have since researched and identified traits that will improve soy’s functionality for end-users. The soy checkoff has set an aggressive goal of achieving 20-25 million acres planted to high oleic soybeans by 2023. The agreements outline development of high oleic varieties in maturity groups I to V to help reach that goal. Without checkoff support, high oleic expansion would move much more slowly, limiting development to varieties in late maturity group II and early maturity group III.

"Thanks to these agreements, high oleic soybeans will benefit more U.S. soybean farmers and the entire U.S. soy industry more quickly," said Stillman. "This type of innovation will improve the competitiveness of U.S. soy throughout the globe."



Syngenta Now Accepting Nominations for Resistance Fighter™ of the Year  


Syngenta is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Resistance Fighter™ of the Year (RFOY) program. Now in its fifth year, the RFOY program honors advisors who help growers proactively fight herbicide resistance, encourage sustainable weed management practices and support growers’ efforts to leave a strong weed management legacy.

Resistance Fighters are nominated by their peers, and one Northern and one Southern candidate will be honored as 2013 Resistance Fights of the Year. Eligible candidates include accredited farm managers, crop consultants, retailers and county extension agents.

With 14 different resistant weed species now spanning 30 states, the role of these Resistance Fighters is invaluable for sustaining the long-term productivity of America’s farmlands.

Nominations will be accepted through Sept. 13 at www.ResistanceFighteroftheYear.com and nominators may be eligible to win an electronic tablet.




Increasing Sorghum Export Markets Continues as a Priority


One of the top priorities for the U.S. Grains Council this year has been to highlight the value of sorghum as a high performance grain across the globe, with an initial focus on Mexico. While Mexico remains the top customer of U.S. sorghum, continual education on the product is an important part of sustaining the market.

Mexican buyers have traditionally viewed U.S. sorghum as an alternative energy feed used as a cost effective substitute for other feed ingredients. However, through methods like steam flaking, U.S. sorghum will obtain higher performance and thus, be may be able to emerge as a preferred, top quality feed for Mexico.

Council staff and four sorghum sector representatives travelled recently to three key areas of Mexico to promote U.S. sorghum.

The presentations given throughout the country evaluated the U.S. supply of sorghum and possible roadblocks in the upcoming year, as well as provided potential sorghum buyers with accurate market information. There was also an opportunity for potential customers to network with private exporters.

The Council intends to continue working in Mexico to help develop the market for U.S. sorghum as a high performance feed.



2013/14 U.S. Wheat Sales Off to Quick Start

Casey Chumrau, USW Market Analyst

Early U.S. commercial wheat sales in marketing year 2013/14 are off to a fast start on the heels of strong sales momentum in the second half of 2012/13. After a slow start in 2012/13 due to less competitive prices, the sales pace increased as competitor supplies tightened in early 2013. As of June 20, U.S. commercial sales for 2013/14 currently stand at 8.57 million metric tons (MMT), 28 percent ahead of last year.

The fast start is not stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from projecting that total U.S. exports will fall 4 percent from 2012/13 to 26.5 MMT, 7 percent below the five-year average. As the first major exporter to harvest a new crop, U.S. supplies are in especially high demand when world supply is tight. However, USDA expects every other major wheat producing country to boost wheat supplies this year, which could, depending on the price relationships, slow the pace of U.S. sales.

2013/14 hard red winter (HRW) sales of 2.71 MMT are 13 percent ahead of last year. Strong sales to South America have more than offset a slightly lower purchase pace this year by Nigeria and Mexico. A short Argentine crop is helping lift HRW sales to Brazil, Peru and Chile. Being unable to procure adequate supplies from Argentina, Brazil temporarily lifted its non-Mercosur import duty from April 1 to July 31, 2013. Shipment of HRW significantly increased the last two months of the 2012/13 marketing year. Sales for 2013/14 have already surpassed total U.S. wheat purchases from last year of 510,000 MT and the five-year average of 319,000 MT. AS of June 20, Brazil had purchased 752,000 MT of HRW. Sales to Peru are 175,500 MT, compared to 26,000 MT at this point last year and 476,000 MT total in 2012/13.

With FOB prices running higher than competitor supplies, current pre-harvest hard red spring (HRS) sales of 1.70 MMT are 2 percent behind last year’s sales to date. Sales are lower to four of the top five 2012/13 customers, including a 36 percent decline in Taiwan to 107,000 MT to date. The Philippines is the only one of the top five customers ahead of last year’s pace, up 4 percent to 220,000 MT.

Calendar year 2013 has seen very good soft red winter (SRW) sales. USW maintains constant contact with SRW customers and as its price settled, Egyptian imports soared in the second half of the 2012/13 marketing year. Additionally, China appears to be restocking supplies with large purchases of SRW in 2013/14. As of June 20, China had purchased 1.31 MMT of SRW, compared to just 131,000 MT last year at this time. Sales to Mexico are 31 percent above last year’s pace at 488,000 MT. Mexico was the largest SRW customer the last two years, buying more than 1.0 MMT each year. Overall SRW sales of 3.0 MMT as of June 20 are more than double the sales last year at this time of 1.16 MMT.

As of June 20, white wheat sales were down 17 percent year over year. Most of the 1.06 MMT in sales represented in the June 20 report were completed before the discovery of an unapproved genetically modified wheat trait in volunteer plants in a single Oregon field. Japan and South Korea are the top two white wheat buyers in the world and both countries have temporarily suspended new purchases of U.S. Western White wheat. Japan has not rejected any purchases scheduled to deliver after the incident was reported, yet current 2013/14 sales to Japan are 36 percent below last year at 133,000 MT. Sales to South Korea of 90,000 MT are 60 percent lower than last year. Taiwan bought Western White wheat last week, while white wheat sales to Philippines and China are down slightly compared to last year at this time.

Relatively high durum prices due, in part, to smaller crops, have limited sales the last two years. As of June 20, total durum sales of 102,000 MT are 34 percent lower than last year. Sales to Italy, the top durum customer, are down 31 percent to 20,000 MT. Algeria has not purchased any U.S. durum to date, compared to purchases of 9,000 MT at this time last year and 180,000 MT in 2012/13. Guatemala has already purchased 11,000 MT, compared to a 2012/13 marketing year total of 15,000 MT.



Farmers, Customers Welcome Public Government Response to GM Wheat Investigation

Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

“USDA has neither found nor been informed of anything that would indicate that this…amounts to more than a single isolated incident in a single field on a single farm. All information collected so far shows no indication of the presence of GE wheat in commerce.”

That is how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) describes the current status of its investigation into the confirmed discovery of an unapproved genetically modified trait in volunteer wheat plants in one field in Oregon. APHIS also restated that there is no food or feed safety risk associated with this trait.

Since APHIS published this information June 14, USDA continues responding to a broad appeal from farmers and overseas customers to share more information about their investigation. USW has received indications that high-level USDA officials have also corresponded directly with government counterparts in Japan, South Korea and other markets. On behalf of the farmers we represent, USW wants to thank USDA for making the potential market impact of this situation a priority.

Last week, farmers in the Pacific Northwest were glad to learn that the Taiwan Flour Millers Association purchased U.S. Western White wheat based on the release of information by USDA and continued assurance by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration that there is no transgenic wheat in production or for commercial sale in the United States at this time. The APHIS statement of June 14 incorrectly states that Taiwan “has postponed U.S. wheat imports.”

USW also wants to thank its customers for actively participating in the sensitive work with multiple parties to move toward re-opening the Japanese and South Korean markets to new purchases of U.S. western white wheat. USW hopes that the APHIS investigation will reach a quick conclusion and remains hopeful that until that time a mutually acceptable position can be reached soon with our customers and government officials to resume new purchases.



New USDA Regulations on School Snack Foods Good News for Dairy Sector


New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules affecting foods sold in schools will ensure that nutrient–rich dairy products will continue to be offered to the nation’s students in a variety of forms and settings, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

The USDA Thursday released its "Smart Snacks in Schools" nutrition standards, affecting the calorie, fat, sodium and sugar content of foods that are offered apart from the school lunch line.  These “competitive” foods may be offered in vending machines or other a la carte settings.  The snack regulations are similar to overall nutritional rules applied last year to school lunches and breakfasts by the adoption of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

“The nutrients in dairy foods are an important answer to the question of how we can improve the diets and health of young people.  The rules released today will ensure that milk, cheese and yogurt are offered beyond the school lunch line in places where they can contribute to healthy eating,” said Jim Mulhern, Chief Operating Officer of NMPF.

Under the new regulations, competitive foods must meet all the rule’s nutrient standards and either have as the first ingredient one of the major food groups, including dairy; or, until June 30, 2016, contain 10 percent of the Daily Value of a nutrient of public health concern (e.g. calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber).  Dairy foods are a key source of three of these nutrients of concern: calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

The regulation’s nutrient standards affect the following products:
·       Low-fat and fat-free unflavored milk, and fat-free flavored milk, can be offered at all grade levels, with 8 ounce portions for elementary schools, and 12 ounces in middle and high school grades;
·       Reduced-fat cheeses (including part-skim mozzarella) are exempt from fat standards, but must meet sodium standards of 230mg through June 30, 2016 and then 200 mg after July 1, 2016;
·       Yogurt is subject to a sugar limit (35% by weight) that should facilitate dairy consumption;
·       Entrees, such as pizza, that are offered in the National School Lunch Program are exempt from the standards when offered in the same or smaller portion size and available on the day the entrĂ©e is served and the following day;
·       Caloric soft drinks are not allowed, and sports drinks cannot exceed 40 calories (and are only available in high school);

“The goal of the regulations—the first comprehensive rule to cover school foods beyond federally reimbursed lunches and breakfasts—is to improve the health of the nation’s children and increase their consumption of healthy foods,” said Mulhern. “As an important source of nine essential nutrients kids need, milk and dairy foods figure prominently in the new standards. We look forward to working with USDA to implement the standards and to continuing to improve the health of our children.”


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday June 27 Ag News

Program Uses Soybean as a Model for Teachers

            A program aims to show elementary teachers how to better incorporate relevant science into their classrooms by using the soybean as a model.

            The Nebraska Soybean Board and the United Soybean Board fund the Summer Science Soybean Institute, coordinated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Groups of teachers from Lincoln, northeast Nebraska and Kansas will meet this summer for three weeks from June 24 through July 12 to discuss ways to learn about agriculture and food. They also will learn how to apply that knowledge and skills to incorporate the soybean system as a model for teaching science and to meet their district, state and national standards.

            The project, geared toward elementary teachers, started in 2010. It has expanded from Maxey Elementary school to other surrounding schools, as well as to schools in northeast Nebraska and Kansas.

            "Really what we wanted to do was provide an opportunity for teachers to experience science," said Tiffany Heng-Moss, professor of entomology and assistant dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. "The teachers will also work with the science educators involved in the project to adopt the soybean system a part of their curriculum and use the soybean system as a model system in their classroom."

            All the teachers in the program will meet at UNL on July 1- 3.     

            Jon Pedersen, the associate dean for research in UNL's College of Education and Human Sciences, helps coordinate the project.

            "It is really about the nature of science and about how we help build teachers' understanding of the nature of science and systems thinking and implementing that in the classroom," Pedersen said.

            Greg Tebo, a K-5 computer teacher at Maxey Elementary School in Lincoln, has been using the program since its inception.

            "A lot of people think that because we live in Nebraska students already know about soybeans," Tebo said.  "The fact is they don't."

            Tebo said that it is fun to watch the students learn more about agriculture.

            The exciting types of things that come about from this is when students have a grandparent that comes to the Ag fair and this grandparent is a farmer," Tebo said. "The students are able to communicate with them. The grandparent gets so excited that the student is learning a little about what they actually do."

            Soybeans can be used to demonstrate many aspects of science, such as weather and soil conditions, Pedersen said.

            "It's really about relevancy to the child's life and to their community as well as learning about the science," Pedersen said. "This has applications across all grade levels."



Brome, Brome and More Brome

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


Have you noticed the explosion in bromegrass growth this spring? What a silly question. How could you miss it. So what happened?

Everywhere I look this spring, from my own pastures near Lincoln, throughout eastern Nebraska and points east, and even in drier areas in central and western Nebraska, smooth brome has thrived. It didn't look too promising in late April and early May before the rains came. Even after it started to rain, cool soil and air temperatures appeared to delay brome growth. But sometime in mid to late May, all the right conditions must have come together because suddenly we went from looking and hoping for more grass growth to looking for calves hidden inside all the tall grass.

As all this grass developed, people started complaining that the cows didn't like the grass. I also noticed that cows on my pastures seemed fussier than usual, wanting to move to a fresh pasture while plenty of brome, both stems and leaves, remained for easy grazing. At first I attributed the cows' attitude simply as a plant maturity, stemminess issue. But then something interesting happened -- the cows stopped complaining. And they still seem content even tough they are grazing fully-headed, stemmy brome in early July.

What caused this change? Honestly, I don't know. It seemed to coincide with fewer clouds and more sun so I'm guessing that sugars might be involved. During the extremely rapid growth phase, most sugar was used to support plant growth. Afterwards, maybe more sugar produced by more sunlight stayed in plant tissue and made it more palatable. This is just a guess since I have no sugar measurements, but it makes some sense. But I welcome other explanations, especially with data.

Not everything can be explained. But that doesn't keep it from being interesting.



Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Recognizes Retail Value Steer Challenge Winners and Scholarship Recipients

The annual Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Retail Value Steer Challenge (RVSC) winners and Scholarship recipients were honored at the NC Foundation lunch on June 19th during the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Midyear Meeting in Valentine.

The RVSC is the primary fundraiser for NC Foundation with money raised supporting youth & adult educational programs, scholarships, research & infrastructure projects, history preservation and judging teams at colleges in Nebraska.

Three winners of each of the three categories were awarded for their steer’s performance in the 14th annual Retail Value Steer Challenge. First place in the Average Daily Gain category was awarded to Rhea Farms, Arlington, Rhea Cattle, Arlington & Sandy Fussell Livestock, Erin, TN; second went to Pony Express Chevrolet, Lexington; and third place was awarded to Wells Enterprises, Stapleton and Matt Miles, Brownlee.  Rick Sebade, Emerson and Herman Dinklage Inc., Wisner won the Carcass Value category; Pete McClymont, Lincoln received second and Howard Benjamin, Cozad, was third. The Overall Winners were the Reed Hamilton Ranch, Thedford and UNL Animal Science Faculty, Lincoln in first place. Second place went to UNL Professor Matt Spangler, Lincoln; and third went to Hall & Sons Cattle Co., Thedford.

In addition to the RVSC awards, NC Foundation also recognized 26 youth scholarship winners for 2013.  “Thanks to the generosity of donors and the great participation in the Retail Value Steer Challenge, the Foundation awarded $26,000 in scholarships this year.” says Loretta Hamilton, NC Foundation President.  

The NC Foundation would like to recognize the support of Darr Feedlot, Cozad, for yardage and administration to conduct the test and finish the steers that were entered into this year’s challenge. In addition, the Foundation appreciates the following sponsors for their support of the Retail Value Steer Challenge: ADM Alliance Nutrition, Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc., Elanco Animal Health, Gallagher Grace-Mayer Insurance, Zinpro Performance Minerals and Zoetis.



No USDA Dollars for Obamacare Promotion


U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today expressed outrage with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) plan to use USDA to promote the health care law. In letters addressed to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Johanns requests details of a “special contract” between USDA and HHS. So far, USDA has announced $795,455 in grants out of USDA’s Cooperative Extension Service resources to promote the health care law. Extension funds are supposed to fund programs to educate producers about the latest ag technology and to educate the next generation of farmers.

“USDA is not responsible for helping to promote HHS’s flawed health care law—especially when it means syphoning funds away from higher education programs to keep agriculture on the cutting edge, as well as 4-H youth development programs,” Johanns said. “Secretary Vilsack has made it abundantly clear that he does not believe Congress provides USDA with enough funds to fulfill its Congressionally-mandated obligations, yet all of a sudden they find almost a million dollars to throw at promoting the work of another federal agency? It’s wrong and should be reversed.”

In a speech to the National Rural Assembly on June 25, 2013, Secretary Sebelius referenced a “special contract” between HHS and USDA. The next day, USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) posted a grants notice for up to $795,455 of cooperative extension resources to conduct outreach to promote the health care law, a purpose far outside any congressionally-authorized use.

Congress has denied HHS and Internal Revenue Service requests for increased or additional funding to implement the health care law.



Pheasant Recovery Project has 50,000 Acres of CRP Available


Iowa's pheasant recovery plan takes a second step this year with a new 50,000 acre continuous CRP practice.

The new Iowa Pheasant Recovery project is Iowa's fourth special project under USDA's CP38 program "State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement" CRP practice to address local wildlife habitat conservation needs.

The Iowa Pheasant Recovery project was designed for the year-round needs of pheasants -- provide severe winter cover, nesting habitat, and food -- and be located in counties with the best chance for pheasant recovery.

"Combining specific conservation practices with counties where we have the opportunity to get the highest bird production should put us on the path of growing our pheasant population again once the plan is installed and has a few growing years under its belt," said Todd Bogenschutz, upland biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The requirements of the Iowa Pheasant Recovery project are designed to create favorable winter and nesting habitat, in addition to a nearby food source. Offered tracks will range in size of 20 to 160 acres, with requirements for severe winter cover and food. It may be stacked against existing CRP to create larger complex of habitat.

Eligible land must be cropped or considered cropped for four years between 2002 and 2007, as either row crops, small grains or forage crops grown in an acceptable rotation.

Rental rates will be based on a maximum soil rental rate established for the three predominant soils, plus an annual maintenance payment. The standard 50 percent FSA cost share is available, plus 40 percent incentive to establish the practice. There is a sign-up bonus of an additional $100 per acre. Contracts are for 10 to 15 years.

Some counties are not eligible for the Pheasant Recovery CP38, but Iowa has several other continuous CRP practices such as Upland Habitat Buffers, the new Highly Erodible Land Initiative, and many wetland practices. These continuous CRP practices are available statewide on a first come first serve basis.

Contact your local DNR Private Lands biologist at 515-281-5918 or www.iowadnr.gov/habitat or stop by the local FSA office for more information.



Friday Meeting to Discuss Shallow River Habitat on Missouri


A public meeting to discuss proposed development of shallow river habitat projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be held at 10 a.m. June 28 at the Lewis & Clark State Park Visitor's Center, 21914 Park Loop, Onawa, Iowa.

"We realize that there are a lot of different stakeholders who have thoughts and questions about these projects. We will have the people there who can discuss these proposals and provide the answers to the questions," said Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources who will moderate the meeting.

The shallow water habitat projects are being considered as part of the compliance requirement for the Endangered Species Act relating to operation of the Missouri River system.

State leaders are interested in hearing stakeholder input and perspectives on these projects. The meeting will include an overview presentation from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials and then a discussion of questions and comments from attendees.



Producers Praise Christie For Supporting Farmers


America’s hog farmers and the National Pork Producers Council today thanked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for vetoing legislation that would have banned the use of individual maternity pens for pregnant sows. The legislation was pushed by animal-rights groups despite the fact that few of New Jersey’s small number of hog farmers use such housing.

“This is a great example of a governor standing up to powerful lobbying groups on behalf of small, independent farmers,” said NPPC President-elect Dr. Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “America’s family hog farmers thank Gov. Christie for rejecting this bad legislation.”

The legislation was championed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other radical animal-rights activists even though it would have prevented farmers from caring for their animals in a way approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Those organizations long have recognize individual maternity pens as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.

“HSUS continues to drive this unreasonable legislation in states with little pork production in an attempt to push a national agenda, but states are starting to push back,” Hill said.

In rejecting the legislation, Christie said: “The proper balancing of humane treatment of gestation pigs with the interests of farmers whose livelihood depends on their ability to properly manage their livestock best rests with the State’s farming experts – the State Board [of Agriculture] and the Department [of Agriculture].”

The New Jersey agriculture departments in 2004 adopted “Humane Standards” for livestock, and the state Supreme Court in 2008 upheld most of the standards, including a direct challenge of the regulations governing the treatment of gestating pigs.

The defeat in New Jersey was the latest in a series of them for HSUS, which over the past 10 years has spent millions of dollars in states around the country to advance its radical agenda.

Very few states have enacted bans through ballot initiatives or through the legislative process because of the negative impacts such prohibitions would have had on local pork producers. Most recently, the legislatures in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont chose not to pass measures banning individual maternity pens.



Livestock and Poultry Groups Urge Congress to Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard


Following an announcement by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that they have introduced the bi-partisan Renewable Fuels Standard Repeal Act (S. 1195), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Chicken Council (NCC) and the National Turkey Federation (NTF) urge Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

“The RFS has been such a poorly managed mess, it’s time to drain the swamp,” said NTF President Joel Brandenberger. “The RFS needs a fresh start in order to put in place a smarter policy on the mix of fuel and feed.”

The RFS last year required 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline; it mandates that 13.9 billion gallons be blended in 2013, an amount that will use about 4.9 billion bushels of corn, or about 40 percent of the nation’s crop.

“Chicken producers are already competing with the weather,” said NCC President Mike Brown. “Why must we also compete with an inflexible federal mandate that voluntarily places another strain on our limited resources? I commend Sens. Barrasso, Pryor and Toomey for taking an approach that would let the free market decide whether corn should go to food or to fuel.”

Livestock and poultry groups called on the administration last fall to waive the RFS for the second time since 2008. And for the second time, in spite of the widespread drought and lowered harvest, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refused to use the safety valve built into the biofuels mandate.

“Cattlemen and women are self-reliant, but in order to maintain that we cannot be asked to compete with federal mandates like the Renewable Fuels Standard for the limited supply of feed grains,” said NCBA Policy Vice Chair Craig Uden, an Elwood, Neb., cattle feeder. “When EPA is unable to provide even a temporary waiver of the RFS during the worst drought in 50 years, it is apparent the RFS is broken and we appreciate the efforts of Sens. Barrasso, Pryor and Toomey to fix this flawed program.”

NCBA, NCC and NTF call on Congress to repeal the RFS to ensure market stability certainty for rural American economies.



Rabo AgriFinance Report Finds Cattle Feeding Recovery Key to Rebuilding Beef Industry


Structural shrinkage in the North American beef industry is expected to continue, perhaps even worsen in the near term, according to a new report from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness (FAR) Research and Advisory group.

“It is a rare occurrence that all sectors within the cattle industry are profitable at the same,” says report author and Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group analyst, Don Close. “However, before the U.S. cattle industry can begin to fully rebuild after several years of contraction, it is necessary for equity recovery to take place in the cattle feeding sector.”

The report, “North American Beef: The Liquidation Continues,” finds high feed prices and severe drought challenges have placed significant pressure on the industry in recent years. At the beginning of 2013, the market was optimistic that the industry could turn the corner and begin to grow again.  However, the second half of the year is bringing a less optimistic view as the industry contracts and, as a result, is at risk of becoming a higher-priced luxury protein.

“A number of complex challenges, including growing price spreads between beef and alternative proteins, excess capacity along the supply chain and dwindling profitability along the chain, are contributing to the shrinkage,” notes Close. “Rabobank expects domestic beef supplies to continue to contract and the supply chain to continue restructuring, making a rebound in the beef industry unlikely in the near term.”

The industry has settled into a painful process of contraction, excess capacity and restructuring. As a result, consumers are seeing beef prices escalating. The spread is widening between beef and other protein sources, and people are not only downgrading between selected beef items, they are more frequently opting for the other proteins.

This report outlines how feeder supplies, contracting North American supplies and Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) legislation are contributing to the challenges faced by cattle feeders and processors.



Risk Management Agency Improves Area Risk Protection Insurance for 2014 Crop Year


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week a streamlined and simpler approach to buying area risk protection. The Risk Management Agency (RMA) published the Area Risk Protection Insurance (ARPI) final rule effective for the 2014 and succeeding crop years. This new rule, published today, provides clarity, simplicity, transparency, and the reduction of duplication for producers and agents.  

ARPI combines the Group Risk Plan (GRP), which covers against loss of yield due to a county level production loss, and the Group Risk Income Protection Plan (GRIP), which covers against loss of revenue due to a county level production loss, price decline, or combination of both, into one insurance policy. With the publication of this final rule the GRP and GRIP insurance plans will not be available for the 2014 crop year. 

“This change provides a simpler and streamlined option for those producers who use area plans to protect themselves from price declines and natural disasters. It will also improve the collection of data, which will help RMA offer producers more risk management options in the future,” RMA Administrator Brandon Willis said.

Under ARPI, producers will be able to choose from one of three area insurance plans, Area Revenue Protection, Area Revenue Protection with the Harvest Price Exclusion, or Area Yield Protection all under one umbrella policy with specific provisions for each crop.  Previously, under GRP and GRIP, insurance providers would issue two separate policies, so a policyholder might have had multiple copies of essentially the same information.

ARPI includes crop provisions for barley, corn, cotton, forage, grain sorghum, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat. The first major contract change date is June 30 for wheat.  Current GRP and GRIP policyholders do not have to reapply as their policy will roll to the similar ARPI plan of insurance.

ARPI uses the same Commodity Exchange Price Provisions (CEPP) that the Common Crop Policy uses, providing consistent prices for both individual and area-based insurance plans. ARPI includes provisions that will require production reporting by a production reporting date at the conclusion of the current insurance year to assist in more accurately and efficiently operating the area-based program.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. Contact a local crop insurance agent for more information about the program. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers or on the RMA web site at: www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/.  



Mississippi River to Halt Barge Traffic


Rising water on the Mississippi River will force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close numerous locks on the major shipping waterway for the second time this month, from central Iowa to central Missouri. The river is already above flood stage at numerous locations following recent heavy rains and more precipitation is in the forecast for the region. 

The river is the main barge shipping channel for moving grain from Midwest production areas to export terminals at the Gulf Coast. Some 60 percent of all U.S. grain exports are shipped via the Gulf.

Corps engineers, who manage locks and dams throughout the inland waterways system, have to remove critical lock operating equipment when the river gets too high.

Lock 12 near Bellevue, Iowa, was expected to close early on Thursday, along with locks 16 and 17 further downriver, said Army Corps Rock Island District spokesman Ron Fournier. Locks 13, 18, and 20 through 22 were forecast to close between June 29 and July 2, he added.

At Lock 24 in Clarksville, Missouri, the river was expected to hit the lock closure stage around July 4 or 5, said Michael Petersen, St. Louis District spokesman for the Corps.

Neither had a reliable forecast for reopening the locks due to unpredictable weather.

The rising river also prevented some grain elevators in the flooded areas from loading grain barges, because the vessels were unable to get under the loading spout that hangs above the river.



June Farm Prices Received Index Increased 4 Points


The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in June, at 200 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 4 points (2.0 percent) from May. The Crop Index is up 8 points (3.6 percent) but the Livestock Index decreased 2 points (1.2 percent). Producers received higher prices for oranges, hogs, and corn and lower prices for eggs, cattle, wheat, and broilers. 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 wheat, hay, and corn offset the decreased marketing of cattle, oranges, milk, and broilers.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 17 points (9.3 percent) from June 2012. The Food Commodities Index, at 186, increased 4 points (2.2 percent) from last month and is 14 points (8.1 percent) higher than June 2012.

Prices Paid Index up 1 Point

The June Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 221 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is up 1 point (0.5 percent) from May and 7 points (3.3 percent) above June 2012. Higher prices in June for concentrates, nitrogen, other services, and feeder cattle more than offset lower prices for supplements, feeder pigs, and LP gas, and complete feeds.

Prices Received by Farmers

All crops: The June index, at 232, increased 3.6 percent from May and is 7.9 percent above June 2012. Index increases for fruits & nuts and oilseeds more than offset the index decreases for food grains, feed grains & hay, and potatoes & dry beans.

Food grains: The June index, at 239, is 3.2 percent below the previous month but 6.7 percent above a year ago. The June price for all wheat, at $7.13 per bushel, is down 55 cents from May but 43 cents higher than June 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The June index, at 298, is down 0.3 percent from last month but 11 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $7.02 per bushel, is up 5 cents from last month and 65 cents above June 2012. The all hay price, at $199 per ton, is down $4.00 from May but up $16.00 from last June. Sorghum grain, at $11.40 per cwt, is down 10 cents from May but $1.84 above June last year.

Cotton, Upland: The June index, at 125, is up 0.8 percent from May but 1.6 percent below last year. The June price, at 75.6 cents per pound, is up 0.3 cents from the previous month but 1.5 cents lower than last June.

Oilseeds: The June index, at 260, is up 1.6 percent from May and 4.4 percent higher than June 2012. The soybean price, at $15.10 per bushel, increased 20 cents from May and is $1.20 above June 2012.

Livestock and products:

The June index, at 168, is 1.2 percent below last month but up 11 percent from June 2012. Compared to a year ago, lower prices for turkeys and calves more than offset higher prices for broilers, milk, hogs, cattle, and eggs. 

Meat animals: The June index, at 163, is unchanged from last month but 0.6 percent higher than last year. The June hog price, at $72.50 per cwt, is up $3.90 from May and $2.30 higher than a year ago. The June beef cattle price of $122 per cwt is down $2.00 from last month but $1.00 higher than June 2012.

Dairy products: The June index, at 151, is unchanged from a month ago but 21 percent higher than June last year. The June all milk price of $19.70 per cwt is unchanged from last month but up $3.40 from June 2012.

Poultry & eggs: The June index, at 194, is down 4.4 percent from May but 22 percent above a year ago. The June market egg price, at 69.4 cents per dozen, decreased 28.2 cents from May but is 0.5 cents above June 2012. The June broiler price, at 67.0 cents per pound, is down 1.0 cent from May but 17.0 cents above a year ago. The June turkey price, at 65.8 cents per pound, is up 0.9 cents from the previous month but down 8.1 cents from a year earlier.



Latin America Regional Conference Reassures Buyers of US Supply


Earlier this month, the U.S. Grains Council hosted a Regional Course Grains and Co-Products Conference, where Latin American buyers and end-users were reassured of the U.S. commitment to regain a significant part of the export market to the region. Latin America is an important region for U.S. grain exporters, as the region typically imports more than 16 million metric tons (629.8 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 2.3 million tons of co-products and 900,000 metric tons (35.4 million bushels) of sorghum.

Sixty participants representing 13 countries in the Latin American region attended the conference and were provided with a current industry overview, product profiles, transportation information, product management information and actual value of the products for end-users. They also heard presentations on topics ranging from the status of the distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten industries to producer supply and demand for coarse grains and an update on the ethanol industry.

While there was much discussion about each topic during the conference, two common questions were posed: the value of products and their future in the market. Extensive information was provided on the technical and nutritional value of the products, while market updates addressed the potential challenges and opportunities for each coarse grain.

Besides being an educational event, this was a prime venue for U.S. producers and suppliers to meet some of the top importers and large end-users of U.S. feed grain exports. As a result of this conference, both Colombia and Ecuador have confirmed future shipments of coarse grains and co-products.

Following the conference in Panama, Council staff and U.S. representatives traveled to Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru to meet with local industry representatives and continue answering questions from end-users on feeding practices for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.

Florentino Lopez, executive director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, who attended the conference and post-conference tour noted, "The Council's conference put U.S. grains and co-products directly in front of our Latin American buyers and reassured them of the consistency and quality of U.S. products."

From the conference and meetings, it is clear that while Latin America has concerns about the high volatility of the future markets, buyers in the region are hoping to continue their strong trading relationship with the U.S. agricultural sector.



Heat Stress Manager for Sows mobile app


Purina Animal Nutrition introduces the Heat Stress Manager for Sows app for smart phones. This free tool provides heat stress prevention tips and resources to producers, helping them to avoid seasonal production lulls.

“Sows can become heat stressed at temperatures lower than producers may think,” says Vern Pearson, PhD, swine nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition. “Producers need to look at both the temperature and the humidity inside the facility to determine the potential for heat stress.”

The Heat Stress Manager for Sows app features an easy to use heat stress calculator for inputting the current temperature and humidity readings. It is recommended that producers install a thermometer and hygrometer in the sow barn to read these temperatures at the location of the sows. After inputting these readings into the app, the temperature and humidity are translated into a THI reading that shows the severity of heat stress, ranging from mild to extreme risk, as shown in Figure 1. Research shows that sows can begin to feel the impact of heat stress at a THI of 80. [1]

“Sows that are heat stressed have a greater potential to experience seasonal infertility, smaller litter sizes, decreased embryo survival rates and death losses,”[2] Pearson says. “But the most common impact of heat stress is decreased feed intake; therefore, ration changes that promote feed intake may be needed as THI levels increase.”

This app helps producers make educated ration and management changes based on the environment in the facility.

In addition to the heat stress calculator, the mobile app offers management and nutrition tips to mitigate heat stress.

The Heat Stress Manager for Sows mobile app is available to download for Android phones at:  http://bit.ly/AndroidSowManager and for iPhones at: http://bit.ly/iPhoneSowManager.



Syngenta encourages change in corn rootworm management


If you grow corn in the Midwest, you have probably spent some time thinking about your corn rootworm management strategy and asked yourself some of these questions:
-    What is the efficacy of my Bt traited corn?
-    Will my current pest management strategy (continue to) work?
-    Is my management strategy maximizing my return on investment?

Syngenta has been researching the answers to those questions plus a few more in an effort to help farmers grow more corn.

“Managing corn rootworm is a common goal for everyone in agriculture and certainly a top priority for us,” said Bruce Battles, an Iowa-based solutions development manager with Syngenta. “But it has to start with a change in how we view corn rootworm management. Oftentimes we react to what we saw in the field the previous year, but we need to take a step back and start to think about a more proactive, long-term approach to corn rootworm management.”

As a leader in corn insect control, Syngenta wants to help farmers develop multi-year, whole-farm strategies for corn rootworm and pest management, taking into account current and historical pest pressures in each field.

“Delivering strategic recommendations that are solidly based on technology preservation and the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) is important,” explained Miloud Araba, Ph.D., Syngenta technical product lead for corn traits. “We recognize that a lasting corn rootworm management strategy will require more than traits or any singular technology, but rather the integration of multiple technologies and control measures.”

Recently, Bt trait technology efficacy concerns in Western corn rootworm have reignited worries over agriculture’s most destructive pest. Reports from labs and cornfields alike have captured the entire industry’s attention.

“Corn rootworm is a complex and resilient pest that has a proven ability to overcome traditional farming methods and technology over time,” said Caydee Savinelli, Ph.D., Syngenta technical product lead and member of the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC). “What is evident is that to maximize our customers’ crop productivity, we need to focus on successfully managing corn rootworm.”

With corn farmers in mind, Syngenta invested significant resources to research best practices for corn rootworm management, incorporating expertise, input and data from both internal and external sources. As a result, Syngenta has developed a practical set of corn rootworm management recommendations to help farmers successfully control the pest and grow more corn.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for corn rootworm,” Battles noted. “Long-term management will require integrated solutions that incorporate multiple modes of action and product stewardship. At Syngenta, we’re proud to offer our customers the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of rootworm control technologies and a commitment to responsible and effective pest management.”

To view a mobile-friendly version of the corn rootworm management recommendations from Syngenta, visit www.FarmAssist.com/CRW.



EU Agrees On Farm Reform Outline


(AP) -- In what's being cast as a major breakthrough, the European Union agreed Wednesday on an outline for a major farm reform program that seeks to boost environment-friendly agriculture.

The seven-year program is to kick off next year. It is designed to move away from the subsidy-heavy policies that led to excessive red tape and rules that were kinder to huge companies than to the small farmers.

Irish Farm Minister Simon Coveney said that the negotiators from the member states and the European Parliament "have delivered a policy that I believe secures the sustainable development of the sector up to 2020 and beyond."

The deal still needs to include some financial commitments currently under discussion and to obtain the approval of the plenary of the legislature as well as another green light from the 27 member states.

Since all major players that have a say in the final approval have shown support for the deal, Wednesday's blueprint was seen as a huge breakthrough by negotiators. But some environmental activists say the plan is still too weak.

The half-century old Common Agricultural Policy has been a cornerstone of the EU and was instrumental in staving off the threat of hunger on the continent early on. But over the years, it has gotten mired in overproduction and runaway subsidies that distorted the global agricultural markets and gave rise to trans-Atlantic trade conflicts.

More recently, the environment has been the center of attention.

Key to the deal was that 30 percent of budgets for direct payments to farmers may only be carried out if linked to environmental measures. The European Parliament also said that 30 percent of rural development spending must be for green measures.

"Most farmers will now have to make extra efforts in order to receive the 'green' funding," EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

Environmental groups though, complained the reform had not gone far enough, with many of the best green proposals slashed in the last negotiating sessions.

Tony Long of the WWF environment group called it a "wasted opportunity," arguing it will only worsen the problems of soil erosion, water scarcity and pollution.



Management Options for Corn Rootworm


While there are traits and products to help you protect your corn crops against corn rootworm, you still need to manage against the pest and that means knowing about larvae and adult beetle populations in your fields. According to experts from DuPont Pioneer, scouting to keep tabs on those populations is essential to protecting your corn crop against rootworm damage.

“Wet soils and cooler temps challenged the growth of corn early this year. These conditions may have also controlled early-hatching larvae by reducing their food source and saturating the soils,” says Clint Pilcher, DuPont Pioneer insect resistance management expert. “Regardless, growers should still scout their fields to check on the effectiveness of their control program and plan accordingly if they have severe problems.”

The goal is to break the rootworm cycle and manage the population. Options for corn rootworm include rotating crops, alternating traits or stacks within planted corn hybrids, enhancing control with insecticide seed treatments and soil-applied insecticides, or spraying adult beetles during silking.

In-Season Scouting

Adult beetles impact grain fill by chewing off the green silks, causing spotty pollination later in the season. The larval stage, however, is the most damaging and impacts yield by feeding on corn roots.  One way to determine the current level of rootworm pressure and the potential for future threats is to scout your fields for adult beetles in July and August. Scouting helps determine whether to spray the current crop and limit the potential for population outbreaks the next crop season. When scouting, look for lodged plants with heavy damage on the root system.

To ensure that spraying rootworm beetles will pay off, determine that the critical population threshold has been met before using an insecticide. This guideline is location specific, so consult your local DuPont Pioneer agronomist or Pioneer sales professional for corn rootworm beetle threshold levels in your area. If the threshold is met, apply timely foliar insecticides to control the egg-laying adult population.

Planning for Next Year

After following these recommendations, it’s important to begin thinking ahead about controlling corn rootworm for the next crop, which includes following programs that preserve corn rootworm control traits for the long term.

“The best thing growers can do to help eliminate rootworm pressure is to rotate to another crop, such as soybeans,” Pilcher states. “Corn rootworms love corn-on-corn, so anything growers can do to break that cycle is best.”

If there is no opportunity to rotate a field to another crop, consider a product with multiple modes of action in corn rootworm-resistant traits, such as Optimum® AcreMax® XTreme insect protection. Research has shown that integrated refuge, like Optimum AcreMax products, is best for insect resistance management of corn rootworms. If the same mode of action has been continually used to manage rootworm pressure, consider another trait or pyramid products to help break the cycle.                                                                                                             

Another preseason management option, when planting continuous corn-on-corn in regions of extremely heavy rootworm pressure, is a soil-applied insecticide in combination with an Optimum AcreMax product, but Pioneer does not make this a standard recommendation.

“Corn rootworms are becoming more and more difficult to manage, so we as an industry need to be cognizant of the practices we use,” Pilcher reports. “If we want to use these practices and products long term, they need to be managed properly.”

If using a blended, in-bag refuge product is not an option for you then a structured refuge is required in combination with certain Bt-rootworm products. Practicing good stewardship like planting a refuge is vital in helping maintain a population of corn pests that are susceptible to resistance traits. In the long-term this will help preserve the viability of insect protection for in-plant traits.

When it comes to keeping insect control solutions for years to come, rotating products or crops are the best options. You can also work with your local Pioneer sales professional or DuPont Pioneer agronomist to develop a long-term plan that fits your acres.