Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday July 26 Ag News

Helicopter to make low-level flights over the Clarkson-Howells area beginning August 5th

Northern Colfax County residents should not be alarmed when they see a slow-flying helicopter flying 100 to 300 feet over the Clarkson-Howells area in early August.

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is sponsoring a study of the groundwater in the Clarkson-Howells area. LENRD Water Resources Manager, Rick Wozniak, said, “Clarkson’s municipal water system was dangerously close to running out of water during the drought last year, and the LENRD received several reports of people having trouble with their wells.” Very little geologic information exists for this area, so the LENRD Board of Directors decided to use a new technology to learn more about the area’s groundwater.  Wozniak added, “The Elkhorn River basin continues to be a difficult system to completely understand.  The recent drought conditions in the LENRD have shown that the area around Clarkson has severe water supply problems that cannot be understood without more data.”

The LENRD hired Exploration Resources International LLC., (XRI) of Vicksburg, Mississippi to oversee the helicopter flights, data collection, and data processing. XRI will produce a detailed three-dimensional map of the geology of the area, which will include the location and size of groundwater aquifers.

The helicopter will fly in a back-and-forth pattern, flying lines that are about 330 feet apart, but will avoid flying over buildings and towns. The area covered will be about 36 square miles.

An array of instruments that resembles a large spider web will hang below the helicopter. These instruments can “see” hundreds of feet underground, providing the information XRI needs to develop maps of what lies underground.

Final Date for DCP Enrollment Nears

Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Director, Dan Steinkruger reminds Nebraska producers of the opportunity to enroll in the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP).  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) for DCP, among other Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) programs, through 2013.  “DCP signup began in Nebraska on February 19 and producer signatures may be accepted through September 16, 2013,” said Steinkruger.  Steinkruger noted the Farm Bill extension also gave producers the opportunity to enroll in the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program for 2013.  The signup period for ACRE began February 19, 2013 and ended on June 3.

DCP has provided producers with two types of payments since the beginning of the 2008 Farm Bill, including direct payments and counter-cyclical payments.  “Nebraska farmers and landowners earned $237,016,342 in DCP direct payments in 2012 and ACRE direct payments totaled $71,296,964,” said Steinkruger.  Direct payments are not based on producers’ current plantings of covered commodities, but instead are calculated using the base acres and payment yields established for covered commodities on the farm.  Counter-cyclical payments provide income support as part of a “safety net” in the event of low crop prices.  Counter-cyclical payments are only issued if the effective price for a commodity is below the target price.  Because the effective prices did not fall below the target prices for any covered commodities in 2012, producers did not earn counter-cyclical payments.  “The good thing is that the actual market prices were strong, however the safety-net was still there for the protection of Nebraska farmers,” said Steinkruger.

To be eligible for DCP, owners, operators, landlords, tenants or sharecroppers must, among other requirements, share in the risk of producing a crop on base acres and be entitled to share in the crop available for marketing; annually report the use of the farm’s cropland acreage; comply with highly erodible land conservation and wetland conservation requirements; comply with average adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation provisions; and meet “actively engaged” in farming requirements.

For more information on DCP and to make an appointment to enroll, contact your local FSA County Office or visit us on the web at:

Fischer Cosponsors Legislation to Protect Private information of Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today announced she has cosponsored bipartisan legislation this week to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from disclosing the private information of farmers and ranchers. The Farmer Identity Protection Act (S.1343) was introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and is similar to an amendment to the farm bill that Fischer cosponsored but was not brought up for a vote by Senate leadership.

“Farmers and ranchers, many of whom live and raise their families on their operations, have every right to be outraged by the EPA’s actions that demonstrate a blatant disregard for their privacy and safety. One of the main concerns I hear from Nebraskans is the overreaching hand of federal bureaucracy in their daily lives. The EPA’s reckless behavior in releasing this confidential information is just one of the latest instances for the hundreds of private citizens, families, and business owners in our state who were affected. This legislation takes the necessary steps to ensure the  release of their information that should be kept private does not happen again,” said Fischer.

Earlier this year, the EPA released the personal information of more than 80,000 livestock and poultry owners from across the nation to three activist groups in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Much of the data, including names, home addresses, personal telephone numbers, and employee information, distributed to the activist groups did not meet the definition of a Consolidated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). 

Corn, Soy, Canola Growers Stand Firm on Title 1 Programs Prior to Farm Bill Conference

In a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees today, the American Soybean Association (ASA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) made it clear that their position in favor of more market-oriented farm policies would not change as both chambers prepare their respective bills for a potential conference in September, and that the organizations would oppose any bill containing a risk management program that would tie planted acres to fixed reference or target prices.

In the letter, ASA, NCGA and USCA made it clear they would oppose any program that “would distort planting decisions in years when prices fall below support levels, resulting in surplus production of certain commodities, reduced acreage for smaller crops, depressed domestic and international market prices, and potential WTO actions against the U.S.”

“Soybean farmers simply cannot afford a farm bill containing a risk management program that, through its own design, could actually create more risk for growers by distorting market signals,” said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. “There is no question that this is a job that needs to get done, and there are many programs in each bill with which we agree, but we can’t let the need to pass a farm bill be an excuse for policies that place farmers at greater risk.”

“While we are pleased the process is moving forward, NCGA remains extremely concerned about a fixed-target-price program recoupled to planted acres that moves U.S. farm policy away from the market-oriented reforms that have made possible a robust rural economy,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson, a corn farmer from Floyd, Iowa. “Our goals have always been to ensure that the federal crop insurance program remains the cornerstone of the farm safety net and that there are market-oriented risk management tools that best complement the federal crop insurance program.”

“Canola is one of many crops that producers in the Northern Plains can choose from, and we want to preserve that diversity.  Conversely, after years of investment in research and infrastructure, canola has emerged as one of very few alternatives to winter wheat in the Southern Great Plains.” said Ryan Pederson, a canola farmer from Rolette, N.D., and USCA President. “But this effort would be at risk if prices fall and support prices are tied to current year plantings, because farmers will likely revert to the crop they know rather than the crop they are learning to grow.”

Nine U.S., Canadian and Mexican Meat and Livestock Organizations Seek Preliminary Injunction Against Country-of-Origin Labeling Rule
As part of a lawsuit filed July 8 seeking to block implementation of a mandatory country-of-origin labeling (“COOL”) rule finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in May 2013, nine organizations representing the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican meat and livestock industries asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to grant a preliminary injunction.

In the request filed today, the groups said that they had a high likelihood of success in their case and that enforcement of the rule would cause irreparable harm to the industry and have severe economic impacts that are not in the public interest. 

Plaintiffs include the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations, which joined the lawsuit this week.

The plaintiffs assert that they “are very likely to succeed on the merits and the Final Rule will likely be vacated.  But if it is not enjoined in the meantime, the Final Rule will irreparably harm meat-industry participants.  Plaintiffs are trade organizations that represent regulated entities facing immediate and substantial burdens and costs under the Final Rule.”

The injunction request follows the complaint and 1) outlines the burden to the plaintiffs’ First Amendment speech rights; 2) explains that the rule exceeds the authority granted to USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill; and 3) demonstrates that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, offering little benefit to consumers while fundamentally altering the meat and poultry industry.

The plaintiffs assert that “AMS does not claim that the new ‘Born, Raised, and Slaughtered’ disclosures are related to ‘protecting consumers from commercial harms.’  …. After all, in AMS’s own words ‘the COOL program is neither a food safety or traceability program …’.”

The request also states that “The agency … appears ambivalent at best about the actual value of this information to consumers.  But the First Amendment does not permit the government to resolve a tie in favor of compelling speech:  ‘If the First Amendment means anything, it means that regulating speech must be a last—not first—resort’.”

Because of these factors, the plaintiffs request an immediate injunction against implementation of the COOL Final Rule during the pendency of the litigation.

USDA proposed the new rule in March after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in response to a complaint by Canada and Mexico that the existing country-of-origin labeling requirements violated the United States’ WTO obligations.  In a highly illogical move, USDA made COOL requirements even more complex and discriminatory against foreign meat and livestock, and Canada and Mexico have already made clear that the new rule does nothing to ease the concerns that prompted their original complaint.

The lawsuit was filed July 8, 2013 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to block implementation of the COOL rule.

Register for Sow Housing and Swine Nutrition Webinars

Producers battling high feed costs and swine housing decisions should tune into two upcoming free webinars series funded by the Pork Checkoff.

“There are a wide variety of options for housing gestating sows,” said Sherrie Niekamp, Pork Checkoff director of animal welfare. “These webinars will provide a summary of scientific literature and help producers make sound decisions about which housing type is best for their pigs given their resources and market.”

The second webinar series will discuss results of animal science research funded by the Pork Checkoff that can help producers make management decisions that improve productivity and profitability.

“The animal science committee recognized that there was a need for sharing information that producers can use,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science for the Pork Checkoff. “Producers can take away information from these webinars and apply it in daily production.”

Each webinar will last 45 minutes with time for participants to ask the experts questions. Producers can register for the webinars online at

Sow Housing Webinars
• July 30, 1:00 p.m. CT: Sow lameness: detection, treatment and prevention – Locke Karriker, Iowa State University
• August 1, 1:00 p.m. CT: Gestation stall design – John McGlone, Texas Tech University

Animal Science Research Webinars
• August 6, 1:00 p.m. CT: Interaction of DDGS and housing type on sow productivity – Lee Johnston, University of Minnesota
• August 13, 1:00 p.m. CT: Use of soybean hulls in growing and finishing swine diets – Joel DeRouchey, Kansas State University
• August 20, 1:00 p.m. CT: Use of drought-stressed corn in swine diets – John Patience, Iowa State University
• August 27, 1:00 p.m. CT: Pelleting and complete diet grinding for high byproduct diets – Mike Tokach, Kansas State University

To register for a sow housing webinar, visit To register for an animal science research webinar, visit

Separate Fact From Fiction When It Comes to RFS Implementation

The Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) submitted its fifth RFS White Paper response to the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, covering the topic of RFS Implementation.  AEC Executive Director Brooke Coleman issued the following statement:

“One of the benefits of this white paper process is it allows Congress to pressure test some of the arguments being offered by the oil industry to support the notion that the RFS is not working. The oil trades have testified before Congress that buying a RIN credit is a cost of compliance with the RFS, when in fact it’s a voluntary cost of non-compliance. The oil trades are dancing around the fact that their members receive a RIN for free when they acquire a gallon of renewable fuel, and may be the ones profiting from higher RIN prices. The oil trades are pretending that they cannot blend more renewable fuel, while some of their members threaten franchisees who are trying to do just that. There are things that could be improved administratively with the RFS, including greater transparency in RIN trading markets, but hopefully this process will separate fact from fiction when it comes to RFS implementation. There are only downsides to re-legislating the RFS just one third of the way through a 15 year commitment.”

Bills to Establish Tax-Exempt Agriculture Research Organizations

Congressional members have reintroduced legislation to establish a new type of charitable tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit organization meant to foster public-private partnerships within the agricultural research community including USDA research agencies, academia, private corporations and non-profit organizations.

The Charitable Agricultural Research Act would establish the legal structure for agricultural research organizations, or AROs, a concept that builds on existing models for Congressionally-mandated foundations focused on medical research, natural resources and other priorities.

The goal would be to increase funds going to agriculture research in a time of declining public funding but increasing food needs, according to the National Association of Wheat Growers.

The bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and in the Senate by Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

Positive Outlook for Global Pork Industry into 2014

Rabobank has published a new report on the global pork industry, forecasting an improved market, but later and with lower prices than had been previously expected. The report also provides an outlook on issues of supply, demand and pricing for global as well as regional markets.

In the report, published by the bank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team, the bank says it expects a positive landscape for the pork industry in the second half of 2013 and into 2014, with limited supply growth, a likely increase in demand in China towards the festival season, and continuing high beef and poultry prices. However, the bank predicts that price increases will be limited due to high stock levels resulting from the disappointing first half of 2013 across the globe, and due to the continuing effect on demand of the economic crisis, mainly in the developed world.

"With declining feed costs resulting from bumper harvests, a subdued price increase will support a much needed margin recovery across the globe," explained the report's author, Rabobank analyst Albert Vernooij. "However, due to both the slow increase of pig prices and slow decline of feed costs, it is questionable whether this will be enough to fully cover losses endured in the first half of 2013."

The Rabobank five-nation finished hog price index rebounded in the latter half of the second quarter of 2013, supported by improving conditions across the globe with limited impact of exchange rates. In the European Union, the situation is forecast to remain difficult, with continuing pressure on consumer demand hampering market recovery, despite lower supply and rising exports. However, prices recovered in China, supported by the outbreak of H7N9 avian influenza in poultry, which resulted in a consumer move to pork. In the United States, prices have also recovered following the loss of key export markets, due to an increase in seasonal demand and lower-than-expected supplies.

The expectations for the second half of 2013 are largely dependent on the prospects for demand, as production is forecast to slightly increase. Pork markets are benefiting from relatively high prices for both beef and poultry, but will be negatively influenced by the continuing difficult economic conditions in key markets. Rabobank expects a slight increase in overall global pork consumption in the second half of 2013, due in part to the start of the festival season in China. This will support rising prices, but will likely be limited due to the current large stocks across the globe.

Longer term, Rabobank believes the announced acquisition of U.S.-based Smithfield Foods by Chinese firm Shuanghui International highlights the increased importance of global trade for the pork industry. The limited number of relevant countries, growth in demand, grain deficits in Asia, and continuing volatility mean that the Smithfield takeover may be a trigger for future steps. In order to secure supply, other importers may look to follow suit.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday July 25 Ag News

Johanns Sponsors Bill Preventing EPA from Releasing Producer Information

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) this week cosponsored legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from distributing the personal information of farmers and ranchers. The Farmer Identity Protection Act (S. 1343) is part of Johanns’ ongoing effort to protect ag producers following EPA’s distribution of private information to anti-ag groups earlier this year.

“I understand that EPA has a job to do, but that job isn’t enabling the harassment of farmers and ranchers trying to put food on the tables of families around the globe,” Johanns said. “It’s hard to decipher whether EPA’s private data release was a mistake in light of the absurd subsequent releases. What’s not hard to say is that it’s unacceptable, and this bill makes that crystal clear.”

On February 10, 2013, EPA released to activist groups Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council information on 80,000 livestock operations across the United States, including 3,500 in Nebraska, following Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The information EPA provided included names, home addresses, personal telephone numbers and employee information—data that under federal law should have been confidential. EPA asked for the information to be returned so private information could be redacted. All the private information, however, was not redacted and EPA again distributed the private data.

This legislation is similar to an amendment to the farm bill, which Johanns cosponsored, but the amendment was not allowed a vote.

NCTA Adds Irrigaton Tech Program

A two-semester technical program to train irrigaton service personnel launches next month at the University of Nebraska-Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) in Curts.
“The Irrigaton Technician Certfcate Program will educate students for service technician positons in the expanding center-pivot irrigaton industry,” said Dr. Brad Ramsdale, who heads the agronomy and irrigaton components of NCTA’s Ag Producton Systems (APS) Division. “The curriculum is specifcally designed to provide students with the necessary skills in electricity, welding, safety, pumping dynamics and communicatons.”

NCTA faculty and adjunct faculty from the irrigaton industry will teach the courses.  Fall classes will feature core courses in electricity with applicatons to the irrigaton industry.  A major feature of the spring curriculum is the Mechanized Irrigaton Systems course that focuses on the latest control systems used on center-pivots.

Rural landscapes across central and western Nebraska have become doted with new center-pivot systems in the last few years, partcularly as dry land crop ground is developed for irrigaton, and as surface, furrow-irrigated farms are converted to the more-efcient sprinkler packages.   

Nebraska has over 8.5 million acres of irrigated crop land and is a leader in center-pivot and irrigaton components, says Ramsdale.

The top four pivot manufacturers internatonally are based in Nebraska. Listed alphabetcally, Reinke Manufacturing (Deshler), T-L Irrigaton Company (Hastngs), Valmont Irrigaton (Valley), and Zimmatc by Lindsay (Lindsay and Omaha, NE), decades ago put Nebraska irrigaton on the map.

While each has its own internal training program, industry leaders applaud NCTA’s initatve for an in-depth, hands-on educatonal program.  Partnerships are underway with some companies providing equipment, instructors, scholarships or fnancial resources to enhance the NCTA program.

Ken Goodall, Reinke’s western U.S. sales director, said the Deshler-based manufacturer will match local dealer sponsorships, up to $1,000 per student. In return for the college fnancing and certfcate, students will pledge to come back and work three years as dealership technicians.

“There is a dire need for irrigaton technicians right now, with the populace growing and more need for food all the tme,” Goodall said.  “With populaton estmates to exceed 9 billion people before 2050, American farmers need to grow more food, on the same acres, and they rely on mechanized irrigaton to do that.”


Quad County Corn Processors recently announced that it will formally break ground on a new “bolt on” bio-refinery that will turn corn kernel fibers into cellulosic ethanol.  Quad County’s Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) project ground breaking ceremony will take place at 1:00 pm (CT) on Monday, July 29, 2013 at the plant.

Quad County staff, directors, shareholders, industry representatives, political supporters and numerous guests will meet on the west side of the plant which is located at 6059 159th Street.  Quad County is situated two miles south of Galva at the intersection of Highways 20 and M-25.  Due to limited parking and truck traffic safety, guests are asked to park in the hay field northwest of the plant and enter the parking area from Highway M-25.

Confirmed speakers for the ceremony include:  Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, a representative from Senator Harkin’s office, Congressman Steve King and Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, DC.  Other dignitaries who will address the guests at the reception include:  Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Brian Jennings, Executive Vice-President of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

“We are excited to see the ACE project finally coming to life after working on it behind the scenes for the past four years in our R&D lab”, said Delayne Johnson, General Manager of Quad County Corn Processors.  “This technology will create 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol out of the corn kernels, a feed stock that we already have on site”, he continued.  “In addition to creating 5 new full-time jobs in Galva, this process will increase our ethanol yields by six percent, increase our corn oil removal by three times and create a feed product that is much higher in protein and lower in fiber.  In essence, we will create more value out of the corn bushels we already process which will allow us to grow and continue to be a leader in the ethanol industry.”

Quad County Corn Processors is a 35 million gallon per year corn starch ethanol production facility in Galva, Ida County, Iowa.  Founded in 2000, Quad County is a cooperative that is owned by 353 shareholder members.  Today, the company employs 35 full-time employees who operate the plant 24 hours a day.  In addition to producing millions of gallons of clean burning ethanol and valuable corn oil, Quad County consumes 12.5 million bushels of corn annually and manufactures 250,000 tons of Golden Bran® feed co-products for the livestock industry.  The company also operates an ethanol trans-load railroad facility in Cherokee.

Ag Land Prices, Markets, Policy Lead Iowa Discussions

Impacts of the wild weather, market and commodity swings led expert panel discussions during the Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit this week in Ames. Nearly 300 Iowa farmers and agribusiness industry leaders came to Scheman Auditorium for perspectives from national experts in market, fiscal policy, commodity marketing, land use trends and climate change.

Many panelists at the IFBF-sponsored event agreed the agricultural sector can expect changes in the months to come and only good planning will protect their sustainability.

"The consistent message was make long-term plans, and make sure you're grounded in reality," said IFBF Director of Research and Commodity Services David Miller. "The reality is there are no guarantees what our yields will be until we're in the fields for harvest."

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Plan was also on the docket, leading to lively discussion. One of the presenters, Dean Lemke, a Natural Resources Engineer for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), said media reports critical of the Nutrient Strategy's voluntary implementation have been premature. "Thirteen of 22 nonpoint source action items are underway now through the Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC) and various agencies to begin implementation efforts to support the Nutrient Strategy conservation practices. Some of the early steps we're doing looks at nine high-priority watersheds; we're holding field days to educate and encourage adoptions of these new science-based practices, so everyone can see how implementation can impact water quality." Lemke said Iowa farmers aren't going to solve all the problems in those watersheds overnight, but the progress being made is measureable over the last 30 years and must be encouraged to continue.

Other presentations that encouraged much discussion came from state climatologist Elwynn Taylor. Despite last year's drought and this year's wet, flooded spring, Taylor told Iowa farmers they can expect continued wild swings in the weather, thanks to La Nina and El Nino effects.

Farmers also took interest in results of an intensive Multi-State Land Use study, which examined two USDA databases which report on land use. According to the USDA Crop Reporting database which relies on on-farm visits, land-use grid surveys and farmer surveys, Iowa had a net conversion of 3,500 acres of grassy habitat to cropland from 2007 through 2012. Acres planted to corn in Iowa were the same in 2012 as in 2007; soybeans gained 800,000 acres, but alfalfa acres declined by 440,000 acres and oat acres declined by 80,000 acres, highlighting that much of the shift in land use is among crops, rather than a shift in land use. The study, conducted by Decision Innovation Solutions, showed farmers in 40 of Iowa's counties developed new wildlife habitat with more land being converted to grassy habitat from cropland than grassy habitat conversions to corn and soybeans.

Select presentations from the 2013 Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit can soon be accessed online at

Branstad designates August as Iowa Soybean Month

As the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) looks ahead to celebrating 50 years of service to soybean farmers in 2014, the association is honored to have Governor Terry Branstad declare August as Iowa Soybean Month.

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) was organized in 1964 by a group of Iowa farmers who came together with a common goal – to increase the profitability of soybean production in the state. At that time, Iowa grew 121 million bushels of soybeans. In 2012, that number grew to 414 million bushels of soybeans.

Mark Jackson serves as ISA president and farms near Rose Hill. He’s one of 21 volunteer farmers who are elected to serve on the ISA board of directors, representing nearly 11,000 members throughout the state. He says the soybean month proclamation recognizes the value of soybean production to Iowa and ISA’s innovative offering of programs and services.

“Not only do Iowa’s farmers lead the nation in the production of soybeans, the state’s soybean industry is a recognized leader in biodiesel, transportation, soyfoods, international marketing, environmental stewardship and agronomic and production research,” said Jackson. “I’m proud to raise a crop that has many important applications, from serving as a vital source of protein for people and livestock to providing an important fuel source.

Jackson says it’s an exciting time to be involved in the soybean industry.

“We continually pursue new opportunities for Iowa soybean farmers while providing expertise that helps farmers continually improve production with environmental performance,” he says. “We’re positioned for continued growth as domestic and global demand for reliable sources of protein increases.”

People visiting the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines can take an active part in Iowa Soybean Month. On Thursday, Aug. 8, the opening day of the fair in Des Moines, the ISA will partner with the Iowa Food & Family Project and GROWMARK to package 250,000 servings of soy-based meals for Meals from the Heartland. Volunteers will be needed to work for one-hour shifts from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the south side of the Varied Industries Building. To participate, visit

“Fields of Champions” connects families, farmers and food…via fun!

The third annual “Fields of Champions” Family Cookout, held July 20 in Ames before the Iowa Summer Games’ opening ceremonies, opened the eyes and minds of farmers and Iowa newcomers, alike.

The event, free and open to the public, celebrated food and farming. Visitors enjoyed a free meal that featured beef and pork burgers, soy snacks, eggs on a stick, yogurt, fruit and milk; supported the Iowa Food Bank Association with more than $2,000 through free-will donations; participated in a number of activities and game; and had the chance to talk to farmers about their roles in raising healthy food.

Randy Souder is a farmer who grows corn and soybeans in Calhoun County. In his second year volunteering at Fields of Champions Cookout, Souder said the best part of volunteering at these events is the opportunity to talk to new people about farming.

“Last year, we answered a ton of questions. If I could, I'd like to give everyone a coupon or voucher for soymilk or something similar and to redeem it, they'd have to give it to a farmer who would then talk to them about soy and agriculture,” explained Souder. “Connecting with consumers is an important part of my job as an Iowa farmer.”

The connections weren’t lost on even the most non-rural residents.

A new job brought Josh Martinez, 24, to Des Moines eight months ago. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was intrigued with the Iowa Egg Council booth’s egg-on-a-stick. He had to get a closer look for a photo.

"I knew nothing about farming. I know milk comes from cows, and that's it. But I want to learn about farming,” he said. “Since I’ve come to Iowa, farmers are always willing to show me around and offering to let me ride in their combines. I do love it out here. It's been a phenomenal experience and the people here are great."

“Fields of Champions” Family Cookout sponsors include the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Select Farms, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy Association, The Soyfoods Council, United Soybean Board, Hiland Dairy Foods, Swiss Valley Farms and Iowa Food Bank Association.

June Commercial Red Meat Production Down from Last Year

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.86 billion pounds in June, down 4 percent from the 4.02 billion pounds produced in June 2012.

Beef production, at 2.17 billion pounds, was 4 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.73 million head, down 5 percent from June 2012. The average live weight was up 17 pounds from the previous year, at 1,307 pounds.

Veal production totaled 8.5 million pounds, 5 percent below June a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 57,600 head, up 3 percent from June 2012. The average live weight was down 20 pounds from last year, at 250 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.68 billion pounds, down 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.20 million head, down 4 percent from June 2012. The average live weight was unchanged from the previous year, at 274 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.7 million pounds, was up 3 percent from June 2012. Sheep slaughter totaled 183,500 head, 9 percent above last year. The average live weight was 139 pounds, down 8 pounds from June a year ago.

January to June 2013 commercial red meat production was 24.1 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2012. Accumulated beef production was down slightly from last year, veal was down 7 percent, pork was down 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 1 percent.

State (million pounds, % of June 2012)

Nebraska .....:     591.9             97      
Iowa ............:     473.0             93      
Kansas ........:    478.9            103      

National Pork Board Sees Increase in Summer Pork Sales

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that June 2013 frozen pork supplies are down 14 percent from the previous month, and down nearly 5 percent on a year-over-year basis, reflecting higher demand for pork.

According to the July 23, 2013,Daily Livestock Report, total pork inventories at the end of June were 564.9 million pounds, or 4.7 percent lower than in June 2012. TheDaily Livestock Report- written by economists Steve Meyer, Ph.D. and Len Steiner - also noted that "pork stocks normally decline in June, but this year the month-to-month change in pork inventories was 14.3 percent, the largest volume depletion in 20 years."

"At a point in time when pork production is high and domestic supplies are up, this shift in inventories is great news for our producers," said Karen Richter, a farmer from Montgomery, Minn. and president of the National Pork Board. "This market shift demonstrates that pork is hot right now and has a momentum that continues to build throughout the traditional summer grilling season."

Earlier this week the Pork Checkoff wrapped up a six-week radio advertising campaign in an effort to capitalize on new pork chop names and favorable pork prices for consumers. The report of lower frozen inventories is occurring on the heels of both the consumer campaign and aggressive promotions with major grocery retailers. The retail promotions featured ribs and chops, with specific advice at the meat case to cook pork chops "like a steak."

"For the past eight weeks, we have been reaching out to consumers and it is paying off," Richter said. "By building relationships and launching promotional campaigns with America's top food retailers, we are seeing a boon in pork sales."

Consumer education about the value and versatility of pork, the adoption of new pork cut names, and reinforcement of pork's ideal cooking temperature were the Pork Checkoff's key consumer messages. The new porterhouse pork chop, ribeye pork chop and New York pork chop were specifically featured in the summer marketing campaign.

"The previous nomenclature was confusing to consumers," Richter said. "We listened to our consumers and chose the new cut names in order to enhance the value in the meat cuts, and used new, simplified labels that better explain proper cooking techniques. Pork remains a great value for consumers today, and the surge in pork sales this summer is great news for pork producers as well."

Pork Checkoff Increases Commitment to Combatting PEDV

Following a unanimous vote by its board of directors, the National Pork Board has committed to investing an additional $350,000 toward research, education and coordination of efforts to better understand Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV. This increase in funding is in addition to $450,000 announced in June, bringing total Checkoff dollars invested to $800,000.

"Our No. 1 priority is to contain spread of the virus with the goal of increasing the potential to eliminate the disease," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board. "Through research we just completed, we already have determined that transportation of sows and market hogs can be a major risk factor in the spread of PEDV."

Toward that end, Sundberg said the next step is to assemble a core team of pork producers, veterinarians, packers and processers to refine a specific biosecurity approach.

"The collaboration we have received in just the first two months of study is outstanding. Each day we learn more about PEDV and its impact, so these additional funds for timely research and national coordination will allow us to help pork producers better address the virus, while preparing us for other potential emerging disease scenarios," Sundberg said.

The virus was first identified in U.S. swine herds in mid-May, and as of mid-July, 346 cases of PEDV have been confirmed in 14 states, with most in Iowa and Oklahoma.*

"Pork producers immediately responded to PEDV. We have already learned so much through increased cooperation among state and federal agencies, professional organizations, associations and from the information pork producers have willingly shared," said National Pork Board president Karen Richter, who raises hogs and farms with her family in Montgomery, Minn. "Our focus on research, education and the sharing of information is exactly where we need to provide Checkoff funds. This investment will contribute to a stronger organized effort and industry."

While PEDV is widespread in many countries, it is not trade-restricting. The virus presents itself similarly to Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE), another swine disease. The symptoms are clinically similar, including diarrhea and dehydration, and can be fatal to small pigs - especially those under three weeks of age. Current research is focused on diagnostics and surveillance, pathogenicity, transmission risk factors and educating pork producers and transporters on steps they can take to eliminate it. 

PEDV is spread in a fecal-oral manner. As such, pork producers, handlers and transporters are urged to follow strict biosecurity measures. Special care needs to be taken to wash and completely disinfect transport vehicles. If a pork producer suspects PEDV, they should immediately consult a veterinarian since fast action in identification, containment and biosecurity can stem its spread.

Researchers already have found the virus present on the surfaces of truck and animal chutes, so having strict transportation biosecurity is critical to stopping its spread. General transportation biosecurity tips include:
-    When visiting a site or packing plant, transporters should wear coveralls and boots to prevent contamination in the cab of the trailer and to minimize exposure to other pigs.
-    Establish a "clean" and "dirty" zone for farm and transport workers to follow during load-in and load-out.
-    Clean and disinfect trailers after use. This is especially important when going to commingled sites such as cull depots, packing plants or buying stations.
-    Remove dirty shavings, manure and other debris. The use of a detergent soap can help to break down dried manure and speed up the wash process. After cleaning the trailer, use a disinfectant according to label directions to kill the virus.
-    Wash coveralls, boots and other equipment when transporting pigs and cleaning the interior of the tractor cab to remove any dirt or shavings.
-    Once clean, park the tractor and trailer in a secure location away from other vehicle traffic to dry.

"Many questions remain unanswered about PEDV, including how it entered the U.S. and the precise number of pigs that have become infected," Sundberg said. "What's important to keep in mind is that PEDV is not a human health issue but rather a pig production disease, and we know that enhanced biosecurity measures are extremely important in containing the virus."

Biodiesel on Pace for Record Year

Boosted by strong federal policy aimed at diversifying the transportation fuels market, the U.S. biodiesel industry reached a new production record for the first half of the year and is on pace for its best year ever, according to new EPA figures.

Biodiesel refiners across the country have produced more than 636 million gallons through the end of June, the EPA reported Thursday. That puts the industry on pace to break the previous annual biodiesel production record of just under 1.1 billion gallons and to significantly exceed this year's volume requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

"This is further proof that policies like the RFS are delivering," said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, the U.S. biodiesel trade association. "This growth means good-paying jobs, fewer harmful emissions and a diversified fuel market that is helping consumers."

"Just this week, gas prices were the third highest on record, even as we're drilling more and more oil here at home," Steckel added. "It just shows that we need alternatives if we're going to escape this cycle of price spikes in the oil markets. The American people understand that we need to diversify and adopt an all-of-the-above energy approach, and we need strong domestic energy policy to do that."

Biodiesel, made from a diverse mix of resources including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, is the only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel with commercial-scale production nationwide, and the first to reach 1 billion gallons of annual production. In 2011, production reached nearly 1.1 billion gallons. It remained flat at that level in 2012 after Congress allowed the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive to expire.

But this year, after Congress restored the tax incentive and the EPA finalized a volume increase under the RFS, the industry is poised to shatter previous records.

"We've been steadily increasing volume and are planning to run at maximum capacity for the rest of the year," said Karl Radune, president of BioDiesel One Ltd., a small producer in Southington, Conn., that makes biodiesel from recycled cooking oil. "It's allowed us to build inventories, reach out to new customers, and recapture some of the customers we lost when the tax incentive lapsed last year."

Radune said he also is hoping to boost staffing but remains concerned that Congress might allow the tax incentive to expire again at the end of the year, as it did in 2010 and 2012.

"The uncertainty around the tax incentive makes it very difficult to plan for growth," he said.

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines. It is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet the EPA's definition as an Advanced Biofuel under the RFS - meaning the EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel. It is produced in nearly every state in the country and last year supported some 50,000 jobs nationwide.

Biodiesel volumes are reported under the Biomass-based Diesel category under the RFS, which also includes renewable diesel, a similar diesel alternative. Together, biodiesel and renewable diesel producers have reported a total of more than 700 million gallons under the Biomass-based Diesel category, significantly ahead of the annual volume requirement of 1.28 billion gallons.

NCGA Action Team Chair Participates on Biotech Panel for State Department

This week National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman participated on a panel at the U.S. State Department National Foreign Affairs Training Center.  Zimmerman was the only agriculture producer to be invited to speak during the State Department's course.  The panel focused on biotechnology and global challenges related to trade, food security, energy and climate change.

"With a rapidly growing world population it will be necessary to produce as much food in the next 50 years as was produced in all recorded history, making biotechnology in agriculture more important now than ever before," Zimmerman said.  "Better seed technology provides farmers choices to cope with new and emerging challenges such as difficult weather conditions, plant diseases and pests. In addition, the benefits of biotechnology not only include increased yields but also decreased use of water and fertilizer, allowing our farmers to produce more with less."

The session was a panel of four speakers representing a diversity of views on modern biotechnology. Other panelists represented the Center Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The course addressed questions related to views of agricultural biotechnology and its ability to address global challenges.  Panelists were also asked their position labeling GE products.

DDGS valued at 89 percent of corn in 6 year average

While the pricing of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) is primarily explained by the relative value of energy and protein and corn and soybean meal prices, University of Illinois economists Scot Irwin and Darrel Good find there is substantial variation to those relationships.

In the recent analysis, “Understanding the Pricing of Distillers Grains,” the economists note that consumption of distillers grains in the domestic market is estimated to be approaching 30 million tons a year. “Consumption of grains and soybean meal in domestic livestock feeding is near 180 million tons per year, so that [distillers grains] now account for a sizable share of domestic livestock feed and accounts for much of the decline in feeding of whole corn since 2007-’08.”

Distillers grains prices have ranged between less than 70 to nearly 110 percent of the value of corn, with the average being 89 percent from January 2007 through July 2013, as quoted by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for Iowa ethanol plants. The pricing patterns of distillers grains follow soybean meal as well, they added, “with DDGS priced at a fairly large discount to soybean meal.”

The economists used a simple linear regression model to compare the price patterns. “The estimated coefficients of the model indicated that DDGS prices changed by 85 cents per ton for each $1 per ton change in the price of corn and that DDGS prices changed by 11 cents per ton for each $1 per ton change in the price of soybean meal. The model estimates indicated that the combination of corn and soybean meal prices explained 92 percent of the variation in DDGS prices over the period studied.” The model wasn’t perfect, however, they added. “The magnitude of the price relationships seems reasonable and the overall ‘fit’ of the estimated price relationships is quite good. Still, the unexplained variation in the price of DDGs is relatively high, with the model having a standard error of about $16.75 per ton.”

USDEC, NMPF Support Vice President’s Call for Renewed Trade Discussions with India

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) applauded U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks during a speech yesterday in India calling for expanded trade between India and the United States. The vice president also pointed to the need to negotiate and work through barriers to market access, among other trade priorities.

“For far too long, a wide range of U.S. dairy products have been effectively locked out of the Indian market without sound scientific justification,” said Tom Suber, president of USDEC. “U.S. dairy products are sold in over 100 markets around the world and are well known for their high level of food safety. We look forward to renewed discussions with India on how to remove inappropriate barriers to market access for safe products.”

Jim Mulhern, chief operating officer of NMPF, agreed and adds, “As we focus on tearing down unwarranted trade barriers so that our industry can continue to grow, it is equally important to ensure that we also maintain a strong focus on food safety and product integrity. U.S. dairy products have an excellent track record in this area while India’s own government has found serious problems with a majority of its dairy products.”

In early 2012, NMPF called the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s attention to a study conducted by the Indian Food Safety and Standards Authority that found that 68% of milk samples analyzed did not meet Indian standards. “Given these alarming findings, we believed it was important for FDA to determine if adulterated dairy products in India were entering the U.S. market,” Mulhern stated. “We are gratified that FDA agreed that concern is warranted and this summer put in place an import alert on certain dairy products from India.” The FDA import alert calls for the detention of specified dairy products from certain Indian exporters and requires further documentation to ensure that the products are complying with U.S. regulations designed to protect food safety.

“U.S. dairy exporters believe that trade between the United States and India can be mutually beneficial, particularly as India struggles to consistently meet its growing domestic dairy demand,” adds Suber. “As the U.S. and India reengage in talks aimed at improving bilateral trade, we must ensure that a focus on the importance of safe and accurately labeled food remains at the core of discussions on agricultural trade.”

Bunge 2nd-Quarter Earnings Fall After Year-Earlier Gain; Sales Up

Bunge Ltd.'s (BG) second-quarter earnings fell 50% from a year-earlier period that included a big gain on acquisitions, masking improved sales.

The company buys, sells, stores and transports oilseeds and grains to customers worldwide. It processes seeds for protein meal for animal feed and oil products for consumers.

"We navigated the choppy markets well, but faced some challenges in North America, Europe and Argentina, which suffered from the continued effects of last year's poor oilseed and grain crops," Chief Executive Soren Schroder said.

The company also reduced its capital-expenditures plans for the year by $200 million and began a review of 2014 plans, adding projects that more immediately improve efficiencies and competitiveness will be priorities.

Bunge reported a profit of $136 million, or 75 cents a share, down from $274 million, or $1.78 a share, a year earlier. The year-earlier period included a $121 million gain on investments and acquisitions. Sales grew 6.8% to $15.49 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a $1.34-a-share profit on $15.81 billion of revenue.

Gross margin narrowed to 4% from 4.4%.

Sales at the agribusiness segment, by far the company's largest business by revenue, rose 9.3%. Sales from the sugar and bioenergy business posted a 13% decline. Edible oil products sales were up 1.9%.

CNH Shareholders Approve Merger with Fiat Industrial

CNH Global NV said Tuesday that shareholders approved the full merger with majority owner Fiat Industrial SpA, which will result in a new company to be called CNH Industrial NV.

Italy-based Fiat Industrial already owns 87 percent of Burr Ridge, Ill.-based CNH Global, which produces construction and agricultural equipment under the New Holland and Case brands. CNH's Case IH brand is based in Racine.

CNH has said the full merger is expected to close in the third quarter.

Upon closing, CNH shareholders will receive 3.828 common shares of CNH Industrial for each CNH Global share they hold at the time of the merger.

In addition, CNH shareholders that participated in the CNH extraordinary general meeting of shareholders that approved the merger, including those who attended or voted via proxy, can choose to receive one additional special voting share for each common share of CNH Industrial they will receive when the merger takes effect.

Deere introduces mower that runs efficiently on E0 to E85

John Deere has introduced a flex-fuel model to its ZTrak line of commercial lawn mowers.  The new, industry exclusive, Z925M Flex Fuel is compatible with the full range of fuels from E0 to E85 and delivers improved horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency. 

“The flexibility to run machines with fuel blends ranging from straight gasoline up to 85 percent ethanol will appeal to customers who want to be more green, burn less fossil fuel, and still have multiple fuel options available,” said Chase Tew, product marketing manager for John Deere Commercial Mowing.

The new model is a 24.6 horsepower commercial-grade mower, with either 54- or 60-inch blades. It is powered by an aluminum block, air-cooled, vertical shaft, electronically fuel injected engine. Tew explained the engine’s improved horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency is a result of a closed loop electronic fuel system, which uses an oxygen sensor to continuously monitor oxygen levels in the exhaust gas.

“Along with other continuously monitored data such as intake air pressure and temperature, oil temperature, engine speed, crankshaft position, and throttle position, the Flex Fuel Electronic Control Unit (ECU) continuously calculates the optimum amount of fuel to inject to maximize power, torque and fuel efficiency,” Tew told Ethanol Producer Magazine. “If the oxygen level in the exhaust strays from the ideal air/fuel mixture, the oxygen sensor triggers adjustments to the amount of fuel injected into the system. The engine then ‘closes the loop’ between the air/fuel intake mixture and the exhaust gas output to provide a constant stream of critical feedback to deliver optimal fuel efficiency and improved power with any fuel blend being used.”

As a flex-fuel engine, Tew explained it could not be optimized to take full advantage of ethanol’s positive properties such as the 100 octane antiknock rating, since it would then not be able to use straight gasoline. “However, the flex-fuel system continuously optimizes performance and efficiency as much as possible for all fuel blends being used.”

The specifications sheet for the new mower says the flex-fuel engine delivers up to 25 percent better fuel economy than typical carbureted engines of similar power at 1.1 to 1.9 gallons per hour. “Fuel consumption depends on many factors such operating conditions, operations being performed, loads, terrain, deck size, blades, and other factors such as fuel types,” Tew explained. “Because of the lower amount of energy per gallon of ethanol, higher blend ratios of ethanol will result in proportionately higher fuel consumption.  However, keep in mind that higher ethanol blend fuels also cost proportionately less than gasoline.”

The engine also has cleaner emissions, Tew said, due to ethanol’s greenhouse gas emission profile that is about 40 percent lower than gasoline. “The flex-fuel engine also has lower HC (hydrocarbon), NOx (oxides of nitrogen), and lower CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions when running on E85 fuel.”

American Ethanol Brings Home a Victory for Farmers with Dillon Win

American Ethanol sped into Victory Lane last night as spokesman Austin Dillon held off challengers during an exciting green-white-checkered finish to win the inaugural Mudsummer Classic at the Eldora Speedway in Ohio.

This was the first NASCAR® series race held on a dirt track in 43 years, featuring a mix of NASCAR Sprint Cup™ racers, dirt track veterans and rising stars. Dillon pulled out the impressive victory in front of a sold out crowd, overcoming a 19th place start.

“Last night was nothing short of a spectacular outing for American Ethanol and Austin Dillon,” said National Corn Growers Association NASCAR Committee Chair Jon Holzfaster. “Millions of fans watching the spectacle learned more about American Ethanol, already the race’s television entitlement sponsor, as Dillon’s win elevated the coverage of ethanol. This unprecedented opportunity to reach a broad, diverse audience highlighted how ethanol fuels champions on the track while providing real savings at the pump.”

Dillon dominated the third leg of the race, fighting off repeated challenges, in the No. 39 American Ethanol Chevrolet Silverado. His incredible efforts culminated in a buzz-inducing finish that will leave NASCAR fans talking about the historic race for years.

“It’s amazing! I want to thank Richard Childress Racing and American Ethanol for giving me these opportunities,” Dillon exclaimed as he celebrated in Victory Lane. “That's real racing right there, that's all I've got to say.”

The return to dirt was much anticipated by NASCAR fans, with the race trending worldwide on Twitter and an expected ratings boost for SPEED network’s primetime coverage. SPEED’s coverage, which prominently featured the American Ethanol logo throughout the race, included commentary from racing greats Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer.

The Eldora win caps off Dillon’s social media road trip called the “American Ethanol Heartland Tour.” Through a blog, fans followed Dillon as he drove from Chicagoland Speedway to the Eldora race in a flex fuel vehicle. From the FFV, Dillon tweeted and posted photos on Facebook at fuel stops, documenting as he met with an Indiana corn farmer and toured an ethanol plant. This in-depth coverage helped draw attention to how ethanol can help mitigate the high summer gas prices consumers currently see at the pump.

Launched by Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association, along with the support of other partners, American Ethanol is a breakthrough brand that seeks to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of ethanol and E15, and takes the NASCAR Green initiative to the next level. Since the program launch for the 2011 season, NASCAR drivers have run more than 4 million miles on renewable Sunoco Green E15.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday July 24 Ag News

UNL Public Policy Specialist: Rocky Road Ahead for Farm Bill, but Still Doable

            Farm-bill politics this year reflect the broader political dynamics in Congress these days – the triumph of ideology over consensus, said a University of Nebraska-Lincoln public policy specialist.

            The Republican-controlled House of Representatives finally approved a new farm bill earlier this month, but one that stripped out the food-stamp provisions that have been part of the package for decades. The House bill now heads to an uncertain future in conference with the Senate version, which includes the nutrition elements.      

            It's likely to take many months to sort out, perhaps going past the ostensible Sept. 30 deadline to the "real" Dec.  31 deadline, said Brad Lubben, UNL public policy specialist.

            The political environment has changed, Lubben said. Redistricting of House districts has made many of them less competitive between the parties.

            "Redistricting has left us with fewer competitive races and some members have to worry more about their primary races than the general election," Lubben said. In that environment, members from both parties are likely to take their cues from their respective political bases. That leads to increased ideology and less bridge-building consensus.

            Lubben pointed out that while conservative Republicans are taking the heat for the House's split of farm and food legislation, liberal Democrats, too, have contributed to the current standoff.

            "Politically speaking, the food side of the coalition abandoned the coalition too. ... Back in June, the food side was arguing they shouldn't take any cuts and the farm side should shoulder all of the proposed budget cuts," Lubben said.

            That bill proposed less than 3 percent in cuts for food programs and more than 10 percent in cuts for farm and conservation planks. It still didn't get enough Democratic support, Lubben said.

            As for what happens next, House Republicans are suggesting action on a nutrition-only bill that could also become part of the farm-bill conference process. If that fails, they could go into conference without an official position on the nutrition package. That could put them in a weak position in negotiations with Senate colleagues, Lubben said.

            Lubben said a nutrition- only bill that could get House approval likely would have even bigger cuts than the bill proposed in June, meaning it would draw few Democrats' votes. But any package that emerges from conference with both farm and food-program planks is likely to be "a bill that (House Republicans) like even less" than what they've previously opposed.

            "It seems clear that the final version from conferencing with the Senate would be something left of what the House passed in July and probably left even of what they failed to pass back in June," Lubben predicted.

            Still, many conservatives are getting exactly what they sought, Lubben said.  "Far right interest groups pushed for separating farm and food programs in the farm bill ... They wanted an ideological debate on both parts," he added. "Of course, some of those same conservative groups were then disappointed that the farm-only legislation passed the House without substantially more reforms and budget cuts that what had failed back in June."

            "There are some very rural, very conservative districts where representatives voted against the bill both times. Are those districts that really dislike government spending more than they like farm programs? It could be."

            The path ahead is challenging, but Lubben pointed out, "We are a step closer."

            "I've been optimistic for two years that we would get a new farm bill done based on the fact that we know it's got to be done," Lubben said. "I'm still optimistic."

            Then, he added with a laugh, "maybe it's not well founded."

Wheat Stem Sawfly and Alfalfa Weevil Cause Trouble for Growers

            Two species of insects have been making life difficult for alfalfa and wheat farmers this season, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist said.

            The wheat stem sawfly and the alfalfa weevil have been reported in higher numbers compared to last year, said Jeff Bradshaw, entomologist in UNL's Department of Entomology.

            "We had a fairly warm, mild season last year and the wheat stem sawfly overwinters as a pupa," Bradshaw said. "If it is too warm in the spring, it will just decide to not emerge so it can actually carry over to the next year."

            Bradshaw said that the higher numbers this year are partially due to carryover from last year.

            The wheat stem sawfly lays eggs in the stem of wheat plants. When the larvae hatch, they damage the stems, causing the wheat to collapse in the field.

            Combines have trouble harvesting fallen wheat, leading to a loss in yield.

            "Not only can you not harvest the wheat, but when that wheat falls to the ground the mature grain can develop, leading to volunteer wheat," Bradshaw said. "The volunteer wheat can be a host of aphids and wheat curl mites."

            Hail can have the same effect on wheat.

            A special type of combine can harvest the fallen wheat, Bradshaw said, but the downside is the high cost of the combines.

            Wheat can be cut early to prevent damage from the wheat stem sawfly, Bradshaw said. A process called swathing allows the wheat to be cut and placed in a "wind row," where it can dry out and then be harvested at a later date.

            Due to the nature of the sawfly, it is difficult to control with chemical sprays.

            "Not many products get inside the stem," Bradshaw said.

            For farmers with a wheat stem sawfly infestation, there are a few options.

            "One option is to plant a hard- stem wheat in a border area," Bradshaw said. "The sawfly can't completely finish development in a hard-stem plant."

            If the problem persists, it may be best to transition the field to a different type of crop that is a non-host for wheat sawflies, such as corn, sunflowers, dry peas and some types of barley, Bradshaw said.

            For alfalfa growers, the alfalfa weevil can cause damage to crops by eating the foliage.

            "It seems to be a big problem," Bradshaw said. "Alfalfa weevil comes in early in the year during the first cut. The problem we have in Western Nebraska is that there seems to be another bump in the population earlier in the season."

            Products like chlorpyrifos can be used to suppress alfalfa weevils, Bradshaw said.

            "It does a decent job at suppressing the insects," Bradshaw said.

            For more information on alfalfa weevils and treatment thresholds, go to:

Cover Crop, Organic Farm Tour Aug. 17

            Farmers interested in learning more about cover crops can attend a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Cover Crop and Organic Farm Tour Aug. 17.

            Participants will learn more about adding a cover crop to their rotation, reducing cost on inputs and find out what cover crops grow in eastern Nebraska.

            In addition, the tour will discuss equipment, when to plant cover crops and how they are used for weed management, increase soil moisture and fertility and extend livestock feed reducing the need to buy hay.

            The tour begins at 1 p.m. at the Bernard and Sharon Kavan farm, 2890 Road 30, which is east of Linwood south at Road 30.

            The Kavans have been organically farming since the 1970s. A hayrack ride will be given to show the biodynamic farm approach to raising crops and life-time commitment to building the fertility of the soil through legumes and livestock. Refreshments will be provided.

            At 2:30, participants will drive nine miles to Larry Stanislav's farm, 4291 Road W, which is located two miles north of Abie. Stanislav has been using green manure and cover crops for more than 25 years.

            He will talk about his crop rotation of corn, soybean, spring wheat, green manure/cover crops and alfalfa. He will discuss his UNL on-farm research projects: use of a roller crimper and weed flamer to manage weeds and a three year Nutrient Management Study that evaluated his system of green manure/cover crop and animal manure use.

            At 4:30, the tour will drive five miles south to Mike and Karen Ostry's farm, 2281 Spur 12-B, which is one-half mile north of Bruno.

            A handicap accessible wagon ride will be available to tour organic field crops, cover crops, large organic garden and on-farm livestock processing facility. Ostry will discuss their direct marketing of chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, hogs and cattle. Antique farm demonstrations will be held. Families are welcome.

            A free meal will start at 5:30 p.m. Music will be provided by the Ostry Family.

            Call Wendy at 402-584-3837 for a meal reservation.

            This tour is sponsored by Nebraska Chapter #1 Organic Crop Improvement Association.

            For more information about the tour, organic production or certification contact Kim at 402-620-2701, email

Farm Safety at Dodge County Fair KidZone

Youth stopping by the check out the KidZone at the Dodge County Fair will learn about farm safety starting at 5 p.m. on August 3. Emilia Woeppel, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) outreach coordinator, will be on hand to discuss farm safety.

According to the National Safety Council, agriculture is the nation’s most dangerous industry. Between 1995 and 2000, nearly 700 youth died on farms and ranches in the United States, according to the 2004 Journal of Safety Research.

“The farm is a great place to live,” said Woeppel. “People just need to be mindful of the dangers. Nearly every job on the farm can be dangerous.”

Woeppel partners with Farm Safety For Just Kids to offer safety education for youth. Farm Safety For Just Kids was founded 25 years ago by an Iowa farm wife after the death of her son in a gravity flow grain wagon accident. The organization promotes a safe farm environment to prevent injuries and death by educating our youth.

FCSAmerica sponsors Woeppel’s position, in addition to outreach coordinators in Iowa and South Dakota.

“Raising awareness for farm safety is important in our rural communities,” said Dick Zach, FCSAmerica vice president in the Omaha and Columbus area. “Our goal is to help ensure continued focus for our kids and promote education of safe environments through resources and programs provided by Farm Safety For Just Kids.”

For more information, visit


Attention farmers and ranchers…Do you store fuel on your property?  The EPA requires America’s farms and ranches to prepare A Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure plan on their fuel storage facilities.  AgCompliance invites you to several local free educational seminars:
-    August 5th in Seward at 9am, 12pm and 3pm at the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites
-    August 6th in Columbus at 9am, 12pm and 3pm at the Dusters Restaurant and
-    August 7th in Creighton at 9am and 12pm at the Creighton Community Golf Course

This seminar is not conducted by the EPA nor is affiliated with the EPA.  Find out how to keep you farm and ranch free from fines by attending one of our free seminars. Please call Ann Forbes at (308) 872-9532 to RSVP or for more details.

Nebraska Corn & Beef Producers Return from Mission Excited About Beef Exports to Japan

A group of Nebraska corn farmers and cattlemen have returned from a trade mission in Japan convinced that Japan will soon return to its traditional spot as the number one export customer for U.S. beef.

The Nebraska Corn Board funded the participation of five Nebraska producers on the Japan mission, which centered on Tokyo and the Sendai region.  Tim Scheer of St. Paul and Mark Jagels of Davenport represented the Nebraska Corn Board.  Kyle Cantrell of Anselmo represented the Nebraska Corn Growers, while Dale Spencer of Brewster and Doug Parde of Sterling participated on behalf of Nebraska Cattlemen.

Jagels is the chair-elect of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a Denver-based organization supported in part with checkoff funds from the Nebraska Corn Board and dozens of other U.S. organizations.  USMEF is responsible for market development and promotion of U.S. beef, pork and lamb around the world.   The trade mission was hosted by USMEF's staff in Tokyo.

In January 2013, Japan agreed to permit imports of U.S. beef from animals aged 30 months and younger, up from an earlier restriction of 20 months and younger that was adopted after a 2003 mad-cow disease scare involving one case of the disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in Washington involving a Canadian-born cow.   Now that the restriction has been raised to the 30-month level, about 95 percent of U.S. beef now qualifies for import into Japan.

For all practical purposes, American beef has been out of the Japanese market in the ten years since the BSE scare.  "During that time, Australia and New Zealand have been very aggressive in promoting their product into Japan with considerable success," Jagels said.  "We need to reintroduce Japanese consumers to the robust flavor of American corn-fed beef—and teach them ways to prepare and enjoy convenient and delicious dishes featuring U.S. beef."

Already, sales of U.S. beef into Japan are on track to exceed $1 billion in value this year, up from virtually zero in 2006. The Japanese market is particularly important to U.S. beef producers since Japan is a high-volume purchaser of beef cuts that are not highly valued in the U.S.  "Beef tongue, short plate, skirt and variety meats are greatly desired by Japanese consumers," Scheer said.  "Beef tongue that brings about $1.50 per pound in the U.S. will command $7 per pound in Japan—and that adds value to every beef animal raised in America."

The Nebraska team was able to take part in two significant promotions sponsored by USMEF.  Some 40 influential "foodie" bloggers from across the country were invited to a luncheon featuring Rika Yukimasa, a rising television star and mother of two.   She prepared a number of dishes featuring U.S. beef and pork—and the bloggers reacted with enthusiasm, rushing the stage several times to snap pictures of the food.   "Many of these bloggers have 20,000 readers every day," Scheer said.  "With that one event, USMEF was able to create a firestorm of positive news about U.S. beef and pork on the Internet in Japan."

The following day, 640 high-level meat buyers and purveyors were on hand for a beef and pork training and information seminar, during which USMEF staffers outlined the consumer promotion campaigns, provided educational information on U.S. beef and pork, and answered questions.  Following the seminar, the participants were treated to a buffet dinner featuring a wide range of dishes featuring U.S. beef and pork.

"Within a 36-hour period, USMEF reached some of the most important decision-makers and influencers in Japan," Jagels said.  "Add to that the aggressive consumer advertising and public relations campaigns that are underway, and it's very clear that our checkoff dollars are being used to great effect in getting U.S. beef back on Japanese dinner plates."

During the weeklong trade mission, the Nebraska team also:
        •    Met with several of the top Japanese importers of U.S. beef to discuss their outlook for increased business and their expectations in terms of quality, service and delivery;
        •    Visited retail establishments to see how U.S. beef and competitive products are being displayed, marketed, packaged and promoted;
        •    Met with key restaurant chains that feature U.S. beef on their menus, including one chain that specializes in beef tongue (with 30+ different tongue items on the menu!);
        •    Saw a major advertising campaign for U.S. beef in Tokyo station, one of the largest metro transit stations in that city of 30 million people;
        •    Toured the Yokohama port facility, through which a large volume of U.S. beef enters Japan;
        •    Visited a food processing facility that transforms U.S. beef into ready-to-eat convenience meals;
        •    Visited Japan's largest cold storage facility, which featured a large inventory of American beef and pork—as well as products from a number of competitor nations;
        •    Got a first-hand look at a Wagyu beef feeding facility as well as an auction of Wagyu beef  carcasses. Wagyu beef is highly marbled Japanese beef.  It's also highly valued.  One 950-lb carcass on auction brought $12,000 US!

"The USMEF Japan team has done an excellent job in raising the profile of American beef and creating excitement that U.S. beef is back in Japan," Scheer said.  "All of the key contacts we met were very complimentary of the efforts of USMEF staff and were extremely optimistic about their increased use of American beef."

The group also visited Katsura Island off the coast of Sendai, Japan, the area devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.   The Nebraska Corn Board was the first commodity organization within USMEF membership to be in Japan with support for the islanders and other victims. Working with USMEF, the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Beef Council helped provide beef and pork and other foodstuffs to the remaining islanders.  USMEF partnered with a number of Japanese organizations to make that happen and continues to do so. 

One of those organizations is Bond & Justice, a group of Japanese thirty-somethings involved in the nation's hip-hop music industry.   During the team's visit, the Bond & Justice group grilled U.S. beef and served the Nebraska team as well as dozens of island residents. The musicians have been visiting Katsura Island about twice a month since the disaster to provide food and social connections for the islanders.  USMEF continues to provide beef and pork for these visits.

"Our relief efforts are greatly appreciated as the people of the Sendai region struggle to rebuild their communities and their lives," Scheer said.  "We should be thankful that Nebraska is in a position to provide food and support for our Japanese friends who have suffered through unspeakable disaster."

The group returned to Nebraska optimistic about the prospects for regaining market share for U.S. beef in Japan.  "It's clear that Japanese importers are very excited and relieved to have American beef back in the marketplace," Jagels said.  "Once Japanese consumers again experience the flavor, tenderness and unique qualities of American beef, we expect beef exports to Japan to go nowhere but up.  Since Nebraska is a national leader in beef production, this will have a tremendous positive effect on our state's livestock industry."

For a detailed blog on the mission, visit

Market Access Triggers Swings in Beef Variety Meat Values

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner. In the United States, when we think beef, we are likely to think of a juicy steak, a rack of ribs or our cherished hamburgers. But if you’re pulling your chair up to the dinner table elsewhere, liver may be the main course in Egypt…or tongue in Japan…or heart in Peru…or intestine in Mexico or Southeast Asia.

Rarely found on menus in the U.S., variety meat, offal or fancy meat takes many forms: kidneys, livers, stomachs, tendons, aortas, cheek meat, oxtails and more -- and these beef items are highly prized for use in international cuisine.

When does 12 percent equal 28 percent…or nearly 100 percent?

By any name, variety meat is gold to the U.S. beef industry. Total U.S. beef exports in 2012 set a new record at $5.51 billion. Beef offal represented 12.8 percent ($703.1 million) of that. It also accounted for 28.4 percent of the total volume of beef exports (321,772 metric tons or 709.4 million pounds). And virtually 100 percent of the U.S. livestock herd is represented in variety meat exports – some part of every animal is sold to international customers.

“Demand for both large and small intestines would tank without the international market,” said Jerry Wiggs, export salesman for Greater Omaha Packing Company Inc. “We are selling large intestines to South Korea or Koreans who recently moved to the U.S. And just recently we resumed selling small intestines to Mexico (where they had been banned since BSE was found in the U.S. in late 2003). Without those countries, the markets for those products would basically disappear.”

The same can be said for many beef variety meat items. More than 90 percent of U.S.-produced beef tongues are exported, primarily to customers in Northern Asia and Mexico. Buyers in the Middle East, South America and Russia (when the Russian market is open) buy more than 9 out of 10 U.S. beef livers, hearts and kidneys. And consumers in Mexico and Southeast Asia consume more than 75 percent of U.S. beef stomachs.

Not only are international destinations important for consumption of beef items that aren’t eaten in the U.S., but variety meat often is the first U.S. beef tasted by consumers in many countries.

“There are many examples of how variety meat items are the first point of entry for U.S. beef into developing markets,” said Mark Gustafson, vice president of international sales at JBS. “These consumers may be seeking protein, but they can’t always pay the price of high-end cuts. Variety meat items are very economically priced protein. For example, we’re seeing growing interest in beef kidneys to the Ivory Coast and hearts to Peru, which could open a door to other exports down the road.”

Gustafson also noted that even top beef export markets started out primarily as variety meat markets.

“Japan and South Korea are prime examples,” said Gustafson. “When there was a beef import quota in Japan, they didn’t have a quota on variety meat, such as outside skirts and hanging tenders. Japan’s yakiniku industry grew up around variety meat items that were outside the quota with lower duties. The same with Egypt – it once was strictly a liver market, but now buyers there are purchasing muscle cuts.”

Gustafson noted that the U.S. beef industry has not always produced variety meat items such as beef finger meat and chuck flap. At one time, they went directly into trimming.

“Now, it’s not unusual to have an executive from a visiting Asian meat company stand in a processing plant at the trim belt to see what’s going into rendering or trimmings and ask for samples,” he said. “They know what a strip or tenderloin is, but they’re looking for an item to use in soup or as a protein supplement.”

The importance of market access

The premium prices that offals can generate internationally are only meaningful when the United States has unfettered market access. That message has been illustrated vividly twice this year – once as market access was lost and another when access was regained.

Beef livers are one example. There are essentially two prime international markets for U.S. beef livers: Russia and Egypt. The bottom fell out of liver prices when Russia stepped up enforcement of its zero-tolerance policy for residues of the livestock feed additive ractopamine, effectively closing the market. This action led to liver prices dropping from about 64 cents per pound to 39 cents – a loss of about $3.50 per head just from that one cut. When shipping access to Egypt was threatened by unrest in the Middle East, the price was poised to plummet to 7 cents.

“Russia was a huge niche market,” said Wiggs. “The closing of Russia made Egypt the only game in town (for livers), and they knew it. If Egypt stopped taking livers, they would go into rendering or pet food.”

Russia has a similar effect on beef cheek meat, according to Veronica Leon, vice president of sales for Northern Beef Industries.

“When Russia buys, prices rises about 15 to 20 percent,” she said. “Russian buyers will come in and clean out our inventory.” With about 4.25 pounds of cheek meat per animal going for roughly $1.37 per pound, that Russian presence in the market can add another $1 or so in value per head for this item alone.

While the disappearance of Russia from the market has depressed prices, the opposite occurred when Japan expanded access in February to include beef from U.S. cattle up to 30 months of age. Demand surged for U.S. beef tongues. For an item that averages 2.8 pounds per animal, the jump from $2 per pound to $4 boosted the value per head from this single cut by about $5.60.

While the tongue and liver are dramatic examples, there are others. Mexico is a key market for U.S. variety meat. Wiggs noted that Mexico’s recent decision to accept sweetbreads has boosted returns, while that country is the primary destination for beef feet.

Leon noted that Mexico also is critical for profitability on beef tripe and lips.

“If Mexico closed, a big percentage of beef tripe likely would go to rendering,” she said. “We’d probably lose $4 to $4.50 per animal. And beef lips are a huge item for Mexico. I have no record of lips going anywhere else. There’s almost 3 pounds per head, and they’re being sold high: $1.75 to $1.85 per pound delivered FOB to Mexico. Demand is great for them in Mexico, but in the U.S. they would have no value at all, and would probably end up in pet food.”

Growth potential

USMEF has had a long and active history of promoting variety meat in the international marketplace, and while their exports have increased in recent years, exporters believe that there is room for continued growth.

In addition to exploring new markets, such as Africa, Gustafson believes there’s growth potential in some existing markets.

“Prior to the finding of BSE in the U.S. in 2003, South Korea – along with Mexico – bought almost 100 percent of the small intestines,” he said. “But we’re really not back into that market yet. As each market opens or expands, it creates more opportunity to move the value base up.

“When I first started in this business, variety meat was an afterthought,” he said. “The quality was generally poor. Most would be sold for pet food. Today, the packaging and quality (of variety meat) has almost become a science in itself. We look at the international markets as premium markets, in large part because of variety meat.”

“The reality is that one or more parts of every beef animal produced in this country is being enjoyed by consumers around the world,” said Dan Halstrom, senior vice president of Marketing and Communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which is working actively in more than 100 global markets to raise the visibility of U.S. red meat products, including beef variety meat.

“USMEF is targeting specific countries – and niches within those countries – to demonstrate to meat buyers, food service and retail operators how different muscle cuts or variety meat items can be an ideal solution for their business. It’s an education process, but we’re seeing growth and expect it to continue.”

Legislation Introduced to Prevent EPA from Releasing Producer Information

Yesterday, U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) introduced legislation that protects the personal information of livestock producers from dissemination by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Farmer Identity Protection Act (S. 1343) comes in response to the EPA’s release of livestock and poultry producers’ names and other personal information to three radical environmental groups through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in February and again in April. The release divulged names, addresses, geographic coordinates and in some cases telephone numbers and email addresses of over 80,000 producers in 29 states.

“Livestock producers are grateful to Sens. Grassley and Donnelly for introducing this legislation,” according to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Past President and Pilger, Neb., cattle feeder J.D. Alexander. “Unlike other businesses, cattlemen and women live, work and raise their families on their operations. We have a reasonable expectation of privacy on our private property and there is no conceivable reason for the EPA to release this type of information.”

EPA claims it lacks statutory authority to protect livestock producers’ personal information. The Farmer Identity Protection Act would unequivocally provide the agency with the ability to prevent such farm-specific releases from happening in the future, allowing the agency to provide information to outside parties only in aggregate without individually indentifying information, or with the producer’s consent.

"In this instance EPA went too far, jeopardizing the health and safety of cattle producers and their families,” said Alexander. “As a producer whose information was blatantly given to the recognized enemies of the U.S. beef industry, it comes as a relief to have this legislation introduced. Congress is going to have to be the one to fix this problem created by the incestuous relationship between environmentalists and EPA. Today is a step in that direction, and we thank Sens. Grassley and Donnelly for their efforts.”

NCGA President Testifies on RFS Impacts before House Subcommittee

Today, National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson spoke on the impacts of the Renewable Fuel Standard on the agricultural sector before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.  Other witness panels focused on fuel production and fuel sale and use.

"The Renewable Fuel Standard is doing exactly what it was intended to do," Johnson said during her testimony.  "It has positively impacted the agriculture sector by creating jobs and promoting rural development, reducing greenhouse gases and allowing our nation to grow our energy at home."

Johnson stated the ethanol industry has created opportunity in rural America allowing her two sons and a growing number of young farmers to be able to return to the farm after college.  She also pointed to benefits to rural communities because of the RFS.  Her community in rural Iowa has been able to build a new fire station, remodel the hospital and hire additional teachers because of the economic activity created by the local ethanol industry.

Members on the committee have stated they are using this hearing to determine whether to reform, or even repeal, the RFS.  NCGA continues to stress the importance of farmers meeting with their representatives during the August recess and telling personal stories on the benefits of the RFS.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 7/19/2013

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 853,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 35.83 million gallons daily. That is down 23,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 868,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.31 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.3 million barrels. That is a 4.1% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were 41,000 b/d, down from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 377.2 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.50%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.934 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 95,197 metric tons of livestock feed, 84,869 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.44 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Boyle to Step Down as AMI President

American Meat Institute's J. Patrick Boyle has announced that he will step down at the end of 2013 as president and CEO of the industry's oldest and largest trade association after 24 years of service to the meat and poultry industry. He is the longest serving president in AMI's 107-year history.

Boyle joined AMI in 1990 after serving as administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. Before that, he worked as an attorney at several food trade associations and as agricultural legislative assistant to former Senator Pete Wilson (R-CA).

"It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this great industry for more than two decades. With the organization in a sound position to meet the challenges of the future and given the many accomplishments of the last two decades, this year seemed like an appropriate time for me to move onto another phase of my professional life," he said.

Under Patrick's leadership, AMI has been an influential voice for the meat and poultry industry successfully addressing numerous public policy challenges, according to Chairman Nick Meriggioli, president of Kraft Foods, Inc./Oscar Mayer.

Under his watch, AMI formally petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to require nutrition labels on meat and poultry products and to promulgate a regulation requiring that meat and poultry plants implement HACCP-based food safety controls. USDA subsequently issued final regulations on both proposals.

During the 1990s, Boyle and his team also were the early adopters of the animal welfare approach of Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, who contended that 'you manage what you measure.' AMI first partnered with Grandin in 1991 on its Recommended Animal Handling Guidelines for the Meat Industry and later on an animal welfare audit program that has become the global standard around the world and is a condition of doing business with many leading foodservice and retail customers.

FSA Reminds Producers of Nearing Deadline to Submit Nominations for County Committees

Juan M. Garcia, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), today reminded farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers that they have until Aug. 1, 2013, to nominate eligible candidates to serve on local FSA county committees.

"The last day to file your nomination form is about a week away," Garcia said. "Please get involved this year and nominate the candidate of your choice or nominate yourself to serve on your local county committee. I especially encourage the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women and minorities. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”

FSA county committees help local farmers through their decisions on commodity price support loans, conservation programs and disaster programs, and by working closely with county executive directors.

To be eligible to hold office as a county committee member, individuals must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and live in the local administrative area where they are running. A complete list of eligibility requirements, more information and nomination forms are available at

All nominees must sign the nomination form FSA-669A. All nomination forms for the 2013 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2013. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 4 and are due back to the local USDA Service Centers on Dec. 2. The newly elected county committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2014.

Donations to HSUS Down, Donations to Local Shelters Up


HumaneWatch has had a lot of success. We're approaching 500,000 Facebook fans, we've been around for 3 years, and one of our main messages—that the Humane Society of the U.S. gives only 1 percent of the money it raises to local shelters—is being repeated far and wide.

We were excited to discover that our analysis of IRS data found that local pet shelters saw a 6 percent increase in revenue in 2011. Notably, HSUS's donations in 2011 were down significantly. Its revenue from contributions and grants was down about 6 percent. In other words, there's a 12-percent gap between HSUS and hands-on animal shelters. That's a big blow for the HSUS scammers—but good news for shelters. It would seem that more people are hearing the “give local” message.

And frankly, the gap might be a little higher.

On its tax return, HSUS classifies over $17 million in donated public service announcement time under “contributions and grants.” This not only inflates the total grants and contributions HSUS is bringing in by around 17 percent, but the $17 million would also be reported completely as “program expenses,” inflating how efficiently HSUS is spending donations. (The percentage of budget used by a charity on programs, as opposed to overhead, is a metric that some third-party watchdogs use in rating an organization.)

Given HSUS's P.R.-centric attitude, we're not surprised if it's engaging in a little revenue puffery. Taking out donated-ad “revenue,” it appears HSUS experienced a 9-percent drop in donations from donors last year. So there could be a 15-point gap between HSUS and pet shelters in 2011.

We continue to learn more about the agenda of HSUS, including that its CEO Wayne Pacelle has written that “I don't love animals or think they are cute.” And we'll make sure the public continues to learn about it. Our message certainly seems to be sinking in, despite HSUS's best efforts to attack us.

Caterpillar Highlights Strong Cash Flow and Operational Performance in Second-Quarter Results, Revises 2013 Outlook
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) today announced second-quarter 2013 profit per share of $1.45, down from second-quarter 2012 profit per share of $2.54.  Sales and revenues were $14.621 billion, down from $17.374 billion in the second quarter of 2012.  Profit was $960 million in the second quarter of 2013, down from $1.699 billion in the second quarter of 2012.

“Even though our sales and profit in the second quarter are down from last year, I’m pleased with how our team has performed.  We’ve taken action to respond to the economic environment we find ourselves in, and operationally, the team has done a great job.  We experienced headwinds during the quarter, and while we had a positive $135 million gain related to the Siwei settlement, it was more than offset by currency translation and hedging losses, an additional $1 billion of dealer machine inventory reductions and a decline of $1.2 billion in our own inventory.  While these were significantly negative to profit in the second quarter, our outlook doesn’t reflect additional currency losses or reductions in our inventory during the second half of 2013.  As a result, we expect profit to improve in the second half of the year,” said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman.

“The $1 billion reduction in dealer machine inventory was more than we previously expected and was negative to our sales and profit in the quarter.  While dealer machine inventory is low by historic standards, dealers are utilizing inventory from our product distribution centers and are positioned to reduce inventory even further.  As a result, we expect dealer machine inventory to decline about $1.5 to $2 billion in the second half of 2013 and end the year about $3.5 billion lower than year-end 2012.  That means that we are underselling end-user demand this year, and it sets us up for better sales in 2014,” Oberhelman added.

“Operationally, we’ve done very well.  We’ve taken action to aggressively lower costs, and we’ve been successful in the marketplace with end-user demand for Cat machines outpacing the industry overall.  In addition, our business in China improved — our sales and end-user demand for Cat machines were up in the quarter while the overall construction equipment industry was down.  Cash flow was outstanding and coupled with our strong balance sheet, puts us in a position to repurchase more Caterpillar stock this year.  I am confident we are positioned to improve results in the second half of 2013,” Oberhelman added.

2013 Outlook     

We have revised our outlook for 2013 to reflect sales and revenues in a range of $56 to $58 billion, with profit per share of about $6.50 at the middle of the sales and revenues outlook range.  The previous outlook for 2013 sales and revenues was a range of $57 to $61 billion, with profit per share of about $7.00 at the middle of the sales and revenues outlook range.

“Overall end-user demand is similar to our previous outlook, but we now expect a more significant reduction in dealer machine inventory.  That’s the main reason for the reduction in the sales and revenues outlook.  During the second quarter, dealers increased their utilization of inventory from our product distribution centers, which allows them to meet customer demand with less inventory.  With the sharp reduction in dealer inventory and the decline in mining, 2013 is turning out to be a tough year and we've already taken action to reduce costs.  During the first half of the year, we've had temporary factory shutdowns, rolling layoffs throughout much of the company, reductions in our flexible workforce, and we've reduced discretionary and program costs.  While we've taken significant action already, we will be taking additional cost reduction measures in the second half of 2013,” said Oberhelman.

DuPont Reports Profitable First Half of 2013

DuPont announced second quarter 2013 operating earnings per share of $1.28, in line with previously announced guidance. Prior-year second quarter operating earnings were $1.50 per share. GAAP1 EPS from continuing operations was $1.10 versus $1.15 for the second quarter 2012. Results reflect strong Agriculture sales, sequentially improving titanium dioxide volumes and lower Performance Chemicals earnings.

The company says net sales were $9.8 billion, 1 percent below the prior year, principally reflecting lower titanium dioxide pricing. Total company volume increased 1 percent with increases in Agriculture, Performance Chemicals, Performance Materials, and Safety & Protection. Volume declined in Electronics & Communications and Nutrition & Health.

For the first half, agriculture segment sales grew 11 percent driven by seed price gains and volume growth in corn seeds, insecticides and fungicides. First half operating grew 8 percent despite higher seed input costs pressuring margins.

The company continues to expect full-year operating earnings to be about $3.85 per share.

"Agriculture sales remained strong in the second quarter and titanium dioxide volume improved. As expected, this was largely offset by a substantial decline in Performance Chemicals earnings from last year's peak levels," said DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman. "We anticipate second half earnings will be significantly better than last year's second half. We expect to deliver full-year earnings modestly above 2012 results, overcoming steep declines in the titanium dioxide market and economic headwinds in Europe and parts of Asia."

Operating earnings for its ag division were $941 million, down 1 percent as higher seed input costs were mostly offset by sales growth. Agriculture sales increased 7 percent primarily due to higher seed prices and insecticide and fungicide volumes.

Finally, just because I'm a fan of steam engines..... 

Union Pacific Railroad Acquires Big Boy Locomotive No. 4014

Railroad Plans to Restore One of the Largest Steam Locomotives Ever Built

Union Pacific Railroad today announced it reached an agreement with the Southern California Chapter - Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in Pomona, Calif., to transfer ownership of one of the world’s largest steam locomotives, Big Boy No. 4014, back to Union Pacific.

Union Pacific plans to relocate No. 4014 to Cheyenne, Wyo., where Union Pacific’s Heritage Fleet Operations team will work to restore it to operating condition.  Details regarding those efforts will be made public at a later date.

Union Pacific donated No. 4014 to the historical society December 7, 1961. The locomotive arrived January 8, 1962, at its current display location at the Rail Giants Train Museum in Pomona.

No other railroad has retained its historical equipment or honored its American roots like Union Pacific.

“Our steam locomotive program is a source of great pride to Union Pacific employees past and present,” said Ed Dickens, senior manager – Union Pacific Heritage Operations. “We are very excited about the opportunity to bring history to life by restoring No. 4014.”