Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday September 27 Hogs and Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2013, was 3.15 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  This was down 2 percent from September 1, 2012, but up 2 percent from June 1, 2013.  

Breeding hog inventory, at 400,000 head, was up 5 percent from September 1, 2012, but unchanged from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.75 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, but up 2 percent from last quarter.  

The June-August 2013 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.79 million head, was up slightly from 2012.  Sows farrowed during the period totaled 165,000 head, down 3 percent from last year.  The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.85 for the June-August period, compared to 10.50 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 170,000 sows during the September-November 2013 quarter, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for December 2013-February 2014 are 165,000 sows, also unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  

Iowa Hogs & Pigs

On  September  1,  2013  there  were  21.2  million  hogs  and  pigs  on  Iowa  farms  according  the  latest  USDA  National Agricultural Statistics Service Hogs and Pigs report.   The September 1 inventory was up 2 percent from a year ago and became the highest inventory on record. 

The June-August 2013 pig crop was 5.14 million head.   A  total of 485,000 sows farrowed with an average  litter size of 10.6 pigs per sow.

As of September 1, producers planned to farrow 480,000 head of sows and gilts in the September-November 2013 quarter. Farrowing intentions for the December-February 2014 period were estimated at 475,000 as of September 1, 2013. 

US Hog Inventory Up Slightly

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2013 was 68.4 million head. This was up slightly from September 1, 2012, and up 3 percent from June 1, 2013. 

Breeding inventory, at 5.81 million head, was up slightly from last year, but down 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 62.5 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up 3 percent from last quarter.

The June-August 2013 pig crop, at 30.2 million head, was up 2 percent from 2012. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.92 million head, down slightly from 2012. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.33 for the June-August period, compared to 10.13 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.80 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.40 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.90 million sows farrow during the September-November 2013 quarter, up slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2012, but down 1 percent from 2011. Intended farrowings for December-February 2014, at 2.87 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2013, and up slightly from 2012.

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


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for September 2013 averaged $6.90 per bushel, a decrease of 15 cents from the August price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary September corn price, at $5.60 per bushel, decreased 85 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary September sorghum price averaged $8.80 per cwt, a decrease of $1.40 from August.

The preliminary September soybean price, at $13.70 per bushel, increased 20 cents from last month.

The preliminary September dry edible bean price, at $42.90 per cwt, is up 30 cents from last month.

The September alfalfa hay price, at $181.00 per ton, is down $28.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $136.00 per ton, is down $15.00 from last month.

The preliminary September oat price is withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.  

USDA:  September Farm Prices Received Index Declined 4 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in September, at 185 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, decreased 4 points (2.1 percent) from August. The Crop Index is down 8 points (3.7 percent) and the Livestock Index decreased 1 point (0.6 percent). Producers received lower prices for corn, hogs, and wheat and higher prices for calves, milk, and cattle. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of soybeans, corn, potatoes, and hogs offset the decreased marketing of wheat, cattle, cotton, and broilers.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is down 10 points (5.1 percent) from September 2012. The Food Commodities Index, at 181, is unchanged from last month but decreased 1 point (0.5 percent) from September 2012.

All crops:

The September index, at 206, decreased 3.7 percent from August and is 9.3 percent below September 2012. Index decreases for feed grains & hay and commercial vegetables more than offset the index increases for fruits & nuts and oilseeds.

Food grains: The September index, at 228, is down 1.3 percent from the previous month and 14 percent below a year ago. The September price for all wheat, at $6.75 per bushel, is down 12 cents from August and $1.52 below September 2012.

Feed grains & hay: The September index, at 230, declined 13 percent from last month and is 21 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $5.28 per bushel, is down 93 cents from last month and $1.61 below September 2012. The all hay price, at $176 per ton, is down $4.00 from August and $9.00 from last September. Sorghum grain, at $8.15 per cwt, is 67 cents lower than August and $3.35 below September last year.

Cotton, Upland: The September index, at 126, is down 0.8 percent from August but 7.7 percent above last year. The September price, at 76.1 cents per pound, is down 0.8 cents from the previous month but 5.4 cents higher than last September.

Oilseeds: The September index, at 241, is up 1.7 percent from August and 0.4 percent higher than September 2012. The soybean price, at $13.80 per bushel, decreased 30 cents from August and is 50 cents below September 2012.

Livestock and products:

The September index, at 162, is 0.6 percent below last month but up 3.8 percent from September 2012. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for hogs, broilers, calves, cattle, and milk. Prices for eggs and turkeys are lower than last year.

Meat animals: The September index, at 165, is unchanged from last month but 7.1 percent higher than last year. The September hog price, at $69.20 per cwt, is down $5.00 from August but $13.50 higher than a year ago. The September beef cattle price of $123 per cwt is up $1.00 from last month and $2.00 higher than September 2012.

Dairy products: The September index, at 152, is up 2.0 percent from a month ago and 0.7 percent higher than September last year. The September all milk price of $19.80 per cwt is up 30 cents from last month and 10 cents higher than September 2012.

Prices Paid Index Down 3 Points

The September Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 213 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is down 3 points (-1.4 percent) from August and 4 points (-1.8 percent) below September 2012. Lower prices in September for concentrates, nitrogen, feed grains, and mixed fertilizer offset higher prices for feeder cattle, diesel, LP gas, and feeder pigs.

Cat Season!

"Soy" Roy Smith, Friday morning guest market commentary

The season for the dead cat bounce strategy in the soybean market is upon us. The most likely time for this strategy to begin is the first half of October. There is no guarantee of course. In the last few years it has come as early as the middle of September. It has come as late as November. However, the most likely time is the first week of October.

The bounce is a good time to sell soybeans for many reasons. There is very little production risk because harvest is only a few days away. Farmers have a good estimate of yields because the crop is in the field. If sales are made at or soon after harvest the storage costs are minimal. Timing of income is good because it can be taken in the current year or delayed for income tax purposes if necessary.

I started tracking prices for the bounce beginning September 1. I chart March futures as well as local cash. A sell signal is ten days of prices higher than a major low and a rally of at least 35 cents. Upper parameters are 15 days above a major low and a dollar a bushel rally. To the inexperienced marketer this seems like a wide range. After watching it for a year or two most individuals find that those are good guidelines for determining when to make sales.

In rare occasions the bounce will turn into a major rally after January 1. Most years the bounce ends by year end. It is probably a mistake to use the word “always” to describe any marketing move. However there has been a move that fits the definition of a dead cat bounce every year since 1980. Sometimes all of the price improvement is in the local cash market. That is the reason for tracking the local price for decision making. It is also why some academic researchers say that it does not exist.

Farmers look for a magic bullet to tell them when to sell. There is no magic in grain marketing. For those who are willing to accept “almost always” as good enough for a decision making tool, the dead cat bounce is a workable strategy. 

PUBLIC HEARING Scheduled Regarding a District-Wide Change to the Upper Big Blue NRD’s RULE 5 for Water Quantity

The Upper Big Blue NRD will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at the York City Auditorium, located at the intersection of 6th Street and Nebraska Avenue, York, Nebraska.  An  informational meeting, beginning at 1:30 p.m., will precede the hearing.  The purpose of the hearing is to receive comments on proposed changes to District Rule 5 – Ground Water Management Area Rules and Regulations.

The main changes require the installation of flow meters on all wells, and the allocation of groundwater of 45 inches over 5 years.  The proposed changes to RULE 5 consist of the following:

1).  Flow Meters:  Rule 5 currently requires all wells constructed after March 1, 2004 with a pumping capacity greater than 50 gallons per minute (gpm) to be equipped with a flow meter.  The proposed changes require that ALL wells with a pumping capacity greater than 50 gpm be equipped with a flow meter.  The deadline for flow meter installation would be January 1, 2015.

2).  Allocation:  The proposed changes to Rule 5 will set the first allocation period at 60 months (5 years).  The first groundwater allocation for Agricultural Users will be 45 inches per certified irrigated acre for the allocation period.  Municipal User allocation will be 45 inches per acre for 1/3 of the land in the corporate limits, plus 250 gallons per person per day.  Groundwater used for fire protection, water system and sewer system maintenance are exempt in order to protect public health and safety.  Other users will receive an allocation equal to 100 percent of the average annual withdrawal based on the 3 years prior to the start of allocation.  Other Users include groundwater uses such as manufacturing, confined animal feeding and lake filling for recreation.  If the groundwater user does not use all of his or her allocation, up to 10 percent of the total allocation would carry over to the next groundwater use period.

3).  Certified Groundwater Use Acres and Pooling:  Proposed changes to Rule 5 provide for the combining of certified groundwater use acres into units.  A unit of groundwater use acres consists of acres in the same government survey section or irrigated by the same well that are under the control of one groundwater user.  The owner of the land is the groundwater user unless the land is included in a pooling agreement.  The term “pooling” refers to the combining of certified Groundwater Use Acres (irrigated acres) for the purpose of determining what lands will be assigned an allocation.  There are three basic types of pooling agreements allowed in Rule 5.

4).  Groundwater Transfers:  Language has been included in the proposed changes to Rule 5 to allow for the cancellation of a groundwater transfer if the groundwater user does not comply with the transfer regulations or conditions placed on the authorization at the time it was issued.

5).  Development of New Groundwater Uses:  Rule 5 DOES NOT create a moratorium on the construction of wells, the addition of irrigated acres, or the other groundwater uses.

The public is strongly encouraged to attend.  Written comments will be accepted following the public hearing until November 12, 2013, 5 p.m., at which point the public hearing process will close.

A copy of the proposed changes to Rule 5 is available upon request at the NRD office at 105 N. Lincoln Avenue, York, Nebraska, and on the NRD website at:  Activities and projects of the Upper Big Blue NRD are reviewed and approved by a locally elected Board of Directors.  The Upper Big Blue NRD is one of 23 Natural Resources Districts across the state.  For more information please call (402) 362-6601.

“NRD’s Annual Conference Focuses On Protecting the Future of Nebraska Natural Resources”

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Annual Conference was held at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, September 22nd-24th and focused on protecting the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.  This year more than 375 Natural Resource District (NRD) managers, staff, board members, and conservation partners get together to learn more about protecting Nebraska natural resources.   

“These conferences are an important way for our districts and other agencies to meet and share their ‘best management practices’ so the NRDs can do the best job possible of protecting lives, protecting property and protecting the future of our natural resources,” said Joe Anderjaska, President of the NARD Board of Directors.

Conference keynote speakers included Lieutenant Governor Lavon Heideman, and opening remarks from partnering agencies. Participants had a variety of educational break-out sessions to choose from during the event.  Session topics ranged from a legislative update to updates on federal programs and several presentations on water quality and quantity management.  Other events include NRD basin meetings and recognition of conservation award winners and Master Conservationists. The NARD Foundation live and silent auctions where held after the Awards Banquet and combined with other events; over $21,000 dollars were raised to support educational programs.

During the Awards Banquet three individuals were inducted into the Natural Resources Hall of Fame inaugural inductees recognized include: Ron Bishop, Central Platte NRD; Dick Mercer, Central Platte NRD; and the late State Senator Maurice Kremer.

“This is an exciting time for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts and the induction of the inaugural Hall of Fame recipients,” said Anderjaska. “The purpose of the Natural Resources Hall of Fame is to reward individuals for service and commitment to natural resources conservation and these three inductees are very deserving individuals,” said Anderjaska.

The Hall of Fame is designed to recognize outstanding effort and dedication to conservation, resulting in improving natural resources in Nebraska. There are three Hall of Fame categories including: Natural Resources District Board Member, Natural Resources District Employee and NRD Supporter which includes individuals outside the NRD system.
·        Ron Bishop was nominated by the Central Platte NRD.  Bishop retired in June of 2013 as the manager at the Central Platte NRD and had served in the position since the district was formed in 1972.  Bishop has played a critical role in helping to develop the NRD structure and promoting natural resources conservation.
·        Dick Mercer has been dedicated to natural resources as a director and board member of the Central Platte NRD since 1972.  Prior to that he was director on the Buffalo-Ravenna Soil and Water Conservation District.  Mercer was nominated by the Central Platte NRD.
·        Senator Maurice Kremer was nominated by the Upper Big Blue NRD for his exceptional leadership in the Nebraska Legislature for the enactment of the laws creating Natural Resources Districts and the Nebraska Groundwater Management Act. The award was given posthumously and was accepted by his son, former State Senator Bob Kremer.

Nebraska Association of Resources Districts award winners include:

·        Director of the Year – Orval Gigstad from Nemaha NRD; nominated by Nemaha NRD
·        Educator of the Year – Jan Zink from Norris High School; nominated by Nemaha NRD
·        Outstanding Grassland Award – Alvin Kruml from Sargent, Nebraska; nominated by Lower Loup NRD
·        Outstanding Community Conservation – City of Sidney; nominated by South Platte NRD
·        Outstanding Tree Planter – Forney Ranch from Alliance, Nebraska; nominated by the Upper Niobrara White NRD

Omaha World-Herald and IANR Master Conservationist Award Winners include:

·        Agriculture - Scott Stout Ranch from Curtis, Nebraska.  Nominated by Doug Whisenhunt, Natural Resources Conservation Services.
·        Community Winner –Six Mile Canal Company from Gothenburg, Nebraska.  Nominated by Ron Bishop, Central Platte NRD.

Tax Structure Should Protect the “Good Life” in Nebraska

Yesterday, the Center for Rural Affairs provided testimony to members of the Nebraska Unicameral’s Tax Modernization Committee in Norfolk. The Committee, composed of 14 state Senators, is holding meetings throughout the state to analyze and make recommendations on what, if any, changes need to be made to Nebraska’s tax structure.

“By many measures Nebraska has an outstanding quality of life – the “Good Life” as we all like to call it,” testified Jon Bailey, Director of Research and Analysis at the Center for Rural Affairs. “The committee should focus on making sure the state has the resources necessary to continue this strong tradition.”

Bailey, testifying on behalf of the Center for Rural Affairs, went on to say that Nebraska needs a tax system that allows the state to invest in things that enhance the Good Life and things average families rely on, like top-notch community schools, world-class universities, and safe communities.

According to Bailey, the recommendations made by the Tax Modernization Committee will direct future tax policy in Nebraska and will have a tremendous impact on Nebraskans, rural and urban alike. The committee should, therefore, focus on policies that create jobs and on making sure Nebraska can invest in things that boost the economy. And finally, the committee should ensure that middle-class and low-income Nebraskans are not paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthiest Nebraskans.

“The Center for Rural Affairs been a part of rural Nebraska for 40 years. We live and work in rural Nebraska. We have experience on how the tax system affects farmers, ranchers, small businesses and rural residents and have heard from rural people and rural businesses for 40 years about the state’s tax system. So today we wish to offer some general principles that we hope will guide your work and some basic opinions of the options you have released,” Bailey added.

The general principles Bailey discussed in his testimony for the Center for Rural Affairs included:

    Income Tax. We recommend that the committee make no changes in the personal income tax such as cutting rates or adjusting brackets. The personal income tax is the largest source of the state’s general fund revenues and the only progressive part of the current tax system. Cuts to the personal income tax would drain resources from schools, health care, communities and infrastructure – the things that make the Good Life. Experts you have heard from earlier this summer stated that they see nothing out of line with Nebraska’s personal income tax and its rates. Most Nebraskans would get no benefit from a cut to the personal income tax, with most Nebraskans likely seeing pennies per day from any income tax cut. 

    Sales Tax. We recommend expanding the state sales tax to additional consumer services. The economy and consumer behavior have changed since the state sales tax was created. It is time to bring Nebraska’s state sales tax up-to-date with an economy and consumer behavior that purchases more and relies more on services. All estimates reveal that expanding the sales tax to more services would result in increased revenue that could help pay for other changes in the tax system, particularly changes to property taxes. As you develop legislation to implement changes to the state sales tax we urge you to consider the potential regressive nature of a sales tax and make certain an expanded sales tax does not hit low- and middle-income taxpayers the hardest.

    Property Tax. As you have heard on previous stops in the state, Nebraska residents appear to be most concerned about their property taxes. Property taxes for many are too high and local government entities throughout the state are too reliant on property taxes. As you know, Nebraska ranks among the highest of all states in its reliance on property taxes for local governments and among the lowest in its state aid to K-12 schools. This is increasingly apparent in rural areas where increased agricultural land valuations are causing property taxes to explode, where state aid to schools is inconsistent with a formula based in large part on enrollment that is declining and where residential and commercial property taxes are contributing to abandoned homes and businesses. We have heard concerns about property taxes in rural areas constantly during our 40 year history. This committee now has a mandate to address those concerns. To address those concerns we would offer the following recommendations:

    Increase state aid to local government entities. This will help reduce property taxes while ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources. We would also recommend reinstating state aid for municipalities and counties.

    Enact targeted property tax assistance through a circuit breaker system. We have long supported a circuit breaker as a method to provide property tax assistance, including LB 684 introduced in 2007. Eighteen other states have used circuit breakers to offset high property taxes. We would urge Nebraska to join these states by providing a new and creative means to offset high property taxes. We suggest that a circuit breaker apply to both residential and agricultural property and that it include renters. We would also recommend that the state not expand its current property tax credit program.

    Regular review of tax system and exemptions. This committee is a good start to the review and modernization of Nebraska’s tax system. We suggest that the Legislature maintain the momentum of this committee and develop a system of periodic reviews  of the tax system and exemptions within the system. Other states such as Oregon do  such periodic reviews every five years or so; we urge Nebraska to follow that lead. An  alternative is to build a sunset clause into every exemption or tax expenditure to force review and future debate.

The hearing in Norfolk was the third public hearing this week, the first two taking place in Scottsbluff and North Platte on September 23rd and 24th, respectively.

Stabenow Applauds Klobuchar, Committee for Ag Exports Highlights

Senator Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Thursday released the following statement regarding a new report by the Joint Economic Committee detailing the key role that agricultural exports are playing in the U.S. economy. The report, The Economic Contribution of America's Farmers and the Importance of Agricultural Exports, shows that the value of agricultural exports have doubled over the last decade and growth in developing countries is expected to increase demand for American agricultural exports even further. The U.S. is the world's leading exporter of agricultural products, with exports reaching a record high of $141.3 billion last year.

"I applaud Sen. Klobuchar and the Joint Economic Committee for highlighting the important role that agricultural exports are playing in the U.S. economy. Agriculture is a bright spot as our economy gets back on track and represents one of the few areas where we actually have a trade surplus. And as the report clearly shows, more exports mean more jobs here at home.

"This is one of the many reasons why we must get a comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill done now. Agriculture supports 16 million American jobs, and the Senate's bipartisan Farm Bill will create jobs, reform agriculture policy and reduce the deficit by tens of billions of dollars. House Republican leaders must now make good on their word, finally appoint conferees and work with us in a bipartisan way to get this done. We are only days away from the expiration of the Farm Bill, so it's critical that we move ahead immediately."

USDA Releases Annual Report of Foreign Investors’ Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has released its annual publication regarding foreign investors’ holdings of United States agricultural land. The publication contains statistics that are current through Dec. 31, 2011.

The report, titled “Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land Through December 31, 2011,” is now available on the FSA website at

The data gathered through Dec. 31, 2011, indicate that foreign investors hold an interest in 25,715,588 acres of U.S. agricultural land, which is approximately 2 percent of all privately held U.S. agricultural land, and 1 percent of all land in the U.S. The total foreign-held U.S. agricultural acres as of the last report, dated Dec. 31, 2010, were 24,224,807, resulting in an increase of 1,490,781 acres.

The annual publication includes a wide variety of both annual and cumulative activity reports.  Annual Activity Reports include the following:
     - U.S. Agricultural and Nonagricultural Landholdings Annual Activity of Foreign Investors by State U.S. Agricultural and Nonagricultural Land Acquisitions by Country of Foreign Investor U.S. Agricultural and Nonagricultural Land Dispositions by Country of Foreign Investor

Just a few of the Cumulative Activity Reports within the publication are:
   - U.S. Agricultural Landholdings of Foreign Investors by State U.S. Landholdings of Foreign Investors by Type of Land Use and by State U.S. Agricultural and Nonagricultural Investors, Parcels, Acres and Value by Country of Foreign Investor

The publication’s findings are based on reports submitted to FSA in compliance with the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA). The law was created to establish a nationwide system for collecting information pertaining to foreign ownership in U.S. agricultural land. Foreign investors who buy, sell or hold an interest (other than a security interest) in U.S. agricultural land are required to report such holdings and transactions to the Secretary of Agriculture on AFIDA Report Form FSA-153. The data gleaned from these reports is used in the preparation of an annual report to Congress.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday September 26 Ag News

Health and Wellness Efforts in Nebraska
(from Midwest Dairy Association - NE Division)

The winners of the 2013/14 General Mills Fuel Up With Breakfast Grants have been announced and three Nebraska schools are included.  Goodrich Middle School, Lefler Middle School and Lincoln High School, all in the Lincoln Public School District, will receive these funds.  Each one submitted a plan to expand their current breakfast program by offering a grab-and-go breakfast, breakfast in the classroom or second chance breakfast (which offers service after the start of the school day). The objectives of the program are to help schools improve student participation and the consumption of more nutrient rich foods and beverages, including dairy products, by serving breakfast outside the cafeteria in creative ways. The funding amounts range from $1,000 - $2,000 per school.

Millard District is among the schools chosen for a national pilot for reimbursable grab-and-go school breakfast and lunch. Ninety schools are involved in the pilot from December through February. Their meals will include an additional dairy component (besides milk) such as cheese or yogurt, and will be offered in Fuel Up to Play 60 branded packaging. Offering grab-and-go meals outside of the cafeteria ;will mean that more students will have access to a healthy breakfast or lunch when their time is limited -- that includes a variety of nutrient-dense dairy products. Schools that participate will receive up to $2,500 each in foodservice equipment, labels and posters.

Nominations sought for Iowa Soybean Association Leadership Awards

Nominations are being sought by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) for five awards recognizing those who have demonstrated commitment and leadership in agriculture and to improving soybean production and environmental performance.

Awards will be presented in five categories: Legacy of Leadership, Rising Star, Environmental Leader, New Leader and Friend of the Iowa Soybean Association. 

ISA President Brian Kemp of Sibley says the program provides a unique opportunity to recognize those who dedicate their time, talents and expertise to furthering the mission and goals of the association.

“We’re dedicated to expanding opportunities and delivering results for Iowa’s soybean farmers,” Kemp says. “The success of the association and soybean industry is driven by committed individuals, including the great work of our farmer leaders in all stages of their careers, as well partners who have supported Iowa soybean farmers.”

Awards and criteria are:
·         Legacy of Leadership: given to an Iowa soybean farmer who has demonstrated a passionate and relentless commitment to growing the soybean industry in Iowa.
·         Rising Star: recognizes the son or daughter of an ISA member who’s actively involved in promoting agriculture through involvement in local, state and national activities and organizations and who is preparing to continue ag studies in college. Eligible nominees are 14-18 years of age (high school students or students who have just graduated from high school).
·         Environmental Leader: presented to an ISA member who has demonstrated a commitment to practices that improve environmental performance. The soybean farmer who receives this honor will be nominated for the American Soybean Association Conservation Legacy Award to be presented at this year’s Commodity Classic.
·         New Leader: awarded to a district soybean leader who has been involved in his/her District Advisory Council for two years or less, has shown outstanding involvement and possesses the skills and talents to do great things for the soybean industry and agriculture.
·         Friend of the Iowa Soybean Farmer: given to an elected leader, media representative or other ISA partner who has supported Iowa Soybean farmers through his/her actions and efforts.

All nominations must be in writing and received no later than Friday, Nov. 1. Nomination information can be accessed at or requested by calling 800-383-1423. Nominations can be submitted by mail to Iowa Soybean Association, Attn: Ann Clinton, 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy, Ankeny, Iowa 50023, or by e-mailing

Award recipients will be selected by a taskforce of the ISA board of directors, and the awards will be presented during the third annual Iowa Soybean Association Awards Banquet, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.

HSUS’s Ongoing War Against Animal Agriculture Suffers Another Significant Loss: Court Dismisses “Pork, The Other White Meat” Lawsuit

After spending significant amounts of donor dollars, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was dealt a significant loss in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. In what was considered to be a futile legal challenge and a very personal attack on U.S. pork producers, a U.S. district judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by HSUS over the National Pork Board’s purchase of the “Pork, The Other White Meat” trademark from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

HSUS, which was joined in the suit by a lone Iowa pork producer and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - and Secretary Tom Vilsack – over approval of the trademark purchase and the Pork Board’s annual payments to NPPC. HSUS argued that the sale and payments were unlawful since the Pork Board is prohibited from using checkoff dollars to influence legislation. The court dismissed the HSUS case, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that no one had suffered any injury from the Agriculture Secretary’s actions.

NPPC applauded the Secretary’s willingness to defend the case and pork producers across this country. The Secretary’s actions should send a strong signal to HSUS supporters that frivolous lawsuits will not be tolerated and should not be pursued.

“If I were a donor to HSUS, I would be very disturbed that my money was wasted on yet another expensive lawsuit that had nothing to do with improving the welfare of farm animals,” said NPPC President Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn. “This is clearly a vendetta against the U.S. pork industry by the leadership of HSUS, which has made their mission to permanently end animal agriculture very clear. It was frivolous and a waste of the taxpayers’ money and the court’s time. HSUS donors deserve better than that.”

Five Nations Beef Alliance Agrees on Core Principles for the TPP Agreement

An alliance of cattlemen representing Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States recently signed a letter, announcing their support for a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

"As a collective global beef industry, if we are going to feed a growing world population we need to facilitate the open and unrestricted trade of food around the world,” said Cattle Council president Andrew Ogilvie, from Kingston SE in South Australia. “By removing trade barriers and tariffs to create fair and open access for all nations, the world’s population will have equal opportunity to a reliable and safe food supply without trade barriers inflating the cost of that food."

The agreement is based on ten core principles, ensuring any agreement must be comprehensive and must eliminate all tariffs and market access barriers while emphasizing the importance of unfettered trade.

“Working to achieve a TPP without product exclusions, especially in agriculture, that also eliminates tariffs and other market access barriers in the TPP region, is a goal worth striving for,” said Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) president Martin Unrau, a cow-calf producer from MacGregor, Manitoba. “I am pleased to see momentum building in the TPP negotiations and am hopeful we can achieve a comprehensive result soon.”

The agreement also relies on risk based scientific decision making, based on international science-based standards.

“We are a strong supporter of this agreement and others like it, on the grounds that they increase market access and provide stable export markets based in internationally recognized scientific standards,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president Scott George, a cattle and dairy producer from Cody, Wyo. “With 96 percent of the global population living outside of the United States, it is essential that we take measures to enable trade and expand market access, both to stimulate the economy and more importantly, to feed a growing global population.

The Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) is also asking the negotiating countries to push for arrangements where beef producers are all treated the same.

“Beef and Lamb New Zealand is delighted to be a signatory to this Five Nations Beef Alliance Joint Communique that outlines core principles to ensure the TPP negotiations fulfill the promise of a high-quality agreement that can serve as a standard for future trade agreements,” said Mike Petersen, chairman of Beef and Lamb New Zealand from Waipukurau, Hawkes Bay. “The TPP needs to be an ambitious, high quality, comprehensive agreement, with no product or sector exclusions, address non-tariff barriers, and be enforceable.  The more we can work together with our international counterpart organizations on these trade issues the more likely it is to result in a win-win for all.”

The FNBA comprises the Cattle Council of Australia, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederacion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  Together, FNBA represents producers from countries that account for one-third of global beef production and approximately half of global beef exports.

Federal Judge Issues Ruling in Gulf Restoration Network Lawsuit

Late last week a federal judge ruled in the Gulf Restoration Network vs. EPA lawsuit which sought to force the Environmental Protection Agency to establish strict water quality standards for nutrient runoff for all states in the Mississippi River Basin.  The National Corn Growers Association intervened in the suit with the American Farm Bureau Federation, The Fertilizer Institute, National Pork Producers Council and other farm groups in 2012.

In a win for the plaintiffs, the judge ruled that the EPA failed to answer the central question in the environmentalists' 2008 petition about whether federal Numeric Nutrient Criteria are "necessary" under the Clean Water Act.  The agency must now craft a new response within six months.  However, in a win for agriculture, the judge also stated that nothing in the Clean Water Act prohibits EPA from allowing states to take the lead in responding to nutrient challenges.

"We were pleased that the court agreed with EPA's rationale for giving states the flexibility to craft their own nutrient reduction strategies," NCGA President Pam Johnson said.  "We urge the Agency to continue this policy of cooperation with states as we work together to improve water quality throughout the Mississippi River Basin."

The Gulf Restoration Network lawsuit alleged that the EPA violated both the Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedures Act by not adequately responding to their 2008 petition to establish Total Maximum Daily Loads for nitrogen and phosphorus for the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  The petition also stated that Numeric Nutrient Criteria should be created for the 31 states in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf.

Farm Programs Likely to Expire Tuesday for the Second Time in Two Years

(from NAWG)

Barring some unforeseen, last-minute deal, the one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill currently in place will be expired as of Tuesday. That extension was put into place early in 2013 after Congress failed to enact a new farm bill before the existing law expired this time last year. At that point, the nation had not been without a functional farm policy in decades, and the farm bill’s expiration was met with shock and concern. Facing yet another expiration, the farm community’s reaction will likely to be more muted as they and the rest of the country wait for political representatives in Washington to find and accept compromises on a host of measures.

While the symbolic implication of the expiration will be damning, the effects of Congress’ inaction will be mostly indirect for several months. Crop insurance and nutrition programs are effectively permanent programs and will continue without specific reauthorization. Conservation program contracts will remain in place though new enrollments will not be accepted until a new farm law is in place. Commodity-specific programs run on a crop-year basis versus a fiscal year, so they will not be impacted until winter wheat harvest next spring. Dairy prices will not be affected until Jan. 1, 2014. Programs that lost mandatory funding in the extension will continue without new funding authorizations.

Two serious exceptions to the list of programs initially unaffected are the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, both of which provide funding for trade promotion work. NAWG’s sister organization, U.S. Wheat Associates, has been awarded both MAP and FMD funds and will face restraints on its work servicing international wheat customers in the near future.

Word late Thursday was that the House of Representatives would wait until next week to officially merge its farm-only farm bill, passed in July, and its nutrition package, passed last week. This step must be taken before the House can name conferees. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June and named conferees just before the August recess.

NAWG, Farm Groups Meet With New EPA Administrator        

NAWG President Bing Von Bergen and representatives of eight other agriculture organizations participated in a meeting this week with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss ongoing regulatory issues.  McCarthy organized the meeting to open dialogue with USDA and farmers and help ensure EPA hears from all sides before finalizing pending regulations that would directly affect agriculture.  Von Bergen, a farmer in Moccasin, Mont., traveled to Washington for the meeting, speaking most forcefully on NAWG leaders’ hope for EPA to use common sense when regulating agriculture. Using his own farm as an example, Von Bergen also reviewed with McCarthy several ongoing issues that NAWG is currently concerned about related to environmental regulation, including the pending Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule for farms and ranches, which relates to storage of oil that could conceivably reach a body of water if leaked. NAWG appreciated the opportunity to participate in this meeting and looks forward to future dialogue with the Administration.

USDA: Most Farmers Receive Some Type of Off-Farm Income

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the median total household income among all farm households is about $57,050, which exceeds the median for all U.S. households of $50,054 in 2011.

More than half of U.S. farms are very small, with annual sales under $10,000; the households operating these farms typically draw all of their income from off-farm sources.

Median household income and income from farming increase with farm size, as defined by sales.

The typical household operating the largest commercial farms earned about $380,000 in 2011, and most of that came from farming.

ASA’s Murphy Meets with Secretary Vilsack, Administrator McCarthy on Biotech, Regulation

American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy and ASA Washington Representative John Gordley met on Capitol Hill Monday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, as well as with several other farm organizations to discuss agriculture and environmental issues, the status of the domestic biotech approvals landscape, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and other issues.

During the meeting, Secretary Vilsack and Administrator McCarthy made clear their interest in improving the Administration’s reputation with farm groups on environmental issues, and that they wish to work closely with ASA and other farm groups to do so. For his part, Murphy raised ASA’s concerns about delays in deregulating biotech traits and the effects such delays have on controlling weed resistance by having multiple modes of action. Murphy also emphasized that the delays adversely impact our competitiveness with South American producers who get trait approvals quicker than U.S. growers, as well as hamper our industry’s negotiating power in pressing importing countries on synchronizing biotech approvals.

With specific regard to weed resistance, Murphy pointed out that while he has not yet encountered weed resistance on his farm, it could happen as early as next year. In response, both Administrator McCarthy and Secretary Vilsack indicated that they appreciated the real world consequences of delays in moving these products to the market.

IGC Sees 2013-14 Global Wheat Output Higher, But Corn Lower

Global wheat output during the 2013-14 crop year is forecast to reach 692.6 million tons, up from the prior forecast of 690.6 million tons, the London-based International Grains Council said Thursday citing higher output from the CIS and Europe region.  Meanwhile, world corn production for the same period is forecast to hit 943.2 million tons, down from the prior forecast of 945.4 million tons, the International Grains Council said.

Dairy Research Center Meeting Paves Way for Funding Projects

More than 70 people attended the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center’s annual meeting in July, viewing more than 18 scientific posters and learning about various dairy projects in progress. Three projects were highlighted:
-    challenges in declining consumption of fluid milk;
-    using carbon dioxide to produce a highly soluble calcium-reduced milk protein concentrate; and
-    engineering lactic acid bacteria to produce an antimicrobial effective against many types of pathogens.

Guests also scored and evaluated 17 research proposals submitted from six universities: Kansas State University, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, South Dakota State University, Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota. Input from industry, academia and producers will be used during the final selection process for 2014 funding.

ASA Debuts Redesigned

As part of an organization-wide revitalization of its communications and outreach efforts, the American Soybean Association today unveiled the newly-redesigned is the online home for SoyStats, ASA’s annual publication of statistical data on the soybean industry in the United States. The publication, released earlier this year, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“We found that visitors to the site and users of the SoyStats guide were simply looking for information in the easiest and most direct manner possible,” said Patrick Delaney, ASA’s communications director. “The new format gives quick, easily-digestible information on all aspects of soybean production, consumption and export for farmers, consumers, industry and media.”

Designed by Hastings, Neb.-based David & Associates, the site provides easily accessible information on planting data, yield and production, market value, uses, exports and global competitors.

Major funding for the 2013 SoyStats and the new is provided by the United Soybean Board. Additional financial support for the project comes from the Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Iowa Soybean Association, North Dakota Soybean Council, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, U.S. Soybean Export Council, Kentucky Soybean Board, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, Ohio Soybean Council, Delaware Soybean Board, Kansas Soybean Commission, Maryland Soybean Board, New York Soybean Board, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, Oklahoma Soybean Board, South Carolina Soybean Board, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and Virginia Soybean Board.

US, Colombia Agreement Yields Purchase of US Corn – USGC Program Fosters $6 Million in Corn Sales

The table is being set for a strong export year for U.S. corn to Colombia, according to Kurt Shultz, U.S. Grains Council regional director of the Americas. With a large U.S. corn crop beginning to trickle into the bins, Colombian grain buyers are increasingly looking to the U.S. Midwest to originate their grain needs.

The United States has been uncompetitive in the Colombia market for many years due to more favorable duty treatment for South American producers. However, in April, the Colombian Price Ban System increased the duty on South American origin imports to 5.75 percent. With the help of U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, U.S. corn imports have a zero percent duty on the first 2.1 million metric tons (82.7 million bushels) of corn imports. U.S. farmers are finally starting to reap benefits of the agreement as USDA announced the recent sale of 180,000 tons (7.1 million bushels) of U.S. corn to Colombia worth approximately $40 million.

In response to the improving market opportunities, the Council has been ramping up its promotion efforts in Colombia. Since June, the Council has sponsored two Colombian trade teams to meet with U.S. grain producers and exporters. According to Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade, these teams have already generated $6 million in exports, "with more to come."

colombia team2"With U.S. harvest beginning and Colombian importers planning their purchases for October and onward, these activities have targeted Colombian importers to market the U.S. corn crop at a critical time," said Cordero. "Colombian traders and buyers are focused on the U.S. crop and we expect to see more purchases announced soon."

The Council is actively engaged in this vital corn market on behalf of U.S. corn producers, reminding buyers and end-users that not only does the United States have an excellent product entering the supply chain, but it can supply it much more efficiently than any other supplier.

Colombia importers recognize that U.S. corn has advantages in delivery time, risk management, reliable sourcing, stock management, and financial cost. These benefits make the United States an excellent source of corn for Colombia.

USGC Improves Japanese Confidence in Low Oil DDGS

Japanese importers have noticed that the U.S. ethanol industry has been utilizing corn oil extraction equipment, which removes a portion of the non-food grade corn oil in distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) during the ethanol production process, making the oil available for other use. This also changes the feeding characteristics and potential value of DDGS, as regular DDGS may contain 10-12 percent oil (fat), while the low-oil variety may contain 6-9 percent.

Japanese DDGS importers want to know how to adapt to the low oil DDGS in their livestock rations and still maintain their current level of nutrient availability in their rations. To help answer their questions, the U.S. Grains Council escorted a team of Japanese feed and livestock industry representatives through Nebraska to get firsthand information on U.S. DDGS production, supply and developments in the U.S. ethanol industry.

"The information the team gained on this visit gave them concrete ideas on how to utilize the low oil DDGS in their livestock rations to obtain similar results compared to high oil DDGS," said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. "The confidence the Japanese DDGS importers gained during their visit leads me to believe that Japan will continue to increase their U.S. DDGS imports."

The Council has been active in promoting U.S coarse grains to Japan for more than 50 years. While Japan is a mature market, the feed industry imported more than 450,000 metric tons of DDGS in the calendar year 2012, which was a 35 percent increase from the previous year. The Council plans to continue promoting DDGS, including the low fat types, to Japanese importers.

US and Japan Streamline Organic Trade across the Pacific

The United States and Japan today announced that beginning January 1, 2014, organic products certified in Japan or in the United States may be sold as organic in either country.

This partnership between two significant organic markets will streamline U.S. farmers' and processors' access to the growing Japanese organic market, benefiting the rapidly growing organic industry and supporting job creation and business growth on a global scale.

"This partnership reflects the strength of the USDA organic standards, allowing American organic farmers, ranchers, and businesses to access Asia's largest organic market," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "It is a win for the American economy and sets the foundation for additional organic agricultural trade agreements in Asia. This partnership provides economic opportunities for farmers and small businesses, resulting in good jobs for Americans across the organic supply chain."

"Today's agreement will streamline access to the growing Japanese organic market for U.S. farmers and processors and eliminate significant barriers for small and medium organic producers, benefiting America's thriving organic industry," added United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. "This represents another key step in strengthening our economic relationship with Japan by boosting agriculture trade between Japan and the United States, leading to more jobs and economic benefits for American farmers and businesses in this important sector."

The organics sector in the United States and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined, and rising every year.

Formal letters creating this partnership were finalized on September 26, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. Signatures to the partnership are Anne L. Alonzo, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator; Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator; and Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Director General, Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau. The announcement took place at Natural Products Expo East, one of the largest trade shows for organic products in the United States.

Without an equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell products in either country had to obtain separate certifications to meet each country's organic standards. This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork. Similar to previous U.S. equivalency arrangements with Canada and the European Union, this trade partnership with Japan eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic producers.

Leading up to today's historic announcement, U.S. and Japanese technical experts conducted thorough on-site audits to ensure that their programs' regulations, quality control measures, certification requirements, and labeling practices were compatible.

The U.S. and Japan organic standards cover the lifecycle of the product, including allowed and prohibited substances and natural resources conservation requirements. Both parties individually determined that their programs were "equivalent" with no restrictions for organic plant and plant products. This means that—for the first time—certified organic farmers and businesses in the U.S. don't have to prove that they didn't use a specific substance or production method to gain access to the Japanese organic market.

This partnership streamlines the export certificate process, which also reduces the paperwork burden for farmers and businesses. It also helps provide American consumers with year-round access to a diverse array of organic products.

Both parties are committed to ensuring that all traded organic products meet the terms of the partnership, retaining their organic integrity from farm to market. Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Organic Program—which oversee organic products in their respective countries—will both take on key oversight roles.

The United States and Japan will continue to have regular discussions and will review each other's programs periodically to verify that the terms of the partnership are being met.

This agreement only covers products exported from and certified in the United States or Japan. For additional details on this agreement, please visit:

Renewable Fuels Association Announces 2014 Leadership Roles

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced the election of officers to the Board of Directors at their annual membership meeting held in Minneapolis, MN. The RFA re-elected Neill McKinstray as Chairman of the RFA Board of Directors. McKinstray is President of the Ethanol Group, The Andersons, Inc. This will be McKinstray’s second year as Chairman of the RFA, having previously served as Vice Chairman of the association.  

McKinstray was named President of the Ethanol Group, The Andersons, Inc. in late 2011. He had previously served as Vice President of The Andersons, Inc. grain and ethanol group since 2005. He began his career with The Andersons in 1976. McKinstray is primarily responsible for the management of The Andersons, Inc. ethanol biorefineries in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. He is also responsible for managing and directing third-party ethanol services provided by The Andersons.

“Ethanol has proven to help families, rural communities, and consumers across the country. It reduces prices at the pump, revitalizes rural communities, and makes America safer by decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. The battle we are in will only continue to escalate and it is vitally important that the RFS remain in place.” McKinstray stated. “The RFA is a strong and vocal advocate for the ethanol industry and I look forward to another year working side by side with RFA’s highly professional staff and other producers to continue the growth and evolution of this vital industry. We all know what is ahead and I look forward to facing those challenges head on.”

Joining McKinstray, RFA elected:
• Vice Chairman Randall J. Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont, Minnesota.
• Treasurer Walter Wendland, CEO of Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa.
• Secretary Mick Henderson, General Manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
• President Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, Washington, DC.

CHS commits $3 million to make agriculture safer

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, announced today it has committed $3 million to a national agriculture safety initiative intended to keep next generations safe as they strive to feed a growing world.

"As U.S. agriculture ramps up to feed the nine billion people projected to inhabit this planet by 2050, we have new technologies and safety risks to address plus a growing workforce to train," CHS President and CEO Carl Casale said in announcing the initiative during his address to the 2013 North American Agricultural Safety Summit. "That's why CHS is investing in this multi-million-dollar initiative – focused on college students and adults – to help keep our next generation of agricultural leaders safe."

The investment includes $1 million for a competitive grants program supporting rural safety projects and $2 million to support safety programs with five partner organizations:
-    Agricultural Health and Safety Council (ASHCA), addressing emerging occupational safety and health issues affecting U.S. agriculture;
-    AgriSafe Network, helping train a national workforce of rural health providers and developing a new college health program for agricultural students;
-    GEAPS Foundation, in support of Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) working in conjunction with Kansas State University on distance learning, credentialing and other safe grain handling educational efforts;
-    National AgrAbility, working in conjunction with Purdue University on agricultural education and enhancing quality of life for farmers, ranchers and other ag workers affected by disabling conditions, and
-    Propane and Education Research Council (PERC), advancing the safe use of propane on the farm through training and research.

Details of the competitive grants program will be announced in early 2014. Funding for the initiative comes from both the CHS corporate giving program and the independent CHS Foundation.

"We chose to partner with these five forward-thinking organizations because of their strong safety visions and accomplishments," Casale said. "Working together, we are also hoping to secure matching funds to further leverage our investment and efforts."

During his remarks at the 2013 North American Agricultural Safety Summit in Minneapolis, Casale addressed the topic of "safety first as a corporate social responsibility."

"In agriculture, we're independent spirits. We have a get 'er done attitude. We work in an industry with inherent risks. And when we get busy, it can be easy to take a chance 'just this once.' What we do must be done safely – every time," he said. "We in agriculture are being called on to produce more and do it faster. And that means even more risk for more people. In doubling the food supply, we must not reduce our commitment to safety. In fact, we must increase it."

Casale shared with Summit attendees some examples of the CHS commitment to put safety first, above business performance – including conducting a safety culture survey, establishing safety plans for all businesses, opening all meetings with a safety message, sending safety reminders to employees at their homes, and incorporating safety goals into incentive pay for its leaders.

Zoetis PeopleFirst™ Learning Management Portal expands training

Dairy and beef cattle operations looking for help training employees can benefit from the newest service offered by PeopleFirst™ Human Capital Solutions from Zoetis. The Learning Management Portal is available online to give producers the tools and curriculum they need to properly train and manage employees, ensuring a safe, more effective and productive business long term.

New employees who join an operation need proper training and education for a smooth transition into the workplace — also known as onboarding. And veteran employees need refreshers on animal handling and other operating procedures. While finding time in a busy work day to train employees is difficult, it is essential to improve business performance and reduce operational risk. Without training, the business can suffer.

“Onboarding new employees is one of the most vital components of any operation,” said Nicolas Buttars, PeopleFirst business solutions manager for Zoetis. “Proper onboarding programs can help reduce an operation’s risk by helping all employees better understand and comply with company, community and regulatory standards for animal safety, care and wellness. It also drives employee perceptions and employee engagement. Good onboarding makes employees more likely to stay, to be engaged and be more productive for you and your business.”

Onboarding programs that increase employee engagement can boost performance by 20% and reduce the probability of departure by 87%, according to the Human Resources Corporate Leadership Council. When an employee leaves, businesses can expect to pay up to 150% of the employee’s salary to cover the cost of finding and training a replacement. For business owners, there is a clear financial incentive to ensure proper onboarding.

With assistance from online training, employers have the convenience to implement proper guidance without disrupting work efficiency. The PeopleFirst Learning Management Portal assures producers in animal agriculture that their employees are gaining necessary insight on industry and operational practices and regulatory standards from day one. The interactive portal and curriculum allow employees to train online when their schedules allow. The portal features bilingual learning modules and opportunities for continuous education on subjects such as cattle anatomy, feeding and employee safety.

“It is a big benefit to have employees with knowledge of the industry they are working in,” Buttars said. “Through interactive training modules and specialized subjects, they are receiving the best information possible about the industry and individual operation.”

The online curriculum also allows employers to track employee learning progress to guarantee efficiency and accountability while reducing training costs. It frees up the time of supervisors and minimizes the operation’s risk. By tracking progress, employers can see when courses are completed and hold employees accountable for improving animal care and compliance.

“There is little time for error in animal agriculture operations,” Buttars said. “The Learning Management Portal creates flexibility for employers and employees with a cost-effective way to properly train employees. Proper training means increased engagement and productivity from employees, and reduced risk for the employer.”

To learn more about the benefits of integrating the Learning Management Portal into your training program, watch this video. For information on how PeopleFirst consultants can assist your operation or to sign up for the portal, contact your Zoetis representative or visit 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday September 25 Ag News

Laurel BioComposite, LLC Celebrates with a Ribbon Cutting and Open House for Their Bio-Based Project

A ribbon cutting and open house was held by Laurel BioComposite, LLC in Laurel, Nebraska today for their bio-based project funded through the  purchase of equipment and working capital.  A $5 million loan from Security Bank in Laurel backed by a USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee and leveraged funds of nearly $6.9 million were utilized.   Attending the event were Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul, and Laurel Mayor Mark Patefield.

“As a start up company utilizing new technology and introducing new products, the USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee was an essential component of our plans to move the project forward.  We appreciate the work of  USDA and Security Bank team members in putting this together,” said CEO Tim Bearnes, Laurel BioComposite, LLC.

“USDA Rural Development is pleased to be able to assist Laurel BioComposite, LLC,” said  Moul. “This is an innovative business bringing nine new jobs to the area, which is important to rural communities.  It also is a project that fits very well with  Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s focus on building the bio-based economy in Rural America.”

“We appreciate the long term relationship that our bank has developed with the USDA and  are excited to see the Laurel Biocomposite project progress,” said Keith Knudsen, President of Security Bank.

The funds were used to purchase equipment and provide working capital to the startup manufacturing plant that takes distiller’s grain from ethanol plants and produces a pellet and powder product.  That product is sold to plastics manufacturers to use as a resin enhancer for thermoplastics products.  Three jobs will be retained and nine added.

“We’re celebrating some important milestones,” said Bearnes. “Today’s event gives us the chance to thank a lot of people that have supported our project and believe in our future.”

Laurel BioComposite’s mission, Bearnes explained, is to produce Bio-Res products from a renewable resource. “Our product replaces a portion of traditional plastic resins and creates a positive environmental impact by reducing our reliance on crude oil,” he said. “It remains our goal to manufacture a quality bio-based product at a cost effective price. We don’t make the plastic. We make the plastic greener.”

The new production line converts feedstock into a powder for thermoset applications or master batch pellets for use in thermoplastics applications such as injection molding. Phase II which includes a second production line and bulk material handling is underway. Completion of Phase II will raise Laurel BioComposite’s annual capacity to 48 million pounds.

Plant Scientist Sally Mackenzie is Heuermann Lecturer Sept. 30

            The debate about genetically modified organisms – GMOs – in food is the topic when the 2013-2014 Heuermann Lectures season begins at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, in Hardin Hall, 33rd and Holdrege.

            Sally Mackenzie, Ralph and Alice Raikes Chair for Plant Science in the Center for Plant Science Innovation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will present "Beyond GMOs to a More Honest Dialogue About Our Food."

            A 3 p.m. reception precedes the lecture.

            Mackenzie is a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and the School of Biological Sciences at UNL with research focus in plant genetics, epigenetics, genomics and organelle biology. Organelles are specialized parts of a cell that control energy production.

            She is the founding director of UNL's Center for Plant Science Innovation, and is the Qiushi Chair professor for Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.  She is an elected fellow in the American Society of Plant Biologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the author of numerous refereed journal articles and invited book chapters, and an invited lecturer nationally and internationally.   

            Heuermann (pronounced Hugh-er-man) Lectures in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL are free and open to the public.  Lectures focus on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, and on securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs.

            Heuermann Lectures are made possible by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

            Lectures stream live at, and are broadcast on NET2 World at a date following the lecture.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Warm, humid weather has caused rust to form in many alfalfa fields throughout our region.  Rust rarely infects our alfalfa before mid-July because it won’t overwinter here.  But if summer humidity is high, like we’ve experienced recently this year, rust blown up from the south can infect our fields.

               Rust usually causes little damage in fields harvested monthly, but more mature alfalfa or alfalfa grown for seed can be injured and defoliated by rust.  So one way to minimize damage is to harvest fields infected with rust early.

               Rust can cause damage several ways.  As I just said, heavy rust infections can cause leaf drop and defoliation of alfalfa if plants aren’t cut on a timely basis.  This type of injury also will greatly reduce seed yield and quality.

               Rust-infected hay sometimes causes allergic reactions in animals, more often with horses than with ruminant livestock.  Rust also lowers the digestibility of hay, and this lower energy value often isn’t detected well by standard laboratory tests.  So if you feed rust-infected hay, your animals may not get as much energy from it as expected.

               One of our biggest concerns is late summer seedings infected with rust.  Infected seedlings may be weakened and not develop as much winterhardiness as normal, making them more susceptible to winterkill.  If your fields have this problem, plan to monitor them closely next spring to determine early if you need to change your cropping plans.

               There’s really nothing you can do economically to control rust.  So monitor, harvest, and adjust plans if needed to minimize damage.

October Water Symposium and Water Conference Oct. 15-16 in Lincoln

            The University of Nebraska's water science and policy symposium and water law conference will be Oct. 15-16 at Lincoln's Cornhusker Hotel.

            The symposium Tuesday, Oct. 15, will focus on "Changes: Climate, Water and Life on the Great Plains," while the following day's Water Law Conference aims primarily at the latest in Nebraska water law for practicing attorneys and water professionals.

            The events are cosponsored by NU's Nebraska Water Center, part of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute; NU's College of Law, the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section of the Nebraska State Bar Association, and the U.S. Geological Survey's Nebraska Water Science Center.

            Morning sessions of the Tuesday symposium will look at the bigger picture of water issues that are of current interest to Nebraska and the Great Plains.

            "We will be looking at water and planning, with climate change and variability as key drivers in planning, along with factors such as population growth, and agriculture, industry and ecosystem needs," said event organizer and NWC assistant director Lorrie Benson.

            Water planning is a topic of increasing interest as competing uses often vie with one another for a share of a limited and often overused resource, Benson said.

            "Plenary presentations, as well as several of the afternoon breakout sessions, are designed to provide information to assist in planning efforts," she said.

           The day opens with a brief history of Nebraska water planning by retired UNL lecturer and consulting water resources engineer Mike Jess, followed by a presentation on the larger view on water planning by David Yates, National Center for Atmospheric Research and Stockholm Environment Institute.  Yates' expertise is water planning, including impacts from climate change.

            Following Yates, Shannon McNeeley of the North Central Climate Science Center, a consortium at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., will discuss water-related climate change adaptations. McNeeley co-wrote the adaptation chapter for the recently released National Climate Assessment Report issued by the U.S. Global Change Program and is an expert in how people respond to and make decisions related to impacts from climate change.

            Mike Hayes, director of UNL's National Drought Mitigation Center, will talk about incorporating drought planning into the water planning process; and Alan Tomkins, director of the NU Public Policy Center, will discuss new research on public trust in and confidence in Nebraska's natural resources districts and Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

            Other scheduled speakers include Karl Brooks, director of the Region VII office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas City, Mo., addressing water quality as part of comprehensive water planning.

            Symposium poster abstracts are still being accepted. Any water-related topic of interest in Nebraska and the Great Plains is welcome.  More information can be found at

            The Oct. 16 Water Law Conference opens with NU College of Law professor Anthony Schutz's "Water Law 101," a primer of important statutes and cases and their context to help listeners understand how and why they developed.

            Other speakers include John Dernbach of Widener University School of Law, Chester, Penn. on "Creating a Legal Framework for Sustainability" and Kristin Linsley Myles of Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP, San Francisco, Calif.  Myles will review "South Carolina v. North Carolina – an Original Jurisdiction Water Dispute from the Special Master's Perspective."  She was special master for a dispute about the Catawba River.

            "Certified Acres: What, Why, Who, Transfers and Records" will be delivered by Jon Schroeder of Schroeder and Schroeder PC, Curtis, Neb.

            Lash Chaffin of the Nebraska League of Municipalities will speak on municipal legal options during times of drought and Don Blankenau of Blankenau Wilmoth Jarecke LLP, Lincoln, will give an update on legal issues in the contentious Republican River basin.

            David Bargen of Rembolt Ludtke LLP, Lincoln, will talk about implications from a recent ruling in the Columbus sewer backup case and Nick Buda of Jacobsen, Orr, Lindstrom and Holbrook, P.C., LLO, Kearney, will review new laws, regulations and cases from Nebraska and around the U.S.

            Also on the itinerary is a presentation on "Technology, Globalization & the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct:  Ethical Issues in the Information Age, Part II – Outsourcing" by Richard Dooling of the NU College of Law.

            Continuing legal education credits (CLEs) for Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa will be offered for the water law conference. The water well standards and contractor's licensing board has approved five hours of continuing education units for both Oct. 15 and 16.

            Though Wednesday's conference focuses on information of interest to practicing attorneys, it is open to all.

            Registration is $155 for one day and $270 for both days through Sept. 30, after which slightly higher rates apply, Benson said.  Rates are the same as last year.

            More information about both events, including detailed agendas and online registration, is at Questions should be directed to the NWC at 402-472-3305.

Beef Checkoff Sets FY2014 Plan of Work

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board will invest about $38.5 million into programs of beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications in Fiscal Year 2014, if today’s recommendation of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee is approved by USDA, following review by the full Beef Board.

In action concluding its two-day meeting in Denver this week, the Operating Committee — including 10 members of the Beef Board and 10 members of the Federation of State Beef Councils — approved checkoff funding for a total of 18 “Authorization Requests,” or proposals for checkoff funding in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2013. The committee also recommended full Beef Board approval of a budget amendment to reflect the split of funding between budget categories affected by their decisions.

"I am just so pleased to let all beef producers and importers that our new committee structure and process helped us devise a coordinated plan of work for 2014 that points their checkoff investments directly at the goals of the Beef Industry Long Range Plan,” said Beef Board and Operating Committee Chairman Weldon Wynn, a cattleman from Arkansas. “Our budget continues to tighten every year, but we have tightened our processes along with our belts to leverage every checkoff dollar to the greatest extent possible.”

The committee had to cut about $1 million total from proposals to meet budget requirements and, in the end, cut a total of $1.15 million.

Just one proposal submitted was cut completely, and that was a $100,000 request from the National Livestock Producers Association to help tell the beef story to consumers through participation on the established “America’s Heatland” program on public television.

The remainder of the cuts was achieved through reductions in budgets for the following programs:
-    A proposal from the North American Meat Association for veal promotion (reduced from $756,250 to $631,250)
-    Funding for the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative brought by the Meat Import Council of America and the Pennsylvania Beef Council (reduced from $246,325 to $199,629)
-    A “Moms, Millennials and More” communications program brought by the American National CattleWomen (reduced from $797,600 to $668,900)
-    The foreign marketing program managed by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (reduced from $7.9 million to $7.6 million)
-    A producer communications Authorization Request from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (reduced from $1.75 million to $1.5 million)
-    NCBA’s proposal for a consumer information Authorization Request (reduced from $6.9 million to $6.7 million)

“I assure you, this was not an easy task, but I am so proud of how well members of this committee dug in and made the tough decisions. We had two days of great discussion about how to do what’s best for all producers and importers who pay their hard-earned dollars into this checkoff program.”

Seven national beef organizations had project proposals approved by the Operating Committee, to be reimbursed through the FY14 Cattlemen’s Beef Board budget, as follows:
-    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association ($27.2 million)
-    U.S. Meat Export Federation ($7.6 million)
-    Cattlemen’s Beef Board ($1.5 million)
-    North American Meat Association ($1.15 million)
-    American National CattleWomen ($668,900)
-    Meat Importers Council of America ($367,004)
-    National Livestock Producers Association ($30,000)

Broken out by budget component, the Fiscal Year 2014 Plan of Work for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board budget includes:
-    $8.1 million for promotion programs, including a new consumer digital advertising program, veal promotion, a Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative to build demand in densely populated Northeast states.
-    $8.9 million for research programs, focusing on a variety of critical issues, including beef safety research, product enhancement research, human nutrition research, and market research.
-    $10.8 million for consumer information programs, including a Northeast public relations initiative, national consumer public relations, including a “Moms, Millennials and More” consumer information program, the National Beef Ambassador Program, and nutrition-influencer relations.
-    $1.6 million for industry information programs, comprising beef and dairy-beef quality assurance programs and dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups and others, as well as veal quality assurance and funding for continued checkoff participation in an industry-wide antimicrobial discussion.
-    $7.6 million for foreign marketing and education in some 80 countries in the following: ASEAN region; Caribbean; Central America/Dominican Republic; China/Hong Kong; Europe; Japan; Korea; Mexico; Middle East; Russia/Greater Russian Region; South America; and Taiwan.
-    $1.5 million for producer communications, which includes producer outreach using paid media, earned media, direct communications, and communications through livestock markets and state beef councils.

Other expenses funded through the $41.3 million 2014 CBB budget include $224,000 for evaluation, $230,000 for program development, $375,000 for USDA oversight; and about $1.9 million for administration, which includes costs for Board meetings, legal fees, travel costs, office rental, supplies, equipment, and administrative staff compensation. Fiscal Year 2014 begins Oct. 1, 2013.

AFBF Advocates for Port Expansion Projects

Expanded capacity and access to markets on the West Coast is critical for U.S. agricultural products, which is why the American Farm Bureau Federation joined with the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports this week to show support for three proposed multi-commodity export terminal projects in the Pacific Northwest.

Located in Cherry Point and Longview, Wash., and Boardman, Ore., the three proposed port expansion projects under consideration in the Pacific Northwest are expected to bring thousands of jobs while strengthening the region’s trade infrastructure, benefitting coal, agriculture and other producers.

“Agriculture is very trade dependent. Last year alone, more than $141 billion worth of U.S. agriculture products were exported around the globe,” said Steve Baccus, president of Kansas Farm Bureau and chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation Trade Advisory Committee. “The Pacific Northwest is a crucial gateway for agricultural exports, and these export facilities will help our members meet the increased demand for their goods in burgeoning Asian markets.”

Trade is responsible for 40 percent of all jobs in Washington which is the most trade-dependent state in the United States.  Agriculture products are Washington’s third-largest export.  In Oregon, one in five jobs is dependent on international trade with agricultural products and services accounting for 10 percent of Oregon’s gross domestic product.

“We are glad to have the American Farm Bureau Federation as an important voice of support for these projects,” said, Lauri Hennessey, Spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports.  “The American Farm Bureau Federation joins many of our local and state-wide Farm Bureaus in supporting these projects which will lead to the expansion of trade for all kinds of exports including wheat, grain, soybeans and corn.”

 Exports from these projects will travel by freight trains, the most fuel efficient means of ground transportation. In Washington alone, there are more than 3,200 miles of track that move goods to, through and from the state, including coal, timber, agriculture products and consumer goods. The increased investment associated with coal and agricultural exports will keep the trade doors open for decades to come by strengthening the rail presence in U.S. port cities, according to the Washington Research Council.

AFBF's Trade Advisory Committee is currently touring the Pacific Northwest looking at ports and waterways infrastructure. Members visited the Port of Vancouver earlier this week, and after Seattle are headed to Portland and Oakland. The group of farm leaders is urging Congress to pass the Waterways Resources Reform and Development Act to bring U.S. ports up to par with that of the Port of Vancouver and other international ports.

USDA Grant to Develop Youth Farm Safety Curriculum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced funding to provide safety training for the more than 2 million youth working in agricultural production.

"Working on the farm or ranch is hard work, and it can also be dangerous," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "By working together, we can be sure that young people in rural America have the opportunity to reap the many benefits of helping out on the farm, while also staying safe. Today's grant announcement expands our ongoing farm safety partnership and will help further educate and protect young workers who represent the future of American agriculture."

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Ann Bartuska made the announcement at the North American Agricultural Safety Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Bartuska noted "Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the nation, as such, thousands of youth are injured and hundreds are killed every year by hazards found on the farm." She continued, "As these youth play a vital role in the productivity of American agriculture, USDA has a responsibility to the education and resources needed to train youth in safe farming practices."

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded $600,000 to Pennsylvania State University to develop a national training curriculum that lessens agricultural hazards to young workers. The training will align with Career Cluster Standards (CCS) of the National Council for Agricultural Education for a unified approach to a national farm safety education and curricula-certification program for youth. The project will establish a national steering committee to engage the Department of Education, Department of Labor, FFA, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Ag Safety and Health Council of America, National Council for Ag Education and other relevant partners. The committee will work to identify curriculum and testing gaps, certification needs and industry-recognized credentials.

Curriculum materials will be placed on the eXtension website in the new Ag Safety and Health Community of Practice to be used in both formal and non-formal settings. A national outreach strategy will promote use of the curriculum from youth and farm safety instructors to parents and 4-H youth programs. Additionally, the project will determine the resources required to sustain a clearinghouse for national youth farm safety and education curriculum, state certification requirements and testing.

NIFA made the award through the Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification (YFSEC) Program, which was established in 2001. Agricultural education is an important part of an individual's career and technical education. As such, it needs to provide instruction that leads to industry-recognized credentials. In addition, vocational agricultural program curricula need to be aligned with current career standards and curricula that integrate agricultural safety and health.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at:

Weekly Ethanol Production for 9/20/2013

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 832,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 34.94 million gallons daily. That is down 6,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 834,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 12.79 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 15.6 million barrels. That is a 3.5% decrease from last week and at an 11 week low.

Imports of ethanol were 48,000 b/d, up from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 371.5 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.41%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 12.615 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 92,854 metric tons of livestock feed, 82,780 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.33 million pounds of corn oil daily.

The Week of E85 – New Stations, New Study

Twenty-four new stations began offering E85 (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) in the last week, bringing the total number of stations offering this blend up to 139 this year. E85 is available to all flex-fuel vehicles.

The new E85 stations come on the heels of a study released last week by Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). The new study by Prof. Bruce Babcock found that "... it is feasible to meet 2014 and 2015 biofuel mandates with expanded E85 consumption given existing numbers of flex vehicles and stations that sell E85." Other key conclusions include:
    • "...enough flex vehicles are located close enough to stations that sell E85 that significant volumes of E85 would be sold if it were appropriately priced."
    • "Current high RIN prices create a large incentive for oil companies to increase consumption of E85 because expansion in E85 consumption will decrease RIN prices."
    • "...pricing E85 low enough to generate fuel cost savings has the potential to quickly increase ethanol consumption, perhaps by three billion gallons over the next year or two."

“E85 is in high demand and growing as retailers begin to see the advantages of offering the high level blend at their stations,” said Robert White, Director of Market Development at the Renewable Fuels Association. “The price savings can be seen across the country as more and more drivers demand additional fuel options and cheaper prices at the pump.”

According to the average E85 price in Minnesota is $2.64/gallon compared to the $3.42/gallon average gas price today. In fact, E85 has been reported as low as $2.17/gallon in St. Paul, MN.

The 24 new E85 stations include:
Maumelle, AR
Rising Fawn, GA
Plainfield, IN
Plainfield, IN
Terre Haute, IN
Hebron, KY
Morehead, KY
Winchester, KY
Alexandria, KY
Cheboygan, MI
Pinconning, MI
Lancaster, OH
Cinncinnati, OH
Springfield, OH
South Vienna, OH
Dayton, OH
Kettering, OH
West Carrolton, OH
Miamisburg, OH
Bellefontaine, OH
Tulsa, OK
Oconomowoc, WI
Greenfield, WI
Huntington, WV

Stabenow Calls on CFTC to Review Possible Manipulation of Renewable Fuels Market

Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today called on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to review recent allegations about possible manipulation of the markets for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) – the tracking mechanism to ensure petroleum blenders and refiners meet their requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Stabenow called on the CFTC, which is tasked with overseeing markets for commodity futures, options and swaps, to use its expertise and authority to help preserve the integrity of the RINs market.

Press reports have highlighted potential speculation and manipulation of the unregulated markets, possibly contributing to recent market volatility and spikes in price.

“I would like the CFTC to help determine whether factors other than supply and demand have been causing extraordinary volatility in the price of RINs and to what extent fraud and manipulation have been affecting the price of RINs,” Stabenow wrote to CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler. “I am concerned that a lack of transparency in these markets has made them more susceptible to manipulation.  If this is the case, it is a problem that must be identified and fixed.”

Stabenow continued, “While I support an actively traded market with a diverse array of market participants, the market must function and allow entities to manage their risk and comply with the law. 

International Team Visits NCGA for Update on Crop Condition, Corn Outlook

Yesterday, a team organized by the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program to examine agricultural trade and food safety visited the National Corn Growers Association for discussions about improving the economic outlook for farmers and enriching the quality of farm family life. The discussion, part of an effort to enhance international understanding of U.S. policies and systems that regulate and support agriculture, included participants from Argentina, Austria, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey and Venezuela.

The meeting, led by NCGA Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields, included an overview of NCGA, of U.S. corn supply and demand, and of how NCGA works to develop markets and improve efficiency of corn production.

 "We focused on how the work we do keeps American agriculture viable and profitable," said Fields. "It is a great opportunity to show the world how NCGA supports growers. It is also beneficial to our staff to learn about world issues, broadening our understanding of world commodity markets and challenges."

The team included government and business leadership from organizations involved with agricultural research, food safety, finance, the environment, logistics and grain promotion. While in the United States, the team will examine U.S. policies and programs related to agricultural trade, food safety, and sustainable agriculture. Additionally, they will explore U.S. food commodity regulation and marketing while looking at programs that facilitate agricultural research, inspection, trade promotion and resource conservation.

Monitor Corn Fields for Stalk Quality Problems

DuPont Pioneer agronomists caution that many different stresses to the corn plant throughout the growing season can contribute to lower stalk quality at harvest time. Cool spring weather patterns, drought stress, reduced sunlight, insect and disease pressure and hail damage have each taken a toll on plant health this year.

With the wet, cool spring plants may have developed shallower root systems. This likely caused a reduction in nutrient uptake due to lack of root development. Cooler temperatures early on in the season also caused reduced plant lignin necessary for stalk strength.

The growing environment has a critical effect on the ability of the plant to provide sufficient photosynthate to the developing ear. With many cloudy days during the growing season, solar radiation and photosynthesis were reduced causing a reduction of sugars to meet the plant’s demand. If photosynthesis is unable to supply the demands of the developing kernels, the plant redirects root and stalk carbohydrates to the ear. Prolonged cloudy conditions during ear fill often result in severely depleted stalk reserves and stalk rot organisms can invade weakened and dying plant tissues.

Drought stress was another issue growers saw this summer. Water relations within the plant and CO2 and oxygen exchange were directly affected. In addition, if leaf rolling occured during drought, the effective leaf surface for collection of sunlight is reduced.

Growers should monitor their fields as harvest approaches, to identify stalk quality problems and prepare to harvest before field losses can occur. Weak stalks can be detected by pinching the stalk at the first or second elongated internode above the ground. If the stalk collapses, advanced stages of stalk rot are indicated.