Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday November 6 Ag News

Producers should be aware of fraudulent letter circulating
(from Randy Guill, CED, Madison County)

USDA has been made aware that there is a fraudulent letter circulating to producers and/or contractors. The signature line in these letters reads “Frank Rutenberg” and the sender claims to be a USDA employee seeking information about the recipient.  These letters are a fraud, the sender is fictitious and recipients should NOT respond to these letters.  Should you receive one of these fraudulent letters, please notify your local Farm Service Agency or a USDA Service Center representative.  Please share this information with your fellow farmers and ranchers.

Johanns, Fischer Request EPA Listening Session in Nebraska

U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting that her agency hold a listening session in Nebraska to hear how proposed carbon regulations would impact Nebraska businesses, agriculture operations and families. Under EPA’s current schedule, most listening sessions conveniently take place in states that use very little coal.

Johanns said, “We all want a cleaner environment, but this Administration is blind to the economic consequences their anti-coal agenda is having on rural America. These regulations will drive up costs for every Nebraska farmer and rancher, business owner and manufacturer, and family each time they turn on the lights. I’ve told EPA about the economic hardships they are causing. It’s time they hear it straight from Nebraskans.”

Fischer said, “The Administration’s war on coal will hurt all Nebraska families. These proposed rules disproportionately penalize states like Nebraska, where coal is a vital energy source.  As EPA embarks on a ‘listening tour’ to solicit input from the public, it only makes sense that the agency actually visit the areas that will be hit hardest by its policies.  Nebraskans deserve a fair opportunity to be heard on the impacts of regulations that will increase costs and jeopardize our access to affordable, reliable electricity.”

Vilsack: Rural America Has Much to Gain but Must Tell Story Better

            Rural America is poised to reap the benefits of coming economic and societal changes, but agriculture needs to do a better job of telling its story to urban dwellers, said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Tuesday.

            A new farm bill would be helpful too, said Vilsack, whose audience included Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

            Vilsack was the closing speaker at the University of Nebraska's Rural Futures Conference, an appearance jointly sponsored with the Heuermann Lectures in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

            Vilsack recited a litany of agriculture's strengths – record exports and expanding domestic markets; increased profits; renewed conservation efforts; and continued development of second- and third-generation renewable fuel sources. Humanity's greatest looming challenge – increasing food production by 70 percent to feed a growing world population – will be solved largely in rural America, he added.

            Rural America is key in keeping the nation secure: It produces enough food to feed its people and, though it comprises just 16 percent of the population, it provides 40 percent of those who enlist in the military, Vilsack said.

            However, there are challenges, too. Per capita income in rural America lags behind that in urban areas. Eighty-five percent of the nation's poorest counties are rural. Agriculture has a huge stake in immigration reform since it relies so heavily on seasonal workers from Mexico. Populations in rural areas are dropping as a lack of new jobs is driving young people away.

            Also, many agricultural programs are in limbo because a new farm bill still awaits congressional approval. While most of the media coverage has focused on the bill's farm subsidy and food stamp programs, Vilsack said the legislation includes much more, including research funding for land-grant universities such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

            Echoing a theme that resonated throughout the three-day Rural Futures Conference, Vilsack said rural America is essential to the nation's future, but its advocates must make that case forcefully to people who give little thought to how food gets to their tables.

            "Now is the time for us to re-emphasize, re-educate and remind America of the importance of rural America," Vilsack said. "We have to market agricultural research in a way that people understand what's in it for them."

            People "don't quite get what's going on on the farm because we don't talk to them, so they get some pretty crazy ideas," Vilsack said.

            Although production agriculture remains the backbone of rural regions, they have much to offer, including most of the nation's recreational spots, he added.

            The "bio-based economy" will exist largely in rural America, where new industries are sprouting up to transform virtually every part of agricultural waste into something new. Vilsack said about 3,100 companies already are involved in this industry, with more to come; virtually all will locate in rural America, creating jobs there, because it's too costly to transport waste products very far.

            Vilsack directly addressed members of the FFA who were at his speech.

            "Despite the challenges, despite the difficulties, despite the disagreements, there's never been a better time to be a young person in rural America," he said. Young people have a chance to lead America into this new era.

            "It's going to be up to you to do this."

            Heuermann Lectures in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 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.

            The 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.

Cargill Begins Fort Dodge Corn Wet Mill Ethanol Facility

Cargill announced that it has begun operating its corn wet mill ethanol plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Cargill purchased the idled facility from Tate & Lyle in 2011.

"We are excited to be operational in Fort Dodge," said Al Viaene, Fort Dodge facility manager, Cargill Corn Milling North America. "When full production capacity is reached, the plant will consume 150,000 bushels of corn a day and turn out five products including dextrose, ethanol and SweetBran feed for cattle."

The corn wet mill ethanol plant will provide the base load corn grind for the campus, and will also support additional business growth in the coming years. When completed, Fort Dodge will be a world class bio-refinery campus that will produce ethanol and other bio-based products.

"This investment demonstrates Cargill's continued commitment to Iowa agriculture," said Governor Terry Branstad. "The Fort Dodge facility will create over 100 jobs in Webster county and the addition of CJ will lead to further job growth in Fort Dodge."

Take Advantage of Early-Bird Rates for Nov. 14 Beef Facilities Conference

Beef barns of all types are becoming more common place in the upper Midwest. “But, we are still learning a lot about these barns,” said Beth Doran, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist.

A one-day “Beef Facilities Conference” will be Nov. 21 to share current research findings and discuss building management and cattle performance. The conference, a cooperative effort of ISU Extension and Outreach, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, South Dakota State University, USDA Agricultural Research Service and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will be held at the Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The conference is tailored to feedlot producers, beef consultants, building contractors, engineers and consultants, state and federal agency staff, and extension and university professionals. Presenters will share information pertaining to mono-slope, hoop and slatted-floor deep pit barns for beef feedlot production. Morning presentations focus on environmental research. Afternoon presentations feature two panels discussing building management and cattle performance.

Register by Nov. 14 for discount
Early-bird registration of $40 per person ends Nov. 14. Late registrations and walk-ins will be $60 per person. Participants may register online at or contact their local extension office for a printed registration form available from the website. Conference information, registration materials and potential sponsorship are available online at

Iowa Physicians Learn About Beef and Heart Health

Iowa family physicians needing Continuing Medical Education credits (CMEs) learned about a program to get FREE CME credits at the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians annual Clinical Education Conference held in Altoona on November 1.

The beef checkoff shared the new BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study at the meeting. Two one-hour web-based presentations are available for viewing online so physicians can get needed credits. The webinars, presented by The Pennsylvania State University researcher Michael Roussell, Ph.D., show the science behind how 4 ounces of lean beef a day (in a heart-healthy diet) can reduce LDL cholesterol by 10%. The second webinar covers practical information for doctors to help patients make dietary changes aimed at reducing cardiovascular disease.

The checkoff-funded BOLD study was published last year in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Supporting resources for health professionals to counsel patients are available on

"We are especially thankful to the Oklahoma Beef Council and the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians for creating the webinars and offering the CME program to Iowa physicians for no cost," said Scott Niess, Osage, chair of the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC).

"We hope cattle producers will encourage their family physicians to take advantage of the free sessions to learn about beef's nutrition package and its role in a heart-healthy diet," adds Nancy Degner, IBIC Executive Director. The CME credits are offered through February 2015.

Contact the IBIC for a flyer and "Dear Physicians" letter to give to physicians that explains the program. Call 515-296-2305 or email

USMEF Strategic Planning Conference Opens

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) annual Strategic Planning Conference opened Tuesday with an inside look at the key Mexican export market from an executive with H-E-B Grocery in Monterrey, Mexico, an address from USMEF Chairman Steve Isaf and insights from economist and futurist Dr. Jay Lehr.

Isaf, who is concluding his year as USMEF chairman at this week’s meeting, emphasized that the U.S. red meat industry needs to “walk in the shoes of our customers” to better understand what those buyers value. He noted that the greatest opportunity for American red meat exports is in Asia, which he said accounts for 38 percent of the world’s total number of households with $10,000 or more of disposable income versus 17 percent in the United States.

The USMEF chairman also stated that the wise use of technology can help give the United States an advantage in the international marketplace by improving productivity in a world where more food is needed to feed a growing population.

Richard Wortham, executive vice president of the Texas Beef Council (TBC), welcomed the more than 170 USMEF members in attendance at the meeting, noting that TBC has been a member of USMEF since 1991 and has supported USMEF with more than $24 million in funding over the past 22 years.

“When Texas Beef Council first ventured into international marketing, our board made it clear that this is an area that we just can’t jump into and then jump out of,” said Wortham. “If we’re going to be involved, we need to be in it for the long haul. Back in 1991 we could not even imagine the possibilities that lay before our industry. But our commitment is based on trust and on relationships. It’s based on the vision that we all have to sell more product into the global market.”

Wortham encouraged the USMEF members in attendance to “be bold” over the coming 20 years and take U.S. red meat “to where it’s never been.”

Jesus Velazco, director of fresh meat and perishables for H-E-B Grocery, explained the retail chain’s approach to differentiating itself from its competitors, with focus on training and development of staff along with emphasis on high-quality products, including U.S. beef cuts led by round meat as well as middle meats and U.S. pork hams along with loins and ribs.

H-E-B recently collaborated with several U.S. partners, including Certified Angus Beef, in the planning and execution of the world’s largest barbecue event, feeding more than 45,000 people in only two hours. H-E-B also has cooperated on a number of programs with USMEF to generate consumer awareness and maintain a high profile for U.S. red meat products.

The USMEF chairman also stated that the wise use of technology can help give the United States an advantage in the international marketplace by improving productivity in a world where more food is needed to feed a growing population.The importance of the international marketplace for U.S. beef and pork was highlighted in a different fashion by economist and futurist Dr. Jay Lehr, who noted that average incomes in the Third World have risen roughly 65 percent in recent years, increasing the ability of consumers there to purchase higher value foods like American red meats. He added that China will be the United States’ most prolific trading partner in years ahead.

The meeting closed with a reception that provided members with a delicious hands-on introduction to how U.S. beef, pork and lamb are marketed internationally. USMEF representatives from Singapore, Mexico and the Caribbean prepared dishes prepared with the three red meats as they would be served in those regions, ranging from a pork loin served with a Mexican green mole sauce to a beef salad from Singapore and a Caribbean lamb slider.

The three-day meeting continues today with a panel discussion on the impact of trade policy on exports followed by meetings of USMEF’s beef, pork, feedgrain/oilseed and exporter committees. The meeting concludes Thursday with a business session that will include the election of officers for the coming year.

Cargill to Label Beef Containing LFTB

Cargill Inc. said it will begin labeling ground beef that contains an additive known as finely textured beef, a response to continuing public demand for transparency in the wake of last year's furor over a product critics called pink slime.

The U.S. meat-packing giant said that starting early next year, it will affix the label on cardboard shipping boxes containing retail packages of fresh ground beef. Tubes of ground beef that go into retail meat cases will be labeled by spring 2014, a Cargill spokesman said.

Lean, finely textured beef is industry jargon for filler made of scraps left over after cattle are butchered into steaks and other cuts. Processors remove the fat from trimmings and in some cases treat the meat for bacteria with ammonium hydroxide and then mix it with ground beef.

The additive had been common for decades in ground beef, pre-made hamburgers, and some school-cafeteria food to produce less fatty beef products. But media reports and Internet commentary about the product in early 2012 labeled it pink slime and raised health concerns that resulted in public concern. Several beef-processing plants that made the additive were closed, and major food companies halted purchases of it.

Meat companies have insisted that the additive is entirely safe, and the controversy had largely subsided by last year. But Cargill -- which processes its finely textured beef using citric acid, instead of ammonia -- said its research shows that consumers still believe the product should be labeled.

Packages of ground beef that go to retailers that then repackage them for their meat cases, often with store-brand labels, aren't required to reflect the change in Cargill policy, but the company is encouraging its customers to label those packages as well.

US Does Not Take Direction From Canada, No Exception with COOL

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement after a conversation with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL):

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed its commitment and confidence in U.S. COOL laws on multiple occasions. The USTR has earlier said several times publically that the changes contained in USDA's final rule will bring the current COOL requirements into compliance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling.

“It is important to remember that the WTO found the COOL law to be compliant. Many other countries in the WTO have similar laws.

“The United States has never conceded to the WTO before being directed to do so by a dispute panel. This is not the issue that should change that standing. Consumers have indicated that they want to know where their food has been produced, and we should provide that information.

“Recent threats by the Canadian Agriculture Minister are unjustified and out of line. As a sovereign nation, we should not take direction from Canada. They do not dictate what is compliant, it is the reason we have the WTO.

“NFU will continue to stand up for U.S. family farmers, ranchers and consumers on this issue. We urge Congress to uphold the COOL law as it stands and allow USDA, USTR and the WTO to do their work.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 11/01/2013

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 902,000 barrels per day (b/d) — or 37.88 million gallons daily. That is down 9,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 895,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.72 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 15.2 million barrels. That is a 1.4% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were zero b/d for the fifth week in a row.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 390.3 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.71%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.677 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 100,666 metric tons of livestock feed, 89,744 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.70 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Reduction to 2014 RVOs Would be a Financial Windfall for Big Oil

Recent media reports suggest EPA may cave to pressure from Big Oil and propose a substantial cut to the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirement for conventional biofuel blending. Slashing these RFS requirements would result in a $9-14 billion giveaway to Big Oil, according to a new analysis posted today on the Renewable Fuels Association's (RFA) E-Xchange blog. "Simply put, a decision to lower the renewable volume obligation in 2014 would amount to a substantial transfer of wealth from American farmers and small businesses in the Heartland to glutinous multi-national oil and gas conglomerates," the analysis concludes.

A cut to the conventional biofuel requirement would enrich the oil industry in several ways...
•    First, it would reduce refiner and blender purchases of ethanol, amounting to $2.1-$3.6 billion in lost revenue for U.S. ethanol producers and the rural American economy.
•    Second, it would increase demand for gasoline, which would lead to increased refinery sales and higher prices at the pump. American drivers could pay a total of $6.8-$11.3 billion (5-9 cents per gallon) more on gasoline if EPA cuts the conventional renewable fuel requirement.
•    Finally, such an action would discourage oil companies and their marketing partners from making modest investments in new refueling infrastructure, allowing them instead to keep that money in their pockets. If refiners are given a free pass on their 2014 RFS requirements, they will likely sit on $200-$400 million that would have otherwise been deployed to upgrade infrastructure in preparation for future RFS requirements.

All of that adds up to a windfall for Big Oil in 2014—potentially in the range of $9.2-$15.2 billion. This amount of money is roughly equivalent to 8-13% of net profits for the 'Big Five' oil and gas companies in 2012. With market share to lose and billions in profits to gain, it's no wonder that the American Petroleum Institute and its cronies are pulling out all the stops to stall the transition to more renewable fuels.

The analysis is available here:

New Soybean Virus Confirmed in Indiana

Soybean vein necrosis virus has been confirmed in Indiana for the second consecutive year as plant pathologists continue to study the relatively new disease to determine how it might affect the plants and their yields. The viral disease is a Tospovirus and was first discovered in Tennessee soybean fields in 2008. Soybean vein necrosis virus, or SVNV, has now been detected in 16 states across the southern and north-central regions of the United States.

"This is a new disease, so we're learning about what potential impact it might have on yield," said Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension plant pathologist. "It's important for growers to be aware of this disease because it can look like many other common diseases that we see in soybean fields."

Common diseases such as brown spot, downy mildew and sudden death syndrome can all be mistaken for SVNV, so Wise said it's important for growers to know the difference.

"We want growers to be aware of what they have in their fields, and also to prevent any unwarranted management if they're trying to manage a different disease," she said.

Symptoms of SVNV begin with vein clearing followed by chlorosis, appearing as light green to yellow blotchy patches near the main vein of the leaf. Leaves might appear scorched, and affected leaf tissue might die during late stages of infection.

Tiny, winged insects called thrips transmit the virus from plant to plant. Adult thrips, about one-sixteenth of an inch long, have yellow bodies, dark thoraxes and two black crossbands on their forewings. They feed on plant juices primarily on the undersides of leaves and pollen when flowers are present.

Thrips are in soybean fields every year, and damage from the insects alone is usually insignificant.

Because SVNV is so new to Indiana soybean farmers, Wise said she and her colleagues are studying and monitoring the disease.

Since SVNV is spread by thrips, she said it's critical to monitor insect vector populations in the region and state to anticipate future epidemics.

European Union Members to Consider Cultivating GE Corn

(AP) -- The European Union's executive Commission is backing plans to cultivate a genetically-engineered maize despite the objections of environmental groups which consider it dangerous.

Wednesday's approval now sends the plans to approve Maize 1507 to the EU's 28 member nations for consideration and could lead to a decision on the issue as soon as next month. EU member states have sharply diverging views on the cultivation of genetically-engineered plants.

The EU has strict guidelines on authorizing and informing consumers about foods containing GMOs -- a policy that has caused problems for producers of genetically-engineered seeds such as U.S.-based Monsanto Co., which are used to laxer rules around the world.

The U.S. company Pioneer applied to cultivate Maize 1507 in 2001.

Pioneer Introduces New Charcoal Rot Scoring System

DuPont Pioneer customers dealing with charcoal rot will have a new opportunity in 2014 to make Pioneer® brand soybean variety selections with enhanced charcoal rot tolerance scores. These scores are backed with solid research information about tolerance to the fungus that causes charcoal rot.

This widespread disease normally favors hot, dry conditions and is made worse when drought occurs, causing stress to the plant.  It can also occur in fields that experience optimal infection conditions but don’t show significant drought stress through the season. These varied conditions show the need for a score to rate tolerance to the disease independent of field conditions.    

“Just as we provide scores for SCN resistance or SDS tolerance on our soybean products, our current research allows us to provide dependable charcoal rot tolerance scoring for soybean varieties,” explains Les Kuhlman, DuPont Pioneer senior research scientist based in Lawrence, Kan., who leads the research team studying the drought-related disease.

The introduction of this new score allows growers to select the degree of tolerance they need in a field, based on the expected level of charcoal rot pressure. Scores are based on Pioneer research observations of the comparative ability to tolerate the infection of the charcoal rot pathogen among various soybean varieties. The scores range from 1 to 9 on the Pioneer scale, with 1 being susceptible and 9 being resistant.  This score replaces the older CRDC (charcoal rot drought complex) score seen on previous varieties.    

“Each grower has a different situation when it comes to charcoal rot,” says Kuhlman.  “Some experience it with drought conditions and some do not, and now they can select soybean varieties based on their particular situation, thanks to these tolerance scores.”

While selecting soybean varieties with a charcoal rot tolerance score is very convenient, an integrated management approach is vital for reducing microsclerotia (a diagnostic symptom of charcoal rot) levels in the soil and stresses to the crop.

When split open, the woody tissue of the root and base of the stem may show dark gray to blue-black streaks.

Management practices to help limit charcoal rot include:
-    Rotating to corn or wheat
-    Scouting fields for charcoal rot symptoms to determine which have infection
-    Irrigating to help reduce drought stress
-    Avoiding excessive seeding rates and maintaining adequate soil fertility levels
-    Controlling weeds to reduce alternate hosts and competition for available soil moisture.

Monsanto Announces $1 Billion Public Offering

Monsanto Company announced a $1 billion public debt offering, with $400 million in 3-year bonds, $300 million in 5-year bonds and $300 million in 30-year bonds.  The 3-year floating rate notes will bear interest at a rate equal to three month LIBOR, reset quarterly, plus 0.20 percent. These notes mature on November 7, 2016 with a first interest payment date of February 7, 2014.  The 5-year notes will be issued at 99.861 percent and bear interest at 1.85 percent, resulting in a yield of 1.879 percent. These notes mature on November 15, 2018 with a first interest payment date of May 15, 2014.  The 30-year notes will be issued at 99.951 percent and bear interest at 4.65 percent, resulting in a yield of 4.653 percent. These notes mature on November 15, 2043 with a first interest payment date of May 15, 2014.

The company intends to use the net proceeds received from the sale of the notes, together with available cash, to repay commercial paper issued to finance the acquisition of The Climate Corporation, and for other general corporate purposes.  Monsanto's shelf registration was filed and became effective in November 2011.

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