Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday December 31 Ag News

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at the Hyatt Place, located at 600 Q Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board will address regular board business. The meeting is open to the public. A copy of the agenda is available by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, PO Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509, or calling either 402/471-2676 or 800-NECORN1.

NE Corn and Soybean Checkoff Tour Coming to Four Districts

The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Soybean Board are teaming up and hitting the road for their first ever Checkoff Tour. The tour, which will take place over the course of two days – January 6 and 8 – is meant to give producers and industry personnel the opportunity to learn more about how their checkoff programs are working to help increase yields and build demand.

During the meeting, representatives from both the Corn and Soybean Boards will give updates on how checkoff dollars are being invested in the areas of education, marketing and research. Producers and industry personnel are encouraged to attend this free event to learn more about the programs and initiatives of the corn and soybean checkoffs, ask questions and provide feedback.

Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board, said these meetings offer valuable information for corn and soybean farmers. “One of the goals of these meetings is to give farmers the opportunity to learn more about the checkoffs firsthand. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to hear from your district checkoff representatives about your investments in research, marketing and promotional activities pertaining to the corn and soybeans you grow.”

The tour will include two stops each day, with one meeting over lunch and the other over dinner. Each two-hour meeting is free to all attendees and will include a meal, presentations and a question and answer session. The schedule and location for each meeting are as follows:

Tuesday, January 6
West Point: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Nielsen Community Center
Mead: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the ARDC

Thursday, January 8
Broken Bow: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the One Box Convention Center
Minden: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Minden Opera House

How to Register

If you are interested in attending one of the events, please RSVP by email or phone with your name and which location you plan on attending. To RSVP, simply send an email to or call (402) 480-4971. Registrations will be closed by noon on Friday, January 2.

“The Checkoff Tour is a great opportunity for the corn and soybean board to personally show producers the impact of their checkoff investment,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Their checkoff investment supports an entire portfolio of initiatives—each focused on adding value to every bushel produced in Nebraska. We look forward to discussing these initiatives as well as answering any questions the producers have about their checkoffs.”

Western Iowa Cooperative Schedules Annual Meetings

Please Join us at one of our Annual Meetings...  Dinner at 6pm and meeting will follow both nights.
     - Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 at the Onawa Community Center
     - Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 at the Correctionville Community Center

Pork Councils Increase Consumer Comfort with Cooking Pork

In an effort to build consumers' comfort with cooking pork, the Ohio Pork Council partnered with four other state pork associations to create sixteen videos featuring step-by-step instructions for cooking pork recipes.

When the modern consumer has questions about food or cooking, they often turn to the internet for answers. With that in mind, coupled with the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, OPC has made an increased effort to create video content designed to help increase the demand for pork, by providing useful online resources related to cooking.

"Research shows that the internet is a primary source of information for many food purchasers," said Jennifer Keller, director of marketing and education, Ohio Pork Council. "When people search the internet for information they use key phrases like "how to..." we want helpful and accurate information to be ranked higher in these searches."

The Ohio Pork Council, in partnership with the Iowa Pork Producers Association; Missouri Pork Producers Association; Illinois Pork Producers Association; and Kansas Pork Association, has taken advantage of the opportunity to create short "How to Cook Pork" videos; creating videos such as "How to Make a Pork Roast," "How to Make Carmel Apple Pork Chops," "How to Make Quick Pork Fajitas," and "How to Make Candied Bacon."

Sixteen professional videos, each featuring a pork recipe and cooking tips to help the viewer succeed in preparing tender, juicy, delicious pork, have been posted to YouTube and promoted through various forms of advertising. One advertising method being utilized is purchasing ads to feature the videos on YouTube, causing the videos to be displayed higher in the search ranking. A benefit of advertising on YouTube is that the views continually accumulate and grow over time making the video and channel more legitimate. As of mid-December the videos have been viewed over 38,000 times.

The "How to Cook Pork" videos are also being promoted with commercials on Pandora Online Radio. The ads feature both an audio and a visual component and will be targeted to women across Ohio.

In addition to how to prepare the recipe, the videos also explain how to use a meat thermometer, how to select pork in the grocery store and how to handle pork while cooking.

While producing the videos, each recipe was photographed, so that the still image may be used in the recipe databases and to accompany the video link in social media posts, blogs, and so on.

Pacific Ethanol Enters Into Merger Agreement With Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc.,

Pacific Ethanol, Inc., the leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States, and Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc., a Midwest-based producer of ethanol and related co-products, announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Pacific Ethanol will acquire all of Aventine's outstanding shares in a stock-for-stock merger transaction.

"With this transaction, Pacific Ethanol strengthens its unique production and marketing advantages by diversifying into two additional discrete markets and connecting its Western markets with Aventine's Midwest and Eastern markets for low-carbon renewable fuels," said Neil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol. "The merger offers a rare opportunity to combine the experience, market presence and diversification that Aventine brings with our industry leadership in Western US markets. It will complement our existing business as we balance assets across new regional markets, expand our footprint for the production and marketing of low-carbon renewable fuels, diversify our technology and increase our mix of co-products."

"This transaction will more than double our annual ethanol production capacity, and it will establish Pacific Ethanol as the fifth largest producer and marketer of ethanol in the United States. Once closed, we expect the transaction to be immediately accretive to earnings with expected operational synergies and the expansion of our ethanol and co-product marketing business. We are impressed with the both the quality of Aventine's assets and the seasoned employees operating the business, and we look forward to integrating our teams," concluded Koehler.

"In late 2012, the new Aventine management team defined a very aggressive turnaround strategy," stated Mark Beemer, CEO of Aventine. "Our mission has been accomplished with our plants achieving five new production records; over $30 million invested in the Pekin facilities, including coal-to-natural gas conversion; and additional capital investments in our Nebraska facilities. In 2014, Aventine achieved record earnings and successfully restarted its 155 million gallons of ethanol production in Nebraska. We look forward to making a successful transition of the business to Pacific Ethanol and bringing the combined strength of the two companies to the market."

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Pacific Ethanol expects to issue approximately 17.75 million shares of its common stock upon closing in exchange for all of the issued and outstanding shares of Aventine's common stock. Upon completion, existing Pacific Ethanol shareholders will own approximately 58% of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of the combined entity, and Aventine will nominate two representatives to be named later to Pacific Ethanol's board of directors, increasing the total board count to nine.

Aventine will be operated as Pacific Ethanol's wholly-owned subsidiary. Aventine currently has $135 million in term loan debt.

Aventine's ethanol production assets include its 100 million gallon per year wet mill and 60 million gallon per year dry mill located in Pekin, Illinois, and its 110 million gallon per year and 45 million gallon per year dry mills in Aurora, Nebraska. Combined with Pacific Ethanol's current ethanol production capacity of 200 million gallons per year, the combined company will have a total ethanol production capacity of 515 million gallons per year, and together with Pacific Ethanol's marketing business will sell over 800 million gallons of ethanol annually.

The closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur during the second quarter of 2015, is subject to customary and other closing conditions and regulatory approvals, as well as the approval of Pacific Ethanol's and Aventine's shareholders.

U.S. Ethanol Production at Record Pace in 3rd week in Dec

The U.S. ethanol industry is closing out 2014 with a bang, as the ethanol industry has set weekly production records in four of the last five weeks. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported another week of record-breaking production at 992,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) for the week ending Dec. 19.

U.S. ethanol producers have steadily been ramping up production in recent weeks. According to the EIA, production for the week ending Dec. 12 was 990,000 bbl/d, for the week ending Dec. 5, 988,000 bbl/d, and for the week ending Nov. 21, 982,00 bbl/d. Those production figures top the prior record set earlier this year on the week ending June 13 with its average of 972,000 bbl/d.

"The most recent weekly data indicates the industry was operating at an annualized rate of more than 15.2 billion gallons per year," said Geoff Cooper, senior vice president of the Renewable Fuels Association. "2014 will be a record year for annual output, with approximately 14.31 billion gallons of production--that eclipses the previous record of 13.93 billion gallons in 2011."

Ethanol stocks were holding steady in the last couple of weeks. The EIA reported stocks on hand for the week ending Dec. 19 at 17.6 million barrels, down slightly from the previous week's ending stocks of 17.7 million barrels. The Dec. 19 ending stocks were up 15.7 percent from the number for the same week last year, which was 15.7 million barrels (the lowest stocks since 2009), and down 13.3 percent from the stocks in the same week two years ago, which numbered 20.3 million barrels. The all-out production levels of 2011 led to price-depressing ethanol stocks in 2012, the peak set in March 2012 at 22.58 million barrels.

4th Week in Dec - Ethanol Supply Surges - Output Down

The domestic supply of ethanol increased to its highest point since early October even as U.S. ethanol production plants dialed back output to a one-month low during the week-ended Dec. 26, the Energy Information Administration reported midmorning on the final day of 2014.

The EIA reported a 500,000 barrel (bbl) build in domestic ethanol supply for the week reviewed, which pushed inventory above 18.0 million bbl to 18.1 million bbl and near a two-month high.

U.S. ethanol producers ratcheted down output by 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 972,000 bpd, which was still well above the comparable year-ago period when production averaged 913,000 bpd and during the same week in 2012 when output was 807,000 bpd. During the four weeks ended Dec. 26, U.S. ethanol production averaged 985,000 bpd, 57,000 bpd, or 6.1%, more than during the same timeline in 2013.

There were 18,000 bpd of ethanol imported to the United States last week, with all the supply received along the East Coast.

Refiner and blender net inputs eased 24,000 bpd to an 856,000 bpd three-week low last week, and near its four-week average through Dec. 26 of 858,000 bpd. For the same week in 2013, ethanol inputs averaged 808,000 bpd, with the comparable four-week average for last year down 24,000 bpd at 834,000 bpd.

Gasoline supplied to market, also referred to as implied demand, again increased, up 96,000 bpd to 9.614 million bpd, the highest weekly rate of demand since July 2010. During the four weeks ended Dec. 26, implied gasoline demand averaged 406,000 bpd, or 4.6%, more than during the same four weeks in 2013, with gasoline demand for 2014 through Dec. 26 up 97,000 bpd, or 1.1%, versus a year ago.

Cropp's Latest Dairy Outlook Summery

University of Wisconsin-Extension expert Bob Cropp says milk prices are expected to fall going into the new year for two main reasons: lower dairy exports and a higher level of milk production here at home. The professor emeritus noted in his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook Report that the Class III price set a new record monthly high every month this year accept for December. But since exports are declining due to higher production in other exporting countries, the value of U.S. milk is starting to take a hit.

"China is the world's largest importer of dairy products and Russia ranks third with the combined total of these two countries accounting for about 20 percent of world imports," Cropp said. "The net result has been a drop in world dairy products well below U.S. prices making U.S was no longer competitive. The strengthening of the U.S. dollar also is impacting exports. U.S. dairy exports were setting new records accounting for 17.7 percent of U.S. milk production in March. But, with falling world prices exports started to slow."

He adds that butter exports through April were more than double the year before, but by May they fell below year ago levels. Non-fat dry milk exports fell below year ago levels by August and cheese by October.

Meanwhile, there are some signs of hope for late 2015. Cropp says dairy exports could show some recovery during the second half of the year because milk prices are considerably lower for all major exporting countries, which should slow the growth in world milk production in 2015.

"Relatively low feed prices will help to sustain milk production. Russia is to stop the ban on EU imports in August, but this is uncertain," he said. "As China works off accumulated dairy stocks they probably will resume importing by the second half of the year, but at a more conservative level."

Cropp mentioned that some forecasters have the Class III price decreasing less than $15 this spring. But lower feed costs will ease some of the pain.

This Year, Resolve to Run for the NCGA 2016 Corn Board

The National Corn Growers Association Nominating Committee is accepting applications for the 2016 Corn Board, but interested members need to act quickly to meet the January 9 deadline.Through the Corn Board, members can become an integral part of the organization's leadership.  Click here for the application, which provides complete information on requirements, responsibilities and deadlines.

"Through my years on the Corn Board, I have enjoyed working the talented, dedicated volunteers who step forward to lead this organization," said NCGA Chairman and Nominating Committee Chair Martin Barbre. "The willingness of farmers to step forward as volunteer leaders plays is crucial to NCGA's continued success. A true grassroots organization, NCGA relies upon farmers to volunteer for leadership, helping to shape policy and drive efforts. Serving on the Corn Board empowers farmers and allows them to play an active role in shaping their industry and our collective future."

The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations.  Board members serve the organization in a variety of ways.  They represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokespeople for the NCGA and enhance the organization's public standing on all organizational and policy issues.

Applications are due Friday, January 9. Nominated candidates will be introduced at the February 2015 Corn Congress meeting, held in conjunction with the Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. Corn Board members will be elected at the July 2015 Corn Congress in Washington, D.C., and the new terms begin Oct. 1.

For more information, growers may contact Kathy Baker at NCGA's St. Louis office at (636) 733-9004.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday December 30 Ag News

Winter Livestock Care
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

Rain, sleet, snow, ice, freezing temperatures – winter can be a real struggle for four legged animals.     Most livestock are well adapted to cold weather, but sick, elderly, or young animals and those under unusual stress are more susceptible.

Most livestock can handle wind chills about 20°F without much stress.   But, to stay healthy, they need a dry place to escape cold rains, wet snow, and wind.

While natural protection and windbreaks may be adequate, three sided sheds opening away from prevailing winds are best.   Allow enough room for livestock to lie down safely without being trampled or smothered.   The larger the animal the more room they will need.   Good, clean, dry bedding insulates livestock from the cold ground, which draws away body heat.

High Quality Food
Feeding good quality hay or alfalfa to ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas) and horses is effective for body heat production during cold weather.   Body heat is generated when these animals are digesting these feedstuffs.   During cold weather, animals will need to eat more to maintain their body condition.

One of the most important considerations for winter feeding is adequate water.   Water is essential for digestion, which produces heat in fiber breakdown.   Do not assume that livestock can meet their water needs by eating snow – to get enough water eating snow would take most of their feeding time.   Ingesting large quantities of snow also reduces the core body temperature.

Water above 40°F is ideal to ensure good consumption.   Automatic water units are best; if that is not possible, be sure to provide water several times a day.   In freezing temperatures, you will need to break ice or provide fresh water periodically if you don't have a tank heater.

Minimize Mud
All too often, where there are animals in the winter, there is mud.   Feeding in muddy locations increases the amount of feed wastage.   Mud makes foot and hoof diseases more likely.   Livestock walking on frozen muddy ground are more susceptible to foot and leg injuries.   With good management and planning, the negative environmental and animal health aspects of mud can be minimized.

The best winter practice is to make sure that your livestock is in good condition before cold weather hits.   Addressing the nutritional, environmental and health needs of livestock in the winter will help to ensure optimal animal welfare and performance.

Land Application Training Days Offered in January/February

Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension workshops at nine extension offices across the state in January and February will provide livestock and crop farmers with information on how to turn manure nutrients into better crop yields while protecting the environment.

Re-certification will be during the first two hours of the day-long Land Application Training.  Dates, times and locations include:
-    Jan. 26 – 9 a.m. 128 N Sixth St. Ste 100 (Extension Office, O’Neill.
-    Jan. 29 – 9 a.m. 2345 Nebraska Ave. (Extension Office), York
-    Jan. 29 – 9 a.m. 200 S Lincoln St. (Courthouse), West Point
-    Feb. 3  - 9 a.m. 210 E 23rd St (Pinnacle Bank Meeting Room), Columbus
-    Feb. 5  - 9 a.m. 412 N. State St., (Library Meeting Room), Osmond

Livestock producers with livestock waste control facility permits received or renewed since April 1998 must be certified.  A farm must complete an approved training every five years, and farm personnel responsible for land application of manure are also encouraged to attend.

The workshops will help livestock producers put to use the nutrient management planning requirements of Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality regulations and increase the economic value of manure, said Leslie Johnson, UNL AMM coordinator.  Participants who attend the day-long event will receive NDEQ Land Application Training Certification.

This in-depth, one day class targets newly permitted livestock operations.  Operations that have already attended this initial training, but will need re-certification, may attend the morning portion of the training.

Attendance during the morning of one of the Land Application Training workshops will fulfill NDEQ requirements for re-certification of producers who have completed the initial land application training five or more years ago.

This portion of the workshops will consist of a two-hour program including updates on changing regulations and other manure management topics, such as protecting herd health with biosecurity, pathogens found in manure and the manure value implementing the farm’s nutrient plan are also encouraged to attend.

Pre-registration is required for all workshops.  A $60 fee per operation (includes one representative) will be charged for the day-long Land Application Training workshops plus a $15 fee for each additional participant to cover costs including lunch.

The Land Application Training Re-certification portion of the workshop is $30 for each participant.

These workshops are sponsored by the UNL Extension AMM Team which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better utilize our state manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits.

For additional information on these workshops and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit

Farmland Rents Expected to Drop in 2015

U.S. farmland rents for 2015 are on track to be down 5 to 10 percent from the top fees of a year ago due to lower grain prices, but landowners remain stubborn about deeper cuts and some are adding clauses to boost revenue if grain prices bounce back.  More than half the 230 million acres of corn, soybean and wheat land in the United States are rented. Rents, the biggest cost in growing crops, doubled during the farm boom of the past six years.

"Most of the bankers I've talked to indicate the market is more flat than what we thought. We are still seeing 5-10 percent down from the extreme tops in the really strong markets where cash rents had been above $400 an acre," said Jim Farrell, chief executive of Farmers National in Omaha, Nebraska, the largest U.S. farm management company.

Farrell, who expects most 2015 leases to be signed by year-end, said there has been less deterioration in fringes of the Corn Belt where rents are lower than in Iowa and Illinois, reports Reuters.

"It's been holding fairly steady in response in part to the increase in grain prices that happened since the end of September."

Corn prices fell to a five-year low of $3.18-1/4 a bushel in October on abundant harvests. Prices are up $1 since then. Soybeans and wheat, which follow corn in acreage numbers, saw similar bounces.

Balancing Access to Markets, Technology Plays Key Role in Team Discussions

This December, the National Corn Growers Association's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team met in St. Louis to review the organization's policy in their area of expertise, discuss progress on several ongoing programs and hear from industry representatives about upcoming challenges and opportunities.

Looking at a variety of issues, including how to best support agricultural exports, stress the importance of respecting refuge requirements and facilitate successful communication across the value-chain on their issues, the team will use their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to develop the nuanced, strategic suggestions needed to help the Corn Board guide NCGA policy effectively.

"During the winter months, it can begin to feel like farmer leaders spend a large amount of time participating in meetings for a variety of agricultural groups," said Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. "As my involvement has increased, I have come to even-more fully appreciate the breadth and scope of the myriad issues facing farmers today.  By developing teams with specialization in major areas of opportunity and taking the time to analyze the issues in a critical, thorough manner, we are able to most effectively provide input on how, in our area, the Corn Board can shape NCGA policy and, subsequently, maximize the effectiveness of farmer-funded market development and production activities."

The meeting, held in conjunction with meetings for the other five action teams and committees, allowed the growers to dig into the specific policies listed in the portion of the strategic plan corresponding with their team's focus area. Carefully debating the implications of any proposed changes, team members worked diligently to carefully craft a precise, well-constructed document for presentation to the Corn Board and, eventually, Corn Congress.

"Through these discussions, we develop a solid appreciation for the importance of the exact connotation of each word used, and of those not used, in our strategic plan," said Linder.  "But these discussions generate greater thought and analysis than a simple wordsmithing exercise.  Examining the future of the industry, the scope of NCGA's role in it and the potential pitfalls of seemingly benign statements leads us to policy recommendations that play a vital role in determining how the organization will proceed on our behalf."

The team also delved more deeply into a variety of areas certain to impact the future of corn farming through presentations from and discussions with leadership from agri-industry.  Through these discussions, the farmers gained up-to-the-minute information that they will scrutinize and, as events unfold, incorporate into future recommendations.

In addition to Linder, team members include Vice Chair Don Duvall of Illinois, Corn Board Liaison Jim Zimmerman of Wisconsin, Mike Beard of Indiana, Chris Edgington of Iowa, Robert Gordon of Texas, Mark Gross of South Dakota, Robert Hemesath of Iowa, Brandon Hunnicutt of Nebraska, Jon Miller of Ohio, Scott Miller of Michigan, Dwight Mork of Minnesota, Jim Raben of Illinois, Jay Reiners of Nebraska, and Rosalind Leeck of the Indiana Corn Growers Association. NCGA staff in attendance included Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields, Director of Public Policy Zach Kinne, Communications Manager Cathryn Wojcicki and Administrative Assistant Maggie Fogerty.

Iowa Counties Sign Up to Evaluate Animal Confinement Sites

Counties interested in evaluating proposed animal feeding facilities must adopt and submit a construction evaluation resolution to the Iowa DNR between Jan. 1 and 31.

About 87 counties pass a resolution each year, which allows them to review construction permit applications required for larger totally roofed animal feeding operations (confinements).

The Master Matrix development, submittal and approval process allows applicants and county supervisors to discuss options for site selection, facility type and management.

"County supervisors review the master matrix items selected by the applicant and determine if a passing score for the matrix has been achieved. The county then submits a recommendation to the DNR pertaining to the permit application," said Gene Tinker, the DNR's animal feeding operations coordinator.

Producers in counties that file the resolutions must meet higher standards than permitted sites in other counties. They must earn points on a master matrix by choosing a site and using practices that reduce effects on the environment and the community.

Counties that participate in the master matrix process may accompany the DNR on site visits to proposed locations. The county board of supervisors may also appeal the DNR's preliminary approval of a permit to the Environmental Protection Commission.

Mail resolutions between Jan. 1 and 31 to Jerah Sheets at the DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, email to or fax it to 515-725-8202. Sign-ups occur annually during the month of January for the upcoming February through January.

For historical information on which counties have adopted resolutions, check the DNR website under animal feeding operations at Look under Confinements - Construction Requirements -- Permitted - Master Matrix or

Additional information for counties is available on the Iowa State Association of Counties website at under master matrix -- construction evaluation.

Urea Prices Still on the Decline

For the second time in as many weeks, a fertilizer's price moved somewhat significantly, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of December 2014. Urea's price was 6% lower compared to a month earlier and had an average price of $461 per ton.

Six of the eight major fertilizers had slightly lower prices compared to a month earlier while the remaining two were up just slightly.

In addition to urea, DAP, MAP, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32 also were all lower in price compared to the previous month, but none slipped by any consequence. DAP had an average price of $565/ton, MAP $593/ton, anhydrous $706/ton, UAN28 $320/ton and UAN32 $362/ton.

The remaining two fertilizers were higher in price compared to a month earlier, but again these moves were fairly minor. Potash had an average price of $485/ton and 10-34-0 $573/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.50/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.57/lb.N and UAN32 $0.57/lb.N.

Half of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits higher in price compared to December 2013, all while commodity prices are significantly lower from a year ago. DAP is now 14% higher while MAP, 10-34-0 and anhydrous are all 13% higher compared to year earlier.

In addition, urea is 3% higher, potash is 2% higher and UAN28 is 1% more expensive compared to last year.

One nutrient is still lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. UAN32 is 1% less expensive from a year ago.


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for December 201 4 averaged $6.10 per bushel, an increase of 73 cents from the November price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

The preliminary December corn price, at $3.90 per bushel, increased 20 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary December sorghum price averaged $7.60 per cwt, an increase of 92 cents from November.

The preliminary December soybean price, at $9.80 per bushel, was up 5 cents from last month. 

The December alfalfa hay price, at $98.00 per ton, was up $2.00 from November. The other hay price, at $85.00 per ton, was up $6.00 from November.


The preliminary December 2014 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa was $3.80 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This is up $0.17 from the November full month price, but $0.52 lower than December 2013.

The preliminary December 2014 average price received by farmers for soybeans, at $10.1 0 per bushel, was $0.10 less than the November full month price, and $2.90 lower than the December 2013 price.

The preliminary December oat price was $3.30 per bushel, down $0.07 from November, and $0.73 below December 2013.

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $133.00 per ton in December, down $11.00 from the November price, and $36.00 per ton less than December 2013. Alfalfa hay prices fell $42.00 per ton from one year ago, to $153.00 and other hay prices were $26.00 per ton lower than last year, at $104.00.

The preliminary December average price was $21.20 per cwt for milk, down $2.70 from November, and $1.10 per cwt below one year ago.

December Farm Prices Received Index Up 1 Point

The preliminary December Prices Received Index (Agricultural Production), at 102 percent, based on 2011=100, increased 1 point (1.0 percent) from November. At 82, the December Crop Production Index is up 2 points (2.5 percent). At 129, the Livestock Production Index decreased 5 points (3.7 percent). Producers received higher prices for corn, market eggs, wheat, and cattle but lower prices for milk, broilers, lettuce, and oranges. In addition to prices, the five-year average monthly mix of commodities producers market impacts the monthly indexes. Increased monthly movement of wheat, oranges, broilers, and milk offset the decreased marketing of corn, calves, soybeans, and grapes.

The preliminary Prices Received Index is up 2 points (2.0 percent) from December 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 116, decreased 3 points (2.5 percent) from last month but increased 7 points (6.4 percent) from December 2013.

All crops:

The December index, at 82, increased 2.5 percent from November but is 9.9 percent below December 2013. Index increases for oilseeds & grains more than offset the index decreases for vegetable & melon production, fruit & tree nut production, and other crop production.

Food grains: At 92, the index for December is 4.5 percent above the previous month but 6.1 percent below a year ago. The December price for all wheat, at $6.53 per bushel, is up 48 cents from November but is 20 cents below December 2013.

Feed grains: The December index, at 64, is up 6.7 percent from last month but 14 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $3.77 per bushel, is up 19 cents from last month but is 64 cents below December 2013. At $7.49 per cwt, sorghum grain is 90 cents above November but is unchanged from December last year.

Oilseeds: At 81, the December index is unchanged from November but 21 percent lower than December 2013. The soybean price, at $10.20 per bushel, is unchanged from November but is $2.80 below December 2013.

Livestock and products:

The index for December, at 129, is 3.7 percent below last month but is up 15 percent from December 2013. Compared with a year ago, the price for milk is down from last year. Prices are higher for cattle, market eggs, calves, hogs, broilers, and turkeys.

Meat animals: At 137, the December index is down 2.1 percent from last month but is 27 percent higher than last year. At $66.50 per cwt, the December hog price is down 20 cents from November but is $5.00 higher than a year ago. The December beef cattle price of $168 per cwt is up $1.00 from last month and $38.00 higher than December 2013.

Dairy products: The index for December, at 101, is down 11 percent from a month ago and 7.3 percent lower than December last year. The December all milk price of $20.30 per cwt is down $2.70 from last month and $1.70 less than December 2013.

Poultry & eggs: At 138, the December index is down 2.1 percent from November but is 11 percent higher than a year ago. The December market egg price, at $1.66 per dozen, increased 29.0 cents from November and is up 45.0 cents from December 2013. The December broiler price, at 59.0 cents per pound, is down 5.0 cents from November but is 3.0 cents above a year ago. At 73.4 cents per pound, the December turkey price is down 8.7 cents from the previous month but is 4.7 cents higher than a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The preliminary December Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 111 percent (2011=100), is unchanged from November but is 5 points (4.7 percent) above December 2013. Lower prices in December for feeder cattle, LP gas, diesel, and gasoline offset higher prices for concentrates, feed grains, feeder pigs, and supplements.

Agriculture industry group releases 2015 safety fact sheet

A snapshot of the agriculture workforce, the economic toll of worker injuries and the benefits of investing in safety are included in a new graphics-driven fact sheet released by the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA).

The annual cost of occupational injuries in agriculture is $8.3 billion in medical costs and lost productivity, according to, “Facts 2015 –Be Safe. Be Profitable.” The typical cost of one tractor overturn is $1 million.

An effective safety program, however, saves $4 to $6 for every $1 invested, according to ASHCA, a not-for-profit coalition of agribusinesses, producer organizations and safety professionals.

Other facts:
-    Although 87 percent of farms are operated by individuals or families, hired workers perform 60 percent of the work on U.S. farms. Eighty percent of those employees are foreign-born.

-    The agriculture/forestry/fishing sector charts the highest rate of occupational deaths across all industries, 22.2 per 100,000 workers (480 total deaths).

-    An estimated 115 children die in the farm workplace each year. Eighty percent of them were merely present -- not working.

The world will need 70 percent more food by 2050 for the predicted 9.5 billion people. Productive, efficient agriculture includes the preservation and well-being of agricultural workers at every level.

To learn more about ASHCA, the organizations behind it and the ASHCA safety-grants program, visit

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday December 29 Ag News

Ranching for Profitability Series
Gary Stauffer, UNL Extension Educator 

Last year was one for the record books!  Many a sale barn broke record cattle prices. Mother Nature, as usual, was unpredictable. Input prices also continued to creep upward- forage was no exception.

As a cattle producer, you may have questions about what to do next in 2015. Eight meetings will be held across Nebraska focusing on the changing beef industry. 

“To stock or not to stock?”- That is the question.  From buying cows, retaining heifers to breed, or keeping cows longer, can you afford to rebuild your herd? Matt Stockton and Kate Brooks, Nebraska Extension Beef Economists, will discuss “Restocking and Replacing- the Economics of Moving Forward on the Ranch.”

Forage has become a valuable commodity!  With variable weather, forage production can tank and leave you without grass or hay for your cattle. Learn how you can cope with forage losses with risk management programs.  Aaron Berger and Monte Vandeveer, Nebraska Extension Educators, will discuss the kinds, costs, and how these forage programs work, including PRF and LFP.

Jerry Volesky, Nebraska Extension Range Specialist, has been through drought, hail, excessive rains, and blizzards. Volesky understands how variable the production of your pastures can be from one year to the next. He will present “Managing for Variable Range & Pasture Production.”

Figuring out where you are making money and where you might not be with your various enterprises on your operation can be very important to long term profitability and sustainability. Gary Stauffer, Holt/Boyd Extension Educator will conclude the program with “Determining Profitability-Understanding your Unit Costs of Production”.

Please pre-register ahead of time for a meal count at the local extension office.   Cost is $15/person. Sponsorship is provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center & the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Nebraska Extension.

Ranching for Profitability Schedule (all times are local):
  *January 5th – Holt County Court House Annex Meeting Room, O’Neill (10 am – 2 pm), 402-336-2760;
  *January 5th – Zion Lutheran Church, Ainsworth (5-9 pm), 402-387-2213;
  *January 6th – Broken Bow Country Club, Broken Bow (10 am – 2 pm), 308-872-6831;
  *January 12th – College Park, Grand Island (10 am -2 pm), 308-236-1235; 
  *January 12th – Brady Community Center, Brady (4:30-9 pm), 308-532-2683;
  *January 13th – Bullseye Building, Mullen (10 am -2 pm), 308-645-2267;
  *January 13th– Peppermill Restaurant, Valentine (4-9 pm), 402-376-1850;
  *January 19th – Kimball Event Center, Kimball (5-9 pm), 308-235-3122.

Grower Services Action Team Focuses on Membership, Leadership, Communications

When members of the National Corn Growers Association's Grower Services Action Team met in St. Louis recently, they focused on the three traditional key areas of focus for the team, three areas where a lot of progress has been seen over the past year: membership, leadership and communications. Going into 2015, the team also sees great potential in these areas.

"Looking at the role our grower members have played in shaping the national dialogue on agriculture, the importance of building and engaging our base cannot be understated," said Tom Haag, a Minnesota corn grower who serves as the team's chairman. "We've seen a lot of success with our programs in the past, and this next year will offer many opportunities to expand our work."

In the area of membership, Haag noted that NCGA reached a milestone in 2014, reaching a membership of more than 42,000 as growers saw the importance of NCGA's work on the new farm bill and in building and defending markets for corn, such as ethanol. The success of a full stable of member benefits and programs like the National Corn Yield Contest have had an impact as well, he said.

In terms of leadership, 2014 saw the first class of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program, designed as a gateway to leadership for young farmers, and an opportunity for farming couples to take part in a leadership program together. The second class begins in January with 39 participants from 17 states. At the same time, the Leadership at its Best and Advanced Leadership programs, cosponsored by Syngenta, continue to build informed and involved leaders.

Finally, Haag noted NCGA's success with communications programs continues to grow, especially with its involvement in the Corn Farmers Coalition, which seeks to educate Washington insiders about corn and corn farming; CommonGround, a joint program with the United Soybean Board to develop farm women as spokespersons with their urban and suburban peers; the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a much broader movement to build consumer confidence in today's agriculture; and American Ethanol, an ethanol industry effort to promote ethanol, especially the E15 blend, through a NASCAR sponsorship.

In addition to Haag, grower members of the Grower Services Action Team are Vice Chairwoman Patty Mann, Corn Board Liaison Kevin Skunes, Debbie Borg (Allen, NE), Jayne Dalton, Les Imboden, Larry Mason, Mike Moreland, Ted Mottaz, Gerald Mulder, Danny Nerud and Roger Zysltra. Katie Glick, with Indiana Corn, represents state affiliates and NCGA Director of Development Joe Hodes is the staff lead for the team.

Obama Preparing for Major Push on Free Trade Zone

President Obama will seek to enlist Republicans to partner on a major push on trade deals. The administration is moving aggressively in hopes of wrapping up negotiations by the middle of next year on a 12-nation free-trade pact in the Asia-Pacific region before the politics become even more daunting ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported last week the move will test his willingness to pull away from his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement. Already, fellow Democrats are accusing him of abandoning past promises on trade and potentially undermining his domestic priority of reducing income inequality. At issue is Obama’s support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would establish the world’s largest free-trade zone. The first test could come next month if the new Congress takes up Trade Promotion Authority, making trade deals strictly an up or down vote to fast-track approval.

NFU Opposes Importation of Meat from Areas with Foot and Mouth Disease

Johnson:  "U.S. Must Retain High Standards for Imports"

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson urged the U.S. not to resume importation of meat from Northern Argentina and Uruguay because of ongoing concerns with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), a highly contagious disease that could devastate family farmers and ranchers in the U.S.

“Livestock health is critical to production agriculture and our nation’s ability to provide a safe food supply,” said Johnson in comments submitted today to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). “Achieving the necessary means to ensure livestock health is a priority for NFU.”

Johnson noted that NFU supports banning livestock, animal protein products, and meat imports that would jeopardize U.S. efforts to eradicate livestock diseases, including FMD, and that allowing imports of beef from Northern Argentina could potentially conflict with these efforts.

“APHIS acknowledges that Northern Argentina is not considered to be free of FMD,” said Johnson. “In May of 2000, the World Organization for Animal Health designated Argentina as FMD-free without vaccination. Just two months later, FMD outbreaks reappeared, culminating in the epidemic outbreak in 2001. Since then, Argentina has made multiple unsuccessful attempts to eradicate and control FMD, and concealed the outbreaks from the international community for months.”

Johnson pointed out that in addition to health safety risks, serious economic repercussions could result from an outbreak of FMD in the U.S.

“The economic impacts of an FMD outbreak in the U.S. would be tremendous,” noted Johnson. “FMD is highly contagious and has the potential to spread very quickly. Given the rapidity with which FMD spreads, an outbreak would create devastating economic consequences for farmers and ranchers. Recent research has estimated outbreaks in FMD-free countries and zones cause losses of greater than $1.5 billion per year.”

Johnson also noted that in 2001, an outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK) resulted in the slaughter or burn of nearly 3 million animals. The epidemic was costly both to farmers and the economy; total losses to agriculture and the food chain amounting to roughly £3.1 billion.

“Prior to the 2001 outbreak, the UK had gone 34 years without an outbreak,” said Johnson. “This particular example demonstrates that no country is immune to the devastating impacts of a FMD outbreak, and the utmost precaution should be taken when evaluating changes in import status from countries with a recent history of FMD.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers are known throughout the world for the high standards to which their livestock herds are raised. Our long-standing disease prevention efforts have thus far been successful.”

Rabobank Issues Fertilizer Outlook Report

Rabobank has issued a new report on the global fertilizer industry, looking at issues of price, supply and demand in key international markets. In the report, published by Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, the bank says that as the fertilizer supply appears set to outweigh demand globally, the forecast for Q1 2015 looks rather cloudy in terms of pricing. While spring demand in the Northern Hemisphere will prevent prices from slipping significantly, Rabobank believes that lower farmer margins will incent farmers to be more prudent in fertilizer application, but a strong demand destruction is unlikely.

An increase in urea supply in the first quarter of 2015 will set the tone for global urea prices. Supply is likely to outstrip demand in Q1 2015 as rumored brand new capacity in Algeria and Egypt comes on-line and the just-announced change in Chinese export tariff is likely to boost urea availability. China will replace its tax seasons by a single flat tariff of 80 CNY/ton for urea.

"Chinese urea export availability could improve by another 10-15% in FY 2015, as China seems very close to abolishing its policy of separate tax windows," says Rabobank analyst Suzanne Pera. "This would amount to 11.6- -12.1 million tons based for FY 2015."

However, spring demand for urea in the Northern Hemisphere could prevent prices from slipping significantly, providing a floor for the global urea market. The Southern Hemisphere is mostly out of season, and demand is largely covered.

Spring demand in the Northern Hemisphere would normally provide upside in phosphates as well when combined with supply management. However, the new Chinese tax policy of 100 CNY/ton for DAP, will provide downside, as availability of phosphates would improve if prices decline significantly, some buyers might be inclined to lock in prices.

Meanwhile, the potash market is awaiting the outcome of negotiations between suppliers and China for the Q1 2015 price direction. Continued pressure on farmer margins in the U.S. and Europe is likely to drive spring potash applications lower by as much as 5%. Relatively high inventories and downward price pressure on grains and oilseeds will put a lid on further price increases.

Rabbobank: Global Beef Supplies to Remain Tight in 2015

As what many have expected, Rabbobank is calling for global beef supplies to remain tight through 2015. In its quarterly outlook for the first quarter of 2015, Rabbobank forecast renewed price strength and tight supplies in the first quarter of 2015. Food Business News reports an improving economy and a strong dollar have positioned the United States as a major influence on global beef market trends. Rabbobank’s Angus Gidley-Baird said “The U.S. continues to be the driver in the global beef market with constrained supply and strong demand keeping prices high.” Baird said Rabbobank is keeping a close eye on the price of oil and the Russian Ruble given Russia’s status as the world’s largest beef importer

The gap between premium and ground beef markets will continue to widen. Prices for prime beef will remain high in 2015, while lackluster demand and growing supplies of dairy-based beef will pressure prices for ground beef. Strong international demand for beef from Brazil and New Zealand will likely carryover into 2015 while, in China, retail prices for beef are expected to remain stable. Meanwhile, Australia continues to report record cattle slaughter Rabobank said the new year will be critical for Canada, as the beef industry decides whether it starts herd rebuilding or continues to downsize the industry. In Mexico, low availability of cattle is partially offset by increased cattle weights.

Rabobank Forecasts Dairy Prices Will Continue Downward Trend in Early 2015

Global dairy prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2014 and will continue on a downward trend in early 2015, according to the A4 Dairy Quarterly published by Rabobank.

The report found that even though prices fell in late 2014, the rate of decline did decelerate somewhat compared to third-quarter prices. Prices of powders were down about 15% on late September levels, and cheese prices were only about half that loss. However, butter prices were relatively unchanged.

Although some stabilization occurred by December, the value of the U.S. dollar rose by 5% in Q4, which also contributed to the decreases in U.S. dairy prices, the report said.

Supplies in the international market have been boosted by milk production growth in export regions that surpassed weak local consumption in the last nine months of 2014. Rabobank reported that trade growth was up 15% year on year, as low prices cleared huge volumes.

Rabobank estimated that U.S. wholesale prices will fall further in early 2015, although local markets lagging behind offshore markets may cause price recovery to be delayed.

The report predicted that the market will gradually tighten up in the first six months of 2015. However, a weak Southern Hemisphere production peak in 2015 could turn things around and lead to price recovery in international markets in late 2015.

Rabobank head dairy analyst Tim Hunt said that the low prices helped to clear the market which was still dealing with strong supply growth, rising value of the U.S. dollar, a weak economic environment and reduced buying from China and Russia. China's incoming shipments were down almost 50% in October from the same time last year. Also, Russia's ban on imports from key countries resulted in buyers from second- and third-tier importers such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa waiting for prices to decrease 30-50% before buying.

Rabobank predicts that while such markets are taking advantage of discount product, world dairy suppliers will need to respond quickly to price decreases in order to avoid stock accumulation.

Some improvement in demand in the U.S. and the European Union should reduce stocks available to the international market in the first half of 2015, but Rabobank stated that this will likely be insufficient to cause any amount of price recovery, due to the continuing Russian trade ban and decreasing Chinese purchases since last year.

Oil Settles Lower After Early Rally

An early rally for New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures faded in midsession, with the oil complex ending floor trading lower Monday after traders realized the oil market remains well supplied despite problems in Libya while new worries about Europe stoked demand concerns.

“Lower Libyan output does make it more likely that OPEC overall production will be at or even somewhat below the 30.0 million bpd official quota, but a first half 2015 supply/demand surplus may still be on the order of 1.5 million bpd,” said analyst Tim Evans at Citi Futures in New York.

He added, “U.S. inventory data for last week seems unlikely to provide much support for prices either, with the early [forecasts] pointing to builds of 900,000 bbl in crude stocks, 2.5 million bbls in distillate inventories, and 2.0 million bbls in gasoline stocks for the week ended December 26.”

At settlement, NYMEX February WTI crude futures slumped $1.12 to $53.61 bbl, off a five-year, eight-month spot low at $52.90. February ICE Brent declined $1.57 to a $57.88 bbl settlement, off a five-year, eight-month spot low at $57.37.

Caterpillar Celebrates 85 Years on the New York Stock Exchange

On December 22nd, 2014, Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to mark the 85th anniversary of the company’s listing on the NYSE, considered the world’s foremost securities marketplace. Of the approximately 3,200 companies listed on the NYSE, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) is among only 2 percent that have been listed for 85 years or more.

“Not only are we celebrating 85 years on the NYSE this year, but next year we will also celebrate the 90th anniversary of Caterpillar as a company,” Oberhelman said. “Both milestones are a testament to the strength of our global brand, our dedication to customers and strong reputation with stockholders for financial strength and performance through the years. In 2014, the strength of our balance sheet and strong cash flow positioned Caterpillar to repurchase $4.2 billion in stock and to pay $1.6 billion in dividends. Caterpillar has paid a cash dividend every year since the company was formed in 1925 and has paid a quarterly dividend since 1933. We are proud of delivering that consistency and value over the decades.”

Caterpillar is also giving Wall Street traders and New York City the opportunity for an up-close look at Cat® machines used in a variety of industries. On display in front of the NYSE are a mixer truck, wheel loader, skid steer loader and backhoe loader.

Listing on the NYSE is a globally recognized signal of corporate strength and leadership, reserved for companies that meet the NYSE’s stringent requirements for income, market capitalization, cash flow and ethical practice.

Caterpillar Inc. - 85 Years on the New York Stock Exchange

-    The company listed on December 2, 1929, under the name Caterpillar Tractor Company. In 1986, the name was changed to Caterpillar Inc.
-    In May 1991, Caterpillar became one of 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
-    Caterpillar sales for 1929 were $52 million and profit was $12 million.
-    An investor buying one share of Caterpillar Tractor Company at $56.25 in 1929 would have an investment worth about $40,000* today, accounting for share price growth, stock splits and dividends over the past 85 years. (*As calculated at close December 2, 2014)
-    Caterpillar’s total shareholder return has sustained an annual compounded growth rate of 8 percent since the company listed in 1929.
-    On December 2, 1929, the first listing day, 1,882,240 shares were outstanding and 400 shares of Caterpillar stock were traded. On December 2, 2014, there were more than 605,000,000 shares outstanding and about 4 million shares traded.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Friday December 26 Ag News

NEFB's Maricle to Serve On New National Promotion & Education Committee

Hilary Maricle of Nebraska Farm Bureau will serve a two-year term on the new national Promotion & Education Committee. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said in a letter Dec. 16. Maricle is a member of the Boone County Farm Bureau and servers as chairman of the NFBF Ag Promotions Committee.

“Congratulations,” Stallman wrote in a letter Dec. 16 to Maricle as to her acceptance on the committee. “I hope you are as excited as I am about the contributions this committee will make as it inspires and equips Farm Bureau to convey the significance of agriculture.”

Because people are more interested than ever in where their food comes from, the national Promotion & Education Committee will fill an important role in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers by providing tools and resources to Farm Bureau members eager to share agriculture’s story.

Other committee members and their terms of office are as follows.

For a two-year term:
-    Chris Hoffman, Pennsylvania
-    Hilary Maricle, Nebraska
-    Renee McCauley, Michigan
-    Val Wagner, North Dakota  

For a one-year term:
-    Phyllis Couture, New York
-    Melinda Groth, Minnesota
-    Teribeth Spargo, Missouri

Stallman also announced that the committee chair and vice chair would be Chris Hoffman as chairman from Pennsylvania, and Val Wagner as vice chairman from North Dakota.

“After their two-year terms expire, you’ll have the responsibility of electing your own leaders,” Stallman said.

More information will be available at the first meeting of the committee to be held during the American Farm Bureau Convention in San Diego in January. They will also have the opportunity to elect a representative to serve on the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture board of directors.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Grain crop prices have dropped, water tables declined, and legal issues are limiting the amount of irrigation water available.  Maybe it’s time to think about planting forages instead.

Many irrigated acres may not receive enough water this summer to grow a good grain or root crop.  And even if they do receive enough water, it may not be profitable to grow grain crops.

Forage crops also need water for highest production, but at least some useful yield can be gathered when total water available is very low.  So what are your best options?

If you expect water limitations will continue for several more years, a perennial forage would eliminate the cost and time of establishing a new crop each year.  Switchgrass is one good choice.  It’s less expensive to plant, its primary water needs occur in early summer when water usually is available, and it can be managed for hay or pasture.  Other warm-season grass options include big or sand bluestem and indiangrass, especially for grazing.  Some wheatgrasses and bromegrasses as well as alfalfa can work with limited irrigation, but these cool-season plants respond best to water applied during spring.  Some irrigators won’t have water available until after this most efficient time has passed.

Of course, annual forages like pearl and foxtail millet, cane, teff, and sorghum-sudangrass are relatively water efficient and will yield proportionately to the amount of water they receive.  And this spring especially, don't forget small grains like oats and spring-type varieties of rye, barley, and triticale for spring forage if you have moisture at those times.

It may not be what you hoped for, but growing forages under limited irrigation may help you make the best out of a bad situation.

Ethanol Committee Reviews Progress, Explores Opportunities

The Ethanol Committee of the National Corn Growers Association met in St. Louis recently to review current programs and initiatives related to domestically produced biofuels, get updates from ethanol industry experts and discuss strategy aimed at continued growth for corn-based fuel.

"Ethanol has been a huge success story for agriculture and rural America because of the economic stimulus it has created through increased corn demand and new jobs. For the general public it provides reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better performance and fuel choice," said Committee Chair Jeff Sandborn, a farmer from Michigan. "Despite all of our success educationally and legislatively, what we have created is a great start not final destination.  We have 10% ethanol in virtually every gallon of fuel sold today but it will take a multidimensional approach to continue to grow the market for ethanol."

The Ethanol Committee is investigating options to grow the ethanol market on many fronts including integrating higher ethanol blend compatibility into plans to update the nation's aging fuel infrastructure; continuing to expand public acceptance and support for ethanol outside the corn belt; and evaluating the benefits of a national ethanol brand to aid in consumer identification at the pump.

The meeting, held in conjunction with similar sessions for all six NCGA action teams and committees, included in-depth discussion of the ethanol related portions of the organization's strategic plan. Input from the committee will be relayed to the NCGA Corn Board for their consideration and for broader organizational discussion and policy development at Corn Congress in March.

"Fuel access is a high priority issue for the ethanol industry and corn farmers. If we are going to continue to grow ethanol markets and realize the economic benefits of our ability to produce corn we will need to redouble our efforts to bring higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85 to the marketplace," Sandborn said.

In addition to Sandborn the Committee includes: Vice Chairman Dennis Gengenbach of Nebraska,  Corn Board Liaison Keith Alverson of South Dakota, Graham Adsit of Wisconsin, Cal Dalton of Wisconsin, Jerry Demmer of Minnesota, David Gottbrath of Indiana, Paul Jeschke of Illinois, Dennis McNinch of Kansas, Jerry Mohr of Iowa, Mark Recker of Iowa, Jay Schutte of Missouri, Dennis Vennekotter of Ohio and Bradley Schad of Missouri Corn Growers Association.

USDA Designates Harrison County in Iowa as a Primary Natural Disaster Area With Assistance to Producers in Nebraska

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Harrison County in Iowa as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by a late freeze that occurred on May 16, 2014.

“Our hearts go out to those Iowa farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Iowa producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in Crawford, Monona, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties in Iowa also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Farmers and ranchers in Burt and Washington counties in Nebraska also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Dec. 24, 2014, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

Iowa Beef Center Offers Online Heifer Development Resources

With the cow herd at the smallest level since 1962, recent moderation in grain prices, and optimism for growth in domestic and export demand, the stage is set for expansion of the national beef cow herd. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef cow-calf specialist Patrick Gunn said this has led to increased heifer retention numbers over the past two years, but environmental and financial concerns have tempered that optimism.

“Previous droughts in many areas of the U.S., coupled with high feed and land prices in recent years, have undoubtedly hampered realization of true expansion to date,” he said. “However, with recent reductions in grain and land prices combined with both fed and feeder cattle markets now at record levels, it appears the national cow herd is ready to expand.”

The recent price boom in all sectors of the beef industry translates to increased value (and cost) of replacement breeding stock, so it’s vital to understand how to maximize reproductive efficiency and breeding herd longevity for enterprises looking to expand, he said. That’s why the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State offered two series, in 2012 and 2014, aimed at the development of yearling heifers and maintenance of the first-calf female.

“In conjunction with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, in early 2014 the Iowa Beef Center offered a successful statewide educational program titled, ‘Heifer Development: Maintaining Your Investment,’” Gunn said. “Through this program, best management practices from pregnancy-check as a yearling through breeding season as a 2-year-old were outlined and resources shared.”

Since then, IBC has received multiple requests for that same information. To assist with the demand, various staff and faculty members have created a series of YouTube videos and are compiling links to additional resources. Links to the videos and additional resources are available on the IBC website, There are links to 10 new videos that highlight best management practices of first-calf heifers and eight videos from the 2012 educational series on best management practices for developing yearling females. As additional resources are identified, they’ll be added to the page.

Ethanol Production Still at Record Pace

Data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the U.S. ethanol industry started out the last month of the year with two record-setting weeks of production. The new record is set at an average production rate of 990,000 barrels per day set for the week ending Dec. 12.

According to the EIA, production for the week ending Dec. 5 averaged 988,000 barrels per day. That production level broke the previous weekly record of an average 982,000 barrels per day set during the week ending Nov. 21.

The prior record was set earlier this year at an average of 972,000 barrels per day for the week ending June 13. With production averaging 990,000 barrels per day for the week ending Dec. 12, a new weekly record has been set.

EIA data shows only 7,000 barrels of fuel ethanol was imported by the U.S. in September, all from Canada. Imports from Canada have held relatively steady in recent months, while imports from Brazil have declined.

From April through September, imports from Canada ranged from a high of 15,000 barrels per month in April to a low of 7,000 barrels per month in September. During the same six-month time period, imports from Brazil ranged from 427,000 barrels per day in May to zero in August and September.

Innovate Conference, Workshops Focus on Technology at AFBF’s 2015 Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show

Agricultural technology and innovation workshops will take the spotlight Saturday, Jan. 10 in San Diego, during the IDEAg Innovate Conference. The conference is one of the highlights of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2015 Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, Jan. 9-14, at the San Diego Convention Center.

IDEAg Innovate Conference

The IDEAg Innovate Conference will feature topics such as managing agricultural big data, the use of drones for farming purposes, precision agriculture and Internet strategies for farmers and ranchers. The day’s events and exhibits will be open to all farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals, not just Farm Bureau members.

There is no fee for Farm Bureau members to attend but they are encouraged to register online at Non-members may attend the special one-day conference by paying $75, in addition to $10 to attend the trade show, by registering online at

The Innovate Conference opens at 8 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, with Paul Schrimpf of PrecisionAg Magazine introducing the speakers and setting the stage for an exciting morning that will focus on the latest technology related to drones and unmanned aerial vehicles; big data and what it means for the future of agriculture; and the role of irrigation in California agriculture.

Conference sessions include: “Connected Precision Irrigation—The Next Leap in Productivity” with Andy Smith, director of industry relations at Valley Irrigation; “Technology and the Internet of Things in Agriculture” with Lance Donny, founder & CEO of OnFarm; and “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, the Future of Agriculture” with Kyle Miller, farmer and Unmanned Safety Institute ambassador, and Aaron Greenwald, president, chief operating officer and co-founder of Waypoint Global Strategies and USI.

Educational workshops

The Cultivation Center on the IDEAg Trade Show floor serves as the educational centerpiece of the trade show. Located in the middle of the show floor, behind the AFBF booth, the Cultivation Center allows attendees to gather information on various topics. The theater seating area provides the perfect opportunity for exhibitors, sponsors, educators and ag enthusiasts to each present 15-minute sessions. Those sessions will highlight exhibitors’ newest and best ideas and will provide education on technological developments in the agriculture industry.

In addition, Farm Bureau members will be treated to two dozen workshops covering a variety of topics and issues during the AFBF Convention on Sunday, Jan. 11 and Monday, Jan. 12. Topics covered will include how to become a more effective advocate for agriculture, big data, the latest technology trends, updates on economic issues affecting today’s farmers, and skills and ideas leaders can take home and apply at their county and state Farm Bureaus.

Full workshop descriptions will be available in the program available on-site in San Diego.

AFBF Convention kickoff

The convention kicks off with the opening general session on Sunday morning, when AFBF President Bob Stallman will share Farm Bureau’s direction for 2015. At the general session on Monday morning, Commander Rorke Denver will provide insights on teamwork and courage when faced with pressure-filled situations.

Members attending the convention are encouraged to support ag literacy by bidding on items in the online/onsite auction and purchasing tickets to attend the Flapjack Fundraiser, the golf outing or the Foundation’s Night Out event. Learn more at


Before registering online at, farmer and rancher members should check with their state Farm Bureau office to see if they have already been registered. The full Farm Bureau member convention registration fee is $100 and includes the IDEAg Trade Show and Young Farmer & Rancher competitive events (Saturday, Jan. 10 through Monday, Jan. 12), general sessions, workshops and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Silent Auction. Non-members may pay $10 in advance for a one-day registration to attend the IDEAg Trade Show and Foundation Silent Auction on Saturday, Jan. 10, plus an additional $75 to attend the IDEAg Innovate Conference.

Monsanto, DuPont Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuits

DuPont and Monsanto Company announced that they have agreed to settle and dismiss their respective patent infringement lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

The litigation related to claims by Monsanto that DuPont had infringed certain Monsanto seed chipping patents and claims by DuPont that Monsanto had infringed certain DuPont patents related to seed processing. Terms of the settlement are not being disclosed.

According to Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann and DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler, this agreement enables the companies to concentrate their attention on developing new solutions for farmers.

The dismissal of this litigation follows the announcement from DuPont and Monsanto in March 2013 related to a series of technology licensing agreements, as well as dismissal of lawsuits between the companies that also were pending in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

Upon the dismissal of the current litigation, DuPont and Monsanto have no other litigation against each other.

MF Global to Pay $1.21B in Restitution

(AP) -- MF Global Holdings Ltd. must pay $1.21 billion to reimburse customers for losses sustained when the brokerage firm failed in 2011.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Wednesday that a New York court required the payment to ensure that claims made of its subsidiary, MF Global Inc., are paid. The order also imposed a $100 million civil penalty on MF Global Holdings. The company admitted to unlawful use of customer funds as charged by the CFTC.

MF Global Inc. had already settled with the CFTC in 2013. It was required to repay $1.21 billion to its customers, plus a $100 million penalty.

MF Global Holdings, the New York-based parent company, imploded in October 2011 after making big bets on bonds issued by European countries that later turned sour. When it collapsed, more than $1 billion in customer money was discovered to be missing. It was later found that the funds were used to pay for the company's own operations. With $41 billion in assets, it was the eighth-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The CFTC said Wednesday that litigation continues against Edith O'Brien, who had been MF Global's assistant treasurer, and MF Global's former leader, Jon Corzine. Corzine is a former chief of Goldman Sachs, a former Democratic U.S. senator and the former governor of New Jersey.

Survey: Consumer Sentiment Highest in Seven Years

U.S. consumer sentiment jumped in December to its highest level in nearly eight years on cheaper gasoline and better job and wage prospects, a survey released last week showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final December reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 93.6, its best showing on a final basis since January 2007 and the latest in a string of increases since August.

The reading was up from 88.8 the month before but under the preliminary reading of 93.8. It was above the median forecast of 93.5 among economists polled by Reuters.

"Consumers held the most favorable long-term prospects for the national economy in the past decade," said Richard Curtin, the survey's director. "Importantly, the 2014 gains in jobs and wages were widespread across all population subgroups and regions."

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions rose to 104.8 from 102.7 in November, versus a forecast of 105.1.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations also climbed to 86.4 from 79.9 in November and was above the expected 85.0.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday December 23 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1,2014, was 3.10 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.This was up 2 percent from December 1, 2013, and up 2 percent from September 1, 2014.

Breeding hog inventory, at 405,000 head, was up 4 percent from December 1, 2013, and up 4percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 2.70 million head, was up 1 percent fromlast year, and up 1 percent from last quarter.

The September - November 2014 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.93 million head, was up 9 percentfrom 2013. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 1 75,000 head, up 6 percent from last year.The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.00 for the September Novemberperiod, compared to 10.75 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the December 2014 – February2015 quarter, up 9 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.Intended farrowings for March – May 2015 are 1 80,000 sows, up 6 percent from the actualfarrowings during the same period the previous year.


On December 1, 2014, there were 20.9 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, tied with September 2013 for the highest inventory on record according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The December 1 inventory was up 1 percent from September 2014 and up 3 percent from last December’s 20.2 million head. 

The September-November quarterly pig crop was 5.19 million head, down 5 percent from the previous quarter but 8 percent above last year. A total of 485,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.70 for the September-November quarter, matching the record pigs saved per litter from the previous quarter.

As of December 1, producers planned to farrow 480,000 head of sows and gilts in the December 2014-February 2015 quarter and 485,000 head during the March-May 2015 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 2 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2014 was 66.1 million head.  This was up 2 percent from December 1, 2013, and up 1 percent from September 1, 2014. 

Breeding inventory, at 5.97 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 60.1 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from last quarter.

The September-November 2014 pig crop, at 29.4 million head, was up 4 percent from 2013. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.87 million head, up 3 percent from 2013. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 48 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.23 for the September-November period, compared to 10.16 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.10 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.30 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow during the December-February 2015 quarter, up 4 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2014, and up 3 percent from 2013. Intended farrowings for March-May 2015, at 2.90 million sows, are up 3 percent from 2014, and up 3 percent from 2013.

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 48 percent last year.

Breeding - Market - and Total Inventory - States : December 1, 2013 and 2014

                                       (1000 head, % of Dec 2013)
Illinois ..............:   500.00       100   -   4,100.00     101   -   4,600.00     101   
Indiana .............:   290.00       104   -   3,310.00       98   -   3,600.00      99   
Iowa .................:   1,010.00    104  -   19,890.00   103   -  20,900.00     103   
Kansas ..............:   180.00       106   -   1,620.00     103   -   1,800.00     103   
Minnesota ........:  560.00       102    -  7,290.00      101   -   7,850.00     101   
Nebraska ..........:  405.00       104    -   2,695.00     101   -   3,100.00     102   
North Carolina ..:   880.00       101   -   7,720.00     101   -   8,600.00     101   


Farmers Tax Guide Now Available

Farmers can better understand their 2014 tax returns with help from a guide available through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.  The 2014 Farmers Tax Guide has illustrated examples, a sample return and describes available deductions.  Cuming County Extension Educator Larry Howard says the tax guides are in and are free to local producers.  They can be picked up at the Nebraska Extension office in Cuming County, area tax preparers or any Cuming County bank.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Much expense and many long hours go into harvesting and storing hay for winter feeding.  So why waste it!  Hay feeding waste can be reduced.

               Cattle can waste as much as 45 percent of their hay when it is fed without restrictions.  How can you reduce these losses to minimize costs and maintain an adequate hay supply?

               Your first step should be to limit how much hay is available.  Research shows that cattle fed hay with free access every four days needed about 25% more hay than cattle fed daily.  Daily feeding reduces the amount of hay refused, trampled, fouled, over-consumed, or used for bedding.

               A second step is to restrict access to the hay by using hay racks, bale rings, electric fences, feed bunks, or anything else that will keep animals off the hay.  It’s especially important to limit the amount of hay accessible to trampling.  So use racks or bale rings with solid barriers at the bottom to prevent livestock from pulling hay loose and then dragging it out to be stepped on.

               If you feed hay on the ground, either as loose hay, unrolled round bales, or as ground hay, it is especially important to follow these guidelines.  Limit the hay fed to an amount animals will clean up in a single meal.  Anything left over will be stepped on, fouled, or used for bedding instead of as feed.  And if you can – use an electric wire or other barrier to restrict access to only one side of the feed on the ground.  But also be sure to distribute that hay enough so all cows have access to it at the same time.

               With a little foresight and careful management, you can stretch your hay further.

Jeff Mellott Headlines Annual Horsin' Around Conference at UNL

            Jeff Mellott will headline the 23rd annual "Horsin' Around" conference Feb. 28-March 1, 2015 in the RB Warren Arena at the Animal Science Complex on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus.

           Mellott is a professional All-Around-Horseman from Andover, Kan., and a AQHA & NSBA judge, past president KQHA, and KQHA Volunteer Award 2012. Mellott is a trainer of multiple World and Congress Champions and is one of the industry’s best teachers. His goal is that each rider enjoys the journey to his or her own success in and out of the arena. For the first time in 17 years, Mellott is now taking outside customers and works with Youth, Amateur & Select riders. He specializes in All-Around horses & exhibitors, especially Horsemanship, Trail, and Western Riding. Mellott will focus on Western Horsemanship, English Equitation and Trail during the two day event.

            Also speaking at the event will be equine veterinarian Amy Cook and Danielle Burn of Omaha.

           Dr. Cook grew up in rural Nebraska where she was very involved with the 4-H horse program.  She received her bachelor’s degree from UNL and spent several years working in a variety of equine disciplines prior to returning to vet school.  In 2013 she received her DVM from Iowa State University and went on to complete a one-year hospital internship at Kendall Road Equine Hospital in Elgin, Ill., before returning to Nebraska and establishing In Touch Equine Veterinary Services..

            Danielle Burns of Omaha prides herself in an honest straightforward approach of working with youth and amateurs of all levels and ages. Burns’ primary focus is performance events, and she specializes in Western Pleasure at AQHA and APHA shows. She is also an AQHA, NSBA and POA judges. Burns also enjoys pairing horses and riders together that make great teams.

            The conference begins at 9 a.m. both days and is open to participants of all ages. Adult registration is $30 for both days or $20 for one day. For youth 18 and under, the cost is $20 for both days or $15 for one day. If the clinic doesn't sell out, registration will be available at the door for adults at $40 for both days and $25 for one day and for youth at $30 for both days and $20 for one day.

            No phone-in registrations are accepted. For more information or a registration form, call 402-472-6411, email, visit the Horsin' Around website at or the UNL Horse Facebook Page at

Ag Processing Inc. to Build $90 Million Vegetable Oil Refinery

Iowa officials have approved $3.1 million in incentives for an Omaha, Nebraska soybean processor to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery in northwestern Iowa.

An agreement approved Friday by the Woodbury County board will exempt Ag Processing Inc. of Omaha from $2.1 million in county property taxes through 2024.

At a separate meeting in Des Moines, the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board approved another $1 million in loans and state tax credits for the project at AGP's complex near Sergeant Bluff.

The vegetable oil refinery will be designed for 30 rail tank cars per day. Estimated project costs include $2.5 million for site preparation, $14.5 million for construction and $71.5 million for new machinery and equipment.

Rabobank REPORT:  Global BEEF INDUSTRY Q4 2014

Rabobank has issued a new report on the global beef industry, looking at continued tight global supply of cattle and beef in Q4 2014.

In the report, published by Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, Rabobank says that despite tight global cattle and beef supplies, prices tempered from their Q3 highs. The U.S. remains the major global driver, with import demand affecting prices and volumes for other countries.

Rabobank says that a big question heading into 2015 with such a finely balanced market is: if Australian export rates decrease and herds in Mexico and Canada continue to be run down by the U.S., have prices reached a new norm or do they still have room to rise?

“The U.S. continues to be the driver in the global beef market with constrained supply and strong demand keeping prices high.  A recent strengthening in the U.S. economy and dollar will support continued imports to the U.S., however we are watching a drop in the oil price and depreciation of the Russian ruble given Russia’s status as the world’s largest beef importer,” explains Rabobank analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.

Regional Outlook

·         U.S.: Cattle prices during Q4 have continued at record levels, driven by exceptionally tight supplies and strong demand.Q1 cattle supplies will again be tight with renewed price strength expected.

·         Brazil: Strong international demand for Brazilian beef is likely to be sustained in 2015 due to tight global supplies, demand from Russia and the reopening of the Chinese market for Brazil.

·         Australia: Australia continues to see record slaughter levels. Total exports for 2014 are also set for a record. With a dry summer forecast, slaughter numbers are expected to remain high, keeping prices low.

·         EU: The EU beef market is increasingly separating into a premium and ground beef market with divergent price developments. Prime beef will remain elevated in 2015, while ground beef prices will remain under pressure due to lackluster demand and growing supply from dairy-based beef.

·         China: Retail beef prices are expected to remain stable throughout the rest of 2014 and Q1 2015 as consumption is not strong enough to push prices beyond current historically high levels despite tight domestic supplies and continued growth in imports.

·         New Zealand: Very strong demand from the U.S. continues to underpin the New Zealand beef industry with record farmgate prices registered in November. The outlook remains very positive for the remainder of 2014 and into Q1 2015.

·         Canada: 2015 could be a critical year for Canada, as the country needs to determine whether it starts rebuilding or further downsizing its industry.

·         Argentina: Exports are likely to continue be depressed, as an overvalued exchange rate currently makes Argentine beef more expensive relative to other countries in the region.

·         Mexico: Low cattle availability continues to cause constraints, although this is partially offset by increased cattle weights due to lower feed costs and better pastures.

·         Indonesia: Consumption remains strong despite high prices. Following a record year of beef and cattle imports, concerns remain that trade developments between China and Australia and reduced cattle in Australia could tighten supply.

Deadline Extended for Comments on EPA Analysis of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatment Efficacy

(from ASA Newsletter)

Earlier last week, EPA announced that it will extend the submission period for comments on its analysis of the efficacy of neonicotinoid seed treatments on soybean yield by 30 days. The original comment period was scheduled to close on Dec. 22, 2014. The extension notice will be published soon, but not by Monday, so EPA will re-open the comment period.

The American Soybean Association continues to urge those farmers with direct, tangible success stories regarding the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments to submit those examples to EPA. You view the original report and the original Federal Register notice, as well as submit your comments here.

While crafting your comments, we suggest you review and potentially reference the news report pasted below, focusing on a similar ban and the subsequent negative effects in Europe. We believe that this case study only strengthens our position that EPA should be supporting how soybean producers are using neonic seed treatments – only when and where needed and effective. This is a judicious use of crop protection products that should be rewarded, not penalized.

Urea Prices Decline at Year's End

One fertilizer's average retail price finally moved significantly from last month to this month, according to data tracked by DTN for the third week of December 2014.

Six of the eight major fertilizers registered slightly lower prices compared to a month earlier, while the remaining two were up just slightly. Urea slipped 6% compared to a month ago, the first price move of any consequence in many months. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $461 per ton.

DAP, MAP, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32 were all also lower in price compared to the previous month, but none were down with any significance. DAP had an average price of $565/ton, MAP $592/ton, anhydrous $705/ton, UAN28 $322/ton and UAN32 $362/ton.

The remaining two fertilizers were higher in price compared to a month earlier, but again these moves were fairly insignificant. Potash had an average price of $482/ton and 10-34-0 $571/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.50/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.58/lb.N and UAN32 $0.57/lb.N.

Half of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits higher in price compared to December 2013, all while commodity prices are significantly lower than a year ago. DAP is now 14% higher while 10-34-0 is 12% more expensive and both MAP and anhydrous are both 11% higher compared to year earlier.

In addition, urea is 3% higher and both potash and UAN28 are 2% higher from last year.

One nutrient is still lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. UAN32 is 1% less expensive from the previous year.

NCGA Ag Weather Advisor Keeps Farmers Up to Date

With temperatures dropping and snow falling across parts of the Corn Belt, volatile winter weather means farmers have to work extra hard to stay updated on what to expect while they prepare for planting. The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor, prepared by Blue Water Outlook, is a special, free member benefit that can help growers stay a step ahead.

"The weather occurring this winter sets the stage for spring and summer growing conditions," said Tom Haag, chair of NCGA's Grower Services Action Team.  "The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor provides valuable insight, analysis and information not easily found elsewhere on the key factors shaping the weather right now and well into the future.  This information can help growers make critical weather-related decisions throughout the entire year."

Among the offerings subscribers to the free service receive each week, the BWO Agriculture Weather Outlook will help farmers understand how much rain to expect, days in advance. The AWO is a 10-minute video briefing discussing precipitation and temperature trends for the up-coming week. Also each week, the BWO Agricultural Advisor will provide updates that keep growers fully informed on a variety of agricultural weather topics including a pre- and post-event analysis of precipitation events. And the BWO Long Range Outlook provides a further perspective.

Occasionally, subscribers will receive the Blue Water Outlook Newsletter and BWO Analytics, an expert assessment of the weather and climate trends that are shaping water resources.

USDA Extends Public Comment Period for Conservation Stewardship Program Rule until Jan 20, 2015

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is extending the public comment period on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim rule. Public comments will be accepted through January 20, 2015.

“This extension will provide stakeholders with additional time to comment on the CSP interim rule,” Chief Jason Weller said. “At nearly 70 million acres, CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program. Input through the public comment process will help NRCS finalize a CSP rule that works for participants and continues to deliver greater conservation benefits for our Nation.”

Official notice of the change can be found in the Federal Register. Electronic comments must be submitted through Comments also can be hand carried or mailed to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. NRCS-2014-0008, Regulatory and Agency Policy Team, Strategic Planning and Accountability, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Building 1-1112D, Beltsville, Md. 20705.

NRCS administers CSP, which helps participants improve their conservation performance. Through CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil, water, and air quality; water quantity; plant and animal resources; and energy conservation. Nearly 70 million acres have been enrolled in the program since its launch in 2009.

Please visit summary of changes or for more information on the CSP statutory changes.

NOAA Issues Climate Outlook for Early 2015

Review of the new long range climate outlooks released from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center indicate that the wide variability in temperature swings of fall and winter are likely to continue; and the potential for a weak El Niño lingers, explained Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist & SDSU Extension Climate Specialist.

"Weather conditions over the state have seen some large temperature shifts," he said, referencing the warm October, early cold in November and average December climate conditions.

According to new outlooks, Todey said colder than average conditions once again look to cover the region from late December into at least the first few weeks of January.

"The eight to14-day outlooks and other computer models are consistent in bringing a cold push across the area into the early part of January as the jet stream pattern shifts again to build a ridge of high pressure along the west coast and allow more cold air into the middle part of the country," Todey said.

The full 30-day outlook for January is not as confident that cold temperatures will linger throughout entire state. "Indications that colder than average temperatures will linger for the whole 30-day period is only likely across the southern part of South Dakota and into Nebraska," Todey said.

Impact The impact Todey sees of this pattern shift is to bring at least a temporary end to the warm conditions for much of December.

California Drought Beginning to Let Up

The Los Angeles Times reports that for the first time in five months, a majority of California is no longer considered to be in an exceptional drought, the most severe level possible under federal guidelines, the U.S. Drought Monitor announced.

About 32% of California, however - most of it in the Central Valley - remains under the exceptional drought category. Last week the total was at more than 55%.

"The wet weather finally allowed ample runoff (while producing stream and river flooding) that raised major reservoir most of northern and central California," the report said.

The good news is tempered by the fact that the entire state remains in some degree of drought and more than three-quarters of it, about 78%, is in "extreme" drought, the second-highest category available, the report said.

In addition, the state's major reservoir capacities are still below normal.

California must receive three seasons of above-average rainfall to get back to a "manageable situation," said Jay Famiglietti, senior water cycle scientist of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.