Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday February 28 Ag News

Northern Plains Likely to See Below Normal Temps This Spring
Al Dutcher, UNL Extension State Climatologist

As robins huddle in masses around Lincoln, it is a constant reminder that spring is just around the corner.  I can't help but wonder what inspired them to arrive just as another surge of Arctic air invades most of the eastern United States.  That being said, they are a reminder to gather my thoughts on the type of conditions that we may experience as we move into the meteorological spring season of March through May.

I don't think anyone can argue that this winter has been cold with frequent Arctic air intrusions, especially across the eastern half of the state.  Nebraska temperatures are averaging 4-7°F colder across the eastern half of the state and 3-5°F colder across the western half of the state.  This is the coldest winter since 2009-2010 when we kept snow cover from the pre-Christmas blizzard until early March.

The winter of 2000-2001 stands in record books as the next coldest winter, but we maintained considerably greater snow cover which aided prolonged periods of below normal temperatures. If we look at sub-zero low readings, you would have to go back to the 1983-84 winter to find a comparable benchmark.

Considering that much of the winter has been snow-free, we could have easily added 10-15 additional days of sub-zero lows if we would have had snow cover on the ground during January.  On a statewide basis we have had approximately 20 days with sub-zero low temperatures this winter.  In a normal winter we would expect from five days in southern Nebraska to 10 days across our northern border.

Very few areas of the state have seen above normal moisture this winter.  The southern half of the Panhandle and a small pocket of north central Nebraska reported above normal moisture, while the northeastern corner of the state received less than 25% of normal moisture.  However, there has been a substantial uptick in snowfall during the last 30 days across the western third of the state with most locations receiving 10 and 20 inches of snow.

So the ultimate question is whether this winter's temperature and precipitation patterns will continue through spring. Based on the depth of cold brought to the upper Midwest this winter, I would be inclined to believe that temperatures are likely to be below average like last spring, if not more intense.  Since mid-February 2012, eastern Nebraska has averaged two days of below normal temperatures for every day above normal.  Western Nebraska is running three days below normal to every two days above normal.

The recent upswing in moisture across western Nebraska during the past 30 days can be directly tied to the relaxation of the western U.S. upper air ridge in response to warmer waters developing in the Gulf of Alaska.  This energy is now regularly making its way into the western U.S. instead of being shunted into the Alaskan interior. When we begin to see low pressure systems come into central and northern California, it usually translates into an active pattern across the central United States.

In fact, the latest three-month Drought Monitor outlook shows improvement for central Nebraska and limited improvements in all the remaining drought areas in Nebraska. If the current snowpack in the central Rockies continues its impressive pattern for the remainder of the winter, this should translate into improved precipitation chances for western Nebraska into early summer.

As of last Thursday, snow water equivalent estimates of the current snowpack in north central Colorado stood at 134% of normal, while south central Wyoming estimates were at 118% of normal.  This would indicate a snowpack of 125-150% of normal.  In fact, some of the higher elevation sites are currently reporting snowpack levels usually reached at the beginning of March.

Typically March and April are the two biggest snow months in the central Rockies.  If the stormy pattern continues, I expect substantial recovery for all reservoirs on the northern branch of the Platte, with an outside chance of complete recovery.   Even with normal moisture over the next two months, I would envision that the reservoir inflows will exceed one million acre/feet and bring the entire reservoir systems from 50% of capacity to at least 75% of capacity.

In my 25-year career at UNL I have never seen a major drought develop when May snow levels in the central Rockies exceeded 120% of normal. Furthermore, I just don't see a major pattern shift that would bring an abrupt halt to the favorable moisture trend for the central Rockies and bring a sustained period (more than 30 days) of abnormal heat before this summer.

In short, I believe that this spring we will experience a repeat of 2013 spring conditions that would favor below normal temperatures and normal to above normal moisture for the central Plains.  In fact, it is entirely possible that the first half of this spring will be colder than last year simply because of the extensive cold that remains locked into place across central and southern Canada, the Great Lakes region, and most of the eastern Corn Belt.

Changes in How Pesticide Information is Displayed

Clyde Ogg, Extension Educator, UNL Pesticide Education Program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now adopting the pictograms used to classify and label chemicals under the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The HCS is the "Right to Know" law, and requires that information about the hazards of workplace chemicals be available and understandable to workers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also has adopted the new GHS standards, so these pictograms may appear on new safety data sheets (SDS, formerly MSDS) or shipping containers, but may not match  the signal words found on the pesticide labels on pesticide containers. The reason for the discrepancy is because the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) determines content of pesticide labels and uses a different system.

Therefore, pesticide labels will continue to comply with FIFRA-required label language and signal words. For example, an SDS with an "Aquatic Toxicity" pictogram may say "Dangerous for the environment," while the signal word on the pesticide label for that same product is "Caution."

Employers should educate employees on these changes to avoid confusion.

USDA Scientists Find a Surprising Supply of Deep Soil Carbon in Nebraska Study

Studies by ARS soil scientist Gary Varvel and others are providing new information about how deeply carbon is sequestered in the soil and could significantly change how crops are managed for bioenergy production.

Findings at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are providing information about the soil carbon dynamics that play a crucial role in lifecycle assessments of bioenergy production. These USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies were conducted in Nebraska.

Retaining carbon in the soil—called carbon sequestration—significantly affects soil fertility and greenhouse gas emissions, so it has a major impact on the long-term sustainability of bioenergy crop production. In one study, an ARS team conducted a nine-year investigation examining the impact fertilizer and harvest treatments had on soil carbon sequestration in biomass crops.

Scientists contributing to the study included geneticist Ken Vogel, soil scientist Gary Varvel, agronomist Rob Mitchell, and soil scientist Ron Follett.

The team applied nitrogen fertilizer at three rates to fields of perennial switchgrass and annual no-till maize to see how management practices affected soil carbon sequestration.

Postharvest stover—corn plant residue left on the field after harvest—was not removed on half of the maize fields. On the other half of the maize fields, only half the stover was removed.

The scientists found that in the maize fields, soil carbon levels increased over time at all depths, with all nitrogen treatments, and with all postharvest stover management. They also determined that more than 50% of the soil carbon was found at depths between 1 foot and 5 feet below the soil surface.

More than 50% of the soil carbon in the switchgrass fields was also found between 1 and 5 feet below the soil surface. The average annual increase of soil carbon throughout the first 5 feet of subsoil also exceeded 0.9 tons per acre each year, which was equivalent to 3.25 tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year.

The team concluded that calculating soil carbon sequestration rates for bioenergy crops needs to factor in the effects of crop selection, soil differences, environmental conditions, and management practices. Additionally, the deep-rooted nature of these plants requires soil sampling to a depth of 5 feet to account for the increases in soil carbon. Results from this study were published in Bioenergy Research.

Vogel recently retired from the ARS Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., where Mitchell still works. Varvel recently retired from the ARS Agroecosystem Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., and Follett recently retired from the ARS Soil, Plant, and Nutrition Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo.

Free Farm Finance Clinics Scheduled for March

One-on-one, confidential Farm Finance Clinics are held across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters.

March Clinic Sites and Dates
    Fairbury — Wednesday, March 5
    Grand Island — Thursday, March 6
    North Platte — Thursday, March 13
    Lexington — Thursday, March 20
    Norfolk — Friday, March 21

To sign up for a clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Conventional Agriculture Winning Some, Losing Some in Culture War

            The intellectual war over modern agriculture has been won by the "cultural elite," but agriculture's continued commercial and technological success still bode well for its future, a political scientist said Thursday.

            That's not to say conventional agriculture won't have to make adjustments in the face of ongoing challenges from its detractors, said Robert Paarlberg, who spoke at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of the Heuermann Lecture series. Specifically, he predicted that the inroads activists already have made in the area of animal welfare will continue to force change in livestock agriculture.

            Paarlberg, the Betty Freyhof Johnson '44 Professor in the Department of Political Science at Wellesley College, is author of the book "Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know." His lecture Thursday was titled "Our Culture War Over Food and Farming."

            Conventional agriculture as practiced in states such as Nebraska "is under strong attack" from people who believe it is unhealthy, unsafe, environmentally unsustainable and socially unjust, Paarlberg said. These forces want a shift from large-scale, specialized, highly capitalized farming systems to smaller scale systems that integrate crop and livestock production. Instead of internationally traded foods, they want local foods and instead of genetically engineered food, they want organic food.

            Paarlberg said this battle is being fought on several fronts – intellectual, commercial and policy.

            Conventional ag already has lost on the first front, he added.

            "As for who's winning in this cultural arena, I would say flat out the advocates for alternative agriculture have already won," Paarlberg said. "Students come to my classes with their minds already made up." They've taken in "Food Inc.," Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" and other popular media attacks on modern agriculture and "they see this as a social cause."

            Paarlberg said he's found one risks "social ostracism" by defending conventional agriculture in his state of Massachusetts.

            In the commercial arena, detractors have made some progress in promoting changes in diets. Meat consumption and overall calorie consumption have dropped and a recent study shows the obesity rate among preschoolers is down.

            "The activists' critique of the way we eat ... is having an impact ... and I think that's an impact we should welcome and celebrate," Paarlberg said.

            Activists' promotion of organic agriculture and local marketing of food have led to advances in those areas too, but Paarlberg noted, they still comprise a very small percentage of conventional agriculture and international food marketing, respectively.

            Meantime, most critics of conventional agriculture have ignored, perhaps as "an inconvenient truth," the fact that their predictions that conventional farming practices were unsustainable have proven untrue.

            In recent years, conventional agriculture has drastically cut inputs while continuing to increase yields. Total fertilizer use peaked in 1981, total pesticide use in 1973, Paarlberg said.

            Technological advances have led to huge reductions in land use, soil erosion, irrigation water, energy and greenhouse gases, he added.

            "If only the rest of our economy had done this well, we would have something to be proud of," Paarlberg said.

            Two areas where critics of conventional agriculture have scored significant victories are animal agriculture and the use of genetically modified crops for human consumption.

            Ballot issues in some states, as well as decisions made by some large customers, have led to changes in how livestock are cared for, and that trend is likely to continue, Paarlberg said. Activists also are making progress in challenging the use of antibiotics in livestock solely for weight gain.

            While genetically modified crops are used widely for animal feed and industrial use, they have "been stopped dead in their tracks for human food use," Paarlberg said. Ballot issues to require mandatory labeling of foods containing any genetically modified ingredient failed in Washington and California and passed in Connecticut and Maine.

            "Conventional agriculture will be obliged to make concessions," Paarlberg concluded, but "those concessions aren't going to push conventional agriculture away from its preferred model" of highly capitalized, large, science-driven practices.

            Heuermann Lectures in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources focus on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, and on securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs.

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

            Heuermann Lectures are archived at shortly after the lecture. They're also broadcast on NET2 World at a date following the lecture.

Cattlemen’s Ball sets $2.5 million fundraising goal

The 2014 Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska has set a goal of raising a record $2.5 million for the June 6-7 event at the Hoot Owl Ranch near Harrisburg, Neb., which is located in Banner County in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Host families for the 2014 Cattlemen’s Ball will be Kenny and Misty Stauffer along with the ranch owners Jeff and Kathy May. Jeff Heldt and Monty Stoddard are serving as co-chairs for this year’s ball. The theme for the event is “Corral a Cure for Cancer.”

“In order to reach this ambitious goal, it will take support from all corners of Nebraska,” Heldt said. “Every community can make a difference.”

The event coordinators are seeking donations, sponsorships and auction items in an effort to help make the $2.5 million goal a reality, he said.  He encouraged people to visit for more details on the event and sponsorship opportunities.

Heldt said organizers are in need of 600 volunteers for the event. Those interested in assisting can sign up on the website or by email at

The Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska has been held annually since 1998 at a different ranch each year to increase cancer awareness and raise money for cancer research.  The event also promotes beef in a healthy diet and showcases rural Nebraska.

Each year, 90 percent of the proceeds go toward cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center with the remaining 10 percent earmarked toward regional medical organizations.

Through world-class research and patient care, the cancer center generates breakthroughs that benefit Nebraskans as well as people across the nation. Learn more about the facility at: 

The event is open to the public and will include both silent and live auctions, a style show, golf tournament and art show. Additional events will be a Saturday night dinner followed by a concert featuring Montgomery Gentry.  A dance featuring the 5 to Life Band will follow the concert and round out the day’s activities.

Tickets are now on sale at or by calling (308) 235-2289.

A Trail Boss ticket for both days of the event is $350. This includes the Trail Boss social on Friday night, private champagne reception and Trail Boss lunch on Saturday, plus preferred seating for the Saturday evening dinner and Montgomery Gentry concert along with special recognition in the program.         

A $75 Top Hand ticket provides admission for all events after 11 a.m. on Saturday. It includes dinner, the Montgomery Gentry concert and the dance. 


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for February 2014 averaged $6.55 per bushel, a decrease of 7 cents from the January price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary February corn price, at $4.50 per bushel, increased 13 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary February soybean price, at $13.00 per bushel, was up 30 cents from last month.

The February alfalfa hay price, at $142.00 per ton, was down $12.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $105.00 per ton, was down $19.00 from last month.

The preliminary February sorghum price averaged $7.40 per cwt, an increase of 34 cents from January.
The preliminary February oat price was withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations. The January price for oats was $4.48. 

Iowa Monthly Ag Prices - February 2014

The preliminary February 2014 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa is $4.50 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural  Statistics  Service  – Agricultural Prices  report. This  is  up  $0.07  from  the  January price, but $2.51 lower than February 2013.

The preliminary February Iowa average soybean price, at $13.00 per bushel, is up $0.20 from the January price, but $1.60 lower than the previous February.

The preliminary February oat price is $4.10 per bushel, up $0.05 from January and $0.07 above February 2013. 

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $167.00 per ton in February, down $9.00 from the January price, and $56.00 per ton less than February 2013.   Alfalfa hay prices  fell $60.00 per  ton  from one year ago,  to $180.00 and other hay prices were $40.00 per ton lower than last year, at $115.00.  

Iowa dairy farmers received an average of $25.00 per cwt for milk sold in February, up $1.10 from January, and $5.00 per cwt above one year ago.

February Farm Prices Received Index Increased 7 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in February, at 106 percent, based on 2011=100, increased 7 points (7.1 percent) from January. The Crop Index is up 4 points (4.5 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 4 points (3.4 percent). Producers received higher prices for cattle, oranges, market eggs, and milk and lower prices for broilers, peanuts, grapefruit, and potatoes. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of cattle, milk, and broilers more than offset the decreased marketing of soybeans, corn, tobacco, and wheat.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is down 3 points (2.8 percent) from February 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 116, increased 6 points (5.5 percent) from last month and increased 8 points (7.4 percent) from February 2013.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The February Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is at 107 (2011=100). The index is unchanged from January but 1 point (0.9 percent) above February 2013. Higher prices in February for concentrates, feeder pigs, LP gas, and complete feeds offset lower prices for supplements, feeder cattle, potash & phosphate, and nitrogen.

Prices Received by Farmers - All crops:

The February index, at 93, increased 4.5 percent from January but is 16 percent below February 2013. Index increases for oilseeds & grains and fruit & tree nut production more than offset the index decreases for vegetable & melon production and other crop production.

Food grains: The February index, at 99, is 3.1 percent above the previous month but 8.3 percent below a year ago. The February all wheat price, at $6.67 per bushel, is up 1 cent from January but $1.30 below February 2013.

Feed grains: The February index, at 75, is up 1.4 percent from last month but 36 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $4.47 per bushel, is up 5 cents from last month but $2.57 below February 2013. Sorghum grain, at $7.63 per cwt, is 11 cents above January but $4.47 below February last year.

Oilseeds: The February index, at 103, is up 1.0 percent from January but 11 percent lower than February 2013. The soybean price, at $13.10 per bushel, increased 20 cents from January but is $1.50 below February 2013.

Livestock and products:

The February index, at 120, is 3.4 percent above last month and up 13 percent from February 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, milk, eggs, calves, and turkeys. Prices for broilers and hogs are down from last year.

Meat animals: The February index, at 119, is up 3.5 percent from last month and 13 percent higher than last year. The February hog price, at $63.30 per cwt, is up $2.10 from January but is $1.20 lower than a year ago. The February beef cattle price of $144 per cwt is up $6.00 from last month and $21.00 higher than February 2013.

Dairy products: The February index, at 123, is up 5.1 percent from a month ago and 27 percent higher than February last year. The February all milk price of $24.70 per cwt is up $1.20 from last month and $5.20 above February 2013.

Jaksich Appointed Valmont's Chief Financial Officer

Valmont Industries, Inc., Omaha, announced that Mark C. Jaksich has been appointed Valmont's executive vice president and chief financial officer. Jaksich will succeed Terry J. McClain as Valmont's CFO.

Jaksich's career with Valmont spans 30 years including positions as controller for the international division, director of internal audit and a number of other accounting positions. For the past 14 years, Mark has served as the company's chief accounting officer in the role of vice president and corporate controller. Jaksich is a Certified Public Accountant and holds Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Masters in Business Administration degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Commenting on the appointment, Mogens C. Bay, Valmont's chairman and chief executive officer said, "Mark's 30-year career at Valmont has prepared him to assume the role of CFO. We have worked closely together over the past 14 years and I have always been impressed with Mark's intimate knowledge of the Company, his knowledge of accounting and finance, leadership abilities and intellect. After looking at numerous external candidates, it became evident that the best candidate was already here."

AgriBank Reports Fourth-Quarter 2013 and Year-End Financial Results

Today St. Paul-based AgriBank announced strong financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2013 with continued growth in net income, strong credit quality and robust liquidity and capital.

·         Net income continues to grow: Net income rose 10 percent to $563.6 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013, driven primarily by gains in net interest income. Net interest income was $523.8 million, compared with $483.9 million for 2012.
·         Credit quality remains strong: Loan portfolio credit quality remains strong, as loan loss provisions decreased by $11.4 million and non-adverse loans stood at 99.8 percent.
·         Liquidity and capital remain robust: Cash and investments totaled $13.5 billion at year-end, compared with $12.1 billion at the end of last year. End-of-the-period liquidity was 161 days, well above the regulatory requirement. Capital increased $665.5 million from the prior year-end to $4.9 billion.
·         Preferred stock issuance: On Oct. 29, 2013, AgriBank issued $250 million in non-cumulative perpetual preferred stock to enhance its strong capital base.

“Continued strong performance of the overall ag economy helped drive near-record earnings for AgriBank in 2013,” said Bill York, AgriBank CEO. “Loan growth and credit quality remained solid, although we expect both to moderate in 2014, as commodity prices for corn, soybeans and wheat have moderated and reverted to average levels from recent highs. Producers and processors are well-positioned to adapt to the changing market cycle, and AgriBank has ample liquidity and capital in place to help our District meet the long-term credit needs of farmers, ranchers and other eligible borrowers.”

Year-End 2013 Results of Operations

Net income rose 10 percent to $563.6 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013, up from $514.2 million for 2012.

Net interest income drove substantially all of this increase, rising to $523.8 million, compared with $483.9 million for 2012. Net interest income remains strong and reflects the positive impact of our funding actions as well as the increased volume of fixed rate loans.

Loan loss provisions decreased due to loan loss reversals of $4.0 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013, primarily due to the reversal of specific reserves and subsequent recoveries on a participated credit.

Non-interest income decreased 5 percent to $146.3 million from $153.7 million in 2012. The decrease was primarily due to $15.0 million of non-recurring refunds received during 2012 from the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation. This was partially offset by non-recurring losses on hedging ineffectiveness related to interest rate swaps recorded during 2012.

Non-interest expense decreased 5 percent to $110.6 million from $116.0 million in 2012. Net impairment losses on investments have declined significantly from $25.5 million in 2012 to $1.9 million in 2013. This was partially offset by increases in salaries and employee benefits and other operating expenses.

Fourth-Quarter 2013 Results of Operations

Fourth-quarter 2013 net income was strong at $142.7 million, compared with $129.4 million for the same period of 2012. The increase was primarily due to the increase in net interest income, reversal of loan losses and reduced net impairment losses on investments.

Loan Portfolio

Total loans increased 6 percent year-over-year to $73.7 billion, primarily due to increases in wholesale loans to Associations, which funded increased real estate mortgage lending for cropland. In addition, loans grew due to funding of increased loan participation interests in retail equipment financing originating from the AgDirect program. The strong liquidity and equity positions of many borrowers are reflected in the continued favorable credit quality of AgriBank’s loan portfolio. The portfolio had 99.8 percent non-adverse loans at year-end, a slight improvement from 99.7 percent a year earlier. Nonaccrual loans at year-end declined to $39.7 million in 2013 from $51.4 million in 2012, while the allowance for loan losses at year-end dropped to $10.1 million from $13.3 million.

The significant majority of U.S. corn and soybean production occurs within the AgriBank District. The 2013 harvest produced the largest corn crop on record and third-largest soybean crop. Commodity prices for corn and other feed grains and, to a lesser extent, soybeans, have retreated substantially from levels in early 2013.  The impact of the 2012 drought had no material effect on the asset quality of the loan portfolio due to crop producers’ high utilization of multi-peril crop insurance. AgriBank’s overall strong financial performance reflected a continued robust Midwest farm economy buoyed by favorable growing conditions and strong crops in 2013. The February 11, 2014 U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service report projects 2013 U.S. net farm income  of $130.5 billion, up 14.7 percent from 2012 and the highest level since 1973, when adjusted for inflation. The USDA projects net farm income to fall 26.6 percent in 2014 to $95.8 billion, the lowest level since 2010 but $8 billion above the previous 10-year average. The forecasted decrease in net farm income is largely driven by expected lower crop receipts and a projected 45 percent decline in government payments under the Agricultural Act of 2014.

Lower commodity prices for soybeans, and especially corn, are expected to substantially reduce the profitability of crop producers in 2014. However, most of these producers have built strong financial and liquidity positions from recent profitable years. Conversely, producers and processors who purchase these commodities as inputs should perform better in 2014 due to lower costs.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Cash and investments totaled $13.5 billion at year-end, compared to $12.1 billion at the end of last year. The Bank’s end-of-the-period liquidity position represented 161 days coverage of maturing debt obligations, well above the 90-day minimum established by the Farm Credit Administration, the Bank’s independent regulator.

Total capital increased $665.5 million during the year to $4.9 billion, driven primarily by earnings of $563.6 million and the issuance of preferred stock of $250 million, partially offset by $335.1 million in patronage to Associations.

About AgriBank

AgriBank is one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, with more than $85 billion in total assets. Under the Farm Credit System’s cooperative structure, AgriBank is owned by 17 affiliated Farm Credit Associations. The AgriBank District covers America’s Midwest, a 15-state area stretching from Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Arkansas. More than half of the nation’s cropland is located within the AgriBank District, providing the Bank and its Association owners with exceptional expertise in production agriculture. For more information visit

Russia to Resume U.S. Pork Imports in March

Russia plans to resume pork imports from the United States around March 10, Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service said on Thursday. Russia banned most meat imports from the United States early last year due to concerns over the use of the feed additive ractopamine, reports Reuters.

"It's an approximate date," VPSS spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said. He declined to offer further details. Ractopamine is a growth stimulant used to make meat leaner. It is banned in some countries because of concerns it could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence showing it to be safe.

On March 10 Russia plans to allow imports from several companies that have guaranteed they do not use ractopamine, Interfax news agency reported, citing the head of VPSS inspection for global cooperation, Vasily Lavrovskyi.

Previously, Russia planned to resume pork imports from Brazil and the United States in March to compensate for falling supplies from the European Union, which have been limited following an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Lithuania in January.

The prospect of resumed U.S. pork exports to Russia helped push Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures for April 2014 delivery up nearly 3 percent to a new high of 104.000 cents per lb on Thursday morning.

The tighter supplies he spoke of were a reference to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus which is roiling the U.S. pork industry. The disease, which is fatal to baby pigs, is expected to reduce U.S. hog numbers beginning this spring and through the remainder of the year.

Commodity Classic General Session Offers Insight, Inspiration to a Packed House

The 2014 Commodity Classic general session took place this morning, featuring a panel of top commodity leaders, keynote remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and an inspirational and hilarious presentation on happiness by Brad Montgomery.

Program emcee Mark Mayfield opened the presidents' roundtable, conducting brief interviews with each participant.  Speaking with National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre, Mayfield inquired about why so many farmers play an active role in the greater industry both by participating in Commodity Classic and joining NCGA in record numbers.

"Commodity Classic is all about communications, about getting our word out to all the people who come, and not only communicating to our members who are here, but listening to them communicate to us," Barbre said. "It's a great forum for us to really get a good grasp of what's going on in the industry and out in the country."

Mayfield then conducted similar interviews with American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser, National Sorghum Producers Chairman J.B. Stewart and National Association of Wheat Growers President Bing von Bergen.  Then, the conversation shifted to a more open format as the presidents offered their organization's thoughts on the issues, the discussion offered a glimpse into the many shared concerns and unique issues facing each group.

For the fifth consecutive year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed attendees, where he provided an update on efforts at USDA to implement the new farm bill and highlighted the importance of farmers for all aspects of the national economy.

"The great flexibility, the great freedom that we enjoy in this country to be whatever we want to be starts with the fact that we have a strong enough agriculture that we can shift that responsibility to someone else gladly and have it fulfilled year after year," Vilsack said. "Everyone else in this country that does something other than farming and ranching owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for the freedom you've given them to pursue their dream, to make this country as strong and diverse as it is."

The general session, sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, wrapped up on a positive note with the motivational humor of Brad Montgomery who focused on three steps for happiness - finding happiness in small things, being a leader in making others happy and simply being happy in the challenges of daily life.

TPP Negotiations Make Progress But Major Gaps Remain

Trade ministers completed four days of intense negotiations in Singapore in pursuit of a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, but much work remains to be done before a final agreement is reached. Ministers from the 12 nations announced that they have achieved agreement on "landing zones" on nearly 20 of the 29 TPP chapters. Nonetheless, outstanding issues still include market access, government procurement, environment and intellectual property rights.

Market access for sensitive agricultural products remains one of the most difficult issues, particularly for sugar, dairy and rice.

"A lot of people are watching the United States and Japan," said Floyd Gaibler, USGC director of trade policy and biotechnology. "Rice, wheat, sugar, meat products, and dairy are especially sensitive. If the United States and Japan -- the two biggest economies involved in the talks -- can reach an agreement, it would be an important step towards successfully concluding the broader negotiations."

In a Feb. 20 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the U.S. Grains Council joined other U.S. business, agriculture and food processor groups in calling for a comprehensive and highly ambitious agreement in which all countries agree to eliminate tariffs, as well as non-tariff barriers to trade in goods, services and investment. The letter noted that while every nation has sensitive sectors, all parties need to offer concessions on sensitive items to reach a high-quality agreement.

The joint statement by trade ministers following the conclusion of the Singapore negotiations set no date for the next TPP meeting. There is considerable pressure to conclude the negotiations this spring with President Obama traveling to Asia in April and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting in May. The administration's efforts to push for presidential Trade Promotion Authority are also an issue of concern that must be addressed to bring the TPP negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Oil Ends Month With 5% Gain

(AP) -- The price of oil rose slightly Friday and finished the month with a gain of 5 percent. And the price of gasoline saw the biggest monthly increase since July as refineries prepared for the U.S. driving season.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery rose 19 cents to $102.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For all of February, oil gained $5.10 a barrel. U.S. refineries needed crude oil to make heating oil and diesel as frigid and stormy weather boosted demand.

The average price drivers are paying for gasoline in the U.S. rose a penny Friday to $3.45, the highest price since Sept. 25, according to AAA. The price rose 17 cents for the month -- gasoline prices typically go up in February as refineries undergo seasonal maintenance, reducing supplies. Still, gasoline is 33 cents cheaper than it was at this time last year.

AAA expects the price of gasoline to peak this year between $3.55 and $3.75. The peak price last year was $3.79 a gallon on Feb. 27.

Natural gas ended a wild month by gaining 10 cents Friday to $4.61 per 1,000 cubic feet. The price soared in the middle of the month as homeowners raised the thermostat and supplies fell sharply. But those gains quickly evaporated as forecasts called for warmer temperatures by the middle of March. For February, natural gas futures lost 33 cents, or nearly 7 percent.

Tractor safety campaign challenges unsafe traditions

A child dies from injuries on a farm an average of once every 3.5 days. The most common situation involves a tractor.

“Keep Kids Away from Tractors,” is the unified message of the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network (CASN), a coalition of 38 health, safety and youth organizations. The coalition’s campaign urges adults to think twice before allowing children 12-under to operate tractors or ride on them.

The month of March is popular for week-long ag safety observances by several national organizations. The coalition urges individuals and groups to incorporate CASN resources in their safety initiatives. Posters, radio ads and more information can be found at

Consider these incidents from the past year:
    A 1-year-old North Dakota boy died after falling from a tractor driven by his father. His 4-year-old brother survived. 
    A 6-year-old Minnesota boy died with his grandfather when the tractor they were riding rolled over.
    A 5-year-old Kansas girl died when she fell through the windshield of a combine driven by her father.

The biggest tragedy of all? These deaths were 100 percent preventable.

Allowing young children to ride on a tractor is considered a tradition by many. But remember -- “It’s easier to bury a tradition than a child.”


“Keep Kids Away from Tractors” will be featured in a webinar at noon (CT), Wednesday, March 12. Presenting on behalf of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety will be Director Barbara Lee, Ph.D., and Marsha Salzwedel, M.S. The webinar is sponsored by the Childhood Agricultural Safety Network and AgriSafe Network. Register at

Safras Sees 86.1 MT Brazil Soy Crop

Brazilian soy farmers will produce 86.1 million tons of soy in the 2013/2014 harvest season, according to agricultural consultancy Safras & Mercado, less than the 91.8 million tons forecast on Jan. 24.

A drought in some soy- and corn-producing states and heavy rains in the most-important soy state, Mato Grosso, will reduce the size of the harvests, though the revised soy forecast would still be a record for Brazil's farmers. In the 2012/2013 season Brazil produced 81.5 million tons of soy.

The corn harvest for the 2013/2014 summer crop will be 24.6 million tons, Safras said, compared with the group's January forecast for 28.2 million tons.

The soy harvest was 41% finished by Feb. 28, ahead of where it was last year and ahead of the average for the period, Safras said.

Last year at this time the soy on 37% of the area planted with the crop had been harvested, and the average over the past five years is for the harvest to be 26% finished on Feb. 28, according to Safras.

Heavy rains in Mato Grosso, which produces about 30% of Brazil's soy crop, have raised concerns about delays to the harvest. Swampy conditions can make it difficult or impossible for harvesting equipment to enter fields.

The harvest in that state is nevertheless at the same point on Friday -- 60% finished -- as it was on the same date last year, Safras said. It is also ahead of the average of 48% the past five years.

The harvest is most advanced in the state of Goias, which produces about 10% of Brazil's soy, with 70% of the crop already collected. Last year at this time 55% of Goias's soy crop had been harvested, and the average for the past five years is 42%.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica launches two PED initiatives for swine industry

In an effort to help swine veterinarians and producers find effective measures for managing porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), is launching two PED-focused initiatives. At the recent American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting in Dallas, BIVI announced a commitment to PED applied research and sponsorship of a PED information-sharing service called “PED News,” both starting immediately.

According to Greg Cline, DVM, technical manager for swine enteric disease at BIVI, these two initiatives are designed to help discover, coordinate and share information related to PED that may be useful in helping vets and producers better prevent, manage and control this disease.

For 2014, the applied research commitment includes up to $50,000 in research funds supporting the development of knowledge and tools targeting the practical management of PED. “We will be focused on helping the industry to find answers to some of the most critical questions regarding PED,” explains Cline. “From our long research history with PRRS, Lawsonia intracellularis, PCV2 and other diseases, we continue our commitment to finding solutions through applicable research targeted toward the tough problems that plague the swine industry.”

In addition to the applied research commitment, BIVI is now sponsoring a PED News service to swine veterinarians. For years, the Center of Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance (CADMS) at the University of California, Davis has offered a service called “FMD News.” BIVI has collaborated with CADMS to adapt this platform for PED. Similar to FMD News, PED News aggregates PED information from around the world, summarizes it in English, and sends the information to subscribers with a link to the original source. “We saw a need for this type of information-sharing service to help the North American swine industry stay as current as possible with the all the PED-related information,” notes Cline.

“Because this highly contagious disease is relatively new to the U.S. and its impact on producers can be so devastating, it’s critical that everyone work together to find effective solutions and share information,” Cline says. “These two initiatives should help us to better understand this highly contagious disease and how to more effectively manage PED.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday February 27 Ag News

Mobile Cattle Tracker for Cow Calf Producers
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

No one disputes the value of records when it comes to making management decisions that affects the bottom line of an operation. The old adages that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” and “how do you know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been” rings true for any type of business. Records provide the means to evaluate the effects of changes in management practices on herd productivity. The information gained through tracking changes aids in making logical decisions.

The majority of data collected on a beef cow-calf operation occurs seasonally at herd workings such as pregnancy checking and weaning. However, there is a wealth of data that needs to be collected on an ongoing basis throughout the production year such as breeding data, calving data, health data, death loss, and herd inventories.

The process of evaluating this data often represents a time consuming challenge because most often, these data are collected in the field using paper records which must then be assimilated, transferred, deciphered, validated, and summarized to become useful information. Without uniform, consistent data there can be huge gaps that make meaningful interpretation difficult if not impossible.

A mobile app developed at the University of Nebraska allows data to be collected in the field real-time using mobile devices. Mobile Cattle Tracker allows you to collect and access records when they are needed. With Mobile Cattle Tracker, you can enter calving data, weaning data, pregnancy check data, cow and calf health data, death loss, and culling data. You can email the data collected to yourself or anyone else at any time. The email contains an attachment of the data in a formatted Excel spreadsheet.

Mobile Cattle Tracker is available for ipads, iphones, android smartphones, and android tablets. You can find Mobile Cattle Tracker at Apple’s App Store and at Google Play Store for $9.99 (the lite version is free).

UNL Releases Land Lease Calculator App

            Each year University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension specialists are asked questions regarding farmland rental rates.

            Now, a new UNL Extension app can provide some answers.

            Land Lease Calculator is designed to assist producers in collecting information to help determine what might be charged for agricultural land leases, said Wayne Ohnesorg, extension educator in Madison County.

            Users enter data into the app and it produces an estimated cost for the lease. 

            The app is available for $1.99 in the Apple iTunes Store as well as on Google Play.

            The app helps landowners estimate how much their land is worth.

            "It also works very well for those who are looking to rent land because it gives them an idea of how much they might be willing to pay," said Ohnesorg.

            He said that ultimately, it is up to the landlord and tenant to decide on an appropriate leasing price.

            "The app is a tool to give them a starting point," Ohnesorg said.

            The app is funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board.

            It is now available at

4th Annual Best Burger Contest Begins March 1st

Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers along with the Nebraska Beef Council have announced the launch of the 4th annual Nebraska’s Best Burger contest. A new format to the contest will determine the winner based on a combination of online votes and the scores from a panel of judges.

Online nominations will be accepted from March 1st through March 15th on the Nebraska Beef Council website or through their Facebook page. On March 15th, the top five nominated restaurants will be announced. From March 15th through March 31st, the public will be asked to vote again for one of the 5 finalists. During the final voting period, a panel of judges will also score the top five contestants. The overall contest winner will be determined by the highest combined total from the online vote and judges’ scores.

Another change to this year’s contest is that past winners will now be eligible to win again. Last year, the Peppermill Restaurant in Valentine, NE claimed the top prize.

“This contest is really about showing off the great tasting beef served all across Nebraska,” said Adam Wegner, Director of Marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “We’ve had hundreds of restaurants nominated for this award in the past and all of them were viable candidates. We’re looking forward to even more participation this year.”

Other past winners of the award include the Cellar Bar & Grill in Kearney and Stella’s Bar & Grill in Bellevue. 

For a full list of rules, contest details or to submit a nomination, visit or contact the Nebraska Beef Council at 308-236-7551.

Johanns Statement on OSHA’s Decision to Drop Case Against Nebraska Farm

U.S. Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today said Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) decision to drop its case against a Holt County farm is an important step in bringing the agency back in line with the law. The small farm, which was illegally targeted by OSHA, had been facing $132,000 in fines.

“OSHA had no business regulating this family farm to begin with,” Johanns said. “I’m pleased they are doing the right thing by correctly dropping the case. Producers shouldn’t have to worry about the government placing undue and illegal burdens on their operations. The law clearly exempts small farms from OSHA regulations, and I’m glad the agency took this step to get back in line with the law.”

Earlier this year, Johanns’ language clarifying a 30-plus year provision that excludes family farms with fewer than 10 employees from being regulated by OSHA was included in the omnibus appropriations package. Johanns also led 42 Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter demanding the agency immediately stop the regulation of family farms. Since then, OSHA has pledged to clarify its policies on regulating the activity of these farms.

Growers Statewide to Share On-Farm Research

            Farm operators and agronomists from across the state are invited to attend the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research update program March 10 at UNL's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead or March 11 at the York County Fairgrounds (4-H Building) in York.

            The session also can be viewed via the web on March 10 at the Gage County or Phelps County Extension offices online at

            The program is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT at all locations. Producers will obtain valuable crop production-related information from on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska faculty.

            The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board.

            These March programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2013 growing season. Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers' fields, using their equipment.

            The luncheon speaker at these events will be Joe Luck, UNL Extension precision ag specialist, who will be speaking on "Making Use of Your Precision Ag Data".

            If participating in person and for meal planning purposes, preregistration is requested by calling 402-624-8030 for the March 10 program at the ARDC or 402-362-5508 for March 11 program at the York 4-H Building. There is no registration fee as a result of funding from the Nebraska Corn Board.

            To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and how to participate, visit

Interactive On-Farm Research Guide Now Available

            An interactive, online magazine now provides comprehensive information for those considering on-farm research. The "Grower's Guide to On-Farm Research" at was developed as a tool to be used in conjunction with the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network.

            NOFRN is sponsored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Nebraska Corn Board. The goal of the network is to put into effect a statewide, on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

            The guide provides a comprehensive overview of what growers can expect by participating in on-farm research.

            Some of the current research includes irrigation, nitrogen management in corn production, corn population and cover crops.

            Jenny Rees, UNL Extension educator, said the on-farm research grower's guide is interactive on computers, tablets and mobile phones whether Apple or Android.

            "The online magazine isn't your typical online publication, Rees said. "This was designed for three different learning styles: audio, reading and visual via YouTube videos. We hope this will be an excellent resource for our growers and anyone interested in partnering with us to conduct on-farm research."

            For more information on the project or how to participate, contact Keith Glewen, UNL Extension, at 402-624-8030 or, a local UNL Extension office, the Nebraska Corn Board at 402-471-2676 or Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 402-438-6459.

            For more information about the NOFRN, visit

            UNL Extension is in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

U.S. Agriculture Leaders Gather for USMEF Market Expo

A dozen leaders of state and national agriculture organizations from around the United States have embarked on a visit to the Middle East and Europe organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to develop a deeper understanding of the potential of these two export markets for U.S. beef, pork and lamb.

The largest food industry trade show in the Middle East, the Gulfood Show in Dubai, is the first stop for the group, which includes representatives from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, United Soybean Board, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Iowa Corn Growers Association/Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Nebraska Corn Board, Montana Beef Council and Merck Animal Health.

“Gulfood is like the Oscars for our industry,” said John Chihade, president of Chihade International, Inc., an Atlanta-based exporter who has been exporting to the Middle East region for more than a decade and is participating in the 2014 show. “We get to see our customers and our vendors all in one location in a market that continues growing.”

The Middle East region on display at Gulfood is a stable trading partner for the U.S. beef industry, the No. 4 market in volume during 2013 purchasing 147,696 metric tons of product valued at $276.2 million. The region combines Egypt, far and away the world’s leading market for U.S. beef variety meat, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is almost exclusively a market for U.S. muscle cuts and higher-value beef that grew 11 percent in value last year to $54.6 million. It is a smaller market for U.S. pork, although it grew 27 percent in volume and 50 percent in value last year, largely on sales to the UAE, which hosts numerous business travelers and tourists.

“I am here to try to get more American beef for my customers,” said Ahmed Hefni, general manager of the Egyptian Foundation for Import & Export. “All things being equal, U.S. beef is the only choice, of course, because of its high quality. But, price is always a consideration.”

Hefni noted the competition for his business from a range of countries including Canada, the European Union, Brazil, New Zealand and even India, who were among a range of beef producers with a large presence at Gulfood.

That sentiment was echoed by Thomas Das, vice chairman and managing director of FANTCO, a leading importer based in Dubai, who indicated that Australian beef is the primary competitor to the United States in the region, although the competition is based more on price than quality.

“The UAE is growing and has big potential for continued growth,” said Das, who noted that the consistent supply and quality of U.S. beef is an advantage that he used to help bring the product to an increasing number of high-profile outlets, including an estimated 110 five-star hotels in the region.

The Gulfood 2014 show, which runs through Feb. 27, includes 4,500 exhibiting companies and 120 national pavilions representing countries from the United States to Colombia to the Ukraine to Singapore. An estimated 80,000 visitors from 152 countries are expected to attend.

“Maybe 20 years ago, the Middle East wasn’t looked at as much of a volume market,” said Keith Obermiller who manages international sales for American Foods Group of Green Bay, Wis. “But the UAE is unique in this area. Its beef demand is more advanced and diverse, and disposable income continues to rise. And U.S. beef is very much appreciated here.”

Members of the USMEF Market Expo team include Kim Brackett of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board from Williams, Calif.; Mark Caspers from Nebraska Soybean Board in Auburn, Neb.; Annie Dee from United Soybean Board in Aliceville, Ala.; Don Duvall from Illinois Corn Marketing board in Carmi, Ill.; Sam Funk from United Soybean board in Defiance, Mo.; Wayne Humphreys from Iowa Corn Growers Association/Iowa Corn Promotion Board in Columbus Junction, Iowa; Don Hutchens from Nebraska Corn Board in Lincoln, Neb.; USMEF Chairman Mark Jagels from Davenport, Neb.; Don Murphy from Illinois Corn Marketing Board in Harvel, Ill.; Wes Plummer from Montana Beef Council in Kalispell, Mont.; Judson Vasconcelos from Merck Animal Health in Summit, N.J., and Robert White Jr. from United Soybean Board in Virginia Beach, Va.

In addition to attending the Gulfood Show, the team will receive briefings on the region from USMEF staff, meet with importers, distributors and retailers in the region, and travel to Europe for briefings on the market potential of the EU region and tours of several meat processing plants and livestock operations.

Heidemann Announces Otoe County Designated Livestock Friendly

Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann today announced the official designation of Otoe County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County. With the addition of Otoe County, there are now 24 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program, including: Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Cuming, Dawes, Deuel, Dodge, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Holt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kimball, Keith, Lincoln, Morrill, Saline, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Wayne and Webster Counties.

“Otoe County has shown it is committed to supporting the county’s livestock industry and related economic development,” said Lt. Gov. Heidemann. “Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is a way to recognize the tremendous impact the livestock industry has on main streets and the local economy. It provides jobs for those working with animals and a marketplace for grain and hay producers, while also adding value to those products.”

Lt. Gov. Heidemann presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Otoe County Commissioners C.R. Hauptman, Rick Freshman, Carol Crook, Timothy Nelsen and Steve Lade. The county will receive road signs bearing the program logo to display along highways. The program is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Department of Agriculture Assistant Director Bobbie Kriz-Wickham said the official designation makes a positive statement about Otoe County. “It is clear that Otoe County officials have a good understanding of, and appreciation for, the economic benefits that can come from responsible livestock production,” said Asst. Dir. Kriz-Wickham.

To apply for a livestock friendly county designation, the county board must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution to apply. A completed application is then submitted to Department of Agriculture for review. Local producers or community groups can encourage their county board to submit a livestock friendly county application.

Additional information on the Livestock Friendly County program is available by contacting NDA toll free at 800-422-6692, or by visiting the Department of Agriculture website at and clicking the Livestock Friendly County link.

USDA Reminds Producers of March 17 Sales Closing Date for Noninsurable Crops

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, Dan Steinkruger, urges producers who want to purchase 2014 protection through the Noninsurable Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) to do so before the sales closing date of March 17, 2014. The sales closing date is actually Saturday, March 15, 2014, but producers have until Monday, March 17, 2014, to purchase coverage this year.

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields/grazing loss, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters including drought, freeze, hail, excessive moisture, or excessive wind.

Alfalfa, grass, and spring seeded crops and forages including but not limited to barley, oats, and vegetables have a sales closing date of March 15, 2014.

“Drought has been active in Nebraska since 2012 so farmers and ranchers should evaluate this program as a risk management tool,” said Steinkruger.  He added, “The 2014 Farm Bill made improvements to the Noninsurable Crop Disaster Assistance Program but those changes do not take effect until 2015.”

In order to meet eligibility requirements for NAP, crops must be noninsurable commercially-produced agricultural commodity crops for which the catastrophic risk protection level of crop insurance is not available.

In the event of a natural disaster, NAP covers the amount of loss greater than 50 percent of the expected production based on the approved yield and reported acreage.

Producers must file the application and pay a service fee by the March 17, 2014 deadline. The service fee is the lesser of $250 per crop or $750 per producer per administrative county, not to exceed a total of $1,875 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.

Limited resource farmers may request a waiver of the service fee at the time the application for coverage is filed.  Producers must recertify their limited resource status for each year that a waiver is requested.

For more information about NAP, please contact your local County FSA Office or visit

Camp Tax Proposal Provides Wins, Challenges for Soybean Farmers

In response to today's introduction of a comprehensive tax reform proposal from House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), American Soybean Association President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser issued the following statement underscoring the impacts of multiple aspects of the proposed legislation:

"The farmers of the American Soybean Association commends Chairman Camp for his willingness to tackle the difficult task of tax reform. His proposal is both comprehensive and bold, and we would likely see many benefits from his proposed simplification and reform of the tax code.

"ASA strongly supports the measures proposed to allow farmers to continue utilizing cash-based accounting regardless of size. This accommodates the uncertain and potentially inconsistent nature of farm incomes and crop values across multiple years. Additionally, the proposal would make expensing deductions under Section 179 permanent. This provision enables farmers and other small businesses to deduct business-related purchases like equipment and infrastructure.

"ASA also strongly supports the measure's proposed increase in revenues for investment in our waterways and highway transportation infrastructure. These investments are vital to maintaining the global competitiveness of American soybean farmers.

"We are significantly concerned, however, in the proposal's elimination of the Biodiesel Tax Credit. Understanding that achieving comprehensive tax reform requires many compromises, ASA believes the Biodiesel Tax Credit is worthy of extension given the many benefits it provides, including support for jobs, economic development in rural communities, diversity in our energy sources, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, among others."


Today, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg at the White House to announce proposed revisions to the Nutrition Facts label, which has been significantly updated only once since its initial release twenty years ago.  The Nutrition Facts label is found on roughly 700,000 products.  The updates announced today support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative in its ongoing efforts to provide parents and families with access to information that helps them make healthier choices.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.  “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

The proposed updates are intended to reflect the latest scientific information about the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.  The proposed label would also replace out-of-date serving sizes to better align with the amount consumers actually eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes.

“For 20 years consumers have come to rely on the iconic nutrition label to help them make healthier food choices,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “To remain relevant, the FDA’s newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans.”

Some of the FDA’s proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label are:
·         Require information about the amount of “added sugars” in a food product. Based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans determination that calorie intake from added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced.  The FDA proposes to include “added sugars” on the label to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
·         Update serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put into place in 1994.  By law, serving sizes must be based on the portion consumers actually eat, rather than the amount they “should” be eating.
·         Present calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products that could be consumed in one sitting or in multiple sittings.
·         Refresh the format to emphasize certain elements, such as calories, serving sizes and Percent Daily Value, which are important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease.

To find out more information about today’s announcement, go to

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/21/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 905,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 38.01 million gallons daily. That is up 2,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 901,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.81 billion gallons. For the past six weeks, ethanol production has remained in a very tight range of 895,000-905,000 b/d.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.0 million barrels. That is a 1.0% decrease from last week.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the 21st straight week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 358.5 million gallons daily. Notably, refiner/blender input of ethanol hit a nine-week high.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.60%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.722 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 101,001 metric tons of livestock feed, 90,043 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.71 million pounds of corn oil daily.

U.S. Biodiesel Outlook Fueled by Legislative Changes

Adjustments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) at the end of 2013 set up an environment for a stable long-term outlook for biodiesel demand, according to a new report from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) and Advisory group.

“We saw a record level of biodiesel production in 2013 due to the expiration of the one dollar per gallon tax credit on biodiesel production and an anticipated soybean shortage in 2014,” notes report author and Rabobank analyst Al Griffin.

According the Rabobank U.S. Biodiesel Outlook,  the U.S. biodiesel industry is expected to remain commoditized with tightening margins and periods of negative returns. The industry players best positioned for success are those focused on becoming the low cost producer, gaining access to multiple feedstock sources, and accessing adequate working capital to withstand volatile margins.

“Increases in biodiesel production will bolster demand for soy oil, corn oil, canola oil, yellow grease, and palm oil, along with other, less common inputs,” says Griffin. “With biodiesel feedstock being split roughly evenly between soy oil and all other sources, the fats and oils sector will benefit from intensified production.”

A key to the future of biodiesel is the advanced biofuel component of the (RFS), which is primarily fulfilled by biodiesel. While the advanced biofuel requirement could be met using sugar and sorghum-based ethanol, domestic production of both is limited and attaining economically competitive imports is challenging. Far more significant in supporting biodiesel production is the fact that future increases in the use of ethanol are “constrained as a result of infrastructure.” This snag, acknowledged by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is generally referred to as the “blend wall.” Although the EPA has signaled that it will adjust its original RFS mandate levels during 2014, biodiesel will be less impacted than the other categories.

Soy Checkoff Harnesses Industry to Combat Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

Two billion dollars annually: Only a problem this large and costly could bring together private industry, universities from across the country and farmer-led organizations to provide farmers with answers.

That’s how much University of Wisconsin researcher Vince Davis estimates herbicide-resistant weeds cost U.S. farmers each year.

To help fight this loss, the soy checkoff recently took the lead in creating the Take Action program to help farmers implement production practices on their farms that can manage herbicide-resistant weeds. Universities and herbicide providers have joined the effort, and all are promoting a unified approach to weed management.

“Diversification is the most important thing farmers can do to manage these weeds,” says Davis. “This includes diversification of effective herbicide modes of action, diversified weed-management practices and also utilizing non-herbicide control options such as judicious tillage, cleaning equipment for weed seed and diversified crop rotations. Weeds develop resistance more quickly when production systems remain static.”

Take Action recently launched a website,, with interactive guides and other information on how to diversify weed management.

“What makes the Take Action program unique is the support from all the different organizations, private industry and universities,” says Jim Call, United Soybean Board (USB) chairman and soybean farmer from Madison, Minn. “It really shows how big of an issue herbicide-resistant weeds are and how they impact all of agriculture.”

In addition to the checkoff, other supporters of the Take Action program include Cotton Incorporated, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, the United Sorghum Checkoff, BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow, Monsanto, Syngenta and universities throughout the United States.

Higher Placements Weather Related

Tim Petry, Livestock Economist, North Dakota State University Extension Service

USDA-NASS released the monthly Cattle on Feed report on February 22. The number of cattle and calves on feed for slaughter weight in the U.S. for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 10.760 million head on Feb. 1. The inventory was 2.8 percent below Feb. 1, 2013, and marks the 18th consecutive month with lower cattle on feed numbers than the previous year. It was the lowest number of Feb. 1 cattle on feed since 2003.

Fewer cattle on feed numbers imply lower fed cattle slaughter and beef production ahead. The LMIC is projecting an over 6% decline in beef production for 2014. The wild card will be cow slaughter that declined in the second half of 2013 as U.S. pasture and range conditions improved. Parts of the Southern Plains are dry along with much of the Southwest including record drought in California. Parts of the rest of the U.S. cattle producing regions are less than a year removed from drought conditions, so ample spring and summer rainfall will be necessary for lower beef cow slaughter to occur.

Placements of cattle into feedlots during January totaled 2.029 million head, up over 8.5% from last year. That increase may sound surprising to some given the 1% smaller calf crop in 2013. That along with a 1.7% increase in beef replacement heifers, and fewer feeder cattle imports resulted in a 2.7% decrease in feeder cattle outside of feedlots on Jan. 1. However, dry conditions and cold temperatures exhausted small grains pasture in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. That caused many winter stocker cattle to move to market in January. The extreme drought in California also forced significant movement of winter grazing cattle into feedlots. Placements in California were up 27% over last year. USDA-AMS reported a 9% increase in nationwide feeder cattle auction receipts so far this year, similar to the increase in placements.

Increased marketings of an already shorter supply of calves and feeder cattle should lead to smaller placements in the future - again weather permitting. Shorter supplies will be supportive to prices that are at record high levels.

Beef University Boosts Foodservice and Retail Professionals’ Beef Knowledge

The Beef Checkoff Program unveiled a new web-based platform for its popular training program, Beef University. For nearly a decade, foodservice and retail professionals have relied on checkoff training tools to educate staff on how beef is brought to market, from farm to fork.

Beef University educates retailers and foodservice operators on all facets of beef from production and product quality to marketing and merchandising. Downloadable tools include PowerPoint presentations, fact sheets and videos; all of which can be used for self-directed education or part of a customized training session facilitated by Beef Checkoff staff or utilized within a company’s training program.

“Retail and foodservice operators have a direct connection with the people that consume the beef raised by my family and the entire beef community, and so it’s important that we share the knowledge and insights on the care that goes into raising American’s favorite high-quality protein,” says Sid Viebrock, a beef producer from Washington and chairman of the checkoff's Value Subcommittee. “Because of this, we saw an opportunity to create a forum for increased engagement with those who are on the front lines serving and selling beef every day.”

The online community enables users to directly connect with beef subject matter experts and share feedback on resources, express interest in additional education needs and more.To explore the fully-customizable and free resources, become a member of the Beef U online community at or

USGC Urges US Farmers, Handlers, Exporters to Strictly Adhere to Stewardship Program
President and CEO Tom Sleight

“The U.S. Grains Council welcomes the announcement of an aggressive stewardship program for the release of Syngenta seed trait Agrisure Duracade to minimize the risk of export trade disruption. It is important for all sectors of the value chain -- individual farmers, technology providers, shippers and exporters alike -- to recognize the potentially significant international implications of their actions. The Council therefore urges producers who choose to plant Agrisure Duracade in 2014 to adhere carefully to their stewardship responsibilities in order to minimize the risk to U.S. export sales.

“Today’s unfortunate reality is that biotechnology approval systems around the world are not synchronous. In addition, some countries still lack effective, trade-enabling policies regarding the low level presence (LLP) of unapproved biotech events in grain shipments. Inadvertent commingling is almost certain to occur in the high volume U.S. commodity handling system, and modern testing methods are likely to detect even trace levels of unapproved events. The presence of unapproved events in the export stream therefore carries a significant risk of major international trade disruptions. Given the increase in corn production in competitor countries and the ability of buyers to source anywhere in the world, leakage of unapproved events may even result in the closure of some major markets to U.S. corn exports for an indefinite period.

“The U.S. Grains Council represents a wide variety of members across the value chain committed to maintaining an open and fair grain trading system around the world. We recognize the desire of producers to deploy new technology as soon as it becomes available. We recognize also that continued technology development is essential to achieving global food security and creating new opportunities for producers and agribusinesses. We believe, finally, that countries lacking a functioning, science based regulatory system ought not to enjoy a de facto veto over U.S. technology deployment. At the same time, however, the risk of costly trade disruption is significant and should be taken seriously by the entire value chain.

“There is no easy solution to these conflicting goals. In the short term, we urge all stakeholders to weigh the consequences of their actions, recognize the international implications of planting and marketing decisions, and stringently adhere to their stewardship responsibilities. In the long run, we encourage all parties to join the Council in working for a resolution of the low-level presence and asynchronous approval issues, which is the solution ultimately needed to serve the common interests of producers, agribusinesses, and consumers around the world.”

Agriculture Secretary Announces $3 Million for a New Program to Improve Pollinator Health

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be targeted in five Midwestern states, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

"Honey bee pollination supports an estimated $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a nutritious diet. The future security of America's food supply depends on healthy honey bees," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Expanded support for research, combined with USDA's other efforts to improve honey bee health, should help America's beekeepers combat the current, unprecedented loss of honey bee hives each year."

Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment. Recent studies have shown that beekeepers are losing approximately 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year, up from historical norms of ten to fifteen percent overwintering losses experienced prior to 2006.

This assistance will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators, as well as habitat for other wildlife.

Midwestern states were chosen because from June to September the region is the resting ground for over 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.

Applications are due March 21, 2014

U.S. Dairy Organizations Say Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Must Further Open Japan, Canada to Exports

The ongoing – and so far, inconclusive negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), must result in the free trade of dairy products between the United States, Canada and Japan, according to organizations representing America’s dairy farmers, processors and exporters. The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) also say progress on market access into those two markets has been frustratingly slow, and U.S. negotiators shouldn’t allow the process to drag on indefinitely.

The statement by the U.S. dairy groups follows ministerial-level meetings in Singapore this week on several contentious, yet-to-be resolved issues, including resistance by Canada and Japan to allow further market access for “sensitive” sectors, including dairy imports. The TPP involves a significant number of markets bordering the Pacific Ocean, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern noted, “The U.S. dairy industry is prepared to eliminate all tariffs affecting dairy trade with Canada and Japan, as long as they do the same. If Japan and Canada are not willing to make an effort and offer realistic market access to the U.S., then they are not serious about being part of TPP.”

“It is time to finish the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including resolving the treatment of agricultural trade,” said Tom Suber, president of USDEC. “The principle of creating comprehensive market access is too important to this and future trade agreements. Therefore, if Japan and Canada are not committed to this goal, we need to move forward without them.”

Suber noted that the U.S. dairy sector, in consultation with government officials, “has been patient and flexible with our Japanese and Canadian friends, but we are running out of both patience and time. We strongly believe there is an achievable deal to which both countries can agree, but that deal must include substantial market access for our products. It cannot be any other way.”

In addition to addressing market access, both organizations noted that any comprehensive agreement also must include effective disciplines for applying sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that are science-based and enforceable, and preventing restrictions on the use of common food products.

Finally, the two U.S. dairy industry groups reiterated their concerns regarding New Zealand’s monopolistic dairy structure that creates unfair commercial advantages for a single company, and reminded US negotiators that the TPP talks must address that concern.

CWT Assists with 5.8 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 23 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Land O’Lakes, and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 4.791 million pounds (2,173 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese, and 1.032 million pounds (468 metric tons) of 82% butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and South Pacific. The product will be delivered in February through June 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 25.329 million pounds of cheese, 7.276 million pounds of butter and 698,865 pounds of whole milk powder to 19 countries on four continents. These sales are the equivalent of 397.8 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.


She works every aspect of the farm, keeps everyone on task, and even advocates for the industry she loves. Farm moms are amazing women, and Monsanto Company wants to continue recognizing their efforts. As a result, the company today announced that nominations are now open in its search for the next America’s Farmers Mom of the Year.

Nominations for the contest, which is in its fifth year, will be open from February 27 – March 31, 2014. Anyone can nominate their favorite farm mom for a chance to win up to $10,000 -- whether it’s their own mom, sister, aunt, daughter, friend or community member.

 “Last year we received nominations from 48 different states – all featuring wonderful stories of active and empowered women who make a positive impact on their families, farms and communities,” says Jessica Simmons, Corporate Marketing Director for Monsanto. “We know there are still so many great stories out there to share and more women to recognize, so we want to hear from you.”

To nominate a favorite farm mom, visit during the nomination period and submit a brief essay online or by mail that explains how the nominated farm mom contributes to her family, farm, community and agriculture. Each nomination will be judged based on published criteria by a panel of judges from American Agri-Women, and Monsanto will select five regional winners based on the judges’ decisions. Each regional winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Profiles of the regional winners will then be posted to, where the public can vote for one national farm mom winner. Announced just prior to Mother’s Day, the national winner will receive an additional $5,000 cash prize above and beyond her regional prize.

“We carefully review every nomination and enjoy reading the phenomenal stories of farm moms who give selflessly to better the world they live in,” says Kris Zilliox, Vice President of Education for American Agri-Women. “We are glad to be a part of a program that recognizes the important role women play in agriculture and are looking forward to seeing what the 2014 nominations will bring.”

For more information on the program or for complete eligibility requirements and official contest rules visit Interested parties may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to America's Farmers Mom of the Year, Attn: Sue Dillon, 349 Marshall Ave., Ste. 200, St. Louis, MO 63119.

Give newborn calves immediate immunity during spring calving season

As spring calving season approaches, it is vital that your calves receive adequate immunity at birth.

Because calves are born without an active immune system, they rely on the consumption of antibodies from colostrum for protection against scours and pneumonia. When the calf consumes colostrum, these maternal-derived antibodies, or immunoglobulins (IgG), are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. This process is called passive transfer.

Several factors, including reduced colostrum quality, delayed nursing and cold stress, can inhibit successful passive transfer and lead to low blood serum antibody concentrations in calves. Estimates suggest failure of passive transfer is common and may be occurring in as many as one-third of beef calves in North America. “This can be problematic to both calf health and performance,” says Bobbi Brockmann, director of sales and marketing with ImmuCell Corporation.

Calves that do not consume high-quality colostrum are 6 times more likely to get sick during the first weeks of life compared to calves that consumed enough colostrum. Furthermore, low blood serum IgG concentrations (less than 1,000 mg/dL) have been associated with higher death loss and decreased performance. This can hurt profitability by increasing treatment costs and reducing weight gains.

One solution producers can use to protect their spring calf crop is to provide supplemental immune protection to their newborn calves immediately after birth.

“This can be done by complementing the colostrum your cows produce with USDA-approved antibody products,” says Brockmann. Concentrated antibody products can be fed to calves at the same time as colostrum and go to the gut to immediately bind and neutralize diarrhea-causing agents, while also being absorbed into the bloodstream for extended immune protection.

Antibody products are available in bolus, gel and powder forms. They also are included in some colostrum replacer and supplement formulas for added value.

“Antibody products can protect a producer’s genetic investment by providing immediate immune protection to the calf,” says Brockmann. “Concentrated antibody products also provide immunity against specific pathogens such as E. coli and coronavirus so the calf receives the best start possible and can maximize their genetic potential.”

Work closely with a veterinary professional or animal health specialist to develop a health program that fulfills the calf’s need for immediate immunity at birth.

Preventing PEDv: Take Another Look At Biosecurity And Nutrition

Quality control and stringent biosecurity measures were once again reaffirmed as the only precautions swine producers can truly take against PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus).  After another recent outbreak of the virus, many industry members are now reassessing their feed ingredient sources and tightening the reins on the traceability of their overall management and nutrition programs.

“The overall goal of the swine industry is to eliminate and prevent the dissemination of PEDv. This will largely be achieved by using proven, controlled disease challenge (feedback) strategies and adherence to strict biosecurity programs that prevent the spread of the virus through direct exposure and environmental contamination,” said Dr. Karl Dawson, chief scientific officer at Alltech.

PEDv, caused by a member of the family Coronaviridae, is a fast spreading virus, with a short incubation period (two to four days). It can affect pigs of all ages, but is strongest in sows, gilts, nursing and recently weaned pigs. PEDv is mainly transmitted via indirect or direct contact through fecal/oral means. It can also spread by fomites, aerosol emissions and most recently through transmission of feed ingredients.

Dawson cautions producers to work closely with veterinarians to implement stringent biosecurity measures and a nutritional management program that strengthens the pigs’ immunity and disease defenses. Producers should identify key interactions where there is a risk of exposure and ensure safety standards are in place. Proper cleaning with disinfectants, heating and drying helps to kill and prevent the virus. Other areas that have been determined high risk: dead haul/renderer sites, other wildlife in the barns, personnel working at other pig farms, recently removed culled pigs and newly weaned pigs transported to the nursery or finish site.

Besides implementing strict biosecurity measures, producers also need to build up their herds’ health and immunity to prepare them for the worst.

“While it is unrealistic to believe that a simple nutritional change will result in the elimination of the virus from a herd of pigs,” Dawson said. “Alltech’s distinct set of technologies can help in maintaining healthy pig populations, which is the first step in dealing with a herd crisis.”

Swine Advantage V is a specially formulated protein-based solution that contains no animal protein and combines approved nutritional strategies that have been shown to help maintain gastrointestinal health and wellbeing. Because of the rigidly-controlled manufacturing process for these non-animal proteins, the product can be used as an alternative protein source in pig diets without concern about biosecurity risks associated with the inclusion of animal proteins in pig diets.

“The use of such material clearly addresses the increased concerns about the dissemination of viruses in plasma and other animal by-products,” Dawson said. “By using proven nutritional strategies in conjunction with prevention programs it may also be possible to augment and reduce the production losses associated with remediation programs that are designed to prevent further dissemination of PEDv.”

Selenium is Key Ingredient in Producing Healthier Meat For Humans, Brazilian Study Finds

Selenium may be a key ingredient to producing healthier meat and lowering animal cholesterol levels according to researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil. The study aimed to determine the effects of canola oil as a fat source when combined with the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, as well as determine the metabolic lipid oxidation and nutritional value of the beef. The result – a meat enriched with vitamin E and selenium with lower levels of cholesterol.

Selenium, an essential nutrient for animals and people, is a powerful antioxidant and plays a critical role in metabolism, reproductive health and the body’s natural defense system. The organic selenium used in the USP study was Sel-Plex®, from Alltech, a natural source of selenium enriched yeasts with higher bioavailability than inorganic sources. Sel-Plex is the only FDA reviewed and the first EU approved form of organic selenium for all animal species.

“We’re excited to share these independent results, obtained by one of the most prestigious universities in this field of study, with the global livestock and poultry sectors,” said Steve Elliott, global director of the mineral management program for Alltech. “Selenium has once again been confirmed as a critical component for the human diet, and Alltech is committed to delivering a safe and efficient source of selenium to animals and humans in a natural way.”

According to the lead researcher, Dr. Marcus Antonio Zanetti of the School of Animal Science and Food Engineering, USP, studies like this are important to improve human nutrition in a time of great demand for healthier products.

"Strengthening the immune system of people and helping health professionals, nutritionists and all those involved in the meat production chain find a practical way to do so is one of the objectives of this research," Zanetti said.

In the first part of the study, 48 Nellore bulls were divided into four groups with and without additional supplemental selenium, vitamin E and canola oil. The second phase aimed to provide selenium-enriched meat to a group of elderly people.

"We supplemented the diet of animals with 2.5 mg of organic selenium per cow per day for a period of three months during fattening and found that in addition to increasing the amount of selenium in the blood of animals, the mineral content in the meat produced was six times greater than meat from beef cattle that have not had the supplemented diet,” Zanetti said.

According to Zanetti, the cholesterol level in the blood and meat of the animals that were fed the selenium-enriched diet was also reduced significantly.

In the second phase of the research, to assess the effects of meat supplemented with selenium on lowering cholesterol in human blood, the researchers conducted a study in a nursing care facility in São Paulo. For periods up to 90 days, the cattle meat supplemented with selenium and vitamin E was included in the meals of 80 elderly people in different variations on the menu. The special diet was coordinated by a registered dietician for the project.

After 45 days, a blood test analysis for the group showed an increase in the amount of selenium in the blood plasma. Zanetti emphasized that the results of cholesterol rates are not yet completed.

"However, through this research, we have seen an increase in the availability of vitamin E and selenium in the blood of the group that ate the meat,” Zanetti said.

According to nutritionists, selenium is considered an important antioxidant mineral that prevents the formation of free radicals, enhances immunity and thus helps fight infections in humans. However, many people are still deficient in selenium in their daily diet. According to the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, USP, selenium levels are low in the Brazilian diet due to the country’s mineral deficient soil.

Zanetti believes that the development of supplemented products can help improve human nutrition.

“The daily consumption of 200 grams (7 ounces) of meat supplemented with selenium is able to provide the recommended mineral [50 micrograms] daily intake,” he said.

In a previous trial, Zanetti and other researchers supplemented the diet of cows with sunflower oil, organic selenium and vitamin E to increase the mineral availability in milk produced by the animals. The diet supplemented with milk was offered to a group of children in first through fourth grade. The research results showed the additional improvement in the quality and preservation of enriched milk by increasing levels of selenium and vitamin E in the blood of the children.

“This is pioneering research on selenium enriched milk and meat that links animal feed and nutrition to human health,” Zanetti said. "In the world, there has only been basic investigation into this, but nothing as extensive as our studies.”