Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday February 19 Ag News

Farmland Markets Show Signs of Cooling
Nathan Kaufman, Kansas City Fed Omaha Branch executive, and Maria Akers, associate economist

Farmland markets in the Tenth District may have begun to cool. After several years of large increases, agricultural bankers indicated cropland value gains slowed dramatically in the fourth quarter and ranchland values declined slightly. Farmers continued to be the primary buyers of farmland, with most intending to expand their operations. However, the sharp slowdown in cropland price gains occurred despite there being less farmland for sale compared with last year. Looking ahead, more bankers expected farmland values to decline in 2014 while fewer expected prices to rise further.

Cropland cash rental rates also stabilized in the fourth quarter. When farmland values were surging in recent years, landowners often negotiated substantial increases in cash rents around year-end. In the fourth quarter of 2013, though, rental rates on District cropland remained largely unchanged from the previous year. However, ranchland cash rental rates rose moderately, especially for pastures that had recovered from drought.  

The slowdown in farmland value gains and increases in cash rent occurred amid expectations of weaker farm income. Agricultural bankers reported farm income fell short of year-ago levels for the third straight quarter, primarily due to lower corn prices. Weaker farm income boosted loan renewals, and demand for new operating loans held at a fve-year high as producers prepared for spring planting. Some bankers also were concerned low crop prices and high production costs could squeeze proft margins for their farm customers and potentially afect the performance of their agricultural loans.

Cropland values increased only modestly in the fourth quarter compared with the rapid pace of the past few years. From 2010 to 2012, nonirrigated cropland values jumped more than 6 percent from the third to the fourth quarter of each year while irrigated cropland values surged an average of almost 7 percent. In contrast, cropland values rose only about 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 despite fewer farms being for sale. Ranchland values actually dipped below third-quarter levels. Although farmland values remained higher than in 2012, the year-over-year gain was the lowest in more than three years.

Farmers continued to be active buyers in farm real estate markets. Survey results showed the share of farmers buying farmland has grown from an average of 63 percent in 2007 to 76 percent in 2013. The vast majority of farmers who bought farmland in 2013 intended to farm the land themselves rather than rent to other farmers. The most common reason for farmland purchases by nonfarmers was to lease the land, primarily to large farm operators, though some bought farmland for recreational purposes and a few intended to use the land for development.

A growing number of District bankers felt that farmland values had topped out and could retreat from current highs. At the end of 2012, only 1 percent of survey respondents expected a decline in cropland values compared with 16 percent at the end of 2013. Several contacts cited land quality as a main driver of price appreciation and indicated there was still competition for highly productive farmland but little demand for marginal ground.

Lower crop prices continued to dampen farm income. Despite some drought conditions during the growing season, fall crop yields in most of the District recovered to near-average levels. Still, the rebound in crop production was not enough to overcome the drag on income from lower prices that have prevailed since harvest, particularly for corn.

Looking forward, bankers expected farm income to remain weak in 2014 unless production costs begin to moderate. Tey noted that while fertilizer costs had declined 17 percent from their peak in May 2013, prices of other crop inputs had not adjusted. In fact, seed prices continued to climb and have doubled since 2007. Tough more volatile, fuel costs have remained at a historically high level for almost two years.  

The drop in corn prices, however, translated to an improved outlook for the livestock sector. Feed costs have fallen more than 20 percent since July while fed cattle prices increased 11 percent. Furthermore, historically low cow inventories supported rising prices for feeder cattle. In fact, strong demand from cow/calf producers for high-quality pastures supported higher cash rental rates for ranchland. 

Conversely, the annual increase in cash rental rates for cropland may have been curbed by the prospect of lower crop income for 2014. Following several years of steep increases, cash rental rates for cropland generally held steady at the end of 2013. Still, cash rents had already reached historically high levels, which could put additional pressure on proft margins in 2014 if crop revenues decline.

Reduced farm income underpinned demand for operating loans during the fourth quarter. As the index of farm income fell in 2013, the index of demand for farm operating loans held at a fve-year high in the fourth quarter. Preparation for spring planting boosted short-term borrowing needs, especially since some producers had not yet sold crops harvested in the fall. Agricultural bankers noted, however, they were competing for loan volume with agricultural vendors that offered fnancing. In fact, survey respondents indicated more than half of their farm customers also received credit from farm input and equipment suppliers.

With softer farm income, more bankers reported a decline in loan repayment rates and a rise in loan renewals and extensions compared with last quarter. Furthermore, farm loan repayment rates were not expected to improve during the next three months while loan renewals and extensions were expected to rise modestly. Lower income also appeared to have dampened farm capital spending, which had typically risen at year-end.

However, agricultural bankers continued to seek qualifed borrowers by offering low interest rates on farm operating and real estate loans. The average fxed interest rate on farm operating loans has held below 6 percent for more than a year and the average fxed interest rate on farm real estate was about 5.4 percent throughout 2013. Despite heated competition for farm loans, agricultural bankers reported little change in collateral requirements. 

UNL's Market Journal Reports from South America

            There may be a few more weeks left of winter, but if you tune into an upcoming episode of "Market Journal," you may think it is July or August in Nebraska.

            The University of Nebraska-Lincoln television show last month visited Argentina and Brazil, where soybean-growing season was in full swing.  Both Argentina and Brazil may experience record harvests in 2014, with the latter possibly overtaking the United States as the world's largest soybean producing nation.  The "Market Journal" team made the trip to examine the boom in soybean production in South America and also to identify opportunities and challenges these countries face moving forward.

            "The problems that Argentina faces are in the currency and the exports," said Jeff Wilkerson, the host of "Market Journal." "Producers face a 35 percent export tax when they ship their soybeans, which would take a large chunk of potential profits."

            The soybean market abroad is driven by the market in the U.S.  Due to the instability of the Argentine peso, farmers in the country often store their beans, rather than sell them, until their currency gains more value.

            The crew's Brazil trip includes a stop in Mato Grosso, which is the largest soybean-producing state in the country.

            "It was interesting to see the sheer volume of soybean production," said Kurtis Harms, producer of "Market Journal."  "Fields would often go on for miles. There would be areas of mid-season soybean plants, and not too far away, six or seven combines were already harvesting."

            Soybean production has skyrocketed in Brazil recently.  The country has doubled its soybean acres since 2000 and expects to increase by six to 10 million metric tons this year alone. Despite the dramatic increase in planted acres, Brazil faces many infrastructural challenges that could impede growth.

            "The (dirt) roads that they have in Brazil are not good, to put it lightly," said Wilkerson.  "Some of the roads we were on – as we were there during the rainy season – were filled with potholes.  You have to remember; this is before their harvest begins.  You have to wonder what they're going to look like once harvest starts."

            "Market Journal" previously visited Canada in 2011, China in 2012 and South Africa in 2013.  "I think it's important to regularly look at the agricultural industry from a global perspective," Harms said. "It is important to us to help farmers in Nebraska see how different agricultural systems in the world can impact how they produce and market their commodities."

            "Market Journal's" coverage from South America will run throughout the rest of the winter and into early spring on Saturdays at 7 a.m. CT on NET1 and Sundays at 9 a.m. CT on NET2.  Segments from Argentina and Brazil are also archived online at

            "Market Journal" is produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and is funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board.

Bill to Help Young People Return to the Farm

(from NE Farm Bureau website) 

Kevin Peterson is the fifth generation of his family to make a living as a farmer in Polk county. If you ask Kevin he’ll tell you he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

“This is where I grew up. I love this place. It means a lot to me to be able to set in the tractor and work the same ground that my dad started out farming. I started out living in the same house that my parents lived in when they first got married. It’s important to me to be able to carry that on,” said Peterson.

Peterson’s story is one of a successful transition back to the farm after having left home to attend college. But the story might have been different had he not been able to use livestock, particularly custom feeding of pigs, as a way to get back into the farm-life fray. Through livestock, Peterson, now 35, has managed to grow his farming operation and contract growing pigs remains a big part of it.

“My wife and I have three young children and if they want to make agriculture their career I want to give them that option. It’s one of the reasons raising livestock continues to mean so much to me,” said Peterson.

Peterson’s passion for livestock and his experience in looking at options to come back to the farm is also why he believes the Nebraska Legislature should move forward in adopting a bill that would broaden the scope of who can be involved in custom feeding arrangements in the pork sector.

“If we want to continue to populate our rural communities, our schools, our churches, there are a lot of ways to try and do that, but I know firsthand how custom feeding pigs has worked out for me and my family. I believe that others should have similar opportunities to what I did,” said Peterson.

The legislation Peterson is referring to is LB 942, a bill introduced by state Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala. Sen. Schilz’s bill would open a door to allow pork processors to partner in custom feeding arrangements. Such arrangements are allowed today for poultry growers, but state law currently prevents such arrangements from taking place in the pork and beef sectors. Delegates to Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in December adopted policy supporting a change that would allow for grower/processor feeding agreements in the pork sector.

“When I started looking into contract finishing pigs there were about three or four phone calls to make and that was it. If any of those parties weren’t looking for new growers I would have been done. Luckily that wasn’t the case,” said Peterson.

The goal of LB 942 would be to expand the scope of opportunities and contracts available by increasing the number of interests who can participate. These custom feeding agreements allow the risks associated with raising pigs to be spread among the two parties, where one party owns the pigs and provides the inputs for them, while the other party is responsible for the day-to-day care and management of the animals.

“It’s difficult for a 21-year-old to ask their banker for a million dollar plus loan to get into the pig business. It’s a whole different thing when the young person can walk in with a contract in hand that demonstrates there is a guaranteed income stream,” says Peterson.

The ability to increase custom feeding of pigs in Nebraska has the potential to do more than just help individual farmers. Right now Nebraska exports one-third of its corn and 80 percent of its soybean meal which ultimately gets fed to livestock. Amazingly, Nebraska also exports more than 25 percent of the pigs born in the state to other states to be fed. Those are dollars and economic opportunities lost to the state according to Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s vice president of governmental relations.

“The reality is that custom feeding arrangements between pork processors and hog farmers are occurring in other states and these states are seeing growth in their hog numbers and hog farmers. We’re at a crossroads right now in whether we want hogs to be raised in Nebraska,” said Rempe.

In the last decade the annual market hog inventory for Nebraska rose only three percent, while in Kansas it rose seven percent, Minnesota 20 percent and Iowa 32 percent.

“This bill is about opportunities. If it wasn’t for custom feeding pigs and having that opportunity available I’m not sure where my family and I would be today. We need these opportunities to help young people return home to the farm,” said Peterson.

The Legislature’s Agriculture Committee heard testimony on LB 942 Feb. 18. Peterson provided testimony in support of the bill on behalf of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Nebraska LEAD 33 Travels to Kansas City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago

            Twenty-eight Nebraska LEAD 33 Fellows recently returned home after participating in a 10-day National Study/Travel Seminar conducted by the Nebraska LEAD Program Feb. 5-14.

            Terry Hejny, director of the Nebraska LEAD Program, served as group leader for the study/travel seminar to Kansas City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

            During the seminar, Nebraska LEAD Fellows met with business, industry and government leaders. Several highlights included visits to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, the Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 in Kansas City and Region 5 in Chicago, the CME Group, American Farm Bureau Federation, the Embassy of the Philippines and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

            LEAD 33 Fellows also met with Sen. Mike Johanns and Sen. Deb Fischer, who was a member of Nebraska LEAD Group Eight. Included in this years' experience was a briefing and factory tour of the John Deere operations in Moline, Ill.

            A major objective of the study/travel seminar is to provide participants with the opportunity to meet leaders who help shape local, state, and national policy in agriculture and related areas and to create first-hand exposure to varied social and economic conditions/issues that exist in the United States. The mission of the Nebraska LEAD program is "to prepare and motivate men and women in agriculture for more effective leadership" and is designed to speed up the leadership process.

            Nebraska LEAD 33 Fellows in alphabetical order are: Jason Arp, Kennard; Chris Bender, Burwell; Keith Borer, Elgin; Ryan Brodersen, Randolph; Matt Broz, Hayes Center; Pete Dixon, Pleasanton; Matt Dolch, Lincoln; Nathan Dorn, Hickman; Brooke Engelman, Jansen; Nick Fowler, Imperial; Wayne Frederick, Amelia; Brad Heinrichs, Bruning; Nate Hughes, Geneva; Jessica Johnson, Scottsbluff; Tim Johnson, Doniphan; Chad McDaniel, Roca; Anne Meis, Elgin; Jolene Messinger, McCook; Jeff Moon, Kearney; Alex Peterson, Haigler; Michael Ann Relka, Mitchell; Jon Root, Central City; Kenny Smith, Omaha; Mark Suhr, Seward; Jake Tollman, Grand Island; Jess Waddell, Sutton; Calvin Wineland, Cambridge; and Barry Young, Clatonia.

            The Nebraska LEAD Program includes men and women, currently active in production agriculture and agribusiness. The Nebraska LEAD Program is a two-year leadership development program under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council and in cooperation with the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Program content, essential to leadership focuses on economics, government, human relations, communications, international trade, sociology, education, the arts, social-cultural understandings as well as agriculture.            For more information, or to request an application for Nebraska LEAD 34, contact the Nebraska LEAD Program, 318 BioChem Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0763 or telephone 402-472-6810. For more information about the selection process or to request an application, visit their website at   Application deadline is June 15, 2014.

Pioneer Farm and Heritage Farm Award Applications Now Being Accepted

The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation and the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers are now accepting applications for the 59th annual Pioneer Farm Awards, sponsored by Nebraska Farm Bureau. This award is presented to farm families in Nebraska and western Iowa who have held ownership of land within the same family for at least 100 consecutive years. Since its inception, the Pioneer Farm Award has recognized more than 9,000 families in over 90 counties.

The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation and Nebraska Farm Bureau are also proud to announce its newest award celebrating western heritage. The Heritage Farm Award will recognize farm families who have held ownership of land consecutively within the same family for 150 years.

Applications for the awards can be found at all County Fair offices or online at All applications must be returned to the County Fair office in which the land is located no later than May 1, 2014. Families receiving either award will be presented with an engraved plaque and gatepost marker.

Nebraska Water Users Could Have Avoided a Compact Call Year

Nebraska water users could have avoided a Compact Call Year had Kansas and their supporters accepted augmentation projects in 2013.

A February 13, 2014 letter from Brian Dunnigan, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR) Director, responded to claims made by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the State of Kansas and the other supporters of Kansas in the lawsuit against Nebraska.  The letter outlines that had Kansas, and their supporters, accepted the augmentation projects in 2013 there would not have been a Compact Call Year and the Bureau and its customers in Nebraska (Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District & Bostwick Irrigation District) would have had access to increased water supplies.  In 2012, Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District (FCID) and Nebraska Bostwick Irrigation District (NBID) filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against the State of Nebraska and the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement   (N-CORPE) to stop the N-CORPE Project.  Although the lawsuit was dismissed in 2013, the court action delayed the project for a full year.  N-CORPE will be operational in 2014.

The Compact Call Year also adversely impacted all groundwater users and the social and economic wellbeing of the Republican Basin. Groundwater irrigators faced increased regulations reducing pumping by an additional 50,000 acre-feet. All of this could have been avoided if the augmentation projects could have moved forward in 2013.  However, they were delayed by the actions of the Nebraska surface water irrigation districts in the basin and the State of Kansas.

“It is very clear that had the supporters of LB 1074 (FCID & NBID) not filed action against N-CORPE and the state, and also sided with Kansas in the lawsuit against Nebraska, there would not be a reason to introduce LB 1074,” said Terry Martin, Vice President of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, Upper Republican NRD Board Chairman and retired water resources engineer.  “The bill would force the reduction of groundwater irrigation state-wide so surface water irrigators might have more water. The bill will not assist Nebraska in the lawsuit or compliance; rather it hinders those goals and threatens the local economy state-wide,” said Martin.

Another bill introduced in 2013 would not have been necessary either. Senator Christensen introduced LB 522 to make the State of Nebraska pay $10 million to the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District and Nebraska Bostwick Irrigation District for not getting all of the irrigation water they wanted.

The letter from Brain Dunnigan, including the other attached documents, clearly outline that had Kansas, their supporters and others that want LB 1074 worked with Nebraska and the NRDs, more water would have been available for Nebraska surface water irrigation in 2013 and the Compact Call year could have been avoided. The intent of LB 1074 is to declare river basins in the state over-appropriated and shut down groundwater irrigation in the State of Nebraska.

Swine Production Seminar Set in Northwest Iowa

Pork producers in northwest Iowa are invited to attend a one-day swine production seminar Thursday, March 13 in Okoboji. The program is sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, University of Minnesota Extension, Hubbard Feeds and Elanco.

Dave Stender, swine specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, said the program is geared toward pork operation decision-makers including owners and managers. He will assist with hosting the program that runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Arrowwood Resort Conference Center, 1405 Hwy 71, Okoboji. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.; lunch will be provided.

“Regardless of the type of operation, if you’re involved in making decisions on your farm, you’ll want to attend this program,” Stender said. “There’s no cost and no preregistration required.”

Topics range from updates on PEDV and ventilation system settings to production benchmarking to industry leadership and business positioning for the future. Speakers are veterinarian Larry Coleman of Broken Bow, Neb., Jamie Pietig of Hubbard Feeds, Ron Ketchem of Swine Management Services, Joe Kerns of Kerns and Associates, and Darin Madson and Stender from Iowa State University.

Registration Open for Iowa Pig Performance Symposium Offered by Zoetis

Online registration is open for Evaluating, Optimizing and Utilizing Technologies to Improve Pig Performance, a symposium offered by Zoetis. This special technology symposium is free and will be held immediately following the Midwest meeting of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS). The session will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

This symposium is ideal for pork industry professionals who want to know more about new and established technologies impacting the pork industry. The discussion will cover how technologies are continuously evaluated, implemented, and reevaluated to maximize pig performance as conditions change. Industry experts will discuss the best ways to evaluate how these technologies impact different stages in the pork industry from the pig to store shelves.

“We are committed to the pork industry and sharing information regarding best practices to elevate the industry into the future,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business, Zoetis. “Our symposium will include the top minds in the pork industry in everything from on-farm nutrition to the economic advantages of new technologies.”

The symposium will feature several speakers and a wide variety of topics:
·         Kenneth M. Quinn, PhD, President of the World Food Prize Foundation and former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, will discuss the importance and value of technology globally.
·         Adam Moeser, DVM, PhD, Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, North Carolina State University Gastroenterology Group and Pig Health and Production Group, College of Veterinary Medicine, will talk about the impact of technologies on the gastrointestinal environment.
·         Aaron Gaines, PhD, Vice President of Production Resources and Operations, and Beau Peterson, PhD, Director of R&D, both of The Maschhoffs LLC, will jointly discuss systems to evaluate technology performance.
·         Roger Johnson, PhD, Director of Pork Quality at Smithfield-Farmland Fresh Meat Group, will share the packers’ experience with new technologies.
·         David Weaber, Economist at Delhaize America, will focus on the impact of on-farm and packer technologies on retailers.
·         Brian Buhr, PhD, Interim Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota, will present on the economic evaluation of new technology, including immunological castration.
·         Ron Prestage, DVM, incoming President of the National Pork Producers Council, will give an overview of pork supply chain technologies and export issues.
·         Jim Pettigrew, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois, will share information about the Food and Drug Administration’s recent announcement regarding Guidances #209 and #213.    

To register for Evaluating, Optimizing and Utilizing Technologies to Improve Pig Performance, visit or

Documenting the Rise and Fall of Boxed Beef Prices

John Michael Riley, Extension Economist, Mississippi State University

The price levels of many cattle and beef market prices over the past year have placed these markets in uncharted waters. More recently, the record rise and now decent leaves buyers and sellers dizzy and uncertain of what might come next. This recent market event was largely led by higher fed prices, with wholesale boxed beef playing a bit of catch-up before just recently pulling back a bit. When examining the parts that make up the box we notice that the proverbial tail was wagging the dog since lower value beef products (i.e., roasts, trimmings, and drop) showed marked improvement compared to higher value "middle cuts".

When comparing the change in four primals (Ribeye, Loin Strip, Chuck, and Bottom Round), two ground products (90% and 50% fresh), and total drop value to year ago levels we see that low value product prices have been elevated while higher value product prices have been flat or negative. For example, two high value products (Ribeye and Loin Strip) have spent most of the time since the USDA shutdown about 1.5% below their previous year prices. On the other hand, Chuck and Bottom Round prices have been higher by an average of approximately 10%, and since the New Year these product's prices have been 15% and 21% higher, respectively. Fifty percent fresh trim has shown the highest year-over-year growth, averaging an increase of 50% compared to the previous year, however keep in mind that this product was still suffering from post Lean, Finely, Textured Beef backlash in late 2012/early 2013. Finally, overall carcass drop value has been about 9% higher than year ago prices since the start of the year. This information is depicted in the figure below.

Granted, in the past two weeks the many of the prices of these low value products have declined, but remain above year ago levels, while the high value product prices have stayed relatively equal with last year's prices. So, anecdotal evidence indicates that wholesale boxed beef prices have benefited from low value product price increases. While the knee-jerk assessment might point to a picture of consumer "trade down" that we saw in the midst of the recession, evidence of steady middle cut product prices contradicts that point of view. I suspect that with the dwindling supplies of beef and the resulting higher retail beef prices, consumers are searching for economical beef purchases but continue to splurge occasionally on the high value products. Looking forward, the recent dip in low value beef products surely clouds the beef demand picture, while the near steady middle cut price levels injects some confidence.

NASS and Statistics Canada Reschedule Joint Cattle, Sheep and Hogs Statistics Publications

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and Statistics Canada have rescheduled two publications expected on February 20, 2014. The U.S. and Canadian Hogs and the U.S. and Canadian Cattle and Sheep reports will now be published on March 5 when the Canadian data are available.  These and all NASS publications are available after release at

Missouri Farmers Care Supports Lawsuit Against California Mandates

Missouri Farmers Care (MFC) announced Tuesday that the coalition supports Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's lawsuit against the state of California for its unconstitutional effort to dictate egg production practices in all 50 states.

"Missouri is standing up for consumers and farmers and siding against animal-rights radicals," said MFC Chairman Don Nikodim said. "Free trade between all states is a constitutional requirement and California has gone too far by demanding that egg farmers in all states adhere to unreasonable restrictions in order to sell their products in California."

The California law, which animal-rights extremist group the Humane Society of the United States spearheaded, would require all eggs sold in California to adhere to California regulations. This law would essentially ban interstate commerce on eggs entering into California. Farmers would have to either lose the California market or make expensive capital investments to adhere to California law.

"The California legislature may not mind raising the price of food for their own citizens through scientifically unfounded mandates and regulations, but they do not have a right to raise all Americans' food cost," Nikodim said. "We look forward to more states following Missouri Attorney General Koster's lead and joining his suit to protect consumers and farmers."

DuPont, University of Missouri and USDA-ARS Announce Ground-Breaking Collaboration to Increase Grower Productivity, Sustainability

DuPont, the University of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) have announced an innovative new collaboration to pool soil mapping resources, predictive technologies and expertise to help growers more sustainably improve crop yields through better nitrogen application management and other field input planning.

The public-private effort aims to enhance sustainable crop production through field and crop modeling that targets the specific soil, climatic, water-shed and production conditions within producers’ fields with real-time information.

The three-year exclusive agreement among DuPont Pioneer – the global seed and advanced plant genetics business of DuPont – the University of Missouri and USDA-ARS will bring together the respective strengths of each party in precision agriculture sensors and soil mapping, including the characterization of soil types, topography and water-sheds.

Through a unique computerized process offered by DuPont that uses the latest high resolution technology, the collaboration will result in more accurate soil mapping units than ever seen before.  Higher-resolution soil information will enable improved placement and management of crop inputs such as nitrogen fertilizer.

The enhanced soil maps build on public soil survey data and will support Decision Agriculture Services provided by DuPont to help crop producers make timely decisions to more sustainably improve yields and per-acre income. Soil analysis procedures will better identify unique land areas called Environmental Response Units (ERUs).  These ERUs can then be used to develop a variety of management zones.  A trusted Pioneer advisor will assist growers in tailoring input and management plans to fit their goals of the best possible per-acre yield.

This University of Missouri and USDA-ARS collaboration will provide vastly improved soil mapping resolution.

“DuPont Pioneer has long been dedicated to providing our customers with products and services that bring the greatest value to each acre through sustainable field management,” said Paul E. Schickler, president, DuPont Pioneer.  “This public-private collaboration with Missouri and USDA-ARS takes that effort to a higher level, helping growers increase yields while being better stewards of the environment. We are building these tools in the United States, but intend to expand Decision Services offerings into other international markets over time.”

“Management decisions strongly depend on how crops respond to the soil and landscape,” said Brent Myers, Ph.D., agronomist, University of Missouri.  “Public soil maps are very valuable, but we can now track differences in fields at a much higher resolution than previously available. ERUs identify smaller areas within fields that can be similarly managed.  This collaboration provides opportunities for connecting innovative soil and landscape science with decision-making for millions of acres in the United States.”

While nitrogen is one of the most important crop inputs, it is also among the most complex and uncertain aspects of modern agricultural production.  In addition to being susceptible to environmental losses, its effectiveness is impacted by soil type and day-by-day weather conditions.

By using high resolution elevation data and landscape watershed information, producers can better determine water and nitrogen movement on the section and county levels.  Together with soil and productivity information, growers can more accurately plan, place and manage nitrogen applications on a real-time basis. 

Alltech Challenges Delegates at U.S. Farm Innovation Series Meetings

There is no shortage of hot topics in agriculture today... the 2014 Farm Bill, Old Man Winter’s havoc, and increased propane prices are most likely conversations many farmers across the country have discussed the past few weeks. Global animal health leader Alltech would like to add to the dialogue as it challenges attendees to consider “What If?” during its first annual Farm Innovation Series meetings.

Taking place March 7-21, the Alltech Farm Innovation Series is expected to draw more than 1,000 farmers from across the United States. Attendees will be challenged to think outside the box and consider the possibilities of saving $20 per ton on feed costs annually, gaining more milk per pound of feed, increasing forage yields by 10 percent and achieving better fertility and lower mortality. Alltech will partner with AGCO, Big Ass Fans and Farm Credit Services of America to discuss opportunities for maximizing feed efficiency, increasing crop yield and improving overall operation profitability.

This year’s “What If” presentations include:
-    Increasing Feed Efficiency With In-vitro Fermentation Model (IFM) – Alltech, Inc.
-    More Energy Per Acre - Alltech Crop Science
-    What Are the Tests Telling Us? – Alltech Mycotoxin Management
-    Fuse Technology: Connecting Technologies That Yield - AGCO
-    Financing Future Growth: Trends, Opportunities, and Key Considerations for the Next 6-12 Months in the Dairy Industry - Farm Credit Services of America
-    How Environmental Conditions Can Affect Production - Big Ass Fans

“It’s not only a question of ‘What If,’ but ‘Why Not?’ As industry leaders, we need to consider the growing population and explore the latest technologies to increase profitability and uphold sustainability on farm,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “With the renewed appreciation for agriculture’s key role in the health and development of the world’s seven billion people that is soon to hit nine billion, we must ask ourselves, ‘What can we do to address it now?’”

Dates and locations for the 2014 Farm Innovation Series Meetings include:
-  Monday, March 10, Sioux City, IA, Hilton Garden Inn Sioux City Riverfront, 9 a.m.

Other stops are planned for SD, MO, (Cedar Falls) IA, MN, PA, OH,  CA, & KY.  For more information about the Farm Innovation Series Meetings, please visit or call toll-free (855) 7ON-FARM.

John Deere reviews technology innovations at Learning Center and WIN Sessions at 2014 Commodity Classic

John Deere is sponsoring a Learning Center Session and What Is New Session, both featuring recently introduced products and information of interest to your producer audiences, at the 2014 Commodity Classic, Feb. 27-March 1, San Antonio, Texas.

+++ Speed with Quality: The New Era in Planting Productivity (Learning Center Session)
12:30 – 1:30 p.m., Friday, February 28
Room 214CD
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
Presenters: Thomas Doerge, Scientist/Agronomist, Deere & Company; Kelby Krueger, Product Specialist, and Elena Kaverina, Product Line Manager, John Deere Seeding Group
-  John Deere planter experts will discuss research on how new row unit technology provides improved seed placement accuracy at increased planting speeds. The new technology will provide improvements in productivity by allowing producers to cover more acres in less time, reduce planting time during the optimum planting window, and increase potential for higher yields.

+++ Tractor Technologies That Can Grow Your Bottom Line: The New 7R and 8R Series Tractors (WIN Session)
3:30 – 4:10 p.m., Friday, February 28
Room 212
Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
Presenters: Jarrod McGinnis, Division Marketing Manager, and Carlton Self, Sr. Marketing Representative, John Deere Waterloo Works
-  Learn about the latest tractor technologies and how they can provide more performance and uptime while lowering the cost of operation. John Deere factory specialists will explain how the new John Deere PSS engines can operate with less total fluid consumption; demonstrate the operation of the new CommandCenter™ display and how integrated John Deere FarmSight™ technologies can help manage tractor resources; and explain how the new e23™ Transmission combines the robustness of powershift with the intelligence of an IVT.

Michelin North America to Debut New AgriBib Tractor Tire At the 2014 Commodity Classic Show 

Responding to meet changing market needs, Michelin North America will preview an extension of its popular
AgriBib tire lineup at the 2014 Commodity Classic show Feb. 27 – March 1 in San Antonio, Texas.  People are invited to visit Booths #3091/4090 to see the new MICHELIN AgriBib 480-95-R50 tractor tire and get more information about its planned introduction later this year.  

- It is a taller-sized, rear fitment tire designed primarily for larger, front-wheel assist tractors to handle bigger loads, and
can also be used in a row-crop application on large, four-wheel drive machines.  

•  The new MICHELIN AgriBib 480-95-R50 model features improved ride quality compared to competitive
products, longer-lasting tread, better traction and impressive clean-out. 

•  This new AgriBib model is scheduled for introduction into the North American market in the fourth quarter
of 2014.

•  Michelin will partner with John Deere and Case New Holland on the launch. 

Deere Announces Record First-Quarter Earnings of $681 Million

Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $681.1 million, or $1.81 per share, for the first quarter ended January 31, compared with $649.7 million, or $1.65 per share, for the same period last year.

Worldwide net sales and revenues for the first quarter increased 3 percent, to $7.654 billion, compared with $7.421 billion last year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $6.949 billion for the quarter compared with $6.793 billion a year ago.

"With another record quarter, John Deere has started 2014 on a strong note," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our results demonstrate the adept execution of our operating and marketing plans, which are aimed at expanding our global market position and helping our customers throughout the world be more profitable and productive," he said. "In addition, we are seeing further benefit from efforts to hold the line on costs."

Summary of Operations

Net sales of the worldwide equipment operations increased 2 percent for the quarter. Sales included price increases of 2 percent and an unfavorable currency-translation effect of 2 percent. Equipment net sales in the United States and Canada rose 3 percent for the quarter. Outside the U.S. and Canada, net sales increased 2 percent, including an unfavorable currency-translation effect of 3 percent.

Deere's equipment operations reported operating profit of $891 million for the quarter, compared with $837 million last year. Results benefited from price realization, partially offset by a less favorable product mix and the unfavorable effects of foreign-currency exchange.

Financial services reported net income attributable to Deere & Company of $142.2 million for the quarter compared with $132.9 million last year. The improvement was primarily related to growth in the credit portfolio and a more favorable effective tax rate. These factors were partially offset by lower crop insurance margins, increased selling, administrative and general expenses and less favorable financing spreads.

Company Outlook & Summary

Company equipment sales are projected to decrease about 3 percent for fiscal 2014 and be down about 6 percent for the second quarter compared with the same periods of 2013. For the full year, net income attributable to Deere & Company is anticipated to be approximately $3.3 billion.

"Even in the face of moderating demand for agricultural equipment, Deere is well-positioned to deliver solid performance," said Allen. "We believe that our extensive investments in new products and new markets will provide strong support to our results and keep our strategic plans moving ahead." These plans are essential to helping meet the world's growing need for food, shelter and infrastructure, Allen said, and he expressed confidence they would produce significant benefits for the company's investors and customers over the long term.

Equipment Division Performance

-    Agriculture & Turf. Sales increased 2 percent for the quarter due largely to price realization and higher shipment volumes, partially offset by the unfavorable effects of currency translation. Operating profit was $797 million compared with $766 million for the quarter last year. The improvement was due primarily to price realization, partially offset by a less favorable product mix and the unfavorable effects of foreign-currency exchange.
-    Construction & Forestry. Construction and forestry sales rose 4 percent for the quarter, with operating profit of $94 million compared with $71 million a year ago. The improvement in operating profit was due primarily to lower production costs, decreased research and development expenses, and price realization. These factors were partially offset by the impact of lower production volumes.

AGCO Reports Fourth Quarter Results

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, reported net sales of approximately $2.9 billion during the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of approximately 5.8% compared to net sales of $2.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2012. Reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $1.40 per share. These results compare to reported and adjusted net income of $1.04 and $0.99 per share, respectively, for the fourth quarter of 2012. Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2012 excluded a non-cash intangible asset impairment charge of approximately $22.4 million as well as a non-cash tax gain of approximately $26.9 million from the recognition of U.S. deferred tax assets. Excluding an unfavorable currency translation impact of approximately 0.3%, net sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 increased approximately 6.1% compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net sales for the full year of 2013 were approximately $10.8 billion, an increase of approximately 8.3% compared to the same period in 2012. For the full year of 2013, reported net income was $6.01 per share. This result compares to reported and adjusted net income of $5.30 and $5.25 per share, respectively, for the full year of 2012. Excluding an unfavorable impact of currency translation of approximately 1.2%, net sales for the full year of 2013 increased approximately 9.5% compared to 2012.

Fourth Quarter and Full Year Highlights

-    Fourth quarter regional sales results(1): Europe/Africa/ Middle East (“EAME”) +10%; Asia/Pacific (“APAC”) +6%; North America +2%; South America +1%;
-    Adjusted operating margins in 2013 improved over 160 basis points in the fourth quarter and nearly 120 basis points for the full year vs. comparable 2012 periods
-    Full year regional operating margin performance: North America 11.8%, South America 10.4%, EAME 10.2%, APAC 0.1%
-    Announced $500 million share repurchase program in December
-    2014 earnings per share guidance remains at approximately $6.00 per share

“AGCO closed the year with a solid fourth quarter, making 2013 a record year for both sales and earnings,” stated Martin Richenhagen, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We continue to take advantage of healthy market conditions by leveraging our global footprint and our well-positioned brands. Strong sales performance and steady progress with our profitability improvement efforts produced margin expansion in 2013. We generated over $400 million of free cash flow in 2013 while making heavy investments in plant productivity, new products and tier 4 emission requirements. Our strong cash generation will allow us to continue making strategic investments in improved technology and production capabilities while returning cash to our shareholders. AGCO’s record earnings and consistent cash flow generation over the last three years has strengthened our balance sheet and positioned the Company for continued success.”

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