Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6 Morning Ag News Update

New Beef Research Publications Available

This week from the 2014 Annual Cattle Industry Convention, three new checkoff-funded research publications were released:

    Sustainability Executive Summary – A summary of Phase 1 of the research. This important work positions the beef industry to lead the conversations about industry sustainability and was first announced at the 2013 Annual Cattle Industry Convention...

    Lean Matters booklet – This booklet documents the checkoff’s effort to produce leaner beef and to work with USDA to make the data reflecting the leaner option in the meat case available on the Nutrient Data Base...

    Updated version of the Beef Cuts Guide...

Beef checkoff research provides technology and knowledge to all sectors of the beef supply chain to increase understanding of beef products offered to today's consumer. In the end, all development, education and communications programs are founded on research. Marketing and communication programs must have a story worth telling. In today’s social climate, to answer challenges from the health community and the consumer’s need for convenience, marketing and communications messages must be data-driven, based on irrefutable research.

Producer Support of the Beef Checkoff Highest in 21 Years

Support for the beef checkoff, at 78 percent, is the highest recorded in the past 21 years, according to a recent survey of 1,225 beef and dairy producers nationwide.

The random survey conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research in late December 2013 and early January 2014 found an overwhelming majority of beef and dairy producers continue to say their beef checkoff has value for them in many ways:
-    Eight out of 10 producers say the beef checkoff has helped to contribute to a positive trend in beef demand.
-    71 percent of producers say the beef checkoff contributes to the profitability of their operations.
-    77 percent say the checkoff is there for them in a crisis.
-    79 percent say the checkoff represents their interests.
-    Two in three beef producers believe the checkoff is well managed.

“Despite being challenged by drought, critics of the checkoff and groups who would like to see us go out of business,” says Producer Communications Working Group (PCWG) Chair Jeanne Harland, “beef and dairy producers continue to see more in their Beef Checkoff Program than just paying for a few ads or a few promotions. I’m one of the eight out of 10 who believe the checkoff has helped to contribute to a positive trend in beef demand.

“The beef checkoff has, for nearly 28 years, served the beef industry with programs producers want and that is why we see the checkoff ‘as representing our interests’ according to the survey,” says Harland.

One of the key priorities of the working group which Harland chairs is to ‘increase the understanding of how the checkoff works … how [it] benefits them and their role as stakeholders,’ she notes.

“It’s an increasingly competitive world and for beef producers to continue to succeed we have to be able to not only produce a safe, nutritious and sustainable product, we have to promote its benefits in this country and worldwide. We can only do this by working together through the beef checkoff,” she says.

CattleFax Projections Include Improved Weather Conditions and Record Prices

Cattlemen and women gathered today at the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show to hear CattleFax market analysts’ projections for the year ahead. Creighton University Professor Emeritus Art Douglas told the audience he expects improved moisture conditions in the majority of the United States, including improvements of the drought-affected areas of the west coast.

As precipitation returns back to more normal levels for the 2014 growing season, CattleFax predicts farmers in the U.S. should grow an adequate corn crop to build the carry over supply. The improved corn supplies should assure lower corn/input costs over the next 12-24 months, according to CattleFax Grain Market Analyst Mike Murphy.

“The lower input cost will have a direct correlation to improved feeder cattle and calf values in 2014 and with continued  help from Mother Nature, we will be in better shape with regard to hay supply and prices moving forward,” Murphy said.

Global Market Specialist Brett Stuart indicated that beef exports are expected to be near even in 2014 with record high prices being the limiting factor. At the same time, expectations are for beef imports to be near even, despite the need for 90 percent trim due to the expected lower non-fed slaughter rates in the U.S. The driving factor for stagnant imports is the growth of China demand for global beef which will continue to divert beef from Australia into the China market and away from the U.S. market.

CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good indicated the combination of improved moisture conditions resulting in lower input costs and record high calf values should lead to beef cow herd expansion beginning in 2014.

Beef production in the U.S. will fall, with per-capita supply declining 4.5 percent. However, he said the pork and poultry supplies are expected to increase, leaving total meat supplies near even. CattleFax projects the Retail Beef Demand Index will improve by one percent due to continued modest economic growth.

“As we think about our consumers today, not only domestically but globally, they’re a lot more diverse than they have been in past,” Good said. “We’ve got different customers with different preferences and different pockets books.”

Good said because of the continued tighter feeder cattle supply, the margin segments of the beef production system, both feed yards and packers, will struggle with excess capacity. Look for continued closure of both packing and feeding entities over the next 12-24 months.

Prices are expected to average $135 compared to $126 during 2013, an increase of seven percent. Yearling prices are expected to average $168, an increase of 13 percent from the 2013 average of $146. According to Good, calf prices will average $193, up 13 percent from last year’s average of $168.

“After years of tightening supplies, the cow-calf sector will again remain in the driver’s seat during 2014,” Good said.

CattleFax CEO Randy Blach summarized the year ahead by saying almost all segments of the production chain will be profitable, although margin operators will continue to face challenges over the next few years.

Blach remains optimistic for the long-term cattle industry as the profit incentives will result in a larger U.S. cattle herd over the next five years, creating business opportunities for those willing to adapt to a dynamic and changing business environment.

“You can start to see the globalization of the protein markets from the 1990’s on,” Blach said. “We have the most efficient production system in the world and we are the largest exporter of protein onto the global market.”

BQA Certification offer for Beef and Dairy Producers

Are you doing your part for the beef industry by earning your BQA certification? Well, if you aren’t certified, have we got a deal for you!

For a second year, your checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is giving you the chance to become certified for free thanks to a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI) and the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) housed at Kansas State University. The cost of BQA certification is normally $25 to $50; however, from Feb. 3, through April 15, 2014, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI) will defray the cost of the certification or recertification, making it free. Visit or to get started.

“BQA provides cattlemen with practical management tools they need to produce safe, high-quality beef for our consumers, says Ryan Ruppert, senior director of Beef Quality Assurance. “BQA also helps discover practices which can improve efficiency and ultimately, profitability.”

“One of the challenges that beef producers face is having all of their employees become BQA certified,” says Dr. Jerry Woodruff, professional services veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. “BIVI’s partnership with BQA helps offset some of those expenses, and we encourage producers and their employees to use the online training programs.”

The beef industry has embraced BQA because it is the right thing to do, and certification is the next step to show your commitment to producing the best beef possible. In 2013, more than 3,500 producers took advantage of the Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.’s support of BQA online certification. BIVI sponsorship of the program again in 2014 demonstrates the company’s commitment to improving the industry and telling consumers about the sound production practices most cattlemen use every day.

The BQA online programs are customized for cow/calf, stocker, feedlot and dairy operations. Developed and managed by the independent Beef Cattle Institute, these easy-to-use modules teach sound management techniques that can be applied to their operations. They also help cattle operations tell their story to consumers who might not understand all of the safety measures cattlemen take in producing the food on the table.

"We're proud to continue this opportunity to bring the BQA certification program to even more American cattlemen and dairy producers in 2014," says David Korbelik, director of cattle marketing for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. "BQA education aligns with Prevention Works, our focus on preventing disease in cattle. We do this because it is the right thing for the animal, for the producer and for the consumer.”

Ruppert says it is "clear that Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. is committed to helping beef producers throughout the industry produced a safe, quality product in a humane manner," adding that "this partnership is a win-win for producers and consumers.”

 The Nebraska Corn Board applauds both the House and Senate for passing the new 5-year Farm Bill

“It has been a long time coming, but we are pleased that common sense, compromise and valid concerns finally resulted in a bill that allows Nebraska farmers and ranchers to know what role the Federal government will have in their industry,” said Tim Scheer a farmer from St. Paul, Neb. and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.  “Farmers needed to know that programs like Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access Programs (MAP) were going to be funded so we can promote our commodities around the world, which is a public/private partnership of USDA funds and checkoff dollars that come from farmers and livestock industry pockets.”

Keys provisions of the 5-year Farm Bill include:
-    Authorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, which have been essential in every Farm Bill since 1974.
-    Critical export promotion programs, which not only benefit agriculture but the U.S. balance of trade.
-    Improvements in the Federal Crop Insurance program.
-    The elimination of direct payments.
-    A partnership of Conservation Compliance with Crop Insurance coverage.
-    Farmers can either participate in the revenue based Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program with fixed reference prices.

“The passage of this bill comes at a critical time, cattle numbers are at a 63-year low, last year exports of corn were at a low we have not seen in decades, corn prices are at or below cost of production, and if that’s not enough, EPA wants to lower the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) of conventional ethanol,” said Scheer.

“We have stayed in constant contact with our Congressional delegation on both the Farm Bill and the impacts of the EPA and the RFS.  We have also met with Congressmen Boehner and Lucas on these issues and are communicating with the White House on both the Farm Bill and the RFS,” said Scheer.  Agriculture production and exports have a huge impact on the economy of our state and country. The Farm Bill impacts everyone whether you are a food producer or consumer.

Green Plains Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2013 Financial Results

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq:GPRE) announced today its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. Net income for the quarter was $25.5 million, or $0.65 per diluted share, compared to net income of $6.7 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, excluding a non-recurring gain, for the same period in 2012. Reported net income and diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2012 included a gain on the sale of certain agribusiness assets of $26.3 million, after tax, or $0.73 per diluted share. Revenues were $712.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to $883.7 million for the same period in 2012.

Net income for the full year was $43.4 million, or $1.26 per diluted share, compared to $11.8 million, or $0.39 per diluted share for the same period in 2012. Revenues were $3.0 billion for the full year of 2013 compared to $3.5 billion for the same period in 2012.

"Green Plains generated operating income of $51 million in the fourth quarter and a company record of $108 million for the full year of 2013," stated Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We have invested in our assets and employees which, we believe, will continue to drive our financial results in the future."

During the fourth quarter, Green Plains' ethanol production segment produced approximately 209.6 million gallons of ethanol, or approximately 100 percent of its daily average production capacity. Following the integration of its most recent acquisition, completed in November 2013, Green Plains can produce over one billion gallons of ethanol, nearly three million tons of livestock feed and 250 million pounds of corn oil annually. Non-ethanol operating income, from the corn oil production, agribusiness, and marketing and distribution segments, was $28.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to $17.9 million for the same period in 2012, excluding the gain on sale of certain agribusiness assets. For the full year, non-ethanol operating income totaled $80.9 million for 2013 compared to $62.3 million for 2012, excluding the gain on sale of certain agribusiness assets.

"With our acquisitions and efficiency initiatives, we have increased our ethanol production capacity by nearly 38 percent and our corn oil production capacity by over 60 percent this past year. As a result, we believe the earnings power of our platform has increased significantly and the results in the fourth quarter began to show that. In addition, we now expect our non-ethanol operating segments to contribute approximately $75 million of operating income in 2014. We will continue to execute our growth strategy by expanding our existing businesses as well as focusing on opportunities that leverage our expertise in risk management and operational excellence," added Becker.

"Margins for the ethanol industry expanded during the fourth quarter of 2013 and have remained strong in the near term. Ethanol and distillers grains prices reflect robust demand and tight supplies both domestically and internationally. As a result of these factors, as well as our recent acquisitions, we anticipate our first quarter 2014 results will be better than the fourth quarter of 2013," concluded Becker. "Finally, with our current hedging activities and visible margin structure, at this point we expect the first half of 2014 to be our strongest on record."

Green Plains had $299.0 million in total cash and equivalents and $135.4 million available under committed loan agreements at subsidiaries (subject to satisfaction of specified lending conditions and covenants) at December 31, 2013. Full-year 2013 EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $156.6 million compared to $115.5 million for the same period in 2012.

Iowa Leadership Team Joins China Pork Outreach Effort

A group of Iowa’s future agriculture leaders got a firsthand look at the world’s largest pork market when they traveled to China recently and joined in a U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) program for the Chinese foodservice trade.

Twenty-three members of Iowa’s I-LEAD leadership training program, developed by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), were in China for an educational tour to better understand the challenges and opportunities that the country represents as an export market. The group participated in a USMEF U.S. pork event in Guangzhou for about 50 regional restaurant managers and chefs representing 19 hotels and restaurants. The I-LEAD members helped personally reinforce the commitment to quality and safety by American producers for the seminar participants.

The appeal of China for the visiting group from Iowa is clear. To put the China/Hong Kong pork market in perspective, the United States exported a record total of 385,214 metric tons of product there in 2012 valued at $832.5 million. Since the average person in China eats about 87 pounds of pork per year, that means the 950.5 million pounds of American pork sold there in 2012 accounted for only about eight-tenths of one percent of all pork consumed in China – or about enough pork to feed everyone in China for a three-day weekend. Which leaves 362 days to fill with domestic product or imports from other nations.

That doesn’t include China’s potential as a beef market. Last year China imported 314,437 metric tons (693.2 million pounds) of beef from countries around the globe valued at more than $1.3 billion – increases of 345 percent and 373 percent, respectively, over 2012. Unfortunately, U.S. beef remains ineligible for shipment to China.

Given the room for growth in China – the No. 3 market for U.S. pork – USMEF continues to pursue opportunities to expand the reach of U.S. pork, including the event in Guangzhou and a similar event in Beijing. Funding for the programs was provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Pork Checkoff.

“The experience of going to dinner with the chefs and buyers was eye-opening for our team,” said Shannon Textor, director of market development for ICPB who accompanied the I-LEAD team to China. “Quite a few of the pork producers in the class got a chance to share personal information about their farms – how they raise their livestock and how much they appreciate trade with China.”

The visit by the I-LEAD team, which was jointly coordinated by USMEF and the U.S. Grains Council, exposed the Iowa visitors to the full range of Chinese meat outlets, from wet markets to the most modern hypermarkets. And they got insights into the value of the Chinese market for U.S. pork producers and exporters.

“China is a great value-added market for the United States pork industry,” said Textor. “Nothing goes to waste. They eat the products that aren’t valued here. To see their culture and food consumption patterns is remarkable.”

Tony Guo, a chef with more than 10 years of experience working with U.S. pork, provided information and cooking tips at the Guangzhou event on both high-end natural and economical cuts of American pork, including boneless and bone-in pork butt, brisket bones, spareribs, CT butt and pork belly.

Three dozen chefs and restaurant managers from Beijing participated in a similar session in collaboration with a Chinese importer and distributor of U.S. pork, Beijing Aomei Jinghe Meat Company. Executive chef Yue Ning from the Beijing Holiday Inn reviewed the same cuts addressed in the Guangzhou event. Chef Ning prepared a variety of customized recipes for the Beijing event, including Oven Roasted American Pork Steak with Black Pepper Corn and Hoisin Sauce, Slow-Roasted American Pork Ribs with Chili BBQ Sauce, Braised American Pork Ribs with Icing Sugar and Haw Fruit Sauce, and Filipino Pork Adobo with Green Apple.

“This type of seminar is very well received by chefs and restaurant managers,” said Ming Liang, marketing manager for USMEF-Shanghai. “We survey the participants after every session, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive on the usefulness of the information as well as the response to the taste and quality of U.S. pork.”

Liang noted that several of the participating chefs had already added U.S. pork items to their menus within weeks of the seminars and others were looking at options.

The China/Hong Kong region is the No. 3 market for U.S. pork exports. Through the first 11 months of 2013, it purchased 385,214 metric tons (849.2 million pounds) of American pork valued at $832.5 million.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/31/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 895,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.59 million gallons daily. That is down 5,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 892,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.67 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.7 million barrels. That is a 1.1% decrease from last week.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the 18th straight week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 355.0 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.59%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.570 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 99,885 metric tons of livestock feed, 89,048 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.66 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Action Team Members Hold Discussions to Shape Biotech, Trade Future

This week, the National Corn Growers Association's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team concluded its spring meeting in Portland, Ore., where team members reviewed the organization's policy in their area of expertise, reviewed recommendations coming out of the Priority and Policy meeting held earlier in January and met with representatives from government and industry to explore upcoming challenges and opportunities.

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

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

The meeting began Monday morning as growers dug into the specific policies listed in the portion of the handbook corresponding with their team's focus area. Carefully debating the implications of any proposed changes, team members worked diligently to carefully craft a precise, well-constructed document for presentation to the Corn Board and, eventually, Corn Congress.

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

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

Meetings included tours of an export grain elevator in Longview, Wash. And of the Bonneville Lock and Dam at Cascade Locks, Ore. During these site visits, the farmers were able to gain deeper understanding of the logistics issues that impact international trade including situations on the railways system, funding for updates to the waterways infrastructure and the intricacies of shipping commodity grain.

In addition to Zimmerman, team members include Vice Chair Roger Zylstra of Iowa, Corn Board Liaison Kevin Skunes of North Dakota, Don Duvall of Illinois, Robert Gordon of Texas, Robert Hemesath of Iowa, David Howell of Indiana, Brandon Hunnicutt of Nebraska, John Linder of Ohio, Scott Miller of Michigan, Dwight Mork of Minnesota, Jim Raben of Illinois, Jason Reiners of Nebraska, James Stuever as representative of the U.S Grains Council, and Rosalind Leeck of the Indiana Corn Growers Association. NCGA staff in attendance included Director of Biotechnology and Economic Analysis Nathan Fields, Director of Public Policy Zach Kinne, Communications Manager Cathryn Wojcicki and Administrative Assistant Maggie Fogerty.

Make plans to attend World Pork Expo, June 4-6

Mark your calendar for the 2014 World Pork Expo, June 4-6, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), World Pork Expo features the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, educational seminars, swine shows and sales, and so much more.

“If you’re shopping for new products and technologies; want the latest information on production management, legislative issues and markets; or are looking to exchange ideas with pork producers and other professionals, World Pork Expo is the event for you,” says Alicia Newman, World Pork Expo’s general manager. “But don’t delay. Hotels fill up quickly, so start making plans today.”

In 2013, nearly 20,000 pork producers, their employees and other professionals from 39 countries attended Expo, and organizers expect similar attendance this year. Online registration is already open; simply go to Register early to secure the discounted admission fee of $5 for an adult (ages 12 and up), which provides entry for the entire Expo — a $10-per-person savings over the on-site fee.

The world’s largest pork-specific trade show featuring more than 400 exhibitors from around the globe is always a highlight of Expo. You can stroll through more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space to view the newest products, services and technologies available to pork production businesses today. The trade show is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, and Thursday, June 5. On Friday, June 6, trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free educational seminars on Wednesday and Thursday present updates on current management issues and research. Experts discuss topics from animal health and well-being to production management to legislative updates to feeding strategies and more — all designed to provide practical information to take back home. Business seminars, also scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, address a range of marketing and business strategies and present an opportunity for questions and dialogue.

Live hogs will be on display in the swine barn from June 3-7. The ever-growing World Pork Expo Junior National, hosted by the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) and Team Purebred, now ranks among the premier youth shows in the United States. In 2013, a record 1,600 pigs were exhibited by 678 juniors from 26 states. More details about show rules and entries are available at NJSA’s website.

Also at Expo, swine breeding stock from throughout the nation will compete in the purebred, open shows. Last year, more than 200 exhibitors competed for top honors with nearly 600 hogs. Breeding stock sales are held Saturday, June 7, from 8 a.m. until completion (at approximately noon).

MusicFest, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, has evolved into the social highlight of Expo. It’s a time when attendees can relax, listen to music, connect with colleagues, and enjoy some delicious pork and refreshments.

It wouldn’t be World Pork Expo without the Big Grill, and during each of event’s three days attendees can stop by for a free lunch of succulent pork. Manned by the Tama County Pork Producers Association from Iowa, the Big Grill serves up some 10,000 pork lunches each year.

“World Pork Expo offers something for everyone. It’s a great place to connect with fellow pork producers and compare notes,” says Randy Spronk, NPPC president and pork producer from Edgerton, Minn. “It’s also the one place where you can see all the latest developments in pork production and find business solutions that you can take back home. If you’re involved in pork production, you need to be at World Pork Expo.”

To learn more about the 2014 World Pork Expo, check out It has schedules and event details, with updates to come in the months ahead. You also will find the latest information on room availability at the official Expo hotels.

Even more information is available by connecting with World Pork Expo on Facebook, following Expo on Twitter (#NPPCWPX), and downloading the free mobile app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

So, whether you want to shop the trade show aisles, learn about the latest research, consult with pork-production experts or connect with fellow pork producers, mark your calendar for the 2014 World Pork Expo, June 4-6.

Web Soil Survey Update Improves Data Delivery, Customer Service

Data on soils on the nation’s 3,265 soil survey areas are now updated and available free online from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“This update is a major step-forward in meeting the growing demand for NRCS soils data,” said Dave Hoover, NRCS national leader of Soil Business Systems. “Our soil scientists in every state helped us upgrade all our software and databases, improve our spatial data, and put together a complete suite of soil interpretations and other products our customers want.”

This update, the first since the Web Soil Survey went online in 2005, features:
- Soils data for the Continental U.S. that flows seamlessly, without gaps, across county lines and other political boundaries;
- A full complement of national soil survey interpretations that let users analyze interpretations nationally, regionally and in several states at one time;
- The first set of soil survey Major Land Resource Area update projects; and
- A subscription feature that forwards updates for specific soil survey areas directly to customers via email.

The NRCS Web Soil Survey now serves more than 180,000 users a month, attracting a large audience that includes landscape architects, community planners, real estate developers, engineers, as well as researchers in universities. Everyday, people in agriculture reference the survey, as do NRCS employees as they help customers with a host of issues and questions, and putting together conservation plans.

In a typical month, users print nearly 100,000 soil surveys and reports on soil properties and interpretations directly from the Web Soil Survey, and download more than 25,000 soil survey reports.

“Starting this year, we will refresh our soils data every October,” said Dave Smith, NRCS acting deputy chief for Soil Science and Assessment. “Our goal is to keep giving our customers even better and more up-to-date tools for assessing their soils, developing conservation plans for their farms, or whatever they need our data for.”

Web Soil Survey customers can click on the “Contact Us” link in Web Soil Survey to get assistance from the Soils Hotline, a state soil scientist or a local NRCS Office.

New DuPont™ Breakfree® NXT Herbicides Improve Early Season Weed Control

Corn growers have improved options for early season weed control this spring with updates to a well-known DuPont Crop Protection product line. DuPont has launched DuPont™ Breakfree® NXT herbicides, new herbicides that deliver the same benefits as previous Breakfree® products in improved formulations.

“The Breakfree® herbicide family is known for providing cost-effective, early season weed control in corn,” said James Hay, business director, North America, DuPont Crop Protection. “Breakfree® NXT formulations will give growers even better options for getting valuable crops off to a strong start this spring.”

Like their predecessors, flexible Breakfree® NXT herbicides allow application from preplant to early postemergence (before corn is 11 inches tall) and can be used in conventional, reduced-till and no-till production systems. They mix easily with other labeled preemergence herbicides, such as DuPont™ Instigate®, Prequel® or Resolve® Q for even broader-spectrum control. In two-pass programs, Breakfree® NXT herbicides can be applied at reduced rates in preparation for Realm® Q, Resolve® Q, or Steadfast® Q applications.

With three formulations to choose from, Breakfree® NXT herbicides offer growers flexible options to control challenging grass and broadleaf weeds including barnyardgrass, foxtail lambsquarters, pigweed, ragweed and waterhemp (when used at the full rate).
·      Breakfree® NXT is an atrazine-free formulation that features a safener to protect young crops and give growers the option to apply at higher rates when targeting challenging broadleaf weeds.
·      Breakfree® NXT ATZ is an atrazine-based herbicide that provides cost-effective control of a variety of grasses and small-seeded broadleaf weeds.
·      Breakfree® NXT Lite provides valuable preemergence control of grass and small-seeded broadleaf weeds with a reduced rate of atrazine.

Hay said that while application rates have changed slightly, the new Breakfree® NXT formulations fit seamlessly with current crop protection programs to help growers maximize results from every acre. They also are included in the TruChoice® rewards program, which helps growers partner seed and crop protection products for the greatest economic advantage.

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