Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday February 14th Ag News

Area Cooperative Annual Meetings Upcoming

Farmers Cooperative (Pilger-Stanton-Winside) Annual meeting set for Tuesday Feb 18th, 12 noon, at the American Legion in Norfolk.  RSVP by calling 1-800-922-3414.
Frontier Cooperative Annual Meeting is set for Monday March 3rd at 6pm in the David City Minicipal Auditorium. 
Farmers Pride (Battle Creek) Cooperative annual meeting will be on Monday March 10th, 9am at the Devent Center next to Divots in Norfolk.  Break-out sessions from 9am to 11am, annual meeting at 11:15am, meal to follow. 


The total value of the 2013 crop production in Nebraska is estimated at $11.9 billion, a decrease of 11 percent from the 2012 total of $13.3 billion, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Value of production for each crop is computed by multiplying the marketing year average price by the production. 

The total value of corn for grain is $7.39 billion, down 17 percent from $8.85 billion in 2012. The total value of soybeans, at $3.15 billion, is up 8 percent from $2.92 billion last year. The total value of all wheat production is $271 million, down 35 percent from $419 million in 2012.  

Iowa 2013 Crop Values

The  value  of  production  of  Iowa's  field  and  miscellaneous crops  was  $15.9  billion  in  2013  according  to  the  USDA, National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service  –  Crop  Values summary.  This is a 19 percent decrease from 2012.

The  corn  value  of  production  totaled  $9.94  billion,  down 23 percent  from  the  previous  year,  even  though  corn production was  up  15  percent.   Iowa’s  corn  price  averaged $4.60 per bushel, a decrease of $2.32 from the last marketing year.

Down  12  percent  from  2012,  soybean  value  of  production was  $5.26  billion.   Average  prices  dropped  $1.60  from  the previous year to $12.80 per bushel.

Value of production  increased  in 2013  from 2012  for winter wheat, alfalfa hay, other hay, and forage.  Other hay value of production was the largest in over 20 years.

UNL Research: Fructose Not Culprit in Obesity Epidemic

            Fructose has gotten a bad rap in the obesity epidemic, says a University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientist whose research shows fat and other sugars are the primary culprits.

            From 1970-2009, obesity rates in the United States increased from 13 percent of the population to 34 percent. Dietary fructose has been blamed as a possible contributor to this increase.

            Nutrition scientist Tim Carr found that's not the case, though. While the total energy availability in Americans' food increased 10.7 percent over that period, consumption of fructose did not increase.

            Carr based his findings on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Loss-Adjusted Food Availability Database and its Nutrition Database for Standard Reference.

            Those resources, rich in data about Americans' eating patterns over the years, show that the energy available from total glucose increased 13 percent. The main source of glucose in the American diet is starch. Also, glucose availability was more than three times that for fructose. Energy available from protein, carbohydrates and fat increased 4.7 percent, 9.8 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.

            "It is a misconception that fructose is a unique contributor to obesity," said Carr, who chairs UNL's Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences.

            Some of that misconception may stem from the fact that the consumption of one type of fructose – high fructose corn syrup – has increased significantly over the last 40 years, but it has replaced another source of fructose – table sugar – leaving total consumption steady, Carr said.

            "We're focusing the spotlight in the wrong place," Carr said. "Fructose turns out to be a relatively small contributor to the overall food supply."

            In 1970, fructose availability was 63.2 grams per day. It has fluctuated in the years since, but stood at 62.4 grams in 2009.

            "We conclude that increased total energy intake, due to increased availability of foods providing glucose (primarily as a starch in grains) and fat to be a significant contributor to increased obesity in the U.S." wrote Carr and graduate student Trevor Carden in an article outlining their findings in the December 2013 issue of Nutrition Journal, which can be found at

            The research was supported by the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division with funds provided through the Hatch Act.

Forest Service Warning of Increased Danger of Wildfires This Year

            The combination of a lack of moisture, consistent high winds and dry air masses may increase the danger of wildfires across Nebraska this year. Dry, windy days – an average of nine days with winds over 40 mph in the first weeks of the year – have been recorded, and newspaper reports of wildfires burning and threatening homes and property have been common.

            Recent snowfall has been welcome, but the outlook is still a concern, especially considering wind trends so far in 2014.

            "Most of Nebraska has recorded less than a quarter- inch of rainfall in January and, without significant snow cover to compress fire fuel materials such as grass and other vegetation, the wind can quickly and easily carry a spark across a yard or field," said Casey McCoy, Nebraska Forest Service wildland fire training manager. "It's important to stay alert and be prepared when conditions are favorable for fires."

            According to Shawn Jacobs, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in North Platte, average sustained wind speeds are higher so far than any year since 2009 and wind gusts meeting red flag warning criteria are up more than 30 percent this year. "Considering the atmosphere usually decouples at night and the wind goes calm, it's pretty impressive for January," Jacobs said.

            After a record-breaking year in 2012 and record low numbers of wildland fires reported in 2013, 2014 appears to be shaping up as a busy one for Nebraska's fire departments. Fire has historically proven to be a valuable tool in land management, but under the conditions that exist in Nebraska so far this year, it can be a nuisance at best, a deadly threat at worst. Unfortunately, each year thousands of acres and millions of dollars are lost to careless burning practices. The Nebraska Forest Service urges Nebraskans to be careful with fire and offers these tips:

            – Check local, county or state laws on open burning. Nebraska has a full-time burn ban that can only be waived by obtaining a permit from your local fire department. Be sure to notify the fire department when you start burning.

            – Check weather conditions and forecasts, not just for the day of the burn but for the days following the burn and be flexible. If weather conditions are unfavorable or forecast to be unfavorable, one of the hardest decisions you might need to make is to postpone burning to a later date.

            – Look up, look down and look around. Protect buildings and fences and watch out for power poles, power lines and tree branches.

            – Build a firebreak to contain a fire in the area to be burned. Even if your burn is just a small brush pile, reduce or remove the grass and other fuel around it. And leave at least 30 feet of separation between your burn and homes, outbuildings and other structures.

            – Keep firefighting tools, such as rakes, shovels and garden hoses close at hand for small fires. Discs, plows and large sprayers are needed for large fires. Have plenty of help.

            – Remember, fires can grow extremely fast. A small fire can rapidly become a raging wildfire with a gust of wind. If a fire appears to be getting away, call your fire department immediately. Never leave a fire unattended; check it multiple times after it appears to be out.

            – Burn piles can hold heat for weeks as they continue to consume remaining fuel. If the forecast includes dry conditions and wind, check any piles burned recently to ensure there is no heat remaining. Pour water on it, stir the ashes and pour more water on it.

            – Be certain all burning materials such as fireplace ashes and cigarettes are completely out before moving them outside.

            – Be very careful with anything that can create a heat source such as welding or cutting equipment. One small spark outdoors on a windy day can lead to a fast moving fire.

            Nebraska's more than 14,000 career and volunteer firefighters are the state's primary wildland fire suppression force.

            "These dedicated members of the community are your neighbors, friends and fellow farmers and ranchers," McCoy said. "One careless mistake can result in many hours away from jobs and families for them. They willingly put themselves in harm's way with no expectation of anything in return, so please keep them in mind the next time the wind picks up and Nebraska fuels are primed to burn."

            These tips are condensed from the Nebraska Forest Service publication "Fire Prevention on the Farm and Ranch." This and many other wildland fire and fire prevention publications are available online at

Ergot Issues with Forage and Hay Feeding

Concern over health issues in cattle that consume ergot-contaminated grain motivated Iowa Beef Center staff at Iowa State University to investigate potential issues around ergot contamination. The 2013 emergence of ergot contamination of forages and small grains in Iowa began with the cool wet spring that allowed the increased prevalence of Claviceps purpura, the fungus that produces ergot.

“This fungus produces a group of chemicals called alkaloids, and the alkaloids cause vasoconstriction with many different clinical signs, depending on effects of consuming contaminated grain or forages,” said Joe Sellers, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist. “In summer, this can mean heat intolerance and in cold weather, poor circulation can lead to loss of the tips of ears and tails, and reduced ability to withstand cold temperatures.”

Fescue grass contains a similar ergot alkaloid compound, Acremonium coenophialum, which produces the ergot alkaloid ergovaline. Alkaloids from both sources cause the same clinical signs, including reproductive issues.

Because several Iowa herds experienced poor reproduction rates and late-term abortions due to extremely high alkaloid consumption, specialists developed a plan to test for ergot alkaloid concentration by sampling hay and other forages in southwest Iowa.

“Twenty-six of the 35 samples collected contained ergot alkaloids,” Sellers said. “These forages were harvested early (before June 15) or late (after July 15) when the sclerotia that produce alkaloids were not present.”

The higher the concentration of ergot alkaloids in feed, the more adverse clinical signs will be present.

“Producers who are feeding mature grass hay harvested in late June or early July should monitor performance of cows fed this hay, and supplement with other feeds to dilute the impact of the alkaloids in the hay,” said Sellers. “Forage nutrient analysis of the 35 lots of hay also found that most of this mature grass hay was short in energy and marginal in crude protein, so supplements that supply both energy and protein, such as corn co-products, will be effective parts of the diet.”

Grazing animals in Iowa will be exposed to ergot alkaloids produced in endophyte infected fescue grasses during the grazing period. Hay produced in Iowa without fescue in the stand typically does not contain any or a small amount of ergot contamination from Claviceps purpura, but the difference in 2013 was a high level of ergot contamination in the hays produced. Also, cattle may have ingested additional alkaloids from stockpiled fescue grass. The effects of Acremonium coenophialum infection and Claviceps purpura infection are additive.

To learn more about ergot poisoning see this new publication, Ergot Poisoning in Cattle (PMR 1013). For additional information, producers should contact their local veterinarian or an extension beef program specialist.

Report: Growth of Ag Land Values Slowing

Prices for agricultural land in some key states in the U.S. Farm Belt last year grew at the slowest pace in four years, according to a quarterly report Thursday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Values for farmland in the Chicago Fed's district -- which includes all of Iowa and most of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, rose 5% in 2013, the report showed, down from 16% growth in 2012. Last year's growth was the slowest pace since 2009 and the second slowest in the past decade, the bank said.

Farmland values in the region in the fourth quarter of 2013 rose just 3% from the previous quarter, the Fed report showed, with prices in Iowa, the biggest corn-growing state, falling 1% as a result of plunging corn prices and a second straight year of drought.

The report offers the latest evidence that the long boom in U.S. farmland is weakening, as prices for corn and soybeans tumble thanks to huge harvests last year.

"Combined with expectations of diminished farmland purchases by farmers in 2014, these survey responses cast a pall over the spectacular growth in agricultural land values of the past few years," David Oppedahl, senior business economist at the Chicago Fed, wrote in Thursday's report.

In a separate survey issued Thursday, the St. Louis Fed reported an upturn late last year in farmland prices across a swath of the lower Midwest and the South. The bank said average farmland values in its district, which had fallen for much of last year, rose about 10% in the fourth quarter to an average $5,868 an acre, from $5,332 an acre in the third quarter. Compared to a year earlier, cropland values in the district -- which includes Arkansas and portions of Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois -- rose by 12.2%.

Despite those gains, Midwestern bankers in the St. Louis Fed's district expect to see declines in both farm income and land values over the next three months compared with year-earlier levels, due to sharp declines in prices of crops such as corn and wheat in the past year, the report said.

"I don't think we'll see a crash," said Michael Boehlje, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. But, he said, "this is further evidence that this ag economy is moving into a soft mode."

Farmland values had soared so far so fast in recent years that some analysts warned of a bubble, much like the one that developed in the 1970s and then collapsed during the farmland bust of the 1980s.

Cooler, wetter weather in the Midwest led U.S. farmers to produce a record harvest totaling close to 14 billion bushels of corn last autumn, helping push the price of corn -- the biggest U.S. crop -- down by about 40% in 2013.

As a result, farm incomes are taking a hit. The USDA forecast Tuesday that U.S. net farm income will sink 27% this year from 2013, to $95.8 billion, which would be the lowest level since 2010.

"What it will do is move the farmland market into a pause mode," said Mr. Boehlje. "Prospective buyers will be even more cautious than they might have been otherwise."

Bankers surveyed by the St. Louis and Chicago Feds also forecast that farmers' spending on capital items like land, buildings, trucks and farm machinery will be lower in 2014. In the Chicago report, over half of the responding bankers predicted reduced capital purchases this year, and less than 10% said spending will grow. Mr. Oppedahl called the shift "a major reversal from a year ago."

NFU Thankful for Farm Bill, Livestock Disaster Programs

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement to expedite assistance to farmers and ranchers suffering through the California drought and other recent calamities:

“The purpose and benefits of the recently enacted farm bill are evident once again with the extreme drought in California. Farmers, ranchers and growers are suffering through very difficult conditions. Fortunately the 2014 Farm Bill includes permanently authorized disaster programs to help those most in need. President Obama has wisely expedited the implementation of these programs, which will be made available retroactive to losses suffered in 2012 and 2013.

“Sound agriculture policy, like the livestock disaster programs, are the among the reasons NFU supported the 2014 Farm Bill. I applaud the work of the President and USDA in getting the livestock disaster programs up and running in a time when they’re truly needed.”


The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) announced its line-up for the Food Dialogues: Washington D.C. panel taking place at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum on Friday, February 21. Carolyn O’Neil, the author of “Slim Down South Cookbook” and a nutrition advisor to, will moderate the discussion “Nutrition: Who is shaping America’s eating habits?”

“Consumers encounter food terms such as organic, conventional, locally grown and natural on a daily basis, but do they really understand their meanings when making their purchasing decisions?” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Our panelists will examine these terms and other topics related to food production, nutrition and making healthy food choices.”

The discussion, which begins at 10:00 a.m. EDT at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (Arlington, Va.) and will stream live online at, features the following panelists:
·    Jim Call, Farmer, Call Farms, Madison, Minn.
·    Dr. Roger Clemens, Chief Scientific Officer, Horn and Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, USC School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles, Calif.
·    Dennis Derryck, President and Founder, Corbin Hill Farms, New York, NY
·    Colette Rihane, MS, RD, Nutrition Guidance and Analysis Division Director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA, Washington, District of Columbia
·    Dr. Craig Rowles, Partner and General Manager, Elite Pork Partnership, LLP, Carroll, Iowa
·    Barbara Ruhs, MS, RD, LDN, Corporate Dietitian, Bashas’ Grocery Stores, Phoenix, Ariz.

Those interested in attending the Food Dialogues: Washington D.C. in-person must pre-register by visiting Food Dialogues: Washington, D.C.  For more information about USFRA or its signature Food Dialogues event series, visit Follow USFRA on Twitter @USFRA and use #FoodD to participate in the discussion.

Study: Farmers in 27 Countries Planted Biotech Crops in '13

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications released a report this week which indicates more than 18 million farmers in 27 countries planted biotech crops in 2013, reflecting a five million, or three percent, increase in global biotech crop hectarage. 2013 also marks the first-ever commercial plantings of drought-tolerant biotech maize in the United States.

Global biotech crop hectarage has increased from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to over 175 million hectares in 2013. During this 18 year period, more than a 100-fold increase of commercial biotech crop hectarage has been reported. The United States continues to lead global biotech crop plantings at 70.1 million hectares or 40 percent of total global hectares.

"Accumulated hectarage of biotech crops planted worldwide to-date stands at 1.6 billion hectares or 150 percent of the total landmass of China," said Clive James, author of the report and ISAAA Founder and Chairman Emeritus. "Each of the top ten countries planting biotech crops during 2013 planted more than one million hectares, providing a broad foundation for future growth."

According to the report, more than 90 percent, or 16.5 million, of farmers planting biotech crops are small and resource-poor. Of the countries planting biotech crops, eight are industrial countries and 19 are developing countries.

For the second year, developing countries planted more hectares of biotech crops than industrialized countries, representing confidence and trust of millions of risk-averse farmers around the world that have experienced the benefits of these crops. Nearly 100 percent of farmers who try biotech crops continue to plant them year after year, the report notes.

Intensive Management Pushes Soybeans to Maximum Yield Potential

As soybean researchers continue pushing achievable soybean yields, DuPont Pioneer agronomists advise growers to manage their soybeans intensively for high yield.

Mark Jeschke, DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager, says the biggest challenge to high soybean yields is changing the mindset about managing your soybean crop.

"Over the years, soybeans have gotten less attention during the growing season,” says Jeschke. “There are many legitimate reasons — the major pest list is longer for corn; soybean pest problems are often localized and do not occur every year; and soybean planting frequently takes a back seat to getting the corn into the ground.”

However, the researchers working in the labs, greenhouses and test plots want growers to know that the reward will be there for intensive soybean management. The first step in managing for high yield is stand establishment. Earlier planting and higher levels of crop residue mean growers often drop the planter into colder, wetter soils. As a result, the potential for seedling diseases increases.

 “Seed treatments protect seed planted into challenging conditions,” Jeschke says. “Fungicide seed treatments offer multiple modes of action that protect against a broad spectrum of early season diseases, such as Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Pythium.”

Adding an insecticide to seed treatments helps control pests before their feeding can provide an entry port for disease. Seed treatment options also include a rhizobia inoculant/extender and a biological component that helps increase nodulation for better nutrient availability and uptake by the plant.

Soybean growers can also gain an advantage with narrow rows. Drilled narrow rows and 15-inch planted rows typically out yielded 30-inch rows by an average of 3­–4 bu/acre in studies published over the last decade.

“Growers generally see higher yields as soybean rows narrow. The results have been fairly consistent,” Jeschke says.

The DuPont Pioneer agronomist also offers these additional management tips:
-    Plant as early as practical using full-season varieties for your geography. The plants will flower earlier and produce more nodes, increasing the potential for greater pod and seed numbers.
-    Manage soil fertility. Soybeans utilize 55% more potassium than a 200 bu/acre corn crop, so residual corn fertility may not be enough.
-    Practice crop rotation to break disease and insect cycles, lessen their severity, and increase yield.
-    Achieve excellent stand establishment in all tillage systems with planting equipment adapted to residue conditions.

Finally, Jeschke recommends growers monitor in-season weed, pest and disease problems, and manage accordingly.

Milk quality experts gather for 53rd National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting

More than 420 milk quality, mastitis and udder health researchers, dairy producers and dairy industry partners attended the National Mastitis Council (NMC) 53rd Annual Meeting held Jan. 26-28, in Fort Worth, Texas. The event upheld its tradition of offering a platform for international discussion and sharing research on milk quality innovation and expertise.

As in the past, the 2014 event continued to hold global appeal. In addition to a large contingency of U.S. representation, approximately 28 percent of the 2014 attendees represented 23 different countries other than the United States.

“NMC is committed to growing and continuing engagement on a global level,” says Dr. John Middleton, NMC president. “Our annual meeting is a testament to our international commitment to mastitis control and quality milk production.”

Discussions at this year’s meeting included analytical approaches to managing mastitis, treatment and non-treatment approaches to control mastitis, and global milk quality updates. The featured symposium focused on technologies for mastitis detection and management with topics on molecular diagnostics, PCR-based tests and automated milk differential cell count. In addition to these sessions, attendees had the opportunity to take 11 different short courses. More than 60 percent of the meeting attendees enrolled in these additional learning opportunities.

Rounding out this year’s agenda was a technology transfer session where researchers shared cutting edge information and solutions for the future of mastitis control. Fifty posters were presented for review and knowledge sharing.

All of the sessions offered attendees an opportunity to network, discuss global milk quality challenges and share valuable experiences with others who are interested in quality milk production. Participants at this year’s meeting also had the opportunity to earn continuing education credits.

“The goal of NMC is to deliver relevant and timely information on mastitis and milk quality to a diverse audience. This year’s program did just that and brought together a group of international speakers to share their perspectives and experience,” says Middleton.

The National Dairy Quality Award winners, NMC scholars and the NMC Award of Excellence for Contribution to Mastitis Prevention and Control were recognized during an awards luncheon on Jan. 28.

Receiving top recognition in the National Dairy Quality Awards were: Randy and Kathy Bauer, Faribault, Minn.; Donald Beattie, Holton, Mich.; Gordon Dick, McBain, Mich.; Duane and Janet Molhoek, Falmouth, Mich.; Sean Quinn and Melissa Murray, Greenwich, N.Y.; and Dennis and Doris Tubergen, Ionia, Mich. Judges select top dairy producers to receive this honor based on quality milk production indicators, such as somatic cell count, bacteria count and mastitis incidence, along with milking routine, systems of monitoring udder health, treatment protocols and strategies for overall herd health and welfare.

The 2014 NMC Award of Excellence for Contribution to Mastitis Prevention and Control was awarded to Tom Herremans from IBA Inc. This award, in its third year, is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., and recognizes an NMC member for sustained contribution to mastitis prevention and control through research, extension or education, clinical practice or service to producers.

For the seventh consecutive year, the National Mastitis Research Foundation (NMRF) awarded travel scholarships to four outstanding graduate students to attend the NMC Annual Meeting. This year’s NMC Scholars were Anneleen De Visscher, Ghent University, Belgium; Paige Gott, The Ohio State University, Ohio; Aine O'Connell, University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin; and Nicole Steele, Massey University, New Zealand. NMRF initiated the NMC Scholars program to support the development of mastitis research and milk quality professionals from around the world.

To support the NMC Scholars Program and the work of the NMRF, a “Minute to Win It” fundraising event was hosted at the annual meeting. About $2,000 was raised for the NMRF and will be used to host future graduate students as the council continues to grow.

NMC thanks its annual meeting sponsors who contributed to the program’s success. Diamond sponsors were Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., DeLaval Inc., GEA Farm Technologies, Inc. and Zoetis. Platinum sponsors were Central Life Sciences, Ecolab, Inc., Elanco Animal Health, IBA Inc., Land O’Lakes, Inc. and Lauren AgriSystems, Ltd. Gold sponsors included A & L Laboratories, Inc., Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Inc., Alltech, BouMatic, Foremost Farms USA and Hypred. Silver sponsors were ABS Global, Inc., Ambic Equipment Limited, Dairy Farmers of America, Fight Bac / Deep Valley Farm, Inc., Grande Cheese, ImmuCell Corporation, McLanahan Corporation, Merial Ltd., Merck Animal Health and Udder Tech, Inc. Sponsoring this year’s milk break was Oak Farms Dairy.

The 54th NMC Annual Meeting is set for Feb. 1-3, 2015 in Memphis, Tenn. For additional information, go to:

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