Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday February 28 Ag News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changes in How Pesticide Information is Displayed

Clyde Ogg, Extension Educator, UNL Pesticide Education Program

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

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

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

Employers should educate employees on these changes to avoid confusion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Farm Finance Clinics Scheduled for March

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

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

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

Conventional Agriculture Winning Some, Losing Some in Culture War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cattlemen’s Ball sets $2.5 million fundraising goal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Iowa Monthly Ag Prices - February 2014

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

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

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

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

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

February Farm Prices Received Index Increased 7 Points

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

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

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

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

Prices Received by Farmers - All crops:

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

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

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

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

Livestock and products:

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

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

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

Jaksich Appointed Valmont's Chief Financial Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year-End 2013 Results of Operations

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth-Quarter 2013 Results of Operations

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

Loan Portfolio

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

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

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

Liquidity and Capital Resources

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

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

About AgriBank

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

Russia to Resume U.S. Pork Imports in March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPP Negotiations Make Progress But Major Gaps Remain

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

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

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

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

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

Oil Ends Month With 5% Gain

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

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

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

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

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

Tractor safety campaign challenges unsafe traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Safras Sees 86.1 MT Brazil Soy Crop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica launches two PED initiatives for swine industry

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

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

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

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

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

No comments:

Post a Comment