Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday February 7 Ag News

Texas Rancher Named as NCBA President, Members Approve New Policies to Conclude Convention

The 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show concluded today with the NCBA board of directors and membership meetings. Bob McCan of Victoria, Texas, succeeded Scott George as NCBA president during the association’s board of directors meeting.

McCan encouraged NCBA members to join him in leading this great industry—and the association—to an even stronger future.

“It is a great honor to be elected to lead NCBA for the next year. A strong future lies ahead of us with endless opportunities for U.S. cattlemen and women,” said McCan. “There are many issues that need our attention, and my goal is to bring unity to our efforts to address them. In addition, I look forward to meeting cattlemen throughout the country to hear their concerns and work to make our industry as successful as it can be.”

The new NCBA President Elect is Philip Ellis of Wyoming. Tracy Brunner of Kansas is NCBA’s new vice president. Cevin Jones of Idaho was elected chairman of the NCBA Federation Division, and Jennifer Houston of Tennessee is the Federation Division’s vice chair. The new NCBA Policy Division chairman is Craig Uden of Nebraska and Kevin Kester of California is the new policy vice chairman.

In addition to electing the new officer team on the final day of the convention, committees and the Board of Directors also voted on policy issues, including resolutions on cattle health and well-being; cattle marketing and international trade; federal lands ranching and more.

A record-setting number of over 8,200 cattlemen and women attended the industry’s convention. This year’s convention participants heard from industry leaders, gathered insight on industry trends, met with their fellow cattlemen and women, and enjoyed a night at the Grand Ole Opry in the heart of Nashville.

The NCBA Trade Show was the largest ever this year with more than 300 exhibitors. New to the Trade Show this year was two education areas on the show floor with a demonstration area for live animals and a learning lounge for classroom-style presentations. These areas focused on valuable educational tips and Beef CheckOff-funded Beef Quality Assurance program Stockmanship and Stewardship.

McCan said he will enjoy traveling to many states this coming year to meet with producers.

“Our strength as an organization and as an industry will only be as strong as the producers in it,” said McCan. “I look forward to working with our state affiliates and our state beef councils to build programs that will have the most impact on our operations and industry.” 

Contributing to Something Bigger Than Yourself

Cow/calf and stocker producer Kim Brackett from Buhl, Idaho, was elected by fellow Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) members to serve as CBB chairman in 2014. The vote came today during the 2014 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The oldest of four girls, Kim grew up on a cow/calf operation in Wyoming spending countless hours on her “dad’s payroll”. After high school, Kim received her undergraduate degree from Utah State and went on to finish her Master’s Degree at Boise State; she is also working through a Doctoral Program.

During her time at Utah State, she met fifth generation cowboy Ira and the two were married in 1995, after which they moved to southwestern Idaho to his family’s ranch to work with his grandfather and father. Ten years later, Ira and Kim decided to diversify and buy some farm ground, installed pivots and ran a stocker operation during the height of the age and source verification era.

Four years ago, the couple further evaluated how much time they were investing in paperwork and the bureaucracy and continual litigation by environmental extremists as it related to their federal lands. Departing from the way Ira’s family typically operated the ranch, they sold their federal land permits and bought some private ground and lease land in multiple states in the west. Kim says it was a decision they didn’t take lightly but one they are extremely pleased with, and it enables their four children to be actively involved on the ranch every day whether it be chores, feeding calves, moving cattle, fixing fence, hauling out protein supplement or checking heifers, just to name a few.

Among her many titles, Kim is mother to four children:  Cade, 12, Zane, 10, Chantry, 7 and Rhett, 5. The kids are all involved in 4-H and the family spends time discussing genetics, how important it is to calculate feed rations and how that translates into carcass quality. Kim says it’s important for her children to understand the entire beef lifecycle.

Kim spent six years on the Idaho Beef Council working her way through leadership positions during pivotal years of hiring a new beef council executive and increasing the state checkoff. She says this was one of her proudest moments as chair in learning consensus-building among all segments of the industry and building a coalition of folks who understood the checkoff and saw the need for increasing it within the state. Kim has also served as Federation of State Beef Councils director, been active in the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association, local cattle association, and local school board. Furthermore, she served as chair of the Idaho BQA advisory board, was a Sunday School teacher for many years, literacy tutor, volunteers at the kids' school, and served on the county-wide health board.

Kim’s first experience with the checkoff was as chair of Idaho’s state cookoff. “To be stepping up as Cattlemen’s Beef Board chair is a phenomenal evolution in what seems like a relatively short amount of years,” Kim says. “I never fully appreciated how hard the checkoff works for me and my family and our ranch, nor did I understand the scope of checkoff programs. Some people say I’m the ‘face of the checkoff’ as chair and I laugh that off but also take a lot of pride in that because I’m so proud of our checkoff programs and how they work for us as cattle ranchers.”

Kim truly embodies the cattle industry and represents the hard-working men and women across the country. She is out there every day working cattle, loading trucks, sorting cows and pulling calves. “I am a beef producer, too.”

When asked to point out checkoff successes to her fellow producers, Kim highlighted the BOLD study (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) – and how pivotal this nutritional research was in communicating with consumers about the benefits of beef in a lean diet. She also noted the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and how the decisions producers make on the ranch affect their end product; Kim encourages all producers to be BQA-certified and active in providing a consistent beef product that consumers are asking for.

Switching gears, Kim says as chair, she hopes to build bridges. “That means embracing our differences as CBB members because the one thing that does unite us is that we care about this cattle industry. We care enough to be on the board, to be involved, and to be engaged in making decisions for a strong checkoff program.”

Kim says she would be remiss to not mention at the end of her story Ira and his constant, unwavering support for her in her role on the Beef Board. “He is a superhero. He is my number one fan and my biggest supporter. I couldn’t do any of this without him, or my kids. Seeing ‘mom’ contributing her time and effort to something bigger than she is, the greater good, is a valuable lesson for them.”

Corn Growers Thank President Obama for Signing 2014 Farm Bill

The National Corn Growers Association thanked President Obama for signing the Agricultural Act of 2014 today. The farm bill passed the House on January 29 and the Senate on February 4.

“This new five-year farm bill means certainty and stability for farmers. It means food on the table for hungry families. And it means taxpayers will save money,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “We thank President Obama for signing this important legislation and we stand ready to work with the Administration and communicate the value of this new law for our growers and those they help feed and fuel. Because of its very topic – food and the farms that provide it – this is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress has passed in some time.”

Among its specific provisions, the bill:
- Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World Trade Organization challenges.
- Allows producers to either maintain existing crop acreage base or to reallocate their current base to reflect average acres planted to covered commodities in 2009-2012, a reform that will make programs more relevant and more defensible while not tying them to current-year plantings.
- Consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, and focuses conservation efforts on working lands.  It also ties conservation compliance for wetlands and highly erodible land to premium support for crop insurance.
- Maintains authorizations for important agricultural research programs, including AFRI, as well as including a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that will provide a structure and mandatory funding for new public/private partnerships and investments that will further USDA’s research mission.
- Maintains authorizations and funding levels for export promotion, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program and the Market Access Program (MAP).
- Continues the combined authorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, a linkage that has been essential in enacting every farm bill since 1974.

Obama Signs Farm Bill into Law

The American Soybean Association is excited to announce that after more than three years of negotiations—the farm bill has officially crossed the finish line.  President Barack Obama signed the 2014 farm bill into law on Friday, Feb. 7 during a ceremony at Michigan State University.

ASA member Rob Joslin, who served as Farm Bill Task Force Chair for the past three years throughout the process, represented ASA at the ceremony on Friday. Joslin said President Obama spoke for nearly 25 minutes to a crowd of an estimated 400 people.

ASA thanks the hundreds of farmers that contacted their lawmakers and worked tirelessly to make soy growers’ voices heard on the farm bill throughout the past three years.

CFRA:  President Obama signs Farm Bill

Today, President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law while in East Lansing, Mich., at Michigan State’s Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center.  President Obama touted the legislation's benefits to a prosperous agricultural sector and, consequently, to the nation’s overall economy. However, criticism of the Farm Bill’s lack of reform of farm programs still remains.

“We opposed the final Farm Bill that came out of the Conference Committee,” said Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “But the President signed the bill, which means he is accepting the responsibility of making the Farm Bill work, improving upon it, and closing the farm payment limitation loopholes that Congress punted to the Administration.”

According to Bruckner, the conference report stripped out bipartisan reforms, which passed both House and Senate, and would have tightened the definition of being “actively engaged” in farming - a loophole that mega-farms use to gain additional payments by defining passive investors as qualified farmers, even though those investors provide no real labor or management on the farm. Moreover, this Farm Bill actually increases farm payment limits from $50,000 to $125,000 for the primary commodity program.

“President Obama now has the opportunity to deliver on the promise he made to rural and small town Americans while campaigning for President in Iowa in 2007,” added Bruckner.

In the President’s speech before signing the bill, he noted that there are big producers who are doing well, but many small farmers scratching out a living. He also added that it is hard for young people to get started in farming. But failing to clean up this farm program loophole mess will only make matters worse, Bruckner explained.
“If, however, the President is serious about reforming farm programs, living up to the promise he made to close the “actively engaged” loopholes is the best and most crucial place to start,” Bruckner concluded. “Congress put the ball in his court, we urge him to pick it up and take his best shot.”

American Farm Bureau Welcomes 2014 Farm Bill

President Barack Obama signed the 2014 farm bill today on the campus of Michigan State University. After more than two years of dedicated work toward passage, farmers and ranchers from across the nation now have answers about how they can manage the many and varied risks they face in producing food and fiber, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

“It’s been a bumpy road for the farm bill over the past several years, with many twists and turns, but farmers never gave up nor lost momentum in working toward its passage,” Stallman said. “Farm Bureau believes this farm bill will give farmers and ranchers a measure of business certainty for this and coming years, allowing them to better manage risk while carrying out the important business of providing food and jobs for America.”

Stallman credited congressional Agriculture Committee leaders, House Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), House Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Senate Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Senate Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), for their leadership, perseverance and cooperation during what was a long, difficult and politically charged farm bill cycle.

Including the cuts already made through sequestration, the Farm Bill will save $23 billion over the next 10 years. It will enhance rural economies with additional jobs, invest in research and education and include reform that works for farm and ranch families. Importantly, the bill also provides disaster provisions for livestock producers and fruit and vegetable growers.

One such farmer is Michigan cherry, apple and plum grower Ben LaCross, from Leelanau County, Mich. LaCross, a former chair of the AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Committee and current member of the Michigan Farm Bureau board of directors, said that under previous farm bills, his cherry crop was not eligible for crop insurance.

“This bill strengthens crop insurance so farmers like me will have the tools we need to survive a weather disaster,” LaCross said prior to introducing President Obama for the signing ceremony in Michigan.

Now signed into law, the 2014 law will allow the Agriculture Department to begin planning for implementation of the bill’s provisions.

Farm Bill Signed Into Law

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) is excited to announce the passage of The Agriculture Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill. President Obama signed the Bill into law at Michigan State University on Friday.  Michigan State University was the first land grant university created in the country and is also the alma mater of Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture committee.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be implementing the newly passed Bill, and Secretary Tom Vilsack designated Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden to take the lead in overseeing implementation. NAWG and its members are “beyond excited” that the process of passing a farm bill is now complete.

A statement from NAWG President Bing Von Bergen, a wheat farmer and seedsman from Moccasin, Mont.:

“NAWG is excited that the Farm Bill has officially been signed into law. Wheat growers across the country have worked hard at the state level and with their members of Congress to ensure this bill benefits the nation’s wheat farmers. This bill gives growers certainty and allows them to make educated decisions leading into the spring planting season."

Farm Bill Signed by President

John Wilson, Senior Vice President, Dairy Farmers of America

“After five years of working toward a Farm Bill, we are thankful to have a new bill, which replaces outdated dairy programs with an important risk management tool that will help the nation’s dairy farm families maintain financial stability.

“We would like to thank our members, supporters in Congress and National Milk Producers Federation for their tireless pursuit of new dairy policy and a completed bill.

“The unified voice the dairy producer community expressed during this process is admirable, and while the final bill does not reflect the exact policy we had proposed, we achieved our goal of creating dairy policy that will better serve U.S. dairy farmers.”

Together Farm Bill and RFS Revitalize Rural America

As President Obama signs into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), commented:

“President Obama and Congress are to be applauded as the Farm Bill of 2014 becomes law. The President is absolutely correct to champion the economic benefits of this legislation on rural America. Creating jobs and economic opportunity is most challenging in rural communities, which is why the President has long supported and appreciated the value of the American biofuels industry.

“Under the Renewable Fuel Standard, the U.S. ethanol industry created and supported over 386,000 jobs in the past year. Forty-six percent of ethanol industry workers earned more than $75,000 annually while another 45 percent reported making between $40,000 and $74,999. Ninety-six percent of workers had health insurance and 92 percent had retirement plans.

“The economic benefits of the RFS are not limited to the rural communities. At the macro level, the RFS is helping Americans coast-to-coast, border-to-border save money by reducing the price of gasoline by an average of $1.00/gallon in 2012 and 2013. Under the RFS, imports of foreign gasoline dropped an incredible 89 percent from 2007 to 2013 helping this nation become more secure at both the economic and national security levels. The RFS also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40-50 percent compared to gasoline.

“To build on the success of the Farm Bill, we call on President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the RFS and restore the 2014 conventional ethanol requirement to its statutory level. The President is right to champion rural America and the time to fight for the RFS is right now. If the EPA’s proposal to decrease the conventional ethanol portion of the RFS becomes a reality, rural America will be hit the hardest. Farm income will fall, corn prices will sink, and land value will fall. Much like the Farm Bill, it may be a long and hard fight but we will continue fighting for American farmers, consumers and rural communities.”

Cuming County farmer supports West Point Rescue through America’s Farmers Grow Communities

Local farmer Donald Luebbert has directed a $2,500 donation to West Point Rescue. Funded by America’s Farmers Grow Communities, the donation will help fund on-site and off-site training, and allow the squad to purchase new equipment.

Thanks to the support of farmers across the country, more than $3.2 million is being directed to nonprofits in 1,289 counties in 39 states.

“I chose to direct the donation to the rescue squad, because I used to serve with them, and they do a lot of good for the community,” said Luebbert. “I know they will strongly benefit from the donation.”

America’s Farmers Grow Communities works directly with farmers to support nonprofit organizations like West Point Rescue, who are doing important work in their communities. The program offers farmers the chance to win $2,500, which is then donated to the farmer’s nonprofit of choice. The search for funding to sustain and enhance programs is a year-round job for nonprofit organizations across the country. Through America’s Farmers Grow Communities, farmers have been able to support a variety of groups, such as schools, fire departments, community centers and youth organizations like 4-H and FFA.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities launched in 2010, and has since donated over $13 million to more than 5,200 nonprofit organizations across the country. America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, is part of the America’s Farmers initiative, which highlights and celebrates the important contributions of farmers like Donald Luebbert. For a complete list of Grow Communities winners and more program information, please visit

PVC Ladies Night is Feb 17th

Crystal Klug, President

As most of you are aware, February is an exciting month for Platte Valley Cattlemen members.  Our Ladies Night meeting and banquet will surely not disappoint! 

Bring your Valentine for a belated night out Monday, February 17, at Wunderlich’s Catering.  We asked the ladies for program ideas and they responded.  The night’s meeting will include a wine tasting featuring Prairie Creek Vineyards.  They are a small, family owned vineyard and winery located near Central City.  Prairie Creek has been involved in the farming industry for many generations and now are turning their efforts into bringing you a "Taste of the Good Life".  The social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m. with dinner to follow at 7:00 p.m.  Thank you to our meal and wine tasting sponsors Performance Plus Liquids and the Nebraska Corn Board!

Additionally, the 2014 Banquet is set for Saturday, February 22, at 5:30 p.m. at Platte County Ag Park. The night is jam-packed with entertainment featuring comedian, Jeff Jena.  Jena has over thirty-three years of live performance experience, including over forty national television show appearances.  We will cap off the evening with the ever-so-popular local band, Side Step!  Tickets are on sale now for $30.00 each and available from all Platte Valley Cattlemen Directors. 

We hope you and your spouse can join us on February 17, and  February 22.  And make sure you tell your friends, the place to be Saturday, February 22, is Ag Park in Columbus! 

NeFBF Hosts Free Estate & Business Succession Workshops for Nebraskans

Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and Nebraska Farm Bureau Financial Services are teaming up to bring  free Estate & Business Succession Workshops to you!  As a member of Nebraska Farm Bureau, these are a member benefit with no additional cost.  Each workshop will feature Jessman Smith, JD, an attorney with Farm Bureau, focusing on timely strategies for planning and choosing wisely for the future of your family business.  Join us for these FREE WORKSHOPS including a meal to:
-    Maximize the value of your estate and business assets
-    Use techniques that take advantage of the new estate tax bill – Portability, Joint Option Trust, Protective Inheritance Trust
-    Reduce or eliminate unnecessary taxes
-    Reduce risks you face protecting your estate and business assets, funding retirement
-    Distribute business assets to your children active in the business, while maintaining fairness to other children
-    Keep your business or farm in the family for next generation

YORK - LUNCH - Best Western Hotel - Tues., Feb. 25 - 12:00 p.m.
LINCOLN - DINNER - Holiday Inn Southwest - Tues., Feb. 25 - 5:30 p.m.
OMAHA - LUNCH - Tiburon Golf Course - Wed., Feb. 26 - 12:00 p.m.
OMAHA - DINNER - Tiburon Golf Course - Wed., Feb. 26 - 5:30 p.m.

Check their website for all the details and to register. 

NLPA Elects Gary Smith New Chairman

NLPA enters its 93rd year of serving livestock producers with a new Chairman of the Board. After five years, Stan Mannschreck, cattle rancher from Anadarko, OK, and representative of National Livestock Commission Association, Oklahoma City, OK, reached his term limit and formally stepped down at the NLPA’s annual meeting held in Charleston, SC, January 20-22, 2014.

Newly elected Gary Smith will serve as Chairman of the Board for 2014, advancing from his position with NLPA as Vice-Chairman of the Board. In addition to representing Producers Livestock Marketing Association, Omaha, NE, to the NLPA, Smith is a full-time bank Ag Loan Officer and farms row crops, custom farms, and owns a commercial cow herd with his son Brady and wife Anne near Glenwood, IA.

NLPA honored Mannschreck’s leadership over the past five years at the annual meeting banquet, noting that during his term, the NLPA accomplishments included initiating a successful management agreement with the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and adding administrative services for a new international association, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Mannschreck engaged with leaders of seven other national beef industry associations in reforming the Beef Checkoff system and the NLPA Sheep & Goat Fund revolved over $19 million into the sheep and goat industries during Mannschreck’s tenure as Chairman.  Mannschreck is a second generation NLPA leader, following in the footsteps of his father, Elmer Mannschreck, who served over four decades earlier.

“Stan is an amazingly humble leader who is well respected among his fellow board members and within the livestock industry,” said R. Scott Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer of NLPA, who administers the organization.

The new Chairman, Gary Smith, has been active with the Mills-Montgomery County Cattlemen’s Association, Mills County Farm Bureau, Iowa Farm Bureau State Young Member Committee, Iowa Farm Bureau Beef Advisory Committee and ISU Ag Foundation. He currently serves as Chairman of Mills County Extension Council, as well as the Producers Livestock Marketing Association in Omaha and is a Director and past Chairman of Western Iowa Mutual Insurance Association.

“I look forward to serving as Chairman of NLPA and hope I can do justice to the position as those before me have done. For me, National Livestock Producers Association has always been synonymous with integrity, honesty, and service.  I look forward to promoting those values for our customers now and in the future,” said Smith.

Other Executive Committee officers elected at the annual meeting were Doug Hauser, National Livestock Credit Corporation, as Vice Chairman; Chuck Adami, Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association; Darrell Ailshie, Tennessee Livestock Producers, Inc.; William Beeman, Empire Livestock Marketing, LLC; Jack Hanson, Tri-State Livestock Credit Corporation and Rick O’Brien, Producers Livestock Marketing Association, N. Salt Lake, UT.

Since 1921, National Livestock Producers Association services have been designed to help member marketing agencies and credit corporations become more effective and efficient for its producer-patrons. Through member interaction, many innovative services and programs have been formed and alliances cemented which are designed to provide the livestock producer many opportunities to improve the producer's bottom line. Administrative offices are in Colorado Springs, CO.

Researchers Study Myelin to Help Improve Piglet Survival

About 10 to 20 percent of piglets do not survive to weaning, and 5 to 10 percent are stillborn. Unlocking the effects of myelin production, an important aspect of brain development, in piglets may be one of the keys to their survival.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are investigating myelin production, called "myelination," which is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system and affects coordination and reflex speed. A team led by Jeffrey Vallet, a physiologist and research leader of the Reproduction Research Unit at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., is examining myelination's role in helping newborn piglets move quickly and easily to avoid being accidentally crushed by their mother, a primary cause of piglet preweaning mortality.

Scientists compared myelin content from the cerebellum, brain stem and spinal cord, which are involved in coordination and reflexes, between the largest and smallest pig fetuses during a sow's late pregnancy. They found no differences in spinal cord myelination, which develops first, between the two groups. However, significantly less myelin was found in the brain stem and cerebellum of smaller pig fetuses.

In another study, Vallet and his colleagues investigated the effects of the dietary supplement creatine, which plays a role in energy metabolism. They looked at energy metabolism and myelination in piglets. Feeding creatine to pregnant sows did not affect the birth process--the amount of time between piglets' births, number of stillbirths and preweaning mortality. However, the number of low-birth-weight piglets crushed by their mothers that received creatine was reduced.

Overall, these studies suggest that reduced myelin may contribute to poor survival of low-birth-weight piglets, and that improved myelination may help the piglet's ability to avoid the sow when necessary, according to Vallet.

Senators Ask Vilsack for Expedited Livestock Disaster Programs

Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Wednesday led a number of their colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling on him to expedite implementation of the livestock disaster programs reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The senators write, "In 2012, U.S. grazing livestock producers experienced the most devastating loss of pasture, rangeland, and forage in decades due to the widespread drought... In October 2013, winter storm Atlas, an unexpected early fall blizzard, killed more than 20,000 cattle, sheep, horses and bison in the Dakotas and Nebraska, leaving many livestock producers with less than 50 percent of their livestock herds surviving...Due to the magnitude of pasture, forage, and livestock losses and the urgent need for financial assistance these losses have created, we strongly urge you to place implementation of 2014 Farm Bill livestock disaster programs as a top priority."

Thune and Heitkamp were joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

UNL ARD's 'Big Idea Seminars' start in 2014 with Science Literacy Presentation

            The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Research Division's "Big Idea Seminars" will kickoff in 2014 on Feb. 19 during the "Building Science Literacy through Engagement in Community and Environmental Stewardship" presentation from Rodger Bybee.

            Bybee, chair of the Science Forum and Science Expert Group for the Next Generation Sciences Standards, will present on science education initiatives that emphasize the effective management of food, water and natural resources.

            His presentation will be from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Nebraska Union on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Campus. The ARD's seminar series builds big ideas and collaborations among faculty members not only at UNL, but across all University of Nebraska campuses.

            "The primary goal of this Big Idea Seminar is to create a community of research and practice that brings together multiple partners around the theme of science literacy and community and environment stewardship," said Tonia Durden, assistant professor, child, youth and family studies at UNL, who helped organize the seminar. "We will be building upon the national science agenda and the applied research being conducted across the state, university system and (UNL) Research and Extension Centers by faculty."

            Bybee will introduce strategies for strengthening science literacy, improving PK-12 instruction and enhancing family engagement in science learning among children and youth.

            Participatory spotlight sessions preceding the presentation starting at 1 p.m. will give attendees the opportunity to discuss informal science education, early childhood education, the role of rural family-school partnerships and more.

            Bybee served as executive director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study from 1999 to 2007, where he was principal investigator for four National Science Foundation programs.

            Prior to joining BSCS, he worked as executive director of the National Research Council's Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education. Bybee has also served on advisory boards and committees for the National Academies, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

            Bybee's primary professional interests have included scientific literacy, scientific inquiry, the design and development of school science curriculum, the role of policy in science education and international assessments. He has a doctorate degree from New York University and earned his master's and bachelor's degrees from the University of Northern Colorado.

            For a link to watch this seminar live or for more information about the ARD's Big Idea Seminars, including the Family Showcase scheduled for April 15, visit the website at

            Durden said their goals for families include increasing science literacy and children and youth's interests in science and being scientists. The Family Showcase April 15 will reach these goals by demonstrating successful approaches to enhancing science literacy through curricula and showcasing family activities involving science activities, she said.

            The ARD's Big Idea Seminar series is in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  This seminar series is co-sponsored by the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies; College of Education and Human Sciences; Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools; and UNL Extension.

Livestock Production Program for 4-H to be Developed

Youth participating in 4-H are the focus of a new Iowa State University livestock education program.

Amy Powell was recently hired to help develop an online curriculum to teach youth in 4-H about raising livestock. The new Extension and Outreach position of 4-H livestock specialist will work with Department of Animal Science professors to ensure the information is scientifically sound.

“One in every five Iowa youth develops life skills by participating in 4-H programs, demonstrating the importance of providing a research-based education,” said Cathann Kress, vice president for Extension and Outreach. “This new position complements the governor’s STEM Initiative to boost our youths’ knowledge and skills.”

Powell is a native of Tennessee and worked as an extension educator there for about 16 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1996 and a master’s degree in agricultural education and extension in 2004, both from the University of Tennessee.

“It is exciting for the Department of Animal Science to have someone of Amy Powell's background and experience to lead a new program working with 4-H and youth livestock programs,” said Maynard Hogberg, chair of the Iowa State animal science department. “Science and technology are becoming increasingly important in the production of animal protein.”

Powell said the curriculum that’s developed will be online, making it available to youth outside of 4-H, such as FFA and others who want to learn about animals and the science involved in their production. The exposure to the information might lead youth to further study or to choose a career in science or animal science.

“With more than 16,000 4-H youth enrolled in animal projects, we are looking forward to bringing new ways of delivery and educational experiences to both rural and urban youth in the area of animal science and the STEM initiative,” said Mike Anderson, a 4-H Youth Development livestock program specialist who will be working with Powell.

U.S. Red Meat Exports Close 2013 on a Mixed Note

Exports of U.S. beef, pork and lamb closed 2013 on a mixed note. Beef exports eclipsed the $6 billion mark for the first time, setting a new annual value record. At the same time, pork exports declined below 2012’s record highs while lamb sales rose in value on lower volumes according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports continued their surge in December, surpassing year-ago totals by nearly 13 percent in volume and 20 percent in value led by growth in sales to Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Central/South America. Totals for 2013 were up 3 percent in volume to 1.17 million metric tons (mt) and 12 percent in value ($6.157 billion) – breaking the 2012 value record.

Pork exports exceeded $6 billion for the third consecutive year, but declined 5 percent in volume and 4 percent in value behind 2012’s record pace, finishing at 2.14 million mt valued at $6.05 billion. Mexico, Central/South America and the ASEAN region posted strong results in December to bring the month’s totals up slightly from year-ago levels.

U.S. lamb exports closed with double-digit increases in volume and value in December to finish the year up 7 percent in value ($28.1 million) on 6 percent lower volume (12,332 mt). Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean continue to be the top lamb export markets.

“2013 presented a new set of challenges,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “Last year, the closure of the Russian market to U.S. red meat products and our continued absence from the dynamic beef market in the People’s Republic of China stand out. And there were challenges in other markets, ranging from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia. The industry is focused on these challenges and USMEF is targeting the markets where we have the best chance of succeeding and creating a positive return for American producers and exporters.”

Beef notes

The new milestone for U.S. beef export value also meant new records for the average export value per head: an annual record of $244.96 per head of fed slaughter, up $28.23 from 2012 and a new monthly record in December at $279.16, up $36.52 from December 2012.

U.S. beef exports in 2013 equated to 13.2 percent of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat) and 10.4 percent of muscle cuts alone, up from 12.7 and 9.8 percent last year. The totals trended up in December, reaching 14.5 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Beef sales to Japan closed the year up 54 percent in volume (234,615 mt) and 35 percent in value ($1.389 billion), pushed by a strong December showing that was more than 75 percent ahead of last year’s volume totals and 45 percent higher in value. Value totals for the year were just shy of 2003’s pre-BSE mark of $1.391 billion, although volume was just 62.5 percent of the 2003 total. Based on Japan’s import data, U.S. market share increased from 26 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2013, mainly regaining share from Australia.

Beef exports to Hong Kong set a new annual record as volume doubled to 130,017 mt and value increased 142 percent to $823.3 million. Central/South America also set new milestones with 42,104 mt (up 24 percent) valued at $156.4 million (up 17 percent).

Mexico’s one-month beef import total of 24,402 mt (up 69 percent) was the largest volume to that country since December of 2009, helping push sales to the No. 2 U.S. beef export market to 216,386 mt (up 12 percent) valued at $925.3 million (up 13 percent).

Pork notes

Strong international competition in the highest value pork export market – Japan – helped drive down U.S. pork sales there for the year by 7 percent in volume and 5 percent in value (424,858 mt valued at $1.89 billion). This is the second consecutive year of lower volumes, with declines totaling 68,455 metric tons (14 percent) since 2011. The lost volume to Japan alone is roughly equal to New Zealand’s total pork consumption.

“There is no question that Japan is the No. 1 target for every pork exporting nation,” said Seng. “While the U.S. has enjoyed a dominant share of the pork import market there in recent years, our competitors are working tirelessly to increase their visibility and market share.”

Mexico set a new monthly record for December with 64,818 mt of U.S. pork (up 28 percent) purchased for $133.3 million (up 34 percent). For the year, Mexico remained the top export market in volume (625,475 mt, up 4 percent) while export value to Mexico ($1.22 billion, up 8 percent) trailed only Japan. Mexico registered new record high imports for the second consecutive year.

Central/South American continued its upward trend, setting new sales records paced by strong growth in sales to Colombia, Chile and Honduras. The region closed the year up 34 percent in both volume and value at 121,413 mt valued at $305.7 million.

The ASEAN region broke its 2010 record for U.S. pork purchases, reaching 69,667 mt (up 39 percent) valued at $162.5 million (up 33 percent), driven by strong performances in the Philippines and Singapore.

For the month of December alone, export volumes to South Korea (12,902 mt) and Australia/New Zealand (6,552 mt) were the highest of the year, showing positive momentum going into 2014.

For the year, pork export value averaged $53.95 per head – down about 3 percent from 2012. Exports accounted for 26 percent of total pork and variety meat production (22 percent for just muscle cuts). These ratios were similar to 2012.

Lamb notes

All three top lamb export markets (Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean) were up in volume and value for December. Mexico closed the year up 2 percent in value ($14.2 million) on 14 percent lower volumes (8,654 mt). Canada was up 60 percent in volume (2,497 mt) and 37 percent in value ($6 million), while the Caribbean closed down 41 percent in volume (552 mt) and 14 percent in value ($4.1 million).

Year-end totals for all markets were up 7 percent in value ($28.1 million) on 6 percent lower volumes (12,332 mt).

Ag Groups & States Ask Courts to Reconsider Chesapeake Bay Lawsuit

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, The Fertilizer Institute and several other groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a September 2013 federal court ruling that upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's total maximum daily load for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Agriculture groups have maintained that EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act and have been critical of the water quality models EPA used for production agriculture.

Recently, USDA released updated information regarding conservation practices on cropland in the Chesapeake Bay through the Conservation Effects Assessment Project. It shows that erosion control practices are in place on 97 percent of cropland acres in the Bay watershed. Twenty-one state attorneys general also joined the lawsuit as friends of the court supporting the position that EPA has overstepped its authority under the CWA.

The National Association of Wheat Growers said it supports the use of voluntary conservation programs in the Chesapeake Bay, but opposes EPA's effort to impose mandatory and enforceable requirements for non-point sources of pollution from agriculture lands.

CHS will invest additional $20 million to strengthen refined fuels supply and distribution

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, said today it is investing an additional $20 million in 2014 to strengthen refined fuels supply dependability and flexibility for its customer network.

The projects include the final phase of an ongoing replacement of the company's refined fuels pipeline between Billings and Glendive, Mont., and a new pipeline connection at Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"These 2014 projects bring to more than $55 million the CHS investment over the past three years in our north central U.S. supply and distribution infrastructure to help our owners capture growth in diesel and other refined fuels," said Jay Debertin, CHS executive vice president and chief operating officer, Energy and Foods. "The projects we've completed already have contributed to strong Cenex®-branded fuel growth for our customers in the northern tier region."

Debertin said the pipeline replacement project not only supports its continued reliability, but also includes improvements to existing pumping stations. These will boost delivery capacity and enable CHS "to better adapt to the operational and market challenges that are inevitable in our business," he said.

The recently completed Council Bluffs project connects the National Cooperative Refinery Association's (NRCA) pipeline system which runs between McPherson, Kan., and Council Bluffs, Iowa; to the NuStar pipeline which serves much of eastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota. Debertin said the connection improves CHS ability to utilize NuStar terminals in Jamestown, N.D., and Aberdeen, S.D., to serve refined fuels customers. CHS owns 84 percent of NCRA and will become its sole owner in September 2015.

Since 2011, CHS also has:
-    Increased refined fuels storage and added a four-lane truck loading rack at its Minot, N.D., terminal
-    Added rail car unloading and new load arms and pumps at Glendive, Mont.
-    Begun construction of a new refined fuels terminal at Laurel, Mont., expected to be complete in spring 2014

"Combined, these supply and distribution investments – supported by projects at our Laurel, Mont., and McPherson, Kan., refineries; and our purchase of the remaining ownership in the Kansas refinery, and our CHS Transportation team – create an even stronger refined fuels network dedicated to meeting our customers' needs," Debertin said. "As we move forward, we'll continue to make investments that help our customers capture opportunity."

CHS acquires fertilizer business from Terral RiverService, Inc.  

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today announced it has acquired the fertilizer business and related fertilizer assets of Terral RiverService, Lake Providence, La. Terral RiverService is a river transportation service company specializing in the bulk storage and handling of dry and liquid materials along the Mississippi River system, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and inland waterways of Louisiana and southern Arkansas.

CHS will integrate nine Terral RiverService locations, including eight river terminals, into its existing crop nutrients business. CHS is a leading wholesale distributor of crop nutrients to locally-owned cooperatives and independent farm supply retailers across the U.S.

"This acquisition aligns with CHS growth plans for strategic business and infrastructure expansion into the lower Mississippi River region," said Cheryl Schmura, CHS vice president, crop nutrients. "CHS will serve agricultural supply dealers throughout the region with a full range of dry and liquid N-P-K and specialty fertilizers, backed by global fertilizer supply and logistics expertise."

Thirty-six employees of Terral RiverService will become CHS employees. Former Terral RiverService fertilizer customers are being personally notified of the ownership change.

"CHS was the right fit as we considered companies that could take this part of our business to the next level," said Tom Gattle, Terral RiverService co-founder, president and CEO.  "We are so proud of how our employees helped us grow the fertilizer business over the past 22 years. We are confident that CHS will further improve operations and services, creating an overall positive impact on our communities."

Terral RiverService will retain ownership of its port and marine operations, aggregates and cottonseed businesses.

USDA to Release New Long Term Agricultural Projections

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will release new 10-year agricultural projections on Feb. 13, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. EST. USDA's Agricultural Projections to 2023 will be posted to the Office of the Chief Economist's (OCE) website at and available in MS Word and PDF formats. Projections data will be available as Excel spreadsheets here.

USDA publishes the projections each year in February. The projections are developed by interagency committees in USDA, with the Economic Research Service (ERS) having the lead role in the preparation of the report. The new projections cover crop and livestock commodities, agricultural trade and aggregate indicators, such as farm income, through 2023. The projections do not represent a USDA forecast, but a conditional, long-run scenario based on specific assumptions about farm policy, weather, the economy and international developments. Normal weather is assumed throughout the projection period. The projections were prepared during October through December 2013, with the 2008 Farm Act assumed to be extended and remain in effect through the projection period. Therefore, the projections do not reflect the Agricultural Act of 2014.

Background on USDA's long-term projections and past issues of the report are available on the ERS website at

Agriculture Industry Provides About 9.2% of U.S. Jobs

During 2012, about 16.5 million full- and part-time jobs were related to agriculture. That's about 9.2 percent of total U.S. employment, according to new USDA figures.  Direct on-farm employment provided over 2.6 million of these jobs. Employment in the related industries supported another 13.9 million jobs.  Of this number, food services and drinking places accounted for the largest share at 10.8 million jobs.  Food manufacturing supported 1.5 million jobs. The remaining agriculture-related industries together supported another 1.5 million jobs.

Baucus Confirmed by Senate to be Ambassador to China

The Senate voted 96-0 on Thursday to approve the nomination of Senator Max Baucus to be the next U.S. Ambassador to China.

Baucus, who is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has been a longtime advocate for both the wheat industry and all of agriculture, taking the lead on many issues that benefit farmers such as free trade agreements and numerous Farm Bills, among others.

The Montana Democrat announced last year that he would not seek re-election in 2014. He has served in the Senate since 1978.

Baucus is not known for extensive expertise on China, though he has dealt with international trade issues from his post as Finance Committee chairman. He's visited China approximately eight times, a person familiar with his background said.

Establishing a New "Made In Rural America" Export and Investment Initiative

Friday, President Obama directed his Administration, working through the White House Rural Council, to lead a new 'Made in Rural America' export and investment initiative. This initiative is charged with bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.

Specifically, the President has instructed his Rural Council – in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and other agencies – to commit to connecting more rural businesses of all types to export information and assistance through a comprehensive strategy including the following specific commitments, to be provided over the next nine months:

    Host five "Made in Rural America" regional forums dedicated to promoting rural exports by providing rural leaders and businesses with information about federal and other resources available to help expand exports. Working with local partners including the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Delta Regional Authority, and the Appalachian Regional Commission, these export-focused regional forums will help rural businesses take advantage of new market opportunities by providing training from experienced exporters and federal officials on the basics of exporting, accessing federal support, and participating in major trade events and trade shows across the country, as well as overseas trade missions.

    Convene an "Investing in Rural America" conference later this year to connect major investors with rural business leaders, high-level government officials, economic development experts, and other partners. This conference, hosted by the White House Rural Council in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and other partners, will promote opportunities to invest in Rural America by highlighting successful projects in energy; biofuels and bioproducts; infrastructure, from transportation to water systems to telecommunications; healthcare; manufacturing; and local and regional food systems.

    Host training sessions to equip local USDA Rural Development staff in all 50 states plus territories with the tools they need to counsel businesses on export opportunities and resources. The Department of Commerce, through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, will cross-train USDA Rural Development staff so they can better deliver support or refer rural businesses to federal services.

    Provide enhanced export counseling for rural businesses to connect with foreign buyers through the Department of Commerce's U.S. Export Assistance Center trade specialists in over 100 domestic locations and in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's field staff.

    Coordinate across the Administration to promote rural-produced goods and services at trade events including trade missions, buyer programs, trade shows, and other promotion programs.

    Educate local leaders across the country on the importance of rural exports in partnership with NACo and through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee in order to connect these leaders with federal resources and information to better support rural businesses to develop their potential for exporting.

    Use the BusinessUSA online platform to better connect rural businesses with export and investment resources and coordinate support from across the federal government. BusinessUSA was launched by the President last year to serve as a "one-stop-shop" that matches businesses and entrepreneurs to the full range of services and resources available to them at every stage of development.

NSP Hosts Annual D.C. Fly-In

National Sorghum Producers held its annual D.C. Fly-In this week with 21 sorghum growers and industry representatives from 10 states representing the sorghum industry in Washington, D.C. The group met with 69 offices on Capitol Hill and with five offices within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The annual three-day experience allows growers and industry representatives to not only meet and build relationships with their state’s delegation, but also the opportunity to push priorities for their farm and the sorghum industry as a whole.

The group met with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson as well as the offices of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Thad Cochran. The other Hill visits were distributed as follows:
·  22 visits in the Senate
o    7 meetings with Senators
o    15 meetings with Senate staffers
·  47 visits in the House
o    27 meetings with Representatives
o    20 meetings with House staffers

NSP also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s office, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Risk Management Agency.

Sorghum Checkoff Releases 2013 Annual Report

The Sorghum Checkoff’s 2013 Annual Report is now available online at The report overviews the organization's focus on crop improvement, high value markets and renewables programs, the 2013 financial report, sorghum production and the Sorghum Checkoff board of director's strategic model.

Dryness Hits Southern Brazil Soybeans

Dry weather is sapping yield potential of the 2013-14 soybean crop in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, the state farm agency (Emater) said Friday.  And with 80% of the crop in the sensitive flowering and pod-filling stages, the chances of real losses are mounting with each dry day, it said in its weekly report.  Rio Grande do Sul enjoyed substantial rains up to mid-January, but rainfall has declined since.

The reason is a hot air system sitting over Uruguay and northern Argentina, which is blocking the movement of rain-carrying cold fronts into the soy regions of the state.  A cold front is forecast to break through the barrier later next week, and it is vital that it brings rains.

While hot, dry conditions are affecting large parts of Brazil's southeast and south, Rio Grande do Sul is one of the few states where soybeans have been affected. The crops in neighboring Parana are largely further along and haven't been hurt by the recent dryness, while Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais are not major soybean producers.

In Rio Grande do Sul, some 18% of the soybean crop is in vegetative development, some 40% is in the flowering stage, while 42% is in pod-filling stage. Harvesting will begin next month.  Corn harvesting is 30% complete, but the dry weather is also affecting some later-planted corn.

AGCO Reports Higher Earnings, Net Income in 2013

AGCO reported net sales of approximately $2.9 billion during the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of approximately 5.8% compared to net sales of $2.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2012. Reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $1.40 per share. These results compare to reported and adjusted net income of $1.04 and $0.99 per share, respectively, for the fourth quarter of 2012.

Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2012 excluded a non-cash intangible asset impairment charge of approximately $22.4 million as well as a non-cash tax gain of approximately $26.9 million from the recognition of U.S. deferred tax assets. Excluding an unfavorable currency translation impact of approximately 0.3%, net sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 increased approximately 6.1% compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net sales for the full year of 2013 were approximately $10.8 billion, an increase of approximately 8.3% compared to the same period in 2012. For the full year of 2013, reported net income was $6.01 per share.

This result compares to reported and adjusted net income of $5.30 and $5.25 per share, respectively, for the full year of 2012. Excluding an unfavorable impact of currency translation of approximately 1.2%, net sales for the full year of 2013 increased approximately 9.5% compared to 2012.

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