Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday February 13 Ag News

Corn and Soybean Clinic to Look at Weather Extremes and Precision Farming Technologies on February 25

Is our weather becoming more variable?  Are we seeing more extremes in weather?  Weather changes can have a big impact on agriculture.  What adaptations in farming systems can be done to manage these changing conditions?  Precision agriculture continues to make advancements that can be applied to all areas of crop production. How can these new technologies be used to optimize yields?  University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Washington County will provide farmers, landowners, and crop consultants with updated research based information on climate variability, weather extremes and precision ag technologies at the 2014 Washington County Corn and Soybean Production Clinic.  The clinic is from 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the Washington County Extension Office, 597 Grant Street in Blair.

Featured clinic speakers will be Dr. Charles Wortmann, UNL Extension nutrient management specialist and Dr. Joe Luck, UNL Extension precision ag engineer.   The free clinic is sponsored by the University of Nebraska –Lincoln Extension in Washington County.  For more information contact the UNL Extension Office in Washington County at 402-426-9455, email or visit the Washington County Extension web site at


"I’m pleased to announce that today I prioritized LB670, my bill to lower property tax valuations for agricultural land,” said State Senator Beau McCoy.

LB670 lowers the valuations on agricultural land from its current 75 percent to 65 percent for tax purposes.  The bill calls for the changes to be phased-in over a three year period.

When the Nebraska Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee asked the citizens of Nebraska to voice their opinion about the state tax structure, they showed up by the hundreds.  As a member of the committee, it was apparent to Sen. McCoy high property taxes in Nebraska have strained the state’s families, farms and ranches.

“LB670 received a public hearing on February 7th, but there is still a lot of work to be done to move this legislation forward, which is why I'm making LB670 my priority bill this session,” said McCoy.  “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work together with my fellow senators, local governments to bring tax relief to the lifeblood of our state; family farms and ranches.”


Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach is reminding farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals about the upcoming registration deadline for the 26th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference.

The Conference, scheduled for March 5-6, will be held at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.  Early registration for the Conference ends February 19.

“The Governor’s Ag Conference is a time for those in the agricultural community to join together and look towards the future of our industry,” said Ibach.  “We have an exciting line up of speakers this year that will address topics of interest for all that attend.”

Joining the current lineup of speakers will be Matthew Bechdol, the president of GeoSilos, a company that leverages location analytics to help agriculturalists analyze and utilize data collected through modern agriculture technology.  Bechdol will discuss the benefits of such technology, as well as the potential privacy concerns associated with it.

“Farmers and ranchers now have access to technological tools that help them be more prescriptive in addressing challenges within their farm fields, their animals,” Bechdol said. “While this technology is extremely beneficial, it has created public policy issues that need to be addressed.  Who owns the data?  How can that data be used?  These are critical questions as modern agriculture becomes more technologically driven.”

Other speakers at this year’s Conference will include: Randy Krotz, with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), will kick off the conference with a discussion about strategies to engage and educate consumers in meaningful conversations about agriculture; Dr. Charles Hibberd with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will provide an update on the new Nebraska Agriculture Experience that will debut at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair; Kay Johnson Smith with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, will discuss current issues related to animal welfare and livestock production; Dr. Ronnie Green of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will discuss the results of University lead analysis that looks at the economic advantages of responsible livestock growth in Nebraska and policy considerations associated with such growth; and Todd Becker of Green Plains Renewable Energy will share his insights on current and future policy considerations for the biofuels sector.

The Conference is open to anyone interested in learning more about the issues facing Nebraska agriculture.  A $100 registration fee covers participation at the entire Conference.  More information, including the schedule and online registration is available at  Those interested in attending can register by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550 or by going online at

Wellman Represents ASA at AMAC Meeting in D.C.

Nebraska farmer and former American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman of Syracuse attended a meeting of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) Agriculture Markets Advisory Council in Washington this week. Wellman was appointed to represent the soy industry on the AMAC, which helps to advise CME on various topics pertaining to agriculture. The AMAC meeting was co-chaired by CME Group Executive Chairman and President Terry Duffy, and former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman.

Featured speaker Dr. Joseph Glauber, chief economist for the Department of Agriculture, covered global production and consumption numbers for soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and cotton. Dr. Glauber gave his perspective on the livestock sector, expected cash net farm income, land values and U.S. farm exports.

After Dr. Glauber’s presentation, members of the council discussed several other market issues including reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, hedge exemptions, the recent CFTC residual interest rule change.

Additionally, the AMAC meeting included a discussion of a new website from CME, designed to educate visitors about the fundamentals of futures. is an interactive site for education on the basics, players and impact of the futures markets and how they work.

Checkoff-Funded Study Focuses on Protein-Controlling Genes

It’s no secret that poultry, livestock and fish have a taste for U.S. soybean meal. And by increasing the protein content in U.S. soybeans, farmers can maintain demand from their biggest meal customers. And higher demand can lead to higher profits.

To achieve this, the soy checkoff funds research to improve soybean meal quality, like an Iowa State University project led by Ling Li, Ph.D.

“We’re interested in the genes associated with high protein,” explains Li. “We’ve found genes that have increased protein in new soybean varieties by five to eight percent compared with the control.”

Li’s control, or the variety she uses as a baseline to compare new varieties in this project, is Williams 82. That’s the variety whose entire genetic code has been sequenced with the help of checkoff-funded tools. Scientists often use Williams 82 for research because they can use the map of its genome to identify genes that control key traits, such as high protein.

“I’ve crossed Williams 82 with other lines, some with high protein and some with low protein and the new varieties are growing in the field,” says Li. “So we can compare the high protein from the new plant versus the lower-protein control plant, and through gene expression, we can hopefully identify the genes responsible for controlling protein content.”

Li says data from her test plots show almost no yield difference between the new higher-protein varieties and the control.

If successful, the genes Li identifies could be used by private seed-technology companies to develop new high-quality soybean varieties that farmers can plant. However, varieties exist now that can help farmers increase the protein content in their soybean meal without impacting yield. Visit the soy checkoff’s Soybean Quality Toolbox to see which varieties perform the best in your area.

Iowa Beef Center Seeks Input from Cow-Calf Producers

Iowa cow-calf producers may soon be receiving a survey in the mail from the Iowa Beef Center. As part of its ongoing commitment to providing accurate and timely information to the state’s beef industry, IBC is asking the cow-calf segment for opinions on a variety of topics, according to director Dan Loy.

“Growth opportunities and challenges exist in cattle production, and we want to identify both of those so we can assist in profitable, sustainable growth of the industry,” he said. “To do so, we need help from Iowa cow-calf producers and that’s why we developed this survey.”

Participation is entirely voluntary and all responses will be kept in strict confidence, Loy said. Individuals who will analyze the responses will not have access to any identification of survey participants.

“We place a high value on the input of producers because their first-hand knowledge and need for information will drive future research, education, and extension and outreach programming from IBC,” he said. “This in turn will assist us in meeting future needs of Iowa beef producers as well.”

The survey was mailed Feb. 7, so producers in the selected group should start to receive the mailing soon. A postage-paid envelope is included for convenience, and Loy said anyone with questions should contact him at 515-294-1058.

Biodiesel Tax Credit Bill Introduced

U.S. Senators Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced a bill Wednesday to extend the expired biodiesel $1 gallon tax credit.

S. 2012 would extend the tax incentive until 2017, providing "certainty the industry needs to gain access to capital and plan for production expansions and additional hiring," according to a news release issued Thursday by the National Biodiesel Board.

The incentive covers not only biodiesel but renewable diesel, both qualifying under the Renewable Fuel Standard as biomass-based diesel. The credit, first implemented in 2005, expired at the end of last year, the third time it was allowed to lapse in five years.

"The biodiesel tax incentive has expired three times over the past five years, and each time it has severely disrupted production," said Anne Steckel, NBB vice president of federal affairs.

The industry produced a record 1.5 billion gallons in 2013 and is poised to produce 1.7 billion gallons this year, Steckel said.

ASA Joins Broad-Based Coalition to Advocate for a Federal GMO Labeling Solution

The American Soybean Association (ASA) announced on Feb. 6 that it is a member of the newly formed Coalition for Safe Affordable Food ( and urged Congress to quickly seek a federal solution that would establish standards for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

“We need a federal GMO labeling solution that will protect consumers and ensure the safety of food ingredients made through the use of modern agricultural biotechnology,” said ASA President Ray Gaesser.

The Coalition stated in a media conference call earlier today that such a federal GMO labeling solution would:
-    Eliminate Confusion:  Remove the confusion and uncertainty of a 50 state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws and affirm the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.
-    Advance Food Safety:  Require the FDA to conduct a safety review of all new GMO traits before they are introduced into commerce.  FDA will be empowered to mandate the labeling of GMO food ingredients if the agency determines there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with GMO technology.
-    Inform Consumers:  The FDA will establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence-of or presence-of GMO food ingredients so that consumers clearly understand their choices in the marketplace.
-    Provide Consistency:  The FDA will define the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products so that food and beverage companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform consumer choice.

“Biotechnology has been a huge benefit for our producers, and we believe that a single, federal standard for labeling of GM technology is the best solution to balance the needs of consumers with the capabilities of producers,” said Gaesser. “We are proud to be a member of the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food because that is what we strive to provide America’s families every day. It is our number one priority.”

Facts About GMOs (
-    Many of the most influential regulatory agencies and organizations that study the safety of the food supply, including the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, Health Canada, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences, have found genetically modified food ingredients (GMOs) are safe and there are no negative health effects associated with their use.
-    GM technology adds desirable traits from nature, without introducing anything unnatural or using chemicals, so that food is more plentiful.
-    GM technology is not new. In fact, it has been around for the past 20 years, and today, 70-80% of the foods we eat in the United States, both at home and away from home, contain ingredients that have been genetically modified.
-    Ingredients grown using GM technology require fewer pesticides, less water and keep production costs down. In fact, GM technology helps reduce the price of crops used for food, such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets by as much as 15-30%.
-    One in eight people among the world’s growing population of seven billion do not have enough to eat, and safe and effective methods of food production, like crops produced through GM technology, can help us feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world.

For further information, please visit .

OSHA Removes Guidance for Small Farms

Since 1976 small farms with less than 10 workers have been except from regulatory enforcement conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Congress has included specific language for this exemption in appropriations bills, but in 2011 OSHA sent out a memo to all of its regions stating that "many of these small farm employers mistakenly assume that the appropriations rider prevents OSHA from conducting enforcement activities regardless of the type of operations performed on the farm." Congress again included language in the omnibus spending measure passed in January of this year to reinstate that OSHA should not be improperly targeting small farms. OSHA has since pulled the 2011 memo from their website as Congress and various farm groups have been speaking up over the last couple of months that they believe OSHA's inspections into these small farms were violating the long-standing ban. OSHA send a letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee stating that it will issue new guidance after consulting with USDA.

Technology, Data Privacy Concern Farmers and Ranchers

One of the most important issues related to “big data” goes directly to property rights and who owns and controls farm-level data that may be collected, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today. Risks to privacy that farmers face are of great concern, according to Farm Bureau.

“For years, farmers have used technology advances to better match varieties of seeds, production inputs and management practices with specific field characteristics,” said Brian Marshall, a farmer and Missouri Farm Bureau member testifying to the House Small Business Committee on behalf of AFBF. Further, noted Marshall, “While farmers have been experimenting for well over a decade, only now is the industry starting to consider all the uses of this transformative technology.”

Farmers are right to be concerned about data privacy, Marshall said, in part because the information collected is valuable to companies. Also of concern are the risks to privacy that farmers could face related to the release of information about pesticide use or biotech crops, which are accepted farming practices that have been dubbed politically unpopular. 

In addition, “Farmers should have a say in and be compensated when their data is sold,” Marshall said.

Another data privacy issue of concern to Farm Bureau centers around the use of unmanned aircraft systems, better known as drones, for commercial purposes in agriculture and forestry.

Operators of drones should be required to gain the consent of the landowner or farmer if surveying or gathering data about the landowner’s property below navigable airspace, explained Marshall. Further, Farm Bureau opposes federal agencies using drones for regulatory enforcement, litigation, and as a sole source for natural resource inventories without the consent of the landowner below navigable airspace.

U.S. Grains Council 2013 Annual Report Now Available Online

With downloadable market data from dozens of countries and regions, plus highlights of Council activities from 2013, the U.S. Grains Council's 2013 Annual Report at is a great resource for those following the global grain trade.

"The downloadable spreadsheet includes production, demand, imports, exports and feed consumption information for 60 countries and regions," says Rex Martin, leader of the Council's Membership and Communications Advisory Team. "Add in web-based country and regional overviews that include everything from gross domestic product to market growth potential to highlights of Council activities, and it's a great tool to see just some of the Council's data and resources, and how we put them to work for members."

Market data by country is located in the "Market Profiles" section, while the "Success Stories" tab emphasizes high-points with accompanying videos. Photo-based highlights and additional notes complete the online report.

A printed companion piece is being mailed to all Council members, with additional copies available at key Council meetings and tradeshows, including the Council's booth at Commodity Classic in late-February.

A PDF version of the printed report is also available at by clicking on the corresponding link in the upper-right section of any page.

"The Council works tirelessly on behalf of its members. It is continuously piecing together the possibilities of ever-changing global markets while promoting sound trade policies, building relationships that support members and forming partnerships that help ensure a more food-secure world," says Martin. "The Council's Annual Report is a great way to note the achievements while providing useful data to members; we encourage everyone to explore"

U.S. Farm Exports Nearly Tripled Since 2000

U.S. agricultural exports nearly tripled between 2000 and 2013, reaching a record $140.9 billion in U.S. fiscal year 2012-13. According to the Economic Research Service at USDA, growth has been driven by higher incomes and rising food and feed demand in developing countries.

Sales to developing countries were up about 250 percent between 2000 and 2013, and they now account for two-thirds of U.S. agricultural exports. Rising prices have been the other key driver of growth in U.S. agricultural exports.

Both rising demand from the growing middle classes of developing countries and the falling value of the dollar have been important factors in boosting the world market prices of grains, oilseeds, and cotton-the traditional bulk commodities. Between 2000 and 2013, the volume of bulk commodities shipped from the United States actually fell slightly, but their value rose almost 8 percent annually.

High-value product exports rose even more than bulk products in value terms, and the value of U.S. agricultural exports in 2013 was still more heavily concentrated in livestock, horticultural and other HVPs than in bulk products.

For HVP exports, developing countries have also played a larger role than developed country markets.

NRCS: Conservation Innovation Grant Pre-proposals due March 7

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for pre-proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants. Applications are due March 7.

With these grants, NRCS and public and private partners accelerate development of technologies and adoption of promising approaches that address natural resource concerns on private agricultural and forest lands.

Applications that relate to nutrient management, energy conservation, soil health, air quality, climate change, wildlife, economics, sociology, environmental markets, food safety, historically underserved groups or assessments of past CIG projects will be given priority.

State and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental and educational organizations, private businesses and individuals are eligible to apply.

About $15 million will be made available for these competitive grants, nationwide. At least 50 percent of the total cost of grant projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.

For more on this opportunity, visit the CIG webpage. To apply electronically, visit

Tractor & Combine Sales Continue to be Strong

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in January 2014, were up 4% compared to the same month last year. For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were down 3% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were down 1%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 9%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 6%.  Combine sales were up 20% for the month.

For the year, a total of 11,162 tractors were sold which compares to 11,112 last year, representing a 4% increase.  For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are down 3% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are down 1%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 9%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 6% from last year.  Sales of combines for the year totaled 654, an increase of 20% over 2013.

Mycogen Seeds Introduces Midseason Corn Hybrids and Soybean Lines

Mycogen Seeds is introducing four more grain corn hybrids and four more soybean lines in time for the 2014 growing season. These products feature agronomic qualities and advanced trait technologies to help growers have a successful season. This brings the total number of new products to 66.

“We are pleased to offer growers new corn hybrids and soybean lines that feature industry-leading technologies in time for planting,” says Hank King, U.S. marketing leader for Mycogen Seeds. “We continue to invest in research and development to meet the ever-changing needs of growers to help them achieve more from their acres.”

New grain corn hybrids

2T277 is an 87-day SmartStax Refuge Advanced hybrid that delivers reliable yield across a wide range of soil types and management practices. 2T277 works well in reduced-tillage systems and moderate to high plant densities.

2G365 is a 94-day Agrisure® 3122 hybrid that flowers early and has a reliable agronomic package that includes stalk and root strength and good staygreen. 2G365 responds well to strong management and fertility programs.

2J638 is a 107-day SmartStax Refuge Advanced hybrid that features strong stalks, good grain quality, test weight, and late-season intactness. 2J238 is best adapted for the central and eastern Corn Belt.

2H877 is a 117-day SmartStax hybrid with very consistent ear development. 2H877 has excellent stress tolerance, is a good fit for high plant densities and performs best on on well-drained soils.

New soybean lines

5B033R2 is a Group 0 variety with strong agronomics and excellent tolerance to iron deficiency chlorosis. This plant features excellent standability with good branching and works well across all row widths. 5B033R2 is a good choice for all planting practices.

5N244R2 has excellent shatter tolerance and very good Phytophthora root rot protection. This Group 2 variety has a full canopy and performs well west to east, especially in variable soils.

5N413R2 features very good tolerance to sudden death syndrome and stem canker. This Group 4 variety is a great option for light, variable soils. 5N413R2 is a tall, branchy plant that performs well in a wide range of conditions.

5N452R2 works across all soil types, especially in mixed and clay soils. This plant features branching that handles a wide range of environments. This Group 4 variety has a good defensive package to handle variable conditions.

Bunge Posts Q4 Profit

Bunge Ltd. said it swung to a profit in the fourth-quarter despite lower revenue, as sales in its agribusiness, sugar and bioenergy segments declined.

Bunge reported a profit of $138 million, or 78 cents a share, versus a year-earlier loss of $599 million, or $4.17 a share. The year-ago period included a goodwill impairment charge of $514 million. Excluding certain gains and charges and discontinued operations, the company recorded per-share earnings from continuing operations of $1.35 compared with 50 cents a share a year ago. Sales fell 3.9% to $16.38 billion.

Its fourth-quarter sales in the agribusiness segment, by far the company's largest business by revenue, fell 1.8%. The sugar and bioenergy business posted 12% lower sales. Edible oil products sales fell 10%.

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