Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday February 12 Ag News

Local Cattlemen's Meetings Feb 13th

Dodge County Cattlemen meet on Thursday February 13th, 6:30pm, at the Scribner Steakhouse.
Cass/Otoe County Cattlemen meet on Thursday February 13th, 7pm, at the Cass County Extension Office, Weeping Water. 

Fifth annual contest for Iowa’s Best Burger begins

Iowa’s cattle producers are asking their fellow Iowans to help them find Iowa’s Best Burger in 2014. In this year’s quest, the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association are encouraging you to nominate your favorite burger, whether it’s a gourmet or down-home style.

This is the fifth year the two groups are holding the annual Iowa’s Best Burger contest, which officially kicks off Feb. 12. All nominations must be in the IBIC office by 5 p.m. on Mar. 17.

“We’re looking for the best burger served in an Iowa restaurant,” says Bedford cattle producer Roger Brummett, who is also chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Brummett says the entries need to be 100% beef burgers. “Although burgers are often standard fare, we know from experience that the winners of this contest serve outstanding burgers.”

In order to recognize these great burgers, IBIC and ICA are asking Iowa consumers to nominate their favorite burgers for the award, and those nominations can be made in the mail, online, or by texting.

Details about the contest rules and nomination forms and options are on the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s website, Burger lovers can also find a link to the online nomination form at the Iowa Beef Council Facebook page; or text BEEF to 313131 and receive information about submitting a nomination via text.

Brummett noted that restaurants are a valuable partner to the beef industry. “They do a tremendous job of preparing and serving our beef products in delicious and creative ways. The burger is the all–American classic, and restaurants have done an excellent job in giving customers lots of choices when they order it.”

The more nominations a burger receives, the better are the chances that it will be on the ‘Top Ten’ list announced in late March. Finalists will receive a certificate and be eligible for the secret taste-test of contest judges. The winner will be announced the first week of May to kick-off Beef Month.

The Strong Demand to Rent Land Continues

Farm profits remained strong in 2013, keeping the demand for land leases steady, according to Farmers National Company, the nation’s leading farm and ranch real estate company in the country. Despite lower commodity prices and decreased gross incomes, farm profitability remains good due in part to a 30 percent drop in fertilizer prices since 2012 and carryover grain sales from the previous crop year.

“Demand for high quality property is keeping both land values and rental rates strong,” said David Englund, AFM, executive vice president of farm and ranch management of Farmers National Company. “Overall, lease rates are higher on quality land if the land was rented below market in 2013, but rates across the board are mostly level. Fertilizer costs are expected to drop further in 2014, which will help farmers remain profitable.”
The desire of farm owners to expand existing operations is leading to highly aggressive sales activity and keeping the demand for farmland strong. In addition, there has been a trend of young people coming back to family farm operations prompting additional demand for land.

“As a result of these factors, lease rates for land should remain steady and strong throughout the year,” said Englund.

Farm profitability is prompting a widespread movement from traditional cash rent arrangements to Cash Rent-Plus (flex rent) leases. This rental arrangement provides landowners with a negotiated base cash rent supplemented by a potential additional payment, based on operation profitability.

“Many local operators and landowners are finding this option provides the best scenario for achieving results for each party,” said Englund.

While leasing activity is fairly consistent nationwide, there are a few regional trends, according to Englund. Crop yields in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota were negatively impacted by delayed planting caused by wet ground. However, risk management tools, including crop insurance, have allowed farms in this area to curb losses and hold lease terms steady.

Ranch properties in the Sandhills of Nebraska and in Texas have experienced strong demand for pasture land boosting rental rates. Rental rates in the Mid South are fairly stable with some areas seeing slightly lower levels with drops of nearly 10 percent. Many multi-year leases being re-negotiated are seeing rates jump 50 to 60 percent as a result of appreciation in recent years and previously under-valued rates. New client with existing leases often are below the market as much as $100 an acre.

 “Overall, lease rates were stable throughout 2013 following a record farm income year. Cash Rent-Plus leases should continue to be popular in the current market,” said Englund.

2014 Cash Rent Regional Reports

Nebraska:  Cash Rents in Nebraska for 2014 are steady compared to last year in most areas, according to Blake Florell, AFM, Farmers National Company area vice president, Kearney, Neb.

High quality irrigated farm ground continues to be in very strong demand, affecting lease rates. Several factors are impacting demand for this type of farmland, including excellent irrigated yields over the last several years. According to Florell yields were also strong for dry land in many areas of Eastern Neb. in 2013.

“Competition by producers to expand farming operations, underlying land asset values and long term future optimism will keep lease rates strong into next season,” said Florell.

Current cash rent lease value ranges vary in Nebraska, from $215 - $425 for irrigated land and $50 - $400 for dry land, depending on location.  Cash rent values traditionally strengthen from western areas to eastern areas in Nebraska, for both dry land and irrigated ground.

Iowa:  Lease activity is high in 2014 with demand very strong for all farmland classes, according to Larry Hill, AFM, Farmers National Company area vice president, Eagle Grove, Iowa.

“As with farmland sales values, the best farmland continues to demand the highest lease rates,” said Hill. “If the farm owner has kept up with increased cash rent values over the last few years then we are calling the market in this area steady.”

In some cases, farms that were not professionally managed, are showing existing lease rates as much as $100 an acre below the market. There is demand for good, improved pasture land. The area that appears to be the weakest in Iowa is poorly-drained farmland, as well as small irregular shaped fields with a high portion of non-tillable acres.

Projections into 2014 are for steady rents in this state. “A key indicator for us is that farmland values are continuing to be very strong and when you look at return on investment, we think rental rates will be stable,” said Hill.

Cash rents on cropland in Iowa range from $100 - $500 per acre based on quality and location.

IFB Food and Farm Index Show Shoppers are Meat Lovers

As Valentine's Day approaches, perhaps Iowans who really want to show their love will skip the chocolates and give gifts of meat, instead. According to the Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm Index, a study conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowans love their meat; in fact, among 502 Iowa grocery shoppers age 20-60, a large majority consume several types of meat and poultry weekly. Overall, beef (84%) appears to be the meat most commonly consumed in their households.

The survey shows that 56% of Iowa grocery shoppers' households eat pork weekly, with 20% of them reporting they put pork on the table two or three times a week. Beef is even more popular with Iowans; 84% of Iowa grocery shoppers' households eat beef weekly, with 35% of them reporting they eat beef two or three times per week. Poultry is also a big hit with these Iowans, with 79% reporting their households eat chicken weekly and 33% reporting they do so two or three times per week. Turkey is popular even past the Thanksgiving holiday, with 23% reporting their households eat it at least weekly and 6% eating it two or three times per week.

"Despite media coverage of 'Meatless Mondays,' Iowans like meat," says Craig Hill, president of IFBF. "That makes sense because meat is a great source of protein and other nutrients to energize your body. From the results of the Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm Index, we know that Iowa grocery shoppers trust farmers most when it comes to information on food safety; they can also feel good about the quality of the meat raised in Iowa." Hill also noted that livestock farmers have responded to consumer demand for leaner protein, by providing more options than ever before.

The survey also showed that for those grocery shoppers who read labels, 50% are looking for meat 'raised in the U.S.' and 43% are looking for 'raised locally' "We know that consumers care about how their food is grown and raised, and this survey shows that Iowa grocery shoppers trust farmers," noted Hill.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm Index also showed that a majority of Iowa grocery shoppers who live with others eat together at home (99%), with 98% saying they do this on at least a weekly basis. Over half (51%) say they eat together on a daily basis.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today commended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for taking historic steps to help address a shortage of propane supplies in the Midwest.

On February 7, FERC utilized its emergency authority under the Interstate Commerce Act to order Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Company, LLC to prioritize propane shipments through their pipelines.  The action had been requested by the National Propane Gas Association and its members.

“The Commission members, including Iowa native John Norris, clearly understood the importance of insuring adequate propane supplies and this historic action is very good news for farmers and rural residents,” Northey said.  “I greatly appreciate the hard work of Iowa’s propane suppliers to meet customer’s needs during this challenging time and the leadership of Governor Branstad as we have pursued every opportunity to increase propane supplies.”

According to FERC’s news release announcing the action, “this marks the first time that commission has used its emergency authority under the Interstate Commerce Act. Section 1(15) of the Act which states that whenever the Commission is of the opinion that an emergency requiring immediate action exists in any section of the country, it has authority to give directions for preference or priority in transportation, embargoes or movement of traffic.”

The action will result in an additional 500,000 barrels (21 M gallons) of propane moving into the pipeline over the next 2 weeks.  This will free up product for the Midwestern region and help build supply which should ensure access for Iowa residents and livestock producers.

FERC’s announcement of the action can be found at:

2014 ISU Animal Industry Report Now Available Online

The 2014 Iowa State University (ISU) Animal Industry Report is now available online. This report features a variety of animal industry-related research done at ISU, that was supported by the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. This year's edition has more than 100 articles organized under ten categories. The report, including a table of contents, is available on the AIR portion of the ISU animal science department website at

The report combines reports from researchers on campus and out in the state, as well as including research that relates to the beef, dairy, poultry, sheep, and swine industries in Iowa, Hogberg said. It also has sections on animal health, companion animals and the environment.

A variety of professionals conducted the research for this report, including ISU faculty, staff and graduate students; visiting scholars; ISU Extension field staff; and collaborators from other universities and professors. Some research relates to improving production efficiencies while other research relates to improving environmental quality, animal health, animal product food safety and animal behavior and well-being. All are important aspects of keeping animal agriculture strong and viable, and contributing to the economy and quality of life in Iowa.

U of MN develops first U.S. swine virus surveillance test

The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine has developed a second porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) diagnostic test to help stem the spread of the virus currently threatening North American swine populations.

The test is the first announced United States PEDV swine herd surveillance test and brings PEDV diagnostic testing up to swine industry disease monitoring standards. This past summer, the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine developed a PEDV diagnostic test that detected the presence of the virus. The second test announced today can detect evidence of the virus, and is a very precise tool to detect a history of exposure to the virus.

If one pig has been exposed to PEDV, all animals around it are at risk. The new test will allow swine industry to identify which pigs have been exposed to PEDV and act accordingly, even if animals have not shown symptoms of the disease.

Efforts to develop this test began in July 2013, shortly after the first test was developed. The test was developed as part of a dual-pronged approach to controlling the spread of PEDV.  

PEDV is characterized by acute diarrhea and vomiting in pigs. PEDV outbreaks can wipe out an average of 50 percent of young swine at newly affected farms. PEDV poses no risk to other animal or human health and no risk to food safety. The virus has been confirmed in 23 U.S. states and Canada so far and continues to spread quickly. Latest figures put pig mortality from PEDV at an estimated 3 million pigs nationwide. There is no known effective vaccine or treatment for the virus at this time.

To help combat the economic and animal welfare losses caused by PEDV diagnosis and spread, the University of Minnesota is making the newly developed diagnostic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) herd surveillance test available to the swine industry.  The fully-validated test is available immediately at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Cost is less than $15 per serum sample submitted.

“We understand PEDV can result in significant health and financial blows, even putting farmers at risk of bankruptcy,” said Michael Murtaugh, Ph.D., an expert in swine disease eradication at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “We’re committed to providing the industry with ongoing science-driven solutions to this major problem. The swine industry has asked for our help and we will continue putting in additional hours until the problem is solved.”

When coupled with the University of Minnesota’s rapid detection test, which can detect actively infected animals within 24 hours of sample submission, both immediate and long-term herd health can now be monitored in a comparable manner to monitoring for the well-established porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus.

“The disease has already affected several hundred farms in Minnesota,” said David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Board. “This test is very important because accurate, fast diagnostics are the best starting point to give veterinarians the best information to work with their farmer clients. This new test is a great next step in helping farmers manage this disease.”

Funding for this research was provided by the Minnesota Rapid Agricultural Response Fund, National Pork Board and Zoetis, Inc.

Understanding PEDV Survival in the Environment

Where there is hog manure, there is the potential for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) to find its way into a hog operation. That’s an especially daunting fact because the virus sheds at extremely high levels and very little virus is needed to infect pigs.

“The very low infective dose of PEDV surprised me the most,” says Sagar Goyal, DVM, University of Minnesota researcher, who looked at the virus’ survivability in various environmental settings.  “We proved the infectious dose of PEDV to cause disease in pigs is very low (even 10-8 dilution of the virus infected piglets).”

In a Pork Checkoff-funded study, Goyal looked at PEDV survival in fresh feces, manure slurry, drinking and recycled water, and ground feed.  Overall, he found results similar to those for TGE (transmissible gastroenteritis virus)—a related coronavirus. Here’s a snapshot of the PEDV results:

·       Survival in fresh feces: The study evaluated PEDV survivability at three temperatures (104 F, 122 F and 140 F) and three relative humidity levels (30%, 50% and 70%). The bottom line: “If feces from infected pigs are present in the barn, the virus can survive for 7 days or more,” Goyal says.

·       Survival in manure slurry: PEDV infected slurry was stored at room temperature (approximately 77 F), 39 F and -4 F. At room temperature, PEDV survived in manure slurry for 14 days. At 39 F and -4 F, PEDV survived for 28 days, and possibly longer, Goyal says, as the study didn’t continue beyond that point. “So, if you use manure slurry for land application, you need to understand that the virus can survive in an infectious state for 14 to 28 days, maybe more,” he says.

·       Survival in drinking and recycled water: Both water options spiked with PEDV were evaluated at room temperature over a series of weeks. The virus survived in both water sources for one week, but not two. However, Goyal points out that since the study didn’t test daily samples, survivability could extend beyond 7 and up to 13 days.  

·       Survival in feed: The study evaluated wet and dry ground feed dosed with PEDV and stored at room temperature. PEDV remained viable in the wet feed for 28 days (again, the study didn’t run longer). In dry feed, the virus survived only one week. So, if contaminated feed is a concern, Goyal says storing it for two weeks at room temperature will kill the virus. “However, we don’t know if colder temperatures enhance survival,” he adds. It’s also important to note that the pigs received only 15 g of PEDV-spiked feed—“and pigs eat more than that, so we need to look at what happens when feeding larger quantities,” Goyal says.

His lab has just concluded a water chlorination study to determine if it offers protection against PEDV exposure; those results will be available soon. 

“My advice to producers is to pay attention to the virus survivability results. If it survived one week in experimental conditions, I would double the time just to be on the safe side,” Goyal says.

From a practical standpoint, Butch Baker, DVM, Iowa State University, endorses that sentiment. “My experience with TGE is if the virus is down in a nice dark spot and it’s wet, the virus can survive longer than two weeks,” he says.

Biosecurity measures and clean barns must be a priority, Baker contends. “There are clean barns and then there are barns that are said to be clean-- they are not the same. You have to empty and clean out facilities-- and that includes waterers and feeders,” he says. “You have to get the biofilms out of there, and it does take a considerable effort.”

To read more about the PEDV environmental survivability research, click here...

Federation of State Beef Councils Sets Course at 2014 Cattle Industry Convention

Cevin Jones, a cattle feeder from Eden, Idaho, was elected chair of the Federation of State Beef Councils during the 2014 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville last week. Elected vice chair was Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater, Tenn. The Federation of State Beef Councils, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program and national home of state beef councils, is a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

Jones previously served as the Federation’s vice chair. He is a graduate of Boise State University, and has been involved with the beef industry his entire life. Jones has served as chair of the Idaho Beef Council, and as a regional vice president for the NCBA Federation Division. He has also served on the U.S. Meat Export Federation Board of Directors. Jones was awarded the Idaho Cattle Feeder of the Year award in 2008 by the Idaho Cattle Association, and has been inducted into the Southern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame.

Houston grew up on a cattle and hog farm in West Tennessee, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in animal science. She worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Tennessee prior to joining her husband in a family livestock market operation. Houston has been deeply involved in the beef checkoff at the state and national levels. She was appointed to the newly established Tennessee Beef Industry Council in 1986, and served as the TBIC representative to the National Live Stock and Meat Board, a predecessor organization to NCBA.

As chair of the Federation, Jones will serve as vice chair of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC), which recommends beef checkoff projects funded at the national level. Houston will also serve on that committee. Approval of BPOC-recommended projects and budgets is required by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to Jones and Houston, other Federation members of the BPOC for 2014 are Austin Brown III (Texas), Clay Burtrum (Oklahoma), Dawn Caldwell (Nebraska), Teri Carstensen (Iowa), Jerry Effertz (North Dakota), Steve Hanson (Nebraska), Scott McGregor (Iowa) and Irv Petsch (Wyoming). The CBB also appoints 10 members to the BPOC.

Retiring as Federation regional vice presidents at the Convention were Houston (Region II) and Jane Frost of New Mexico (Region VI). Replacing them were Donna Jo Curtis of Alabama and Linda Brake of Arizona, respectively.
Unity, Trust Encouraged

Outgoing Federation Chair Richard Gebhart of Claremore, Okla., challenged Federation directors to uphold the Federation vision and beliefs in his departing remarks at the Federation Forum during the convention in Nashville. Gebhart said he was proud to have served as chair during the Federation’s 50th anniversary in 2013, and said he believed the right staff and leadership was in place to create trust to enable growth in the organization as it begins its second 50 years.

The Federation Vision Statement was developed in 2008: To build beef demand by inspiring, unifying and supporting an effective state and national checkoff partnership. The Vision was followed by a Federation Statement of Beliefs in 2009 (reaffirmed in 2013) that stresses the need for a strong state/national partnership, producer control of checkoff funds through state beef councils and the principle of unity through one vision, one plan and one voice.

A detailed Charter of Principles for the Federation followed in 2011.

Since 2008 the Federation has worked to increase industry unity and understanding of its structure within the beef checkoff, including its operational ties to NCBA. These ties were created when the National Live Stock and Meat Board – the original home to the Federation – merged with the National Cattlemen’s Association in 1996 to form NCBA. In 2010 the Federation Board of Directors approved a resolution reaffirming its organizational independence and intention to remain under the NCBA umbrella. That resolution was reaffirmed in 2014 in Nashville.

Agriculture Secretary to Make Fifth Visit to Commodity Classic

Farmers and other Commodity Classic attendees will once again have the opportunity to welcome U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. For the fifth year in a row, the secretary will deliver a keynote address to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event's General Session, scheduled on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.

"We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack-someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers," said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. "As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year- trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology-we  are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation's food."

"Secretary Vilsack has done a lot to support our growers, and to encourage all farmers to speak out and represent their industry at a time when the general public is more removed than ever from the farms that feed them," said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. "We're looking forward to his visit to Commodity Classic so he can speak with our growers and learn more about our great efforts to rebuild consumer trust in what we do."

Secretary Vilsack was appointed by President Barack Obama as the 30th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and took office in January 2009. He was reappointed soon after the president's reelection in 2012. Previously, Vilsack served two terms as governor of Iowa.

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex.

Presented annually by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, Commodity Classic is America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show. The event offers a wide range of learning and networking opportunities for growers in the areas of production, policy, marketing, management and stewardship-as well as showcasing the latest in equipment, technology and innovation.

Ethanol Stocks, Production Rebound

U.S. ethanol supplies and production both increased last week, with total inventories rising about 400,000 barrels (bbl), or 2.4%, to 17.1 million bbl during the week-ended Feb. 7 while remaining 12.5% below the level seen a year earlier, data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed.

EIA reported ethanol production at U.S. plants rose 7,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 0.8%, to 902,000 bpd during the week-ended Feb. 7, while up 113,000 bpd, or 14.3%, from a year ago. Four-week average production at 901,000 bpd was up 15.2% from a year earlier.

Weekly domestic ethanol production has remained above 900,000 bpd in 13 of the past 15 weeks. The two exceptions when output dropped below that level were during the week-ended Jan. 31 and in the week-ended Jan. 10.

For the 19th week in a row, no barrels of ethanol were imported.

Refiner and blender inputs, a proxy for demand, rose 15,000 bpd, or 1.9%, to 816,000 bpd for the week profiled. The latest demand data shows a 3.2% increase from a year earlier while the four-week average at 808,000 bpd was up 3.3% from a year earlier.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 349.7 million gallons daily.  Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.83%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.677 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 100,666 metric tons of livestock feed, 89,744 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.70 million pounds of corn oil daily.

RFA Applauds Rep. Loebsack’s Infrastructure Re-FUEL Act to Increase Energy Security and Diversity

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), applauded Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) on the introduction of the Renewable Fuel Utilization, Expansion, and Leadership (Re-FUEL) Act. The legislation creates a competitive grant program to assist fuel retailers with investments in renewable and alternative fuel/energy sources.

“Representative Loebsack is to be commended for his vision and commitment to American energy independence and economic security. The Re-FUEL Act will encourage fuel and energy diversity which will not only introduce consumer choice at the pump, it will deliver cost-saving options to foreign fossil fuels. The pace at which the renewable fuel advantages will be available to American drivers is greatly sped up by the fact that the proposed grants can be used for infrastructure like new blender pumps as well as retrofitting existing pumps, pipes, tanks and chargers,” said Dinneen.

“Placing a priority on rural America is a welcomed approach. In the Midwest, the demand for alternative fuels like E15 and E85 is rapidly increasing with great potential for growth as awareness expands to other states. At present, there are 90 stations in 12 states offering E15. In addition, the rural emphasis of the Re-FUEL Act will encourage job creation and economic stability. The small communities of rural America are amongst the most challenging locations for economic development. Rep. Loebsack recognizes that ethanol production has created and supports over 386,000 jobs with very real potential to expand on that success.”

NASS to Reinstate Agricultural Estimates Programs

Following passage of its budget by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics will reinstate the agricultural estimates programs previously suspended due to sequestration.  The reinstatements are for NASS’ Fiscal Year 2014 annual appropriation.

The reinstated programs are:
-    All Catfish and Trout Reports
-    July Cattle Report
-    Potato Stocks Reports
-    Non-Citrus Fruit, Nut and Vegetable Forecasts and Estimates & Monthly Prices
-    June Rice Stocks Report
-    All Hops and Hops Stocks Estimates
-    Mink Report

We have not determined the dates for publication of the reports listed above.  We will announce the dates when they are set.  The full calendar of NASS reports is available at

Russia January Grain Exports Down for the Month, Up on Year

Russia in January exported 1.15 million metric tons of grain compared with 2.43 million tons in December as adverse weather conditions disrupted loading at the country's sea ports, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.

The volume of grain exported in January was about 2.6 times the amount exported in January 2013.

In January the export of wheat totaled 680,000 tons, down from 1.53 million tons in December, the export of barley fell to 35,000 tons from 137,000 tons in December. The export of corn fell to 408,000 tons from 682,000 tons in December.

Altogether Russia exported about 17.535 million tons of grain between July 1 2013, the beginning of the current marketing year, and Jan. 31, which is about 29% more than in the corresponding period in the previous marketing year.

Russia in 2013 harvested 89.3 million metric tons of grain in clean weight, 30% more than in 2012, when 68.7 million tons was harvested because crops were damaged by drought. Russia's grain export in the 2012-2013 marketing year fell to 15.69 million tons from 27.2 million tons in the previous marketing year. In the current marketing year, July 2013-June 2014, the agriculture ministry expects Russia's grain exports to rise to 20 million tons.

CROPLAN® Soybean Seed Blends Head 2014 Class

Nebraska Farmers protect yields by buffering effects of variable field stress.

Winfield Solutions, LLC (WinField) is excited to announce its expanded soybean portfolio, headlined by five new early-maturing Precision Pak (PrPak) varieties. PrPaks combine a 50/50 proprietary blend of similarly-maturing varieties that contain both offensive and defensive traits to help maintain yields on tough acres while capitalizing on higher producing areas.

Research results from WinField’s nearly 200 Answer Plot® program locations underscore the benefits of PrPak soybeans – the ability to buffer the effects of weather, soil variability and other stresses to help enhance overall yield potential. In nearly 300 side-by-side comparisons across geographies, new CROPLAN® soybean seed varieties provide a 3-bushel yield increase compared to existing varieties in the portfolio in Nebraska, helping farmers optimize the potential of each acre.

“Nebraska farmers with the most highly variable field conditions are seeing the biggest bang for their buck,” says Carl Scholting, product manager, WinField. “CROPLAN® Precision Paks continue to be a popular choice for farmers who want to eliminate ‘hot spots’ and increase the average yield potential in fields with variable soil types.”

·       2501 — Early season racehorse PrPak option with solid iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) resistance. Performs best on a high-producing acre.
·       2992 — Excellent standability consistency in the last two years, strong all-purpose option for later maturity group 2 in both irrigated and dryland situations.
·       3000 — Lead product for maturity group 3.0 with strong IDC resistance in high pH soil. The variety maintains top-end yield under stress and has an excellent track record in Nebraska specifically.
·       3290 — Leads maturity group 3 in terms of stability and consistency. Ideal for the Nebraskan growing environment, this variety has a strong record in both irrigated and dryland situations.

The 2014 CROPLAN® portfolio is comprised of several maturity levels, each designed to handle field stress in a wide range of growing conditions. Scholting notes, "By expanding the maturity range with these new products, more farmers in more geographies are able to address the specific needs within each field because of the blended defensive and offensive genetics found in each Precision Pak.”

CROPLAN® seed combines proven genetics from multiple gene pools with leading traits and technologies, to provide farmers the optimal seed for each acre. Scholting says there is still time to make the best choices for spring planting. Supplies of top-performing varieties in all maturities are still available.

2014 CROPLAN® Corn Hybrid Varieties Carry Production-Boosting Options For Increased Drought Resistance, Rootworm Control
Winfield Solutions, LLC (WinField) proudly announced today its 2014 CROPLAN® seed lineup, which gives farmers the ability to better-manage corn rootworm (CRW) and limited moisture in corn.

“Year over year, our new CROPLAN® seed offerings raise the bar on yield potential, and this year is no exception,” says Carl Scholting, product manager, WinField. “Our repeated local testing at the 11 Answer Plot® locations in Nebraska shows us these new hybrids are performing in a variety of areas across maturity sets.  Combined with a comprehensive management program, this gives farmers the framework they need to optimize each acre in the upcoming growing season.”

2014 CROPLAN® Seed Corn Variety Highlights

Farmers looking to boost production in drought areas or those planting dryland corn can now benefit from a new water optimization traits available in CROPLAN® hybrids – Genuity® DroughtGard® (Monsanto). DroughtGard® includes a new bio-tech trait that helps corn plants mitigate yield loss due to drought, especially during key growth stages.

·       4099 — Outstanding emergence for early planting, handles a corn-on-corn environment well and boasts a strong resistance to Goss’s Wilt.
·       6274 — Key hybrid for continuous corn environments in the irrigated western corn belt, has good ear flex, allows for flexibility in population management and is also brilliant with Goss’s Wilt.
·       6265 — Companion seed to 6274, handles higher populations and will reward elevated management practices with higher yields. 6265 performs in the toughest dryland and requires top-end irrigation.
·       7927 — Scholting calls 7927 a “full-season super star for both silage and grain.” Topping the charts at several Nebraska Answer Plots this year, 7927 demonstrates versatility in both dryland and irrigated environments and again combats Goss’s Wilt and has strong ear flex.

“This new water optimization trait helps enhance yield potential when moisture is limited, but also perform well under wet conditions," says Scholting. “Our farmers have been asking for this level of control, and this new offering can deliver the increase to their genetic yield potential they’ve been looking for.”

CROPLAN® seed combines proven genetics from multiple gene pools with leading traits and technologies, to provide farmers the optimal seed for each acre. Leading genetics are then paired with data from the nearest of WinField’s nearly 200 Answer Plot® Program locations to further illustrate localized seed performance for farmers.

“When farmers focus on the big picture with their fields, the added insights can add bottom-line benefits,” says Scholting. He explains that the Answer Plot® Program, R7® Tool and NutriSolutions® Tool work in concert to help farmers make data-driven planning decisions, analyze key factors to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses of each field, identify and correct limiting factors in-season before crop performance is affected, and analyze performance to plan for the next year.

The Mosaic Company Reports Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2013 Results

The Mosaic Company today reported fourth quarter 2013 net earnings of $129 million, compared to $616 million a year ago. Earnings per diluted share were $0.30 in the quarter compared to $1.44 last year. Notable items negatively impacted earnings per share by $0.06. Mosaic's net sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 were $2.2 billion, down from $2.4 billion last year. Operating earnings during the quarter were $179 million, down from $463 million a year ago, as record phosphate and strong potash sales volumes were more than offset by lower realized prices.

The Mosaic Company also announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a $1 billion share repurchase program, allowing the Company to repurchase Class A or common shares, through direct buybacks or in open market transactions. This authorization is in addition to the previously disclosed agreement to repurchase 43.3 million Class A shares in the first seven months of 2014. Mosaic expects to use share repurchases to meet and maintain its stated balance sheet targets, and remains committed to retaining investment grade credit ratings.

"While our results for the fourth quarter reflect the low market prices for potash and phosphates, current market conditions are improving," said Jim Prokopanko, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Market dynamics are unfolding as we expected they would, with sales volumes increasing before prices; in fact, we shipped a record volume of phosphates during the quarter, and potash volumes increased significantly.

"Mosaic is in excellent position to thrive as the business cycle continues to improve, in large part because of the notable progress we made on our strategic priorities in 2013. We rebalanced and grew our business portfolio, began to structure a more efficient balance sheet by increasing leverage and returning capital to shareholders, and accelerated our work to assure Mosaic remains a low-cost producer."

Cash flow provided by operating activities in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $503 million compared to $377 million in the prior year. Fourth quarter 2014 cash flows reflect strong sales volumes and declining inventory levels. Investments plus capital expenditures totaled $370 million in the quarter. Mosaic's total cash and cash equivalents were $5.3 billion and long-term debt was $3.0 billion as of December 31, 2013.

Full Year (unaudited)

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2013, net income was $1.1 billion, or $2.49 per diluted share, compared to $1.9 billion, or $4.34 per diluted share, in 2012. Net sales were $9.0 billion, down from $10.0 billion a year ago. Full-year operating earnings were $1.3 billion, down from $2.2 billion a year ago. Lower net sales and operating earnings for the year were primarily driven by lower realized prices for both potash and phosphate, partially offset by higher potash volumes and lower phosphate raw materials costs. Full year selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses were $393 million compared to $424 million in 2012, a decrease of seven percent. Net cash provided by operating activities was $2.0 billion.

Business Highlights – Fourth Quarter 2013

    Mosaic completed a very successful proving run at the Esterhazy mine, which exceeded the expansion's design capacity by 20 percent. As a result, Mosaic's Canpotex sales allocation increased from approximately 39.9 percent to 42.5 percent beginning in January of 2014.
    The Company successfully executed on $353 million of capital projects, of which more than half related to growth and productivity initiatives:
        Consolidated and expanded warehouse facilities at Big Bend.
        Completed a new blending facility in Candeias, Brazil.
        Advanced K3 potash expansion on time and on budget.
    Mosaic set a new MicroEssentials® sales record in the fourth quarter and in 2013. For the full year, sales grew 22 percent over the prior period, and Mosaic invoiced over one million tonnes in North America.
    Mosaic made significant progress toward achieving capital management targets established in 2013. During the quarter, Mosaic:
        Issued $2.0 billion of debt with 10, 20 and 30 year maturities.
        Increased the size of its revolving line of credit to $1.5 billion.
        Signed agreements with the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and the Anne Ray Charitable Trust to purchase 43.3 million Class A shares.
    Mosaic set a new safety performance record for the full year 2013.
    Subsequent to the quarter's end:
        The United States Department of Justice closed its review of Mosaic's acquisition of CF Industries' Phosphates business under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act.
        Mosaic, Ma'aden and SABIC broke ground on construction of integrated phosphate production facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Posilac® Celebrates 20 Years

Since the first commercial sale of Posilac on Feb. 4, 1994, it has helped deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits, in addition to helping today’s dairy producers meet a growing demand for milk.

To date, more than 37 million U.S. dairy cows have been supplemented with Posilac over its 20 years in the marketplace, reducing producers’ costs by about $6.3 billion over the two decades or $.50 to $1.50 on every hundredweight. Further, Posilac enables cows to produce about 10 lbs. more milk per day.

Jeff Wilbur, owner of Rio Blanco Dairy in Tulare, Calif., was an early adopter of Posilac and has used the product in his herd nearly continually since. “It offers more milk. The math speaks for itself,” Wilbur said. Rio Blanco had a short lapse in use from July 2009 to July 2010 due to market conditions and premiums, but Wilbur reported a significant drop in milk production during that period. “We just didn’t have the milk we were accustomed to, so we went back to the product. As the dairy market improved through 2010 and 2011, the added milk was a real thrust to increase gross revenue adding to the financial healing.”

In fact, six U.S. dairy cows supplemented with Posilac produce the same amount of milk as seven cows without it. Beyond the economic benefits, it also offers significant environmental resource savings. On average annually over the past 20 years Posilac use has resulted in:
-    3.2 million tons less feed required annually, enough to fill about 133,300 semi-trucks. (63.4 million tons cumulatively)
-    1,023 square miles less land use required each year, equal to half a million football fields which would be enough to circle the Earth’s equator when laid end to end. (20,464 square miles total)
-    An average of 95.6 billion gallons less water used annually, or the annual household consumption of the entire state of New Mexico. (1.9 trillion gallons total)
-    4.6 million tons less manure produced, equivalent to the weight of 99 Titanics. (92 billion tons total)
-    2.9 million metric tonnes less CO2 equivalent produced, equal to removing 617,126 cars from the road. (58.5 million tonnes total)

“Posilac plays an important role in reducing the environmental footprint of dairy production,” says Dennis Schaffler, senior director of Elanco’s dairy business unit. “This is critically important given the World Wildlife Fund reports the world is already overusing its resources, requiring 1.5 years to regenerate annual resource consumption.”

Products like Posilac will be even more important in the future. While global dairy productivity has doubled in the past 50 years, there’s 14 percent less milk available per person today than in 1961. U.S. dairy producers reduced the deficit by adding an average of 8.85 billion 8-oz glasses of milk to our global supply annually due to Posilac use.

But the gap will likely grow. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects demand for meat, eggs and dairy products to increase by 60 percent in the coming decades as 3 billion people enter the middle class and demand a higher quality diet. The effects are already being seen. The FAO recently reported global dairy prices have jumped by almost a third in the past year due to growing demand from China, north Africa and Russia amid limited supplies.

On average around the world today, we have access to about one 8-oz. glass of milk (or equivalent serving of yogurt or cheese) a day. The global recommended intake is two glasses a day. Current per capita milk production around the world already isn’t meeting basic nutritional needs.

Elanco assembled a team of researchers to study this issue, led by Dr. Roger Cady, senior technical consultant and global sustainability lead at Elanco. Based on FAO demand estimates and current productivity trends, by 2020 we won’t even have access to a glass of milk a day on average globally.

If we look at securing everyone with the two glasses a day our bodies really need for growth and cognitive development, more than 4.5 billion people will not be able to meet their daily nutritional requirement for milk.

“I’m confident our U.S. dairy producers will play a critical role in meeting the dairy nutrition needs of our growing population,” Schaffler said. “But continued innovations will be a key part of the solution. Elanco is pleased to support a breakthrough innovation like Posilac that’s delivered so many benefits to dairy producers and society. We are poised to build on that foundation with a robust innovation pipeline that will help producers meet the growing global demand for nutrient-rich dairy products.”

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