Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday April 4 Ag News

Growth Promoting Implants Add Pounds and Dollars to Calves
Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator, Washington County
Few beef cattle-management practices are more cost effective or have a higher return on investment than properly used growth promoting implants.  Implants have been shown to increase weaning weights of nursing calves in hundreds of research trials.   Research trials show where daily gain from birth to weaning increases by 4 to 6 percent in nursing beef calves that receive a single implant. 

For the sake of illustration, assume that implanting calves on the cow increases gain by 5 percent.  Figure 15-30 pounds more weaning weight.  In today’s market that’s worth $27-54 per head.  The cost of the implant and labor is routinely less than $2/head.  What a great return on investment!

Implants can be quickly administered when working the calves in the spring prior to pasture turnout. Growth promoting implants are pellets that are implanted under the skin of the ear of growing calves.   They can be given the same time calfhood vaccinations and processing is done. 

Implant options for nursing calves include Ralgro©, Synovex C ©, and Component E-C ©.  None of the implants approved for nursing calves are approved for calves less than 30-45 days of age.  Implants work best on steer calves and non-replacement heifer calves.  One implant between 2 months of age and weaning has been shown to have little impact on future reproductive performance of heifers.  However, little benefit has been shown as well.  Therefore, any heifers identified for replacements prior to processing should not be implanted.  Bull calves should not be implanted, as it can negatively impact their reproductive performance.  Calves destined for a natural or organic market should not be implanted.

Implants should be placed in the middle third of the ear between the skin and cartilage, making sure to avoid hitting the blood vessels in the ear.  The needle should be disinfected after each use.  For best results avoid crushing or bunching the implant pellets in the ear and make sure the implant is placed in the ear before pulling the needle out so part of the implant is not lost.

It’s true that beef produced using implants may have a slightly higher amount of hormones present in the meat as compared to beef that was produced without implants.  However, no beef is “hormone free”.  All mammals produce some degree of hormones.  Even some vegetable contain natural hormones.

Implanting nursing calves is a safe, economical management tool available to cow calf producers to maximize returns.

Nebraska Cattlemen Welcomes New South Central Field Staff, Mackenzie Johnston

Nebraska Cattlemen is pleased to announce the hire of Mackenzie Johnston as South Central Field Staff. She will be responsible for assisting with member recruitment and retention efforts in the south central region.  She will also help local affiliates with meeting coordination, membership drives and related activities.  

Johnston holds a Bachelor’s of Animal Science with a business emphasis from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Along with her new position with Nebraska Cattlemen, she also works on her family’s cow/calf operation south of Brewster, Nebraska. Prior to joining Nebraska Cattlemen, she graduated from the Nebraska LEAD program.

“I am incredibly excited to have this opportunity with Nebraska Cattlemen and to work directly with the great cattlemen and cattlewomen of this state.  We are experiencing unprecedented times in the cattle industry that people will someday call “the good ol’ days.”  Nebraska Cattlemen has so much to offer producers, and I look forward to promoting our activities and opportunities, along with increasing involvement.”

“I’m very pleased to announce Mackenzie Johnston has joined the NC team. Mackenzie’s industry experience, education and passion for the Nebraska’s beef industry are an excellent fit for the South Central Field staff responsibilities. Mackenzie will definitely make a difference working for Nebraska Cattlemen members.” said Pete McClymont, Executive Vice President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

Johnston is a native of Brewster, Nebraska where her family has a Red Angus, cow/calf commercial ranching operation.  She is a fourth generation rancher, and also serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the Nebraska Red Angus Association.

Johnston began her employment with the Nebraska Cattlemen on April 1, 2014.

ISA’s On-Farm Network announces new research territories, strip trials

The Iowa Soybean Association’s On-Farm Network recently assigned territories to its field research specialists to improve efficiency and service to farmers.

Tristan Mueller, On-Farm Network operation manager-agronomic research, said by dividing the state into three quadrants --- northwest, northeast and south --- staff members become more familiar with growers and agronomic conditions in their assigned area. Farmers participating in 2014 On-Farm Network Replicated Strip Trials can contact their designated research specialist.

“Now the same research specialists can focus on the same growers year after year, and establish more personal relationships,” Mueller said. “Research specialists will get a deeper understanding of what practices farmers are interested in and learn about their equipment and capabilities.”

On-Farm Network Research Specialist Rich Stessman is assigned to the northwest corner of Iowa, basically west of Interstate 35 and north of U.S. Highway 30. Anthony Martin covers northeast Iowa, predominantly east of Interstate 35 and north of U.S. Highway 30. Brett McArtor will work with growers mostly south of U.S. Highway 30.

Mueller said the move to territories will mitigate redundancy, offer clarity to growers regarding trials and reduce staff travel time. Ultimately, the change will allow the On-Farm Network to grow, he said.

“This will improve efficiency, outreach and the quality of trails,” Mueller said.

The On-Farm Network has a wide variety of replicated strip trials available to sign up for this year, including:

·         Lime: The On-Farm Network is looking for fields that have areas with soil pH values less than 6.0 and no lime applied in the last 4 years to test SuperCal 98G, a pelletized lime product from Calcium Products Inc. Yield data from replicated strips of SuperCal 98G will be compared to untreated checks. In addition to yield, 18 targeted soil samples (nine from each treatment) will be compared before the SuperCal 98G application and annually each year (pending future project funding). This project is limited to 20 sites, so sign up ASAP because this project is filling up fast.

·         Seed treatments: Clariva Complete is the latest nematicide seed treatment from Syngenta. It will be compared to Cruiser Maxx plus Vibrance on soybeans. The treated seed used in each of these trials (10 bags Asgrow 2433 with each treatment, 20 total bags) will be provided. Farmers interested in these trials need to commit fields by April 15 so SCN samples can be collected. This is a collaborative project with Iowa State University (ISU). There’s also another joint ISU project with Valent’s new fungicide seed treatment – INTEGO. This project targets southern Iowa. Ten bags of Asgrow 3231 treated with the INTEGO Suite and 10 bags treated with INOVATE seed protectant will be provided.

·         Soil applied insecticide: With corn rootworm pressure increasing on traited hybrids this may be one option to consider. Any of the granular soil applied insecticides from AMVAC qualify for this trial such as Aztec, SmartChoice, Counter or Force 3G. The sponsor is AMVAC.

·         Fungicide: The On-Farm Network and ISU are looking for 20 fields to be planted to soybeans for fungicide trials. Ten of the locations will have a weather monitor close to the field to see if specific weather contributes to when using a fungicide will be profitable. The 10 sites with weather monitors will be sprayed with Priaxor and Fastac from BASF. Multiple aerial images will be taken, so boundaries will need to be set by planting. Other products that can be used in these trials are Tetraconazole plus αβPro from Arysta LifeScience or Stratego YLD from Bayer. For corn fungicides Astera plus αβPro or Stratego YLD at V5 are options.

·         Nitrogen: A wide range of nitrogen trials are available with the On-Farm Network. Some of the topics that could be tested are rate, form (including manure), timing, placement, stabilizers, or sensors. The links are just some of the example protocols that are possible.

·         Herbicide: Fierce is a broad spectrum soybean herbicide. This trial will compare Fierce as a pre-plant or pre-emerge compared to the farmer’s normal herbicide practice.

·         Biostimulant/Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs): Trials will study RyzUp on corn from Valent, Energy plus Sugar Power on soybeans from Stoller and Vitazyme on soybeans from Vital Earth. All PGRs or biostimulants are applied at the early V stages.

·         Cover Crops: The practice continues to be an important topic due to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This fall, the On-Farm Network will again be looking to do trials.

Farmers interested in participating in trials can sign up online at Or, growers can contact Stessman at (515) 333-8760 or; Martin at (319) 461-0759 or or McArtor at (319) 594-2417 or

Farmers can search the On-Farm Network’s Replicated Strip Trial Database for past results. Information regarding a number of trials ranging from cover crops and planting population to fungicides and insecticides are available. The database,, includes a return on investment calculator.

CHS posts fiscal 2014 six-month earnings of $502.3 million

CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company and the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, today reported earnings of $502.3 million through the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year.

Earnings attributed to CHS operations for the first six months of fiscal 2014 (Sept. 1, 2013 – Feb. 28, 2014) declined 19 percent from the $618.8 million reported for the first half of fiscal 2013. Revenues for the six-month period of fiscal 2014 were $20.7 billion, compared with $21.6 billion for the same period of fiscal 2013, reflecting a 4 percent decrease, primarily due to a decline in commodity prices for refined fuels and many of the grain, crop nutrients and processed oilseed products the company handles.

For the second quarter (Dec. 1, 2013 – Feb. 28, 2014), CHS posted earnings of $260.1 million, compared with $275.1 million reported for the same period of fiscal 2013. Revenues for the quarter were $9.7 billion, compared with $9.9 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2013.

Results through the second quarter reflected lower overall earnings for the company's Energy segment due to lower refined fuels margins. This was partially offset by strong results for its renewable fuels marketing, propane, lubricants and transportation businesses.

Six-month earnings were lower for the Ag segment primarily due to decreased margins in CHS wholesale crop nutrients business, as well as expenses associated with the proposed fertilizer plant at Spiritwood, N.D. CHS grain marketing and locally controlled Country Operations retail businesses reported improved earnings for the six-month period due to strong logistical performance and improved margins. CHS processing and food ingredients operations recorded lower earnings overall, primarily due to lower soybean crushing margins.

CHS reports results for its business services operations and its two food processing-related joint ventures under the Corporate and Other category which increased overall earnings through the second quarter of fiscal 2014. Earnings declined for the company financing, insurance and hedging businesses, but rose for its portion of earnings generated by Ventura Foods, LLC, a packaged food joint venture, and Horizon Milling, a wheat milling joint venture.

AFBF Market Basket Survey:  Bacon Prices Up, Eggs Too

Higher retail prices for several food items used to prepare breakfast, including bacon, eggs and bread, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s latest Semi-Annual Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.27, up $1.73 or about 3.5 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 increased, five decreased and one remained the same in average price.

“Several typical breakfast items increased in price, accounting for much of the modest increase in the marketbasket,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “The 3.5 percent increase shown by our survey tracks closely with Agriculture Department’s forecast of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent food inflation for 2014,” he said.

Items showing retail price increases from a year ago included bacon, up 12 percent to $4.80 per pound; ground chuck, up 10 percent to $4.10 per pound; white bread, up 10 percent to $1.81 for a 20-ounce loaf; sirloin tip roast, up 9 percent to $5.03 per pound; eggs, up 8 percent to $1.98 per dozen; whole milk, up 6 percent to $3.68 per gallon; chicken breasts, up 6 percent to $3.51 per pound; flour, up 5 percent to $2.76 for a 5-pound bag; toasted oat cereal, up less than 1 percent to $2.93 for a 9-ounce box; and Russet potatoes, up less than one-half of 1 percent to $2.70 for a 5-pound bag.

These items showed modest retail price decreases: bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.61 per pound; deli ham, down 3 percent to $5.21 per pound; apples, down 3 percent to $1.59 per pound; vegetable oil, down 2 percent to $2.85 for a 32-ounce bottle; and orange juice, down 1 percent to $3.24 per half-gallon.

Shredded cheddar cheese remained the same in price compared to a year ago, at $4.47 per pound.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.46; 1/2 gallon rBST-free milk, $3.87; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $3.97; and 1 dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.33.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $53.27 marketbasket would be $8.52.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, conducted an informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends from 1989 to 2012. In 2013, the marketbasket series was updated to include two semi-annual surveys of “everyday” food items, a summer cookout survey and the annual Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 89 shoppers in 27 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in March.

Back by Popular Demand: Corn Export Quality Report Rolls Out to International Buyers

This week, U.S. Grains Council staff is heading to international destinations to present the Council's 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report to buyers and other stakeholders around the world.

"Our purpose is to give buyers reliable and timely information," said U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight. "That's what they expect from us, and the great interest in the report demonstrates that we are meeting a real need."

The Export Quality Report measures the quality of U.S. corn sampled at the point of loading for export. Three export channels are reported: the Gulf, the Pacific Northwest, and inland terminals shipping by rail to Mexico.

"There is always some variability year-to-year and by region," Sleight said. "This year, overall quality continues to be very good, with the average aggregate quality of export corn exceeding standards for U.S. No. 2 on all grading standards. In addition, the incidence of aflatoxin and DON is very low.

"On the other hand, 2013 was a much wetter year, and the U.S. harvest had greater moisture, more drying, lower test weight, more stress cracks and more broken kernels. But the average is strong and, despite year-to-year fluctuations, remained well above U.S. No. 2."

Buyers in Vietnam were briefed yesterday, and USGC staff will be presenting to buyers elsewhere around the world in the coming weeks. Now in its third year, the report has become a much-anticipated annual event, with audiences exceeding expectations in many countries.

"We set out to raise the bar with data reporting and we have," Sleight said. "We're providing a level of information unmatched by any of our competitors, reinforcing the U.S. reputation for quality, reliability and transparency. That's our brand, and we're living it."

MAIZALL to Open Dialogue with EU

Meeting this week in Brazil, MAIZALL's officers were focused on the alliance's mission to Europe. Scheduled for June, the mission will include discussions with EU officials and feed industry leaders on market access and biotechnology issues.

"We face challenges in every region," said U.S. Grains Council Chairman and MAIZALL President Julius Schaaf, "but the EU biotechnology approval system does not follow its own regulatory and statutory timeline requirements perpetuating asynchronous approvals that continue to disrupt corn exports to the EU.

"With the T-TIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations underway, it is timely for MAIZALL to stress the importance of Europe living up to its own regulatory timetables on event approvals, and developing trade-enabling standards on low level presence of unapproved events."

"We know the political obstacles in the EU are substantial," said USGC Vice Chairman and MAIZALL Board of Directors Member Ron Gray. "That's why it is so important to have the Council, NCGA (National Corn Growers Association), and our counterparts in Argentina and Brazil working together. We're not seeking narrow advantage for any one of us. We are seeking a rational and efficient global trading system that works for all of us and for our customers as well."

While in Brazil, MAIZALL also met with the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Neri Geller. Geller strongly supported the efforts of MAIZALL and noted that he will seek to strengthen the partnership between countries on these issues of common concern, particularly with respect to the current situation in China.

"We very much appreciate Minister Geller's strong support for MAIZALL and commitment to advance sound trade policy," Schaaf said.

MAIZALL also met with the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) to introduce the  challenges that maize growers face with the introduction of new technologies in an environment of increasing export opportunities.

MAIZALL was formed by the national corn producer associations of the three major corn exporting countries of the Americas. While MAIZALL is a private sector, farmer-led organization, each of the partners is working closely with the agricultural ministries of their respective countries, which support the goal of export expansion. While in Europe, the MAIZALL mission will also be meeting with Argentine, Brazilian and U.S. diplomatic officials to urge a common front at the inter-governmental level.

Ram Truck Brand Continues its Commitment to American Farm Families with April 26 'The Next Crop Project' Day of Test Drives Benefitting Next Generation of Farmers

The Ram Truck brand extends its support of America's farming industry with "The Next Crop Project," a celebration of and investment in the "next crop" of farmers and future leaders in the agriculture industry.

More than 100 dealers nationwide will partner with local chapters of the National FFA Organization (FFA) Saturday, April 26, in a national day of test drives at participating dealerships where Ram will make a $20 donation to FFA for each test drive.  Ram's donations will support local FFA chapter leadership programs in participating dealer communities.

"'The Next Crop Project' is a great way for the Ram brand to continue our support of the FFA and to further increase awareness as to the importance of farming in our country," said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. "The uniquely American 'farmer spirit' is also consistent with our Ram values of courage, dignity and setting examples through hard work."

A list of participating dealers is located at

"The Next Crop Project" test drive campaign is designed to further the attention that Ram brought to the importance of America's farmers with its "Farmer" video that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl broadcast, by turning the focus even more directly on the future leaders of agriculture. Ram donated $1 million to the FFA after views of the "Farmer" video reached a 10 million view milestone in less than a week.

Ram is supporting "The Next Crop Project" campaign with a 30-second television spot debuting April 6 during the "49th Academy of Country Music Awards" broadcast on CBS, and with print and digital advertising.

USDA Science You Can See

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

While most people have a mental image of research that involves scientists in lab coats, bubbling test tubes and beakers, and technical language that can seem complex, much of the groundbreaking research conducted by USDA scientists actually ends up on your plate, in your home, or on your back. Their discoveries in the lab truly translate into science you can see.

For example, many of us make a conscious effort to eat healthier and cut calories, but it can be tough when faced with a favorite snack, like French fries. USDA scientists have figured out a way to make French fries healthier. Before frying, scientists exposed potato strips to a few minutes of infrared heat. This forms a crispy outer shell on the outside of the fries, which helps to reduce their oil uptake and ultimately reduces calories per serving. If adopted commercially, this method is great news for both food processors and our waistlines.

Or maybe you’re a healthy snack lover and looking for a way to make your snacks pack an even healthier punch. USDA scientists have found a way to add oat fiber to yogurt without affecting its flavor or texture. Yogurt is already a pretty healthy snack, and adding addition fiber can only help—studies have indicated that oat fiber can help to improve heart health.

If you are lactose-intolerant, you may use Lactaid™ so you can still enjoy dairy products. USDA scientists helped to develop the basis for that product, too. USDA scientists also conducted the core research behind ChoiceBatter, a gluten-free rice flour batter that is now being marketed and sold by CrispTek, LLC.

For those who’ve ever woken up late before a big work meeting, USDA scientists have got your back here, too. They helped to develop cotton fabric that is wrinkle-free and fire-resistant.

If you’re a cat person, you may someday see USDA science impact your pet. USDA scientists have developed a kitty litter product that’s nearly 100 percent biodegradable and made from spent grains, often referred to as dried distiller’s grains (DDGs), leftover from the process of making corn ethanol. DDGs are often used as cattle feed, but this new product may provide a higher-value market for the tons of DDGs leftover after ethanol production.

And, to the delight of farmers and people with noses everywhere, USDA scientists are part of a team of researchers investigating ways to combat the brown marmorated stink bug, which in addition to having a distinct odor, can also cause serious damage to valuable agricultural crops.

These are just some of the ways that research conducted by USDA scientists and our partner research institutions touch your daily life. Beyond that, agricultural research also helps to boost the economy. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to the economy. In the past five years alone, research by USDA scientists has led to award of 215 patents covering a wide range of topics and discoveries. One of our research agencies, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), currently has 380 active licenses of ARS-developed technology that are supporting new businesses and job opportunities across the country.

The recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill will help to build on these accomplishments by establishing a new research foundation that leverages private sector funding to support groundbreaking agricultural research. You can follow our progress in implementing the new farm bill and establishing the research foundation at

Thanks to the new Farm Bill, we can continue the vital research and innovation that that have enhanced food safety and nutrition, made farming and ranching more efficient, and improved quality of life for millions of people in the United States and around the world.

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