Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday April 24 Ag News

Livestock Forage Disaster Program Signup Starts

Livestock producers in Colfax County can now apply for the 2012 Livestock Forage Program (LFP) stated Bruce Coffey, County Executive Director of the Colfax County FSA Office.   The application deadline is January 30, 2015.    Colfax County is only eligible for 2012 benefits but other counties are also eligible for 2013 benefits under this program.  This determination was strictly made by the national office using the UNL drought monitor information.  This program is a forage loss program.  Thus this program does not look at the costs of supplemental feeding of cattle in those crop years.  Loss payments will be based on livestock producers that also had eligible grass for grazing in that crop year.  Producers should call for an appointment and provide some documentation about their inventory of livestock for the 2012 crop year. This documentation, if available, can include a balance sheet or a depreciation schedule, etc.  Livestock producers with Colfax County as their main administrative county with pastures in other counties for crop year 2012 or 2013 should start the application process in Colfax County stated Coffey.

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) Signup Starts for Cattle Death Losses

Livestock producers that suffered death losses due to extreme weather events in calendar year 2012 or 2013 can now apply at their local FSA office for benefits under the LIP program, stated Coffey.   This program pays for eligible losses at the rate of 75% of the average national market price for the crop year in which the death loss occurred.  Producers must provide documentation of the death loss such as veterinary records, rendering truck receipts, etc.  In addition inventory documentation must also be provided as payments are based on the number lost over the normal mortality for the specific type and weight of livestock.  The producer must also currently be part of a farming operation to qualify.   Producers should contact the FSA office to schedule an appointment and to discuss any questions.

UPDATE your Farm Records at Farm Service Agency

The continuous effort to keep records updated at the local FSA office will ensure producers receive program benefits timely and remain eligible for those benefits.  Coffey says some of the records that should be updated as soon as possible are:
  -changes in land ownership which require a copy of the filed deed be provided to the FSA office
  -updates in land ownership due to a deceased producer require a copy of a deed etc.
  -update in operators on a farm need to be submitted by phone/in person by the landowner to FSA
  -changes in type of operation from individual to an entity such as corporation or LLC etc.
  -changes in entity type from a partnership to a corporation or LLC etc.
  -various other changes that may affect the farming operation need reported

Producers must plan ahead and report these changes as soon as possible to ensure the FSA farm records are correct.  The reduced staffing levels at the FSA office over the last several years has made early reporting of changes much more important noted Coffey.  Delays in reporting changes may cause delays in program enrollments and potentially program benefits.  So take the time and do it now stated Coffey.

Some Cows' Infertility Linked to Y Chromosome

One reason why some cows cannot get pregnant may be because they have male (Y) chromosome fragments in their DNA, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study.

Reproductive efficiency is the most economically important trait in cow-calf production. When a cow does not produce a calf, the producer does not make a profit, but still has to pay for feed, labor and other expenses. With the help of beef producers, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist Tara McDaneld and her colleagues at the agency's Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, Neb., examined reproduction data on about 6,400 females from cattle herds in Colorado, Florida, Nebraska and at USMARC. The team, which included molecular biologist John Keele and geneticist Larry Kuehn, then genotyped the animals, using a cost-saving genetic screening method called DNA pooling, which combines DNA from individual animals into a single pool.

Females usually inherit an X chromosome from each parent (XX), while males inherit an X and a Y (XY). In the study, only females were tested. Researchers found fragments of the male Y chromosome only in the pool of DNA from non-pregnant animals. All the results should have been XX among the females, according to McDaneld.

To verify their findings, scientists used an additional test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which is an inexpensive and effective means to identify fragments of the Y chromosome. Among animals with low reproductive efficiency, the PCR study showed that 25 percent of those females in the Florida population and 20 percent in the USMARC group had at least one significant chromosome-Y genetic marker. None of the highly reproductive animals had these markers, indicating that females were not getting pregnant because they carried Y chromosome segments.

USMARC scientists are the first to identify the occurrence of chromosome-Y genetic markers in beef cows with reduced reproductive capacity.

Read more about this research in the April 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

2014 Farmland Rental Rates Decrease Moderately

 Rental rates for Iowa farmland decreased moderately in 2014 according to results from a survey carried out by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This is the first decrease shown by the annual survey since 1999, according to William Edwards, retired extension economist who directs the survey.

“The average estimated cash rent for corn and soybean land in the state for 2014 was $260 per acre, a decrease of $10 per acre or nearly 4 percent from last year,” said Edwards. “Significantly lower crop prices for the 2013 crop and lower price forecasts for this year’s crop have tempered farmers’ optimism about prospective profits.”

The cash rental rates survey results are available in the ISU Extension and Outreach publication Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2014 Survey. The publication details average rents in the nine Iowa crop reporting districts. The cash rental rate information presented in this publication is the result of a survey of farmers, landowners, lenders, real estate brokers, and professional farm managers. They supplied information based on their best judgments about typical cash rental rates for high, medium, and low quality cropland in their counties, as well as for land devoted to production of hay, oats, and pasture.

“Average rents were lower in all nine crop reporting districts except for the southeast district, which showed no change,” Edwards said.  “The largest decrease was in north central Iowa, $24 per acre, where a wet spring last year reduced yields and prevented some acres from being planted. Grundy County had the highest average rent in the state, $330 per acre.”

Typical rental rates per bushel of corn yield, soybean yield and CSR point are computed for each county and displayed as a chart in the publication. Also included are the typical charges for land growing oats and hay, for grazing pasture and corn stalks, and for renting hunting rights.

Information about rents for individual farms was not collected. The rental rates summarized in the publication do not reflect the value of any buildings or storage structures, manure application contracts, or seed production contracts.

The Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2014 Survey is available online as a downloadable document from the Extension Online Store at and Ag Decision Maker website. Other resources available for estimating a fair cash rental rate include the Ag Decision Maker information files Computing a Cropland Cash Rental Rate (C2-20) , Computing a Pasture Rental Rate (C2-23), and Flexible Farm Lease Agreements (C2-21). All documents include decision file electronic worksheets to help analyze leasing questions.

USDA Reports Commercial Red Meat Production Down 5 Percent in March From Last Year

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.81 billion pounds in March, down 5 percent from the 3.99 billion pounds produced in March 2013.

Beef production, at 1.94 billion pounds, was 5 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.45 million head, down 5 percent from March 2013. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from the previous year, at 1,318 pounds.

Veal production totaled 8.7 million pounds, 5 percent below March a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 53,600 head, down 14 percent from March 2013. The average live weight was up 25 pounds from last year, at 277 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.85 billion pounds, down 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.67 million head, down 7 percent from March 2013. The average live weight was up 8 pounds from the previous year, at 285 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.2 million pounds, was down 5 percent from March 2013. Sheep slaughter totaled 190,000 head, 4 percent below last year. The average live weight was 139 pounds, down 1 pound from March a year ago.

State Data
- March 2014 Commercial Red Meat Production

Nebraska ...:     562.6 million pounds,  -1% from March 2013      
Iowa ..........:      524.0 million pounds,  -4% from March 2013      
Kansas ......:     396.9 million pounds,  -6% from March 2013      

January to March 2014 commercial red meat production was 11.7 billion pounds, down 2 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 5 percent from last year, veal was down 9 percent, pork was up slightly from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 1 percent.

New Malaysian Regulations Threaten Trade: Discussions Continue

Intensive efforts continue in Malaysia to seek clarification or amendment of new agricultural import regulations, which threaten to impose costly new burdens on a wide range of commodities from several exporting countries. The U.S. Grains Council and the U.S. Soybean Export Council are working closely with USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service Malaysia office and APHIS to reduce or eliminate the negative impact of these new regulations on U.S. export cargos. Local stakeholders in the Malaysian feed, trade and livestock sectors are also expressing their concerns to the Malaysian government.

While Malaysia has sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) concerns with imports from some countries, Malaysian officials acknowledge that the United States is considered a low-risk origin for agricultural products. Nonetheless, a number of U.S. commodities such as corn meal, soybeans and soybean meal are still subject to these regulations, which are scheduled to take effect on July 1. It is unclear whether corn meal is intended to include corn gluten meal and/or distiller's dried grains with solubles. The Council is pressing Malaysian authorities for a clarification of this issue. At this time, U.S. corn is not listed.

"The potential impacts are significant," said Adel Yusupov, USGC regional director of Southeast Asia. "The new import requirements, for example, would require identity preserved, fumigation at export loading and other SPS requirements for U.S. corn meal. These raise serious concerns for both shippers and APHIS, which is concerned the proposed SPS requirements are well out of line with international standards and, therefore, U.S. practices."

APHIS is expected to press this issue on a government-to-government basis with its counterparts in Malaysia, in addition to its ongoing collaboration with the Council, shippers and other concerned private stakeholders.

Malaysia is a net importer of feed grains and oilseeds, sourcing from India, Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine as well as the United States. All countries of origin are subject to new import regulations, so the risk of significant cost impacts is real. The Council will continue to work with the Malaysian and U.S. governments, as well as purchasers and end-users in Malaysia, to mitigate the burden of unnecessary new regulations on U.S. exports.

FDA Backs Off Animal Feed Rule

(AP) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it will revise proposed livestock feed rules after hearing objections about the potential cost from brewers who sell grain leftover from making beer to ranchers and dairy farmers.

Beer makers big and small feared they would have to pay for grain testing, equipment, audits and other safety measures at an estimated cost of $13.6 million per brewery, likely affecting the price of beer, beef and dairy products. To avoid passing on those costs, some brewers said they would have simply sent the grain to landfills.

The FDA proposed the rules as part of its implementation of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, which is aimed at preventing outbreaks of foodborne illness. One incentive was the 2007 contamination of pet food from China with melamine, which killed hundreds of dogs and cats in the U.S.

"That was a tragic thing for pets, and it was sort of a wake-up call for everyone involved in food safety," said Dan McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "If this could happen with pet food, why couldn't it happen with human food?"

Livestock feed is generally safe, and the FDA is not aware of any problems with brewers' grain, McChesney said. And brewers noted their grain is already covered by food safety rules for humans.

ASA Weighs in with House Ways & Means on Tax Issues

As the House Ways and Means committee considers action on expired tax provisions this week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) sent a letter urging consideration of several components that would benefit the soybean community.

Issues ASA showed support for include restoration of Section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation to previous levels and continuation of the biodiesel tax credit. In the letter, ASA commends the Committee for its efforts to advance comprehensive tax reform, but urges them to move forward quickly to minimize disruption and uncertainty.

“As we stated publicly following the release of the Chairman’s draft comprehensive tax reform proposal, ASA strongly supports many components of the tax reform proposal, including the provision to allow farmers to continue utilizing cash-based accounting regardless of size and to make expensing deductions under Section 179 permanent,” the letter states. “ASA also strongly supports the proposed increase in revenues for investment in our waterways and highway transportation infrastructure, including an increase in the barge fuel fees that fund the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.  Investments in transportation infrastructure are vital to maintaining the global competitiveness of American soybean farmers.”

Section 179 helps farmers to create and maintain manufacturing and marketing jobs.  The ability to immediately expense equipment and other capital purchases provides an incentive for farmers to invest in their businesses and reduces the record keeping burden associated with the depreciation.  Due to weather variability, agricultural income is both cyclical and uncertain and these provisions allow farmers to make much needed large capital expenditures in those years when they have a positive cash flow.

In the letter, ASA urges the prompt consideration of tax extenders legislation that, at a minimum, includes restoration of Section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation to previous levels, and continuation of the $1.00 per gallon biodiesel tax credit.

The biodiesel tax credit extension would provide support for jobs, economic development in rural communities, diversity in our energy and fuel sources, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, among others. The tax credit plays an important role in the competitiveness of the developing biodiesel industry with the long-standing, mature and entrenched petroleum industry.

ASA also urges the committee to restore the maximum amount of expensing under Section 179 to $500,000 as it was in 2013 and supports reinstating the expired 50 percent bonus depreciation level for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment.

ASA Attends BNSF Ag Rail Conference

The American Soybean Association (ASA) joined representatives from other commodity associations, grain processors and shippers, fertilizer companies and other key stakeholders this week in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas for the annual BNSF Ag Products Summit, to discuss rail transportation issues and hear updates from BNSF executives.

Issues discussed included overview of BNSF grain operations improvement plans and increases in shuttles, locomotives and track infrastructure to enhance timelier response for grain shipments. Delays in shipments this year have had considerable impact on basis and soybean growers’ profitability.

In addition to general presentations during the summit, ASA had a private consultation with John Miller, group vice president agricultural products and Greg Guthrie, director of marketing of BNSF, to discuss recent service issues and rail disruptions from this past winter and early spring across the northern tier of soybean producing states.

Calling for Candidates for 2015 Leadership At Its Best program

The American Soybean Association is seeking candidates for the 2014 -15 Leadership At Its Best program, sponsored by Syngenta. The program is designed to provide state soybean leaders with advanced leadership training and the necessary communication skills to make a difference in American agriculture while advancing into leadership positions on a national level.

Leadership At Its Best is a two-part training program that includes advanced leadership, agricultural issues, communications and media training, culminating in Washington, D.C. with Capitol Hill visits. The candidate must be a current director or committee chair who has expressed a strong desire to assume a top leadership position AND must be able to attend both parts of the program:
-    Part I     Aug.11-14, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C.
-    Part II    March 8-10, 2015 in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting

Please contact Michelle Hummel at for more information.  State Selection Forms are due by Friday, May 23, 2014.

DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff Collaborate to Improve Sorghum Genetics

DuPont Pioneer and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program today announced a collaboration to advance genetic tools and opportunities for grain sorghum, which was planted on just over 8 million acres in the United States in 2013. Under a three-year collaboration agreement, the Sorghum Checkoff will leverage the world-class seed technology program at Pioneer for a total investment of $800,220 from Pioneer starting in 2014.

The collaboration is a reflection of sorghum’s value to farmers and consumers alike. In 2013, U.S. grain sorghum generated $1.7 billion in farm receipts. Additionally, 136 million bushels of sorghum produced last year were exported, with nearly 90 percent of the grain going to China. Sorghum exports have contributed more than $800 million to the U.S. economy.

“This collaboration will help increase sorghum farmer productivity and profitability,” said Kay Porter, DuPont Pioneer senior research manager. “We believe this collaboration will lead to new innovations to develop stronger and higher yielding sorghum varieties.”

Enhancing the Value of the Sorghum Crop

As part of the collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff, three genetic-focused projects will include:
-    A search for a haploid inducer line, the first step in the development of double haploid sorghum breeding programs. If successful, this development would lead to a major leap forward sorghum breeding speed.
-    The development of a high throughput, precision screening method for stress-induced stalk lodging, which targets an important agronomic challenge for sorghum farmers; and
-    The development of non- and low-tillering sorghum hybrids, which would allow sorghum farmers to leverage precision farming techniques.

The projects will utilize the Pioneer global research network, with research conducted in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and off-season nurseries in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

“I believe the collaboration between DuPont Pioneer and the Sorghum Checkoff illustrates the interest of seed technology providers and their commitment to grain sorghum,” said Stewart Weaver, Sorghum Checkoff chairman and grower from Edmondson, Ark. “The Sorghum Checkoff’s collaborative efforts with Pioneer marks a rejuvenated era in sorghum genetic research. Pioneer is a longstanding leader in sorghum research, and we are enthusiastic about what this opportunity means for U.S. sorghum farmers.”

Results and developments from the projects will be made available to the industry. The agreement with Pioneer is the Sorghum Checkoff’s third collaboration with the private seed industry.

Sorghum offers growers a sound, water-efficient rotational crop while providing end-users with a versatile, attribute-rich grain. Sorghum is a whole grain that offers neutral flavor and provides another option for individuals seeking a gluten-free diet.

CME Group Changes Daily Grain Price Limit System

CME Group Inc. said Tuesday it will implement a new system for setting daily price limits for U.S. grain and oilseed futures next month. CME, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade and other exchanges, will apply limits to markets including corn, soybeans and wheat that reset twice a year based on underlying price levels, according to a notice from the exchange operator.

The exchange said it also will remove price limits for all grain and oilseed options, reports Reuters. Both changes are set to take effect on April 30 for the May 1 trade date and were approved by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The overhaul for futures contract limits will allow higher price limits when market prices are high and lower price limits when market prices are low.

The reset dates will be the first trading day in May and the first day in November.

EPA Accepting Comments on Waters of the US Regulation

On Monday, April 21, the proposed regulation on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the United States was printed in the Federal Register officially starting the 91-day public comment period. The regulation seeks to clarify which waters are jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act (CWA), but concerns remain about EPA’s use of the “significant nexus” definition to determine what other waters are connected to traditional navigable waters under the CWA. The EPA is taking this action as the result of several court cases that have altered the Agency’s implementation of the current regulation including the 2001 Supreme Court decision in the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. Army Corps of Engineers and the 2006 decision in Rapanos v. the United States. For several years, there have been legislative efforts in Congress to alter the definition of waters of the U.S., but the legislation has failed.

Most of those in agriculture oppose any efforts to remove the definition of “navigable” waters in the CWA.  Agriculture organizations are reviewing the regulation to understand the implications for producer members. Adding to the uncertainty of the impact of the proposed regulation, the EPA has not finalized its Connectivity Report that outlines the science behind the connectivity of streams and wetlands relative to large water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans. The Connectivity Report is still undergoing review by the Scientific Advisory Board. Comments will be accepted until July 21 but may be extended due to several requests into the agency for a 6-month comment period. The EPA is undertaking outreach across the country to educate the public and take questions regarding the proposed regulation. Contact your regional EPA office for more information.

Guarding Against the Dangerous Overreach of the Endangered Species Act

Sue McCrum, President of American Agri-Women

Recently there have been media reports that have highlighted the dangerous overreach of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Desert Tortoise, Delta Smelt, Sage Grouse, and the Lesser Prairie Chicken to name a few species, are being respected over the value of the human species as various actions are being taken across the United States to severely curtail or eliminate the use of land, water, timber and mineral resources in deference to these species. These resources are vital for the security and economic solvency of the United States as they provide food, fiber, shelter and energy for our people.

The situation cements the fact that American Agri-Women (AAW) ( urges that the existing Endangered Species Act be repealed. At the very least, AAW supports a requirement that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Critical Habitat designations be completed before restrictive regulatory action is taken. Concurrent social, economic and environmental cost/benefit analyses and compensatory adjustments for takings deemed necessary for species protection is required, and should be enforced.

AAW supports allowing a state or private property owner who is accused of an ESA violation to continue with existing farming, logging, fishing or mining practices until the suit is resolved. No fine should be assessed unless a violation is proven.

AAW opposes expansion of habitat area designations for endangered species without peer-reviewed scientific data showing the additional acres are necessary.

With an ever increasing world population that will need to be fed, clothed and sheltered land being taken out of productive use for the benefit of people will regrettably result in an endangered species listing for the human race.

American Agri-Women is a national grassroots coalition of more than 50 agriculture, natural resources and agri-business affiliates promoting the welfare of our national security through a safe and reliable food, fiber and mineral supply.

PEDv Now Confirmed in Mexico

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, first identified in the United States last April, has now spread to virtually all states of Mexico. According to Pork Network, Mexican news agency Noticieros Televisa reports that while wide-spread, the outbreak is present in just 1 percent of the country's hog herds. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food notes the outbreak was likely spurred by U.S. hog imports and some irregular shipments.

Even so, PEDv was bound to spread to the country at some point.

"If the U.S. has an outbreak, sooner or later it comes to Mexico," the Ministry says.

Experts warned the Mexican market is nervous amid concerns of rising pork prices, which already reflects increases of up to 40 percent at local meat stores.

U.S. Meat Export Federation representative Aaron Turner GutiƩrrez believes overall price increases are likely, but there is no intent to create a shortage within the local markets.

Mexico exported 1.28 million tons of pork in 2013. In comparison, during this same time period, the U.S. exported just shy of 5 billion pounds of pork.

North Dakota to Begin Drone Tests For Ag Research

North Dakota could begin flying a drone next month to test how the unmanned aircraft can check soil quality and the status of crops to help farmers improve agricultural management. According to the Associated Press, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta said during a trip to the state Monday that the agency has granted the state a two-year certificate to begin flying a small drone, making North Dakota the first of six test sites in the nation to be allowed to start missions.

The initial flights of the Draganflyer X4ES be over North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center located in Carrington. A second set of missions are scheduled for the summer over Sullys Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake.

The scheduled flights will not be over private property.

The university's extension service is studying how precision agriculture--a farming management concept that involves fine-tuning the application of seed, fertilizer and pesticide on every square foot of a field to improve yields and reduce costs--could be helped by using drones.

Unmanned aircraft are already used for seeding and spraying.

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