Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday April 3 Ag News

The Importance of Testing for Soybean Cyst Nematodes
Keith Glewen, UNL Extension Educator, Saunders County

As many of you are aware, the Nebraska Soybean Board has partnered with UNL Extension in providing growers with a free analysis of soil samples for Soybean Cyst Nematodes (SCN) over the course of years. ($20 value). Our thanks to the Soybean Board for this investment. SCN have now be found in 56 Nebraska Counties. Sampling bags are available at the Extension Office.

This past year, only 36 growers in Saunders County took advantage of this offer. What is more surprising or shocking, is of the 36 samples submitted, 24 were reported as positive. Yes, you are correct, 66% tested positive for the yield robbing soybean cyst nematodes. In Dodge Co. 65% tested positive. Butler, 39%.

Planting soybean varieties resistant to nematodes is only one step in a controlling this yield robbing pest. Visit with your seeds representative to learn more about developing an effective management plan. Many have been trained by UNL Extension and are qualified to provide information on cyst nematode resistance management. If they can’t help you, drop me a note or give me call... 1-800-529-8030. 

Consider On-Farm Research!

We are currently scheduling appointments to discuss with growers their interest in conducting an on-farm research comparison during the 2014 growing season. These appointments can be done either over the telephone or in person.  In 2013, we had 36 growers representing 50 on-farm comparisons. These studies represented in-furrow fungicide treatments at planting, corn plant populations, nitrogen rates, starter fertilizer use and the list goes on and on. To learn more about using your own farm equipment in your fields to answer production related questions, go to:, drop me a note, or call the Saunders County Extension office at the ARDC near Mead. 


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Fall-planted rye, triticale, and wheat as well as spring pastures soon should be ready to graze.  These fields can give great grazing, but be sure you take steps to avoid problems with grass tetany.

               Grass tetany is caused by low blood magnesium. Low blood magnesium can be due to low levels of magnesium in lush spring grass, but it also is caused by mineral imbalances like high potassium and nitrogen or low calcium in the diet.

               Grass tetany primarily affects older, heavy milking cows or sheep, but young stock also can be affected.  It occurs most frequently in spring during cool, cloudy, moist conditions when lush, immature grass starts growing rapidly.

                 Cattle or sheep affected by tetany often graze away from the herd, are irritable, show muscle twitching, awkwardness, and staggering, and they are somewhat wide-eyed and staring.  When affected severely, the animal will collapse, thrash around, throw its head back, maybe lapse into a coma, and possibly die.

               To prevent grass tetany, first wait to graze until grass is more than 6 inches tall.  Also, feed or graze legumes like clover or alfalfa when you start on pasture since they have high magnesium levels.

               Feeding about 10 to 20 grams per day of supplemental magnesium via commercial or home-made salt-mineral mixes may be the best way to reduce tetany problems, but start supplementing as much as thirty days before grazing begins.  Magnesium oxide is one of the best and cheapest sources of magnesium.  Mix equal parts of magnesium oxide with dical, salt, and ground corn for a simple home-made supplement that provides adequate magnesium when each cow eats about one pound of the mix per week.

               As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


               The open winter left many of you with more hay left over than expected.  Save some of that hay in case of drought, but any extra hay might provide extra value used strategically.

               Get extra value from carryover hay by using that hay in ways that will be valuable especially to you.  Usually that means feeding hay instead of something else that would be more expensive.  Another option, though, is to feed hay so you can make other resources more profitable.

               For example, replace old, thinning alfalfa fields with new seedings this spring.  Then use carryover hay to substitute for lost yield during this seeding year.  Future hay yields from new fields should be more abundant and reliable.

               Or how about adding legumes to cool-season grass pastures or hay meadows.  We usually lose some forage production during legume establishment as you control competition from the existing sod, but your carryover hay can be fed instead as needed.  Better grazing and meadow production should be the result.

               Another possibility that would be especially useful this year is to feed hay a little longer this spring before turning cows out to pasture.  Or maybe feed this hay mid-summer to provide extra rest and recovery for your pastures, increasing their productivity.  Grass weakened by heavy grazing the past couple of years then will get extra time to recover before experiencing this year’s stress of grazing.

               You also could use less fertilizer on pastures or haylands and make up for the reduced production with your carryover hay.  Or chop less silage and use hay next winter instead.

               If you think about other ways you can use that hay yourself, maybe you, too, can find its extra value.


               Is nitrogen fertilizer too expensive for pasture?  It might be unless your fertilizer applications and grazing are managed well.

               After adding nitrogen to your pastures in past years, did your grass grow really nice in April and May?  Then did it get stemmy in June with cows trampling and laying on more of it than eating it?  And by August was most of the grass brown or dead, much of it matted down, with the only green material so short that cows could barely get any of it?

               If this describes your pastures, do something a little different this year.  For starters, don’t fertilize all your pasture right away.  You’re stimulating more spring growth than your cows can eat, so only fertilize half or three-quarters of your pasture now.  Be sure, though, that the unfertilized area is fenced off from the rest of the pasture.

               Now, go ahead and have your cows graze pretty much like you normally do, but graze the unfertilized area first so you finish with it sometime in mid-May.  Then check the weather and soil moisture.  If you think there will be enough moisture for some good regrowth, then fertilize this previously unfertilized area.  Let it regrow for six weeks or longer and you should have some really good regrowth available for grazing in July or August.

               What if it’s dry in mid-May with poor prospects for regrowth?  In that case, save your money and don’t apply any more fertilizer.  You still will have produced about as much pasture growth as if you had fertilized everything to begin with, but without spending as much.

               If your pastures often are overgrown in spring and run out in summer, change fertilizer timing.  You’ll get more grass when you want it or maybe save some money.

Smith Questions U.S. Trade Representative on Agriculture Exports

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today questioned U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman at a Committee on Ways and Means hearing.  Smith, co-chair of the House Modern Agriculture Caucus, asked what the Administration is doing to address non-tariff trade barriers in China, Japan, Canada, and in future trade agreements.

Video of the exchange is available at:

Congressman Smith is a member of the Committee on Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and has led efforts to promote modern, scientific, and fully enforceable standards in trade agreements to boost U.S. agriculture exports.

Nebraska merchandise exports, including agriculture, totaled $7.4 billion in 2012.  According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.34 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production.


With half of Nebraska’s soybean crop exported annually, international markets are vital to Nebraska farmers and the state’s economic infrastructure. . The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) recently hosted 12 farmers on a “See for Yourself” mission to the Pacific Northwest to see up close how their soybean checkoff dollars are being invested in international market development.

Participants on the tour were able to see a wide variety of areas the checkoff is involved in, ranging from transportation and soy exports to biodiesel production and aquaculture. Stops on the tour included the Port of Grays Harbor, Ag Processing, Inc. (AGP), Imperium Renewables, Tacoma Export Marketing Company (TEMCO) and Icicle Seafoods.

The relevancy of the tour keyed on the fact that the Port of Grays Harbor, Washington is the primary port of export for Nebraska-grown soybeans sold to buyers in China and Southeast Asia. With more than 50 percent of Nebraska’s soybean crop being exported overseas, it is vital for Nebraska producers to gain a better understanding of the many links in the international marketing chain. Furthermore, producers can now see their checkoff dollars in real-time operation, ensuring increases in productivity, profitability and demand.

Allan Adams, a farmer from near Peru, Neb. said he gained a better understanding of the many logistical hurdles that need to be overcome to get our soybeans to our overseas customers. “This tour showed me how important the U.S. transportation system is to the exporting of commodities we produce,” Adams said.

Participants visited and toured the Port of Grays Harbor, which includes AGP and Imperium Renewables. Grays Harbor is now the leading export site for American grown soybean meal. Other products shipped from Grays Harbor include: timber, biodiesel, automobiles, liquids and bulk products.

The group thought the stop at TEMCO, a grain facility at the Port of Tacoma was very informative. TEMCO is the fastest loading/discharge yard in the country and contains 100 miles of rail. “TEMCO was the most interesting stop. We got the chance to see how they unloaded a unit train of crops from the Midwest straight onto a ship. I recommend all farmers take advantage of the trip,” said soybean farmer Ron Ackerson of Aurora, Neb.

Don Nelson, a farmer from near Wayne, Neb. said the trip was rewarding and recommended other farmers take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Soybean Board. “This was an informative and educational experience. It provides an opportunity to meet other producers and soybean board personnel from around the state. I would recommend any producer take advantage of the opportunity,” Nelson said.

Interested in seeing these locations for yourself or learning more about your checkoff dollars? Join us next year for our “See For Yourself” international marketing mission. For more information on the program, please contact the NSB office at 402-441-3240 or visit

ASA Announces Regional Succession Planning Workshops for Farmers

Many of today’s farmers are facing the challenge of trying to determine how they will preserve their farm through a successful transition of their operation to the next generation. The American Soybean Association, in partnership with eLegacy Connect, is announcing a series of six regional succession planning workshops to help farmers in this process.

The Succession Planning Workshops, titled “Five Keys to Effective Succession Planning”, are sponsored by Farm Credit and AGCO in addition to the Illinois Soybean Association, Kentucky Soybean Association and the Ohio Soybean Association.

Following are the workshop dates, locations and registration information:

2014 Workshop Dates Locations

-    June 24 Memphis, TN
-    June 26 Paducah, KY
-    July 30 Sioux Falls, SD
-    Aug. 19 Columbus, OH
-    Aug. 21 Fort Wayne, IN
-    Dec. 4 Moline, IL

Registration Information:

Farmers will be able to register online beginning May 1, 2014. Check the ASA website for more details.

ASA Members - $50 – First participant - $30– For each additional family member
Nonmembers - $90– First participant - $70 – For each additional family member

The Succession Planning Workshops will be one-day workshops starting at 9:00 am and ending at 3:00 pm. The exact workshop locations in each of the cities listed above are still to be determined and will be announced at a later date.

“ASA is excited to partner with our member benefit partner, eLegacy Connect and we are appreciative of the support from Farm Credit, AGCO and our state associations, to offer these import educational workshops,” said Bob Worth, ASA Membership and Corporate Relations Chairman. “ASA is dedicated to enhancing and protecting the livelihoods of soybean producers. ASA is conducting these workshops as an important tool in helping ASA members protect their farms and their family legacy.”

Succession planning is the watershed issue facing America’s family farmers. Through these succession planning workshops, participants will learn effective strategies for passing the farm to the next generation and making sure they have the leadership abilities and business management skills to ensure financial security. The workshops will taught by Kevin Spafford, founder of eLegacy by Design.

For more information about these workshops go to the ASA website at

U.S., Canadian Pork Industries Collaborate with Feed Industry, Others on PEDV

More than 60 people representing the U.S. and Canadian pork, feed and other allied industries recently participated in a meeting on the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) hosted by the National Pork Board, and in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Producers, in Des Moines, Iowa. Although the disease does not affect humans or pork safety, it has infected and killed millions of young pigs on farms of all sizes in 27 states since May 2013 and in four Canadian provinces since January.

"Our main goal was to bring a group of people together to help us agree on research needs related to PEDV and feed systems so that we can get answers to ongoing questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board.  "We've been working on PEDV research and collaborating with all pork industry stakeholders since the disease was discovered here, and we'll continue doing that to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The meeting participants, made up of producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, academics and government and association officials, also shared what's currently known about PEDV, including transmission routes, possible vectors and current testing limitations. The group reiterated that PEDV is not a human health or food safety issue and agreed the virus is of Asian origin genetically, but its direct pathway to North America remains unknown.

During the day-long session, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered information about the agency's pathways analysis that seeks to identify and describe pathways that exotic viral pathogens of swine may enter the country. The Canadian participants shared their PEDV experiences and actions taken this year, and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians presented its initial survey of early PEDV cases. In addition, participants learned results of veterinary investigations in several states and heard what the feed, feed ingredient and rendering industries are doing to enhance their biosecurity programs and mitigate risk.

"After taking all of this information into consideration, the group agreed that there are multiple ways for pigs to become infected via a fecal-oral route, including environmental, transportation, feed systems and other vectors," Sundberg said.

The top research priorities agreed upon by the group are:
1. To investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds,
2. To conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain,
3. To develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures, and
4. To continue to investigate the risk of feed and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

"If feed is a factor in the transfer of PEDV, based on past research we know that there are specific time and temperature combinations that should inactivate the virus," Sundberg said. "However, there are many variables that can affect feed, including post-processing contamination, which is another area that must be carefully controlled even if inactivation occurs."

To date, the Pork Checkoff has funded 17 PEDV-related research projects totaling nearly $1.7 million. The Institute for Feed Research and Education, AFIA's foundation, has pledged $100,000 toward PEDV research.

NCGA Joins REAP Initiative as Founding Partner

At the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s  Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the ATIP Foundation (Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership) has established a public-private partnership to enhance research on sustainable soil health for multiple land uses in agriculture. The National Corn Growers Association has joined USDA and ATIP along with four other founding partners of the Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP) public-private partnership to support and strengthen soil health research that addresses the needs of U.S. farmers.

"We live in a nation that can easily satisfy all of its food needs thanks to the extraordinary productivity of our farmers and their careful management of our soil resources," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.  "Through this public-private partnership, led by the ATIP Foundation, the agriculture sector has created a model of leveraging public and private resources to address sustainability and economic prosperity by enhancing research on land management practices."

“NCGA and the other six founding participants of REAP that comprise the Technical Review Council, met recently with ARS scientists to broaden outreach to private, non-governmental and agriculture sectors that would benefit from ARS research,” said Don Glenn, Chair of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair. “We feel that REAP research will not only identify important soil management practices, but will also contribute to the field work of the Soil Health Partnership launched earlier this year by NCGA with support from Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation.”

The REAP initiative consists of nine multi-state USDA ARS locations and their university partners who will pair regionally significant soil data sets with local practices. The focus of this research will be to identify the production and sustainable advantages of different soil management strategies.

Ryan Budget Calls for Deeper Cuts to SNAP and Farm Programs

(from Nat'l Assoc. of Wheat Growers newsletter)

On Wednesday the House Budget Committee marked-up the latest budget proposal from Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) which would cut $5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Part of those cuts would come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps. The Ryan proposal would block grant the SNAP program turning the authority over to the states, saving $125 billion over 10 years. The budget proposal would also eliminate some waivers from SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents and end the use of categorical eligibility that allows people to qualify for SNAP automatically if they have received some form of assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. Both provisions were included in the nutrition only bill that was passed in the House last fall after their first attempt at passing an all inclusive farm bill failed, but the split farm bill proved to be a non-starter in the Senate. Ryan also calls for an additional $23 billion in cuts from agriculture spending in addition to the $23 billion in cuts already made this year through the 2014 farm bill. For more information on the Ryan Budget Proposal you can visit the House Budget Committee’s website here:

Vilsack Announces Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced significant progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law on February 7. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow the economy.

“We are making tremendous progress implementing the new Farm Bill,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This law is critically important to America’s farmers and ranchers and to our nation’s economy. Every USDA agency is working diligently to implement the Farm Bill’s new provisions quickly and effectively.”

With 12 titles and over 450 provisions, the Farm Bill drives food, farm, conservation, trade, research, energy policies and more. Implementing such a large piece of legislation within the mandated timeline requires a coordinated effort across all areas of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Immediately after enactment, USDA established a farm bill implementation team composed of key sub-cabinet officials and experts from every mission area of the Department to put new programs in place and make mandated reforms to existing programs.

USDA also launched a website that provides details on Farm Bill implementation in one convenient location and the Economic Research Service launched a website highlighting some of the economic implications of the new programs and provisions.

In the weeks since enactment, USDA held 12 outreach and listening sessions to share information and hear from stakeholders on the 2014 Farm Bill implementation process.

Important progress has been made on every title of the Farm Bill including updates to risk management tools, modifications to farm loan programs, announcements regarding available funds for agricultural research and much more.

USDA has made providing long-awaited disaster relief to farmers and ranchers a top priority and quick implementation on relief programs is within sight. Beginning April 15, producers will be able to enroll in the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

USDA is also highly focused on providing timely educational materials on new risk management programs to farmers so they can make informed business decisions.  Announcements on new agriculture research partnerships, conservation and nutrition programs, and other Farm Bill provisions will continue to be made in the coming weeks and months.   

Information on Farm Bill implementation accomplishments to date...

TITLE I – Commodity Programs

-    Supplemental Agriculture Disaster Assistance:  USDA will publish a final rule to implement the disaster assistance provisions and begin sign-up by April 15, 2014.
-    County and Regional Loan Rates:  USDA issued a press release on March 28, 2014 announcing county and regional loan rates.
-    Extension of Programs:  On March 28, 2014, FSA published on the Federal Register notices for the extension of the following programs:  (1) Marketing Assistance Loans; (2) Milk Income Loss Contract; (3) Dairy Indemnity Payment Program; (4) Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program; and (5) Sugar.
-    Dairy Forward Pricing Program:  Final rule published on March 21, 2014, that re-established the Dairy Forward Pricing Program.

TITLE II – Conservation

-    Conservation Programs:  Applications are currently being accepted for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.


-    Market Access Program (MAP):  During the week of April 7, 2014, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will announce 2014 MAP funding.
-    Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program (FMD):  During the week of April 7, 2014, FAS will announce 2014 FMD funding.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs

-    Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Payments:  On March 5, 2014, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released an Implementation Memorandum to States on the elimination of standard utility allowances in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for LIHEAP payments less than $20.
-    SNAP-related Provisions: On March 21, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States communicating major SNAP related provisions of the Act.
-    Community Food Projects:  On February 27, 2014, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program, with $5 million available.
-    Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP):  On March 10, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States on phasing out the eligibility of women, infants and children.
-    Multiagency Taskforce on Commodity Programs:  On March 14, 2014, the Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services issued a memorandum to solicit names for a multiagency task force to provide coordination and direction for commodity programs.  

TITLE V – Credit

-    Farm Loan Programs/Direct Farm Ownership:  On February 7, 2014, FSA implemented changes in the interest rate on Direct Farm Ownership loans that are made in conjunction with other lenders.
-    Modifications to Farm Loan Programs:  On March 24, 2014, FSA issued a news release in announcing changes to Farm Loan Programs as part of the Farm Bill.
-    Microloans:  On March 26, 2014, FSA issued an agency directive implementing non-discretionary microloan provisions.

TITLE VI – Rural Development

-    Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG):  On March 25, 2014, Rural Development published a notice in the Federal Register extending the application period for Fiscal Year 2013 and 2014 funding for VAPG, with up to $25.5 million available for these grants.
-    Definition of Rural Housing:   On March 13, 2014, Rural Development issued guidance to State Directors, field staff and stakeholders on implementing new eligibility requirements regarding the definition of rural housing.

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters

-    Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative:  On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, with $20 million available in FY 2014.
-    Specialty Crop Research Initiative:  On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, with $76.8 million available in FY 2014.
-    Citrus Disease Subcommittee:  A subcommittee has been formally established within the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board, under the Specialty Crop Committee, and solicitation letters for nominations were issued March 17, 2014.
-    Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR):  Letters soliciting nominations to the FFAR Board were mailed to interested parties and a Federal Register notice was submitted for publication on March 31, 2014.
-    Budget Submission and Funding: On March 10, 2014, REE submitted its first Budget Submission and Funding report to Congress.

TITLE VIII – Forestry

-    Insect and Disease Infestation:  On March 19, 2014, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell sent a letter to all state governors notifying them of the opportunity to submit requests for designating their priority insect and disease areas for treatment. 

TITLE X – Horticulture

-    Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention: On April 3, 2014, USDA announced $48.1 million in funding for 383 projects to help prevent the introduction or spread of plan pests and diseases.
-    National Clean Plant Network: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a Request for Applications (RFA) on March 24, 2014 for the National Clean Plant Network, with $5 million available.
-    Bulk Shipments of Apples to Canada:  On April 3, 2014, AMS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register amending regulations under the Export Apple Act to allow bulk containers to be shipped to Canada without U.S. inspection.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance

-    Premium Amounts for Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT):  During the first week of April, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) will issue documents to revise the premium rates charged for CAT coverage to be based on the average historical “loss ratio” plus a reasonable reserve.

TITLE XII – Miscellaneous

-    Catfish Inspection:  On March 14, 2014, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) submitted the first status report to Congress on the development of the final rule establishing a catfish inspection program.

To stay up-to-date on USDA’s Farm Bill implementation progress, visit

$20 Million Effort to Reduce Feral Swine Damage

Undersecretary for USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos announced Wednesday that USDA is kicking off a national effort to reduce the devastating damage caused by feral, or free ranging, swine. The $20 million program aims to help states deal with a rapidly expanding population of invasive wild swine that causes $1.5 billion in annual damage and control costs.

"Feral swine are one of the most destructive invaders a state can have," said Undersecretary Avalos. "They have expanded their range from 17 to 39 states in the last 30 years and cause damage to crops, kill young livestock, destroy property, harm natural resources, and carry diseases that threaten other animals as well as people and water supplies. It's critical that we act now to begin appropriate management of this costly problem."

The Wildlife Services program of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will lead the effort, tailoring activities to each state's circumstance and working closely with other Federal, State, Tribal, and local entities. WS will work directly with states to control populations, test animals for diseases, and research better methods of managing feral swine damage. A key part of the national program will include surveillance and disease monitoring to protect the health of our domestic swine.

Feral swine have become a serious problem in 78% of all states in the country, carrying diseases that can affect people, domestic animals, livestock and wildlife, as well as local water supplies. They also cause damage to field and high-value crops of all kinds from Midwestern corn and soybeans to sugar cane, peanuts, spinach and pumpkins. They kill young animals and their characteristic rooting and wallowing damages natural resources, including resources used by native waterfowl, as well as archeological and recreational lands. Feral swine compete for food with native wildlife, such as deer, and consume the eggs of ground-nesting birds and endangered species, such as sea turtles.

As part of the national program, APHIS will test feral swine for diseases of concern for U.S. pork producers, such as classical swine fever, which does not exist in the United States, as well as swine brucellosis, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, swine influenza, and pseudorabies.

USDA Provides Farm Bill Funding for Pest and Disease Management Programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the allocation of $48.1 million, provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), to projects across the country that will help to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten America's agriculture economy and the environment. The economic stakes for stopping invasive species are high, with scientists estimating the total economic cost of all invasive species to be approximately $120 billion annually.

"Invasive pests cause billions of dollars in damage each year and endanger our nation's food security," said Vilsack. "The funds USDA is making available today will help partners and stakeholders develop strategies, products and treatments to safeguard our farms and natural resources from invasive threats."

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) sought project suggestions from states and U.S. territories, universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations that would provide a direct impact in managing pests and diseases, as well as disaster prevention. APHIS is funding 383 projects in 49 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. The projects approved for allocation will help states and other partners continue providing and strengthening protections against agricultural threats and could also allow the reallocation of resources to other critical programs.

A list of selected projects and the FY 2014 funding plan are posted at

Funded initiatives include:

-   $2 million for protection against exotic fruit flies in California;
-   $270,907 to survey and analyze adult honey bee samples collected from apiaries across multiple U.S states and Puerto Rico for pests and diseases, such as the Varroa virus;
-   $290,000 to the Nez Perce Tribe Bio-control Project involving noxious/invasive weed survey and control activities;
-   $224,894 for the National Plant Board to develop a harmonized national systems approach to nursery certification that enhances existing state programs to reduce the risk of plant pests in nursery stock;
-   $227,808 to North Carolina for enhancing exotic plant pest management by creating New Pest Response Guidelines with university collaboration; and
-   $2.4 million for supporting response to the recently detected coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation in Hawaii.

Prospective projects were evaluated by teams comprised of USDA experts and industry representatives and were selected based on criteria that supported six goals -- enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. The teams also evaluated submissions based on expected impacts of the project, the technical approach, and how submissions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other previously funded projects funded under the 2008 Farm Bill (Section 10201).

The 2008 Farm Bill has provided funding for more than 1500 projects over the last five years and has played a significant role in protecting American agriculture and educating the public about the threat of invasive species.

The public can help protect America's agricultural and natural resources by being aware of invasive pests and the damage they cause. APHIS created the Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these "hungry pests" behind. Visit during April, which APHIS has proclaimed Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, to learn more about invasive plant pest and diseases impacting your area and how you can help. And, join the discussion about invasive plant pests via the HungryPests Facebook page.

Pork Checkoff Leaders Finding New Opportunities in South America

Examining emerging market opportunities and creating new partnerships to tackle global challenges was the focus of a recent study mission conducted by the 15 farmer-directors of the National Pork Board during a week-long tour of Brazil and Colombia. The board members visited the two countries March 22 through 29.

“Raising U.S. pork requires a global perspective and outlook. We learned so much from seeing firsthand how pork is produced in South America and now better understand the challenging logistics involved in raising, processing and marketing pork in Brazil and Colombia,” said Karen Richter, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn. “We all face different challenges, like creating consumer demand for our product and fighting disease in our herds. But in the end, our operations are similar and, despite living in a global marketplace, we can learn so much from each other.”
While in Brazil, the board members met with leaders of the swine cooperative SUINCO, the Brazilian Association of Swine Breeders, and met with the leadership of Agroceres PIC, a global pork production company. Before leaving Brazil, the tour group stopped at Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture. Joao Donisete, the general manager of Agroceres PIC in Brazil, agreed that there are many similarities between Brazil and the U.S. in terms of food production. Those similarities include how best to improve meat quality while keeping a continued focus on animal welfare, protecting the environment, and hiring and training workers.

Mid-week, Pork Checkoff leaders flew to Bogota to meet with representatives of Colombia’s association of pork producers and then toured a processing plant that uses U.S. pork as raw material. The board also looked at the marketing and retail distribution side of pork production through meetings with importers, and retail leaders.

During a meeting with Colombian pork industry leaders, the Board learned how the Colombian pork industry is struggling to increase consumer pork demand at a time when local producers are challenged with growing pork imports. As a result of a 2012 free trade agreement, Colombia was the Central/South America region’s largest market for U.S. pork in both volume (34,099 metric tons, up 73 percent from 2012) and value ($88.1 million, up 63 percent). The pork industry leaders agreed that an opportunity exists to benefit both U.S. and Colombian pork producers through mutual efforts to increase Colombian pork demand.

USDA Dairy Products Production February 2014 Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 851 million pounds, 0.6 percent below February 2013 and 10.7 percent below January 2014.  Italian type cheese production totaled 374 million pounds, 3.7 percent above February 2013 but 11.0 percent below January 2014.  American type cheese production totaled 341 million pounds, 1.5 percent below February 2013 and 10.3 percent below January 2014.  Butter production was 166 million pounds, 4.6 percent below February 2013 and 9.1 percent below January 2014.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with February 2013)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 141 million pounds, up 2.3 percent.
Skim milk powders - 34.8 million pounds, down 19.4 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with February 2013)
Dry whey, total - 65.5 million pounds, down 15.1 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 90.9 million pounds, up 16.2 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 42.5 million pounds, up 24.1 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with February 2013)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 57.7 million gallons, down 7.5 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 29.4 million gallons, down 8.3 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.29 million gallons, down slightly.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 5.77 million gallons, up 0.3 percent.

Oil-Induced Rail Chaos Driving Up Consumer Costs for Gasoline and Other Goods

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), today sent a list of questions regarding the “abject failure of the rail system to adequately address the needs of all of its customers,” to Ed Hamberger, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

U.S. ethanol is the lowest price liquid transportation in the world, saving American consumers between $0.50 and $1.50 per gallon. Dinneen writes, “Over the past several weeks, however, the sheer chaos that is today’s rail system is denying consumers that price relief by driving up the transportation cost for and impacting the supply of ethanol and other commodities. Nothing has changed with regard to ethanol production costs or efficiencies. The only change has been abject failure of the rail system to adequately address the needs of all its customers. The U.S. economy is suffering as a consequence.”

The letter spells out in clear detail the limiting impact the rail situation is having on the ethanol industry. “In response to increasing demand, the ethanol industry was producing at an average rate of 949,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December 2013. But disarray on the rail system in the first quarter of 2014 has forced ethanol producers to significantly curtail output. By the first week of March 2014, ethanol output had fallen to 869,000 bpd, as producers were forced to slow down. Onsite storage tanks were brimming full and, in many cases, the railcars and/or locomotives needed to ship ethanol were simply not available. As a result, ethanol stocks in key regions have been depleted and prices have increased. All of this is due to the turmoil on the rails—dislocated railcars and locomotives, increased terminal dwell times, slower train speeds, an insufficient number of crews, and a shortage of spare railcars and locomotives.”

Dinneen exposes the excuse of winter weather, and drives straight to the heart of the issue, “The railroads have attributed this lackluster performance and inefficiency to winter weather. But they seem to have forgotten that winter comes every year!... Indeed, a more plausible explanation for the severity of the current epidemic is the explosive growth in railcar shipments of Bakken and Canadian crude oil. The surge in crude oil production from fracking has reshuffled the existing fleet of railcars and locomotives, pressured lease rates, changed normal rail traffic patterns, and generally exerted significant stress on the rail system. According to AAR, crude oil shipments have increased from 9,344 carloads in 2008 to 434,032 carloads in 2013. In addition, AAR data show rail shipments of industrial sand nearly tripled between 2008 and 2013, stating, ‘…frac sand is almost certainly the primary driver behind the increased industrial sand movements on railroads over the past few years.’ It seems absurd to suggest, as some have, that the efficiency of the rail system has been unaffected by the 4545% increase in crude oil shipments and the 170% increase in sand shipments since 2008.”

In an effort to better understand the causes, extent, and strategies for resolution of the current situation, Dinneen asks AAR to answer the following questions:
• What role has the explosive growth in crude oil (and frac sand) shipments played in current rail inefficiencies?
• What steps are being taken in the short term by the rail industry to alleviate the current logjam on the rail system?
• When do you expect service on each of the Class I railroads to return to more normal operating conditions?
• How can you assure the ethanol industry—and other rail-reliant industries—that crude oil shipments are not being prioritized over shipments of other goods and commodities?
• Will average train speeds recover to historically normal levels, or do you expect slower speeds to be the “new normal” due to the increase in crude oil shipments?
• What efforts are being made to educate the public about the impact of the current rail situation on the U.S. economy and prices for individual consumer goods?
• As a longtime customer of the railroads, what can the ethanol industry do to assist in your industry’s efforts to ensure similar situations are avoided in the future?

Dr. Kendig Added to Technical Team for Cheminova-Midwest

Cheminova, Inc. today announced it has hired Dr. John Andrew (Andy) Kendig as Technical Manager for the Midwest. His primary responsibilities will be development, technical and sales support for customers in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, as well as North Dakota and South Dakota.  Dr. Kendig will also work on projects for established products including DECLARE® Insecticide, and FORTIX® and TOPGUARD® Fungicides. In addition, he will help develop new products in the growing Cheminova portfolio.

“Andy brings with him a strong background in field testing and project management,” said Diane Allemang, Executive Vice President, Cheminova, Inc. “His experience and relationships within the industry and the research community will accelerate our activities in the Midwest. In addition, his weed science background will be valuable to Cheminova customers as our herbicide portfolio continues to grow.”

For the past seven years, Dr. Kendig worked at Monsanto on product development and technical matters.  Prior to that, Dr. Kendig worked for 15 years at the University of Missouri –Columbia for as an Extension Assistant Professor and then as an Extension Associate Professor.  During that time, he ran an extensive and very successful weed science program on corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat.  

He received both his M.S. and Ph.D. in agronomy with an emphasis in weed science from the University of Arkansas.  He received his B.S. from the University Missouri -Columbia.  

ACE Says Blend Wall “Cost” Reports are Incomplete and Misleading

Ron Lamberty, Senior Vice President for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) today called media reports that the “blend wall” cost refiners approximately $1.35 billion dollars last year “incomplete and misleading.”  A recent Reuters article said that was the amount nine companies paid for Renewable Identification Number (RINs), which are credits refiners provide to EPA to prove they bought the amount of renewable fuels required by law. RINs are free to refiners who blend biofuels, while refiners who choose not to blend biofuels can buy RINs from companies that blend more than the law requires.
“Those refiners made a business decision to purchase credits instead of ethanol. Reports aren’t honest if they fail to point out that those nine refiners paid $1.35 billion dollars to other refiners for those companies’ excess RINs.” said Lamberty. “The “blend wall” provided $1.35 billion dollars of income to some refiners, which reduced their cost of fuel.”

Lamberty said ACE would like to see more RINs generated by retailers, since they generally use the additional funds to reduce prices at the pumps. “Unfortunately, at the same time oil companies are complaining about RINs and the “blend wall,” they enforce policies that won’t allow their branded marketers to sell E15 and higher ethanol blends,” Lamberty said. “Station owners who offer E15, E85, and other blends generally sell about 20% ethanol overall, making more RINs available. And when they sell RINs, they pass most of the value of those RINs on to customers in the form of lower pump prices.”

NFU Expresses Tax Extenders Priorities

Yesterday National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance leaders expressing priorities for the renewal of expiring tax provisions in advance of the committee’s markup of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.

Johnson praised Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for maintaining the $500,000 maximum deduction for farm machinery, which will help family farmers and ranchers improve their businesses.

The draft legislation also extends tax credits for biodiesel, cellulosic biofuels and energy efficiency but omits other crucial provisions, such as extensions of the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy. Johnson said, “Our country lacks a comprehensive, national energy strategy that moves us toward energy independence and helps mitigate the effects of climate change. These tax credits are some of the only policies we have that support the development of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. Failure to renew these provisions would be taking a giant step backward.”

In the letter, Johnson also expressed disappointment in the legislation’s continuation of tax loopholes for the largest corporations. “Given the widening income inequality gap and our national debt, we cannot afford this sort of tax break,” said Johnson. “Every dollar lost because of these loopholes is one less dollar available to invest in jobs, infrastructure, food for the hungry or to reduce the deficit.”

AEC Commends Chairman Wyden, Senate Finance for Taking Lead on Tax Extenders

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC), released a statement today in response to the Senate Finance Committee’s markup of a package of tax extenders. The proposal extends a number of provisions for cellulosic biofuels, including the Producer Tax Credit (PTC) and the special depreciation allowance.

“The cellulosic biofuels industry is very pleased to see tax extenders come out of committee. We commend Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch for taking the lead on extending these important provisions. The cellulosic biofuel industry is just breaking through at commercial scale. Today’s markup sends a clear signal to the marketplace that Congress is making progress on extending its support for one of the most innovative, low carbon industries in the world. It will be very important to move this package along quickly, as executives in our industry are weighing the pros and cons of developing the next wave of projects here or abroad. These provisions are very important to level set against permanent subsidies to oil and gas. We look forward to the next step in the process and appreciate the Senate’s leadership on the issue.”

Novozymes on Tax Extension Vote: Stability Key to Advanced Biofuels Engine

Today’s vote by the Senate Finance Committee to extend tax provisions gives a clear signal for the commercialization of advanced biofuels according to global industrial biotechnology leader Novozymes.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch have recognized the importance of long-term advanced biofuels provisions and Novozymes thanks them for their leadership.

“When you’re on a road trip, you don’t stop every 10 minutes to put in one gallon—you fill up for the long haul. That’s what these tax credits and renewable fuel policies like the RFS need too: Fuel for the long haul to drive investment, create jobs and move our economy forward.” said Adam Monroe, Novozymes President, Americas.

The Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit all expired at the end of 2013.  This package extends them through 2015 adding certainty for the advanced biofuel industry and its investors.

These tax credits help level the playing field for renewables by providing stability during the critical stage of commercialization. Comparatively, the fossil fuel industry receives nearly $5 billion in permanent subsidies.

Continued commercialization of the advanced biofuels industry could create up to 800,000 jobs and $95 billion annual U.S. revenue with stable policy signals.

In May 2012, Novozymes opened the nation's largest advanced manufacturing plant for enzymes dedicated to biofuels in Blair, Nebraska. Novozymes chose the United States for the plant’s location over other international locations because of the RFS. The plant was built with $200 million in private investment and created 100 career positions and 400 construction jobs.

Other U.S. advanced biofuel projects that have steel in the ground or are underway driven by the RFS include:
-    POET’s Project LIBERTY in Iowa;
-    DuPont’s cellulosic facility in Nevada;
-    Fiberight’s existing trash-to-fuel plant in Virginia, and its newest plant in Blairstown, Iowa;
-    Abengoa’s cellulosic facility in Hugoton, Kansas;
-    and INEOS Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Florida.

MF Global Clients to Receive All Money Owed

Former customers of MF Global Inc. will soon receive all the money owed them after the brokerage collapsed in 2011, a bankruptcy trustee said on Thursday.

Final distributions of customers' claims will begin on Friday and continue for several weeks, said James Giddens, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the liquidation of the firm, a unit of MF Global Holdings Ltd.

"It gives me great pleasure to say that checks are going in the mail that will make all public customers of MF Global Inc. 100 percent whole, " Mr. Giddens said in a statement. "When MF Global failed more than two years ago, few thought a way could be found to make customers whole."

The trustee, who had arranged to borrow money from MF Global's general estate to make customers whole, will make the final distribution of funds to any U.S. customer who traded on U.S. or foreign exchanges.

The distributions had been expected, though the exact timing has been uncertain. Mr. Giddens had asked last fall in court filings to make the final distributions.

When MF Global failed in Oct. 2011, money slipped away in its final days to banks and clearinghouses, leaving many customers without their funds.

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