Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday April 8 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist
How do you get rid of weeds like wild bromes in native grass? Herbicides and grazing are options in the right situation.

First you must realize that seed of these grasses lasts about 3 years in the soil, so the problem may repeat itself for several years.  In grasslands dominated by warm-season grasses, one option is to spray 1 pint per acre of glyphosate, like Roundup, early this spring after the weedy bromes green up but before warm-season grasses start growing.  This should solve the problem for this year and knock out other early weeds like bluegrass without harming your warm-season grasses.  Another option is to use 4 to 6 ounces of Plateau herbicide or its generics and get similar results.  And with Plateau, residual herbicide activity also will control some later emerging weeds as well.

If herbicides are not desired the job is tougher.  You need to limit seed production with grazing.  Begin grazing as soon as these bromes green up this spring, which could be any day now with our warming weather.  Using these pastures for calving might be a good option.  Graze very hard to keep seedheads from developing as long as possible.  Eventually these grasses will form heads just an inch or two above the soil surface and grazing no longer will help.

Now comes the tough part.  You must remove your animals from this area for six weeks or longer to let the desired grass grow and regain some vigor.  Feed hay if necessary.  Repeat this hard early grazing for a couple springs and you should start seeing results.

You have the tools to control these weeds; just use them right.

UNL Extension Tractor Safety Courses Offered Across Nebraska

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Tractor Safety/Hazardous Occupations Courses will be offered at seven locations in Nebraska during May and June.  Any 14 or 15-year-old teen who plans to work on a farm other than their parents’ should plan to attend.

Federal law prohibits youth under 16 years of age from working on a farm for anyone other than their parents.   Certification through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with mechanized equipment.

The most common cause of death in agriculture accidents in Nebraska is overturn from tractors and all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs), said Sharry Nielsen, UNL Extension Educator. Tractor and ATV overturn prevention are featured in the class work.

"Instilling an attitude of ‘safety first’ is a primary goal of the course,” Nielsen said. "where youth have the chance to learn respect for agricultural jobs and the tools involved." 

Classes consist of two days of instruction plus homework assignments. Classes are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. each day. Dates and locations include:
    -- May 22-23, Fairgrounds, Kearney
    -- May 28-29, Haskell Ag Lab, Concord
    -- June 2-3, West Central Research and Extension Center (WCREC), North Platte
    -- June 5-6, Fairgrounds, Valentine
    -- June 12-13, Farm and Ranch Museum, Gering
    -- June 16-17, College Park, Grand Island
    --June 19-20, Ag Research and Development Center (ARDC), Mead

Pre-registration is strongly encouraged at least one week before a location's start date to the Extension Office at the course site. Cost is $60, which includes educational materials, testing, supplies, lunches and breaks. For more information, contact the Extension Office or Sharry Nielsen at (308) 832-0645, snielsen1@unl.edu.

The first day of class will consist of intensive classroom instruction with hands-on demonstrations, concluding with a written test that must be completed satisfactorily before students may continue driving tests the next day. Classroom instruction will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program. Homework will be assigned to turn in the next day.

The second day will include testing, driving and operating machinery. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course as well as hitching PTO and hydraulic systems.

Responsible Pesticide Use

Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

Do you apply or pay to have pesticides applied to your landscape just in case you might have a pest problem?  Hopefully the answer is also no.   A few examples where pesticides tend to be applied where they may not be needed include some weed and feed products for lawns, insecticides for white grubs, and fungicides applied at the wrong time of year or for diseases that are not harmful to a plants overall vigor. 

If one control method is overused, pests can develop resistance.  For this reason, pesticides should only be applied when there is an economically damaging pest population; or a pest known to cause economic damage is present.  Pesticides should not be applied just in case there might be a problem. Avoid using pesticides, or agreeing to pay for pesticide applications, unless there is a good reason for doing so.

Pesticides are costly and the irresponsible use of pesticides is harmful to the environment, kills beneficial insects such as important pollinators, and leads to pest resistance.  Use pesticides wisely this growing season by following an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. The first IPM step is to positively identify the cause of a plant problem prior to using any control method. Not all plant problems are caused by a disease or insect.

If brown spots in a lawn are due to an inefficient irrigation system, applying an insecticide just in case the cause might be white grubs is an irresponsible pesticide use. It is a waste of money, can lead to resistance in white grubs, and it will not solve the problem.

After identifying the true cause of a plant problem, determine what the level of damage could be. Many plant pests cause only aesthetic injury such as caterpillars chewing holes in leaves or foliar diseases causing a few brown spots on tree leaves. 

If it is determined control is needed, consider a combination of methods. For example, for dandelions in lawns, use mechanical control (hand-digging) in spring and summer. If dandelions are present in late August, dig again or spot treat with a herbicide (pesticide control) at that time. And don’t overlook cultural practices that help turfgrass better compete with weeds.  Avoid using a weed and feed product for dandelions. Many of these products are sold in spring. Herbicides applied to broad leaf weeds in spring are not as effective as those applied during late summer. And when applying weed and feed products, much herbicide is applied where there are no weeds. Spot treating individual weeds is a more responsible and effective use of a pesticide.

Finally, if it is determined the pest will cause economic or unacceptable damage and a pesticide is selected as a management option, select a pesticide that will be effective and most important, apply it at the time when it will reduce damage.   For example, when working in yards this spring, white grubs will be found. People often apply an insecticide for grubs at this time. However, insecticides applied in April or even May for grubs do not have much effect on the generation of grubs that could cause damage. And finding white grubs in spring does not mean the lawn will be damaged by grubs later that summer. Insecticides for white grubs only need to be applied, typically in mid to late June, if there was a damaging population the previous summer.

Use pesticides responsibly. Follow an IPM approach to help reduce pest resistance and to prevent killing beneficial insects, especially important pollinators like bees, moths, beetles and butterflies.

Countdown to Quality for FREE BQA Certification

Only one week remains to become Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified and take advantage of the free offer from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI). Visit www.BQA.org/team to take advantage of the open certification period through April 15, 2014. Anyone who works with cattle – whether it is beef or dairy – or transports cattle is encouraged to become certified.

BIVI will pick up the $25-50 certification fee for beef or dairy producers who are interested in becoming certified or recertified during this period. And, as an added incentive, anyone who becomes certified this week will be entered to win a personalized farm sign.

“The BQA program raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry,” says Sugie Sartwelle, beef producer, livestock trucking company owner  and former auction market operato from Sealy, Texas. “Producers have embraced BQA because it is the right thing to do; but they have also gained through increased profitability. As an educating program, BQA helps producers identify management processes that can be improved.”

And, as added incentive, BIVI is also giving away special prizes this week on Facebook. Check out the BIVI Prevention Works Facebook page to participate in the special giveaways all week long.

The checkoff-funded BQA program is important to the cattle industry as it gives producers a set of best practices for producing a safe and high-quality beef product. It also gives consumers the assurance that the beef they eat is both safe and wholesome.

“Not only is BQA important for the cattle industry as a whole, it can benefit each cattle operation,” says Dave Korbelik, Director of US Cattle Marketing for BIVI. “We are honored to be able to support the cattle industry through this partnership. Please have each individual on your operation take advantage of this opportunity and have your friends and neighbors do the same!”

More than 3,500 producers took advantage of BIVI’s BQA certification sponsorship in 2013. To become BQA certified, or learn more about the program, visit www.BQA.org/team.

NFU Names Senate Ag Appropriations Priorities

Last week National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, outlining NFU’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 funding for agricultural programs.

Johnson’s testimony reiterated NFU’s top appropriations priorities, as previously submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. Three of NFU’s main requests are to reject legislative riders or targeted funding restrictions for Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), oppose legislative riders that would undermine the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ability to write rules to provide greater fairness for livestock sellers and poultry growers, and fully fund 2014 Farm Bill energy programs at their maximum authorized levels.

“Both COOL and Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) regulations survived attempts to defund or dismantle their important provisions. However, our opponents insist on rehashing old fights,” said Johnson.

“These sorts of proposed legislative riders ignore previous congressional decisions and create ongoing uncertainty for family farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “It is important that the subcommittee reject misguided attempts to undermine consumers’ right to know about their food through COOL or erode GIPSA’s authority to fight for fair markets.”

“Renewable energy programs are a win-win that boost farmers’ and ranchers’ bottom lines while reducing our country’s carbon footprint. Fully funding these and other 2014 Farm Bill programs should be appropriators’ highest priority,” Johnson said.

Consistent Hay and Cattle Patterns

Matthew A. Diersen, Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

Not all relationships hold cleanly over time. One way to keep some perspective and some sanity when trying to evaluate markets is to look for consistency. Are higher calf prices leading to more replacement heifers? Yes. Is the heifer mix on feed lower too? Yes. Thus, there are consistent indicators of expansion. Are the latest hay statistics also consistent with expansion? Here are some thoughts.

The 2014 Planting Intentions report has expected harvested hay acres in the U.S. almost unchanged from a year ago. At face value, the 58.3 million acres are up by 10,000 acres over last year, consistent with expansion. However, the change or increase is slight. Cows and replacements will need hay from this summer as feed this fall and winter. Replenished hay stocks may partly explain a muted acres response in cattle states. As of December 1, several states in the central U.S. had much higher stocks than a year earlier. Of those Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas all have fewer hay acres expected for 2014. Missouri and Oklahoma stand out as states with higher stocks and more hay acres expected for 2014.

Hay prices remain vulnerable to increases on a number of fronts with the stable acres level anticipated. The May 1 stocks a year ago were at a very low level nationally. The prospects are for a slight improvement in 2014, but not by enough to sustain rebuilding demand. The recent weather also points to greater winter use and a potential delay in pulling supply forward in 2014. A second vulnerability is yield. The rolling 10-year average U.S. yield is 2.39 tons per acre. The past few years, the actual yield has been below that figure. Another below-average year would strain supplies. Agriculture price inflation also keeps pressure on hay prices. Some of what has pushed hay prices higher in recent years has been higher prices for other crops. As an input, hay prices have been inflated by those other prices. As the price of corn has fallen, some of that pressure has subsided. However, cattle prices and other crop prices remain high. Any increase in corn prices would quickly push hay prices higher.

Domestic use is the final aspect tying hay prices to cattle numbers. In recent years, backing out trade volumes from hay disappearance gives better insight into domestic use. The use figure bottomed out at 1.83 tons per acre following the 2012 harvest. The longer-run use figure is above 2.00 tons per acre. These figures account for the recent decline in livestock inventories. If cattle expansion is to occur, that use will likely have to increase. As cattle on feed are fed longer, they consume more corn, but also more roughage like hay (more demand). As heifers are retained as replacements, they typically consume a greater portion of forage in rations (more hay demand). As cow-calf operators look to expand, they may also want to have a buffer stock of hay on hand (more demand). The projected hay balance sheet suggests that all of those factors can be accommodated, but with little room to stay consistent with an expanding cattle supply.

Pork PEDv Losses Not as Large as Expected

According to Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, the headline for the last USDA Hogs and Pigs report could have been PEDv Losses Not as Large as Expected. "A week later, spring and summer lean futures are down nearly $10 per hundredweight, or about 8 percent," Hurt said. "For the pork industry, the USDA's March Hogs and Pigs report was the most anticipated in decades. It was the first national comprehensive measure of baby pig losses over the past six months due to the PED virus and the harsh winter."

USDA received data from 6,100 pork operations across the country that were randomly surveyed in early March. As such, it is the broadest measure of the losses from an unbiased source.

"Analysis of the report numbers suggests the nation's baby pig death loss over the past six months was about 5 percent," Hurt said. "In contrast, one widely circulated report from an investment firm had predicted an 11 percent loss for pigs coming to market in 2014, with peak losses exceeding 20 percent for late summer marketings.

"To gauge the magnitude of losses implied in the report, the actual number of pigs per litter can be compared with the trend-adjusted pigs per litter that would have been expected," Hurt said. "During the September to November 2013 quarter, baby pig losses were about 2 percent. Producers reported 10.17 pigs per litter to USDA compared to an expected trend-adjusted rate of 10.4 pigs for the fall quarter. PEDv is thought to have had its biggest impact during cold-weather months, and as expected, the losses were greater in the winter quarter, which spans from December 2013 through February 2014. The national pigs-per-litter rate dropped to 9.53 compared to an expected trend rate of 10.3, a decline of over 7 percent. Using this method of analysis suggests baby pig losses over the six months from September to February 2014 were about 2.7 million head, a number approaching 5 percent," Hurt said.

Hurt said that data provided by USDA in the Hogs and Pigs report also allow an evaluation of the number of pigs per litter by month. This enables a comparison of the monthly pigs per liter relative to the expected trend-adjusted rate. These results are consistent with the quarterly data but provide more detail regarding the timing of the losses. While PEDv was in some hog herds last summer, the national data does not pick up any impact on pigs per litter during the warm weather. The losses begin to show up in September 2013 with a pigs-per-litter reduction of 1/2 percent from trend rates. Then as the weather cooled, the baby pig losses became greater: October -2 percent; November -3 percent; December -5 percent; January -8 percent; and February -8 percent. The large losses experienced in February probably mean that losses will continue to be large into March but may lighten as the weather warms into April and the rest of spring. The USDA report only contained data through February 2014.

"An additional contributor to fewer pigs per litter could have been the harsh winter weather," Hurt continued. "It is not possible to sort out how much of the lower rate is due to PEDv and how much is due to unusual weather.

"There are also some clues regarding where the virus was most destructive in the winter," Hurt said. "Early indications are that the disease was very destructive in some states, others were moderately impacted, and others had little impact. This again is derived by examining state-level pigs per litter this past winter relative to the trend-adjusted expected pigs-per-litter rate," he said.

USDA reports for only 16 of the major production states. States that had heavy losses this past winter by this analysis were: Ohio -21 percent, Missouri -16 percent, Colorado -14 percent, North Carolina -14 percent; Oklahoma -13 percent, and Michigan -10 percent. Those states that seemed to experience a moderate impact were: Iowa -6 percent; Kansas -6 percent, Indiana -4 percent; Illinois -2 percent; and Nebraska -2 percent. Those states that showed little to no impact on pigs per litter were Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and South Dakota. Hurt added a note of caution that this analysis may be providing misleading implications because the USDA survey was not designed to answer the specific question of pig loss by state.

What about the impact of pig losses on spring and summer slaughter numbers?

Hurt said that April and May hog supplies would be down 3 percent and summer supplies down about 4 percent. One reason these supplies are not even lower is that pork producers were already into an expansion phase in which the winter's farrowings were up 3 percent. So a 3 percent increase in winter farrowings with a 7 percent decline in pigs per litter provides about a 4 percent lower summer slaughter. These more modest reductions in hog slaughter numbers will be further offset by higher marketing weights this spring and summer. Thus, pork supplies will not be dramatically reduced. Weights will run nearly 3 percent higher this spring and summer so pork supplies may only be down 1 to 2 percent if the USDA inventory count is close.

"Hog and pork prices are still so high that they seem unjustified by current USDA inventory numbers," Hurt said. "Wholesale pork prices shot to record highs on anticipation of large baby- pig death loss, but producers told USDA those losses are not so large. The average pork cut price is about 50 cents per pound, or 60 percent higher than at the same time last year while pork loins are up 38 cents, hams are up 55 cents, and pork bellies used to make bacon are up 66 cents per pound. These are extraordinarily high prices, especially if pork supplies are only down marginally this spring and summer as the USDA inventory count suggests. To maintain these lofty prices, some market participants will have to hold to the belief that the death loss was actually much higher than USDA captured in this survey," Hurt said.

Hurt added that hog prices and lean futures are expected to remain unsettled and potentially very volatile over the spring and summer.

"No one knows for sure what the death losses have been or what they will be in the future," Hurt said. "Market participants will watch daily and weekly slaughter rates for signals of what the true death loss was. Even with the nearly $10 drop in summer lean futures in the week after the report, they are still suggesting $89 per hundredweight live prices for the second quarter and $82 for the third quarter. These provide record-high profits for those not heavily affected by PEDv. Live prices for the last quarter of the year are expected to be in the mid-$60s with winter prices in the very low $60s. These would make 2014 a record profit year for the industry, which should stimulate further expansion of farrowings."

Hurt advised that producers using lean futures to hedge spring and summer contracts will want to make sure they have a hedging line of credit with their lender as volatile markets could imply substantial margin calls.

Anhydrous Prices Push Higher

Average retail prices of fertilizers -- including anhydrous for the first time this spring -- continued to rise the first week of April, according to data collected by DTN from fertilizer retailers. This marks the seventh consecutive week all retail fertilizers' prices were higher.  Anhydrous jumped 6% compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer averaged $660 per ton, up from last week's price of $633 per ton. 

Phosphorus fertilizers were also higher in price once again, up 5% compared to a month earlier. DAP had an average price of $579/ton and MAP was at $599/ton.  The remaining five fertilizers' prices were higher, but the shift to the high side was fairly insignificant. Potash averaged $475/ton, urea $546/ton, 10-34-0 $515/ton, UAN28 $351/ton and UAN32 $396/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.59/lb.N, anhydrous $0.40/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.62/lb.N.

Although fertilizers have been moving higher in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers remain double digits lower in price compared to April 2013.  Urea is now down 5%, DAP is 6% less expensive and MAP is 9% lower. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 12% lower while 10-34-0 is down 16%. Potash is 19% less expensive and anhydrous is 23% lower than a year earlier.

USGC Releases 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report

The U.S. Grains Council recently released its 2013/2014 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report and will begin presenting the report’s findings to buyers and other stakeholders around the world in coming weeks.

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 of Mexico, the Pacific Northwest and inland terminals shipping by rail to Mexico.

“We set out to raise the bar with data reporting,” says Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council president and CEO. “The Council is providing an unmatched level of information about the U.S. corn crop, reinforcing the U.S. reputation for quality, reliability and transparency.”

Now in its third year, the release of the Corn Export Quality Report has become a much-anticipated annual event, attracting large audiences around the world for the roll-out presentations.  Click here to see the full report...  http://grains.org/images/USGC%20Corn%20Export%20Cargo%20Quality%20Report%202013%2014%20Final.pdf.  

“Our purpose is to give U.S. corn buyers reliable and timely information,” Sleight said. “The interest generated in the report demonstrates we are meeting and exceeding their needs.”

This year’s report finds – while there is year-over-year variability by each export channel – that 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 scales. In addition, the incidence of aflatoxin and DON is very low, with all samples tested below the FDA action levels/advisory levels. As compared to a year ago, other findings included slightly lower test weight, higher moisture content due to a wetter year, and a higher incidence of stress cracks and broken kernels, likely due to additional drying.

Rain Lashes Argentine Soy

Rain clouds unloaded over Argentina's principal soy regions over the last 72 hours.  Precipitation reaching 15 inches in isolated spots and commonly totaling 6 inches lashed the provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe, Entre Rios and northern Buenos Aires, with hailstorms also reported.  As a result, soybean harvesting, which is about 10% complete, has been basically halted.

Farmers are worried the humidity will affect the quality of the soybeans ready to be harvested and possibly cause losses further down the line.

Further rainfall is expected Tuesday and Wednesday.  Up until this week, the crop was looking in excellent condition and well on course to hit the 54 million to 55 million metric tons (mmt) predicted by most.

Ukraine Grain Exports Up Despite Current Political Unrest

Ukraine exported just over 28 million metric tons of grain since the start of the current marketing year, despite the current political unrest, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

According to the ministry's past reports, Ukraine exported 19.8 million tons of grain in the same period in the previous marketing year.

The total amount of grain exported since the start of the current marketing year July 1, 2013, to April 7 included 7.879 million tons of wheat. Corn exports totaled nearly 17.703 million tons, barley exports 2.153 million tons.

The agriculture ministry said earlier Ukraine's grain exports in the 2013-2014 marketing year, July 2013-June 2014, was likely to rise to 33 million tons from about 23 million tons in the previous marketing year as this year's harvest was greater than last year.

The agriculture ministry said earlier Ukraine's 2013 grain harvest was over 63 million tons in bunker weight, up from 46.2 million tons in 2012, when crops were damaged by drought.

CWT Assists with 6.9 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 17 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 4.556 million pounds (2,021 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses and 2.480 million pounds (1.125 metric tons) of 82% butter to customers in Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. The product will be delivered April through August 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 40.792 million pounds of cheese, 31.903 million pounds of butter and 3.366 million pounds of whole milk powder to 27 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.098 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

High SCN populations thrive despite extremely cold winter 

The record low temperatures over the past few months may reduce some pest populations this spring, but university and Syngenta experts predict soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) will still threaten yields.

“Many growers hope the cold weather we’ve been experiencing will help decrease pest populations,” said Dale Ireland, Ph.D., seed treatment technical product lead at Syngenta. “But it doesn’t affect SCN.”

According to the Iowa State University Extension, unusually large numbers of SCN may infest fields where soybeans were grown in 2012—a year when SCN reproduction was particularly high. The number of SCN eggs in the soil at the time of planting contributes significantly to the degree of damage and yield loss to SCN. With an overwintering survival rate of nearly 100 percent, the potential for damage in 2014 is great.

The University of Nebraska – Lincoln suggests SCN can reduce yield by 20 percent to 30 percent, even when plants appear to be green, healthy and have no visible symptoms. Soil testing is the best way to determine if SCN is present. Since 2005, SCN has been identified in 29 Nebraska counties for the first time as a result of soil testing.

To help manage and reduce SCN populations in SCN-infested fields, researchers at the Iowa State University Extension suggest rotating crops, selecting SCN-resistant varieties and using appropriate seed treatments.

“Choosing a variety with high-yield potential and good nematode tolerance along with a nematicide seed treatment is vital to managing SCN,” Ireland said.

Syngenta offers Clariva™ Complete Beans nematicide/insecticide/fungicide, an on-seed application of separately registered products. It adds a revolutionary nematicide to the market-leading, broad-spectrum CruiserMaxx® Beans with Vibrance® insecticide/fungicide seed treatment, which provides effective protection against SCN throughout the season, on top of broad-spectrum defense against early-season insects and diseases. Clariva Complete Beans is specifically tailored to Midwest growers who are battling SCN in their fields. With Clariva Complete Beans protecting each high-value seed from day one, soybeans have a better opportunity to maximize performance and reach their true yield potential.

“Clariva Complete Beans offers season-long protection against SCN by reducing nematode activity and damage with Pasteuria nishizawae (P. nishizawae), the nematicide active ingredient,” Ireland said. “The treated seed is covered with millions of P. nishizawae spores that colonize and attach to the nematode, ultimately killing it.”

Cargill reports third-quarter fiscal 2014 earnings

Cargill today reported net earnings of $319 million in the fiscal 2014 third quarter ended Feb. 28, down 28 percent from $445 million in the year-ago period. Nine-month earnings were $1.45 billion, down 21 percent from $1.83 billion a year ago. Third-quarter revenues were $32 billion, essentially even with the year-ago period; nine-month revenues totaled $98.7 billion.

“External events affected our quarterly results, even as we saw operational improvements in key businesses,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s president and chief executive officer. “Our animal protein results are much improved from last year, and, with 2012’s acquisition of Provimi, our global animal nutrition operations are on a record pace for the year. Despite one of the worst winters on record, we reliably delivered a near-record tonnage of road salt and deicing products to our customers across North America’s snow belt.”

MacLennan said the company’s earnings were trimmed by a trading loss related to an unprecedented price spike in U.S. power markets in late January, part of which has been recovered; the rejection of certain U.S. corn shipments to China; and weather-related disruptions to railway service in North America.

Among Cargill’s four business segments, third-quarter earnings rose considerably in Animal Nutrition & Protein compared with the same period a year ago. Within the segment, global animal nutrition results were boosted by improved volumes and an effective sales mix. Animal protein results were lifted by increased operating efficiencies and by exports in U.S. and Australian beef. Earnings strengthened in Industrial & Financial Services. Mixed but overall weaker results in energy and metals were offset by good performance in asset management and ocean transportation.

Food Ingredients & Applications earnings were solid, though moderately below last year’s third-quarter performance, a period that included one-time gains from a trade-related claim and the sale of a cultures and enzymes business. Current results were tempered by lackluster consumer demand and by additional costs from recent acquisitions and new or expanding facilities in several countries. Origination & Processing finished the quarter below the year-ago level, with earnings decreased by costs related to China corn trade and, in general, limited opportunities in grain trading and storage.

NASCAR Leader Testifies for Ethanol on Capitol Hill 

At a hearing today of the Senate Ag Committee on the importance of renewable fuels, NASCAR team owner Richard Childress was one of several voices to talk about the many benefits of corn-based biofuels, such as the higher fuel performance he has seen in more than five million miles of racing since the E15 ethanol blend was introduced in the 2011 racing season.

"I think expanding and growing our use of biofuels is a key component to helping farmers make a living, while at the same time delivering environmental benefits that can be enjoyed by all Americans," he said. "I think what NASCAR has done to show the performance side of ethanol is key."

Childress continued: "Biofuels like ethanol keep money we would normally send abroad for oil in the U.S., creating jobs and economic activity here instead of overseas. Studies show that moving the U.S. to the same fuel blend we use in NASCAR would add 136,000 new American jobs, limit greenhouse gas emissions even more and reduce the demand for gasoline produced from foreign oil by up to 7 billion gallons."

In his remarks, Childress also defended the Renewable Fuel Standard, just as he did at a recent teleconference set up by the National Corn Growers Association, to counter a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut the amount of corn ethanol in the RFS.

"The long-term certainty of the RFS has and continues to drive significant investment in the next generation of biofuels and new technologies both in ethanol production and in agriculture," Childress said at today's hearing. "By increasing yields, increasing efficiency, and deploying new technologies, ethanol and agriculture production continues to soften its footprint on the environment - particularly as fossil fuels like crude oil and natural gas become harder and harder to extract."

The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the leadership of Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in scheduling the hearing today. Also on hand were representatives of DuPont and the Advanced Ethanol Council, who both talked about the importance of first-generation biofuels to support the development of the next generation of fuels.

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