Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday April 16 Ag News

Heineman Signs Water Sustainability Bill into Law

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality and flood control issues. The Governor was joined by State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, who introduced the bill in the 2014 Legislative Session, and State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who has been a legislative advocate on water issues.

“This is noteworthy water legislation pertaining to Nebraska’s long-term water utilization and planning,” said Gov. Heineman. “Water is one of Nebraska’s most important natural resources and this bill reflects our emphasis on water sustainability and water management.”

The bill creates the Water Sustainability Fund which will be used to contribute to multiple water supply management goals, assess flood control, increase efficiency of water usage, enhance water quality and comply with interstate compacts and other agreements.

“This is the most significant bill for agriculture and livestock production in my eight years in the legislature,” said Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege. “I want to thank the Governor for signing the bill, the legislature for the 48-0 vote, and the task force and Senators on that task force in an advisory capacity that worked so hard to put LB 1098 together.”

“Basin-wide planning will provide groundwater and surface water users the opportunity to find positive solutions within the Republican River Basin,” said State Sen. Christensen.

This bill would also expand the Natural Resources Commission, from 16 to 27 members. Currently, three members are appointed by the governor and 13 are elected to represent river basins across Nebraska. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including groundwater and surface water irrigators, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

Gov. Heineman added, “Preserving and managing our water resources is important to Nebraskans, especially those who work in our number one industry – agriculture.”

On Signing of the Water Bill LB 1098

Steve Nelson, NE Farm Bureau President

“Agriculture is our number one industry and water is our lifeblood. We have a wonderful supply of water in the state of Nebraska. We must manage it in a responsible manner so we can be assured that future generations have the water they need not only for agriculture, but for domestic uses, municipalities, industrial uses, outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation. By investing in water projects, programs, activities and by setting up a mechanism to make sure those investments are done wisely, we can protect our water uses for years to come.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau wants to thank Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege for making this bill his priority for the session and all the state senators who supported the legislation. Thank you also to Gov. Dave Heineman for making this bill a reality by signing it today (April 16).”

Heineman Seeks Applicants for Natural Resources Commission

Gov. Dave Heineman is seeking qualified candidates to the newly-expanded Natural Resources Commission. Applicants are encouraged to apply with the Governor’s Office.

Today, Gov. Heineman signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality and flood control issues. That law expands the Natural Resources Commission from 16 to 27 members. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including outdoor recreation users, range livestock owners, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

There are ten areas in which applicants are being sought. Applicants must identify which area of interest they are applying for from the following:
-    Agriculture
-    Agribusiness
-    Irrigation District
-    Manufacturing Interests
-    Outdoor Recreation User
-    Public Power District
-    Public Power & Irrigation District
-    Range Livestock Owner
-    Wildlife Conservation Interests
-    A Lincoln Resident who is Interested in Water Issues

Individuals interested in applying for the Natural Resources Commission should send a resume, along with a completed application form to Kathleen Dolezal in the Governor’s Office, at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, NE 68509 or The application form can be completed on the Governor’s website or requested by calling the Governor’s Office. Applications will be accepted through close of business on Tuesday, May 6.

Nebraskans with questions about the position may call the Governor’s Office at (402) 471-2244 and ask for Ms. Dolezal.

Stella’s Bar & Grill Reclaims “Best Burger” Title

The Nebraska Beef Council has announced Stella’s Bar & Grill in Bellevue, NE as the winner of the fourth annual “Nebraska’s Best Burger” contest. The contest selection was made through online nominations and a panel of judges.

During the month of March, the public was asked to nominate their favorite all beef hamburger served at a Nebraska restaurant. Over 200 restaurants received nominations with the top five moving on to a second round of online voting. During the final phase of voting, a panel of judges also scored each of the burgers based on taste, appearance and proper cooking temperature. The online votes and scores from the judges were combined resulting in the Stella’s Cheeseburger being declared the overall winner. The cheeseburger is made from a 6 ½ oz fresh, never frozen ground beef patty served with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mayonnaise. All of the hamburgers served at Stella’s are made to order with a number of toppings available including bacon, mushrooms, a fried egg and even peanut butter.

“This was the first year that we’ve allowed past winners to be eligible in the contest,” said Adam Wegner, Director of Marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “Stella’s quickly surfaced to the top once again with tremendous support from the online votes and rave reviews from our panel of judges. It’s obvious they have a passion for great tasting beef and it’s their hamburgers that have created their loyal fan base.”

The Union Bar in Gering was this year’s runner-up followed by the Peppermill Restaurant in Valentine and Cellar Bar & Grill in Kearney who tied for third. Sin City Grill in Grand Island rounded out the top five. A complete list of nominated restaurants is available on

Stella’s Bar & Grill will be awarded the first place plaque and will be featured by the Nebraska Beef Council in May as part of Nebraska Beef Month.

“FFA Members Participated in Fourth Annual Agricultural Issues Academy”

FFA members across Nebraska participated in the fourth annual Agricultural Issues Academy (AIA) on April 9th as part of the 2014 Nebraska State FFA Convention held in Lincoln. AIA is a leadership-based academy that focuses on providing participants with skills needed to become spokespeople for the agriculture industry.  The day-long program exposed participants to current agricultural issues, develop communication skills, and provide an opportunity to meet with industry leaders and law makers.

“Programs like Ag Issues Academy are a great way to involve young people in the political process and encourage networking with their peers while learning about current issues facing agriculture,” said Kelsey Pope, Director of Advocacy and Outreach  for the Nebraska Corn Board and committee member for the Agricultural Issues Academy.  “This is a great opportunity for FFA members to develop communications skills through hands-on activities and help them make connections with industry leaders and law makers.”

Participants were selected from a pool of 80 qualified applicants from across Nebraska and were narrowed down by a selection committee to 30 participants.  Selected candidates were charged with a task to a research current “ag” issue of their choice and be prepared to explain the issue at the academy.

At the Agricultural Issues Academy, participants were a part of the following activities:
·        Round-robin sessions presented by experts on learning how to speak to lawmakers, preparing a successful and positive message for TV and radio, and have first-hand training for written and online communications.
·        A visit to the State Capitol, accompanied by agricultural lobbyists who introduced participants to the State Legislature, and provided an opportunity for them to meet with the senator from their home district.
·        The following day, Academy participants served as peer leaders for the state convention’s annual legislative breakfast with State Senators and other FFA members.
·        Participants were recognized and awarded pins for participating in the Academy at the Opening Session of the Nebraska State FFA Convention on Thursday morning.

The Agricultural Issues Academy is sponsored by Alliance for Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Nebraska Association of Resource Districts Foundation, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Soybean Board, and Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

USDA Considers Mandatory Reporting for PEDV Outbreaks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is discussing the possibility of having rules to require reporting of PEDV outbreaks with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to improve tracking of the disease. PEDV has been difficult to track - partly because veterinarians aren't required to report instances to government officials. Association Executive Director Tom Burkgren says it's a very widely distributed disease - and at this point in the outbreak - he thinks there'd have to be really good reasons to start reporting it.

Cargill Gives $150,000 to National Pork Board for PEDV Feed Research

As the first anniversary of confirmation of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the United States nears, the National Pork Board continues to build an arsenal of information based on its nearly $2 million in Pork Checkoff-funded research funded to date. This work will be aided by a decision by Cargill's Animal Nutrition and Pork Businesses to donate $150,000 for additional PEDV research directed by the National Pork Board.

"Cargill is committed to supporting research priorities related to PEDV," said Douglas Cook, director of innovation at Cargill's Provimi North America business, which includes the Akey brand, in Brookville, Ohio. "Cargill's Animal Nutrition and Pork businesses are pleased to provide the National Pork Board with funding to be used for PEDV feed-related research priorities to advance knowledge on this critical topic for everyone in the pork industry."

Paul Sundberg, National Pork Board's vice president of science and technology, said this investment is a welcome addition to the series of funding coming from groups outside of Pork Checkoff that will help further leverage Checkoff-funded research into the costly disease.

"Our main goal with this round of research is to find answers to PEDV and feed-related questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," Sundberg said. "We appreciate the funding by Cargill and will continue to collaborate with all pork industry stakeholders to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The top research priorities for this group of projects 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 systems and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

To view the National Pork Board's PEDV-related research and resources, go to

Researchers Hope New Tests Prevent Pork Industry Endemic

Pork products cost about 10 percent more than they did last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and economists expect the prices to continue rising because of diarrhea viruses currently devastating the pork industry.

That's why researchers at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University have developed new tests they hope will mitigate the spread of these viruses.

"Enteric disease in pigs has turned into a huge, huge problem and we're developing all kinds of new tests to address the old problems but also to address the new diseases that are just destroying everything," said Dick Hesse, director of diagnostic virology at the lab and professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Hesse says there are at least three viruses with similar symptoms affecting pigs, two of which have entered the United States for the first time -- porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and delta coronavirus. Swine specialists and molecular diagnosticians at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have developed tests to detect which virus is infecting the pigs.

"If you know what they've been exposed to and how high the immunity is, you can make adjustments on how you treat the virus," Hesse said.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has already killed an estimated 6 million pigs. The Kansas State University laboratory is one of only four in the United States with the new tests to identify these diseases. The researchers hope the tests will stop the spread of these diseases before they become endemic.

"They're management tools," Hesse said. "With enough information, you can make informed decisions and minimize the impact of the disease."

USDA Helps Open and Expand Export Markets for U.S. Agriculture through 2014 Farm Bill Programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for American products. The funding was made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA will begin accepting applications for 2015 export development program funding on April 17, 2014.

"Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."

Through the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program, which focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, is used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities. Through MAP, FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 171-percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

The Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program focuses on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Under FMD, FAS will allocate $24.6 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. FAS partners with U.S. agricultural producers and processors, who are represented by non-profit commodity or trade associations called cooperators. The organizations, which on average contribute nearly triple the amount they receive in federal resources, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase the demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas.

Applications for 2015 export development program funding will be accepted beginning April 17, 2014. In addition to MAP and FMD programs, eligible organizations can apply for funding through the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Program, Quality Samples Program (QSP) and Emerging Markets Program (EMP). The TASC program funds projects that address sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. The 2014 Farm Bill amended the program to allow participants to address technical barriers to trade regardless of whether they are related to a sanitary or phytosanitary barrier. QSP helps agricultural trade organizations provide product samples to potential importers. EMP provides funding for technical assistance activities to promote exports to emerging markets. The programs were authorized as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/11/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 939,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 39.44 million gallons daily. That is up 43,000 b/d from the week before and the highest rate of the year. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 910,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.95 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.0 million barrels. That is a 2.8% decrease from last week, but still the second-highest level in the last six weeks.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 361.9 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.90%, a seven-week high.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.238 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 104,795 metric tons of livestock feed, 93,426 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.89 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Beef Checkoff Presents the Power of Umami at Northeast Culinary Conference

The beef checkoff, through its Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), made a positive impact on the nearly 500 culinary students, chef instructors and restaurant operators at the 2014 Northeast American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conference in Providence, R.I. April 11-14.

The Northeast regional ACF conference is the largest of ACF's regional conferences in the nation. Rhode Island is one of the four states in the Northeast region that does not have a state beef council, making the checkoff’s representation vital in extending national checkoff resources in this heavily populated region of the country.

In the midst of the educational sessions at the conference, participants were able to attend sponsor break-out booths. The checkoff’s BEEFlexible recipes, cut charts and educational materials were distributed during these sessions, when participants also had the opportunity to enter the “Best of Beef” basket raffle.

The beef checkoff also sponsored one 60-minute educational session during the final day of the conference. “Beef Taste, Flavor and the Power of Umami” included a beef-tasting experience to highlight the power of umami and the magnified effect when beef is paired with other umami-containing ingredients. The checkoff’s executive chef, Dave Zino, led this tasting experience.

“The Northeast ACF regional conference gives the checkoff the opportunity to get in front of chef instructors and culinary students and provide them accurate and credible beef information,” Chef Zino said. “It amazes me how hungry they are for our research and educational materials.” After the session, one chef said: “I thought I knew a lot about beef; boy was I wrong.”

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