Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday April 30 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation - PAC Endorses Ben Sasse in U.S. Senate Primary

Ben Sasse has received the official “Friend of Agriculture” endorsement by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Sasse is one of four Republican candidates seeking to win the U.S. Senate primary election May 13.

“We are extremely excited to provide our support and backing to Ben Sasse in the primary election. Ben was the overwhelming choice of our county Farm Bureau’s as we worked through our grassroots endorsement process,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

“Sasse has built a strong grassroots network of support across Nebraska which comes from meeting and listening to the concerns of real Nebraskans. He’s demonstrated to our membership that he is committed to being a strong voice for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and will carry that voice to Washington D.C., not only through his words, but in his actions,” said Nelson.

According to Nelson, Sasse has demonstrated a strong grasp of the key issues effecting farmers and ranchers and is committed to protecting the long-term viability of American agriculture.

“Whether it’s the flood of federal regulations, other government intrusions into farm life, or protecting agriculture from those who don’t value and understand its complexity, we believe Sasse will be a force for farm and ranch families,” said Nelson.

“He understands farmer’s and rancher’s management and marketing decisions are best driven by the free market, but he also knows crop insurance and farm programs are necessary to protect farmers and ranchers from the volatility and risk inherent in agriculture from the weather and global markets,” said Nelson.

The decision to endorse a Republican candidate in the primary was not taken lightly, Nelson said, and Nebraska Farm Bureau is fully aware of the competitive nature of this primary race.

“However, our process for making endorsements is a grassroots process that is solely determined by the input from County Farm Bureaus. In this case there was overwhelming consensus from County Farm Bureaus to support Ben Sasse,” Nelson said.

In making the announcement, Nelson shared Farm Bureau’s perspective on what separates Sasse apart from others in the field including:

·         Sasse’s passion and abilities to get America’s fiscal house in order.
“Sasse not only has both the passion and the commitment to slow out of control federal spending and government growth, but he has the skills and abilities to turn things around in Washington, D.C. He’s made a career fixing broken institutions. That clearly describes the situation in Washington D.C. and the future prosperity of Nebraska farm and ranch families is heavily dependent on Congress’ ability to get our country’s fiscal situation under control,” said Nelson.

·         Sasse’s proven ability to listen to the needs of agriculture and rural Nebraska.
“Sasse’s workman like grassroots campaign has shown that he genuinely cares about what farmers, ranchers and rural communities have to say and we are confident he’ll do the same in Washington D.C.  Nebraskans will have his ear,” said Nelson

·         Sasse’s knowledge and expertise in repealing Obamacare and making reforms to health insurance markets.
“Nebraska farmers and ranchers are on the front lines of dealing with the ramifications of health care reform because many are self-employed and hold individual health insurance policies. Those people have felt the brunt of the costs and uncertainties of the Affordable Care Act. We believe Ben Sasse can make the difference in the health care arena,” said Nelson.

·         Sasse’s ability to effectively represent agriculture in Washington, D.C.
“Farmers and ranchers represent less than two percent of the population and agriculture needs someone in Washington who has the energy, connections and leadership abilities that are needed to expand our voice.  Sasse is not a Washington insider. He’s a Nebraskan with Washington experience. We believe he’ll hit the ground running and truly effect change that will benefit farm and ranch families and all Nebraskans,” said Nelson.


State Conservationist Craig Derickson announced today that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently accepting applications for the National Water Quality Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to improve two impaired watersheds located in eastern Nebraska. Interested participants have until July 1 to apply.

The targeted watersheds were identified with help from state agencies, partners, and the USDA State Technical Committee.  The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is working with the local Natural Resources Districts in these watersheds through the Nonpoint Source Water Quality Grants-Section 319 Program.  Including these watersheds in the National Water Quality Initiative will strengthen the overall effort to improve water quality in impaired streams in Nebraska. The selected watersheds are:
  *   Bazile Creek - located in Antelope, Pierce, and Knox counties
  *   Wahoo Creek - located in Saunders County

Derickson said, "Through this effort, eligible producers in the selected watersheds will invest in voluntary conservation practices to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities."

NRCS will provide funding and expertise to producers interested in installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips, terraces, no-till and other erosion control practices to improve water quality. NRCS staff will work with individual landowners to develop a conservation plan to apply practices that work best for their farming operation in each particular watershed.

One of the producers assisted last year through the National Water Quality Initiative was Saunders County farmer Austin Vermeline. He worked with Sean Elliot, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician in the Wahoo Field Office to install terraces and basins on land that he farms near Malmo.

Vermeline said that making a better farm is important to him, and the National Water Quality Initiative has helped him make progress toward that goal. "To be a farmer, you have to take care of the land. We can't just let our topsoil wash away," Vermeline said. He foresees long-lasting benefits from the terraces and other work that was done last fall. "It will help the land hold its value and also hold onto its water. It will reduce erosion, and it'll help protect the groundwater."

According to Tom Mountford, assistant manager with the Lower Platte North NRD, there are additional funding opportunities for landowners within the Wahoo Creek sign up area.

"This is an exciting opportunity for landowners to put conservation on the ground. The Lower Platte North NRD will be coordinating funds with other special grant funding from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Environmental Trust to accomplish long term goals for the watershed.

"Producers in the Wahoo Creek watershed who sign up for National Water Quality Initiative will receive an additional 25% in cost share funding through the Lower Platte North NRD. We also have the new Lands for Conservation program, which provides an incentive payment of $220 per acre for producers to get conservation structures constructed on the land during the growing season. Construction must be done between June 1 and September 15, and the field must be available for construction by August 1," Mountford said.

The Bazile Creek watershed eligibility area lies within four Natural Resources Districts - the Upper Elkhorn, Lower Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark, and Lower Niobrara NRDs. All of the NRDs are dedicated to providing assistance to improve water quality and quantity, according to Dennis Schueth, general manager of the Upper Elkhorn NRD.

"The four NRDs are excited for the landowners within the Bazile Creek watershed to have access for additional funding for best management practices. We are hopeful that landowners will take this opportunity to contact their local NRCS offices and ask questions and apply for this new funding mechanism for this watershed.

"The National Water Quality Initiative will fit perfectly with funding that the four NRDs have secured locally through grants from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality's Nonpoint Source Water Quality Grants-Section 319 and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.  The districts are hoping to educate the landowners within the Bazile Creek watershed and provide additional funding to reduce the level of nitrate-nitrogen levels in this area that are at or over the Federal Health Standard of 10 ppm," Schueth said.

Interested landowners and operators should check with the local NRCS  office to see if their farm or ranch is located in one of the targeted  watersheds. Additional information about the National Water Quality  Initiative, and detailed maps of the sign up areas, are available at

Northeast Nebraska RC&D Receives Grant from Nebraska Environmental Trust

Northeast Nebraska RC&D announced today that it will receive $24,134.00 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the “Integrated Management of Noxious Weeds in Biologically Sensitive Areas by the Northeast Nebraska Weed Management Area”. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 3, 2014 in Lincoln. This is the third and final year of award. The project is one of the 132 projects receiving $21,750,000 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. Of these, 56 were new applications and 76 are carry-over projects.

Invasive species are cited frequently as significant threats to biological diversity in Nebraska’s Natural Legacy Project planning document (NNLP). To address issues with invasive species, NNLP recommended development of collaborative conservation efforts to implement strategies that address specific issues in biologically unique landscapes (BUL’s) identified in the plan. One such group is the Northeast Nebraska Weed Management Area (NNWMA).  NNWMA is composed of a diverse group of partners and covers 8 counties and 4,610,212 acres of private, public, and tribal land. Eight BUL’s are partially or wholly within NNWMA boundaries.  These include prairies that contain federally threatened Western Prairie Fringed Orchid and state listed Small White Lady Slipper Orchid, as well as habitats that are home to 34 other Tier 1 plant, mussel, fish, insect, bird, and mammal species.

In this project biological control agents (insects) are released to control noxious weeds on ecologically sensitive sites.  The group also conducts annual education and outreach tours and workshops.  Releases are prioritized and targeted at places where herbicide use is not desired. Targeted plants are Purple Loosestrife, Leafy Spurge, Salt Cedar, and non-native Phragmites.  Appropriate insects are used for purple loosestrife and leafy spurge.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $213 million in grants to over 1,600 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.                                               

For more information about this project or any of the RC&D programs and services please contact the office at 402-582-4866 or email

Smith on Expanding Trade to Benefit Nebraska Exporters and Consumers

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in favor of expanding trade agreements to address tariffs and non-scientific barriers to American exports.  Trade agreements expand export opportunities and fuel competition which benefits consumers and can strengthen and protect American interests and influence around the world.

Remarks as prepared:
Given 95 percent of consumers live outside our borders, the U.S. must continue to pursue trade agreements.  Despite what you hear from critics, the U.S. had a trade surplus with our 20 free trade agreement partners in 2012.

Trade agreements expand opportunities and fuel competition which benefits consumers and can strengthen and protect American interests and influence around the world.  Though trade agreements make sense strategically and economically, some nations are not playing by the rules.

Barriers to agriculture are the most pressing issue for my home State of Nebraska, but every industry is subjected to outdated tariffs and non-scientific barriers, which countries fashion to protect their own domestic industries.

If the U.S. fails to lead, our exports will be placed at a competitive disadvantage to those from countries moving forward with aggressive trade agendas.  To enhance U.S. leverage in the marketplace, we need to pass the Bipartisan Trade Priorities Act.  By renewing TPA, we would demonstrate seriousness about formulating enforceable, science-based rules, and empower the rest of the world to follow suit. 

Family Farming and Ranching is the Economic Engine of our State

In celebration of the United Nations’ International Year of Family Farming for the month of May, Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) is highlighting the economic value and importance of family farm and ranch agriculture and their rural communities has in our state and nation.

NeFU President John Hansen said “As our country population continues to shift from rural to urban, our focus at Nebraska Farmers Union in the International Year of Family Farming is to not only draw attention to the important economic role family farm agriculture plays in rural communities, but our state and nation including urban communities.  When family farmers and ranchers are profitable, they are a major source of new wealth in our national economy, and a major economic driver that creates jobs and tax revenues from the farm to the city.”

NeFU noted from the latest available ag statistics from USDA, that Nebraska is ranked first in commercial red meat production, cattle slaughter, Great Northern beans production, irrigated land harvested, and popcorn production. Nebraska is ranked second in the nation in all cattle and calves, Pinto beans production, and beef and veal exports, third in corn for grain production, corn for exports, all dry edible beans production, Proso millet production, and third in cash receipts from all farm commodities.

When the production of all grain and livestock is considered, family farm and ranch agriculture in Nebraska produces over $24 billion of new wealth to Nebraska’s economy, which is 6.2% of the U.S. total.  “The diversity and capacity of Nebraska agriculture is truly amazing.  When we say ‘So goes agriculture, so goes Nebraska’, we are describing the economic engine of our state.  It is important that our public officials and general population do not take the economic blessings of our agricultural production for granted,” said Hansen.

While Nebraska agriculture is enormously productive, it still struggles with rural depopulation as do rural states across the nation.  NeFU noted that according to the 2010 U.S. Census, 59.5 million people or 19% of the total U.S. population lives in rural areas.  This compares to a worldwide rural population that consists of 46%.  Although 19% of the U.S. population lives in rural America, only 10% of the medical physicians practice medicine in rural communities.  That puts a strain on both accessibility and affordability of health care services.

Adding to the challenges of distance for access to health and other services and merchandise is the fact that only 11% of rural U.S. residents live in areas where high speed broadband access is readily available to farm residents as compared to 100% access for their urban counterparts.  “In 2014, everyone in our nation regardless of where they live should have access to affordable high speed broadband internet services,” Hansen said.  “Rural residents need the latest weather, markets, crop and general news information.  Like all businesses, they need to send and receive documents and attachments, check their email, and use the internet to expand their marketing opportunities.” 

“Family farming and ranching continues to be the economic engine of our state and national economies.  Through their hard work and skills, Nebraska farm and ranch families create $24 billion of new wealth,  jobs, economic activity, and tax revenues that power our state and nation,” concluded John Hansen, NeFU President.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Many people are trying oat pasture this spring.  The potential seems great, but you may be disappointed if you don’t graze it right.

Oat pastures have increased in popularity in recent years as one way to reduce problems from drought.  Oat pastures can be very productive and last through early summer, but they also are disappointing sometimes.  While we don’t know all we need to know, here are a few grazing recommendations that will help you succeed.

Oats grows rapidly.  Once it gets five or six inches tall, it quickly can shoot up to a foot tall in almost no time.  As nice as this sounds, if initial oat growth gets that tall it may not stool out, tiller, and regrow after grazing very well.  So it’s important to start grazing early and to graze hard enough to keep your oats vegetative and leafy, thereby stimulating it to constantly form new tillers.

So how early is early?  That’s hard to say, but if your animals start to first graze when oats get six to eight inches tall and they remove about half the growth it will recover rapidly and tiller well.  You probably will need to give your oats a couple weeks to regrow after this first grazing, though, before grazing again.

After this first grazing to stimulate tillering, keep oat regrowth between six and sixteen inches tall using either continuous or rotational stocking.  Begin with a light stocking rate, maybe about one animal every two acres.  Then adjust animal number as oat growth changes.  Don’t worry if a few plants head out.  But if many plants get tall and approach the boot stage, either plan one last hard graze-out grazing or consider cutting for hay.

We will need to experiment a bit to perfect it, but oat grazing looks promising.

Cattle producers encouraged to make comments on facility rules

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is asking cattle producers to make comments on proposed administrative rules for Iowa animal feeding operations. The proposed rules are a result of a months-long negotiation process between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the jurisdiction of a federal permitting program.

“We watched those negotiations closely, and believe the work plan agreement is one cattle producers can work with while promoting improved water quality,” says ICA Chief Executive Officer Matt Deppe. 

The proposed rules have been presented to Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission, and are open for public comment until May 13. “It is important that livestock producers speak in support of the proposed rules, whether by attending one of the six meetings that will be held around the state, or by submitting written comments,” Deppe says. “There are some groups that will never be satisfied as long as there is livestock in Iowa; we must let DNR know that we think these rules and workable and fair.”

When making comments, ICA encourages livestock farmers to make these points:
•    Introduce yourself, describe your feedlot operation, explaining the current controls in place to protect Iowa’s water quality. If you have had a positive relationship with DNR, describe it.
•    Note your support for the proposed rule changes that have been agreed to by EPA and DNR in the work plan. These rules bring Iowa regulations in line with federal requirements. (Specifically, these are amendments to Iowa DNR Rules Chapters 64 and 65, regarding CAFOs and NPDES permit requirements.)
•    These rules conform with state law, which does not allow the state to have stricter guidelines than federal law on Clean Water Act regulations.
•    The proposed rules allow the DNR to evaluate each operation based on their findings, rather than putting a one-size-fits-all regulation into place. Through rule changes to Chapters 64 and 65, operations that are actually discharging will be required to apply for a permit or eliminate the discharge.

Written comments can be emailed to Gene Tinker at or sent to Gene Tinker, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0034.

Hearing locations where farmers can also comment are:
·    Tuesday, May 6, 6 p.m. - Lime Creek Nature Center, 3501 Lime Creek Rd., Mason City.
·    Wednesday, May 7, 6 p.m. - Board Room, Clay County Administration Bldg., 300 W. 4th St., Spencer.
·    Thursday, May 8, 6 p.m. - Meeting Room, Carroll County Courthouse, 114 E. 6th St., Carroll.
·    Friday, May 9, 11 a.m. - Fourth Floor Conference Room, Wallace State Office Bldg., 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines.
·    Monday, May 12, 6 p.m. - Room 115, Dairy Center, Northeast Iowa Community College, 1527 Highway 150 South, Calmar.
·    Tuesday, May 13, 6 p.m. - Education Center, Marr Park, Washington County Conservation Board, 2943 Highway 92, Ainsworth.

Annual Update for Veterinarians Is May 21

The annual Iowa State University “Update for Veterinarians” program by ISU's Beef Center features a full day of education and demonstrations focused on beef cattle. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers is organizing the program and invites practitioners who work with cattle to make plans now to attend the May 21 event at the Iowa State University McNay Research Farm near Chariton.

“In addition to six speakers from Iowa State, we’re pleased to have Ken Coffey from the University of Arkansas with us,” Sellers said. “This program is an opportunity for our veterinary colleagues to get in-depth information on fescue and grazing issues, as well as specific animal health concerns. Also, the program has been approved for five hours of continuing education credits.”

Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the McNay headquarters with the first speaker starting at 9:15 a.m. The group will then travel to the beef facilities for two sets of breakout sessions. Three more presentation sessions will follow lunch at the farm headquarters, with the program ending about 3:30 p.m.

Those who preregister by May 15 will pay $50 per person, which includes the noon meal. Those who preregister after May 15 and those who register onsite will pay $70. All registrations are done through the Lucas County Extension Office in Chariton.

The brochure with registration form is available on the IBC website. For more information, contact Sellers by phone at 641-203-1270 or by email at

The speakers and their topics in presentation order are:
-    University of Arkansas animal science professor Ken Coffey: Managing fescue
-    ISU Extension and Outreach beef veterinarian Grant Dewell, senior clinicians Steve Ensley and Patrick Phillips, and veterinary diagnostician Doug Snider: Live animal demos -- Trichomoniasis sampling, BSE examinations, liver biopsy sampling for mineral troubleshooting 
-    ISU Extension and Outreach cow-calf specialist Patrick Gunn and beef program specialist Joe Sellers: Heifer development, mapping the genome on the ISU Angus herd, issues with ergot alkaloids in 2013
-    Ensley and Snider: What do we do with liver biopsy results? Responding to mineral deficiencies
-    Dewell and Phillips: Trichomoniasis testing and monitoring
-    Coffey: Comparing fall and spring calving on fescue-based pastures

Beef Management Update Features Grazing and Calving Topics

Beef producers interested in learning more about fescue management and comparing fall versus spring calving should plan to attend one of two upcoming beef management update sessions in southern Iowa. The sessions are May 20 and May 21 and feature animal science professor and beef cow specialist Ken Coffey from the University of Arkansas.

Joe Sellers, beef program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and session organizer, said Coffey will be in the area for the annual veterinarian update May 21 at the McNay farm. “We’re pleased to be able to offer producers these two opportunities to hear Dr. Coffey speak on grazing and calving,” Sellers said.

The May 20 update will be held at the Afton Community Center on the west side of the town square. The May 21 location is the Rathbun Regional Water Association Headquarters, 16166 Highway J29.

Session start time is 7 p.m. for both locations. The session cost is $10, payable at the door.

“Coffey will give an update on fescue management, as well as using other pastures during breeding,” Sellers said. “He’ll also present information on comparing fall and spring calving, and I’ll talk about supplementation strategies for grazing cattle.”

The program flyer is available on the Iowa Beef Center website. For more information, contact Sellers by phone at 641-203-1270 or by email at


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for April 2014 averaged $7.15 per bushel, an increase of 9 cents from the March price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary April corn price, at $4.65 per bushel, increased 19 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary April sorghum price averaged $8.00 per cwt, an increase of 17 cents from March.

The preliminary April soybean price, at $14.30 per bushel, was up 70 cents from last month.

The preliminary April dry edible bean price, at $50.00 per cwt, was down $4.00 from March.

The April alfalfa hay price, at $127.00 per ton, was down $6.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $98.00 per ton, was down $6.00 from last month.

The preliminary April oat price was withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations. The March price for oats was $4.01. 

USDA Reports April Farm Prices Received Index Advanced 4 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in April, at 115 percent, based on 2011=100, increased 4 points (3.6 percent) from March. The Crop Index is up 4 points (4.3 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 4 points (3.1 percent). Producers received higher prices for hogs, corn, soybeans, and broilers and lower prices for oranges, barley, and peanuts. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of milk, broilers, and oranges offset the decreased marketing of corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 8 points (7.5 percent) from April 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 125, increased 3 points (2.5 percent) from last month and increased 18 points (17 percent) from April 2013.

All crops:

The April index, at 98, increased 4.3 percent from March but is 8.4 percent below April 2013. The index increase for oilseeds & grains more than offset the index decrease for fruit & tree nut production.

Food grains: The April index, at 101, is 3.1 percent above the previous month but 4.7 percent below a year ago. The April price for all wheat, at $6.92 per bushel, is up 17 cents from March but down 79 cents from April 2013.

Feed grains: The April index, at 79, is up 3.9 percent from last month but 32 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $4.73 per bushel, is up 22 cents from last month but $2.24 below April 2013. Sorghum grain, at $8.41 per cwt, is 17 cents above March but $3.19 below April last year.

Oilseeds: The April index, at 114, is up 5.6 percent from March but unchanged from April 2013. The soybean price, at $14.50 per bushel, increased 80 cents from March and is 10 cents above April 2013.

Livestock and products:

The April index, at 133, is 3.1 percent above last month and 23 percent higher than April 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for milk, cattle, hogs, eggs, calves, broilers, and turkeys.

Meat animals: The April index, at 133, is up 3.1 percent from last month and 27 percent higher than last year. The April hog price, at $91.60 per cwt, is up $9.70 from March and $29.80 higher than a year ago. The April beef cattle price of $149 per cwt increased $1.00 from last month and is $24.00 higher than April 2013.

Dairy products: The April index, at 127, is up 1.6 percent from a month ago and 31 percent higher than April last year. The April all milk price of $25.50 per cwt is up 30 cents from last month and $6.00 above April 2013.

Poultry & eggs: The April index, at 139, is up 3.7 percent from March and 9.4 percent above a year ago. The April market egg price, at $1.09 per dozen, increased 4.0 cents from March and is 44.5 cents higher than April 2013. The April broiler price, at 68.0 cents per pound, is 3.0 cents higher than March and 2.0 cents above a year ago. The April turkey price, at 68.3 cents per pound, is unchanged from the previous month but up 2.1 cents from a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Up 2 Points

The April Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is at 112 (2011=100). The index is up 2 points (1.8 percent) from March and 6 points (5.7 percent) above April 2013. Higher prices in April for feeder cattle, feeder pigs, complete feeds, and hay & forages more than offset lower prices for diesel, herbicides, insecticides, and self-propelled machinery.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/25/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 898,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.72 million gallons daily. That is down 12,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 911,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.97 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.2 million barrels. That is a 4.2% increase from last week and tied for the highest level of the year.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the week, down from 11,000 b/d the previous week.

Gasoline demand averaged 365.1 million gallons daily. At 865,000 b/d, refiner/blender input of ethanol hit its highest level of the year.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.33%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.616 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 100,219 metric tons of livestock feed, 89,347 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.68 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Retail fertilizer prices continue to show strength the fourth week of April 2014 as corn planting starts across most of the Corn Belt, according to fertilizer retailers tracked by DTN. This marks the 10th-consecutive week all retail fertilizers' prices were higher. 

The average price of only one fertilizer was up with any significance. Anhydrous was up 9% compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $692 per ton.  The remaining seven fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, but the move to the high side was fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $587/ton, MAP $620/ton, potash $476/ton, urea $555/ton, 10-34-0 $530/ton, UAN28 $355/ton and UAN32 $402/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.60/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.63/lb.N.

With fertilizers moving higher in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits lower in price compared to April 2013.  Urea is now down 3%, DAP is 5% lower and MAP 6% less expensive. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 12% lower while 10-34-0 is down 13%. Also, both potash and anhydrous are 19% less expensive than a year earlier.

Subcommittee Examines Economic Factors, Regulatory Burdens Plaguing the Livestock Industry

Rep. Rick Crawford, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, today held a public hearing to review the state of the livestock industry. Members heard from two panels of witnesses that ranged from the Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to an array of experts representing the animal agriculture industry. Together, they highlighted issues, such as regulatory burdens, feed costs, drought, animal disease, and trade, that are impacting this sector of the agricultural economy.

"Today's hearing offered our members an opportunity to explore a variety of issues impacting the livestock industry. Our farmers and ranchers have endured a great deal over the past few years from record droughts to higher input costs and the ongoing burden and uncertainty associated with mandatory country-of-origin labeling rules. Combined, all of these issues and others have tightened operating margins, which create challenging business conditions for our producers. I hope we will use what we have learned to work on real and lasting solutions to the problems we discussed," said Chairman Rick Crawford (R-AR-01).

"In the San Joaquin Valley, our livestock producers are struggling to hold on in the face of a devastating drought, and farm workers who usually have tired hands from working the fields may soon be standing in line at food banks to feed their families. As harmful as this drought is to California livestock, the fact is that the industry nationwide is battling other factors like the country-of-origin labeling law and the RFS that endanger their bottom lines. Today’s hearing gave us the opportunity to highlight the natural, bureaucratic, and regulatory challenges facing the industry," said Ranking Member Jim Costa (D-CA-16).

Testimony was provided by:
Dr. Joseph Glauber, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Shane Miller, Senior Vice President, Pork Margin Management, Tyson Fresh Meats, Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Dr. Howard Hill, President, National Pork Producers Council, Cambridge, Iowa
Mr. Michael T. Smith, Special Projects Manager, Harris Ranch, Selma, California; on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
Mr. William P. Roenigk, Senior Vice President and Economist, National Chicken Council, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Clint Krebs, President, American Sheep Industry Association, Ione, Oregon
Mr. Matthew T. Cook, President and CEO, Norbest, Inc., Washington, D.C.; on behalf of the National Turkey Federation

NPPC Details Challenges Faced By Hog Farmers

Hog farmers are dealing with a deadly pig disease and the threat of trade retaliation against their products, both of which will have a negative impact on the U.S. pork industry, the National Pork Producers Council told congressional lawmakers today in testimony before a House Agriculture subcommittee.

In a hearing on the state of the U.S. livestock industry held by the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit, NPPC President Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and hog farmer from Cambridge, Iowa, detailed the effects on hog farmers of the U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law and of the porcine endemic diarrhea virus (PEDv).

COOL, which requires meat to be labeled with the country where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered, caused the Canadian pork industry to reduce production as U.S. hog farmers sought to avoid the costs and complications associated with the law, Hill pointed out. Additionally, the statute prompted Canada and Mexico to bring trade cases to the World Trade Organization, which is expected to rule on them this summer.

Should the WTO decide that the COOL law doesn’t meet U.S. international trade obligations, Canada and Mexico would be allowed to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products. NPPC is urging Congress to consider a legislative fix to the labeling law.

PEDv, said Hill, has killed about 7 million pigs in 30 states since last April, losses that likely will reduce slaughter this summer by more than 10 percent. Such reductions would push U.S. hog prices up by 15 to 25 percent and force consumer pork prices up, according to economist Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics in Adel, Iowa.

Additionally, reduced hog numbers mean less feed, less medicine, fewer veterinary services and shortened hours at packing and processing plants, Hill testified.

NPPC wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a thorough investigation on the pathway PEDv and another virus used to gain entry into the U.S. swine herd, to conduct more research on the viral propagation of the diseases and to commit more resources to determining the pathogenesis of and ways to control the viruses.

The U.S. pork industry also urged USDA to “take a thoughtful and measured approach” to developing the PEDv reporting program it announced last week. Hog farmers need a program that is “practical, workable and that can be successful,” Hill said.

Johnson Discusses COOL, Competition and RFS at House Livestock Hearing

Today National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson testified before a U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit hearing to review the state of the livestock industry.

“Farmers and ranchers are proud of what they produce and studies have shown that 95 percent of consumers want Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL),” Johnson said. “The World Trade Organization said the law is compliant. COOL has won twice in federal court. It is unfortunate to hear so many members of the subcommittee be more concerned about the fortunes of multinational packing and food companies rather than on-the-ground family farmers and ranchers. We know that consumer trust is of the utmost importance, and accurate COOL labels must be preserved.”

Rural America has lost 34 percent of beef operations and 91 percent of hog farms since 1980 – a total loss of 1.1 million livestock farms. There are also fewer meatpackers and processors. Today, the top four beef packers have control over 81 percent of cattle slaughter in the U.S., and the top four swine processors control 65 percent of hog sales.

“Fewer livestock buyers result in less competition, greater opportunity for antitrust violations, and a difficult market for the remaining farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the authority to prohibit deceptive or fraudulent buying practices by processors and may protect farmers and ranchers if they have been harmed by unfair trade practices, but appropriations riders over the last three years have kept USDA from implementing these basic fairness rules. Future riders that impede enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act must be defeated.”

Biofuel production and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) help the rural economy as a whole. In 2006, when the RFS was enacted, net farm income was $57.4 billion. In 2012, net farm income stood at $112.8 billion and meat production has not declined significantly since the enactment of the RFS.

“Biofuels do not significantly drive up the price of food. In fact, according to USDA, only 16 percent of grocery costs go back to farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The World Bank found that crude oil is the number one determinant of global food prices. We should reduce our dependence on oil consumption in order to become more food secure, and biofuel production is an excellent way to do that.”

Johnson’s written testimony provides additional details and outlines NFU’s position on other important issues, including the impact of trade on the livestock sector and a proposal to allow the importation of beef from a region of Brazil with a history of foot and mouth disease.

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