Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday April 9 Ag News

Nebraska Cattlemen Becomes Member of USMEF

Nebraska Cattlemen is excited to announce its membership in the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). At the April 1, 2014 NC Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that membership with USMEF was of utmost importance in continuing NC’s core objective of becoming the global beef epicenter.

“The mission of Nebraska Cattlemen is, “Working for Nebraska beef producers – pasture to plate”. Our membership with USMEF will help further our mission by continuing our industry’s growth and putting Nebraska beef on the world’s table”, said Jeff Rudolph, Nebraska Cattlemen President.

“USMEF represents a diverse cross-section of American agriculture, including all facets of the U.S. red meat industry. We are very pleased to welcome to our membership an organization with the rich history of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, which traces its roots all the way back to the Nebraska Stock Growers Association – founded in 1888.   U.S. beef exports topped $6 billion in value for the first time in 2013, and USMEF is committed to continuing the industry’s growth through exports in collaboration with members like the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association”, said Phil Seng, US Meat Export Federation President and CEO.

Local Grower Is State Winner in National Corn Yield Contest

An area corn grower has been honored as a state winner in the 2013 National Corn Yield Contest, sponsored annually by the National Corn Growers Association.  Gerald Steffensmeier of Howells, Neb., placed first in the state in the A No-Till/Strip-Till Non-Irrigated Class with a yield of 292.1857 bushels per acre.  The hybrid used in the winning field was DEKALB/DKC62-97.

The local grower was one of 434 state winners nationwide.  The 2013 contest set a participation record with 8,983 entries from 47 states.  Of the state winners, 18 growers – three from each of six classes – were named national winners, representing ten states.
The average yield among national winners was 354.67 bushels per acre, greater than the 2013 U.S. average of 158.8 bushels per acre.  Five of the national winners recorded yields of 400 bushels or more per acre.

“This fall, U.S. corn farmers reaped the bounty of their labors, harvesting a record crop that will provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation and our trading partners around the world,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Carmi, Ill. 

“Our contest participants demonstrated that America’s farmers continue to strive for excellence while adopting state-of-the-art tools which help them meet those goals,” Barbre continued.  “The top yield in this year’s contest – a tremendous 454.98 bushels per acre achieved by David Hula of Charles City, Va., – is a testament to these efforts.”

Farmers are encouraged through the contest to utilize new, efficient production techniques.  Agronomic data gleaned from the contest reveal the following:
•    Average planting population for the national winners was 39,166 seeds per acre, compared to 32,160 for all entrants.
•    National winners applied an average of 293 pounds of nitrogen, 76 pounds of phosphorus and 156 pounds of potassium per acre.
•    Average commercial nitrogen use per bushel of yield was 0.83 pounds for the national winners and 0.86 pounds for all entrants.
•    Forty-four percent of the national winners applied trace minerals, compared to 34 percent of all entrants.         
•    Use of manure as a fertilizer was consistent.  Twenty-two percent of national winners applied manure, compared to 14 percent of all entrants.

The National Corn Yield Contest began in 1965 with 20 entries from three states.  The highest overall yield was 218.9 bushels per acre, while the national yield average was in the mid-60 bushel-per-acre range.

Nebraska Soybean Farmers Encourage Everyone to Celebrate Soyfoods Month

April is National Soyfoods Month, and Nebraska soybean farmers encourage their neighbors to explore ways to incorporate all the benefits of adding soy to their families’ diets along with soy-fed beef, pork, and poultry products.

Karen Brokaw has contracted with the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) for the past 15 years to promote soyfoods and says she has seen a tremendous growth in consumer acceptance. “There are definitely more soy products on the market today than there were when I started,” Brokaw says. “A lot of folks are looking for ways to start living a healthier lifestyle and soy can be a big part of that.”

Brokaw and her “Bean Team” members travel to grocery stores in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island to promote soyfoods during the month of April. The Bean Team always features a soy recipe for shoppers to try and can answer questions they may have about soy.

Soy is a complete protein that is packed with B vitamins and low in saturated fat. Incorporating soyfoods is an easy way to contribute to a heart-healthy diet and they have been proven to help lower bad cholesterol.

Brokaw said that when she visits grocery stores, most people are surprised by the taste. “I think a lot of people believe that eating healthy comes at the expense of flavor but with soy, that’s simply not the case. Whether it’s tossing edamame in a soup or on your salad, using black soybeans in your favorite salsa, or substituting tofu for some of the cream cheese in your favorite recipes, there are countless ways to start adding soy to your diet.”

You can access the Bean Team’s schedule, as well as many of their featured soy recipes on their Facebook page at

The Nebraska Soybean Board encourages you to celebrate Soyfoods Month this April, which is why they want you to have the resources to get started. You can find many delicious recipes at or watch one of NSB’s nearly 20 featured soy cooking videos at

Happy Soyfoods Month, and remember, eat well, eat soy!

Livestock Disaster, Farm Loan Info Meeting April 17

A public information meeting will be held on the Livestock Disaster Programs and updates/changes to the Farm Loan programs that were implemented with the 2014 Farm Bill.  The meeting will be held April 17 at 1 p.m. at the Farm Service Agency office at 102 E. Elm St., Hartington.

Topics to be discussed will be the Livestock Forage Program, Livestock Indemnity Program, Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, the new Microloan Program, Beginning Farmer & Socially Disadvantaged Programs and updates to the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialst

It seems silly to irrigate alfalfa before first cutting, doesn't it.  But look at your soil moisture profile.  If it's dry, you may need to.  In fact, early spring often is the best time to irrigate alfalfa.  After all, it's about the only time you can actually build a reserve water source for summer use.

The biggest advantage of reserve water comes after each mid-summer cutting.  Alfalfa can develop roots more than eight feet deep.  But it will only do this when surface moisture does not meet crop needs and moisture is available all the way down to those depths.  If you have deep roots and deep reserve moisture, though, it will make your summer irrigating much easier by providing extra moisture when plants use as much as half an inch per day.  Unfortunately, typical shallow watering during summer encourages only shallow rooting.

Shallow summer watering causes other problems.  Alfalfa roots need oxygen in the soil if plants are to regrow rapidly.  Watering right after cutting suffocates roots, slowing regrowth.  Immediate watering also stimulates shallow rooted or sprouting weeds, especially at a time when alfalfa plants are not very competitive.  Both problems are reduced when reserve water is available for use by deep alfalfa roots.  Then the top several inches of soil can remain dry for a couple days until alfalfa regrowth is well underway.

So, improve your alfalfa irrigation by watering early, with a goal of around six feet of soil at field capacity at first cutting.

Farm Bureau’s Stallman Calls for Tax Changes

Farmers and ranchers need tax certainty to thrive in a modern economy, and making permanent deductions that expired in 2013 is a good first step, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the House Ways and Means Committee today.

“One of the major goals of tax reform should be to provide stable, predictable rules for businesses so that they can grow and create jobs,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. “Farm Bureau believes that Congress should end its practice of extending important business tax provisions for one or two years at a time. This practice makes it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to plan and adds immense confusion and complexity.”

Stallman addressed the committee as part of a hearing addressing the economic disruption caused by the end of a series of tax deductions over the past several years. Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently introduced a discussion draft of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in an effort to stimulate discussion of how the tax code could be simpler and fairer, while at the same time aiding economic growth, job creation and wages.

In written testimony submitted to the Committee, Stallman called for extensions of several now-expired deductions to benefit the economy as a whole, including:
-    Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off immediately capital investments of as much as $500,000 instead of depreciating them over several years;
-    Bonus depreciation, which is an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment;
-    Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit: a $1.01 per gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel sold for fuel plus an additional first-year, 50-percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel production facilities;
-    A $1.00 per-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels;
-    The Community and Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit, which gives the option to take an investment tax credit in lieu of the Production Tax Credit and
-    A provision encouraging donations of conservations casements.

Stallman reiterated the importance of Section 179’s immediate expensing to farming. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business,” he said. “In order to remain profitable and be competitive, farm equipment, buildings, and storage facilities must be continually upgraded and replaced. This provision allows agricultural producers to reduce maintenance costs, take advantage of labor-saving advances, become more energy efficient and adopt technology that is environmentally friendly.

“Smart business planning that anticipates and budgets for annual capital improvements proves challenging for farmers and ranchers because they operate on tight profit margins. The immediate expensing provided by Section 179 allows farmers and ranchers to cash flow purchases that otherwise might be delayed or incur debt expense that impact profitability.”

Japan Mulls Slashing US Beef Tariffs

Japan is considering lowering levies on U.S. beef imports to the high single digits from 38.5% as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, marking progress on breaking the deadlock between two key participants in the pact, The Nikkei reported in its Thursday morning editions.

The final details are being worked out, with a proposal to impose restrictions if imports skyrocket expected to be considered as well.

But Washington is seeking an even steeper drop, and opposition may come from Australia as well. Under a recent agreement with Australia, Japan will ratchet down its duties on frozen beef to 19.5% over 18 years and on chilled beef to 23.5% over 15 years. Japan's livestock industry is also expected to object.

Economic Policy Minister Akira Amari and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman held talks in Tokyo Wednesday, but differences remain regarding Japan's contentious agricultural tariffs. They will meet again Thursday.

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates - April 9, 2014

COARSE GRAINS:  U.S. feed grain ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected lower this month with reductions for corn, barley, and oats.  A 125-million-bushel increase in projected corn exports reduces corn ending stocks by the same amount.  Continued strong export sales and a rising weekly shipment pace for U.S. corn during March support the higher expected export level as does an increase in projected global corn demand.  U.S. barley ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 7 million bushels lower with projected imports decreased and projected exports increased based on the pace of shipments to date.  Oats ending stocks are projected 10 million bushels lower with feed and residual use raised 10 million bushels on higher-than-expected December-February disappearance as indicated by the March 1 stocks.  Sorghum exports are projected 20 million bushels higher based on the high level of outstanding sales and the sharp increase in weekly shipments during March.  Sorghum ending stocks, however, remain unchanged with an offsetting reduction made in domestic use based on the higher-than-expected March 1 stocks estimate.

The 2013/14 season-average farm price for corn is raised 10 cents at the midpoint with the projected range also narrowed to $4.40 to $4.80 per bushel, compared with $4.25 to $4.75 per bushel last month.  The projected range for the sorghum farm price is also raised 10 cents to $4.15 to $4.55 per bushel.  The barley and oats price ranges are narrowed 5 cents on each end to $6.00 to $6.20 per bushel and $3.65 to $3.75 per bushel, respectively.  The June-May marketing year for barley and oats is nearing an end with most of the two crops already marketed and priced.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2013/14 are raised 3.6 million tons with increases in foreign corn production far exceeding reductions for millet, sorghum, and barley.  Revisions to coarse grain production for a number of Sub-Saharan African countries account for much of the change in world production this month.  Notable changes, however, are made for several major producing and exporting countries.  

Global corn production is raised 6.4 million tons with a 2.0-million-ton increase for Brazil and 1.0-million-ton increases each for South Africa and Russia.  For Brazil, favorable precipitation in March and early April has supported the developing safrinha corn crop with yields now expected just below last year’s levels in the areas where this second-season corn crop is grown.  For South Africa, improved rains in late February and March have boosted yield prospects for corn grown in the normally lower-yielding western areas.  Corn production is raised for Russia based on recent revisions to official production statistics.  Corn production is also raised 0.2 million tons for Mexico, in line with the latest government estimates.  Global sorghum production is lowered 1.1 million tons mostly on changes to the Sub-Saharan Africa countries, but production is also lowered 0.4 million tons for Argentina and raised 0.3 million tons for Brazil.  Global barley production is lowered with a 0.8-million-ton reduction for China.  Global millet production is reduced 1.7 million tons with more than half of the decline for India.     

Global coarse grain trade for 2013/14 is raised with higher corn and sorghum imports.  Corn imports are increased for the European Union, Algeria, Iran, Egypt, and Vietnam.  In addition to the United States, corn exports are increased for South Africa, Ukraine, Mexico, Russia, and Vietnam.  Sorghum imports are raised for China.  Global corn consumption is higher with increases in feeding for Argentina, Russia, and Algeria.  A reduction in European Union corn feeding is more than offset by an increase in food, seed, and industrial use.  Corn use is also raised for several of the Sub-Saharan Africa countries led by increases of 1.0 million tons for Uganda and 0.9 million tons for Ethiopia.  World corn ending stocks for 2013/14 are lowered 0.5 million tons with reductions for the United States and Ukraine outweighing increases for Brazil, Russia, and several other countries.

OILSEEDS:  U.S. soybean supplies for 2013/14 are projected at 3.49 billion bushels, up 30 million on increased imports.  Imports are projected at a record 65 million bushels based on trade reported through February and prospective large shipments from South America during the second half of the marketing year.  Soybean exports for 2013/14 are increased 50 million bushels to 1.58 billion reflecting record year-to-date shipments and large outstanding sales.  Despite relatively high prices and record harvests in South America, U.S. exports have remained strong, especially to China, where imports from the United States have already exceeded the previous marketing-year record.  Soybean crush is reduced 5 million bushels to 1.685 billion with lower domestic soybean meal consumption more than offsetting a small increase in projected soybean meal exports.  Seed use is raised in line with the record plantings reported in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report, while residual use is reduced based on indications from the March 31 Grain Stocks report.  U.S. soybean ending stocks are projected at 135 million bushels, down 10 million from last month.

Projected prices for soybeans and soybean products are all raised this month.  The projected range for the season-average soybean price is raised 5 cents at the midpoint to 12.50 to $13.50 per bushel.  Soybean oil prices are projected at 38 to 40 cents per pound, up 1.5 cents at the midpoint.  Soybean meal prices are projected at $460 to $490 per short ton, up 5 dollars at the midpoint.

Global oilseed production for 2013/14 is projected at 504.5 million tons, up 0.2 million from last month with lower soybean production mostly offsetting increases for other crops.  Global soybean production is projected at 284.0 million tons, down 1.4 million from last month but still a record.  Brazil soybean production is forecast at 87.5 million tons, down 1.0 million from last month with higher harvested area more than offset by lower yields.  Lower yields primarily reflect the effect of warm temperatures and limited rainfall through mid-February in the south.  India soybean production is reduced 0.8 million tons to 11.0 million reflecting lower-than-average yields resulting from excessive rainfall during much of the growing season.  Changes for other crops include higher rapeseed production for India and the European Union, increased sunflowerseed production for Russia, and increased peanut production for Argentina, Brazil, and India.

Global oilseed supplies, exports, and crush for 2013/14 are projected higher this month while ending stocks are projected lower.  Higher rapeseed crush in China and higher sunflowerseed crush in Argentina and Russia more than offset reduced soybean crush in the United States, Brazil, and India.  Global oilseed stocks are projected at 82.6 million tons, down 1.4 million.

WHEAT:  U.S. wheat ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 25 million bushels higher with lower imports more than offset by a reduction in feed and residual use.  Imports are projected 5 million bushels lower based on available shipment data.  Feed and residual use is projected 30 million bushels lower based on disappearance during the December-February and September-November quarters as indicated by the March 1 stocks and revisions to the December 1 stocks, both from the March 31 Grain Stocks report.  Projected feed and residual use is lowered 10 million bushels each for Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, and White wheat.  The all wheat export projection is unchanged, but small by-class adjustments are made to exports as well as imports.  The projected season-average farm price for all wheat is unchanged at $6.75 to $6.95 per bushel.

Global 2013/14 wheat supplies are raised 0.5 million tons with higher projected beginning stocks, mostly because of reductions in European Union and Ukraine consumption for 2012/13.  World production for 2013/14 is lowered 0.2 million tons with mostly offsetting changes to several countries of 0.1 million tons or less.  

World wheat imports for 2013/14 are lowered 1.7 million tons mostly reflecting a 1.5-million-ton reduction for China.  Smaller import reductions are made for Bangladesh, the European Union, Pakistan, and South Africa, but these are mostly offset by increases for Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia.  Global exports are lowered with 0.5-million-ton reductions each for Australia, Canada, India, and Ukraine, and a 0.3-million-ton reduction for Brazil.  Most of the export reductions reflect the pace of shipments reported to date, but reductions for Australia and Canada are also related to the lower import outlook for China.  For Ukraine, the latest trade data indicate a shift in export business from wheat to corn.  Partly offsetting the reductions is a 1.0-million-ton increase for Kazakhstan exports with reports of larger rail shipments to Russia and strong sales to Iran and China.  

Global wheat consumption for 2013/14 is lowered 2.4 million tons mostly on a 2.0-million-ton reduction in China wheat feeding.  A number of smaller and mostly offsetting changes are also made in consumption for other countries.  Global wheat ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected 2.9 million tons higher with the largest increases for Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, Australia, and China.

The 2014 forecast of total red meat and poultry production is lowered from last month as higher beef production is more than offset by lower pork, broiler, and turkey production.  For beef, production is forecast higher as lower forecast slaughter in the first quarter is more than offset by higher slaughter in the second half.  The larger forecast second-half slaughter reflects larger placements of cattle during the first half.  Pork production is reduced from last month as the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report estimated a year-over decline in the December-February 2014 pig crop and revised the June-August 2013 pig crop lower.  Although producers indicated intentions to increase sows farrowing in March-May and June-August 2014, the loss of piglets due to the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is expected to result in lower slaughter during the remainder of the year.  Although carcass weights are forecast higher, those gains will be insufficient to offset the reduced slaughter numbers and the pork production forecast is reduced from last month.  Broiler production and hatchery data points to slower growth in eggs set and chicks placed. Production is also reduced as feed prices are forecast higher.  Turkey production for the first quarter is reduced based on February production, but forecasts for production in subsequent quarters are unchanged.  Egg production forecasts for 2014 are unchanged. 

The beef import forecast for 2014 is raised from last month as demand for processing-grade beef remains strong and the export forecast is raised on continued strong sales to Asian markets.  Pork imports are raised on high U.S. pork prices, but the export forecast is reduced as tighter supplies and high prices are expected to constrain sales.  The broiler export forecast is reduced based on February export data.  Turkey exports are lowered on weaker sales.  Egg import and export forecasts are lowered. 

Cattle prices for 2014 are raised from last month, reflecting continued price strength for fed cattle. The hog price forecast is raised on current prices and expected tight supplies of market hogs. Broiler and turkey prices are raised as higher cattle and reduced broiler production support higher prices.  The egg price is raised on continued strong demand. 

The milk production forecast for 2014 is raised from last month as strong returns are expected to encourage a more rapid expansion in cow numbers and increased milk per cow.  Fat-basis exports are raised on higher sales of cheese and butter, but the skim-solids export forecast is lowered on weaker-than-expected nonfat dry milk (NDM) sales.  Skim-solid imports are reduced slightly due to lower imports of milk protein concentrate and casein.  
Product price forecasts for cheese, butter, and whey are higher, supported by strong demand and price strength to date.  However, the NDM price is unchanged at the midpoint as export demand is weaker than expected.  Class III and Class IV prices are raised on higher product prices.  The all milk price is forecast at $22.55-23.05 per cwt.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/04/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 896,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.63 million gallons daily. That is down 26,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 898,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.77 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.4 million barrels. That is a 3.4% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were 38,000 b/d, up from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 377.8 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 9.96%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.586 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 99,996 metric tons of livestock feed, 89,148 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.67 million pounds of corn oil daily.

New Poll: For 3rd Year in a Row, Americans Overwhelmingly Support the RFS

For the third year in a row, Americans, by an overwhelming majority, consistently support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other key federal initiatives supporting the expanded use of ethanol. A new national poll conducted by American Viewpoint found 65 percent of adults support the RFS, while just 26 percent are opposed. Support for the RFS has been steadily rising. In 2013, 64 percent polled supported the policy, up from 61 percent in 2012.

As you may know, there is currently a renewable fuels standard that requires a certain amount of the fuel produced each year to come from ethanol, bio-diesel and other renewable sources that aren’t fossil fuels to reduce foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. Do you favor or oppose this requirement?
Favor: 65%
Oppose: 26%
Don’t Know: 8%

RFA’s President and CEO Bob Dinneen commented, “It is telling that support for the RFS continues to grow in spite of the relentless attacks on ethanol and the RFS financed by Big Oil’s deep pockets. Repeatedly Americans have decisively said they place a premium on energy independence, job creation, and a cleaner environment. For these reasons and more, Americans overwhelmingly support the RFS for its ability to strengthen this great nation. Members of Congress and the Obama Administration should review this data before taking action to reduce or eliminate a program with broad national appeal and tangible energy and environmental benefits.”

Expanding on the polling results, Dinneen continued, “Americans see great value in investing in the next generation of fuel, cellulosic ethanol, and they support the idea of an open fuel standard which encourages the manufacturing of cars that run on any number of alternatives to petroleum. In fact, Americans appear to have a visceral dislike for the billions and billions of dollars in government subsidies and special tax treatment that Big Oil has enjoyed for 100 years.”

The government has considered giving incentives to help fund the expansion of a new fuel known as Cellulosic ethanol, which is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses and other non-edible parts of plants. Do you favor or oppose these incentives?
Favor: 66%
Oppose: 24%
Don’t Know: 9%

Do you favor or oppose requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel sources other than oil, such as electricity, natural gas and bio-fuels?
Favor: 78%
Oppose: 19%
Don’t Know: 3%

As you may know, oil companies receive four to five billion dollars in government subsidies and special tax treatment and incentives for things like equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances, and foreign investment tax credits for taxes they pay in foreign countries. Do you favor or oppose these tax incentives?
Favor: 22%
Oppose: 66%
Don’t know: 11%

The new poll was commissioned by RFA and conducted by American Viewpoint. The poll was conducted via phone with a sample size of 1,000 adults. Margin of error in the poll is +/- 3.1 percent. Approximately 40 percent of respondents were contacted by cell phone.

Linda DiVall, President of American Viewpoint, analyzed several keys themes from the polling results:

“Despite the barrage of negative advertising targeting ethanol recently, ethanol’s image has held strong, largely unchanged from last year. More telling is the fact that the unfavorable rating of oil companies has climbed five percentage points to 47 percent, with a plurality of Americans rating oil companies unfavorably.”

“That rise in negative opinion of oil companies certainly manifests itself in the 66 percent of adults polled who desire a level playing field among fuels and resent the subsidies and special treatment oil companies have held onto at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

DiVall concluded, “The ethanol industry must not be deterred from telling its story. It should stand proudly and champion its ability to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, lower our dependence on foreign oil, create quality jobs, and reduce fuel costs for American drivers. Ethanol, thanks in large part to the RFS, is a fuel with a proven track record of success and a promising future.”

Soybean Growers Welcome Introduction of Federal GMO Labeling Legislation

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed the introduction this morning of new legislation to establish a federal voluntary labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act would direct FDA to provide guidance for companies that wish to label their products for the presence or absence of GMOs; make mandatory an FDA safety review of all new GMO traits before they are brought to market and enable FDA to mandate labels on any product shown to pose a health, safety or nutrition risk; and directs FDA to define the term “natural” for use on food labels. Additionally, the bill would eliminate a large potential source of confusion among consumers by establishing FDA’s labeling guidance as the national standard and preventing states from enacting a patchwork of conflicting requirements.

“This bill is a commonsense, science-based approach to an issue we realize is close to the hearts and minds of so many consumers,” said Iowa farmer and ASA President Ray Gaesser. “Americans want to know that their food is safe, and the solutions proposed in this bill will ensure that they have that information. It will require that the FDA review all new GMO traits for safety, and stipulate that the FDA require labels for any product that has a safety or health risk. It will allow companies to voluntarily label foods as non-GMO and enable those consumers who wish purchase non-GMO foods to do so. Importantly, however, it won't force consumers to pay more for food just because some interests want to require mandatory labeling of safe and healthy foods made with GMOs."

Economic studies show that an average family of four would pay about $500 more per year for groceries under mandatory GMO labeling schemes being considered in some states.

Gaesser especially praised the bill’s co-sponsors, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) for their foresight in championing the bill. “Congressmen Pompeo and Butterfield and each of the sponsors of this bill have taken a brave and progressive step,” he said. “The conversation surrounding GMOs is one that has been crowded with misinformation and hyperbole on all sides, but at its core, must be about science. The Congressmen realize that my fellow farmers and I use these tools—each of which represents a revolutionary and proven-safe scientific advance—to be more productive while consuming fewer resources. They are to be commended for pursuing a science-based step forward on GMOs, and we call on the Energy and Commerce Committee to move forward with hearings on the bill as quickly as possible.”

“Genetically modified soybeans have been in widespread use by American farmers since 1997. Not only have these applications been repeatedly tested and proven safe by the world’s most stringent food safety testing system, they have been so without a single documented instance of a human or animal health risk. Not one. That’s why, as farmers, we grow them, and as consumers, we feed them to our families,” added Gaesser. “It’s time that we have a reasonable, science-based discussion on GMOs and this bill helps get us there.”

NCGA Announces Support Federal GMO Labeling Legislation

The National Corn Growers Association announced its support for legislation introduced at a press conference today that would establish a federal standard for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients.

“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides certainty for both consumers and farmers alike by creating a unified, science-based approach to labeling and eliminating potential risks and costs posed by an expensive patchwork of labeling laws,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill.  “NCGA’s more than 40,000 members work tirelessly to provide America’s families with a wide variety of nutritious, quality food choices that are both safe and affordable. A federal GMO labeling solution will allow consumers to feel confident in the safety of American food by affirming the FDA’s sole authority in food safety and labeling decisions. GMOs are important to farmers and to our nation’s food supply as they help us grow a stable supply of crops that can withstand a variety of changing conditions while reducing our use of chemicals.  We applaud Reps. Mike Pompeo (R- Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D- N.C.) as well as Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) who introduced this legislation, for their work on behalf of families and farmers.”

The legislation introduced will protect consumers and ensure the safety of food ingredients using solid, science-based information by providing a consistent, informative GMO labeling solution that eliminates confusion and advances food safety.

In setting out a federal labeling system, it reaffirms the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of GMO food ingredients while providing consumers greater confidence by establishing a required FDA safety review process for all new GMO traits. Notably, the FDA would have the authority to mandate the labeling of any GMO food ingredients it determines would create a health, safety or nutrition issue.

The legislation would also empower the FDA to provide greater consistency in the market by defining the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products. The clear definition of this commonly used term would offer consumers clarity about products allowing them to base choices on information verified instead of marketing claims.

"America's corn farmers want the same things as families across the country. We want to keep families safe and protect our nation's food supply,” said Barbre. “That is why we believe it is imperative important decisions about our safety and how we label what we eat should remain in the hands of experts, the scientists at the FDA. NCGA supports the Congressmen’s effort to ensure America’s food supply remains safe and America’s consumers have access to clear, consistent information based in reputable science.

For more information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard, visit

Wheat Growers Support Introduction of Federal GMO Labeling Bill

The National Association of Wheat Growers welcomes the introduction of legislation that would establish a voluntary federal labeling standard for foods and beverages made with genetically modified ingredients, also known as GMOs.

The proposed Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K Butterfield (D-N.C.), would authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require safety reviews of all GMO traits, as well as mandatory labels on such foods if they are found to be unsafe or materially different from foods produced without GM ingredients. In addition, the bill would eliminate confusion and uncertainty of a 50-state patchwork of GMO safety and labeling laws by affirming the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients.

“NAWG is pleased with the introduction of this bill,” said NAWG president, Paul Penner, a wheat farmer from Hillsboro, Kan. “It will provide a federal solution on GMO labeling and will bolster consumer confidence in the safety of American food by affirming the FDA’s sole authority in food safety and labeling decisions.”

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act

“As the nation’s largest general farm organization, the American Farm Bureau represents farmers and ranchers who use every type of agricultural production system to provide the safest food possible both here in the U.S. and abroad. Our farmers and ranchers are encouraged by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) for introducing H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This measure will make it clear that the Food and Drug Administration should be the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

“The diversity of innovative options farmers and ranchers have in regard to how they grow our food is one of the reasons U.S. consumers enjoy a wide variety of foods that are also among the most affordable in the world. Farm Bureau supports all production practices – and common sense, science-based regulations – that ensure consumers are receiving safe and healthy food. But we will stand adamantly opposed to those who want to take tools and technologies away from America’s farmers and affordable choices away from consumers.

“The GMO labeling ballot initiatives and legislative efforts that many state lawmakers and voters are facing are geared toward making people wrongly fear what they’re eating and feeding their children. They undermine the public’s understanding of the many benefits of biotechnology in feeding a growing population – and keeping costs down. With the introduction of this legislation and the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, Farm Bureau looks forward to a national-level discussion that will affirm FDA’s role in assuring consumers about GMO safety and reduce the confusion that would result from a patchwork of state labeling initiatives.”

NMPF Praises Introduction of Voluntary GMO Labeling Bill

The National Milk Producers Federation today applauded introduction of legislation establishing federal standards for the safety and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

Under the bill, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), the Food and Drug Administration will set standards for companies that wish to label their products as containing or not containing GMOs. In addition, FDA is required to conduct a safety review of all new genetically modified traits and could mandate labeling if there is a health, safety or nutrition issue with a particular ingredient.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

“Rather than create a patchwork of state policies, what this legislation would do is deal with this important issue at the national level,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.  “And since there is no reason for Congress and the FDA to require mandatory labels on foods produced through GMOs, we need this approach instead:  clarifying how companies can voluntarily label their products in a way that reduces confusion at the consumer level.”

Mulhern added that “genetically modified ingredients have been used in foods in this country for two decades. They add desirable traits so that crops are more plentiful and require less water and fewer pesticides.  If companies want to highlight their presence, they should be able to do so in a way that enhances trust in the food supply.”

The GMO labeling legislation also addresses another problem by ordering the FDA to define the term “natural” when used on food labels. Right now, there is no uniform definition of natural when applied to foods.

Up to 80 percent of the food available in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients. Agencies including the FDA, the U.S. Agriculture Department, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization have found no negative health effects from consuming GMOs.

CFTC Reauthorization Bill Passes House Ag Committee

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement on today’s U.S. House Committee on Agriculture markup of H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act:

“Well-functioning, competitive and transparent markets are critical to family farmers, who use commodity derivatives markets as a hedging and price discovery tool. The Dodd-Frank Act authorized long-overdue derivative market reforms and the enforcement of new and existing trading rules to protect commodity-dependent businesses, end-users and consumers. Reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) must reinforce, not undermine, Dodd-Frank’s provisions and CFTC’s expanded oversight.

“I am pleased that a study on the impact of high frequency trading is included in the bill, but there ought to be further studies on excessive speculation and its damaging effects on price discovery and the marketplace in general.

“Furthermore, it’s disappointing that a self-funding mechanism or user-fee for the CFTC was not included in the bill. The annual appropriations battles over CFTC funding are disruptive to the agency’s regulation of the $690 trillion swaps market. While these and other priorities are considered in the legislative process, NFU seeks to continue to work with Congress to enact an effective final bill.

“Additionally, none of the two current CFTC commissioners or three pending nominees has agricultural experience, in spite of the commission’s jurisdiction over agricultural commodity derivatives and the underlying physical markets. I urge Congress to stress to the administration the importance of qualified CFTC nominees who understand the unique needs of farmers and commodity end-users.”

NMPF Statement on Introduction of House Bill Blocking Changes in FDA Regulation

Jim Mulhern, President and Chief Executive Officer

“The National Milk Producers Federation supports the legislation introduced this week by four House members to stop the Food and Drug Administration from making it harder to use beer by-products in animal feed. We need to keep the brew in the moo on our farms, and this legislation is a signal that the FDA needs to rethink the regulation that it is pursuing.

As our comments to the FDA last month pointed out, there is no public health risk associated with the long-standing practice of using brewers’ grains as animal feed. The proposed FDA regulations would unnecessarily increase costs to dairy farmers. Farmers have been using high-protein brewers’ grains in livestock feed for hundreds of years.

Last fall, the FDA suggested imposing stricter requirements for handling spent grains sold or donated to farmers as part of new feed regulations proposed under the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act. The changes would require spent grains to be dried and packaged, before being passed on to farmers. Typically, farmers now receive wet grains, which help hydrate livestock.

Both the beer industry and agricultural groups, including NMPF, object to the planned changes, and we are encouraged that the FDA has said recently it will review its draft language. In the meantime, we support the legislative approach offered by Reps. Steve Womack (R-AR), Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) to highlight the importance of this issue.”

Russia Spring Planting Ahead of Pace

Spring grain planting in Russia for this year's harvest is ahead of last year's pace because of better weather conditions, the agriculture ministry said late Tuesday.

The ministry said farmers planted spring grains on 1.3 million hectares up to April 8--4.2% of the planned total area--which is 775,300 hectares more than on the same date last year.

Russia plans to plant spring grains on 31.8 million hectares this year, 1.7% more than last year. The agriculture ministry is aiming for a grain harvest this year of 97 million metric tons--that projected total includes grain from the recently-joined Crimea Peninsula.

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