Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday May 19 Ag News

Crop Insurance and Replant Decisions
Cory Walters, UNL Extension Crop Economist

Recent adverse weather conditions may force some growers who have already planted to replant.

If you believe replanting may in your best interest, check the replant provision in your crop insurance policy and immediately contact your insurance agent to get the paperwork started. [Catastrophic (CAT) and Area (Revenue) protection policy do not have replant provisions.]

The following guidelines, which come from the USDA Risk Management Agency's Loss Adjustment Standards Handbook, will give you an idea of what to expect from crop insurance for replanting.   To qualify for a replanting payment:

    The insured crop must be hit with an insured peril (excess moisture, frost, hail, etc…).
    Your approved insurance provider must determine that it is practical to replant. (This is why it's best to contact your insurance agent immediately.)
    Acres being replanted must have been initially planted on or after the earliest planting date. 
    Appraised expected yield must be below 90% of the guarantee yield on acreage intended for replant.
    Acreage replanted must be at least the lesser of 20 acres or 20% of the insured planted acreage for the unit.
    Approved insurance provider must give consent to replant.

The replanting payment will be equal to the projected price multiplied by a maximum bushel factor.  For 2014 corn and soybean projected prices are $4.62 and $11.36, respectively. Maximum bushel factors are eight bushels per acre for corn and three bushels per acre for soybeans.

For example, your insured corn crop was hit with excessive moisture. You planted corn on May 1, which is past the earliest planting date of April 10.  Appraised expected yield is now 70 bushels per acre (bpa). Actual production history (APH) is 140 bpa. You insured using a Revenue Protection policy at a 75% coverage level using the projected price of $4.62 per acre.  Your yield guarantee would be 105 bpa (140 APH yield x 75% guarantee).  Applying Rule 4 from above, 90% of your yield guarantee is 94.5 bpa (105 x 0.9).  Your expected yield of 70 bpa is less than 94.5 bpa (90% of guaranteed yield).  Consequently, you would receive a replant payment of $36.96/acre (8 bpa x $4.62, the projected price).

From the example we can see that qualifying for a replanting payment hinges on the producer's yield guarantee.  Selection of a lower coverage level implies a lower yield guarantee and a smaller chance of qualifying for a replant payment.  However, when extreme events occur it is likely everyone will qualify for a replant payment.  If you are unsure whether you may qualify for a replant payment, your first step is to contact your crop insurance agent.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Frosts and freezes last week is causing some concern for alfalfa and other forages.  Warmer weekend temperatures make it possible to now estimate damage and take action if needed.

               To assess damage to alfalfa from last week’s cold, don’t just look for frozen or wilting leaves.  You need to determine if the growing point was killed.  This growing point, also called the apical meristem, is the initial development source of all new leaves, stems, and branches on alfalfa.  It is located inside a dense cluster of unfolded leaves near the top of the main stem.

               Because it is inside a cluster of leaves, the growing point is somewhat protected from cold injury.  Exposed leaves and stems all around it can be frozen, wilted, and dying while the growing point cluster survives.  If the growing points in your alfalfa survived the freeze, just wait for growth to begin again.

               When the growing point is killed, however, growth ceases on that stem.  New growth must come from new shoots at the crown or from lower branches.  Regrowth often begins a little sooner if plants are cut but it rarely pays to cut and just leave the clippings in the field.  Hwoever, if the value of the hay that comes from harvesting current growth will pay for the harvest costs, it often is worth taking that harvest.  I haven’t seen many damaged fields with that much growth so most of you should just wait for plants to come back on their own.

               New seedlings of grasses and legumes usually tolerate quite cold temperatures so most of them should be safe unless plants were clearly frozen and killed.  Then replanting might be needed.

               Don’t rush to harvest or replant.  Check to see if your plants are truly damaged.  Then decide whether to harvest, replant, or just wait.

As Crops Emerge Install ET and Soil Moisture Sensors

Aaron Nygren, Extension Educator

As growers complete corn and soybean planting, it's a good time to install Atmometers or ETgages as well as Watermark Sensors. We hope you won't need to irrigate for several weeks, but now is the time to begin making plans.

Crop consultants and producers in the Nebraska Ag Water Management Network (NAWMN) have been using ETgages and soil water sensors to aid their irrigation planning and management for nearly 10 years. These two tools are economical and can help take the guesswork out of your irrigation management decisions.

ETgages measure evapotranspiration — water loss from the soil through evaporation and from the plant through transpiration.

ETgages should be placed in open areas like fence lines, grass, alfalfa, soybean or small grains fields at least one foot above the canopy.  ETgages take into account the humidity, temperature, solar radiation, and air movement of the area to provide an accurate estimate of potential crop evapotranspiration or ET.

Think of the ETgage as being the opposite of a rain gauge. Instead of measuring rainfall, it measures how much the water level has dropped. This occurs as the water evaporates from a ceramic plate covered with green canvas to simulate a crop leaf. The ETgage is read at least once a week, preferably at the same time and day of the week each time.

Typically we use an ET gage with an alfalfa canvas (No. 54) to estimate the evapotranspiration for a fully irrigated alfalfa field, which is the basis for crop water use in Nebraska or the reference ET.  To convert this reference ET to our actual crop ET, we use an adjustment factor called the crop coefficient (Kc) as shown in Table 1.  If you know the ETgage drop for the week (reference ET) and your crop coefficient for your crop growth stage, you can multiply the two to calculate your crop's ET for the last week.

For example, let's calculate evapotranspiration water loss if your ETgage dropped 1.50 inches for the week and your corn was at V4. The crop coefficient for that stage is 0.18. Multiply 1.5 x 0.18 = 0.27 inch evapotranspiration for the week.  If your neighbor planted corn earlier than you and that crop was at V8, the crop coefficient would be 0.51, so the crop ET would be 1.5 x 0.51 = 0.77 inch.

One of the advantages of using an ETgage is that it is located near your field and does a great job of estimating ET based on local conditions and your crop's growth stage.  Once corn gets to the 16-leaf stage through beginning dent and soybeans are between beginning pod and full seed they both have a crop coefficient of 1.1, so you multiply the ETgage change for the week times 1.1 to estimate your crop ET.

For more information about using ETgages go to UNL's ETgage link. There you can view information from producer's that are posting their ETgage readings as well as automatic weather station data.  At the NAWMN website, check out the NebGuide "Using Modified Atmometers (ETgage®) for Irrigation Management" for more information as well as the crop coefficients for various crop growth stages.

The automatic weather stations, which show up as blue balloons on the map provide daily reference ETs as well as readings for the past three weeks.

Do you have an ETgage?  If you do, we hope you'll consider posting your information to the website so that other producers can access the info.

Watermark Sensors

ETgages do a great job of estimating crop water use or ET, but it is important to also monitor soil water status.  Watermark Sensors measure soil matric potential or the energy required to remove water from the soil.  Once crops have emerged, Watermark sensors can be installed at 1-, 2-, 3-, and even 4-foot depths in the most representative areas of their fields. These sensors are glued onto PVC pipe and placed in the row between plants so they can be installed, used, removed at the end of the season, and reused the following year.

You need to do a little preparation work before heading to the field to install your Watermark sensors.  The sensors need to be soaked in water and allowed to dry out, preferably two or three times prior to installing them in the field. When installing sensors, we suggest installing them wet. Also, be sure to check and make sure that no extra water has soaked up into the PVC tube by tipping the sensor and making sure no water sloshes around.

Timely installation of your Watermark sensors is important. Our goal is to get the sensors installed when conditions permit (neither too wet nor too dry) and before the crop gets too large. For more information on these sensors as well as installation tips, visit This site also includes videos and publications on water management.

Information about using Watermark sensors is available is available in the newly released UNL Extension Circular, Principles and Operational Characteristics of Watermark Granular Matrix Sensor to Measure Soil Water Status and Its Practical Applications for Irrigation Management in Various Soil Textures.
New App Records Sensor Readings

Crop Water, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln mobile app, provides an easy way to estimate soil water status based on Watermark sensors installed at depths of 1, 2, and 3 feet. With these sensor readings, the Crop Water app will estimate the water used as well as what is still available for Nebraska soils. You can also see historic sensor readings. It was developed for the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN). It is available for both android and ios iphones/ipads at: or

2014 Custom Rate Survey Results Now Available

            The 2014 Nebraska Farm Custom Rate survey results are now available, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension farm management specialist says.

            These surveys, conducted every two years, consist of two parts, said Roger Wilson, farm management specialist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Part I contains 110 spring and summer operations including tillage, fertilizing, planting, spraying and waste handling. Part II contains 46 harvesting and 14 miscellaneous operations.

            The survey is sent to people who have been identified as doing custom farm work, Wilson said.

            The U.S. Department of Agriculture has divided the state into eight crop-reporting districts. Results from the surveys are tabulated for each of these districts as well as the whole state.

            The rates are published online in UNL Extension Circular EC823, 2014 Nebraska Farm Custom Rates – Part I, and EC826, 2014 Nebraska Farm Custom Rates – Part II, at and

            The rates can also be accessed via the CropWatch website at or the Department of Agricultural Economics website at

            Printed copies are available for $3.75 at

            Four results are provided for each operation: the number reporting, the average rate of those reporting, the range of replies and the most common rate charged, Wilson said.

            A minimum of three replies are required for each operation or the results are not reported.

            Rates were compared between 2012 and 2014 for three operations where there were a large number of responses.

            The first was disk harrowing, tandem or offset, finishing harrowing per acre. The average rate statewide increased from $9.26 per acre in 2012 to $12.24 in 2014. The most common rate remained $10 per acre for both years.

            No-till drilling of soybeans was another category where there was another large number of responses, Wilson said. The average price went from $14.83 per acre in 2012 to $17.04 in 2014. The most common charge remained at $15 per acre for both years.

            Combining soybeans was the third operation where rates between 2012 and 2014 were compared. The average rate increased from $29.54 per acre in 2012 to $31.41 per acre in 2014. The most common rate remained $30 per acre for both years.

            These three operations were chosen because there were 70 or more responses to them, Wilson said.

            "It is interesting that in each case the average went from being less than the most common rate to be greater," he said. "This indicates there is a reluctance to raise rates by a large number of operators even though average rates are increasing."

Pork Checkoff Updates Its Transport Quality Assurance® Program

Since 2001, the pork industry's Transport Quality Assurance program (TQA) has promoted responsible practices when handling and transporting pigs. In that time, TQA has undergone five revisions - always striving to offer the most current, science-based information on humane handling, biosecurity and proper transportation of swine.

The mission of the TQA program remains unchanged: to continuously build a culture of protecting and promoting animal well-being through training and certification of animal handlers and transport personnel. In that process, TQA uses the most current industry-proven techniques in an effort to build consumer confidence and understanding of the high-quality pork products delivered to market every day.  

"Consumers are hungry for information on how their pork is raised - from the farm to the table," said Sherrie Webb, animal welfare director at The National Pork Board. "That need for information is about more than what happens on the farm and extends to how that animal is safely and humanely transported from farm to market. That's why keeping current on transportation trends is so critical."

Staying current on transportation trends requires continuous evaluation and commitment. The Pork Checkoff's pioneering TQA curriculum focuses not only on safe handling, but also emerging diseases such as PEDV and biosecurity. In 2014, each was a major focus in revising the program.

"Everyone involved in pork production - from producers, their employees, veterinarians and transporters - needs to develop a biosecurity plan that helps them to make good decisions and take sound action that reduces the risk of disease spread," said Brad Knadler, director of hog procurement, Triumph Foods. "The Pork Checkoff's TQA program specifically addresses the need for serious biosecurity protocols to be in place and helps the pork industry further fight and reduce the spread of these industry-impacting diseases."

The updated program also provides a new approach to understanding basic pig behavior and body language, and how it contributes to a safe and positive experience for both the pig and the handler.

"Calm pigs are easier to handle than excited, agitated pigs. Handling will be easier, and pigs less likely to become agitated and bunch together, if handlers use basic pig behavioral principles," said Webb. "An important part of effectively using pig behavior during handling procedures is learning how the pig perceives and responds to the handler in different situations and environments."

Additionally, adapting to changes in weather, especially temperature extremes, costs the U.S. pork industry millions of dollars annually. Handlers and transporters must understand the affect weather can have on pigs during transport, and how best to protect them during extreme weather. The revised TQA program teaches transporters the importance of planning ahead and properly bedding and boarding trailers.

Joint Statement by North American Agricultural Leaders Following Forum in Mexico

United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture Enrique Martínez and Canada’s Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz issued the joint statement below following today’s agriculture forum in Mexico:

“We, the agricultural leaders of North America, met today in Mexico City to reaffirm the benefits of fair and open trade for our economies and food security. In recent years, the North American economy has more than doubled and agricultural trade has grown exponentially.

Looking ahead, our common goal is to keep our food and agriculture industries strong and competitive. As partners, we understand the critical importance of strengthening our integrated supply chain to facilitate trade throughout North America and around the world. Growing global demand for quality, consistency and value is creating new and exciting opportunities for our agricultural sectors.

From Mexico City, to Washington, to Ottawa, we will continue to show the world how trade and open borders support economic growth and jobs. We remain committed to promoting a fair, open and integrated North American market that operates using science-based rules and reduces technical barriers to trade. Together, we are confident we can build an even stronger North American agricultural economy for the future.”

Vilsack Highlights Recent Trade Breakthroughs with Mexico

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted recent progress on a number of trade issues with Mexico following a panel discussion with Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture Enrique Martínez y Martínez. The panel was part of the Global Forum on Agro Food Expectations forum in Mexico City. Vilsack's remarks come as Mexico's expanded import ruling to allow increased potato imports from the U.S. goes into effect today. Mexico also recently announced it would expand American beef imports as well. A full range of U.S. beef and beef products can now be exported to Mexico, potentially increasing U.S. beef and beef product exports by $50 million.

At the forum, Vilsack joined Martínez and Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, for a panel discussion entitled: Integration of Agro-Industrial Markets in North America: Challenges and Opportunities. The panelists discussed how the United States, Mexico and Canada can continue to work together to create jobs and economic opportunity for the agricultural industry.

"Mexico is an important strategic ally and a critical economic partner to the United States. In recent months, we have made progress on a number of issues that will help increase economic opportunity for both of our countries," Vilsack said. "The United States and Mexico will continue to build on our strong trade relationships and promote greater market access for our agricultural products."

For decades, two-way agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States has supported good-paying jobs in both countries. This partnership has helped leverage existing supply chains, adding to the economic strength of U.S. and Mexican agriculture.

USDA is continuing to help America's farmers and ranchers reach new markets and increase agricultural exports. In fiscal year 2013, U.S. food and agricultural product exports reached a record $140.9 billion, supporting nearly one million American jobs. U.S. agriculture is on track for another exceptional year, with exports of farm and food products forecasted to reach $142.6 billion worldwide.

Resources in the new farm bill will allow USDA to continue funding for trade promotion and market expansion for U.S. agricultural products overseas. USDA has moved quickly to implement trade promotion programs reauthorized under the 2014 Farm Bill that signed just three months ago. Through the Market Access Program (MAP), USDA has already provided $171.8 million in Fiscal Year 2014 funds to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives to help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. Through the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, USDA has provided $24.6 million in Fiscal Year 2014 funds to 22 trade organizations to help create, expand, and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products.

Applicants Sought for 2014-2015 ASA DuPont Young Leader Program

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and DuPont are seeking applicants for the 2015 ASA DuPont Young Leader Program. For more than 30 years, the ASA DuPont Young Leader program has identified and developed grower leaders that truly shape the future of agriculture.

“The ASA DuPont Young Leader program has shaped not only the soybean industry but all of agriculture,” said Ray Gaesser (Iowa), ASA President. “The program provides industry leading training in an environment that fosters collaboration between farmers throughout the U.S. Participants not only gain ‘real-world’ experience but build lifetime friendships. When the program started more than 30 years ago, it was a game changer, recognizing the importance of both women and young people in agriculture. We’re grateful to DuPont for their continuing support of the program.”

The ASA DuPont Young Leader program is a challenging and educational two-part training program. Phase I of the training will take place at the DuPont Pioneer headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, Nov. 18-21, 2014. The program continues Feb. 24-28, 2015 in Phoenix, Ariz., with training held in conjunction with the 20th annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

The ASA DuPont Young Leader program offers the opportunity for participants to strengthen their natural leadership skills, expand their agricultural knowledge and develop strong peer relationships with other soybean growers from across the country.

Applications are being accepted online now! Interested applicants should click here for additional program information and to apply.

ASA, its 26 state affiliates including the Grain Farmers of Ontario and DuPont will work together to identify the top producers to represent their state as part of this program. One couple or individual per state will be selected to participate.

USDA:  April Milk Production up 1.2 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during April totaled 16.3 billion pounds, up 1.2 percent from April 2013. March revised production, at 16.7 billion pounds, was up 1.1 percent from March 2013.  The March revision represented an increase of 6 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,911 pounds for April. This is the highest production per cow for the month of April since the 23 State series began in 2003.  The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.53 million head, 10,000 head more than March 2014.

NFU Continues Legal Defense of COOL

This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard argument en banc in AMI v. USDA. While a three-judge panel had affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction on the implementation of the revised Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations, the panel had noted that one issue might warrant rehearing en banc. The Court scheduled today’s hearing as a result.

The parties’ positions before the Court are essentially the same as what was presented to the panel although additional briefing was sought by the Court on the reach of a certain Supreme Court decision in the First Amendment area.

National Farmers Union (NFU), along with fellow intervenors the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, American Sheep Industry Association and Consumer Federation of America, has participated at both the district court and at the D.C. Circuit supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s revised COOL regulation and opposing the preliminary injunction request of the plaintiffs/appellants.

“The revised COOL regulation is an important step in providing consumers improved information on the origin of the meat products they buy, and it reduces consumer confusion,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The information required by the regulation to be provided is factual and noncontroversial. I am hopeful that the full Circuit will affirm the panel’s prior decision and continue to deny the preliminary injunction requested by appellants.”


The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with their co-defendants, have paid Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, $15.75 million to settle cases stemming from a lawsuit they brought against Ringling Bros.® over the care of its Asian elephants. This historic settlement payment to Feld Entertainment ends nearly 14 years of litigation between the parties.

"We hope this settlement payment, and the various court decisions that found against these animal rights activists and their attorneys, will deter individuals and organizations from bringing frivolous litigation like this in the future," said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.

"This settlement is a significant milestone for our family-owned business and all the dedicated men and women who care for the Ringling Bros. herd of 42 Asian elephants. We look forward to continuing to set the standard for providing world-class care for all our animals and producing high quality, family entertainment."

HSUS and animal rights groups the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Born Free USA (formerly the Animal Protection Institute), the Wildlife Advocacy Project, the law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal, and several current and former attorneys of that firm, paid the settlement for their involvement in the case brought under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that the U.S. District Court ruled was "frivolous," "vexatious," and "groundless and unreasonable from its inception."

Today's settlement also covers the related Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case that Feld Entertainment filed against the groups after discovering they had paid a plaintiff for his participation in the original lawsuit and then attempted to conceal those payments.

In December 2012, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a former co-defendant in the case, settled its share of the lawsuits by paying Feld Entertainment $9.3 million. Today's settlement brings the total recovered by Feld Entertainment to more than $25 million in legal fees and expenses, which the company actually spent in defending the ESA case.

"After winning 14 years of litigation, Feld Entertainment has been vindicated. This case was a colossal abuse of the justice system in which the animal rights groups and their lawyers apparently believed the ends justified the means.

It also marks the first time in U.S. history where a defendant in an Endangered Species Act case was found entitled to recover attorneys' fees against the plaintiffs due to the Court's finding of frivolous, vexatious and unreasonable litigation," said Feld Entertainment's legal counsel in this matter, John Simpson, a partner with Norton Rose Fulbright's Washington, D.C., office. "The total settlement amounts represent recovery of 100 percent of the legal fees Feld Entertainment incurred in defending against the ESA lawsuit."

In the original ESA lawsuit, Feld Entertainment discovered the animal rights groups and their lawyers had paid over $190,000 to a former circus employee, Tom Rider, to be a "paid plaintiff." The Court also found that the animal rights groups and their attorneys "sought to conceal the nature, extent and purpose of the payments" during the litigation.

Their abuse of the judicial system included the issuance of a false statement under oath by Rider, assisted by his counsel, who the Court found was "the same attorney who was paying him" to participate in the litigation. The Court found in addition to Rider being a "paid plaintiff," that the lawsuit was "frivolous and vexatious."

Additional information on this settlement and the underlying litigation can be found at

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