Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday May 1 Ag News

NEBFARMPAC Endorses State Senator Brad Ashford for Congress

Nebraska Farmers Union’s Political Action Committee, NEBFARMPAC announced their endorsement of State Senator Brad Ashford for Congress in the Second Congressional District.

“State Senator Brad Ashford represents the bi-partisan problem solving approach that is needed in Congress to bring together different ideas and forge solutions,” said Gale Lush of Wilcox, NEBFARMPAC President.  “The extreme partisanship in recent years has created a toxic atmosphere in Congress that has produced the least productive Congress in recent history if not ever.  We need to send people to Washington, D.C. who knows how to get things accomplished and represent the folks back home.”

NEBFARMPAC Secretary and Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen said “Our organization has enjoyed a positive working relationship with State Senator Brad Ashford for the sixteen years he has served in the Legislature. We know and respect him.  He asks questions, lots of questions.  He is intellectually curious, and has the leadership skills to bring people together with different points of view in order to develop consensus and hammer out solutions that everyone can support.  That is a legislative skill badly needed these days in Congress.  Brad Ashford has a proven record of leadership and problem solving that earns our unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement for Congress in the Second Congressional District.  

NEBFARMPAC Announces 2014 Primary Endorsements

The Nebraska Farmers Union’s Political Action Committee, NEBFARMPAC, announced its endorsements for the 2014 Primary Election.

The NEBFARMPAC Board endorsed candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, Legislature, Nebraska Public Power District, Omaha Public Power District, Norris Public Power District, Stanton County Power District, various Natural Resource Districts, Northeast Community College, Metropolitan Community College, and the State Board of Education.

Sixteen of the NEBFARMPAC endorsed candidates for the Primary are members of Nebraska Farmers Union.  “We encourage our members to be good citizens by getting informed on the issues, to get constructively engaged in the public policy process, and to consider running for public office themselves,” said John Hansen, NEBFARMPAC Secretary.   “We need candidates who work well with others to solve problems and make our government work as it should.”

U.S. Senate:  Dave Domina (D)
First Congressional District:  Jeff Fortenberry (R)
Second Congressional District:  Brad Ashford (D)
Governor:  *Chuck Hassebrook (D)

Members of the Legislature:
District 2: Mel Luetchens
District 26:  *Larry Weixelman
District 32: Phil Hardenburger
District 46: Adam Morfield

State Board of Education:  District 6:  *Maureen Nickels
Board of Regents University of Nebraska:  District 5:  Steve Glenn
Metropolitan Community College:  District 1: *Judy Domina and District 2: David Newell
Northeast Community College:  District 4: *Donald Frank

Central Platte Natural Resources District:  Subdistrict 7: *Ed Stoltenberg

Lower Platte South Natural Resources District:  Subdistrict 8:  *Tom Green

Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District:
Subdistrict 1: *Dave Negus
Subdistrict 6: *Donald Frank

Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District:
At Large: *Christopher Dierks
Subdistrict 7: *Keith Heithoff

* Denotes Nebraska Farmers Union Members

Gale Lush of Wilcox, NEBFARMPAC President said “Seventeen State Senators have served for eight years and are not able to run for re-election as the result of term limits.  That is over a third of the Legislature.  As voters, we have to do our homework on the new candidates we will choose from in the Primary.  Our NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors felt it necessary for us to weigh in on the races where there were clear pro-family farm and ranch candidates.  We thank all the candidates that have filed for election.  Filing for office takes both courage and commitment to public service.”

“Our NEBFARMPAC Board gives serious consideration to candidates that are Farmers Union members, and also to elected officials with whom we have a positive working relationship and have earned our support by virtue of their track record of accomplishments as an elected official,” Lush concluded. 

NEBFARMPAC Endorses Public Power Candidates In the Primary Elections

Nebraska Farmers Union ‘s Political Action Committee, NEBFARMPAC announced their Board of Directors unanimous endorsement for four candidates for Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Board of Directors, two candidates for Omaha Public Power Districts (OPPD), and one candidate for the Stanton County Public Power District and the Norris Public Power District.

The four candidates for the NPPD Board of Directors endorsed included:
*Mary A. Harding (Incumbent) in Subdivision 1 from Roca
*Ross Knott in Subdivision 2 of Petersburg
*Ken Kunze (Incumbent) in Subdivision 7 from York
*Danny Kluthe in Subdivision 9 from Dodge.
Subdivisions 1 and 2 have more than two candidates on the ballot, so the May 13th primary election will select the top candidates to appear on the fall general election ballot.

The two candidates for the OPPD Board of Directors endorsed included:
Anne McGuire (Incumbent) in Subdivision 2
*Matthew Cronin in Subdivision 2.
Subdivision 2 has four candidates on the ballot, with the top two appearing on the fall general ballot.

The two candidates for Rural Public Power Districts endorsed included:
*Vern Jantzen in Subdivision 7 for Norris Public Power District
* Donald Frank in Stanton County Public Power District

*denotes candidates that are Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) members

Nebraska Farmers Union has been a leader in renewable energy development for many decades including ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, solar, and wind energy. NeFU takes great pride in its role in the creation of the Nebraska Public Power system, and continues to believe that it has served our entire state extremely well.  NeFU believes that our public power system must listen to their public owners.

“These candidates have shown leadership, common sense, good listening skills, vision and commitment to protecting the integrity of our public power system.  We commend these candidates for their leadership and vision.  They support the inclusion of cost effective wind and renewable energy to diversify electrical generation portfolios when appropriate,” said John Hansen, NEBFARMPAC Secretary.

“We are pleased that so many of our members have chosen to run for these positions.  Our NEBFARMPAC Board gives strong consideration to NeFU members who run for office.  They also give strong consideration to incumbents who have proven track records of accomplishments and have a positive working relationship with NeFU.  For public power candidates, serious consideration was also given to candidates who understand the rural economic development benefits of utilizing Nebraska’s world class wind resources.  Wind energy also provides energy consumers with low cost long term electricity that uses no water or emits no carbon to generate,” concluded Hansen. 

KC Fed: Farm Loan Volumes Rose in First Quarter

Farm loan volumes at commercial banks rose dramatically in the first quarter of 2014, driven by increased demand for short-term production loans, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve System's Agricultural Finance Databook.

Agricultural producers borrowed larger amounts compared with last year to cover current operating expenses. Lower crop prices reduced cash flow for farmers selling the remainder of last year's crops and overall crop input costs remained high despite a moderate decline in fertilizer prices.

Feeder livestock loan volumes also rose as low inventories pushed feeder cattle and hog prices higher. In contrast, farm capital spending slowed further, lessening the need for intermediate-term farm machinery and equipment financing.

Small and midsize banks added loans faster than their larger competitors under differing terms. The majority of loans at large banks featured a floating interest rate, while customers of small and midsize banks locked in more fixed-rate loans compared with last year.

The Agricultural Finance Databook is a quarterly compilation of national and regional agricultural finance data.

Iowa Soybean Association applauds passage of agricultural legislation

With the gavel about to fall officially marking the end of the 2014 Iowa legislative session, Iowa soybean farmers are pleased with passage of bills that support soil and water conservation, renewable fuels, agricultural research and other ag-related priorities.

Highlights include:

·         Approximately $4.4 million in ongoing funding and $3.5 million in one-time funding specifically for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative was approved. Lawmakers also provided $5 million in one-time funding to address a backlog of state soil conservation cost-share projects.
·         The state Biodiesel Production Tax Credit of 2 cents per gallon was extended for three years, which now goes through 2017.
·         Iowa State University (ISU) Agriculture Experiment Station funding was increased by nearly $1.8 million.
·         The Iowa Soybean Association received $400,000 for the On-Farm Network® demonstration program.
·         ISU Diagnostic Vet Lab funding was increased to $4 million as requested.

Even though ISA’s top priority of increasing the state’s gas tax to improve rural transportation infrastructure wasn’t approved, officials say the measures that did pass show how important agriculture is to the state. Throughout the session, ISA leaders voiced their support for agriculture-related bills to key lawmakers and dozens of farmers visited with elected officials during weekly visits to the capital. ISA also hosted a Legislative Reception at the beginning of the session.

“Conservation and water quality are a big concern, and we’re encouraged by the financial support to help farmers carry out the voluntary measures set forth in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” said ISA President Brian Kemp who farms near Sibley. “Biodiesel and renewable fuels received great support, which is a win for farmers and the state. The increase in ag research funding, which has been a concern in recent years, is now heading in the right direction.”

Kemp credited the hard work of farmers and ISA staff for getting many ISA priorities passed. In particular, the ISA’s Adopt an Urban Legislator Program, in which farmers help lawmakers become more familiar with production agriculture.

“The face-to-face contact is very important. It helps keep legislators informed on the issues … we’re building relationships year-round,” Kemp said.

ISA lobbyist Jill Altringer said the association will continue to work on the fuel tax increase, ag appropriation funding, conservation work and ensuring the livestock and biofuels industries stay strong in Iowa.

“We are already looking forward to issues we will need to consider next year,” Altringer said.

2014 Iowa’s Best Burger is at Brick City Grill in Ames

“Pinch me.” That’s the first thought Jason Mikkelsen had when he learned that his restaurant, Brick City Grill in Ames, was this year’s winner of Iowa’s Best Burger contest. “I’m in shock that we accomplished this so soon.”

Brick City Grill is a first time entrant in the state-wide contest. Mikkelsen opened it just a year ago, bringing to the restaurant 18 years of experience in the restaurant business and ideas that he had gleaned and catalogued over that time.

So, what’s the secret to making Iowa’s Best Burger? Mikkelsen says he lets the beef do the talking. He uses a proprietary chuck blend, ground on order and delivered fresh to the restaurant. There, it is hand-pattied and flat-top grilled on order with only salt and pepper added. “The flat top sears the burger and lets it cook in its own juices so you get a juicier burger that way,” he said. “You can put all the toppings on it, but you are still going to taste the beef.”

Although the menu at Brick City Grill is varied, beef takes center stage, with eight varieties of hamburgers, priced $7.99 to $12.99 with a side. You will find also find a beef selection included in everything from appetizers to salads to all-beef hotdogs to entrees. “I’m a beef guy,” Mikkelsen said, noting he’s more likely to put a steak on the grill at home than other protein options.

This is the fifth year that the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council have teamed up to sponsor Iowa’s Best Burger contest. Iowans submitted more than 9,600 nomination votes for 456 restaurants in February and March that selected the Top Ten restaurants. The Top Ten were then independently visited and judged based on the hamburger’s taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).

Other restaurants that made the Top Ten with Brick City Grill are (alphabetically): Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; Big City Burgers & Greens, Des Moines; Elm’s Club, Creston; Ferg’s My Tighe’s, Grand Junction; First Street Grille, Keosauqua; Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge; Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll; The Ritz, Arnold’s Park; and Zombie Burger, Des Moines.

CattleFax Webinar to Guide Producers through Expansion

The CattleFax Trends+ Webinar series has attracted nearly 1,200 cow-calf producers, stockers and backgrounders during its first two broadcasts. The third webinar is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, and registration is now open.

The upcoming webinar will provide producers and industry leaders with a discussion on market factors affecting the cow-calf, stocker and backgrounding segments of the cattle industry in summer 2014.  Elanco Animal Health is sponsoring the webinar – making it free for all cattle and beef producers to attend.

The CattleFax team will share its analysis and perspective on how these factors will influence cattle producers in the upcoming year:
-    Maintaining discipline in marketing cattle as the U.S. beef cattle industry enters an expansion phase
-    Profit opportunity and risk management strategy considerations for the calf and feeder cattle markets this summer and fall
-    Expectations for grain and forage production in 2014 and the implications for fall market prices

The free online seminar is becoming a mainstay for CattleFax members and non-members. The analyst team recognizes cattle producers have limited time and opportunity to analyze all of the data and trends shaping the cattle, beef and grain markets. So, they modeled the webinar to provide brief, decision-friendly information for cow-calf producers – just like the popular CattleFax monthly newsletter Trends.

Attendees will gain a better understanding of how to navigate through the next six to 12 months of market activity, and gain CattleFax’s insight on the market trends that will have the biggest influence on cow-calf, stocker and backgrounding profitability in the next few years.

The Trends+ webinar is designed to inform cattle producers about current market realities and provide producers with the information to assist in making intelligent marketing decisions. To participate in the seminar and access program details, producers and industry leaders simply need to register online at

Did you know... ...most schools aren’t participating in Meatless Mondays?

Surely you've heard about the so-called "Meatless Monday" campaign, which regularly boasts of tremendous participation across the globe. Well, it seems the facts are very different from their claims, according to the results of a recent survey by the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

In fact, of the 56 elementary schools listed as participants, 64.2 percent say they no longer or never participated in the program, and of the 155 colleges and universities listed, 43.2 percent no longer or never participated. Out of the school districts listed, 57 percent no longer participate. Among restaurants and foodservice providers, more than 35 percent and 47 percent listed, respectively, do not participate. Learn more here in the checkoff’s Beef Issues Quarterly newsletter...

Calling All BQA Award Nominees

Award Applications for the seventh annual checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Award now are being accepted.  The 2015 National BQA Awards recognize four winners in the area of beef, dairy, marketing and education:
-    The beef and dairy awards recognize producers that best demonstrate animal care and handling principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations.
-    The BQA Educator Award is open to individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.
-    The BQA Marketer Award is open to livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified.

To submit an application, click here....   Applications are due via the online submission form by June 20, 2014.

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.

ASA Submits Comments to EPA Regarding Spray Drift in Pesticide Risk Assessment

The American Soybean Association (ASA) joined several agriculture groups this week in submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding spray drift in pesticide risk assessment.

EPA’s proposed guidance would direct agency activities and implement policies that would use the AgDRIFT model for ecological and drinking water risk assessments and residential exposure assessments from spray drift and would predict whether and to what extent no- spray buffer zones and other label requirements would be needed to mitigate expected spray drift exposures.

“We are concerned that the proposed guidance describes model conditions that routinely over- predict the exposures likely from typical spray applications when compared to actual drift deposition measured in published monitoring studies. EPA’s use of atypical assumptions and default input parameters overlooks many of the drift-reduction technologies (DRTs) and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are now typical for aerial and ground applications,” the groups said in a letter. “EPA’s default parameters are rarely encountered in normal commercial pesticide applications.  The resulting modeling flaws assign unwarranted exposure risks to routine pest control situations, and require extremely large no-spray buffers to mitigate phantom risks.  Evaluation of drift-incident monitoring data and Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) records fails to provide support for AgDRIFT predictions, based on these default parameters, of drift or the buffers prescribed for risk mitigation.”

The groups urged EPA to embrace the use of DRTs and SOPs already in use and quickly implement its long- awaited DRT Program for verification and use of drift reduction technologies.

“We also urge EPA to provide in label language the flexibility for applicators to adopt the specific DRTs and SOPs warranted by the conditions experienced on a particular day at a particular site.  Such a regulatory platform is fully functional in Canada,” the letter stated.

Corn Association Staff Comes Together

This week, staff from the National Corn Growers Association and state corn associations across the country met in St. Louis to share insights gained over the past year and coordinate efforts for the next.  With a record of nearly 150 attendees including state association executives, program directors and communicators, the conference also provided a forum to discuss pressing issues facing farmers including implementation of the farm bill passed earlier this year, communications on GMO issues and ethanol promotion.

"By working together seamlessly and effectively, our state and national organizations magnify our effectiveness and, subsequently, our ability to create positive change for farmers," said NCGA CEO Rick Tolman. "While each state organization faces unique opportunities and challenges resulting from their particular circumstances, America's farmers share many common issues.  Working collaboratively allows us to address these areas of commonality with the full force of our combined strengths while sharing insight and ideas that can be brought back to address unique issues in an innovative fashion."

The week began as state association staff joined with national staff from both the St. Louis and Washington offices to begin an in-depth look at some of the exciting activities and programs that have achieved success since they last met in April 2013.  Each state took a chance to share some of their accomplishments, knowledge gained from the process of implementing tactics and to provide a glimpse of projects on the horizon.  In turn, national staff deeply involved in various legislative and regulatory issues and those heading a broad array of communications and market support programs presented brief overviews of recent successes and forecasts of what is to come.

In addition to sharing experiences and ideas, attendees participated in training seminars that focused on a wide variety of state-requested areas of interest including the increasing use of farm-centric applications designed for handheld technologies, in-depth analysis of trade and biotech issues, ethanol marketing strategies and fresh ideas for communicating complex issues.  Using the chance to fine-tune skills, update knowledge of rapidly evolving issues and tools and further discuss broader situations with important implications, state and national staff alike worked diligently to improve skill sets and hold constructive conversations that will aide them in forming and implementing programs.

Following the meeting with state staff, NCGA staff met to discuss ongoing projects and opportunities to increase communication among departments and offices.

ASA Sends Transportation, Infrastructure Priorities to Senate Environment & Public Works Committee

The American Soybean Association (ASA) reiterated its top transportation and infrastructure priorities for soy growers this week in a letter to members of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, as they consider the potential mark-up of a surface transportation reauthorization bill.

“As you may know, currently many farmers, especially in the northern plains region, are experiencing a severe and costly disruption in rail service that is costing many farmers tens of thousands of dollars and the cumulative effect on soybean farmers could total hundreds of millions or more nationwide,” said ASA President Ray Gaesser in the letter. “The current rail situation reinforces the importance of planning ahead and making necessary long-term investments in all modes of transportation capacity. Expanding trucking capacity and efficiency could assist in relieving the demand pressure on rail service and increasing competitiveness for the rail service sector. Increasing capacity and efficiency of waterways transportation is another important piece, and we commend you for your efforts to move a Water Resources Development Act toward final enactment that will free up funding for inland waterways infrastructure and dedicate more funding for port maintenance and dredging.”

Included in ASA’s transportation reauthorization bill priorities were: increasing revenue for the Highway Trust Fund to maintain and improve surface transportation infrastructure; maintaining exemption for agriculture regarding hours of service and an increase in truck weight limits as proposed in H.R. 612, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA).

New Malaysian Import Regulations Update: US DDGS and CGM Exempted

"Good news," said Adel Yusupov, U.S. Grains Council regional director for Southeast Asia. "The Malaysian government has confirmed that U.S. DDGS (distiller's dried grains with solubles) and corn gluten meal are not subject to the new import regulations that are scheduled to take effect July 1. For these important U.S. export commodities, the status quo remains in effect."

Malaysia recently published a list of agricultural products subject to new and more stringent import regulations such as fumigation at the point of export, identity preservation and more burdensome sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) documentation.

While U.S. corn was not on the list, U.S. corn meal, soybeans and soybean meal were included. The regulation did not specify, however, whether DDGS and corn gluten meal were considered corn meal.

"The Council responded to this situation immediately with a request for clarification and reconsideration," Yusupov said. "The Council also shared its concerns with U.S. grain buyers in Malaysia about the potential for trade disruption and higher costs if this regulation included U.S. DDGS and corn gluten meal. And of course, USDA's FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service) and APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) immediately expressed concern at a governmental level."

This week's clarification, in an official response to a letter of inquiry from USDA APHIS, makes clear that DDGS and CGM are not included in the definition.

"This is a demonstration of what teamwork can accomplish," Yusupov said, "and the Council is grateful for everyone who weighed in on this matter."

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for May 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for May 2014. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for May is 0.125 percent, unchanged from 0.125 percent in April.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during May is 1.125 percent, unchanged from 1.125 percent in April.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for May are as follows, 2.250 percent with seven-year loan terms, up from 2.125 percent in April; 2.750 percent with 10-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.750 percent in April and; 2.875 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.875 percent in April.

Pace of Trade Negotiations Raises Some Concerns

The apparent lack of significant progress between the United States and Japan to resolve market access issues on agriculture products and automobiles is raising some concerns about the prospects of completing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations ahead of the U.S. elections in November.

Following President Obama's meetings in Tokyo last week with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, the administration stated that the bilateral discussions provided a "breakthrough" and a "path forward." However, there were no details or general concepts provided on the scope of the discussions.

"Complete or near complete liberalization of tariffs and removal non-tariff barriers has been one of the guiding principles of the TPP negotiations and has been strongly supported by the U.S. food and agricultural sector, including the U.S. Grains Council," said Floyd Gaibler, USGC director of trade policy and biotechnology.

The level of trade liberalization that would be achieved under TPP would establish a precedent as well as a strategic economic response to the rise of emerging economies, including China, that are anticipated to join the current 12-member country TPP group when negotiations are completed.

"Complicating the negotiations is the lack of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would set up expedited procedures under which implementing bills for trade agreements are considered by Congress within a specified time frame and subject to an up-or-down vote without amendment," Gaibler said.

The administration has consistently argued that negotiation of a strong TPP agreement is necessary to build momentum for TPA. However, recent public statements by the administration have shifted the emphasis by acknowledging that the lack of TPA has made the negotiations more difficult.

Separately, industry groups on both sides of the Atlantic are voicing concerns that the lack of significant progress in the negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the United States and the EU, raising fears that T-TIP could be in danger of stalling. For agriculture, significant differences remain with regard to market access treatment for sensitive products. In particular, to develop an agreement satisfactory to U.S. stakeholders, the EU needs to remove contentious sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and significantly improve the EU's asynchronous biotechnology policy process.

Key TPP negotiators are scheduled to meet May 12-15 in Vietnam. Significant progress will be needed to complete the negotiations by the end of the year or early 2015. Separately, the fifth round of the T-TIP negotiations is scheduled for May 19-23 in Washington, D.C.

USDA's May 9, 2014, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report to Incorporate One Change

The next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, which will be released at 12 noon ET on May 9, will present USDA's initial assessment of U.S. and world crop supply and demand prospects and U.S. prices for the 2014/15 marketing year. It will also present the first calendar-year 2015 projections of U.S. livestock, poultry, and dairy products.

The 2014 Farm Bill eliminated the Dairy Product Price Support Program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program and created a Dairy Product Donation Program requiring USDA to purchase dairy products for donation to food banks and other feeding programs during periods of low operating margins for dairy producers. The WASDE U.S. Milk Supply and Use table on page 33 has been reformatted because of these changes. The "CCC Net Removals" subcategories under Fat Basis Use and Skim-solid Basis Use have been changed to "CCC Donations." The category for "CCC product net removals" for butter, cheese, nonfat dry milk and whole milk powder has been eliminated.

USDA Reports March 2014 Dairy Product Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 964 million pounds, 1.0 percent above March 2013 and 13.3 percent above February 2014.  Italian type cheese production totaled 427 million pounds, 3.5 percent above March 2013 and 14.2 percent above February 2014.  American type cheese production totaled 379 million pounds, 1.4 percent below March 2013 but 11.3 percent above February 2014.  Butter production was 165 million pounds, 9.0 percent below March 2013 but 0.7 percent above February 2014.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with March 2013)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 163 million pounds, up 11.0 percent.
Skim milk powders - 42.6 million pounds, down 10.4 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with March 2013)
Dry whey, total - 65.8 million pounds, down 24.9 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 100 million pounds, up 12.2 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 46.2 million pounds, up 10.8 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with March 2013)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 69.3 million gallons, down 3.6 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 34.8 million gallons, down 38.4 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 4.19 million gallons, down 6.0 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 6.19 million gallons, down 19.8 percent.

USDA Announces New Landmark Conservation Initiatives

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that applications are now being accepted for new, landmark conservation initiatives created by the 2014 Farm Bill. The programs will provide up to $386 million to help farmers restore wetlands, protect working agriculture lands, support outdoor recreation activities and boost the economy.

Vilsack made the announcement at Kuhn Orchards in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania. The farm's owners participate in the USDA Conservation Stewardship Program, have worked to encourage pollinator health through planting practices, and used USDA program support to construct a high tunnel.

"By protecting working lands and wetlands, we're able to strengthen agricultural operations, sustain the nation's food supply and protect habitat for a variety of wildlife," Vilsack said. "In addition, we're providing states and Tribal governments a tool to expand access to private lands for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities, which helps boost wildlife-related businesses and grow the economy."

USDA's conservation efforts have helped mitigate the negative impacts of drought and are helping producers to manage the effects of climate change. USDA has enrolled a record number of acres in conservation programs that have saved millions of tons of soil and improved water quality and have contributed to the national effort to preserve habitat for wildlife and protect the most sensitive ecological areas. USDA has partnered with more than 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners on these conservation projects since 2009-a record number.

In addition to protecting cropland and critical habitats, conservation strengthens outdoor recreation and helps boost the economy. According to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation, annual U.S. conservation spending totals $38.8 billion, but it produces $93.2 billion of economic output throughout the economy - 2.4 times more than what is put in. This output takes the form of more than 660,500 jobs, $41.6 billion in income and a $59.7 billion contribution to national Gross Domestic Product.

The new programs announced today are the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) and the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). Applications for ACEP funding consideration in fiscal year 2014 must be submitted by the individual state deadline or June 6, 2014, whichever is earlier. Applications and state deadline information can be obtained at your local USDA Service Center or at Applications for VPA-HIP are due by June 16 and should be completed at For more information, view the notice on or the program's website.

Through the 2014 Farm Bill's new conservation programs, USDA is making available up to $366 million for conservation easements under ACEP to state and local governments, Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and private landowners. ACEP consolidates three former easement programs—the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, the Grassland Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program—into one to make conservation efforts more efficient while strengthening tools to protect land and water.

VPA-HIP is a competitive grant program that enables state and Tribal governments to increase opportunities for owners and managers of private lands who want to make their land available for public recreation. Up to $20 million is available this year for VPA-HIP. Both programs have application deadlines later this spring.

Funding for the ACEP and VPA-HIP programs is provided through the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorizes services and programs that impact every American and millions of people around the world. The new Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Vilsack said that quickly and effectively implementing new programs and reforms to existing ones called for by the 2014 Farm Bill is a top priority for USDA. Learn more about the Farm Bill at

More information on the new conservation programs announced today are below.

Agricultural Conservation Easements Program

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the two components of ACEP, one for agricultural land easements and one for wetland reserve easements.

Under the agricultural land component, funds are provided to eligible entities that can use ACEP funding to purchase agricultural land easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of eligible land.

Eligible lands for agricultural land component include cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forest land. Application priority will be given to proposals preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses and maximizing the protection of land devoted to growing the nation's food supply.

Under the wetland reserve component, funding is provided to landowners for the purchase of an easement and for restoration funds to restore and enhance wetlands, improving habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. Lands that are eligible for a wetland reserve easement include farmed or converted wetlands that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. Applications also will be prioritized based on the easement's potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

Both programs have application deadlines in early June for fiscal year 2014 funding. More information can be obtained at your local USDA Service Center or at

Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program

Recipients of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program can use the grant funding to create new or expand existing public access programs. These programs provide financial incentives or technical assistance, such as rental payments or wildlife habitat planning services, to owners and managers who allow public access.

Funding priority will be given to applications that propose to:
-    Maximize private lands acreage available to the public;
-    Ensure that land enrolled in the program has appropriate wildlife habitat;
-    Strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts;
-    Supplement funding and services from other federal or state agencies, tribes or private resources; and
-    Provide information to the public about the location of public access land.

Applications for VPA-HIP are due by June 16 and should be completed at For more information, view the notice on or the program's website.

Bunge Reports Q1 Loss on Lower Agribusiness Sales

Bunge Ltd. swung to a first-quarter loss, as the company posted weaker revenue in its main agribusiness segment.

"The first quarter was slower than expected, but our outlook for the remainder of the year is positive," Chief Executive Soren Schroder said. "Results in the quarter were primarily impacted by losses in our grain trading and distribution business that are behind us and a temporarily depressed crushing environment in China."

One of the largest grain handlers in the world, White Plains, N.Y.-based Bunge buys, sells, stores and transports oilseeds and grains world-wide, among other businesses.

Bunge reported a loss of $13 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $180 million. On a per-share basis, which includes certain dividend payments, the loss was 18 cents, compared with a profit of $1.15. Excluding certain gains and charges, the company recorded a per-share loss from continuing operations of 12 cents in the latest quarter.

Sales dropped 9% to $13.5 billion.

Sales in the agribusiness segment, by far the company's largest business by revenue, fell 6.3%. The sugar and bioenergy business posted 24% lower sales. Edible oil products sales fell 16%.


Last year, growers across the Midwest utilized the innovative insect forecast tool at to help predict migration patterns of corn earworm, western bean cutworm and corn rootworms. This year, users additionally will be able to monitor soybean aphids, a pest that can significantly damage a crop and reduce yield if not dealt with effectively.

“Now is the single-stop source for finding out about the latest migration patterns and research for soybean aphids along with other key pests,” says Tony White, soybean product development manager for Genuity. “It’s a fast, reliable way for growers to guard their crops against infestations and learn about helpful ideas for better insect protection for specific regions.”

The online insect forecast tool was developed by climatologist and meteorologist Mike Sandstrom, to help farmers understand their current pest pressure and make more accurate predictions of future migration. Due to daily monitoring of insect traps combined with weather patterns, the insect forecast tool is able to provide forecasts up to five days in advance.

“The process begins with our scientists monitoring insect populations and migration patterns across major crop production regions for several years,” says Sandstrom. “By combining that data with information about current weather trends, soil temperatures, specific geographies and other factors, can accurately predict the timing, location and severity of pest invasions for soybean aphids and other pests.”

“When conditions are favorable, aphids can reproduce very quickly on soybeans, potentially doubling their population in two to three days and producing up to 18 generations on soybeans per season,” says White. “The insect forecast tool, in addition to regular scouting once or twice a week, is crucial for determining aphid population densities, which will dictate when to apply chemical control.”

As farmers across the Midwest continue to battle above- and below-ground corn insect pests year after year, a comprehensive integrated pest management approach is key to maximizing yield potential, especially in corn-on-corn environments. Adding soybean aphid monitoring is another way to help soybean farmers manage the pests in their fields. The tool helps both corn and soybean farmers understand current pest pressures and make more accurate predictions for the following year.

Soybean and corn farmers can sign up at to receive email alerts from March through September to learn when these insects pose a risk in their areas. Farmers can log on to learn when soybean aphids are on the move, corn rootworm larvae are hatching, and to track the migration and moth flights of two damaging above-ground insects, corn earworm and western bean cutworm. With online and mobile access, this useful tool is designed with today’s farmer in mind.

The insect forecast tool is being sponsored for the fifth year by Monsanto and is offered to farmers by its Genuity® brand. For more information about Genuity corn traits, farmers can contact their seed representative or visit

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