Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tuesday May 6 Ag News

Celebrating 100 Year Anniversary of Cooperative Extension

The national celebration for Extension’s 100th anniversary is entering high gear, and UNL Extension Staff in Cuming County, Debra Schroeder, Larry Howard, Kelli Lechtenberg, Mary Jo Lueckenhoff and Alice Brand, want you all to join in the fun! May 8, 2014 will mark 100 years since the signing of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the Cooperative Extension Service. The act created a state-by-state national network of educators who extend university-based research and knowledge to the people. As we celebrate 100 years of extending knowledge and changing lives, we also want to celebrate the strong Extension programs in Nebraska that were a pillar of the past and will carry Nebraska into a vibrant future.

The Smith-Lever Act, authored by Georgia Senator Michael Hoke Smith and South Carolina Representative A. Frank Lever, who were devoted to the needs of agriculture and farming interests across the United States and signed into law on May 8, 1914. For 100 years, the Smith-Lever Act has stimulated innovative research and vital educational programs for youth and adults through progressive information delivery systems that improved lives and shaped a nation.  Today, University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension in Cuming County is proud to deliver research-based information in agriculture, natural resources, food safety and nutrition, economic and community development, and 4-H youth development.

Extension Programming in Cuming County continues to impact the lives of area residents with research based information.  Examples of programming in the last week includes:  teaching High School Seniors Professional Etiquette including mock job interviews, etiquette training and a multicourse business luncheon, Food Fun and Reading for Kindergarteners at West Point Elementary, and Wisner Pilger Second Graders, 4-H Council meeting, Candling of eggs in classrooms at Wisner Pilger, West Point Head Start, and Beemer First and Second Grade, Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based satellite navigation system for fifth graders from Tekamah Herman, West Point Beemer, St. Paul’s Lutheran, Lyons Decatur, St John’s Lutheran, and Oakland Craig.

In January 1918 petitions were circulated to approve funding for a county Agriculture Agent in Cuming County.  Roy Pilgrim and C.Y. Thompson (the research Library on UNL East Campus is named for the same person), were sent to Lincoln to interview several candidates for the position.  On February 11, 1918 Fred R. Glassburner, a graduate of Iowa State College of Animal Husbandry was selected to serve Cuming County and establish Cooperative Extension in the County.  “The seed shortage of 1918 created a need for assistance and opened the way for the individual farmer to get acquainted with the information available from the experiment station and extension service.  In 1921 the first farmers were experimenting with crops up to that time, foreign to the county.  Sudan Grass and Sweet clover were two crops tried experimentally by two farmers.  The attitude of many farmers was not favorable.  Many a neighborhood fuss was to result over planting of the so-called weed, “sweet clover” noted Joe Watson in his Historical Appraisal of Extension from 1914 –1939.

County Agent Glassburner was active with livestock producers.  In his first report he noted that there were no serious outbreaks of livestock diseases, although he was called to several farms where cholera was suspected.  He did give 16 cholera vaccination demonstrations and 1,015 hogs were vaccinated.  Serving as County Agents in Cuming County include:  F.R. Glassburner- 1918, Kenneth C. Fouts – 1919, Clay Westcott – 1926, Noel Rhodes – 1935, J.R. Watson – 1935, Daryl Loepke – 1972, Phillip Reznicki 1980 and Larry F. Howard began as Extension Educator in Cuming County in 1985 and continues today.  Serving as Assistant County Agents were:  Carle E. Hall – 1951, Ralph C. Hild – 1952, Dwywe D. Albert – 1953, Cal J. Ward – 1955, Roland P Langemeier – 1957, Chester C. Hawley – 1959, William Yates – 1959, Leonard (Len) Koertner – 1960, Gerald Hopp – 1974, and James M. Peterson – 1976.

Farm women had their own missions.  The first annual extension report from 1918 included this articles concerning home demonstrations:  “Miss Edna Pegler and Miss Armstrong gave a total of 10 home canning and wheat substitute demonstrations for ladies the past summer.  These demonstrations were well received, there being a total 271ladies present at these various demonstrations.”  The first extension Home Agent, Margaret Ann Stahly was assigned to Cuming County in 1961. There have been only four Home Agents including Anita Telicky 1972, Susan Strahm in 1972 and Debra Schroeder began her tenure in 1978 and currently serves as Extension Educator and Unit Leader.

Extension programming in Cuming County is guided by the Extension Board who are appointed by the Cuming County Supervisors as their representatives. Currently serving on the Extension Board are:  Paul Knobbe, Dodge – President, Sandy Rasmus, West Point, Cindy Bloedorn, Wisner, Margarita Flores West Point, Chris Kreikemeier, West Point, Terry Jahnke, Bancroft, and Kay Raabe, Wisner.  Chris Schiller, Scribner, Kara Sweeny, Wisner and Alan Meiergerd, West Point as representatives to the Extension Board from the 4-H Council.  University Of Nebraska Extension in Cuming County is created by a funding partnership of the United States Department of Agriculture, State of Nebraska and Cuming County. 
Cooperative Extension serving Cuming County will be featured in the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Cuming County Fair on Thursday, August 7 at 10:00 a.m.  Another event in the Cuming County celebration will take place on Sunday August 10, during the Cuming County Fair. At 1:00 p.m. at the 4-H Building the Extension Board supported by Citizen’s State Bank will serve the special Extension Centennial Ice Cream to 600 people. The Extension Board in Cuming County will also sponsor a float in the Cuming County Fair Parade handing out specially designed pencils to parade participants.  Watch for more details of all of the activities that will be included in our centennial celebration.

Nine UNL Students Selected for Nebraska Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentoring Program

Nine students in agriculture related programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been selected to participate in the 2nd annual Nebraska Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentoring Program.  The program is sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board and is administered by the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association.

The 2014 participants include:
    •    Matthew Hiebner, an agriculture economics major from Henderson, Nebr.
    •    Jacob Hinrichsen, a mechanized systems management major from Burr, Nebr.
    •    Mark Lundeen, an agriculture economics major from Minden, Nebr.
    •    Bradley Meusch, an agronomy major from Bellwood, Nebr.
    •    Haley Oser, plant health doctoral candidate from Morrison, Colo.
    •    Sarah Schalm, an agricultural education major from Medford, Minn.
    •    Chrisinda Scheideler, an agricultural education and animal science major from Scotia, Nebr.
    •    Jared Seier, an agronomy major from Petersburg, Nebr.
    •    Morgan Zumpfe, an animal science major from Friend, Nebr.

The goal of the program is to provide the students with a comprehensive understanding of the agriculture industry.  During the program, participants will learn about issues impacting agriculture on both the state and federal levels, and discover more about the checkoff programs involved with major commodities.  They will accompany members of other college leadership programs to tour a number of agribusinesses and ag production operations.

Participants will also learn about the wide variety of career opportunities within agriculture—and will learn how to become effective advocates and spokespersons for agriculture.  Upon completion of the program, the students will be recognized at the annual meetings of the corn and soybean membership association and presented a scholarship to assist with college costs.

Joel Grams of Minden, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said, "We have an aging population in agriculture and there are plenty of opportunities for the next generation to step up into leadership roles.  This program helps prepare these student to take agriculture and food production to the next level during their careers."

Ken Boswell of Shickley, president of the Nebraska Soybean Association, said," We hope that by the end of the year, these young people have a better understanding of the many moving parts that make agriculture tick.  When they complete the program in December, we'll have nine more energetic leaders prepared to tell the exciting story of agriculture."

Countdown to Quality Certifies Thousands of Producers

An astounding 7,732 producers from across the country recently received their Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification during the open certification period thanks to a free offer from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI). That is double the number from 2013 which makes more than 11,000 producers who have made a commitment to quality over the past two years through the free certification partnership.

The checkoff-funded BQA program is important to the cattle industry as it gives producers a set of best practices for producing a safe and high-quality beef product. It also gives consumers the assurance that the beef they eat is both safe and wholesome.

“BQA provides a solid foundation for animal welfare and disease prevention,” says Dr. John Maas, extension veterinarian at the University of California–Davis, and 2013 BQA Educator of the Year. “Once we adopt the BQA attitude of cattle health, care and welfare, things just keep getting better naturally.”

Although the free certification period has passed, it’s never too late to proclaim your commitment to quality and become BQA-certified.

“Everybody’s working to make our product better,” says Maas. “Research is the backbone of BQA, and it’s based on science and experience to make sure those tools work for cattle and ranchers in the real world.”

Working with cattle and the people who care for them is what Maas likes best. “Using the discipline I’ve gained academically and through practice to help folks, and knowing there are cows behind them, makes all the difference in the world.”

Mexico Removes Import Restrictions on U.S. Beef

The Mexican government is in the process of making regulatory changes that allow for import of U.S. beef and beef products derived from cattle of any age. This important development lifts the 30-month cattle age limit for U.S. beef and effectively removes the last of Mexico’s BSE-related restrictions.

“This is an issue that USMEF has been working on for a number of years, and resolving it has been a lengthy process,” said Chad Russell, U.S. Meat Export Federation regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, contractor to the beef checkoff. “We received excellent support on this issue from FAS officials at the U.S. embassy in Mexico, who always made sure that it was front-and-center whenever U.S.-Mexico trade issues were being discussed at high levels. Though it took some time, these efforts have now paid off.”

The changes to Mexico’s import regulations were to take effect April 30, though shipments of over-30-month beef cannot begin until the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updates its Export Library. USMEF expects this process to be completed within the next few days. This will also allow the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) export verification (EV) program for Mexico, in which approximately 170 U.S. establishments are currently enrolled, to be terminated.

According to information provided to USMEF, Mexico will accept either the new FSIS letter certificate or an existing letterhead certificate, along with the corresponding FSIS form, for product currently in the pipeline and for new shipments made over the next few weeks. So exporters will have some time – likely until late June – to make the transition to the new letterhead certificate and other documentation requirements.

“This should have a positive impact on our ability to export more beef to this large and important market, particularly in the current environment,” Russell explained. “We’re experiencing a period of very high beef prices and constraints on supply, in what has always been a rather price-sensitive market. So we feel that having new supply options available will help us maintain a strong presence in the market and grow our export volume to Mexico.”

Despite concerns over rising beef prices and tight supplies, the Mexican market has been performing well. U.S. beef/beef variety exports have been above year-ago volumes in each of the past nine months, and 2014 exports (through February) were up 26 percent in volume (37,638 metric tons) and 40 percent in value ($182.9 million) from the same period in 2013.

The U.S. holds about 90 percent of Mexico’s imported beef market, with the remainder captured mostly by Canada. Canada’s market share has edged higher in recent months, likely due to increased affordability as Canada’s beef production has been recovering and the Canadian dollar has weakened. But with the exception of livers, Canada’s exports to Mexico are still limited to beef derived from cattle less than 30 months of age.

“Mexico’s domestic beef supplies have been shrinking due to the prolonged drought, and there are not a lot of other foreign suppliers serving the market,” Russell said. “But that doesn’t necessarily make it easy for the United States to grow our exports to Mexico. We need a reliable supply of beef cuts that are affordable for everyday Mexican consumers, and that’s where elimination of these import restrictions is really going to be helpful.”

Newly Released FSIS Inspection Report Shows Significant Flaws in Brazil’s Food Safety Inspection

Following the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s proposed rule to allow the importation of fresh and frozen beef from 14 states in Brazil and the closing of the comment period on April 22, 2014, NCBA has reviewed the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service’s final audit report on an onsite audit conducted on Brazil’s meat inspection system. The onsite audit was conducted from February 19 through March 14, 2013 and the report is dated April 16, 2014.

“NCBA is extremely disappointed this final audit report was not released in time for a full review, prior to the comment deadline on the proposed rule,” said Bob McCan, NCBA president and Victoria, Texas cattleman. “In early March, NCBA formally requested through a Freedom of Information Act request, all pertinent documents, including a final 2013 FSIS audit report for Brazil. This report was available prior to the comment deadline, but the failure by FSIS to provide it, shows a complete lack of preparation of the documents the U.S. cattle industry would need in order to make informed and meaningful comments.”

The FSIS audit was designed to determine the equivalence of Brazil’s meat inspection system. All nations that import product into the U.S. must meet or exceed FSIS’ domestic requirements prior to being approved for importation of fresh or processed meats. The audit focused on six main system components: government oversight, statutory authority and food-safety regulations, sanitation, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points systems, chemical residue control programs and microbiological testing programs.

“This audit report confirms many of the compliance concerns that NCBA recently expressed in our comments on behalf of our members,” said Dr. Kathy Simmons, NCBA chief veterinarian. “Our members have significant concerns with Brazil’s ability and willingness to meet established compliance requirements. Most alarming to me is the inconsistent application and implementation of Specified Risk Material requirements throughout the system and a history of unresolved drug residue violations.”

The audit found that Brazil’s meat inspection program did not provide a standard guideline for its inspection personnel concerning the definition of SRMs in cattle in accordance with FSIS’ requirements, resulting in inconsistent implementation of the SRM requirements. Brazil’s inspection system did not fully enforce HACCP systems plans and records in five audited establishments. And that Brazil’s inspection personnel did not fully enforce sanitation requirements to prevent cross-contamination of bovine carcasses in one establishment. For those and other reasons, the report stated that “until Brazil has satisfactorily addressed these issues, FSIS will not certify any new establishments as eligible to export to the United States.”

“Cattlemen and women support free and open trade, based on sound science,” said McCan. “But that science relies on the ability of actors to uphold certain standards. We are more convinced than ever, after reading this report, that Brazil is not capable of holding its industry to the same standards we hold ourselves to. If Brazil cannot manage their food safety equivalency standards, how can we trust that they have the safeguards to protect animal health? Therefore, we continue to urge APHIS to withdraw this proposed rule.”

NCBA has submitted comments and requested an extension to further receive and review documents related to the proposed rule.

Rabobank Q2 Pork Report:  Disease continues to be the focus of global pork markets

Pork shortages will be a key concern in many countries in the coming months. According to the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness (FAR) Research and Advisory group Pork Quarterly Q2 report, the ongoing spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in the Americas and Asia will have a material impact on pork supply both this summer and in the years to come. Exacerbating tight global supply is Russia’s ban on EU pork imports after recent African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks. However, oversupply in China is expected to continue, driven by high sow liquidation.

“PEDv has been the driving force pushing up pork prices, especially in the U.S., to record highs,” said Rabobank analyst Albert Vernooij. “U.S. futures climbed 30% in Q1 and are up 45% over last year, impacting pork users and consumer’s ability to source enough pork for their needs.”

Rabobank believes the outbreak of PEDv in the U.S., Mexico, Japan and South Korea will lead to a likely decline in global pork production in 2014 (against an earlier expected 1.3% increase). In the U.S., where the PEDv outbreak has been most severe, Rabobank estimates that pork production could decline to mid-single digits (6-7%) in 2014 due to hog losses from the virus.

Producers have not been required to report PEDv cases to the Department of Agriculture, making the impact on production unclear. The impact of PEDv in Asia, especially in Japan and South Korea, is sizable, but difficult to estimate as the spread of the disease is not known.

In Russia, prices have spiked since its ban on EU pork imports, following the discovery of ASF in wild boars in Poland and Lithuania. The ban means a loss of 1.3 million tonnes of pork imports, about one third of Russia’s total import volume in 2013. This has resulted in short supply and higher prices in Russia, but with North America expected to feel the impact of PEDv for the remainder of 2014, Russia will have few alternatives to fill the void left by the EU.

However, stress on global pork supplies is currently being eased by the supply glut in China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork. Rabobank believes that Chinese pork prices will continue to fall in Q2 and into Q3 2014, more than a year after the price decline began. Sow liquidation, which commenced in April, will drive prices lower this summer as supply and demand rebalance. Looking to the back half of the year, the continued sow liquidation should help Chinese pork prices recover by the end of Q3 2014 in line with the seasonal increase of China’s pork consumption.

“In China, pork consumption is expected to remain steady in 2014, as hog supply will continue to be at a relatively sufficient level,” noted Vernooij.

NCGA Breaks Membership Record for Third Consecutive Month

National Corn Growers Association membership climbed to even higher heights setting yet another membership record at the end of April, with 40,797 active members. This membership record replaces the former records, of 40,793, set in March of 2014 and 40,287, set in February of 2014.

"We're elated to set yet another membership record and steady growth as we move through 2014," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "Our members recognize the value NCGA offers through its work to create and increase opportunities for all U.S. corn farmers. They understand and appreciate that grassroots efforts have been the strength and driving force behind their organization, pushing us to greater heights year after year."

NCGA has members across the contiguous United States and works in cooperation with grower associations and state corn checkoff boards from 28 states, representing the interests of its members and the more than 300,000 growers who contribute corn checkoff funds in their states.

Biofuel Groups Welcome Court of Appeals Decision in 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard Case

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a petition by Monroe Energy, LLC challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and Growth Energy intervened in the case.

After EPA reduced the cellulosic biofuel volume for 2013, Monroe Energy challenged EPA’s decision not to reduce the renewable fuel and advanced biofuel volumes by the same or a lesser amount. The Court rejected Monroe Energy’s argument that EPA’s decision served no “statutory purpose,” and reaffirmed Congress’s directive that EPA ensure that U.S. transportation fuel contains at least the volumes provided in the statute. The Court also rejected Monroe Energy’s attempts to revisit decisions about the RFS program that EPA made in earlier years, stating that “the time to challenge that decision has passed.”

Today’s decision is a victory for American consumers, renewable fuel advocates, and the RFS program. Once again, the Court has rejected attempts of the anti-biofuel parties to undermine the RFS in court. The RFS is arguably the nation’s most effective energy policy. It has spurred the development of a domestic biofuels industry that is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs that cannot be outsourced. In addition, it is providing environmental benefits, helping to decrease the nation’s reliance on imported oil, and reducing prices at the pump, as Congress intended.

EIA: April Ethanol Production Rebounds

U.S. domestic ethanol production rebounded in April amid an easing of railroad delays caused by extreme winter weather in the Midwest in February and March, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday, May 6, in its Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Ethanol production increased from an average 890,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March to more than 910,000 bpd in April, the agency said. Ethanol production is forecast to average 911,000 bpd during 2014 and 922,000 bpd in 2015.

Biodiesel production averaged 89,000 bpd in 2013 and is forecast at 84,000 bpd in 2014 and 86,000 bpd in 2015. This compares with estimates of about 75,000 bpd in 2014 and 77,000 bpd in 2015 reported in April's STEO.

The agency said biodiesel production reached 104,000 bpd or 135 million gallons in December 2013, then fell to 54,000 bpd in January following the expiration of the biodiesel production tax credit at the end of 2013.

EIA estimates carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased 2.2% in 2013 from the previous year and would rise 2.3% this year followed possibly by a small decline of 1.0% in 2015. The increase in emissions in 2013 and 2014 reflects growth in coal consumption because of its higher use in electric power generation. Coal emissions are projected to decline by 3.3% in 2015 with increasing coal plant retirements.

Ethanol Exports Rebound in March as Distillers Grains Exports Set New Monthly Record

U.S. ethanol exports (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) totaled 84.0 million gallons (mg) in March, a 25% increase over February and just slightly below January's total of 86.2 mg. Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol imports remained at a trickle, with just 5.3 mg coming into the country during March. Thus, the United States remained a net exporter by a wide margin for the seventh straight month. Year-to-date exports stood at 237.2 mg, implying an annual total of nearly 950 mg. Canada and Brazil were top destinations in March, while the Philippines and Nigeria re-entered the market after sitting on the sidelines in February.

March exports of distillers grains—the animal feed co-product from dry mill ethanol plants—also set a new monthly record of 1.16 million metric tons (mt).  March shipments were up 28% from February and topped the 1 million mt mark for just the fourth time in history. China accounted for half (580,494 mt) of export shipments, while Mexico (106,064 mt) and South Korea (93,814 mt) were other leading destinations. Year-to-date DG exports stood at 2.97 million mt, a 65% increase over the same period a year ago. U.S. producers are on pace to export a record 11.9 million mt in 2014.

How Did Cattle Prices Get So High?

Where did the record cattle prices this year come from? That is a question almost all analysts and many cattle producers are asking. According to Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, it was not so surprising to have record-high cattle prices. The real surprise was the lofty heights of those new records. For example, in the first quarter, Nebraska steers averaged $147 per live hundredweight, which was more than $20 higher than the previous first-quarter record price. In percentage terms, finished cattle prices in the first quarter this year were up 17 percent and production was down only 4 percent.

"It is easy to list some possible causes, but none of them seem to be large enough to have caused such startlingly high prices," Hurt said. "We start with the fact that meat and poultry supplies all were low. We have mentioned that the 4 percent reduced beef production and broiler egg hatchability has been low, reducing chicken supplies below expectations. Then it appears that PED virus in hogs may have been the real kicker, primarily because the pork market seems to have sharply overshot prices due to the uncertainty of the actual death loss from the disease. There were also arguments that 'maybe' demand was very strong, but first-quarter GDP growth of only 0.1 percent seems to discredit this argument. Data on trade are positive, but not enough to explain such high prices.

"Much like pork, we are left with an incomplete understanding of why cattle prices were so high, especially in March and April," Hurt continued. "As in the pork sector, this may mean that cattle prices were 'caught up' in the fear of very short meat and poultry supplies and may have become overpriced."

Hurt said that this may be another example of the old market adage of "buy the rumor and sell the fact."

Record beef prices for consumers have also become a reality, Hurt said. In 2013, retail beef prices averaged $5.29 per pound but moved to a record $5.55 in the first quarter of 2014. Retail beef prices in 2014 are now expected to average $5.67 per pound, an increase of 7 percent over last year.

"Current live-cattle futures markets are taking a more moderate approach to prices for the rest of the year now that the highs of the year are likely behind us," Hurt said. "Prices of finished cattle are expected to move downward to the mid-to lower $140s in May and June. Prices are expected to dip more in the third quarter with an average in the $135 to $139 range, and then recover into the low to mid-$140s for the last quarter average. Prices in 2013 averaged $126, and this year's new record is expected to be near $142," he said.

Hurt said that unexplained high prices in the first four months of 2014 have added new excitement for cattle producers as they see strong profitability potential for the first time in years. This means that the conditions have become positive for some beef-cow producers to move toward expansion.

"The two conditions that we have suggested for expansion are the movement of calf prices above $1.75 per pound and restoration of pasture and grazing land after dry or drought conditions," Hurt said. "In terms of calf prices, calves weighing 500 to 550 pounds at Oklahoma City averaged $2.15 per pound in the first quarter and heifer calves averaged $1.93. Both were record highs."

According to Hurt, much of the country, but not all, has seen improved pasture conditions. The regions that remain a concern are the Southern Plains, the Southwest, and the West. The Drought Monitor from NOAA shows some anticipated drought abatement this summer for the Central Plains and Eastern Texas. If so, this means that only about 15 percent of the nation's brood cows will be in areas still in drought. Alternatively, about 85 percent of the beef cows are in regions where pasture and range is sufficient to promote herd expansion.

"The evidence so far this year is that expansion has started as measured by reductions in female slaughter and by reduced numbers of heifers in the feedlots," Hurt said. "In the first quarter, the number of heifers slaughtered was down 7 percent, and the number of cows slaughtered was down 8 percent. In contrast, the steer slaughter was only down 3 percent. The reduced female slaughter alone accounted for 2 percent fewer animals in the total slaughter mix."

According to Hurt, the USDA's quarterly cattle-on-feed report suggested that fewer females have headed to the feedlots. On April 1, the number of heifers in feedlots was down 6 percent whereas steers were up 2 percent. "Some producers hold onto heifers to gain the flexibility to either move them to breeding herds or to later decide to sell them to feedlots," Hurt said. "Under current economic conditions, the odds favor many being added to the breeding herd.

"The expansion of the beef herd is just beginning and will likely extend for multiple years," Hurt concluded. "This means small supplies and strong prices of beef in 2015 and 2016. Beef producers, however, should expect both poultry and pork production to grow rapidly in 2015 and 2016."

DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the last week of April 2014 show prices are still edging higher. This marks the 11th-consecutive week all retail fertilizers' prices advanced, although the percentage gains seem to be moderating.  Only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. Anhydrous prices jumped 5% compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had a national average price of $695/ton.

The remaining seven fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier but the move to the high side was fairly negligible. DAP had an average price of $597/ton, MAP $625/ton, potash $476/ton, urea $560/ton, 10-34-0 $536/ton, UAN28 $356/ton and UAN32 $403/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.61/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.64/lb.N and UAN32 $0.63/lb.N.

Although fertilizer prices have moved higher in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits lower in price compared to April/May of 2013.  Compared to year-ago levels, urea is down 2%, DAP is 3% lower and MAP 5% less expensive. UAN32 is down 11%, UAN28 is 12% lower while 10-34-0 is down 13%. Both potash and anhydrous are now 19% less expensive than a year earlier.

Vilsack on National Climate Assessment

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today on the National Climate Assessment and Obama Administration efforts on climate change:

"The National Climate Assessment confirms that climate change is affecting every region of the country and critical sectors of the economy like agriculture. This assessment provides an unprecedented look at how the changing climate and extreme weather impact rural America," said Secretary Vilsack. "The Obama Administration continues to take steps to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and support an expanded domestic energy economy. At USDA, we're working closely with our nation's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to help them manage the negative impacts of climate change, reduce their energy costs, and grow the bioeconomy to create jobs in rural America."

For the first time ever, The National Climate Assessment examined the effects of climate change on rural communities. Rural communities are tremendously resilient but will face particular obstacles in responding to and preparing for climate change risks. In particular, physical isolation, limited economic diversity, and higher poverty rates, combined with an aging population, increase the vulnerability of rural communities.

Across the country, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are also seeing an increase in risks to their operations due to fires, increases in invasive pests, droughts, and floods. In the Midwest, growing seasons have lengthened, the western fire season is now longer, and forests will become increasingly threatened by insect outbreaks, fire, drought and storms over the next 50 years. These events threaten America's food supply and are costly for producers and rural economies. Drought alone was estimated to cost the U.S. $50 billion from 2011 to 2013. Such risks have implications not only for agricultural producers, but for all Americans.

Through the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with state, local government, agriculture and other partners on a coordinated response.

More information on the steps USDA is taking to address the impacts of climate change below:

    In February, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of the first ever USDA Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change with seven hubs in regions around the country, as well as three sub-hubs in the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest. The Hubs will provide outreach and information to producers on ways to mitigate risks; public education about the risks climate change poses to agriculture, ranchlands and forests; regional climate risk and vulnerability assessments; and centers of climate forecast data and information.

    In April, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded $6 million to 10 universities to study the effects of climate on agriculture production and develop strategies to provide farmers and ranchers with the solutions they need to supply the nation with quality

    The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is helping farmers lead the way when it comes to utilizing advanced energy. Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has supported more than 8,200 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide with $264 million in grants and $212 million in loan guarantees. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms using renewable energy sources has doubled in the last five years.

    The U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a partnership between USDA and EPA, is working to curb food waste within the United States, which is the single largest type of waste entering our landfills. It's estimated that between 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted. Food waste is generating substantial amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    USDA is taking immediate steps to assist areas across the country affected by chronic drought. In February, President Obama and Secretary Vilsack announced financial assistance for California producers.

    Earlier this year, Secretary Vilsack announced that NIFA will make $6 million in grants available in 2014, and up to $30 million total over the next five years as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices, technologies and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality.

    Last year, USDA renewed an historic agreement with the dairy industry to lower greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects on U.S. dairy farms which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. This partnership will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

    With fires seasons 60-80 days longer than just three decades ago, President Obama has proposed a new framework forfunding fire suppression operations in US Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to provide stable funding for fire suppression, while minimizing the adverse impacts of fire transfers on the budgets of other fire and non-fire programs. Similar proposals in the House and Senate have bipartisan backing.

    A multi-year partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service is being formed to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet across the nation. The project, called the Chiefs' Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership, will invest $30 million in 13 projects across the country this year to help mitigate wildfire threats to communities and landowners, protect water quality, and supply and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

    Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced that Farm Service Agency-administered disaster assistance programs, reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill were open for applications. To date, approximately 33,000 applications have been received.

Along with these examples, USDA administers a wide range of conservation programs, as well as efforts to boost biomanufacturing, bioenergy, and other cutting edge industries that reduce consumption of fossil fuels and make our land, air and water cleaner.

CWT Assists with 3.2 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 6 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 3.166 million pounds (1,436 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and the South Pacific. The product will be delivered May through September 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 50.369 million pounds of cheese, 42.085 million pounds of butter and 7.809 million pounds of whole milk powder to 33 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.469 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Mosaic Profit Falls

Mosaic Co. said first-quarter profit slumped 43%, missing analysts' expectations, as lower prices weighed on sales.

First-quarter earnings of $217.5 million, or 54 cents a share, were down from $379.8 million, or 89 cents a share, a year earlier. Net sales fell 14% to $1.99 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had projected profit of 59 cents a share and revenue of $2 billion.

The fertilizer producer's potash and phosphate businesses have weighed on results lately. However, the company has said it expects its business to grow on the strength of an improving market and recent acquisitions, such as its $1.4 billion takeover of CF Industries Holdings Inc. and its agreement last month to buy Archer Daniels Midland Co.'s fertilizer distribution business in Brazil and Paraguay.

Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko said on Tuesday that while "weather continued to create challenges" during the first quarter, the company is optimistic about the rest of this year, with current-period results showing signs of progress. "In the second quarter, we expect improving phosphates margins, stable potash prices and strong volumes for both nutrients," he said. "We have taken important strategic actions in order to accelerate our growth as the business cycle continues to improve."

Net sales of phosphates, the company's biggest revenue driver, fell 16% to $1.3 billion, reflecting lower prices. Phosphate sales volumes were 2.7 million metric tons, above the company's expected range of 2.3 million to 2.6 million metric tons.

Potash net sales fell 11% to $733 million, as higher shipment volumes were offset by lower prices. Sales volume for the quarter was 2.4 million metric tons. Mosaic had projected potash volumes to come in between 2.3 million to 2.7 million metric tons for the period.

Mosaic said it expects potash sales volumes of 2.2 million-2.5 million metric tons in the current quarter, while projecting phosphates volumes at 3.1 million-3.4 million metric tons.

DuPont Pioneer and AGCO Announce Global Collaboration to Wirelessly Deliver Real-Time Crop and Farm Management Information to Growers

DuPont Pioneer and AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO) today announced a global collaboration to bring wireless data transfer technology solutions to farmers in leading agricultural markets, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and key European countries. The agreement will allow seamless interface of data and farm management information between AGCO equipment and EncircaSM services, the new whole-farm decision solutions offering from Pioneer that is designed to help growers improve their productivity and profitability.

Seamless data transfer is an important technology enabler for EncircaSM services, which are currently being rolled out in North America to corn and soybean farmers and can be offered globally over time to support a wide range of crops and markets.

As part of the AGCO Fuse™ Technologies platform, as well as the commitment by Pioneer to offer brand neutral decision agriculture services, growers can choose to have data collected through AGCO’s VarioDoc, TaskDoc™ and AgCommand® systems wirelessly transferred to Pioneer EncircaSM services. AGCO’s VarioDoc and TaskDoc™ are task file management systems that allow growers to conveniently and securely transfer task files between their farm machines and office without the need for a data card, portable memory drive or the physical transfer of devices.  AgCommand® is AGCO’s fleet and asset management system that provides growers, contractors and managers with instant access to a wide range of information about equipment working in the fields or traveling on the road.

“We are excited about the new addition of Pioneer EncircaSM services to the list of decision agriculture platforms compatible with VarioDoc, TaskDoc™ and AgCommand®, helping growers become more efficient in farm data and fleet management,” said Matt Rushing, vice president, Product Line, Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS). “Fuse Technology’s open approach enables growers to integrate their AGCO equipment and decision agriculture technology with the trusted service providers and software partners they choose.” 

“Pioneer is a leader in decision agriculture solutions that put growers’ needs for flexibility and convenience first,” said Alejandro Munoz, DuPont Pioneer vice president, Global Commercial Business. “This collaboration with AGCO is another significant milestone toward our whole-farm services strategy, enabled by industry-leading collaborations and advanced technologies, which works with growers to analyze and use their data to positively improve their bottom lines.”

VarioDoc is available as optional equipment on most Fendt® tractors, forage harvesters and combines; TaskDoc™ is now available on select Massey Ferguson® combines with more AGCO products planned in the future. AgCommand® is a standard feature on many Challenger®, Fendt®, Massey Ferguson® and Valtra® machines.

For more information about Fuse Technologies and AGCO’s new connected strategy, visit Visit to learn more about Pioneer next generation decision services.

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