Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday May 14 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Have you ever baled hay you thought was dry, only to have it heat and mold and spoil in storage?  Maybe moisture meters and probes can help you avoid this problem.

               Putting up hay at the right moisture content will help retain leaves and prevent spoilage.  However, it’s difficult to estimate moisture content of hay by touch alone.  So some folks use electronic probes to measure moisture content in their hay.

               Unfortunately, moisture probes and meters often are unreliable.  So many factors affect their accuracy, things like the density of the hay, or whether the moisture is inside the stem or just on the surface of the stem.  Operator skill and experience also are important.

               But, moisture probes can give you some guidance.  So, if you want to try them, go ahead.  But use precautions and know the limitations.

               For instance, don’t rely on readings taken from the windrow.  Contact with the probe is too variable.  Instead, bale one or two bales first and then probe these bales.  Also, be skeptical of probe readings on hay that is becoming tough due to rising humidity.  The surface moisture that collects under these conditions causes much larger reactions with the probe than does the internal stem moisture.

               Probably the best way to use a hay probe is to begin by probing selected bales, recording you probe’s readings, recording weather and hay conditions, and then collecting actual samples from the bales and drying them in an oven to compare true measurements to the probe readings.  Before long, you should be able to identify conditions that permit accurate or cause inaccurate readings.

               Then, and only then, can a moisture probe help solve more problems than it might cause.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Partners with AirMedCare Network for Membership Savings

Nebraska Farm Bureau has partnered with the AirMedCare Network to offer Nebraska Farm Bureau members the opportunity to join the AirMedCare Network membership program at a special “members-only” discounted rate, said Del Ficke, director of membership services for Nebraska Farm Bureau. AirMedCare Network is America's largest air medical membership network, providing the highest levels of care and access for you, your family and your community.

The average cost nationally of an air medical flight is typically $25,000. The standard yearly cost of joining the AirMedCare Network is $65 a year. But as a Nebraska Farm Bureau member you can purchase this service for only $55 per household, per year, Ficke said. Discounts are also available on multi-year memberships.

“Join Nebraska Farm Bureau today and you can receive valuable savings from the AirMedCare Network. This service gives you membership across four leading air ambulance operators for the price of one!  Air Link and EagleMed (based in Scottsbluff) are part of AirMedCare Network in Nebraska. They understand the critical aspect of time in treating medical emergencies, and for those who would use this service, time is of the essence.  That is why this partnership will bring real value to Farm Bureau members all across Nebraska,” Ficke said.

A membership in the AirMedCare Network ensures a member has no out-of-pocket expenses related to their flight, if flown by a participating AMCN provider. With the addition of the statewide agreement in the great state of Nebraska, AMCN now partners with nine other Farm Bureau member-states including Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana and Texas.

“We are blessed to have a great relationship with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and it is all built around being an additional resource to serve those communities where we have our air ambulance bases - like Nebraska” said Keith Hovey, Vice President of the AirMedCare Network. “We are committed to the communities we serve, facilitating great care in the folk’s critical time of need, and great relationships in the markets that we share.”

As a Nebraska Farm Bureau member, AirMedCare Network gives you many different choices. You can buy a yearly membership, or lock in the savings with a three, five, or ten year plan. Farm Bureau members receive the savings.

“The AirMedCare Network will work with your benefits provider to secure payment for your flight.  Whatever your benefits provider pays will be considered payment in full. It’s that simple. We are proud to offer our Nebraska Farm Bureau members this great benefit with our new partner AirMedCare Network,” Ficke said.

Omaha Steaks Launches New Father's Day Campaign "T-Bones -Not Ties" Taking Aim at Unwanted Father's Day Gift

In honor of Father's Day, Omaha Steaks, the nation's largest direct marketer of premium steaks and gourmet foods, is launching "T-Bones-Not Ties," a national campaign with one central focus: Dads don't want another ugly tie for Father's Day. According to a recent survey of over 1,000 Americans, Dads prefer a big, huge, juicy T-Bone steak!

The survey, conducted by Omaha Steaks through a third party polling company, found when given the choice between a T-Bone or a tie, a whopping 86 percent of Dads said they'd prefer a tender, thick-cut T-Bone instead of another ugly tie.

"Gathering the family for a Father's Day cookout is an all-American tradition and a great way to tell Dad how much we love him by serving one of his favorite foods -- a big, juicy steak," said Todd Simon, Senior Vice President and family owner of Omaha Steaks. "What's more, we know from a national survey that 70 percent of Dads would enjoy a steak as a gift, so a T-Bone from Omaha Steaks would be the perfect home run gift for this Father's Day."

To help satisfy Dad this year, Omaha Steaks is offering the Dad's Day Dinner that includes two (24 oz.) T-Bone steaks, steakhouse fries, caramel apple tartlets and Omaha Steaks signature blend seasoning. This mouth-watering combo, with a retail value of $155.00, is available starting May 12th for just $59.99.

In keeping with the spirit of "T-Bones-Not Ties," Omaha Steaks also is launching a Tie Turn-in initiative in all their retail store locations nationwide. Customers are invited to bring an ugly tie into any Omaha Steaks store to receive a coupon for a free six-pack of Omaha Steaks burgers (with minimum $30 purchase.) T-Bones, regularly priced at $119.99, will be featured for just $49.99, and Omaha Steaks will donate $1 to Big Brothers Big Sisters for every tie that is turned in.

Additionally, Omaha Steaks is inviting people to submit a photo of their ugliest tie or their Dad wearing his ugliest tie for a chance to win a year's supply of T-Bones. Photos can be uploaded onto the Omaha Steaks Facebook page at ( There's also a special Father's Day incentive for the Dads who golf. Any Dad in America hitting a hole-in-one on Father's Day (June 15) is eligible to receive a free box of T-Bones from Omaha Steaks.

Dairy Iowa Meeting Set for June 4

Iowa Dairy farmers—mark your calendar! Dairy Iowa will convene a meeting in celebration of June Dairy Month on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center, 2600 Swan Lake Blvd. in Independence, Iowa.

This year’s theme, Innovation-Technology-Economics: Dairy Farming for the Future, provides key information to take your farm into the next decade and beyond. Come listen to and learn from the Farm Technology Dairy Producer Panel. The panel, made up of a variety of dairy producers, will share technologies including cameras, precision farming equipment and robotics.  A second panel will include industry professionals discussing how technologies can advance the farm’s economic objectives. A question-and-answer period will follow each panel.

The keynote speaker for the day is Marin Bozic, an agriculture economist with the University of Minnesota. Mr. Bozic will speak on the topic of the economic benefits and opportunities for dairy farming in Iowa in the coming years and beyond.

Other activities will include recognition of the 2014 Midwest Dairy Association and Iowa State Dairy Association scholarship winners and acknowledgement of the 2014 Ralph Keeling Leadership Award winners.

This meeting is free to attend and lunch will be provided. Your RSVP is appreciated but not required. For more information on Dairy Iowa or to RSVP for the meeting, please call or email Sue Ann Claudon, Dairy Iowa coordinator, at 515-971-3620 or

Branstad, Reynolds Renew Call for Robust RFS

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday renewed their call for the Obama Administration to support a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). As government official travel to Iowa to discuss the environment today and tomorrow, Branstad and Reynolds believe they should focus on empowering consumers with additional and lower-cost choices at the pump, diversifying our nation's energy portfolio, reducing transportation emissions, supporting the growth of the Midwest economy, and reducing our dependence on overseas oil through a strengthened RFS.

Elected officials, including Branstad, Reynolds, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Northey, and the entire Iowa congressional delegation have repeatedly encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse course on their short-sighted proposed 2014 RFS volume obligation levels.

"President Obama recently indicated that he would take every executive action possible and leverage every existing authority to move the economy forward and advance his agenda. The President and Administrator McCarthy have existing authority to grow production and use of renewable fuels," said Branstad. "If the President is serious about advancing renewables, like biofuels, as a solution to reducing emissions, then I encourage him to pick-up the phone to direct senior leaders in his Administration to support a robust RFS. President Obama's Administration can nurture, through the stroke of a pen, future economic growth in Rural America and common sense energy policy."

"We are proud of Iowa's leadership in the production and use of renewable energy - both wind energy and biofuels. The RFS provides consumers choices at the fuel pump, and when given that choice, they often choose renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel," said Reynolds. "I renew the bipartisan call from leaders across Iowa, and entire Midwest region, for the Obama Administration to support a robust RFS."

Iowa is a leader in diversifying our nation's energy portfolio through the production of renewable fuels, like wind energy and biofuels. Iowa leads the nation in wind power generation and places third behind only Texas and California for wind energy capacity. In 2013, Iowa was ranked among the top 12 states in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Iowa also leads the nation in biofuels production. By supporting a robust RFS, the Obama Administration can diversify our nation's transportation fuels, add value to commodities grown in rural America, reduce emissions, and provide consumers low-cost choices at the pump.

Highlights of Iowa leaders' engagement on the RFS include:

-- State and Federal elected officials, including Branstad and Reynolds, participated in a "Defend the RFS event.
-- Branstad traveled to Washington, D.C., joining a small group of Iowa farmers and biofuels producers, to testify at the Federal government's only public hearing and met with EPA Administrator McCarthy.
-- Branstad, Reynolds, Northey and the entire Iowa congressional delegation sent a joint letter to Federal leaders advocating for the many benefits that flow from the RFS.
-- Branstad brought together a bipartisan group of six governors to sign on to a letter to President Barack Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their support for a strong RFS.
-- Leaders from across the Midwest joined Branstad and Reynolds for their "Hearing in Heartland," which was open to all interested citizens; 83 panelists from across the Midwest Region spoke from the heart about the importance of the RFS to their livelihoods and a healthy rural economy while only two individuals expressed opposition to a robust RFS.
-- The Iowa Legislature unanimously passed bicameral, bipartisan resolutions calling for the EPA to reverse course and support a strong RFS. View the resolutions: House Resolution 101/Senate Resolution 101.
-- State of Iowa leaders submitted formal comments to the EPA with current data and analysis that provides Federal leaders the opportunity and obligation to revise their initial volume obligations upward.

Biodiesel Producers Hit Hard by Policy Uncertainty

Policy setbacks in Washington are taking a major toll on the most successful advanced biofuel in the U.S., according to a nationwide survey of biodiesel producers released Wednesday.

The survey, conducted by the National Biodiesel Board, found that nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers have scaled back production this year and more than half have idled production at a plant altogether. Additionally, two-thirds of producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce as a result of the downturn. The cutbacks come in the face of a weak Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposal from the EPA and Congress’ failure to extend the biodiesel tax incentive.

Biodiesel producers and other advocates joined a group of U.S. senators at a press conference Wednesday in calling for Congress and the Administration to act quickly to restore the industry’s progress by supporting a strong RFS and reinstating the tax incentive.

“Inconsistency in Washington is wreaking havoc on the U.S. biodiesel industry,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “It’s not just hurting these producers. It is a setback for local economies where these plants operate, for our environment, for our national energy security, and for drivers who are tired of ever-increasing fuel prices that result from the petroleum industry’s monopoly at the pump.”

Among the other survey findings:
-    78 percent have reduced production versus 2013
-    57 percent have idled production altogether or shut down a plant this year
-    66 percent have reduced workforce or anticipate reducing workforce
-    85 percent have delayed or canceled expansion plans

The producers nearly universally attributed the industry decline to the weak RFS proposal and loss of the tax incentive.

The RFS proposal, which has not yet been finalized, would establish a biodiesel standard of 1.28 billion gallons this year. That is a sharp cut from last year’s record production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons that would likely force many producers to shut their doors.

The biodiesel tax incentive expired on Jan. 1, marking the third time in five years that Congress has allowed it to lapse. The incentive is included in the tax extenders bill currently under consideration in the Senate, but remains unclear when or if the incentive might be reinstated.

At Wednesday’s press conference, several biodiesel producers and senators called on the Administration and Congress to restore stable policy to get the industry back on track.

“Unless Congress and the Administration act, we will be forced to make very difficult decisions in the near future,” said Jeff Haas, CEO of General Biodiesel in Seattle. “We are all slowly being bled dry, and America’s growing biofuels industry may be irreparably harmed.”

“We made these investments because we believed in what the Administration and Congress were trying to accomplish with the Renewable Fuel Standard and because a road map was laid out for growth under the RFS for the next decade, particularly in Advanced Biofuels,” said Wayne Presby, owner of White Mountain Biodiesel in North Haverhill, N.H., discussing the growth of his business in recent years and now-delayed expansion plans. “But with this RFS proposal, and the uncertain tax policy from Congress, that expansion and the jobs that would come with it are on hold.”

“Biodiesel has proven itself to be a successful homegrown, homemade fuel,” said Bryan Christjansen, general manager at Renewable Energy Group’s refineries in Albert Lea, Minn. and Mason City, Iowa. “If the administration chooses to go with the EPA proposal, it does not just put domestic fuel production in jeopardy, it harms local economies and billions of dollars of investments.”

“This uncertainty is bad for producers, it’s bad for agriculture, it’s extremely bad for investors, it’s bad for the environment, and it’s particularly bad for those of us who took cues from Congress and the Administration and made the commitments to build a U.S. renewable fuels future,” said Terry Goerger, a seed company owner and third-generation farmer from Mantador, N.D.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said the Administration’s proposal and the loss of the tax incentive is hurting her state’s agriculture sector as well as its production plant in Velva, N.D.

“Biodiesel has an incredible success story to tell.  Farmers in North Dakota and throughout the country are supporting good jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and boosting rural communities,” Heitkamp said. “But instead of promoting these successes, federal policies are dragging our farmers and producers down. That’s the wrong direction.”

“It’s time to provide predictability so that Washington state innovative companies like General Biodiesel can grow,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. “Investing in biodiesel is a win-win-win: It’s good for energy security, good for the environment and it means jobs today in Washington state and around the country. That’s why I have introduced bipartisan legislation to give businesses the certainty they need to invest in the development of affordable, domestic alternatives to fossil fuels.”

“Indiana is a leader in biofuel production, and I have seen firsthand the good work being done at our biodiesel plants across our state,” said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. “The biodiesel industry is an excellent example of American-made energy that increases our energy security and creates jobs at home. That is why it is so critical that we continue and strengthen energy policies, like the Biodiesel Tax Credit and the Renewable Fuel Standard, that increase the production of American-made biofuels.”

Made from a diverse mix of fats and oils including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, biodiesel is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. Last year, the industry produced a record of nearly 1.8 billion gallons, with plants in almost every state in the country supporting some 62,200 jobs. According to a recent study, nearly 8,000 of those jobs would be threatened by a drop in production back to 1.28 billion gallons as the EPA has proposed.

The survey of NBB members was conducted between April 14 and April 25. Fifty-four biodiesel producers from across the country participated in the survey.

Soy Growers Praise Biodiesel Support from Farm State Senators

American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning, Iowa, praised Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), for speaking up in support for biodiesel. In a press conference earlier today, the senators highlighted the need for reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit and for EPA to increase the proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes for biodiesel. The senators, and others representing biodiesel and feedstock producers, outlined the negative impact that the lapse of the credit has had on the burgeoning industry and the additional uncertainty resulting from the EPA’s 2014 RFS proposal. Gaesser had this to say on the issue:

“The biodiesel industry is a significant and growing market for the soybeans my fellow farmers and I produce, and for many years, we’ve been working with the recognition and the investment of our federal partners in the form of the Biodiesel Tax Credit. Now in the absence of that incentive, many of our producers are scaling back their production and risk hampering the broad and sustained success of the biodiesel industry.

”We appreciate and echo the sentiments from these six Senators today, and call to attention the positive impacts that the RFS and the Biodiesel Tax Credit has on the production of biodiesel—a clean, domestic and commercially-available biofuel. This results in benefits to farmers and rural communities, the economy, consumers, and the environment.

“So many in Congress and in the Administration talk about exploring all options in our nation’s quest for energy independence, yet we are hampering those viable solutions created by farmers right here at home. Thank you to those Senators who have realized and stood up for the potential of biodiesel in this effort. Our industry will continue to pursue our goal of establishing biodiesel as the go-to source for clean, domestic renewable energy, and we urge each of our members to contact their Senator to support the continuation of the Biodiesel Tax Credit and the adjustment of the RFS to higher levels in 2014 and beyond.”

Ethanol Stocks Reach 1-Year High

U.S. ethanol inventories rebounded last week, rising nationwide to a one-year high even as demand improved amid increased domestic production and imports, the Energy Information Administration reported midmorning.

EIA data showed total inventories climbed 200,000 barrels (bbl), or 0.9%, to 17.3 million bbl during the week-ended May 9, with the year-over-year surplus climbing to 900,000 bbl or 5.3%.

EIA reported 43,000 barrels per day (bpd) of ethanol was imported into the United States last week, with all of the supply received along the East Coast.

EIA also showed ethanol production at U.S. plants rebounded last week, up 28,000 bpd or 3.1% at 922,000 bpd, and up 7.5% from a year earlier. Four-week average production at 906,000 bpd was up 6.2% from a year earlier.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, increased 44,000 bpd or 5.2% to 890,000 bpd while also up 44,000 bpd or 5.2% from a year earlier. Four-week average input was up 2.7% from a year earlier.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.03%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.980 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 102,898 metric tons of livestock feed, 91,734 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.80 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

Small Companies Eligible to Apply for USMEF 2014 Branded Products Promotion Program

Smaller U.S. companies that are seeking assistance in promoting their branded red meat products internationally are eligible to apply for the 2014 USMEF Branded Products Promotion Program.

The program provides financial assistance to small (less than 500 employees) for-profit companies or U.S. agricultural cooperatives that own a commodity brand, with the provision that products promoted under the program must contain at least 50 percent U.S. red meat.

During fiscal year 2013, the USMEF program, which utilizes funding from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), provided support for 11 companies that targeted 13 international markets, ranging from Aruba, China and Germany to Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Cumulatively, the 2013 program helped produce more than 400 business contacts and 90 export trade leads, leading to significant increases in exports by the participating companies.

Exporter Geller International participated in the 2013 program, focusing on the retail sector in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong as outlets for its high-end U.S. processed pork items. Geller was invited to and attended the Cold Storage Singapore Savour show this March to reach retail customers in the region with its exciting new products.

“USMEF’s Singapore representative came to our booth at the event to support us,” noted James Geller, president of Geller International. “USMEF’s team has been a great assistance in making the program a success.”

Branded Products Promotion Program funds can be used to offset certain costs in support of export development activities in international markets in the following three areas:
-    Exhibiting at trade shows and fairs, including select U.S. domestic trade shows with large international attendance;
-    Retail and foodservice promotions, including demonstrations, point of sale materials, signs and displays; and
-    Seminars, including materials, translation of company literature, interpreters, set-up costs/room rental and presentation production.

Information regarding the USMEF Branded Program, including guidelines and an application, can be found here...  If you have questions or wish to submit an application, please contact Beka Gill at

U.S. Companies Explore Trade Opportunities in China

Northeast China has been a difficult market for U.S. companies to crack in the past. The region is traditionally an area of farming and manufacturing, making it difficult to find a place for U.S. agricultural exports. But recent economic growth and development have sent the region's agricultural imports soaring, steadily outpacing the rest of China, and American companies are taking notice.

Last week, representatives from nine state departments of agriculture and 28 U.S. companies participated in a USDA trade mission to learn and explore the opportunities for trade in the region.

Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse led the agricultural trade mission to Dalian, Shenyang and Changchun to learn about China's rapidly evolving market conditions and business environment. China is the largest market for U.S. food and farm products--U.S. agricultural exports to the country tripled over the last decade, now accounting for nearly 20 percent of all foreign sales of U.S. agricultural products.

USDA's trade mission to China during World Trade Month will open new doors and help farmers and ranchers capitalize on the tremendous export potential for American agricultural products.

37+ Analysis Shows Mycotoxin Levels Rising In Stored 2013 Crop

After seven months of feeding the 2013 harvest to their herds, dairy producers may soon find their corn silage and total mixed ration (TMR) are not quite up to par, as many herds are now facing new challenges due to recent mold and mycotoxin growth in feed during storage.

“The U.S. crops varied considerably from farm to farm and even from field to field. These varied crops were all harvested at the same time and placed into storage, creating silage that is a mixture of maturity and crop stress,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, a nutritionist from Alltech’s Mycotoxin Management Team. “The effects of storage moisture and temperature, oxygen availability and forage management are now being discovered.”

Alltech has continued to analyze corn silage and TMR samples since the September harvest through their 37+™ Program. The analysis is performed using LC/MSMS technology and considers the mycotoxin challenge in each sample as a whole, rather than looking at the individual mycotoxins present. According to Hawkins, the analysis more closely reflects commercial production and the challenges facing producers around the world. The company has also developed a Risk Equivalent Quantity (REQ), which assesses and calculates the total potential risk to a given species associated with the mycotoxin group present in a sample.

A total of 104 corn silage samples and 279 TMR samples have been analyzed through Alltech’s 37+™ Program from September to March with each month showing an increase in the average number of mycotoxins per sample. For example, corn silage samples have increased in levels of Type B Trichothecenes from 681 parts per billion (ppb) in September to 1720 ppb in March. A cautionary level of Type B Trichothecenes is 1000 ppb and high risk is 2000 ppb for mature dairy cows.

“As a result, producers are likely to see decreased dry matter intake, lower milk production, poor gut health with inconsistent manure and diminished immune response,” Hawkins said. “This places the risk for corn silage well above a cautionary risk level and at or near high risk since October.”

He also reminds producers as storage facilities are emptied this spring that high levels of mycotoxins may be found in the lower levels of the facilities, where the fines and cracked kernels tend to concentrate.

Hawkins recommends these five tips for producers feeding the last of the 2013 harvest:
    Only run aeration fans during the coolest times of day or night. Hold grain at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less and 14 percent moisture or less.
    Mold growth in storage is greater where there are leaks in facilities and where fines and damaged kernels are concentrated.
    The south side and tops of grain bins warm quicker as daytime temperatures begin to increase.
    New mold growth will increase temperature and moisture in surrounding grain.
    Continually monitor stored grain for temperature, moisture and mycotoxins.

“Producers need to keep in mind the risk from mycotoxins to the cow is a moving target and what you feed today is not necessarily what you will feed tomorrow,” Hawkins said.

A Budding Threat: Palmer Amaranth Spreads

Palmer amaranth is making its way into fields across the Midwest, threatening crop systems and severely reducing yield if not controlled early.

Palmer amaranth is a highly competitive weed that can produce seeds at a tremendous rate — ranging from several hundred thousand to more than a million seeds per plant, according to a recent study from the University of Illinois. A few surviving female plants can produce enough seeds to alter the weed spectrum of any field. Its rapid seed production has contributed to its spread north.

“Palmer amaranth is moving northward and is a serious threat to corn fields and should be on the radar of growers throughout the Midwest,” says Scott Ditmarsen, field scientist, Dow AgroSciences. “The key to managing Palmer amaranth is to identify it early and utilize an aggressive weed management program, including tillage, multiple herbicide applications with multiple modes of action, and physical plant removal.”

According to the University of Illinois study, Palmer amaranth seed has a higher germination rate than most other Amaranthus species, including waterhemp. Left untreated, this invasive weed can devastate a crop’s yield.

“Palmer amaranth is unique because of its rapid growth,” Ditmarsen says. “It can grow several inches per day, making it extremely competitive among corn crops. Along with its ability to grow rapidly, Palmer amaranth also has an extended germination period that spans from early spring through late summer, which requires growers to actively scout for it throughout the season.”

According to, Palmer amaranth is resistant to five different herbicide classes, with multiple resistance found in many states, including Nebraska, Georgia, Tennessee and Kansas.

“Due to its increasing herbicide resistance, growers should implement a season-long management plan using multiple herbicides that work on different sites of action,” Ditmarsen says. “Targeting different sites of action is key to managing and preventing the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth.”

According to 2012 Stratus data,1 13.3 percent of growers in 31 corn- and soybean-growing states reported the presence of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth on their farm, which is up from 8.7 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, upward of 75 percent of growers in Southern states reported glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth on their farm in 2012.

There are ways to control Palmer amaranth and prevent it from spreading. According to Brittany Loewen, U.S. corn herbicide product manager, Dow AgroSciences, SureStart® herbicide is an effective tool featuring three non-glyphosate modes of action that are necessary to control Palmer amaranth prior to planting.

“Because Palmer amaranth can have a tremendous impact on yield potential, it is important to stay one step ahead of it,” Loewen says. “Using SureStart herbicide in a two-pass program is an effective way to control this aggressive weed and give corn a clean start.”

SureStart provides flexibility to apply from preplant through early postemergence and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth.

Smithfield Profit Soars on Fresh Pork Sales

Smithfield Foods said its first-quarter profit surged as the pork processor benefited from strong demand for fresh pork.

Smithfield was purchased last year by Chinese pork producer WH Group, then known as Shuanghui International Holdings, for about $4.7 billion. WH Group recently planned for the world's biggest initial public offerings in a year, but the company last month scrapped the planned listing when investors balked at the high price.

Smithfield reported net income of $105.3 million, up from $18.2 million a year earlier. Sales rose 2.9% to $3.42 billion.

Total pork sales--the biggest contributor to Smithfield's revenue--rose 5.5%, with fresh pork sales rising 17%. Tight supplies combined with relatively strong demand allowed the company to pass along higher hog prices. However, packaged meats sales slipping 2.9%, amid notably lower ham volumes because of the later timing of Easter. Bacon and sausage volumes improved considerably, Smithfield said.

The hog production business reported 1.9% higher sales.

Deere Announces Second-Quarter Earnings of $981 Million

Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $980.7 million, or $2.65 per share, for the second quarter ended April 30, compared with $1.084 billion, or $2.76 per share, for the same period last year.

For the first six months of 2014, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $1.662 billion, or $4.46 per share, compared with $1.734 billion, or $4.41 per share, last year.

Worldwide net sales and revenues decreased 9 percent, to $9.948 billion, for the second quarter and were down 4 percent, to $17.602 billion, for six months. Net sales of the equipment operations were $9.246 billion for the quarter and $16.195 billion for six months, compared with $10.265 billion and $17.058 billion for the same periods last year.

"John Deere is on its way to another year of solid financial and operating performance," said Samuel R.  Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our second-quarter earnings showed further proof of the adept execution of our operating plans. We kept costs and assets well under control while successfully managing major new-product transitions associated with more stringent emissions standards. In addition, our construction and forestry and financial services operations delivered improved results, reflecting the power of our broad-based business lineup."

Summary of Operations

Net sales of the worldwide equipment operations declined 10 percent for the quarter and 5 percent for six months compared with the same periods a year ago. Sales included price realization of 2 percent and an unfavorable currency-translation effect of 1 percent for the quarter and six months. Equipment net sales in the United States and Canada decreased 12 percent for the quarter and 6 percent year to date. Outside the U.S. and Canada, net sales were down 6 percent for the quarter and 3 percent for six months, including unfavorable currency-translation effects of 2 percent for both periods.

Deere's equipment operations reported operating profit of $1.361 billion for the quarter and $2.252 billion for six months, compared with $1.663 billion and $2.500 billion last year. The decline for both periods was due primarily to the impact of lower shipment volumes, the unfavorable effects of foreign-currency exchange, and a less favorable product mix, partially offset by price realization.

Net income of the company's equipment operations was $838 million for the second quarter and $1.381 billion for the first six months, compared with $953 million and $1.478 billion in 2013. In addition to the operating factors mentioned above, a lower effective tax rate benefited both quarterly and six-month results.

Financial services reported net income attributable to Deere & Company of $147.7 million for the quarter and $289.9 million for six months compared with $125.0 million and $257.9 million last year. The improvement for the quarter was due to growth in the credit portfolio, partially offset by higher selling, administrative and general expenses. Six-month results improved due to growth in the credit portfolio and a more favorable effective tax rate, partially offset by lower crop insurance margins and higher selling, administrative and general expenses.

Equipment Division Performance

    Agriculture & Turf. Sales fell 12 percent for the quarter and 7 percent for six months due largely to lower shipment volumes, the previously announced sale of John Deere Landscapes and the unfavorable effects of currency translation, partially offset by price realization.

    Operating profit was $1.229 billion for the quarter and $2.026 billion year to date, compared with $1.582 billion and $2.347 billion, respectively, last year. The deterioration for both periods was driven primarily by the impact of lower shipment volumes, the unfavorable effects of foreign-currency exchange, and a less favorable product mix, partially offset by price realization.

    Construction & Forestry. Construction and forestry sales increased 2 percent for the quarter and 3 percent for six months mainly as a result of higher shipment volumes. Operating profit was $132 million for the quarter and $226 million for six months, compared with $81 million and $153 million last year. Operating profit improved for both periods primarily due to higher shipment volumes, lower production costs and lower selling, administrative and general expenses, partially offset by higher sales incentive costs. Six-month results also benefited from lower research and development expenses.

Organic Product Sales Break Through $35 Billion

American consumers have not had their fill of organic products yet. In fact, sales of organic products in the United States jumped to $35.1 billion in 2013, up 11.5% from the previous year’s $31.5 billion and the fastest growth rate in five years, according to the latest survey on the organic industry from the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

And the hunger for organic products is not expected to ease any time soon. The OTA survey projects that growth rates over the next two years will at least keep pace with the 2013 clip and even slightly exceed it.

“The U.S. organic market is experiencing strong expansion, with organic food and farming continuing to gain in popularity. Consumers are making the correlation between what we eat and our health, and that knowledge is spurring heightened consumer interest in organic products,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of OTA.

OTA’s Organic Industry Survey is the most accurate and comprehensive quantitative picture of the organic industry available. It was conducted and produced by Nutrition Business Journal. Over 200 companies responded to the survey, which was conducted this year from January 27 through April 4. Companies gave data on revenues reported, sales growth, revenue by product and sales channel breakdowns. For information on how to purchase the full report, go to

Organic food sales in 2013, at $32.3 billion, accounted for roughly 92% of the total organic sales. Non-food organic products—including flowers, fiber, household products and pet food—are currently a very small part of the total organic market, but are making quick in-roads. Sales of non-food organic products, at almost $2.8 billion, have jumped nearly eight-fold since 2002, and have almost doubled in market share.

A niche industry in the huge food sector just a decade ago, consumer purchases of organic food first broke through the $30 billion mark in 2012 and now account for more than 4% of the $760 billion annual food sales in the United States. More telling, the growth rate of organic food sales, which has averaged almost 10% every year since 2010, has dwarfed the average annual growth of just over 3% in total food sales during that same period.

A product breakdown of the organic food sector shows that the fruit and vegetable category continues to lead the sector with $11.6 billion in sales, up 15%. With more than 10% of the fruits and vegetables sold in the United States now organic, the $1.5 billion in new sales of organic fruits and vegetable represented 46% of the organic sector’s $3.3 billion in new dollars.

The relatively small organic condiments category posted the strongest growth, at 17%, to reach sales of $830 million. Also showing double-digit growth were the organic snack food sector, up 15% to $1.7 billion; organic bread and grain sales up 12% to $3.8 billion; organic meat, poultry and fish sales up 11% to $675 million, and the rapidly expanding organic packaged and prepared food sector up 10% to $4.8 billion.

Just two categories of the organic food sector showed single-digit growth rates. The $4.9 billion dairy sector grew by 8%, and sales of organic beverages slowed to a 5% growth rate to around $4 billion.

But as demand for organic continues to boom and accessibility to organic products increases, the industry is facing some critical challenges.

Farmland in the United States is not being converted to organic at the pace needed to meet the growing demand for organic. Supplies of organic feed and organic grain have been tight and costly, which could limit growth especially in the organic dairy and meat sectors.

There is also lingering confusion among consumers about just what organic means. The message of the organic can be lost next to the presence of “natural” products and the long debate around GMOs.

“The entire organic industry needs to rally around helping consumers better understand and appreciate all the values that certified organic brings to the table,” said Batcha. “Consumer education is critical to grow the organic industry,” she added.

Alliance Welcomes New Staff, Board Members

Following the incredibly successful 13th annual Stakeholders Summit themed "Cracking the Millennial Code" and the Alliance Spring Board of Directors meeting last week, the Animal Agriculture Alliance is excited to announce additions to its Staff and Board of Directors.

Rossie Blinson, a third generation cattle breeder and former National  Cattlemen’s Beef Association intern will join the Alliance staff as the new Manager of Membership and Marketing. Blinson, who has always had a strong passion for animal agriculture, recently graduated North Carolina State University from earned a Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business Management and a minor in Animal Science from.  Blinson, who will serve under Alliance Communications Director Emily Meredith, has been an intern at the alliance for the last four months and will officially begin her duties on May 27, 2014.

“Rossie’s passion for animal agriculture shines through in everything she does,” said Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith. “In the four short months of her internship she has proven herself invaluable and we can’t wait to kick off our 2015 fiscal year knowing that she’ll be a permanent member of our team.”

There will also be three significant additions to the Alliance Board of Directors: Rebecca Cisek (Zoetis); Dr. Dave Sjeklocha (Cattle Empire, LLC);  and Terry Wehrkamp (Cooper Farms) will join the other 28 board members, each of whom serve a term of three years. Additionally, Tom Super Vice President of Communications for the National Chicken Council will replace Dr. Ashley Peterson on the Alliance board; Delbert Christensen will replace Ronald Ohlde as United Soybean Board's representative; and Ann Nogan, Executive Vice President at the Pennsylvania Center for Beef Excellence will replace Barbara Jackson as the representative for the American National CattleWomen.

“We’re always looking for ways we can further strengthen the Alliance to benefit the entire industry,” said current Alliance Chairman of the Board Paul Pressley. “I have no doubt these six new board members will provide incredible knowledge and help drive the Alliance to achieve even greater success.”

All major sectors of animal agriculture are represented on the Alliance’s Board of Directors, making the organization truly unique. The Alliance’s legacy of leadership makes it the key organization for building meaningful coalitions across diverse industries to strategically address issues critical to the future of animal agriculture.

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