Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday May 21 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Ragweed growth exploded in some pastures during recent years.  Timely spring rains encourage germination and seedling growth.  Sunny dry falls help seed develop.  And  drought weakened competition.

               Both common ragweed, which is an annual, and western ragweed, which is a perennial, can be held in check using similar methods.  However, common ragweed is controlled more easily with grazing management or herbicides than western ragweed.

               Research and observations both show that ragweed problems are worst in pastures that fail to maintain competition from a full leaf canopy of grass during late May through late June.  If you had ragweed problems the past couple of years, look for tiny plants or seedlings underneath your grass during the next couple of weeks.  Heavy grazing or haying during this time opens up the grass sward, letting seedlings and small plants grow rapidly.

               Any management that develops and maintains a dense leaf canopy at this time helps reduce problems with ragweed.  This includes increasing grass growth with fertilizer and thickening stands by seeding, but most important of all is to avoid grazing heavily in areas with ragweed problems.  If you do graze heavily or cut hay, spraying herbicides like 2,4-D or Grazon or Milestone or Weedmaster after grazing or cutting gives good control of ragweed seedlings and small plants.  And if ragweed gets away, shredding in September can reduce seed production.

               It takes time, and a well-planned approach, to control ragweed.  With good grazing, some spraying, and timely shredding it can be done.

Report examines new landowner compensation concepts for renewable energy transmission

Today the Center for Rural Affairs released a report entitled Landowner Compensation in Transmission Siting for Renewable Energy Facilities. The report examines a new concept in landowner compensation, the Special Purpose Development Corporation (SPDC), as a tool to address landowner opposition to transmission projects. Also included is a consideration of eminent domain and other procedures that can create conflict in the context of siting electrical transmission lines.

A full copy of the report can be viewed or downloaded at:

“Eminent domain must be seen as a last resort. The SPDC concept has real potential to provide a better deal for farmers, ranchers and other rural landowners,” explained Rosalie Winn, Energy Fellow with the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the report. “By helping create a common interest in transmission development through market-based compensation and an emphasis on stakeholder participation, this new concept helps farmers and ranchers become full participants, true partners, with developers in renewable energy transmission projects.”

According to Winn, the SPDC framework allows for the development of large scale transmission projects while avoiding several significant concerns associated with a dependence on eminent domain and the use of ‘fair market value’ as the sole basis for landowner compensation.

Project delays and legal fees can dramatically increase the cost of transmission projects. These charges are ultimately passed on to ratepayers, paid for through inflated electric bills. It is noted that average costs associated with acquiring land and assembling it into corridors can compose 10% of transmission development costs, or up to $400,000 per pole mile.

Winn’s report also demonstrates that the application of the SPDC tool has its own set of challenges - a unique set of questions regarding formation, ownership, governance and transaction costs that must be addressed.

“However, resolving these issues, and others that may arise, represents crucial first steps toward arriving at outcomes that satisfy both developer and landowner as project participants,” added Johnathan Hladik, Senior Policy Advocate for Energy Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs. “And in so doing, help rural and small town America meet the growing demand for renewable energy both now and in the future.”

Iowa Provides Stability for State’s Biodiesel Producers

Today Iowa Governor Terry Branstad advanced support for the biodiesel industry signing into law an extension of the state’s biodiesel producer incentive.

“Iowa is a biofuels leader in this country and having states step to the plate with legislation supporting America’s Advanced Biofuel, biodiesel, is a win for our industry,” said Steven J. Levy, chairman of the National Biodiesel Board. “Our champions in Iowa have shown that hard work to grow this still-young industry pays off.”

The legislation is an extension of the current biodiesel producer incentive that is structured as a 2 cent per-gallon refundable credit for the first 25 million gallons produced at any single plant in the state. The incentive was set to expire at the end of this year but the extension now moves that through 2017.

With the fate of the federal biodiesel tax incentive and the Renewable Fuel Standard volumes currently uncertain, strong state biodiesel policies help stabilize the industry and provide a baseline for producers.

“Built on strong federal and state policy support the biodiesel industry produced nearly 1.8 billion gallons last year,” said Levy. “With record volumes of advanced biofuels being produced, now is not the time to back away from those policies that have proven to be successful in bringing fuel diversity to the marketplace.”

A group of biodiesel producers and other industry advocates joined six U.S. Senators at a press conference in Washington D.C. last week calling on Congress and the Administration to act quickly to restore the industry’s progress by supporting a strong Renewable Fuel Standard and reinstating the federal tax incentive.

Nominations for Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Due June 15

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reminded farmers that nominations for the 2014 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards are due by June 15. The award recognizes the efforts of Iowa's farmers as environmental leaders committed to healthy soils and improved water quality.

Nomination forms can be found on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's website at under "Hot Topics."

"It is important to recognize the many farmers that are taking significant voluntary steps to protect the soil and improve water quality here in Iowa and lift them up as examples for other farmers to follow," Northey said. "Iowa farmers take great pride in caring for the soil and water and this award is an opportunity to highlight their conservation efforts."

The award is a joint effort between the Governor, Lt. Governor, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources and it seeks to recognize the exemplary voluntary actions of farmers that improve or protect the environment and natural resources of our state while also encouraging other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building success upon success.

Farmers that are nominated should have made environmental stewardship a priority on their farm and adopted best management practices throughout their farming operation. As true stewards of the land, they recognize that improved water quality and soil sustainability reaps benefits that extend beyond their fields to citizens of Iowa and residents even further downstream.

An appointed committee of representatives from both conservation and agricultural groups will review the nominations and select the winners.

The recipients will be recognized at the Iowa State Fair on Wednesday, August 13 at the Penningroth Center.

The award was created in 2012 and last year 63 Iowa farm families were recognized. Winners were presented a certificate as well as a yard sign donated by Monsanto. Hagie Manufacturing also sponsored a recognition luncheon following the ceremony. Last year EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke at the luncheon and recognized the efforts of the winners.

NIAA/USAHA Trichomoniasis Standards Forum White Paper

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture and U.S. Animal Health Association recently released a white paper, “Harmonization of Trichomoniasis Regulatory and Testing Standards,” that summarizes presentations and discussions conducted at a one-day national forum that gathered industry leaders, producers, diagnostic laboratory veterinarians, animal health officials and others involved in the control and management of trichomoniasis. The white paper also shares five key consensus points as well as areas participants identified as needing further exploration to help reduce confusion and increase understanding, cooperation and compliance across states.

Topics covered in the white paper include:
·         Overview of trichomoniasis
·         Economic loss estimates related to trich
·         Sample handling and collection
·         Sample handling and collection—veterinarian perspective
·         Sample handling and collection—laboratory perspective
·         Trich testing—What has worked in Colorado
·         Snapshot of four state control/management programs

“If you’re involved in the control and management of trich, then this white paper deserves your attention,” states forum co-chair Carl Heckendorf, DVM, Livestock Disease Veterinarian, Colorado Department of Agriculture. “While trichomoniasis is not a new disease, its prevalence has increased dramatically in recent years, and we need to get on the same page to help manage this disease and keep beef cattle healthy and productive.”

The “Harmonization of Trichomoniasis Regulatory and Testing Standards” white paper is available online at

Humane Ad in 'USA Today' Blasts HSUS for Offshore Investments, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, is running a full-page ad in USA Today calling out the Humane Society of the United States for parking $20 million of donor funds in offshore investment shelters in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The practice is only the latest in a recent spate of news questioning the financial practices of HSUS, including a downgrade in its charity rating, an investigation opened by the Oklahoma attorney general, amending and restating years of federal tax returns, and federal racketeering litigation.

The ad is headlined, 'The Humane Society of the United States Chooses Caribbean Tax Shelters Over Pet Shelters,' and features a picture of a dog on a Caribbean beach. The body of the ad explains, 'The Humane Society of the United States only donates 1% of its budget to local pet shelters, but in 2012 socked $20 million in Caribbean investment funds. If you want to help abandoned cats and dogs, give to your local pet shelter, not HSUS.'

The investments in question all occurred during tax year 2012.

According to the group's 990-T and supplemental tax forms, a total of $20.45 million was invested in various offshore funds.

Will Coggin, CCF's senior research analyst, noted the oddity of a nonprofit animal rights organization engaging in offshore investment strategies.

In March, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a consumer alert against HSUS. This was partly in response to complaints his office received that HSUS misled donors after last year's tornadoes by telling Oklahomans their money would go to help local shelters and dislocated animals.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 5/16/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 925,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 38.85 million gallons daily. That is up 3,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 910,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.95 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.0 million barrels. That is a 1.8% decrease from last week.

Imports of ethanol were 11,000 b/d, down from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 385.3 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.08%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.025 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 103,233 metric tons of livestock feed, 92,033 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.82 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

Soy Growers Applaud Vetter’s USTR Confirmation

The growers of the American Soybean Association (ASA) applauded today’s Senate Finance Committee confirmation of Darci Vetter as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). ASA worked extensively with Vetter in her former role as Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ASA President Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning, Iowa, released the following statement.

“Right now, agriculture is among the brightest spots in our nation’s global trade portfolio. Last year we exported more than $141 billion in agricultural products—the largest share of that in the form of soybeans. This contributes to a positive agricultural trade balance of $31 billion and millions of jobs here at home,” said Gaesser. “The job for which Ms. Vetter was confirmed today is to ensure that the success of the partnerships between American agriculture and our foreign customers continues to grow and strengthen. As we work to remove trade barriers worldwide as well as negotiate the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe and on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Pacific Rim countries, Ms. Vetter’s knowledge and experience, not only of international trade but also the specific needs of our industry, are extremely powerful assets. ASA congratulates Ms. Vetter on a well-deserved confirmation, and we call on the full Senate to confirm her as quickly as possible so that we may continue our cooperation to advance the important role of U.S. soy on the global stage.”

ACE announces dates, online registration, and “Power by People” theme for annual conference

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is announcing the dates, theme and that registration is now open for its upcoming 27th annual Ethanol Conference. The event is scheduled for August 4-6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and interested parties can register for the conference here...

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the theme of the event is “Power by People,” where important topics and timely information will be covered.

“Ethanol is first and foremost about people, and Power by People is a fitting description for this year’s conference which will feature some of the people in our industry who are innovating, advocating, and leading us to a stronger and brighter future,” said Jennings. “We encourage everyone to register now for the conference and we’re excited to be featuring some of the forward-thinking projects being developed by our members at the event because they truly exemplify what power by people is all about,” said Jennings.

A Retailer Roundtable entitled “Power to the People” focusing on the sale and marketing of higher ethanol blends is one of the featured sessions of the conference. It will include Kent Satrang, the CEO of Petro Serve USA, and independent convenience store owners, Charlie Good of Nevada, Iowa and Bruce Vollan of Baltic, South Dakota. Other sessions of interest include a look at new innovations in the ethanol industry, a discussion of the octane and high performance potential of ethanol in automobiles, overseas opportunities for ethanol producers and an examination of rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system.

DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Fertilizer prices are still on the rise as planting continues, according to DTN's national survey of retailers for the second week of May. This marks the thirteenth consecutive week all retail fertilizers' prices edged higher and may be reflecting some delivery bottlenecks.

Only one fertilizer price jumped any significant amount for a second week in row. 10-34-0 was up 5% compared to a month earlier. The starter fertilizer averaged $552/ton.  The remaining seven fertilizers nudged higher compared to a month earlier but the move to the high side was fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $595/ton, MAP $631/ton, potash $479/ton, urea $555/ton, anhydrous $699/ton, UAN28 $355/ton and UAN32 $406/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.61/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.63/lb.N.

Although fertilizers have moved higher in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers remain double-digits lower in price compared to May of 2013.  Urea is now down 2%, DAP is 3% lower and MAP 4% less expensive. Both UAN32 and 10-34-0 are now down 10%, UAN28 is down 11% and both potash and anhydrous are now 18% less expensive than a year earlier.

Zoetis Accepting Nominations for Pig Caregivers Award

Program honors farm employees who have shown exceptional commitment to swine care

Do you know a pig caregiver who goes above and beyond to consistently provide superior pig care? Nominate him or her for the Honoring Caregivers award from Zoetis. Nominations for the Honoring Caregivers award — which recognizes exemplary pig caregivers and their positive contributions to the pork industry — are being accepted online at until Monday, June 30, 2014. Nominations also are being accepted at the Zoetis booth (#149 in the Varied Industries Building) at World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

“Pig caregivers can have a tiring and thankless job, but the work they do is extremely important to raise healthy pigs and protect our food supply,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. “We look forward to sharing the stories of these dedicated people and the examples they set for others in our industry.”

From the nominations, five caregivers will be selected as winners and receive a trip to New York City in October 2014. Winners will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize and given the red carpet treatment during an award reception.

Farm owners, veterinarians and others working in the pork industry are encouraged to nominate qualified farm employees. Nominated caregivers will be evaluated by an independent panel of judges based on their demonstration of commitment to the three pillars of superior pig care:
-    Proper treatment — commitment to the responsible use of antibiotics to protect both animal and human health
-    Proper disease prevention — commitment to maintaining proper biosecurity, hygiene and vaccination protocols to prevent disease
-    Proper pig handling — commitment to proper pig handling techniques to ensure pig well-being

“The care that pig caregivers provide is important to the entire pork industry, making it possible to bring high-quality and -value pork to market,” Basse said. “At Zoetis, we believe that outstanding caregivers deserve to be recognized for the remarkable work they do, and we are excited to do that through the Honoring Caregivers award.”

Any pig caregivers (not the farm owner) who are legally employed in the United States are eligible to be nominated and selected as a winner. For more information on the Honoring Caregivers award and the official contest rules, please visit

Showcase Conservation Practices on Your Farm

Tell the story of how conservation is a part of your farm operation and you could be one of the next regional winners of a Conservation Legacy Award. The awards recognize U.S. soybean farmers who distinguish themselves through outstanding environmental and conservation practices while farming profitably.

Entries are judged on soil management, water management, input management, farmstead protection, and conservation and environmental management.

All U.S. soybean farmers are eligible to submit an application for the Conservation Legacy Awards. Three regional winners will receive a trip for two to the 2015 Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, the regional winners will be featured in video stories and a special insert in Corn & Soybean Digest. A National Conservation Legacy Award winner will be chosen from the three regional winners.

The Conservation Legacy Awards program is sponsored by the American Soybean Association, BASF, Monsanto, the United Soybean Board/soybean checkoff and Corn & Soybean Digest.

Applications are due no later than August 4, 2014 and must be submitted online. Get more information and access the online application when you click here...

Antiquities Act Abuse, Obama Designates Half-Million Acre Monument

Earlier today, President Obama signed a proclamation designating a new monument in southern New Mexico that will cover nearly a half-million acres, the largest monument designation President Obama has made to date.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association opposes the decision. Contrary to the White House’s claim of ranchers support, the designation encompasses 68 percent of public grazing lands and 9,000 head of cattle in Dona Ana County, threatening the livelihood of these family ranching operations.

Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the President has power to declare monument designations, which often come with overreaching and restrictive management provisions in the name of environmental protections.
The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is Obama’s 11th monument designation, a clear abuse of power with a designation of this size and scale, said New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association President and NCBA Member Jose Varela Lopez.

“This is just another decision made by the administration driven from pressure by radical special interest groups without the consideration of the negative impact on local economies or the will of local residents,” said Valera Lopez. “Our industry has operated on western rangelands for over a century in some areas creating and contributing to the very landscapes this monument claims to protect. Adding layers of red tape and regulation will only hinder ranchers’ ability to continue operating in the area, removing the people that care for and manage the range every day.”

Despite claims that grazing will continue within the monument boundaries, the proclamation excludes livestock grazing in the purposes section. This will give the managing agency the power to diminish or eliminate existing ranching operations in an effort to “protect” the land. Furthermore, if a rancher proposes a range improvement project or any other activity which is determined to be in conflict, it will be disallowed, a far cry from the multiple-use concept under which these lands have been successfully managed, said Varela Lopez.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) sent a letter to President Obama urging reconsideration of the designation. In the letter he wrote that added restrictions have hindered law enforcements ability to protect the border.

“National Parks, monuments, and wilderness areas along our southern border have become prime drug-trafficking corridors for violent criminals and drug cartels,” the letter stated. “Restrictive environmental laws within these federal corridors limit Border Patrol access and, as a result, make it easier for drug smugglers and human traffickers to move their drugs and people in and out of the United States unnoticed.”

NCBA agrees with Rep. Bishop’s analysis; far too many ranchers along the southern border see firsthand the environmental damage and dangerous situation that exists and restrictive land designations only add to the problem.

USDA Provides Assistance to Agricultural Producers to Improve Water Quality

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that $33 million in assistance will be provided to farmers and ranchers to make conservation improvements that will improve water quality in 174 watersheds. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills during a Hypoxia Task Force meeting, held this week in Little Rock, Ark.

"This targeted approach provides a way to accelerate voluntary, private lands conservation investments to improve water quality and to focus water quality monitoring and assessment funds where they are most needed," Mills said. "When hundreds of farms take action in one area, one watershed, it can make a real difference to improving water quality."

Funding is provided through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Now in its third year, NWQI expanded to include more small watersheds across the nation, and it builds on efforts to target high-impact conservation in areas such as the Mississippi River basin, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes.

While in Arkansas for the Hypoxia Task Force meeting, Deputy Under Secretary Mills toured a farm to see firsthand how targeted water quality conservation techniques are making a difference on the ground. Arkansas has three watersheds in the NWQI, all of which drain to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

With the help of partners at the local, state and national level, NRCS identified priority watersheds in each state where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality benefits. State water quality agencies and local partners also provide assistance with watershed planning, additional dollars and assistance for conservation, along with outreach to farmers and ranchers. Through NWQI, these partnerships are growing and offering a model for collaborative work in other watersheds.

"The collaborative goal is to ensure people and wildlife have clean, safe water," said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. "Water quality improvement takes time, but by working together and leveraging our technical and financial assistance, we are better able to help farmers and ranchers take voluntary actions in improving water quality while maintaining or improving agricultural productivity."

Eligible landowners will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that help avoid, trap and control run-off in these high-priority watersheds. These practices may include nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.

Through several different processes, NRCS and partners are measuring the effects of conservation practices on water quality. Edge-of-field monitoring and an NRCS tool, Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff, help landowners assess the positive impact of their conservation efforts.

NRCS has helped farmers install monitoring stations to measure the effectiveness of conservation systems. Arkansas has 14 edge-of-field monitoring stations, which help focus the right kind of conservation on the right acres to improve water quality.

Global Ethanol Consumption to Reduce GHGs by Over 106 Million Tonnes in 2014

Today, as the International Transport Forum Summit gets under way in Leipzig, Germany, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) in cooperation with (S&T)2 Consultants Inc. released their Global Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Forecast for 2014. The GRFA is forecasting global ethanol production and use in 2014 to reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes.

(S&T)2 Consultants Inc., an internationally renowned energy and environmental consulting firm, in partnership with the GRFA have produced data that shows that year after year the reduction in global GHG emissions from global ethanol production is increasing. This year’s figure reveals that 90.38 billion litres of global ethanol production and use in 2014 will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. Compared to 2013, this is an increase of over 7,000 tonnes per day in GHG emission savings.

“This data is good news for the environment,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA. “Ethanol consumption is the largest single contributor to GHG reductions in the transportation space,” added Mr. Baker.

This year’s theme for the International Transport Forum Summit is “Transport for a Changing World”. As attendees discuss clean and sustainable transport for the future they should recognize that global ethanol production is reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector today. In fact, the projected GHG reductions from ethanol this year alone is equivalent to removing over 21 million vehicles from the road each year.

106.4 million tonnes in Green House Gas emissions reduction is equal to:
• 21,279,808 cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014 OR removing more than all of the vehicles registered in Malaysia off the road annually.
• 58,300 cars being removed from the world’s roads daily OR removing more than all the vehicles registered in Saint Lucia off the road daily.
• Removing the annual emissions from 14 average-sized coal-fired power plants.

“Biofuels like ethanol are the only cost-effective and commercially available alternative to crude oil and are proven to reduce harmful GHG emissions and help in the fight against climate change,” stated Baker.

“We believe International Transport Forum Summit participants should call for an increase in ethanol production and use given the significant contribution ethanol is making to reducing global GHG emissions today,” concluded Baker.

To learn more about biofuels around the world, visit the new GRFA website at

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