Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday June 27 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2014, was 3.05 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  This was unchanged from June 1, 2013, and unchanged from March 1, 2014.  

Breeding hog inventory, at 390,000 head, was down 2 percent from June 1, 2013, and down 2 percent from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.66 million head, was up slightly from last year, and from last quarter.  

The March - May 2014 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.73 million head, was up 1 percent from 2013.  Sows farrowed during the period totaled 165,000 head, up 3 percent from last year.  The average pigs saved per litter was 10.50 for the March-May period, compared to 10.75 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 170,000 sows during the June-August 2014 quarter, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for September-November 2014 are 165,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  


On June 1, 2014 there were 19.2 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, was the lowest hog inventory in Iowa since March 2011 according to the latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Hogs and Pigs report. The June 1 inventory was down 3 percent from March 2014 and down 4 percent from a year ago. 

The March-May quarterly pig crop was 4.98 million head. A total of 470,000 sows farrowed during this quarter, down 5 percent from  the previous quarter. The average pigs saved per  litter was 10.60  for  the March-May quarter,  rebounding  from 9.90  the previous quarter. 

As  of  June  1,  producers  planned  to  farrow  495,000  head  of  sows  and  gilts  in  the  June-August  2014  quarter.  Farrowing intentions for the September-November 2014 quarter are estimated at 485,000 as of June 1, 2014.

United States Hog Inventory Down 5 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2014 was 62.1 million head. This was down 5 percent from June 1, 2013, and down 1 percent from March 1, 2014.  Breeding inventory, at 5.85 million head, was down slightly from last year, but up slightly from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 56.3 million head, was down 5 percent from last year, and down 1 percent from last quarter.

The March-May 2014 pig crop, at 27.4 million head, was down 5 percent from 2013. Sows farrowed during this period totaled 2.80 million head, down slightly from 2013. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 48 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 9.78 for the March-May period, compared to 10.31 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.80 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 9.80 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.89 million sows farrow during the June-August 2014 quarter, up slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2013, but down 1 percent from 2012. Intended farrowings for September-November 2014, at 2.88 million sows, are up 4 percent from 2013, but down slightly from 2012.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 46 percent last year.

Breeding, Market, and Total Inventory - States and United States: June 1, 2013 and 2014

                    :         Breeding               :          Market              :           Total          
                    :           : 2014    :2014 as:         : 2014 :2014 as  :         : 2014 :2014 as
      State      :  2013  :            :percent : 2013 :         :percent   : 2013 :         :percent
                    :           :            :of 2013 :         :         :of 2013   :         :         :of 2013
                    :     1,000 head   percent -- 1,000 head --  percent  -- 1,000 head --   percent
Colorado ......:    145       160     110       565       530      94       710       690        97 
Illinois ..........:    500       490      98      4,150     3,860    93     4,650     4,350      94 
Indiana .........:    270       270     100     3,230     3,230    100    3,500     3,500     100 
Iowa .............:  1,030     1,000      97    18,970  18,200    96    20,000    19,200     96 
Kansas .........:    170       170     100     1,690    1,480     88     1,860     1,650      89 
Michigan .......:    110       110     100      890       900      101     1,000     1,010     101 
Minnesota .....:    580       570      98      7,220    7,180     99     7,800     7,750      99 
Missouri ........:    350       380     109     2,300    2,110     92     2,650     2,490      94 
Nebraska .......:    400       390      98     2,650    2,660     100     3,050     3,050     100 
North Carolina :    870       860      99      8,030    6,840     85     8,900     7,700      87 
Ohio ..............:    160       165     103     1,970    1,835     93     2,130     2,000      94 
Oklahoma ......:    410       430     105     1,830    1,480     81     2,240     1,910      85 
Pennsylvania ..:    100       100     100     1,020    1,020    100     1,120     1,120   100 
South Dakota .:    180       175      97      960       1,035    108     1,140     1,210   106 
Texas ............:    100       100     100      520       570      110      620       670     108 
Utah ..............:     75        75     100       655        645       98      730       720       99 
Other States ..:    434       410      94      2,654     2,698    102     3,088     3,108    101 
United States .:  5,884    5,855    100    59,304    56,273    95     65,188    62,128   95 

Sows Farrowing, Pigs per Litter, and Pig Crop - States and US: March-May 2013 and 2014

[May not add due to rounding]
                     :       Sows farrowing        : Pigs per litter    :         Pig crop
                     :         : 2014 : 2014 as    :         :              :         :  2014   : 2014 as
      State       :         :         :                 :         :              :         :         :        
                     : 2013 :         : percent     :         :              : 2013 :         : percent
                     :         :         : of 2013     : 2013 : 2014      :         :         : of 2013
                     :     1,000 head   percent    ---- number ---    -- 1,000 head --  percent
Colorado .......:     69         72      104        9.50       9.30      656       670     102  
Illinois ...........:    250       250      100      10.30      9.90     2,575     2,475    96  
Indiana ..........:    125       125      100       9.85      9.25     1,231     1,156     94  
Iowa ..............:    465       470      101      10.50    10.60     4,883    4,982    102  
Kansas ..........:     79        82      104       9.95      9.25       786       759       97  
Michigan ........:     50        52      104      10.20      8.90       510       463       91  
Minnesota ......:    290      285       98      10.70     10.60     3,103    3,021      97  
Missouri .........:    180      185      103      10.50      8.90     1,890    1,647      87  
Nebraska ........:    160      165      103      10.75     10.50     1,720   1,733     101  
North Carolina .:    460      440       96      10.05      8.70      4,623    3,828      83  
Ohio ...............:     80        80      100      10.30      9.50       824       760       92  
Oklahoma .......:    185      185      100      10.30      9.60     1,906    1,776      93  
Pennsylvania ...:     44        48      109      10.20     10.30       449      494      110  
South Dakota ..:     88        88      100      10.90     10.70       959      942       98  
Texas .............:     38        42      111       8.90      9.40       338        395      117  
Utah ...............:     41        41      100      10.30     10.50       422       431     102  
Other States  ..:    202       187      93      10.11      9.76       2,046    1,829     89  
United States ..:  2,806     2,797   100      10.31      9.78      28,921  27,361     95  

“Take a Second for Safety” at upcoming workshops for emergency grain rescue personnel

National statistics show that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America.  The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association are asking all farmers to slow down — and take a second for safety.  They are encouraging emergency rescue personnel who might be called to a grain engulfment rescue to attend a free upcoming training session.

Over the past 50 years, more than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported—and the fatality rate is 62 percent. With a 10-inch auger, it takes just 25 seconds for a 6-foot person to be completely buried in grain.

Nebraska farmer, Ron Woollen has a mission to educate farmers and those working with grain stored in bins after losing his son in a grain bin accident.

“Grain bin safety is so important because we are always going to store grain,” said Woollen. “Equipment has improved dramatically. More options are available to monitor grain condition which is the biggest factor in grain bin accidents. However, there will always be times when it is necessary to enter a bin.”

Woollen said that when farmers have to enter a bin, they need to know the proper procedure and follow it.

When working around grain bins, here are safety tips to keep in mind when you are taking a second for safety.
-    Use inspection holes or grain level markers to understand what's happening inside the bin.  Use a pole from outside the bin to break up grain bridges.
-    You should enter a grain bin only if absolutely necessary.   If you must get into the bin, use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin.  Have at least two people watching over you as you enter and work inside the bin.
-    Use hand signals to communicate—and make sure everyone you're working with knows what those signals are.

These safety strategies and more will be emphasized at two free Grain Engulfment Rescue Training workshops this July sponsored in part by GSI, Inc.  The first will be July 7th at the Dawson County Fairgrounds in Lexington hosted by the Dawson County Corn Growers.  The following day, July 8th, the Saunders County Soybean Growers and Saunders County Corn Growers will host a grain safety seminar at the American Legion in Ceresco. Both free seminars begin at 5:30 p.m.

The grain engulfment rescue training is intended for industry personnel that actively work in the grain and commodities industry as well as fire fighter emergency rescue personnel who might be called to an engulfment rescue.

“Last year, I attended a training seminar in Kearney for first responders and EMT’s,” said Woollen. “I was very pleased with the quality of the training and the equipment now being made available for grain extraction.”


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Rained on hay.  Sometimes it’s down so long that it’s virtually worthless.  Trouble is, what do you do with it?

               Rained on hay causes many problems.  Obviously, feed value of the hay is lowered.  And many times, in our rush to put this hay up, it gets baled or stacked too wet, which causes mold or heat damage to develop.

               Sometimes a bigger problem, though, is the long-term damage to the regrowing plants.  Driving over the field repeatedly — trying to turn hay to hasten its drying — will injure regrowth and can cause soil compaction, especially if the ground is wet and soft.

               But, not driving on the field may result in an even bigger problem with the windrows.  If they lay there too long, the plants underneath will be smothered.  This not only lowers yield, it creates a terrible weed problem as grasses and broadleaves infest the killed strips.  These weeds will contaminate all future cuttings.  In addition, if rained on hay windrows are left in the field until next cutting, they frequently will plug your mower, both slowing you down and maybe even expanding your vocabulary.  Not to mention the reduced quality of this new hay.

               So — remove that hay any way you can.  Bale it, chop it, even blow it back on the ground as mulch.  You may need to damage plants by driving on them to turn hay to speed drying and get sunlight to plants underneath.  But do it anyway to prevent old windrows from ruining the rest of your haying year.

               Then, watch for problems in the damaged strips.  Insects and weeds may invade, and then need treating to prevent further problems.

               There isn’t much of a positive payback managing rained on hay, but to ignore it is even more expensive.

Biotechnology is Important to Nebraska

Governor Dave Heineman

The recent Bio International Convention in San Diego drew stakeholders from around the world zeroing in on issues and cutting-edge research and technologies that will impact and shape our world for decades to come.

Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, University of Nebraska, Innovation Campus, UNeMed, University Nebraska Medical Center, as well as private industry members from Benchmark Biolabs and Nature Technologies attended on behalf of Nebraska.

Modern biotechnology is being translated into breakthrough products, technologies and services that are turning crucial corners in the fight against rare and debilitating diseases and health conditions. Biotechnology is helping us feed the hungry, clean up and safeguard our energy sources, and design more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly industrial manufacturing processes.

A sampling of forums at Bio International included Biofuels & Renewable Chemicals, Personalized Medicine & Diagnostics, R/Evolution of Agriculture Technologies, Regenerative Medicine, Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics. All of these topics are woven throughout Nebraska’s goals to grow healthy, happy, productive communities.

For example, a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists recently received a four-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to begin the next research phase toward what may ultimately result in a breakthrough vaccine for people with HIV. The number affected by this disease is now estimated at more than 35 million with 2.5 million new infections recorded yearly.

An Omaha biotech start-up company is paving the way to create a new tool that may help combat antibiotic resistance worldwide. One of its very first applications may be for treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus more commonly known as MRSA, which often leads to serious and often deadly infections. The company is working toward creation of a new drug application for animals with the ultimate goal of an application for humans.

An Omaha biomedical startup is developing technology to simplify orthopedic surgeries. The $3.2 million capital the company raised included $500,000 from Invest Nebraska Corporation, which partners with DED among other organizations.

Nebraska has enjoyed a favorable uptick of 1,000 or more jobs in the wide-ranging biotechnology field from 2007-2012 according to the Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014 study.

I am proud of the fact that Nebraska was named 3rd in Biotechnology Strength Specialization Leaders, and in the Top 10 in Biotechnology Strength Emerging Biotech Hubs by Business Facilities in the past two years.

During my years as Governor, we have recognized and fully supported the ongoing need for and development of bioscience and medical technology companies by providing financial assistance in the form of the Nebraska Small Business Innovation Research Initiative, Nebraska Innovation Fund, and Nebraska Research and Development Program. Nebraska is home to approximately 106 biotechnology companies targeting Agricultural & Animal Health, Biofuels & Chemicals, Medical Devices & Equipment, Drugs & Pharmaceuticals, and Research, Testing & Medical Facilities or Laboratories.

Keynote Speakers for the 7th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Confirmed

Headlining the agenda for the seventh annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition are four keynote speakers who will help lay the foundation of the theme for this year’s conference “Turning Challenges into Nebraska Opportunities.” The conference is planned for October 29-30, 2014 in La Vista, Nebraska at the La Vista Conference Center.

Tom Keirnan, president of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), will open the conference Wednesday morning and address the Current State of Wind Development. Kiernan joined AWEA in May of 2013 and spent the previous 15 years as President of the National Parks Conservation Association. Prior to that, he worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and was instrumental in President George H.W. Bush’s administration’s efforts to implement the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

Commissioner John R. Norris of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will speak later in the morning. Commissioner Norris, an attorney, has years of experience in energy policy and regulatory affairs. Prior to being nominated by President Barack Obama to FERC, he served as Chief of Staff for Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and served as Chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board.

Wednesday’s luncheon speaker will be Dr. Jonathon Pershing of the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE). Dr. Pershing is the Principal Deputy, Office of Energy Policy & Systems Analysis, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate, Office of International Affairs.  In these roles, Dr. Pershing supports the USDOE’s domestic policy agenda, as well as leads on international climate policy for the Department.

The luncheon speaker on Thursday will be Bob Dixson, mayor of Greensburg, KS. On May 4, 2007, a tornado swept through Greensburg razing 95% of the town. Mayor Dixson and other community leaders led the town’s charge to become a model for other rural towns who wanted to be green. The town is powered by 100% renewable power, and large commercial buildings must meet LEED platinum standards.

“We are excited to welcome these speakers to our conference and know they will provide the knowledge to turn challenges into opportunities in Nebraska,” said John Hansen, Committee Co-Chairman.

Full bios of the speakers will be released in the coming weeks. Registration for the conference is $100 before September 29, $125 between September 29 and October 28 and $150 for walk-in registrations the day of the conference. For participant registration, and to view the program, go to  For hotel reservations, contact Embassy Suites Omaha-La Vista/Hotel & Conference Center, 12520 Westport Pkwy, La Vista, NE 68128 402-331-7400. To view last year’s presentations, go to

ISU Extension Brings Help as Flooding Gives Cattle Producers New Set of Challenges

Cattle producers in many parts of Iowa are shifting rapidly from drought conditions to extremely wet and flood conditions, and they have a new set of issues to manage. Water-logged facilities, flooded pastures, earthen basins that are full and financial issues are immediate concerns. The Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are addressing producers concerns in multiple ways, including online resources.

Production Issues

“One of the first things to check is the structural strength of the livestock buildings, electrical equipment and safety of the water systems,” said Beth Doran, beef program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “The potential for flooded or spilled pesticides, fuel or oil spills and flooded grain bins should also be monitored.”     

Doran also reminds producers that flood conditions can affect the health of animals. Producers should watch for symptoms of lameness, fever, difficulty breathing, muscle contractions or swelling of the shoulders, chest, back, neck or throat.

“The potential exists for grazing cattle to swallow storm debris, such as nails or staples,” she said. “Consequently, cattle should be monitored for hardware disease.”

Pasture management is critical. Remove any debris and return cattle to the pasture when the ground is dry and solid. Returning cattle too soon results in trampled pastures and damaged plants. If areas of the pasture or hay ground are eroded or silt- or sand-covered, reseeding may be necessary.

Manure Management

For feedlots, the issue is manure containment structures that are full and possibly over-topping. Transfer manure from full storage structures to alternative structures, if available. If no alternative storage is available, contact regional staff at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to discuss emergency measures. For more assistance, contact your local extension beef specialist. A list of specialists is available at

Family needs

“There is no doubt that people who experienced flooding were affected financially,” said Doran. “Fortunately, the new Farm Bill contains several kinds of disaster assistance programs for livestock producers.” Livestock producers with livestock losses should contact their local United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. Applicants will be asked to provide documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died.

Dealing with Flooding – 2014 is the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach website with resources for dealing with flooded gardens, drinking well, basements and many other home cleanup, health and safety issues that come with home flooding – including stress. Find a link to it at Extension and Outreach also operates the Iowa Concern Hotline that offers 24-hour confidential assistance related to stress, legal questions and financial concerns.  To reach a stress counselor call or  800-447-1985, or visit the website at to "live chat" with counselors.

Purdue, OSU Assisting in Iowa Ag Meeting for Corn Belt Farmers

Purdue and Ohio State Universities are part of an organization that is sponsoring a meeting this summer to help Corn Belt farmers make their agricultural systems more resilient and sustainable.

The Resilient Agriculture Conference Aug. 5-7 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will bring farmers and agricultural scientists together for three days. The conference is being organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Corn Project. Purdue and Ohio State are among partners in the organization.

"The meeting is an opportunity for farmers to hear the latest scientific findings on practices that are being tested for their effectiveness in making corn-based farming systems more resilient and sustainable," said Eileen Kladivko, Purdue agronomy professor and co-principal investigator on the project. "Farmers also will participate in activities in the field to increase their understanding of the practices being researched and to learn how to use new decision support tools."

Farmers will hear from project scientists who will share their expertise. The project scientists will hear from farmers about their challenges and successes involving practices that make corn-based systems more resilient in times of drought, reduce soil and nutrient losses under saturated conditions, reduce farm field nitrogen losses, retain carbon in the soil and ensure crop productivity.

U.S. agriculture produces nearly $330 billion annually in agricultural commodities and is directly and indirectly affected by extreme weather and variable climate conditions that affect crop and livestock productivity, pest and pathogen pressures, and soil and water resources, said Lois Wright Morton, director of the Sustainable Corn Project.

"A major goal of our project is to share with farmers what we are learning about a set of practices that have potential to better manage the uncertainty associated with climate variability," she said.

The meeting agenda, location, registration and more details can be found at

Iowa Corn Giving Away $10,000, including VIP Packages, Ethanol

To celebrate the 8th running of the Iowa Corn Indy 300, Iowa Corn is giving away 300 VIP race day packages. The VIP packages include tickets to the race, access to the Iowa Corn VIP tent with free food and drinks, limited edition race day t-shirts and time to socialize with other race fans. Other prizes include $25 ethanol gift cards from Kum & Go.

The 2014 Iowa Corn Indy 300, presented by DEKALB will be on July 12 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton. This will be the 8th running of the Iowa Corn Indy sponsored event. IndyCars are powered by 85% ethanol with speeds over 200 mph!

"Iowa Corn sponsors the Iowa Corn Indy 300 to educate consumers about ethanol, specifically higher blends and E85," said Shannon Textor, director of market development. "Being able to inform consumers about the Iowa farmers ability to produce corn for key markets including; livestock, ethanol and exports is extremely important."

For more information about the giveaway or to enter to win visit,

Surface Transportation Board Issues New Order to BNSF & CP Railways

(from ASA)

The Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal entity with regulatory oversight over the rail industry, issued a new directive this week requiring BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway to provide detailed reports on their plans to eliminate backlogs of grain shipments, and to submit weekly reports until the problem is resolved. Previously, the STB required BNSF and CP to submit reports on their spring deliveries of chemical fertilizers to farmers, mostly in the upper Midwest and Great Plains but as far south as Texas. These directives follow a STB hearing earlier this year at which the American Soybean Association testified.

Rail service along the northern tier has experienced significant backlogs and service problems resulting from explosive growth in oil and gas shipments, bumper crops of corn and soybeans and severe winter weather conditions that stressed the rail delivery network.

Going forward, one concern for farmers and grain shippers is that the industry is now facing the start of wheat harvests, which can draw off some grain hoppers this summer, and that corn and bean shippers could be scrambling for enough cars and locomotives right up to the next fall harvests. This concern is reflected in the STB notice, which states, “Although the data submitted by both railroads indicates some initial progress toward reducing their grain car order backlogs and grain car delays, the Board remains very concerned about the limited time period until the next harvest, the large quantities of grain yet to be moved, and the railroads’ paths toward meeting their respective commitments. For these reasons, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 721(b), the Board will direct CP to provide its plan, and BNSF to provide an updated plan, by June 27, 2014, to reduce their respective backlog of unfilled grain car orders and resolve grain car delays (for CP, on its United States network) including their timeline for doing so.”

52 Lawmakers Ask White House to Boost Biodiesel

Expressing urgent concerns about a proposed cut, 52 U.S. representatives from across the country called on President Obama this week to continue growing biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“During your time in office you have supported the development and growth of the biodiesel industry.  Now, biodiesel producers around the nation have the ability to generate nearly two billion gallons a year of the only EPA-approved advanced biofuel, which is commercially available across the United States,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to President Obama. “Therefore, we believe now is not the time for a critical shift in biodiesel policy. We urgently ask that you raise biodiesel’s RVO for 2014 above 1.28 billion gallons.”

The lawmakers signing the letter represent 22 states.

In a draft RFS rule released in November, the EPA proposed holding biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons – a sharp drop from last year’s actual production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. Biodiesel producers around the country have warned that such a proposal will cause severe contraction in the industry. A nationwide survey of producers conducted by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) in April found that more than half have already idled a plant this year and 78 percent have reduced production from last year. Nearly two-thirds – 66 percent – have already laid off employees or anticipate doing so.

“Biodiesel is the most successful EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel being produced today,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is an RFS success story that is delivering tremendous benefits to the nation in terms of cleaner air, jobs, and diversity in the fuels markets that is helping consumers. We need consistent federal policy to continue the progress we’ve made, and we are urging the Administration to finalize a strong RFS volume as quickly as possible.”


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for June 2014 averaged $6.70 per bushel, a decrease of 59 cents from the May price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary June corn price, at $4.30 per bushel, decreased 36 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary June sorghum price averaged $7.50 per cwt, a decrease of 65 cents from May.

The preliminary June soybean price, at $14.10 per bushel, was down 40 cents from last month.

The June alfalfa hay price, at $133.00 per ton, was up $8.00 from May. The other hay price, at $105.00 per ton, was up $11.00 from May.


The preliminary June 2014 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa is $4.40 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This is down $0.31 from the May price, and $2.69 lower than June 2013.

The preliminary  June 2014 average price  received by  farmers  for  soybeans, at $14.10 per bushel,  is down $0.60 from the May price, and $1.10 lower than the June 2013 price.

The preliminary June oat price is $4.60 per bushel, down $0.35 from May, but $0.10 above June 2013. 

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $165.00 per ton in June, up $4.00 from the May price, but $105.00 per ton less than June 2013.  Alfalfa hay prices fell $100.00 per ton from one year ago, to $180.00 and other hay prices were $62.00 per ton lower than last year, at $118.00.  

The preliminary June average price was $23.50 per cwt for milk, down $1.40 from May, but $3.40 per cwt above one year ago.

June Farm Prices Received Index Down 3 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in June, at 111 percent, based on 2011=100, decreased 3 points (2.6 percent) from May. The Crop Index is down 1 point (1.0 percent) and the Livestock Index decreased 3 points (2.3 percent). Producers received lower prices for corn, milk, broilers, and eggs and higher prices for oranges, cantaloupes, tomatoes, and lettuce. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of wheat, hay, grapes, and peaches offset the decreased marketing of oranges, cattle, milk, and broilers.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 1 point (0.9 percent) from June 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 121, decreased 3 points (2.4 percent) from last month but increased 12 points (11 percent) from June 2013.

All crops:

The June index, at 97, decreased 1.0 percent from May and is 12 percent below June 2013. Index decreases for oilseeds & grains more than offset the index increases for vegetable & melon production and fruit & tree nut production.

Food grains: The June index, at 92, is down 9.8 percent from the previous month and 8.9 percent below a year ago. The June price for all wheat, at $6.61 per bushel, is down 47 cents from May and 76 cents below June 2013.

Feed grains: The June index, at 73, is down 7.6 percent from last month and 37 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $4.37 per bushel, is down 34 cents from last month and $2.60 below June 2013. Sorghum grain, at $7.37 per cwt, is 84 cents below May and down $3.73 from June last year.

Oilseeds: The June index, at 110, is down 2.7 percent from May and 7.6 percent below June 2013. The soybean price, at $14.10 per bushel, decreased 30 cents from May and is $1.00 below June 2013.

Livestock and products:

The June index, at 127, decreased 2.3 percent from last month but is up 15 percent from June 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, milk, hogs, broilers, calves, market eggs, and turkeys.

Meat animals: The June index, at 127, is down 0.8 percent from last month but 18 percent higher than last year. The June hog price, at $82.10 per cwt, is down 70 cents from May but $7.70 higher than a year ago. The June beef cattle price of $145 per cwt is down $1.00 from last month but $23.00 higher than June 2013.

Dairy products: The June index, at 116, is down 3.3 percent from a month ago but 20 percent higher than June last year. The June all milk price of $23.30 per cwt is down 90 cents from last month but $3.80 higher than June 2013.

Poultry & eggs: The June index, at 140, is down 4.1 percent from May but 8.5 percent above a year ago. The June market egg price, at 87.4 cents per dozen, decreased 9.6 cents from May but is 17.9 cents above June 2013. The June broiler price, at 71.0 cents per pound, is down 3.0 cents from May but 4.0 cents above a year ago. The June turkey price, at 72.8 cents per pound, is up 0.2 cents from the previous month and 7.1 cents from a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The June Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 112 percent of the 2011 base. The index is unchanged from May but 6 points (5.7 percent) above June 2013. Lower prices in June for feed grains, feeder pigs, hay & forages, and supplements offset higher prices for feeder cattle, nitrogen, complete feeds, and other services.

Council’s Beijing Conference Assesses China’s Feed Grains Outlook

More than 300 participants crowded the U.S. Grain and Oilseed Market and Trade Forum, held last week in Beijing, to assess the evolving role of trade in meeting China’s strategic food security objectives. Iowa producers Kevin Ross and James Grief presented on the U.S. producers’ perspective and current crop conditions at the Forum.

“The Forum was focused on food security, sustainability and safety,” said Kevin Roepke, U.S. Grains Council director of trade development in China. “It’s the only conference of its kind in China to join government, traders, end-users and other interest groups to debate how to meet our non-negotiable mandate – to feed the world’s growing and increasingly affluent population.”

Sponsored by the Council and other cooperators, the Forum attracted an audience of traders, government officials, buyers and policy researchers interested in the long term dynamics of the feed grains and meat production in China.

U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) exports to China have been disrupted by complications arising from the detection of as-yet unapproved biotech traits in some export cargoes. Click here for an update on the current situation. The current disruption, however, does not change the underlying dynamic of rapidly growing demand as China continues to advance economically.

Forum topics included current market developments, market risks, incentives for greater industry cooperation and the need for companies in China to access global markets to upgrade management skills.

Steady growth in food demand fueled by China’s rapidly expanding middle class will create incentives for the expansion of trade and further cooperation between the United States and China. Access to global markets and an improved system for the approval of biotech events are clearly among the most cost-effective and economically productive ways to meet China’s strategic food security goals.

ConAgra Announces Quarterly Losses

ConAgra Foods unveiled red ink in the company’s fourth quarter, swinging to a loss amid significant write-downs and lower revenue.

The maker of packaged foods had already cut its outlook for the latest period. Weak results in the private-labels segment and a drop in consumer foods volume weighed on ConAgra's bottom line.

ConAgra said Thursday it posted a loss of $324.2 million, or 77 cents a share, compared to a profit of $192.2 million, or 46 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding $681 million in charges and other one-time items, adjusted earnings slipped to 55 cents a share from 60 cents, meeting ConAgra's forecast.

Revenue was down 2.8% at $4.44 billion. Wall Street analysts expected $4.4 billion. Gross margin fell to 20.4% from 21.1%, while input costs decreased 2% to $3.53 billion.

ConAgra, which makes Hunt’s ketchup, Chef Boyardee pasta and other products, became the nation’s top private-label food maker when it acquired Ralcorp for $4.95 billion last year. But the business has been slow to meet ConAgra's expectations for profit growth.

GROWMARK Names Spradlin New CEO

Jim Spradlin, Morton, Ill., has been named chief executive officer of GROWMARK, Inc. effective Sept. 16. He replaces Jeff Solberg who will retire in September.

In announcing Spradlin as CEO, GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck said, "Selecting a CEO to lead GROWMARK's management team is among the most important and impactful decisions the Board can make. Jim has the skills, knowledge, experience, and support to successfully lead GROWMARK into the future. The Board has great confidence in him and his ability to lead the multitude of talented employees throughout the GROWMARK System."

Spradlin is a 1982 business administration and economics graduate of Illinois College, Jacksonville, Ill. He has held various positions within the GROWMARK System of cooperatives, including controller of Schuyler-Brown FS, regional administrative director, general manager of Piatt Service Company, general manager of Ag-Land FS, and region manager (Central Ill.), energy division manager, agronomy division manager, and vice president of agronomy for GROWMARK. Jim is one of five members of the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture's Industry Advisory Council. He serves on the board of directors for The Fertilizer Institute, and is a former local director of Rotary International.

"GROWMARK and its FS member companies have a long-standing reputation as a progressive and reliable supplier of quality products and services, for being easy to do business with, and for its highly-trained employees who operate with integrity. It is truly an honor to have the have support of the GROWMARK Board of Directors as we work together to guide the GROWMARK System," Spradlin said.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday June 26 Ag News

Nebraska Counties Designated as Presidential Disaster Due to May Severe Storms

Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, Dan Steinkruger, announced six (6) Nebraska counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding. Those counties are Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Saunders, Seward, and York.

These counties were declared a Presidential Major Disaster on June 17, 2014, based on storms occurring on May 11 and 12, 2014. This designation authorizes Emergency (EM) Loans for eligible producers. Steinkruger stated, “Producers in these six counties are encouraged to contact their local FSA Service Center for detailed information about available programs and updated disaster designations.”

In addition to the Emergency (EM) Loan Program, FSA has other loan programs and disaster assistance programs which can be considered in assisting farmers to recover from their losses.

Contact your local FSA Service Center or access additional information about FSA Disaster Assistance and Farm Loan programs at

While this release pertains to the availability of FSA programs, other federal agencies such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and SBA (Small Business Administration) may also have assistance to the public. Information is available from these two agencies at the following websites: and

Nebraska Farm Bureau Backs Sasse in General Election

Ben Sasse has again received the “Friend of Agriculture” endorsement of NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. NFBF-PAC previously endorsed Sasse in the U.S. Senate Republican primary. He will continue to be a “Friend of Agriculture” candidate as he seeks election to the U.S. Senate in the Nov. general election.

“NFBF-PAC evaluates candidates following the primary elections and we are pleased to announce our continued support for Ben Sasse in his bid to become our next U.S. Senator,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Sasse won May’s Republican primary in convincing fashion and continues to run a strong grassroots campaign across Nebraska.

“Ben Sasse has only strengthened his connections and grassroots network of support among Nebraska farm and ranch families.  More importantly, he continues to demonstrate a firm grasp of key issues affecting farmers and ranchers,” said Nelson.

Sasse’s belief that management and marketing decisions are best driven by the free market and his support for farm programs that protect farmers and ranchers from the inherent volatility associated with weather and global markets are among his strong points.

“Sasse has the passion and ability to help get America’s fiscal house in order and lead on key issues such as reforms to health insurance markets.  He’ll also bring a strong voice for agriculture in Washington,” said Nelson.

New Flex Fuel Pumps Open in Three Nebraska Towns

New flex fuel pumps are now open in three Nebraska towns: Lewis and Clark Mini Mart in Crofton, Tom’s Service in Pierce, and Country Partners Coop in Spalding.

These locations add to the more than 85 locations in Nebraska with E85/flex fuel pumps that offer ethanol-blended fuels such as E85 for flex fuel vehicles.  Lewis and Clark Mini Mart and Tom’s Service both offer E85 and E30 for flex fuel vehicles, as well as E10 for all vehicles.  Country Partners Coop in Spalding has E85, E30, and E20 for flex fuel vehicles in addition to E10.

When flex fuel drivers fill up on E85 and other ethanol blends, they’re strengthening Nebraska’s economy, creating jobs, making our country more energy independent and helping the environment.

“We have been working hard to get flex fuel pumps located across Nebraska,” said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board.  “It has been a struggle to get more infrastructure installed, because of the commitment a fuel retailer has to make, so it’s exciting to see flex fuel pumps go into these three new locations.”

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board said, “Ethanol saves motorist money at the pump.  For a short period of time, ethanol prices were very close to gasoline, but now we are seeing a larger spread, and it is very economical to use ethanol-blended fuels, especially for flex fuel vehicles.”

Clark notes that one in 10 Nebraska motorists currently own a flex fuel vehicle which can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to E85, and they don’t even know it.

“If you have a yellow gas cap or a yellow ring around your gas port or see a flex fuel badge on your vehicle, you are driving a flex fuel vehicle,” stated Clark.  You can also confirm if a vehicle is flex fuel, by checking the owner’s manual for your vehicle or by visiting the website

Grand opening details for each location will be available at a later date.

These pumps were paid for in part by a grant provided by the Nebraska Corn Board.  These locations are supporting the local economy and creating jobs by offering a homegrown, locally produced fuel, ethanol.

To find a list of retailers that offer E85 and other mid-level ethanol blends visit the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at or check the Nebraska Corn Board website at


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               When should you cut prairie hay?  Let’s look at some things to consider.

               When is the best time to cut prairie hay?  While it’s still leafy?  When it heads out?  After it’s done growing for the year?

               First let’s make sure we all know what I mean by prairie hay.  In today’s message, I’m talking mostly about warm-season grasses like the bluestems and gramas, indiangrass, switchgrass, lovegrass, or prairie sandreed.  There might be some wheatgrass or junegrass or other cool-season species present, but if this field is fully green and growing by mid-April in Nebraska, it’s not what I’m calling prairie hay.

               One factor to consider when timing harvest of prairie hay is stand persistence.  Producer experience and university research both show that prairie hay stands decline rapidly if they are often harvested twice a year.  Another factor is hay quality.  Prairie hay cut in late June or early July might have over 10 percent protein and 65 percent TDN.  But as grass gets older and develops seedheads and stems, its forage quality will decline.  If you wait until August to cut, protein might drop down as low as 5 percent and TDN as low as 45 percent.

               O ther practical considerations might be your difficulty harvesting all your prairie hay at once and your potential need for both high quality hay for young stock and average quality hay for dry cows.

               What I think this means is that most operations should have at least two different prairie hay areas.  Harvest one area in late June or early July for high quality and again in October if sufficient regrowth occurs.  Harvest the other area just once in early August for high yield.  Then switch areas the next year.

               Prairie hay is a valuable resource.  Extra care can assure long term production of highly useable hay.

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Announces 2014 Finalists

The Monsanto Fund has announced the finalists for this year’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grants. From January through March, farmers across the country nominated their local public school districts for the grants. Once nominated, these districts were eligible to submit completed grant applications in April.

Over the past month, a panel of educators from ineligible counties reviewed all of the grant applications. The strongest submissions were selected as finalists and will be sent to the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council for final review. Composed of farmer-leaders from across the U.S. with a vested interest in both agriculture and education, the Advisory Council will select the winning school districts.

This local school district is in the running for a grant of up to $25,000:
·         Bancroft-Rosalie Community School

The winning grant recipients will be announced in early August.

Last year, Grow Rural Education invested $130,000 in public school districts across Nebraska to improve math and science curriculum. Since 2012, Nebraska school districts have received $250,000 through the program.

Grow Rural Education grants have allowed rural schools to invest in the enhancement of student learning in math and science. Past grant recipients used funding for projects such as technology and scientific lab equipment upgrades, greenhouses and outdoor classroom learning environments, teacher and curriculum development and other math and science related initiatives.

For a complete list of the 2014 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education finalists and past winners, please visit

Get Ready to Market Cattle

Changes in packer requirements will affect the information cattle feeders must provide to market cattle. To help feedlot producers learn about and adapt to these changes, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association are co-hosting a series of meetings, “Beef Quality Assurance Certification and Assuring Cattle Care” in northwest Iowa.

“Our consumer has always expected beef produced to be safe and wholesome for their family. The beef industry recognized this many decades ago and developed a voluntary certification program called ‘Beef Quality Assurance’ for producers to help them produce a safe, high quality product,” said Doug Bear, director of industry relations, Iowa Beef Industry Council.

Beth Doran, beef program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, adds, “But, now consumers want to know more information and packers have listened closely to consumers’ requests. They want to know how the animals are cared for – how they are fed and managed.”

A series of meetings will help producers understand these new changes in marketing cattle:
-    July 7, 1-3 p.m.,  Iowa Lakes Community College Auditorium, Emmetsburg. Park in the northeast parking lot and use entrances 1, 2 or 3.
-    July 7, 7-9 p.m., Northwest Iowa Community College Auditorium, Sheldon. Park in parking lot #1 and enter Building C.
-    July 14, 1-3 p.m., Community Center, Moville. Located at 815 Main Street next to the library.
-    July 14, 7-9 p.m., Sac County Fairgrounds, Sac City. Located on east Main Street. Just east of the Raccoon River bridge. Meeting will be in the 4-H Building (old skating rink).

Participants may attend any session. There is no fee to attend, but preregistration is encouraged.  To preregister, contact Bear by phone at 515-296-2305 or by email or Doran by phone at 712-737-4230 or email 

Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

A recent trade mission to Brazil and Colombia offered Pork Checkoff leaders new insights to increase trade opportunities for U.S. pork.

“Raising U.S. pork requires a global perspective and outlook,” said Karen Richter, former National Pork Board president and a producer from Montgomery, Minn. “Seeing firsthand how pork is produced in South America helped us gain a better understanding of the challenging logistics involved in raising, processing and marketing pork in Brazil and Colombia.”

Richter added, “We all face challenges, such as creating consumer demand for our product and fighting disease in our herds. But in the end, our operations are similar, and we can learn so much from each other.”

In Bogota, Colombia, Pork Checkoff leaders met with representatives of Colombia’s association of pork producers and toured a processing plant that uses U.S. pork as raw material. Board members also looked at the marketing and retail distribution side of pork production through meetings with importers and retail leaders.

Colombian pork industry leaders shared how their pork industry is working to increase consumer pork demand at a time when local producers are challenged with growing pork imports. “It’s important to increase the comfort level among Colombians about preparing and eating pork,” said Becca Hendricks, assistant vice president of international marketing for the Checkoff. “Since the country is a major U.S. customer, we hope to work with the Colombian industry to increase overall consumption.”

As a result of a 2012 free trade agreement with the United States, Colombia was the Central/South America region’s largest market for U.S. pork in both volume (34,099 metric tons, up 73 percent from 2012) and value ($88.1 million, up 63 percent) in 2013. U.S. pork exports to Colombia were up 164 percent for the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same time period in 2013.

Grill It Like A Steak® Campaign Fires Up

The Pork Checkoff is again promoting how easy it is to grill tender, juicy pork chops through the Grill It Like A Steak® integrated marketing campaign.

“We saw tremendous success with the Grill It Like A Steak message last summer,” said Karen Richter, former president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn. “Building on the successful campaign is important as we continue to educate consumers about the new pork chop cut names and how to cook them to be juicy and tender.”

The marketing campaign promotes a range of doneness for pork, telling consumers that if they love their pork medium rare, they should cook it to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. If they like their chops a little more done, they can cook them to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

“We want to remind consumers that if you grill pork like a steak, you end up with a tender, juicy product that offers great taste and flavor,” Richter said.

ASA Joins the PrecisionAg Institute

The use of precision agriculture tools and methods continues to play a growing role in the sustainability and productivity of U.S. farm operations. Recognizing this fact, the American Soybean Association (ASA) joins the PrecisionAg Institute, an organization focused on advancing precision agriculture technology and its efficiency, stewardship and profitability for farmers.

ASA represents the first farmer-led organization to join the PrecisionAg Institute and will hold a seat on the Institute’s advisory council, which sets the policy for the organization’s activities and facilitates communication among industry partners and individuals.

As a new partner in the Institute, ASA will also play an integral role in a big data workshop this summer at Iowa State University, as well as future precision agriculture educational efforts, advocacy, research activities and award programs that recognize farmers and other industry leaders for their effective use of this technology.

“Many customers of U.S. soy now want to know that we are using sustainable production practices to grow our soybeans, and precision agriculture technology plays a key part in making this possible,” said ASA President Ray Gaesser. “We’re excited to join the PrecisionAg Institute and work with its partners on a variety of efforts to help improve this technology and farmers’ understanding of how to use these important tools that can benefit our operations and improve our sustainability.”

“We welcome ASA’s support of the PrecisionAg Institute. As the first farmer organization to join the Institute, we look forward to the insights they will provide on our policies and activities in the future,” said PrecisionAg Institute Business Director Daniel Ulrich. “With the support of our partners, the PrecisionAg Institute is delivering a message about smart farming and sustainability that is changing the face of agriculture around the globe.”

Ray Gaesser will also represent ASA in a special workshop organized by the PrecisionAg Institute this summer titled, Big Data: Managing Your Farm’s Most Elusive Asset. This event will be held on Aug. 25, 2014, the day before Farm Progress Show, at the Iowa State University Scheman Center.To register for this event, click on the PrecisionAg Data Workshop banner at

“I encourage farmers to attend the Big Data workshop in August,” said Gaesser. “It’s important that we learn more about the data collected on our farms and the potential this information holds in terms of improving our productivity, and also how we can protect this valuable data.”

Additional benefits related to the workshop are available to ASA members. For more information, please contact Michelle Hummel or Kathie Mullen in the ASA office at (314) 576-1770 or

The PrecisionAg Institute’s corporate partners include AGCO, AgWorks, John Deere, Midwest Laboratories, Raven, Simplot SmartFarm, SST, The Climate Corporation, Topcon and WinField. ASA looks forward to strengthening a collaborative relationship with all of these innovative companies in the precision agriculture industry. For more information, visit

Kansas Wheat Harvest Report - Day 5

June 25:  Because of storms starting on Sunday evening and popping up statewide over the last few days, harvest has progressed slowly. Some areas of Kansas have received around six inches of rain while other areas had small hail. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of Monday about 24% of the state’s wheat has been harvested. At this point last year, only seven percent of the crop had been harvested.

Previous to the storms, Rangeland Coop in Philipsburg had yields ranging from 12-30 bushels an acre with a range of 59-62 pounds per bushel. Bruce Williams, a representative from the cooperative, said that he is expecting this year’s crop to be as bad as last year’s, which was about 40% of their normal totals. Farmers in the area are struggling with short wheat and have been affected both by drought and freeze.

In southeast Kansas, Wildcat District Extension agronomy specialist Josh Coltrain said, “It’s really tough comparing this year to the last few years because they have been so good. They were probably some of the best years that southeast Kansas will ever see. But overall the yields are substantially lower this year.” He is reporting a range of 30-60 bushels an acre, with an  average in the mid to upper 40s. Coltrain also said that overall the earlier planted wheat has better yields than the wheat planted later. Test weights are consistently good, averaging at over 60 pounds per bushel.

Karen Hill, a representative of Elkhart Coop Equity Exchange in Morton County, is expecting this year’s crop to be better than the area’s last harvest. Hill said, “Last year was our worst on record, but this year’s crop is shaping up to be a better one.” Hill added that there was more wheat planted this year, but there are a variety of yields in the area. She has received reports anywhere from 8-39 bushels per acre. The test weight is averaging about 61 pounds.

Richard Randall, a farmer from Scott City,has reported that he has received 6.60 inches of rain in June, with most of it coming from the last two days. Randall’s wheat harvest is stalled due to the influx of precipitation, which includes hail in the area. He said that many farmers will be spending time with crop adjusters soon, and that some farmers may have lost their remaining wheat crop. Up until the storms arrived, Randall said that most yields have ranged from 15-25 bushels an acre.

Day 6 - June 26
Jeanne Falk-Jones, Multi-County Agronomy Specialist for K-State in Sherman, Wallace and Cheyenne counties, reports that they are at a standstill at the moment. She says a few farmers started cutting in Wallace County on Sunday, but since then it has rained every day. The area has seen a fair amount of hail, ranging from light hail events to more major damage. At this point, they are waiting, but not getting too antsy.There are some fields that are ready once it dries out.

Falk-Jones says, “It has been an interesting year in that wheat just keeps hanging on.” Even in tough conditions, there’s something to learn, which was evidenced by good attendance at plot tours this year. “Our wheat crop isn’t going to have fantastic yields out here, but the trade off is the moisture for other crops,” she said.

Ken Wood, a farmer from Dickinson County, reports that his yields have been better than he had anticipated, with yields of 40 to 60 bushels per acre. He has cut about half of his wheat, but says, “It has been really frustrating. We haven’t been able to get momentum going.” Every time he’s able to get started, a small shower comes through and keeps him out of the field. He says it hasn’t been enough rain to do any good, but just enough to make the fields wet. They haven’t had much sunshine or wind to dry things out. He cut a little wheat Wednesday afternoon and is hoping to get going again Thursday afternoon.

Randy Mettling, a farmer from Ford County, wrapped up harvest on Sunday before the rains. He has had 2.75 inches of rain since Sunday. Mettling reports his average yield is 47. His test weight range is 60.5-62.5 and moisture is 10.5-12. Mettling says it’s the “most consistent crop I’ve ever cut.” Last year he had an average yield in the low 20s. Snow cover over winter helped it out a lot, but he essentially had no rain before June.

The 2014 Harvest Reports are a project of the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

Broad Industry Coalition Asks Congress to Prevent WTO Non-Compliance on COOL

In an effort to prevent billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., a broad coalition of industries is urging Congress to take action on the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) dispute with Canada and Mexico.  The newly formed coalition has sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees asking Congress to take action directing the Secretary of Agriculture to suspend indefinitely the revised COOL rule if it is found to be in violation of U.S. international trade obligations. 

Canada and Mexico challenged the revised COOL rule for muscle cuts of meat in the World Trade Organization (WTO) shortly after the USDA issued the revised rule, arguing that COOL has a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value and number of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market, thus violating the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.

“Together Canada, Mexico and the United States make up one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world,” said Jodi Bond, vice president for the Americas at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “The disruption of that partnership by WTO noncompliance would have a devastating economic impact on industries including food production, agriculture, and manufacturing.”

A WTO dispute settlement panel is expected to issue in late July its final report to the parties on whether the COOL rule is WTO compliant.  Canada and Mexico have indicated they will seek to retaliate against the U.S. if it is found noncompliant.  

"If Congress fails to ensure that U.S. COOL requirements comply with our international obligations, U.S. jobs and manufacturing will be put at risk," said Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. "The United States helped create the WTO to ensure that all countries play by the rules; U.S. leadership in complying with our own obligations is critical to the United States' ability to address effectively unfair and WTO-violative trade barriers by our trading partners around the world."

The WTO in November 2011 ruled against a previous version of the COOL rule, finding that it treated imported livestock less favorably than U.S. livestock (particularly in the labeling of beef and pork muscle cuts), and did not meet its objective to provide complete information to consumers on the origin of meat products.  The international trade body gave the U.S. until May 23, 2013, to bring the rule into WTO compliance. It is that revised rule on which the WTO will rule and that the coalition is seeking to suspend.

Canada released a list of products they would seek retaliatory tariffs against, tariffs that would harm all members of the coalition and create severe economic hardship to the U.S. economy. 

Recent Study Addressing Pesticides and Autism Joins Library of Junk Science

CropLife America (CLA) is dismayed by the alleged connection that researchers with the University of California, Davis have made between pesticide applications and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism among children. “Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study” was published in Environmental Health Perspectives on June 23, 2014. The study draws inaccurate and scientifically questionable connections between proximity to pesticides and neurodevelopmental disorders. The authors have created unnecessary fears among parents and contributed nothing to an understanding of the etiology of autism and other developmental disorders in children.

CLA points out that a number of elements needed for scientifically robust research results are lacking in the study. The modeling used in this study to measure proximity must be grounded in real measures of exposure such as biomarkers in blood or urine (Chang et al. 20141). The study did not do this. Also, using addresses as a proxy for the location of pregnant women when the pesticide applications occurred assumes the women were at that address and outdoors precisely when the pesticides were being applied. The study did not investigate the possibility that these women may have been away from their residences, indoors or otherwise guarded from potential exposure.

Importantly, “exposure” does not equate to “harm.” Harm can only occur if the exposure, or dose, is sufficiently high to have an effect. Pesticides are rigorously regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that real-life exposure across a variety of situations is not sufficient to cause harm. This includes ensuring pesticides cannot drift beyond the target organism in the field and onto other people at levels that cause harm. This study, by equating proximity to exposure, incorrectly assumes the pesticides drifted impossibly far distances and at impossibly high concentrations.

Study authors neglected to consult experts from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to better understand real-life pesticide applications, instead choosing to misconstrue publicly available data on pesticide use and create statistical significance out of thin air. The study also fails to reference the vast amount of publicly available regulatory data the EPA requires before it will register a pesticide for use, including data on toxicity and drift. Mothers who have children with autism spectrum disorders need meaningful and helpful advice for dealing with these difficult and distressing conditions. Failing to include the multiple, more significant factors that may contribute to the occurrence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as nutrition and inherited genetic predisposition does them a disservice and leaves them with skewed and biased advice.

“Assumptions made by the study investigators are incorrect and irresponsible. Proximity to pesticide applications does not equate to exposure. Furthermore, a single exposure is insufficient to cause harm,” said Dr. Clare Thorp, senior director of human health policy for CLA. “All pesticides are regulated by EPA using an extensive battery of acute, chronic and sub-chronic toxicity and exposure testing, including neurological effects. These tests examine the dose and route of exposure and are conducted across a range of species, including their offspring. Recommended rates of use in the field are set far below a level at which there would be any harmful effect.”

“Protecting the well-being of expectant mothers, infants and elderly individuals is a top priority for EPA, as well as farmers and members of the crop protection industry who have families of their own,” added Jay Vroom, CLA’s president and CEO. “The registration process for pesticides is conducted with families fully in mind. Once in the field, crop protection products are applied responsibly, according to label instructions.”

“It cannot be stated loudly or plainly enough: EPA takes every possible measure to ensure that pesticides are thoroughly tested and that they are made available to applicators only when the Agency concludes they can be used without risk to human health,” Thorp said.

CLA condemns the repeated use of junk science that draws questionable associations from cherry-picked data. CLA encourages the public to review all scientific literature with a critical eye and consider criteria such as whether the raw data is publicly available or if the study underwent a sufficiently rigorous and comprehensive peer-review process.

More information on EPA’s pesticide registration process and efforts to protect public health is available at

Five Influential Sources that Question the Gluten-Free Fad

In the United States and a few other countries, “celebrities, athletes, talk show hosts and nearly 30 percent of people say they are turning to gluten-free diets to solve health issues from ‘foggy mind’ to bloating and obesity,” according to a recent article titled “The Truth About Gluten” by the Wheat Foods Council (WFC). Yet, as the article points out, it is “important to consider that nutrition experts do not advocate a gluten-free diet for most people.” In fact more and more influential, popular resources are pushing back at the shockingly extensible gluten-free trend.

WFC’s article respectfully refutes several anti-gluten positions raised by the diet’s proponents. And just this week, the “Wall Street Journal,” “Time” magazine, NBC News’ “Today Show Health” and “U.S. News and World Report” ran articles echoing the same strong point made by Dr. Stephano Guandalini, founder and director of the Center for Celiac Disease at the University of Chicago: “There is a popular belief that gluten is bad for everyone. This is not the case,” he said. “There is no evidence to show that anyone who does not suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity benefits from following a gluten-free diet.”

Here are some excerpts from the articles...

The Truth About Gluten – Wheat Foods Council, May 20, 2014

"Eliminating wheat products (bread, rolls, cereals, pasta, tortillas, cakes, cookies, crackers) will result in fewer calories, but important nutrients like B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid), and iron and fiber will also be lost,” said Pam Cureton with Boston’s Center for Celiac Research and chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ sub-practice group, Dietitians in Gluten Intolerance Diseases (DIGID). “Grains provide 43 percent of the fiber in the U.S. diet and wheat is approximately three-quarters of the grains eaten in the U.S. Nutritionally, many gluten-free products are not equal replacements for their wheat-containing counterparts.”

“Wheat, like all other food plants we eat, has undergone farmer selection and traditional breeding over the years,” states Brett Carver, PhD, wheat genetics chair in Agriculture at Oklahoma State University. “The hybridization that led to bread wheat occurred 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. All cultivated wheat varieties, both modern and heirloom varieties, have these hybridization events in common, so the kinds of protein (and gluten) present in today’s varieties reflect the proteins present throughout the domestication process of wheat.”

The Gluten-Free Craze: Is it Healthy? – “Wall Street Journal,” June 23, 2014

Americans have become preoccupied with what they eat on a whole new level, focusing on scouting out healthy foods while packing eating into ever more hectic schedules. The desire to eat better, combined with food companies pursuing new chances for growth, has created a cycle of influence that is increasingly hypercharged by the Internet. The result is a cacophony of competing claims and convictions about how we eat that can bewilder consumers as much as it liberates them.

For now, interest [in the United States] in gluten-free remains strong — though there are signs that may have peaked. The share of survey respondents saying they are trying to avoid gluten was 29.4 percent in May, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc. That is down from a peak of more than 30 percent late last year, but higher than the 25.5 percent measured four years ago.

Eat More Gluten: The Diet Fad Must Die – “Time” Magazine, June 23, 2014

Gluten is to this decade what carbohydrates were to the last one and fat was to the ’80s and ’90s: the bête noir, the bad boy, the cause of all that ails you—and the elimination of which can heal you. As has been clear for a long time … a whole lot of that is flat-out hooey, a result of trendiness, smart marketing, Internet gossip and too many people who know too little about nutrition saying too many silly things.

So, crunch the numbers and what do we get? Perhaps 1 percent of Americans definitely need to be gluten-free and another 5.7 percent ought to be careful. As for the other 93.3 percent of us … break out the Parker House rolls.

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Gluten-free Diets – “Today Health,” NBC News, June 24, 2014

In 2010, Americans spent more than $2.6 billion on gluten-free items. By the end of next year, that number will reach $5 billion, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. These sales aren’t due to an inordinate number of people with Celiac disease … but rather because of people hoping that by kicking the gluten habit, they’ll see smaller waistlines … the science is still out about whether the gluten-free fad translates into real health benefits for the rest of us.

Products that boast they are free of something, whether fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free, often have extras added to make them more palatable. “I don’t know if that is specific to gluten-free companies. There are a lot of foods on the market that are loaded with sugar and salt,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

Separating the Wheat (Gluten) From the Chaff – “U.S. News and World Report Health & Wellness,” June 24, 2014
As we observe the rise of celiac disease in our population — both as the result of increased prevalence as well as through better diagnosis — many find it tempting to demonize gluten as “toxic” and to scapegoat wheat as the cause of all that ills our society — from obesity and lethargy to depression and diabetes. But gluten is not an inherent “toxin,” nor does it cause celiac disease — at least, no more so than, say, peanuts cause food allergy or could be considered “toxic” just because a minority of people have a life-threatening food allergy to them.

Rabobank Report:  After recent slide, global dairy price recovery is likely 6 months away

Rabobank has published a new report on the global dairy industry. As anticipated, global dairy prices softened considerably through Q2. According to Rabobank’s Dairy Quarterly Q2: Beyond the tipping point, prices fell as a result of improved milk production in export regions and the easing of forward purchasing by China. These mechanisms freed more product for other buyers and lowered the need to ration demand with international dairy commodity prices falling 10% to 20% in the three months to mid-June.

“The pull back in Chinese purchasing has been particularly significant, with evidence that the Chinese industry has accumulated excess inventories after a period of vigorous buying, improved local milk production and weaker local sales. Current prices in the international market have dropped below what we see as sustainable in the medium term,” explained Rabobank analyst Tim Hunt.

Milk production growth will slow considerably in the second half of 2014 as lower prices are passed to producers, weather normalizes and comparables become tougher to exceed. Consumption in export regions will also slowly improve on the back of higher incomes, employment growth and falling retail prices.

“Together these forces should gradually tighten up the market as we progress through 2014,” continued Hunt. “However, we expect little improvement in prices until late in 2014 or early 2015, as China works through its accumulated stocks and the world continues to consume the stronger than expected wave of milk produced in the first half of year.”

The report notes that one upside risk to keep an eye on is a developing El Nino event. This has the potential to generate unusually dry conditions in South East Australia and excessive rainfall in Argentina – and hence reduced milk production in both of these export regions.

Regional outlooks

·    EU: 2014 has seen an extraordinary increase in EU milk production. Margins were high enough for many to simply choose to produce over quota limits, with production in the EU up 5.6% on Q2 last year. Growth is expected to continue outpacing domestic market consumption during 2H, although exportable surpluses are anticipated to slow considerably.
·    US: US wholesale prices have slipped considerably less than those in the external market. They are in many cases at a significant premium to the world market in mid June and are expected to fall faster than elsewhere through 2H as exports fall back and domestic milk production picks up.
·    New Zealand: New Zealand production was up 17.5% versus the same period in drought-impacted 2013. Export volumes are expected to trend well above the previous year through Q2 and Q3 2014 due to higher milk flows providing additional volume to be shipped during the seasonal trough versus 2013.
·    Australia: The outlook for 2014/15 remains broadly positive for most dairying regions. While early price signals confirm southern export producers will face lower farmgate pricing in 2014/15 due to lower commodity prices, the market should remain supportive of investment.
·    Brazil: Brazilian milk production declined seasonally from its December peak, as usual, but much more slowly than last year. There is likely to be little in the way of imports into the Brazilian market in 2H, while exporters will be trying to find a home for Brazilian production in the region and beyond.
·    Argentina: Argentine milk production is expected to continue to fall below prior year levels in the second half of 2014. While margins over feed remain positive, other costs are subject to rapid inflation. In addition, a looming El Niño event is likely to bring above average rainfall from spring onwards, creating further problems on farm.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday June 25 Ag News

Property Valuation Protest Deadline June 30

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, reminds property owners that valuation protests must be filed on or before June 30, 2014.

If there was an increase or decrease to the assessed valuation of a real property parcel from 2013 to the 2014 assessed value, the county assessor was required to send a notice of valuation change to the property owner on or before June 1, 2014. If a change of valuation notice was not received, and there was a change in value from 2013 to 2014, contact the local county assessor for more information.

If a property owner disagrees with the assessed value, whether or not a notice of valuation change has been received, a protest may be filed with the county board of equalization. The valuation protest may be filed in person or by mail with the county clerk in the county where the property is located. Requirements for filing a protest are on the Notice of Valuation Change.

For more information regarding filing a protest, please contact the county clerk where the property is located. County contact information is available at, under “Featured Information.”

For further information, see the Real Property Valuation Protest Information Guide and Property Valuation Protest Forms 422 or 422A.

NeFBF Develops Checklist To Help With Valuation Protests

With valuation increases on the minds of farmers, ranchers and homeowners, Nebraska Farm Bureau wants to remind everyone that it has developed an easy-to-follow checklist of 10 things to do and to consider if you decide to protest your valuation at the county assessor’s office. The deadline for filing a protest is June 30, 2014.

Protest Check List

1. If you think the assessed value for your house, farmstead or real estate is too high, you can file a protest with the county clerk’s office. This can be done in person or by mail and must be submitted in triplicate, signed and dated and postmarked by June 30, 2014. There is no fee to file a protest.  You should know that by filing a protest, the assessed value for your property could also be increased if the county board believes it was undervalued.

2. When filling out the protest form, make sure that you state in the box asking for the “reasons for requested valuation change” that “you believe the actual value of your property is in excess of the market value and that it is not equalized with comparable property in your area.” Such language is needed in order to protest both the assessed valuation and the fact your property may not be equalized with other similar properties. If you are protesting multiple parcels of property, a separate protest must be filed for each parcel.

3. Include any pertinent information with your protest that will assist in proving the assessed value of your property was not set at market value, or is not equalized with similar properties in the area. The burden is on the property owner to prove their property has not been correctly assessed.

4. In preparing for your protest, make sure the county assessor’s records of your property are accurate. For example, make sure the assessor has properly documented the square footage of your dwelling, the number of bathrooms, the garage size, the number of out buildings, whether or not the basement is finished and the type of farm ground and whether it is pasture, cropland, irrigated, the correct number of acres, etc.

5. Next, look at how your property valuation compares to other properties in the neighborhood, township or general area. Some counties have property valuations available online while others have this information on file at the courthouse. You can find which counties are online through the website of the Department of Property Assessment and Taxation. If your valuation appears out of line compared to your neighbors, these differences could be used as your first evidence on why your property is overvalued.

6. Find recent sales of similar properties. Determine the sales price and assessed values for these properties. County assessors may be able to provide sales information. Assessed values are public record and are available on the web in some counties. Carefully compare your property with these properties to find characteristics that would distinguish your property from the market. You are looking for characteristics like cost per square foot, price per acre, number of bathrooms, soil types, road conditions, location, noise or other factors that may lessen your value.

7. If you have a recent (within the last few years) appraisal of the property, you can use it as evidence of value. You may also want to determine the replacement costs of your house improvements. Replacement costs usually establish the upper end of the value of a property. If the market value the assessor established for your property is at or above your replacement costs, this difference figure could also be used as evidence in your protest.

8. Contact your county clerk and ask what process will be used to handle protests.  While the ultimate decision on the protest lies with the county board, some counties use independent referees to hear protests.  It is important to know how the protest will be processed and the schedule.

9. After filing your protest, you will be notified by mail when a hearing by a referee will be scheduled, or when the county board will meet to consider your protest.  The hearing or board consideration will occur sometime before July 25, 2014. In Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties the deadline could be extended to Aug. 10, 2014.

10. The county board will make a decision, and the county clerk must mail the board’s decision to you on or before Aug. 2, 2014. For Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties, the decision deadline may be extended to Aug. 18, 2014. Also, for counties that use referees, you can appeal the referee’s recommendations to the county board if you have new information. Again, be sure to contact your county clerk to determine the process in your county.  If you are still are not satisfied, you can appeal to the state Tax Equalization and Review Commission by Aug. 24, 2014 or Sept. 10, 2014 in counties with a population of greater than 100,000.

PUBLIC HEARING Scheduled Regarding Temporary Stay on Well-Drilling in Upper Big Blue NRD

The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District will hold a public hearing to receive public testimony concerning changes to the District’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.  The hearing will be held on July 30, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., at the District office located at 105 N. Lincoln Avenue, York, Nebraska.

On April 17, 2014, the District’s Board of Directors declared a 180-day temporary stay on well drilling in approximately forty percent of the District.  The purpose of the stay is to give the District Board the opportunity to address the concerns over groundwater conflicts among irrigation, domestic, and municipal users.

The major proposed changes in the regulations include the designation of approximately 430 square miles of the District as a “High Risk Groundwater Area”.   The following regulations are proposed in the High Risk Groundwater Area:

1.   New high capacity wells (wells that pump more than 50 gpm) must be at least 1,250 feet from existing high capacity wells, including wells with the same ownership.
2.   New high capacity wells must be at least 1,250 feet from existing domestic wells under different ownership.
3.   New high capacity wells must be at least two miles from existing municipal wells.
4.   No more than one high capacity well may exist on a tract of land consisting of eighty acres or less, with no more than two wells per one-hundred sixty acres.  Existing wells may be replaced.
5.   A Municipal User shall have adopted an administrative procedure that allows the Municipal User to require water conservation practices and restrict the water use of its customers.
6.   New or replacement domestic water wells shall be constructed to such a depth that they are less likely to be affected by seasonal water level declines caused by other water wells in the same area.

The Draft Rule Changes can be viewed at by clicking on the “District Rules and Regulations” button on the right sidebar of the Homepage.  This will take you to the Rules & Regulations Page.  Next, click the “SPECIAL Drafts & Proposed Changes of Rules for PUBLIC HEARING” button.  A map of the affected areas is included.

Growing Number of Nebraska Groups Call for Common-Sense Immigration Laws

Today a diverse group of over 50 Nebraska organizations again called upon Congress to enact common-sense immigration laws.  These groups, representing thousands of Nebraskans, sent a letter to the Nebraska Congressional delegation reminding them of the strong support for immigration reform in our state.  The need and desire for common-sense reform is growing across Nebraska as evidenced by the bipartisan, rural-and-urban-supported resolution passed by the Nebraska State Legislature this past April which called for the same.

A year has passed since the United States Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill and now it is time for the United States House of Representatives to do the same.  Continued inaction is not an option.  The current immigration system is woefully out of date and hurts Nebraska’s communities, families, economy and future.  Every day, Nebraskans pay the price for Congress’s failure to fix this outdated immigration system and these groups urge Congress to act now and pass meaningful, effective reform: 
    ACLU - Nebraska
    Anti-Defamation League - Plains States Region
    Black Men United
    Brown Immigration Law, LLP
    Campbell's Nurseries and Garden Center
    Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha
    Center for People in Need
    Center for Rural Affairs
    Central Nebraska Human Trafficking & Immigration Outreach
    Centro Hispano Comunitario (Columbus)
    College of Saint Mary
    Creighton Center for Service and Justice
    DREAMers Project Coalition
    El Centro de las Americas (Lincoln)
    Fair Housing Center of Nebraska and Iowa
    Great Plains United Methodist Peace with Justice Ministries
    Great Plains Conference United Methodist Women
    Heartland Workers Center
    Inclusive Communities
    Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska
    Iowa/Nebraska Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association
    Justice For Our Neighbors - Nebraska
    Latino American Commission of Nebraska
    Latino Center of the Midlands
    League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha
    League of Women Voters of Lincoln and Lancaster County
    Malcolm X Memorial Foundation
    Mulhall’s Nursery, Omaha
    NAACP - Lincoln
    National Association of Social Workers - Nebraska Chapter
    National Council of Jewish Women - Omaha Section
    Nebraska State AFL-CIO
    Nebraska Appleseed
    Nebraska Catholic Conference
    Nebraska Cattlemen
    Nebraska Restaurant Association
    Nebraska Retail Federation
    Nebraska State Dairy Association
    Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition
    Nebraskans for Peace
    Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance
    Omaha Together One Community
    One World Community Health Centers
    Peck Law Firm
    Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community
    Southern Sudan Community Association (SSCA Omaha)
    St. Mary’s Immigration Program (Grand Island)
    Unity in Action (South Sioux City)
    Voices for Children in Nebraska
    YWCA Adams County
    YWCA Grand Island
    YWCA Lincoln

U.S. Exporters Appreciate Chinese Red Meat Trade Team Visit

Senior-level buyers from some of the top red meat importers in China and Hong Kong toured the heartland of America with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) last month, getting a top-to-bottom education on U.S. agriculture and the red meat industry.

The 13-person visiting team included the presidents of four of that region’s largest red meat importers in addition to several senior officers (purchasing managers and general managers) and the supply chain director of Pizza Hut Hong Kong Management Ltd., one of Pizza Hut’s largest international franchisees with operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Developed with funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff, the team of buyers toured pork and beef processing plants in Nebraska, cattle ranches in Kansas and Nebraska and numerous retail outlets. The group also participated in a Meat 101 class conducted by Dr. Terry Houser, associate professor at Kansas State University, who reviewed the quality and sensory aspects of U.S. pork and beef.

Before returning to China, the visiting team received briefings from U.S. beef and pork exporters and participated in the product showcase at the May USMEF board of directors meeting that brought 120 international buyers together with 21 U.S. exporters at a session designed specifically to enhance U.S. red meat exports.

“The meeting with the Chinese team was the highlight of the entire week for me,” said Mark Boyd of Porky Products. “I think the quality of the customers who came from China and Hong Kong was exceptionally high. Meeting these buyers and having them sample our products enabled us to generate immediate sales to new customers that we otherwise would not have encountered.”

The positive sentiments were echoed by Eric Brandt, president of One World Beef, which represents Harris Ranch and Brandt Beef.

“These meetings are a springboard to new business with qualified and respected buyers,” said Brandt. “These are the types of meetings we strive to attain and are grateful to be part of. We can only hope that the governments (of China and the U.S.) do the right thing and open up new (beef) trade between our countries so that commerce can begin. It will be a great day for American beef producers to finally have free access to a country where there is a lot of demand for U.S. beef.”

The visit by the team also earned high marks for the convenience it provides to U.S. exporters – bringing qualified buyers together as a group.

“This allowed me to meet with 10 to 12 customers at one time, and to save the $10,000 or more it would cost for a business trip to that region,” said Boyd.

The team of buyers gave its own high marks on the visit, according to Ming Liang, USMEF-Shanghai marketing director. “They indicated that they learned quite a lot from the trip,” he said. “They became familiar with more U.S. plants and companies that could potentially be future partners.”

The China/Hong Kong region is a significant one for U.S. red meat exports. Through the first four months of 2014, it is the No. 3 market in both volume and value for U.S. pork, purchasing 140,927 metric tons (310.7 million pounds) valued at $316.5 million, increases of 4 percent in volume and 10 percent in value.

And while the People’s Republic of China still bans U.S. beef, Hong Kong is the United States’ No. 3 export market in terms of value, $307.5 million (up 94 percent versus 2013), and No. 4 in volume (46,478 metric tons or 102.5 million pounds), a 66 percent increase over last year.

Cargill develops non-GMO soybean oil

Cargill is introducing a soybean oil made from identity-preserved (IdP), conventionally-bred (non-GM) soybeans for customers interested in exploring a non-GMO claim on their product label. The oil is refined in Cargill’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant in a process certified by SGS, a global inspection, verification, testing and certification company.

“Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators,” said Ethan Theis, food ingredients commercial manager, Cargill.

Supplies of Cargill’s new oil are limited, and one food manufacturer already has purchased a significant portion of the available supply. According to Theis, producing an IdP soybean oil from non-GM soybeans is an intricate process, from procuring a dedicated supply of non-GM soybeans to developing processes to avoid co-mingling with bioengineered crops during harvesting, transportation, storage, handling, processing and refining.

“Developing industrial scale IdP products is difficult but something Cargill is well-suited for because of our knowledge of consumer trends, formulation experience, supply-chain management expertise, manufacturing infrastructure and strong relationships with farmers,” Theis said.

Cargill has extensive global experience helping food manufacturers’ source non-GM crops and ingredients made from non-GM crops. The combination of Cargill’s portfolio of non-GM sweeteners, starches, texturizers, oils, cocoa and chocolate, fibers, and stabilizer systems, coupled with R&D and global supply chain capabilities, allows Cargill to help customers manage both the product development and supply chain challenges associated with reformulating to non-GMO. 

ASA’s Wilkins Testifies on Importance of Biotech Trade Policy for Soybean Farmers

Greenwood, Del., farmer and American Soybean Association (ASA) Treasurer Richard Wilkins appeared on Capitol Hill today before the Senate Committee on Finance to testify about the importance of biotechnology to soybean farmers as the U.S. pursues trade agreements abroad.

The hearing, “Trade Enforcement: Using Trade Rules to Level the Playing Field for U.S. Companies and Workers,” addresses the impact and implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreements, U.S. trade with China, and other aspects of America’s trade relationships abroad. Soybeans are the nation’s leading agricultural export, and ASA has long taken a leading role in representing the needs of farmers in discussions of international trade.

In his testimony, Wilkins addressed the need for a more consistent regulatory framework in our various partner nations, citing specifically the inconsistent and unreliable frameworks in China and the European Union.

“Other countries have adopted systems for approving biotech traits, but these decisions are subject to differing regulations or are overtly political, which can result in lengthy delays between approvals in importing and exporting countries,” he testified. “This is a concern because, until an importer approves a new trait, even a trace amount of that trait detected in a cargo can result in its rejection and major losses for the shipper.”

Wilkins pointed to ASA’s advocacy for a global Low Level Presence (LLP) policy to tackle this challenge. “An LLP would allow a shipment containing a small amount of an exporting country’s approved trait without resulting in rejection by an importer,” he said.

Pointing specifically to the EU, Wilkins spoke to the difficulties presented by Europe’s labeling policy for foods containing biotechnology-derived ingredients, and noted that such policies may be in violation of the EU’s commitments under the World Trade Organization.

“The EU could have provided information to consumers without distorting trade by establishing voluntary labeling standards for non-biotech foods,” he said. “As a WTO member, the EU is obliged to choose a less restrictive measure if one that accomplishes its objective is available.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/20/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 938,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 38.40 million gallons daily. That is down 34,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 948,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.53 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 18.2 million barrels. That is a 1.9% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were zero b/d, unchanged from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 370.1 million gallons daily, down nearly 5% from last week. Ethanol inputs by blenders/refiners remained at 891,000 b/d, an annualized rate of 13.66 billion gallons.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.64%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.222 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 104,684 metric tons of livestock feed, 93,326 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.89 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

Ethanol Boat Races Ride Into Garnett

The popular Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is returning to Garnett, Kan., July 12–13. This National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) competition pits drivers of hydroplanes and roundabouts against each other in a fast-paced race to the finish. The upcoming race is sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), East Kansas Agri-Energy, and the Kansas Corn Commission. Admission is free and earplugs or noise reducing devices are suggested.

The NBRA, host of the event, has a long history of using E10. They broke speed records on the high-octane ethanol blend. According to Vernon Barfield, tech chairman and vice president of the NBRA, he has had no issues using E10 in their more than 20 years of racing. He has also won more than 35 national championships. The NBRA represents more than 250 drivers in 30 states.

“The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is a popular, family-friendly event where people of all ages can enjoy high-stakes action while learning about the environmental benefits and high-octane power boost of ethanol-blended fuel,” said Robert White, RFA’s director of market development. “There is a lot of misinformation out there about ethanol’s impact on boats, but E10 is safe and approved for use in all marine engines. The Lake Garnett event gives us an opportunity to educate boat owners and non-boat owners, and set the record straight.”

Jeff Oestmann, president and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, touted the race as a unique opportunity to highlight the benefits of ethanol. He stated, “It is exciting to see a national organization select Garnett for this event. It allows us to further promote the benefits of ethanol, not only in marine engines, but in all engines. We are proud to be a sponsor, and look forward to the races.”

“The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is a great opportunity to spotlight Kansas agriculture and ethanol,” said Greg Krissek, head of the Kansas Corn Commission. “We are excited to sponsor this year’s race and hope everyone will join us to cheer on the competitors.”

E10 (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) is approved for use in marine engines, including two-stroke powered engines, motorboats, outboard motors, and inboard motors. However, E15 (15 percent ethanol) is not approved for use in marine engines. Boat owners should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, check the owner’s manual before filling their engine with fuel, and read labeling at the pump.

Popular names in boating have embraced the use of ethanol. The NBRA uses E10 in all two-stroke motor races. Additionally, respected names in marine motor manufacturing allow ethanol blended fuel in their engines, including Honda, Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC (Johnson/Evinrude), Pleasurecraft, Tigershark (Artco), Tracker and Yamaha.

RFA staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide education on ethanol use in marine engines. Additionally, RFA’s “Fueled with Pride” logo will be displayed on uniforms, course buoys and flags, t-shirts sold at the races by NBRA, trophies, near refueling areas of all boats, and on signs placed throughout the viewing area.

Little Change Seen in Fertilizer Prices

Retail fertilizer prices continue to hold fairly steady with none of the eight major products logging significant price changes the third week of June 2014, according to retailers tracked by DTN.

Seven fertilizers were slightly higher in price compared to last month, but the move to the high side was fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $607 per ton, MAP $631/ton, potash $490/ton, 10-34-0 $581/ton, anhydrous $711, UAN28 $363/ton and UAN32 $415/ton.  DAP did manage to break through the $600-per-ton level after several weeks of getting close. The phosphorus fertilizer last had an average price this high the fourth week of June 2013. The average price that week was $601 per ton.

The remaining fertilizer, urea, was slightly lower from the previous month, but again the move lower was fairly small. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price was $540 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.59/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.65/lb.N and UAN32 $0.65/lb.N.

With fertilizer prices moving higher in recent months, only two of the eight major fertilizers are now double-digits lower in price compared to June of 2013.  DAP is now down 1% while both MAP and urea are 2% less expensive. 10-34-0 is down 4% while both UAN28 and UAN32 are 7% less expensive. Anhydrous is now 13% less expensive while potash is down 16% compared to a year earlier.

U.S. Hog Farms Are Getting Bigger, But Less of Them

Ron Plain, University of Missouri Livestock Marketing Economist

Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts a census of all U.S. farms. The latest map of where hogs are located shows continued clustering of hog production, with the two greatest concentrations of hogs found in northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota, and in eastern North Carolina. The Corn Belt from Ohio to Nebraska also has a substantial hog population.

Iowa’s hog inventory was more than a million head larger in 2012 than in 2007. During those same five years, North Carolina’s hog inventory declined more than a million head.

The top three hog states, Iowa, North Carolina and Minnesota had 30.2 percent, 13.1 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively, of the nation’s hogs in 2012. These three states account for more than half of the U.S. swine herd.

In 2012 only 63,246 farms raised hogs. This was a decline of 16 percent from the number reported by the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

The 1935 Ag Census said 3.9 million U.S farms raised hogs. Each subsequent census has found fewer farms with hogs. The 1964 census was the last to find a million hog farms. In 1950, more than half of U.S. farms raised hogs. Today only 3 percent of America’s 2,046,057 farms raise hogs.

Most hog farms have only a few hogs. In 2012 there were 41,688 farms that had from one to 24 head of hogs. Many of these small hog farms are 4-H and FFA projects. That same year there were only 21,558 farms that had more than 24 head of hogs in inventory.

The 2012 census found fewer hog farms in each size category, except for one: The 5,000 head and larger group included 2,850 hog farms in 2007 and 3,007 hog farms in 2012.

Cargill introduces new neonatal pig nutrition program

Cargill’s animal nutrition business today introduces a global nutrition program to help improve piglet livability. The program is designed to help pork producers increase the life expectancy of their pigs through an advanced feeding program that targets neonatal nutrition. Initial research has indicated that Cargill’s neonatal pig nutrition program can increase piglet livability as much as six percent.

“With average global piglet livability of about 82 percent, the mortality of young pigs is a critical challenge for producers around the world, even in the most advanced operations,” said Brooke Humphrey, Cargill Animal Nutrition’s global swine technology director. “At Cargill, we have discovered ways to leverage piglet nutrition and feed processing to help increase livability through our advanced formulation system.”

The program focuses on improving neonatal nutrition – helping piglets increase weight during the first 28 days of life. Mortality during the neonatal phase— from birth until weaning—often runs as high as 18 percent. With the right smell, taste and mouth feel, the new program helps maximize feed intake, which studies show directly impacts weight gain and overall livability.

Available in liquid or dry feeds, the neonatal program has demonstrated the capability to help increase livability (counting stillbirth and pre-weaning deaths) and overall health. In some cases the average birth weight has gone up from 1.3kg to 1.7kg – and the average weaning weight has gone from 6.5kg to 8 kg. Feed preference and intake is strong – and the stool quality is high. The program includes research from CAN’s MAX® formulation system – a unique software modeling program that can formulate customized feeds to help optimize animal health, growth and customer profitability.

The new neonatal nutrition feeds will roll out regionally over the next 12 months.

Monsanto 3Q Earnings Down 5%

(AP) -- Monsanto said its earnings fell more than 5 percent in the third fiscal quarter on lower biotech seed sales, but its performance topped Wall Street estimates and the company raised the lower end of its 2014 outlook. It also announced plans to repurchase $10 billion in shares.

The combination sent shares up more than 5 percent in morning trading Wednesday.

Monsanto Co. said the $10 billion share buyback will take place over two years. The company has about $1.1 billion remaining under its previous share buyback plan.

The St. Louis company said it earned $858 million, or $1.62 per share in the three months ended May 31. That was down from $909 million, or $1.68 per share, a year ago. Revenue was virtually flat at $4.25 billion

The company's earnings beat the average analyst projection, as measured by FactSet, for earnings of $1.54 per share on revenue of $4.39 billion for the quarter.

The company raised the low end of its 2014 forecast to between $5.10 and $5.20 per share. Previously the company's estimate was for earnings of $5 to $5.20 per share.

Monsanto has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for years and recently began developing products specifically for emerging markets like Argentina, Brazil and parts of Asia. The company is also making investments in computerized tools for the agricultural sector.

Monsanto executives predict this expanded portfolio of products will allow the company to double its earnings per share over the next five years.

"The new target reflects management's confidence in the growth opportunity for the core business and transformational potential in new platforms," the company said in a statement.

Monsanto said its seed business will remain the main driver of growth through 2019, contributing an estimated $4 billion in profit over that period.

Sales of the company's best-selling product, genetically-enhanced corn seeds, declined 16 percent in the most recent three-month period as more farmers switched from planting corn to soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farmers to plant 6 percent more acres of soybeans this year than in 2013, amid predictions of tight supply and higher global demand.


This Fourth of July, Americans will pay more for their backyard barbecues than ever before. The inaugural 2014 Rabobank BBQ Index examines the composition of a ten-person barbecue and how rising commodity prices have impacted the cost over the years, showing an overall price increase from $ 51.90 in 2004 to $55.62during the financial crisis in 2007, to a total of $66.82 in 2014.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Rabobank BBQ Index tracks the price of typical barbecue ingredients, from main dishes of grilled chicken or a cheeseburger on a bun topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles, to chips and ice cream on the side and soda and beer to wash it down.

"While commodity price fluctuations are not always passed on to retail prices, American consumers will feel some significant market changes this Fourth of July," said Bill Cordingley, Head of Food and Agribusiness Research at Rabobank. "The beef market has exploded this year and retail ground beef prices, the heart and soul of the American barbecue, are up an astonishing 71% over the last five years. We think there will be more pluck than chuck this year as some consumers lean to chicken sandwiches over burgers."

BBQ Index Breakdown
Meat: Combined, beef and chicken make up one-quarter of the Index and they each tell a different story. While beef has seen the large increase of 71 percent in five years, including 14 percent over last year, chicken prices have remained fairly flat, up just three percent over five years and one percent since last year. According to Rabobank analysts, cattle herds in the United States are the smallest in 63 years and exports have grown substantially, using a larger share of U.S. production, which has driven up the cost. Meanwhile, chicken exports have also expanded, mainly for dark meat. While export prices have increased, domestic white meat demand has remained steady, maintaining stable prices in the U.S.

Dairy: Retail cheese and ice cream prices have both jumped 15 percent in the past five years. Most of the gains in cheese have occurred in the last year, with prices up 11 percent. While U.S. demand for dairy has slowed in recent years, growing demand in China and other developing markets has kept prices rising. U.S. milk typically used for cheese and ice cream is now increasingly shipped overseas as powder. In Q1 2014 U.S. dairy exports rose 26 percent*, and 13 percent of milk produced in the U.S. is now shipped internationally. And with a recent study** saying dairy fats are not bad for you, U.S. prices could go even higher if demand grows both at home and abroad, putting pressure on supplies.

Beverages: Ask your friends to bring the beer, as it comprises 28% of the total barbecue cost. The price of 20 beers has increased by 10 percent over the past five years, as the popularity of more expensive "craft" beers has pushed domestic and premium prices upward. "The two weeks leading up to holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are some of the biggest in beer sales, regardless of price," said a Rabobank beverages analyst. "However, companies will still heavily promote their products and consumers typically load up on beer at home during these key weekends."Soda prices have increased a small four percent over the last five years and are down one percent year-over-year, as slower consumer demand has increased the amount of discounting.

Bread/Snacks: Price-wise it makes sense to keep burgers in the bun: prices are flat compared to 2013 and down one percent over 5 years. In general, wheat prices are dropping with the whole grain complex due to increased global production, particularly this year. Chip prices are also down because people are moving towards lower-fat snack foods, decreasing three percent year-over-year.

Veggies: The drought in Mexico increased prices for tomatoes by 12 percent compared to last year  but vegetables are, as always, the lowest percentage of the Index and the healthier items.