Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday July 11 Ag News + USDA WASDE and Crop Produciton Reports


Based  on  July  1  conditions, Nebraska's  2014 winter wheat crop  is  forecast  at  56.0 million  bushels,  up  42  percent  from  last  year’s  crop,  according  to  the USDA’s National Agricultural  Statistics  Service.   Average  yield  is  forecast  at  40  bushels  per acre, up 5 bushels from a year earlier.

Acreage  to be harvested  for grain  is estimated at 1.40 million acres, up 24 percent  from a year ago.  This would be 93 percent of the planted acres, well above last year’s 77 percent harvested.

Oat production is forecast at 3.15 million bushes, near double last year’s output and the largest since 2005.  Acreage for harvest, at 45,000 acres is up 20,000 acres from 2013.  Yield, at 70 bushels per acres, is forecast to be 5 bushels above a year ago.


Oat  production  in  Iowa  is  forecast  at  4.36  million bushels, up 10 percent  from  the 3.96 million bushels in 2013 according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics  Service Crop Production  report.    Iowa  oat growers  intend  to  harvest  65,000  acres  for  grain,  up   8  percent  from  last  year.    The  expected  yield  is   67 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from 2013.  Seventy-four percent of  Iowa’s oat crop was  rated  in good  to excellent condition as of June 29th.  Eleven percent of the oat acreage was turning color.

USDA: Winter Wheat Production Down 1 Percent from June

Winter wheat production is forecast at 1.37 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the June 1 forecast and down 11 percent from 2013. Based on July 1 conditions, the United States yield is forecast at 42.2 bushels per acre, down 0.2 bushel from last month and down 5.2 bushels from last year. The area expected to be harvested for grain or seed totals 32.4 million acres, unchanged from the Acreage report released on June 30, 2014 but up slightly from last year.

Hard Red Winter production, at 703 million bushels, is down 2 percent from last month. Soft Red Winter, at 458 million bushels, is up 1 percent from the June forecast. White Winter, at 206 million bushels, is up slightly from last month. Of the White Winter production, 10.6 million bushels are Hard White and 196 million bushels are Soft White.

Durum wheat production is forecast at 59.6 million bushels, down 4 percent from 2013. The United States yield is forecast at 42.1 bushels per acre, down 1.5 bushels from last year. Expected area to be harvested for grain totals 1.42 million acres, unchanged from the Acreage report released on June 30, 2014 but down slightly from last year.

Other spring wheat production is forecast at 565 million bushels, up 6 percent from last year. Area harvested for grain is expected to total 12.4 million acres, unchanged from the Acreage report released on June 30, 2014 but up 9 percent from last year. The United States yield is forecast at 45.5 bushels per acre, down 1.6 bushels from 2013. Of the total production, 520 million bushels are Hard Red Spring wheat, up 6 percent from last year.

USDA World Ag Supply and Demand Estimate - July 11, 2014

COARSE GRAINS:  Projected 2014/15 U.S. feed grain supplies are raised with increases for corn and sorghum beginning stocks and higher expected sorghum production.  Corn production is projected 75 million bushels lower based on harvested acres from the June 30 Acreage report.  The national average corn yield remains projected at a record 165.3 bushels per acre.  Favorable early July crop conditions and weather support an outlook for record yields across most of the Corn Belt, however, for much of the crop, the critical pollination period will be during middle and late July.  At the projected 13,860 million bushels, this year’s crop remains just 65 million bushels below last year’s record.   

Corn use changes for 2014/15 are limited to a 50-million-bushel reduction in expected feed and residual use based on the lower production projection and higher projected sorghum feed and residual use.  Sorghum food, seed, and industrial use, exports, and ending stocks are also raised for 2014/15 with sorghum production projected up 50 million bushels on the higher area reported in the Acreage report.  Corn ending stocks are projected up 75 million bushels with a higher carryin and lower feed and residual use more than offsetting the small acreage-driven decline in production.  The projected range for the season-average corn price is lowered 20 cents on each end to $3.65 to $4.35 per bushel.  Lower farm prices are also projected for sorghum, barley, and oats.

A number of 2013/14 feed grain supply and use changes are made this month reflecting June 1 stocks estimates from the June 30 Grain Stocks and based on final marketing-year barley and oats trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Projected corn feed and residual use is lowered 125 million bushels based on lower-than-expected March-May disappearance as indicated by the June 1 stocks.  Corn used to produce ethanol is projected 25 million bushels higher based on the pace of ethanol production to date and lower projected sorghum food, seed, and industrial use, most of which is for ethanol.  Sorghum exports are projected up 10 million bushels reflecting continued steady export sales and the large 2013/14 outstanding sales balance.  Projected 2013/14 farm prices for corn and sorghum are lowered this month as favorable weather for developing 2014 crops reduce summer price prospects.

Global coarse grain supplies for 2014/15 are projected 7.0 million tons higher with larger beginning stocks for the United States, Brazil, and China and larger production for China, the EU, Ukraine, Russia, and Serbia.  Lower corn production for the United States and lower corn, barley, and oats production for Canada partly offset this month’s increases in world coarse grain output.  World barley production is higher with larger crops expected in Ukraine and Russia.  Foreign corn production for 2014/15 is raised 1.7 million tons.  China corn production is up 2.0 million tons on higher expected area.  China 2013/14 corn production is also raised, up 0.8 million tons based on the latest government estimates that include higher area.  EU 2014/15 corn production is raised 0.4 million with larger crops expected in Germany and France.  Serbia corn production is also raised 0.3 million tons.  Partly offsetting is a 0.9-million-ton reduction in Canada corn reflecting the lower planted area recently reported by Statistics Canada.  Brazil corn production is unchanged for 2014/15, but raised 2.0 million tons for 2013/14 based on higher area indications for second crop corn.

Global 2014/15 corn trade is nearly unchanged with a reduction for Canada exports partly offset by an increase for Serbia.  For 2013/14, world corn trade is raised with higher imports for the EU and South Korea more than offsetting a reduction for China.  Corn exports for 2013/14 are raised for Canada, the EU, and Russia.  Global corn consumption is lowered slightly for both 2013/14 and 2014/15 mostly reflecting the lower U.S. feed and residual use projections. Global 2014/15 corn ending stocks are projected 5.4 million tons higher with increases for China, Brazil, and the United States more than offsetting the Canada reduction.

OILSEEDS:  U.S. oilseed production for 2014/15 is projected at 113.1 million tons, up 5.0 million tons with higher soybean production accounting for most of the change.  Soybean production is projected at a record 3,800 million bushels, up 165 million due to increased harvested area.  Harvested area, forecast at 84.1 million acres in the June 30 Acreage report, is 3.6 million above the June forecast.  The soybean yield is projected at 45.2 bushels per acre, unchanged from last month.  Soybean supplies are 180 million bushels above last month’s forecast due to higher beginning stocks and production.  Soybean crush is projected at 1,755 million bushels, up 40 million reflecting increased domestic soybean meal disappearance in line with adjustments for 2013/14 and higher U.S. soybean meal exports that offset lower projected exports for India.  Soybean exports for 2014/15 are raised 50 million bushels to 1,675 million reflecting record U.S. supplies and lower prices.  U.S. soybean ending stocks are projected at 415 million bushels, up 90 million.  If realized, projected stocks would be the highest since 2006/07.

Prices for soybeans and products for 2014/15 are all reduced.  The U.S. season-average soybean price is projected at $9.50 to $11.50 per bushel, down 25 cents on both ends of the range.  Soybean meal prices are projected at $350 to $390 per short ton, down 5 dollars on both ends.  The soybean oil price range is projected at 36 to 40 cents per pound, down 1 cent on both ends.

Global oilseed production for 2014/15 is projected at a record 521.9 million tons, up 5.8 million from last month with soybeans and rapeseed accounting for most of the change.  Global soybean production is projected at 304.8 million tons, up 4.8 million mostly due to higher production in the United States.  Higher soybean production is also projected for Russia and Ukraine, both reflecting higher harvested area.  Lower soybean production for India resulting from reduced harvested area partly offsets these gains.  Harvested area is reduced based on planting delays resulting from the slow development of the monsoon in the main soybean producing states.  Rapeseed production is raised for Canada based on higher planted area reported by Statistics Canada.  Rapeseed production is also raised for Australia on higher area and yield.  Global oilseed ending stocks for 2014/15 are projected at 99.7 million tons, up 3.6 million mostly reflecting a sharp increase in U.S. soybean stocks.

U.S. soybean crush for 2013/14 is raised 25 million bushels to 1,725 million on both increased soybean meal exports and domestic soybean meal use.  Soybean exports for 2013/14 are projected at 1,620 million bushels, up 20 million reflecting record shipments through early July.  Seed use is raised and residual is reduced based on indications from the June 30 Acreage and Grain Stocks reports, respectively.  Soybean ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected at 140 million bushels, up 15 million.

WHEAT:  Projected U.S. wheat supplies for 2014/15 are raised this month with a sharp increase in forecast Hard Red Spring (HRS) wheat more than offsetting a decrease for Hard Red Winter (HRW).  The HRW crop was damaged by drought and April freezes in the Southern and Central plains; however, the HRS crop in the Northern Plains has benefitted from abundant soil moisture and cooler than normal early summer temperatures.  Yields for Durum and other spring wheat are forecast to be above average.  Feed and residual use for all wheat in 2014/15 is lowered 15 million bushels to 145 million as tight supplies of HRW wheat and relatively more attractive prices for feed grains reduce expected feed and residual use.  All wheat exports for 2014/15 are lowered 25 million bushels reflecting expectations of large world supplies and strong competition in export markets.  Ending stocks are projected 86 million bushels higher.  The projected season-average farm price range is lowered 40 cents at the midpoint to $6.00 to $7.20 per bushel.  

Global wheat supplies for 2014/15 are raised 1.8 million tons with increased production more than offsetting lower beginning stocks.  World production is raised 3.6 million tons to 705.2 million.  This is down 9.0 million tons from last year but still the second largest production on record.  The biggest foreign increases are 1.6 million tons for the EU and 1.0 million tons for Ukraine both due to continued favorable weather.  Production is raised 0.5 million tons for Australia based on the latest government indications for area.  Production is also raised 0.3 million tons each for Brazil and Serbia.  Partly offsetting this month’s production increases is a reduction of 1.0 million tons for Kazakhstan due to June dryness and a decline of 0.5 million tons for Canada based on the latest area indications from Statistics Canada.

Global wheat consumption is raised 0.9 million tons with increased wheat feeding for the EU and higher food use for several countries.  EU wheat feeding is raised 1.0 million tons as wheat quality is expected to suffer in the lower Danube region because of excessive rainfall in recent weeks.  Feeding reductions for Kazakhstan, Egypt, and Thailand are partly offsetting.  Food use is raised for Indonesia, Sudan, Morocco, and Bangladesh but lowered for Egypt.  Global wheat trade for 2014/15 is lowered with exports reduced 1.0 million tons for Kazakhstan and 0.7 million for the United States.  Partly offsetting increases in exports are made for Australia, Ukraine, and Serbia with improved crop prospects.  EU imports are lowered 0.5 million tons due in part to larger expected supplies of feed quality wheat in Bulgaria and Romania.  Imports are also lowered for Egypt and Mexico, but raised for Sudan, Indonesia, and Nigeria.  With supplies rising faster than use, global ending stocks are raised 0.9 million tons and remain at a 3-year high.


The forecast for total meat production in 2014 is raised from last month.  Beef production is raised on higher steer and heifer and cow slaughter and slightly higher carcass weights.  Pork production is lowered as USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report indicated a slower-than-expected expansion in farrowings during the second quarter.  This implies lower than previously forecast hog slaughter later in the year, but strong hog prices and lower feed costs are expected to provide incentives to feed hogs to heavier weights.  No change was made to broiler production as the production expansion remains muted.  Turkey production is raised on higher second-quarter production. Egg production is raised on strong table egg prices and lower feed costs.  For 2015, beef and broiler production is forecast higher, but pork production is forecast lower.  Cattle slaughter is forecast higher in early 2015 based on 2014 placements.  Pork production is reduced as supplies of market hogs will remain relatively tight.  Broiler production is forecast higher as lower expected feed costs support a more rapid increase in production.

Forecasts for 2014 and 2015 beef imports are raised as demand for processing grade beef remains strong.  Exports for 2014 are raised on recent data.  Pork imports for 2014 are reduced slightly.  Despite high prices, pork exports remain robust and forecasts for both 2014 and 2015 are raised.  Broiler and turkey exports are raised for 2014 based on May data, but forecasts for 2015 are unchanged from last month. 

Cattle and hog price forecasts for 2014 are raised from last month on the strength of demand.  Broiler price forecasts for both 2014 and 2015 are unchanged from last month.  The turkey price forecast for 2014 is raised based on June price data, but the egg price is reduced.  The hog price forecast is raised for 2015 on expectations of tighter supplies and continued strong demand.  Prices for cattle, broilers, turkey, and eggs are unchanged at the midpoint for 2015.   

The milk production forecast for 2014 is lowered from last month as slower growth in output per cow more than offsets a more rapid expansion in cow numbers.  The forecast for 2015 is raised as higher milk prices and lower feed costs are expected to support more rapid growth in cow numbers and output per cow.  Export forecasts for 2014 are lowered on a fat basis but raised on a skim-solids basis.  High domestic butter prices are expected to limit export opportunities, but nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) exports are expected to remain strong.  For 2015, no change is forecast to fat-basis exports, but strength in NDM/SMP sales will help support higher skim-solids exports.  

Product prices are forecast higher for 2014 with strength in butter prices expected to carry into 2015.  Despite increased production, robust domestic demand and stronger NDM/SMP exports will support prices.  Class III and Class IV prices for 2014 are raised on stronger component product prices and the Class IV price forecast for 2015 is raised reflecting strength in butter prices.  The all milk price is forecast at $23.25 to $23.55 per cwt for 2014, and $19.75 to $20.75 per cwt for 2015.

2014 EQIP Storm Damage Cover Crop Initiative

from Nathan Mueller, UNL Extension Educator, Dodge County

Producers that have experienced crop and residue loss in the 2014 growing season due to weather and storms throughout Nebraska are encouraged to apply for EQIP assistance to establish cover crops on eligible fields.  The Storm Damage Cover Crop Initiative is available to producers who suffered vegetative cover losses due to drought, floods, tornado, hail, and high winds.

This initiative will assist producers to re-establish residue lost due to extreme weather conditions needed to protect the soil from water and wind erosion.  Practice 340, Cover Crop, is the only practice available for this initiative and with the following limitations:
·       Practice payment limited to Cover Crop (340) – Single Species scenario.
·       Practice payment limited to one year.
·       Cover Crop must be terminated and grazing will not be allowed prior to October 15, 2014.  If grazed after this date then restrictions will be applied as specified in the grazing management plan to protect and maintain an adequate level of residue.
·       Practice application has not been started prior to contract or early start waiver approval.
·       Producer must submit documentation of weather event causing the residue loss.
·       Practice must meet all NRCS standards and specifications.

Application cutoff date for the Storm Damage Cover Crop Initiative is August 15, 2014. 

If you have any questions, please contact Rich Torpin, EQIP Program Manager, at or by phone at 402-437-4061


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Would you like to try something a little different as a forage crop after wheat?  How about considering soybeans or sunflowers?

                Soybean hay can have nearly the same protein and energy content as alfalfa hay.  Livestock eat soybean hay quite well, but they often separate out and refuse to eat some of the coarser stems.  Grinding the hay should reduce this refusal.

               Harvest soybean hay after pods begin to fill but before leaves drop off from yellowing and definately before a freeze.  Soybean hay is slow to dry because bean stems are coarser than alfalfa stems, so be sure to crimp them as you cut.  Also, soybean leaves crumble easily when dry, so rake and bale carefully to reduce leaf loss.

               Both soybeans and sunflowers can make good silage.  Feeding value varies, but if you do a good job of silage making and get a good fermentation, soybeans have about 80 percent of the feeding value of alfalfa haylage and sunflowers have about 80 percent of the feeding value of corn silage.

               Always use a silage inoculant and add about 30 to 50 pounds of grain per ton of silage when filling the silo with these feeds.  This improves fermentation and feeding value of your sunflower or soybean silage.  Also make certain that you chop the silage a bit finer and pack it well.  Have moisture content between 60 and 70 percent.  Also, cover with plastic when you're done.

               Maybe better yet, if you can mix about one ton of these silages with two or more tons of corn silage when filling the silo, really good silage should occur.

               It may seem strange to use soybeans and sunflowers as hay or silage, but they can come through for you when needed.

Iowa Farmland Sales Exceed $20,000 Per Acre

Though farmland values have eased a bit this year, two eye-blinking auctions occurred in June when when 80 acres located two miles east of Boyden in Sioux County sold for $20,400 an acre. It had 78 tillable acres, reports the Landowner newsletter.

The soils on the farm were rated 76.2 on the Corn Suitability Ratio scale. That compares to the county average of 64.8.

Also last month, 389.5 acres of mostly tillable land located on the north side of Osage in Mitchell Co. passed under the gavel with prices on four tracts ranging from $19,100 to $19,700 an acre.

The newsletter says the sale prices are especially shocking because north-central Iowa was hard hit by rains a year ago, resulting in a substantial number of acres claiming prevent plant payments rather than planting a crop.

Iowa's June Rains Ranked 4th Wettest Month in 141 Years

June rainfalls brought precipitation during the first half of 2014 to above normal levels for the state. The June statewide average rainfall was almost ten inches, and for the most recent two weeks the rainfall of 4.3 inches was nearly double the normal of 2.2 inches.

Although most of Iowa received very wet weather during this period, there were exceptions: the far northwest portion of the state received a welcome reprieve from mid-June flooding, and in far southeast Iowa a few areas -- centered on Van Buren County -- consistently missed heavy rains.

Stream flows are either normal or much above normal for the majority of the state. In some locations stream flow levels are beginning to drop as excess water continues to move downstream.

Shallow groundwater is back to normal or near normal levels for July. Even wells located away from streams and rivers began to improve within a week of heavy rains received since June 11.

For a more thorough review of Iowa's water resource trends, go to

The report is prepared by the technical staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, IIHR--Hydroscience and Engineering and the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.

USDA to Host Listening Sessions on Wetland Compliance

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced that listening sessions have been scheduled seeking comments on proposed changes to the offsite methods used in making wetland determinations and new wetland mitigation banking alternatives related to implementation of the USDA wetland compliance provisions. The USDA wetland compliance provisions were originally enacted in the 1985 Farm Bill and through the 2014 Agricultural Act these provisions have been re-linked with the premium subsidy paid under the Federal crop insurance program.

The sessions will provide an opportunity for farmers and the public to provide comments on technical changes being proposed to the agency's use of offsite wetland determination procedures. NRCS is also soliciting input on implementation strategies for the wetland mitigation banking provision provided in the Agricultural Act of 2014.

Listening sessions have been scheduled for:
-- Ankeny, Iowa on July 28
-- Albert Lea, Minn., on July 29
-- Aberdeen, S.D., on July 30
-- Fargo, N.D., on July 31

The sessions target public participation in the North Central Plains states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. This area which is also known as the Prairie Pothole Region contains numerous small seasonal wetlands which provide important breeding and nesting habitat for more than 60 percent of the nation's migratory waterfowl.  For more information on these opportunities, visit a local NRCS field officeor the NRCS website.

CHS reports earnings through fiscal 2014 third quarter of $881.7 million

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported earnings of $881.7 million through the third quarter of its 2014 fiscal year.

The earnings attributable to CHS of $881.7 million for the period (Sept. 1, 2013 – May 31, 2014) represent an increase of one percent from the $869.6 million reported for the first three quarters of fiscal 2013. Revenues for nine months were $32.7 billion, down 3 percent from $33.5 billion for the same period a year ago, primarily due to lower average grain prices.

Earnings for the third quarter (March 1 – May 31, 2014) were $379.5 million, up 51 percent from $250.8 million for the same period in fiscal 2013. Earnings for the quarter reflected a one-time gain attributed to the establishment of a new flour milling joint venture, as well as stronger performance by the company's retail agronomy, wholesale crop nutrients and grain marketing businesses. At almost $12 billion, revenues for the quarter were comparable to the same three-month period of fiscal 2013.

Year-to-date, Energy segment earnings declined due to lower margins in refining which were partially offset by strong performance for CHS propane, renewable fuels marketing lubricants and transportation operations. Earnings for the CHS Ag segment increased through the third quarter as a result of strong logistical performance within grain marketing, higher agronomy margins and service income generated by the company's Country Operations retail locations, and improved wholesale crop nutrients performance.

CHS reports results for its business services operations and its two food processing-related joint ventures under the Corporate and Other category which recorded improved profitability through the third quarter of fiscal 2014. Earnings increased significantly from the previous nine-month period due to a one-time gain of $108.8 million associated with the contribution of its Horizon Milling assets to the newly formed Ardent Mills joint venture and overall strong business performance.

Jay Leno to Address 96th AFBF Annual Convention

Acclaimed late night TV host Jay Leno will give the closing session keynote address at the 96th AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in San Diego on Jan. 12, 2015.

About 7,000 Farm Bureau members from across the nation are expected to gather in San Diego Jan. 11-14 to hear from distinguished leaders and participate in a grassroots policy setting process that will guide the American Farm Bureau Federation through 2015.

Leno, an admired stand-up comedian, is also a best-selling children’s book author, TV and movie voice-over artist, pioneering car builder and mechanic, and philanthropist. He has been widely characterized as “the hardest-working man in show business.”

“We are excited to have Jay Leno as one of our keynote speakers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We will be considering some very important policy issues during our time in San Diego, so it will be nice to take a break from the business at hand and share a lighter moment with Jay Leno.”

Leno’s late night television ratings domination has included hosting more than two decades of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” during which the show was a quarterly ratings winner for 19 consecutive years. While he was host, the show was honored by the Television Academy with an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy, Variety or Music Series. “The Tonight Show” has also been honored as Favorite Late Night Show in the annual TV Guide Awards as determined by voting viewers.

Farm Bureau members can register for the 96th AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show through their state Farm Bureaus or online through AFBF at starting Sept. 1.

Houses Passes Bonus Depreciation Bill

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258 to 160 to pass H.R. 4718, legislation that will make permanent the fifty percent bonus depreciation of new capital purchases that was created in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. This bill addresses a section of the tax code that expired at the end of 2013 and is one of the provisions that has traditionally been addressed in tax extenders packages. It was also considered as part of the tax reform proposals in the House and Senate.

“NCBA strongly supports the permanent extension of fifty percent bonus depreciation because it will help provide farmers and ranchers with predictable pro-growth tax code that allows us to make long-term investments in our businesses,” said Bob McCan, NCBA president and Victoria, Texas, cattleman.  “Bonus depreciation coupled with Section 179 expensing are effective tools allowing farmers and ranchers to make the necessary investments needed to remain competitive in the global market place and create jobs in America.”

Bonus depreciation allows businesses that purchase new equipment to depreciate 50 percent of the cost in the first year, plus the percentage of the remaining basis in the equipment that would ordinarily be depreciable under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the measure in May as part of the piece-meal approach to approving individual parts of the tax extenders package that expired at the end of 2013.

Earlier this spring, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill extending nearly all of the extenders for two years. Previous action on the Senate floor was suspended and it is likely that the Senate will not take up the tax extenders package until after the elections in November.

“NCBA will continue to be actively engaged in the tax extenders process to help provide greater certainty in the tax code for America’s ranching families,” said McCan.

TPP Negotiations Make Incremental Progress; US-China Talks Continue

Chief negotiators from the 12-member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) met this week in Ottawa, Ontario, to continue working through technical issues of the various chapters. While the prevailing view is that continuous progress is being made on resolving texts in a number of areas, decisions on several unresolved issues will have to be made at the ministerial levels of the member countries.

In addition, many of the unresolved issues in non-agricultural areas continue to be dependent on the outcome of the ongoing bilateral discussions between the United States and China on market access issues regarding agricultural products, particularly the sensitive products (rice, dairy, beef, pork, wheat, barley and sugar) and automobiles. Another round of bilateral meetings between the two countries will be held next week in Washington, D.C.

The widespread sentiment is that the TPP negotiations need to be completed by the end of the year in order to take advantage of the momentum from multi-year discussions. During discussions with various countries’ negotiators, U.S. private-sector stakeholders once again questioned when the United States will formally consider the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The TPA would give Congress the ability to be more actively engaged in the negotiation process and would give the administration the formal right to negotiate.

In addition to the private stakeholder discussions, the U.S. Grains Council and other U.S. commodity sectors met with the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, a coalition of national and regional producers, processors and exporters who support a more open and fair international trading environment for agriculture and agri-food. Both groups pledged to cooperate and collaborate on achieving aggressive elimination of agricultural market access trade barriers, improve disciplines on addressing sanitary and phytosanitary non-tariff barriers, and improve transparency and cooperation on biotechnology regulations, including low-level presence policies.

USGC Receives Clean Audit Report

The U.S. Grains Council received a clean audit report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service for the period of Jan. 1, 2013, through Jan. 31, 2014.

“Council staff, especially global accounting staff, paying strict attention to FAS regulations has allowed the Council to receive a clean audit,” said USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight. “The Council is committed to being a good steward of taxpayer dollars, and one way to do this is through receiving clean audits.”

These audits are done yearly and are a vitally important component of the Council’s global programs. A clean audit helps sustain and improve the Council’s professional relationship with FAS.

Sorghum Checkoff Concludes Five-Year Sorghum Genetics Project

The Sorghum Checkoff, in collaboration with NuSeed/MMR Genetics and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, recently completed a five-year, $600,000 investment in a project to help broaden the pool of available sorghum genetics.

Sorghum Checkoff Crop Improvement Director Justin Weinheimer, Ph.D., said the project, formally known as the “Re-instated Sorghum Conversion Program,” was designed to make new sorghum genetic material available to sorghum research and breeding programs to enhance diversity within grain sorghum genetics.

“Advancements in sorghum seed innovation, such as yield, standability and drought tolerance, remain a top priority of U.S. sorghum farmers,” Weinheimer said. “This project provides untapped sorghum genetic resources, which can be used to make more profitable sorghum hybrids.”

MMR Genetics Sorghum Breeder and Principal Investigator Fred Miller, Ph.D., said these new opportunities will result in significant and major crop improvements in sorghum hybrids that were not previously available through germplasm modification.

“There are vast germplasm reserves held worldwide, but breeders in the U.S. are constrained in using this material due to the fact that this tropical germplasm is unadapted to our day lengths and seasonal temperatures,” Miller said.

Over the course of five years, the program converted wild-type sorghum varieties not suitable for U.S. breeding programs into to genetic lines that are more easily incorporated into established breeding and research programs.

“While traditional breeding methods were used to develop this material,” said Bob Klein, USDA-ARS, Crop Germplasm Research Unit research geneticist, “we also used NexGen DNA sequencing technology to shorten the time between the start of the breeding process and when the germplasm gets in the hands of seed companies. We are also making the DNA sequencing data available to any end-user who has the desire to use this genetic marker information in their breeding or genetics program.”

Between 2011 and 2014, Weinheimer said a total of 144 new sources of sorghum genetics were released to breeding programs across the country. A total of 15 different breeding and research programs have acquired some or all of this material and are incorporating it into their programs.

“The results of this project are directly tied to making more productive hybrids, which in turn results in higher profitability for producers,” Weinheimer said. “We are already exploring ways to make additional genetic lines available.”

Small Tractor Sales Up Last Month, Combine Sales Still Off

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. for June 2014, were up 5% compared to the same month last year. For the six months in 2014, a total of 106,997 tractors were sold which compares to 104,291 sold thru June 2014, representing a 3% increase year to date.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 14% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up .9%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 19%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 22%.  Combine sales were down 24% for the month.

For the six months, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 7% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are up 4%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 10%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are down 11%.  Sales of combines for the first six months totaled 4,004, a decrease of 13% over the same period in 2013.

Case IH Produces its 150,000th Magnum Tractor

The 150,000th Case IH Magnum tractor was recently produced at the Case IH Racine, Wisconsin, plant.  Each Magnum is unique and custom-built, allowing producers to select components to best meet the needs of their operation.  Today's Magnum lineup offers 180 to 380 rated horsepower, an improved operator environment and increased fuel efficiency from the only manufacturer with a Selective Catalytic Reduction-only solution to meet Tier 4 B emission standards.

USDA, Partners Help Fill the Summer Meal Gap

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

In the battle for our children’s future, one of the most powerful things we can do to protect them is to ensure they get the nutrition they need to learn and grow.

Nationwide, 16 million children live in households that have trouble putting food on the table at least a portion of the year. During the school year, USDA’s school nutrition programs help make sure millions of American children get a healthy breakfast and lunch at school.

When school lets out, USDA’s summer meals help make sure that those kids get the nutrition they need, even when school is not in session. Last year, USDA and its partners served a record 168 million summer meals to kids across the country.

Unfortunately, many kids are still missing out. That is why USDA has set a goal of serving an additional 10 million meals to kids this summer.

Admittedly, this is an aggressive goal, and we can’t do it alone. We’ll need the dedicated help of our partners across the country. With strong support from individuals, communities, local governments and advocates, we can reach more kids with nutritious meals during their time out of school.

To better support partner organizations, we have developed state-targeted technical assistance and a new Summer Meals Toolkit to make sure state agencies, partners and sponsors have the resources available to run smoothly and effectively.

Together, we can tackle childhood hunger and get the word out to identify communities to ensure kids are receiving the nutritious meals they need through the summer, and throughout the year. Help spread awareness of summer meals in your community using the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre and learn more at

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