Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday July 18 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extenison Forage Specialist

               Finally.  This week gave many of us the first good stretch of hay making weather all year. What about hay prospects the rest of the year?

               Who would have thought a few months ago that our first good long stretch of haying weather would come in July.  But that’s what happened for many of us.  Lots of hay got baled last week.  Some of that hay may have been laying in the windrow for a couple weeks waiting to get dry, and finally weather cooperated.

               Today, though, let’s look forward instead of behind.  How should we handle the rest of this haying season?

               My primary advice is to move forward with future harvests much like you planned originally.  However, if you still need some higher quality hay for young livestock or other animals with higher nutrient requirements, maybe take your next harvest a bit sooner than usual to get some better quality hay.  Also look ahead towards the projected date of your last cutting.  If it could occur during the winterizing period of mid-September to mid-October, it might be wise to adjust cutting dates to minimize the risk of winter injury.

               For those of you with hay that took weeks to dry, you probably have strips of nice looking regrowth separated by strips of nearly bare ground where windrows were smothering your alfalfa.  If that alfalfa doesn’t come back, you need to consider planting replacement fields later this summer or next spring.

               If it does regrow, be careful about when you take next cutting.  Those smothered plants are really weak.  If you harvest when the good looking plants are ready, many weakened plants might be killed.  If you want to save that field, wait until weakened plants start to bloom, even though the rest may be way too mature.

               Planning haying now could have a big impact for several years.


Milk production in Nebraska during the April-June 2014 quarter totaled 303 million pounds, up one percent from the April-June quarter last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 54,000 head.  

Iowa:  Milk production  in  Iowa during May 2014  totaled 410 million pounds, up 1 percent  from May 2013 and  the highest total  since May  1972. The average number of milk cows during May, at 208,000 head, was 2,000 more than last month. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,970 pounds, the highest average since records started in 1960.

April - June US Milk Production up 1.6 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the April - June quarter totaled 52.8 billion pounds, up 1.6 percent from the April - June quarter last year. The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.25 million head, 39,000 head more than the January - March quarter.

June US Milk Production up 2.0 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during June totaled 16.2 billion pounds, up 2.0 Percent from June 2013. May revised production at 16.9 billion pounds, was up 1.6 percent from May 2013. The May revision represented an increase of 25 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,888 pounds for June. This is the highest production per cow for the month of June since the 23 State series began in 2003.     The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.57 million head, 11,000 head more than May 2014.

Bus Trip Planned for Iowa Beginning and Young Beef Producers

A two-day bus trip to various locations in Nebraska in early September will offer beginning and young Iowa beef producers unique networking and educational opportunities. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Chris Clark said the trip is an organized activity of the Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network (BYLPN) and includes visits to several operations to provide a wide variety of information, experiences, and discussions.

“We’ll have stops at several different beef operations, a packing facility and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska,” Clark said. “Our tour guide, Jacob Mayer of Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc. has been very helpful in identifying and scheduling places with different approaches and strengths, and he’ll be able to help facilitate some good discussions on the trip.”

The trip is set for Thursday and Friday, Sept. 4 and 5, with the bus departing from the Cass County Extension Office in Atlantic at 7 a.m. on Sept. 4. Additional pick-up locations may be added as necessary. The group will overnight at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 805 Allen Dr., Grand Island, Nebraska, and return the evening of Sept. 5. A block of rooms has been reserved for Sept. 4 at the Fairfield Inn.

“Participants are responsible for their own hotel room fee and can make reservations at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by calling 308-381-8980 and asking for the group rate for Young Producers Group Block no later than Aug. 8,” Clark said. “After that date, rooms will be on an availability basis only.”

The BYLPN is a strategic initiative of ISU Extension and Outreach, with primary goals of creating regional peer groups of young and beginning livestock producers; and offering education, mentorship, and networking opportunities to participants.

“This bus trip is a fitting activity for those already involved in a BYLPN group, but people don’t need to be members of an existing group to participate,” Clark said. “We would love to see some new faces and get more people involved.”

Preregistration by Aug. 20 is required in order to ensure adequate transportation. For more information or to preregister, contact Clark by phone at 712-769-2200 or by email at or email Leann Plowman-Tibken at

Farm Credit Celebrates 98 Years of Service to Agriculture

Nearly 100 years after the U.S. Congress established Farm Credit to serve as a reliable source of credit for the nation's farmers and ranchers, the network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations remains a sound and vital resource for rural America. Thursday marked the cooperative networks' 98th anniversary.

"For 98 years, the Farm Credit System has served agriculture and rural America as a dedicated, reliable, competitive, customer-owned source of credit," said Mary Fritz, owner and operator of Quarter Circle JF Ranch, Inc., a dry land grain and cow-calf operation in Chester, Montana, and chair of the Farm Credit Council board of directors. "America's agricultural producers and rural communities have benefited greatly from the vision and foresight that went into establishing the Farm Credit System."

Today, about 40 percent of the dollar volume of outstanding loans to U.S. farmers and ranchers comes from Farm Credit. The federally chartered network is comprised of 82 privately owned institutions, including four wholesale banks and 78 direct lending associations that operate in every county in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

These local Farm Credit System institutions specialize in providing credit and related services to farmers, ranchers, timber harvesters and aquatic producers. In addition, the Farm Credit System provides financing for the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, as well as to rural homeowners, certain farm-related businesses, and agricultural and public utility cooperatives.

In support of their mission of service, Farm Credit System institutions also have programs specifically focused on meeting the needs of young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers. In 2013, more than 40 percent of new loans made by Farm Credit were to small producers, those with annual gross agricultural sales of $250,000 or less.

China Makes Its Largest Weekly Purchase of U.S. Sorghum

According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s July 17 report, China has made their largest weekly purchase since entering the market with 11.5 million bushels for the 2013/2014 marketing year and 3.5 million bushels for 2014/2015. China has now purchased a total of 161.9 million bushels of U.S. grain sorghum for the 2013/2014 marketing year, which ends Aug. 31, 2014, bringing total exports to 186.4 million bushels. In addition, China’s purchases of new crop U.S. Sorghum have reached 22.4 million bushels for 2014/2015. Total sorghum exports for the year have reached 186.4 million bushels. Germany also made a purchase of U.S. sorghum this week, their first since 2008 with 2.3 million bushels for 2013/2014 and 2.3 million bushels for 2014/2015.

RMA Seeking Input on Sweet, Biomass Sorghum Insurance Program

USDA’s Risk Management Agency sent a notice yesterday to the insurance industry stating its plans to issue a solicitation for a contract for the research and development of a crop insurance product for biomass sorghum and other sweet sorghum. This comes as a result of efforts from National Sorghum Producers to establish insurance programs for the sweet and biomass segments of the sorghum industry. In the notice, RMA says it is seeking any preparatory input from interested parties about the level of interest from the industry, availability of private insurance products covering biomass sorghum and sweet sorghum, or any other relevant issues that should be considered when carrying out the research and development for any potential program development for biomass sorghum and sweet sorghum crop residues.

USDA's Switch From Science-Based Nutrition Advice to Green Agenda Harms Americans

The naming of an "environmental nutritionist" to a top USDA nutrition post is drawing fire from the National Center for Public Policy Research's Risk Analysis Division.

In an op-ed published in Friday's Des Moines Register, "Iowan’s USDA Appointment Raises Concern," Risk Analysis Division Director Jeff Stier writes, "The appointment of Iowa's Angela Tagtow, a controversial 'environmental nutritionist' and local food activist, to head the United States Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is causing more headaches for the agency, already facing criticism about politicization of federal nutrition advice and its consequences for public health."

Stier earlier criticized the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and its work to establish new recommendations for federal nutrition policy. Stier's concerns have been widely echoed over recent months, given the DGAC's mission creep towards environmental activism. The DGAC is meeting this week in Washington.

In that context, "the appointment of 'food crusader' Angela Tagtow to a USDA position responsible for assessing and implementing the Committee's recommendations is cause for serious concern," says Stier.

In the op-ed, Stier writes, "By using the government's official dietary guidelines as a tool to advance her well-established environmentalist agenda, Tagtow would undermine the USDA's mandate - to provide families with science-based, impartial nutrition advice. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services administer the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which makes recommendations regarding the congressionally mandated Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines, currently being revised, are the basis for Federal food and nutrition programs and welfare benefits such as SNAP and educational campaigns, including MyPlate (formerly the Food Pyramid). The USDA touts them to be 'authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.'"

Stier writes, "According to Politico, recent DGAC meetings raised eyebrows because 'hot-button issues, such as diet and climate change' are being discussed in an unprecedented way. The committee has even dedicated one of five subcommittees to 'Food Sustainability and Safety' to discuss how the food we eat contributes to climate change, and how the government should recommend changes to our diets based on those concerns."

While Stier agrees that maintaining a food supply and environmental protection are important, he says, "these issues don't belong in discussions of healthy eating. But that hasn't stopped the DGAC from delving deeply into them over the past year. In the January meeting of the DGAC, committee member Miriam Nelson gushed about the importance of promoting foods that have the "littlest impact on the environment," and invited testimony from sustainability expert Kate Clancy, who argued it would be "perilous" not to take global climate change into account when dispensing dietary advice.

Stier's earlier criticism drew rebuke from the USDA, for being "premature." In April, a USDA spokesperson seemed to back away from the row by minimizing DGAC's role in policy-making, saying ,"the committee is still in the early stages of its work, so it is premature to guess what their recommendations might be, and even more premature to speculate about what will be included in the final dietary guidelines."

That seems to have changed, Stier notes. "But the appointment of Tagtow to the USDA office responsible for not only developing and promoting the Dietary Guidelines, but advancing prominent programs such as MyPlate, the re-vamped version of the well-known food pyramid, suggests that the agency is doubling down on raising the profile of our diet's alleged affect on the climate, and other issue that have more to do with political science, than nutritional science."

Stier slams Tagtow's firm's mission statement as code language for politically charged activism.

Her firm's goal was "to establish healthier food systems that are resilient, sustainable, ecologically sound, socially acceptable and economically viable..."

Stier points out that Tagtow has written that we should select meat and dairy products from animals that have only been fed grass diets.

In the op-ed, Stier challenges the USDA's new nutrition expert for repeating the "myth that meat is an environmentally-reckless form of protein, suggesting a plant-based diet instead. She says we should reduce our consumption of meat, lean or not, not because of any potential health benefits, but in order to 'conserve natural resources and energy.'"

Stier also debunks Tagtow's alleged economic justifications for her radical agenda. "Tagtow has suggested that Iowans could improve the state's economy by only eating food grown in the state, at least part of the year. She touted a Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture study claiming that 'if Iowans ate five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and Iowa farmers supplied that produce for three months of the year, these additional crops would add $300 million and more than 4,000 jobs to the Iowa economy.'"

"She fails to mention that in her utopian Iowa, residents wouldn't likely enjoy the benefits of staples like oranges or pineapples for those months. Nor does she consider the devastation to Iowa's agricultural community if her agro-protectionist ideals were implemented in other states. Well, now she's headed to the federal government to promote her narrow ideology."

Stier concludes, "The maxim that, in government, 'personnel is policy' is especially true here, given Tagtow's policy-making role. The priorities she's spent her career advancing are far from the consensus among mainstream nutritionists. Her appointment is a slap in the face to thousands of men and women in nutrition who daily work tirelessly and impartially to help Americans eat better. And it casts doubt over whether USDA is willing to dispense nutrition advice based on science rather than an activist agenda."

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