Saturday, July 26, 2014

Friday July 25 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.26 million cattle on feed on July 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 4 percent from last year.  Placements during June totaled 375,000 head, up 14 percent from 2013.   Fed cattle marketings for the month of June totaled 500,000 head, up 4 percent from last year.   Other disappearance during June totaled 25,000 head, up 15,000 from a year ago.


Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,150,000 on July 1, 2014, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa Field Office.  The inventory is down 4 percent from June 1, 2014, but up 3 percent from July 1, 2013.   Feedlots with a capacity greater  than 1,000 head had 620,000 head on  feed, down 3 percent from last month but up 7 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head had 530,000 head on feed, down 5 percent from last month and down 2 percent from last year.

Placements  during  June  totaled  94,000  head,  a  decrease  of  2  percent  from  last month  and  15  percent  from  last  year.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head placed 54,000 head, unchanged from last month but up 20 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head placed 40,000 head. This is down 5 percent from last month and down 39 percent from last year.

Marketings for June were 138,000 head, unchanged from last month but down 11 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity greater  than 1,000 head marketed 70,000 head, unchanged  from  last month but down 4 percent from  last year.   Feedlots with a capacity  less  than 1,000 head marketed 68,000 head, unchanged  from  last month but down 17 percent from last year. Other disappearance totaled 6,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Down 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.1 million head on July 1, 2014. The inventory was 2 percent below July 1, 2013. The inventory included 6.46 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.60 million head, down 5 percent from 2013.

Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.46 million, 6 percent below 2013. Net placements were 1.38 million head. During June, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 400,000, 600-699 pounds were 245,000, 700-799 pounds were 320,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 490,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.85 million, 2 percent below 2013. This is the lowest fed cattle marketings for the month of June since the series began in 1996. Other disappearance totaled 75,000 during June, 19 percent above 2013.

United States All Cattle on Feed down 6 Percent from 2012

Cattle on feed July 1, 2014, from all feedlots in the United States, totaled 11.6 million, down 6 percent from the 12.30 million on July 1, 2012. Cattle on feed in feedlots with 1,000 or more head accounted for 87 percent of the total cattle on feed on July 1, 2014, up slightly from July 1, 2012.

July 1 Cattle Inventory Down 3 Percent from 2012

All cattle and calves in the United States as of July 1, 2014, totaled 95.0 million head, 3 percent below the 97.8 million on July 1, 2012. This is the lowest all cattle and calves inventory for July 1 since the series began in 1973. After a year absence due to sequestration, the July Cattle report has been reinstated.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.0 million, were down 2 percent from July 1, 2012.
*    Beef cows, at 29.7 million, were down 3 percent from July 1, 2012.
*    Milk cows, at 9.3 million, up 1 percent from July 1, 2012.
Other class estimates on July 1, 2014 and the changes from July 1, 2012, are as follows:
*    All heifers 500 pounds and over, 14.9 million, down 5 percent.
*    Beef replacement heifers, 4.1 million, down 2 percent.
*    Milk replacement heifers, 3.9 million, down 5 percent.
*    Other heifers, 6.9 million, down 7 percent.
*    Steers, weighing 500 pounds and over, 13.5 million, down 4 percent.
*    Bulls, weighing 500 pounds and over, 1.9 million, unchanged.
*    Calves under 500 pounds, 25.7 million, down 3 percent.
*    All cattle and calves on feed for slaughter, 11.6 million, down 6 percent.

The 2014 calf crop is expected to be 33.6 million, down 1 percent from 2013 and down 2 percent from 2012. Calves born during the first half of the year are estimated at 24.3 million, down 2 percent from 2013 and down 3 percent from 2012.

Heineman Announces Pawnee County Designated Livestock Friendly

Friday, Gov. Dave Heineman announced the official designation of Pawnee County as Nebraska’s newest county to receive the Livestock Friendly County designation through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“The designation of Pawnee County as Livestock Friendly is another reason why Nebraska is the number one cattle feeding state in America,” said Gov. Heineman. “Agriculture is our state’s most important industry, and livestock production is an essential part of our success. Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is significant and it is a great way to recognize the tremendous positive impact the livestock industry has on Main Streets and the local economy.”

With the addition of Pawnee County, there are now 27 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program. These counties join Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Cuming, Dawes, Dawson, Deuel, Dodge, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Holt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kimball, Keith, Lincoln, Merrick, Morrill, Otoe, Pawnee, Saline, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Wayne and Webster counties.

Gov. Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Pawnee County Commissioners Dennis Schaardt, Bradley Stake, and Jan Lang.

Pawnee County will receive road signs bearing the program logo to display along highways. The state program is coordinated by the Department of Agriculture.

Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said the official designation makes a positive statement about each county’s commitment to rural economic development through livestock production. “It is clear from the submitted materials that county officials have given some purposeful thought to supporting the livestock industry. We are pleased to welcome Pawnee County into the program.”

To apply for a livestock friendly county designation, the county board must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution to apply. A completed application is then submitted to Department of Agriculture for review. Local producers or community groups can encourage their county board to submit a livestock friendly county application.

Additional information on the Livestock Friendly County program is available by contacting the Nebraska Department of Agriculture toll-free at 800-422-6692, or by visiting the Department of Agriculture website at and clicking the Livestock Friendly County link.

Public Hearings Scheduled at the Upper Big Blue NRD Regarding the FY2015 Budget and Tax Request

The Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors have scheduled a Public Hearing for the FY2015 Budget on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., and a Special Public Hearing for the FY2015 Tax Request for Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.  Both of these hearings will be conducted at the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District office building located at 105 N. Lincoln Avenue, York, Nebraska.  The proposed budget for FY2015 continues to include safety measures for protecting District citizens and enhancing the delivery of quality services.  The public is welcome and encouraged to attend these Public Hearings.

The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District (NRD) protects lives, property and the future of this area through a wide-range of stewardship, management and educational programs—from flood control to groundwater monitoring, from irrigation management to outdoor recreation and more.  Activities and projects of the Upper Big Blue NRD are reviewed and approved by a locally elected Board of Directors.  The Upper Big Blue NRD is one of 23 Natural Resources Districts across the state.  For more information, visit or call (402) 362-6601.  

No Appetite for Politics on the Dinner Plate

Senator Mike Johanns

Federal diet recommendations are at risk of becoming the latest battleground for the Administration’s creeping environmental regulatory scheme. Every five years, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) come together to revise federal dietary recommendations, which are supposed to be based on the latest nutrition science. Rather than focusing solely on current nutrition and health advances to inform Americans of healthy food regimens, the discussions are skewing towards   so-called environmentally “sustainable” practices laid out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has seemed to go out of its way to be at odds with conventional agriculture. In other words, nutrition science and our producer’s voices may take a back seat to the Administration’s political agenda.

Lost in that discussion is the focus on the scientific nutritional values of different food options. This marks a significant expansion from the historical scope, which Congress intended to “contain nutritional and dietary information and guidelines,” as stated in the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990.

The joint USDA-HHS Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which is responsible for the updated guidelines, has established a “Food Safety and Sustainability” subcommittee, and while it remains unclear just how far the committee will go to push an environmental agenda, I question whether their recommendations will be rooted in the latest advances in nutrition and health science. In recent meetings, DGAC has focused discussions on environmentally sustainable diets, arguing that eating less meat will be better for the planet.  Committee members reportedly said that transitioning from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet should be encouraged in all food sectors. DGAC also discussed how marketing new plant-based diet recommendations as environmentally friendly may attract more people to adopt changes in their diet. This sort of costly guideline has no basis in nutrition, but it has major implications for farmers, ranchers and those who consume their products.

For years, conventional agriculture products have been deemed perfectly healthy by the federal agencies. Changing the focus based on policy ideas unrelated to nutrition science confuses the message regarding healthy diets with the Administration’s environmental agenda.

Improving dietary recommendations should not be a regulatory potluck, where every aspect of the President’s agenda has a seat at the table. In Nebraska, ag producers strive to produce safe and nutritious food while being good stewards of the  environment.  Their livelihoods depend on it. The Administration should stay within the scope of science-based nutrition advances when developing new diet recommendations, and save the political battles for other venues. Rest assured, I will continue to push for objective dietary guidelines that promote healthy eating habits from healthy sources, like Nebraska’s ag producers.

Young NE agricultural leaders attend Leadership Mission

Young leaders in agriculture attended Corn Congress in Washington, D.C. last week to learn more about U.S. agricultural policy, meet with policy leaders and take part in Corn Congress with corn grower leaders from across the country.

Each summer, corn grower leaders and staff from state and national corn associations gather in Washington D.C. for a series of action team and committee meetings, visits with their respective state’s Congressional delegation and the semi-annual Corn Congress.

The Nebraska Corn Board sponsored nine delegates to partake in the second annual Leadership Mission after being selected through an application process to attend the Corn Congress. Delegates consisted of young agricultural leaders from the LEAD program and FFA.

While in Washington, D.C., delegates had the opportunity to engage in meetings with Federal agencies, national agricultural cooperators and associations, engage in international trade policy discussions, participate in Congressional visits and network with industry leaders. They also had a tour with leadership mission delegates from Iowa and Ohio. As a group, they toured the Delmarva region and observed agriculture at Wye Angus, Arnold Vegetable Farms, cucumber harvest at Nagel Farm and Kenny Bros Grading Operation.

“The Corn Congress Leadership Mission was very insightful,” said Morgan Zumpfe, Nebraska Corn Board intern from Friend, Nebraska and past leadership mission participant. Zumpfe helped coordinate the mission and attended the event with the delegation in Washington, D.C. “Visiting a cucumber harvest, getting to question the people who determine our laws, and experiencing corn industry leaders from all states working cooperatively helped us realize how complex agriculture is.”

This year’s delegates were: Keith Borer, Elgin, Nebraska; Ryan Broderson,  Randolph, Nebraska; Nicole D’Angelo, Auburn, California; Kerry McPheeters, Gothenburg, Nebraska; Jolene Messinger, McCook, Nebraska; Andy Method, Decatur, Nebraska; Joel Miller, Hampton, Nebraska; Glen Ready, Scribner, Nebraska; and Courtney Spilker, Beatrice, Nebraska.

“I am very glad to have been given this opportunity. As someone interested in Ag Policy and in advocating for our farmers, this opportunity has allowed me to network with some of the key policy makers and advocates in the ag industry,” said Glen Ready, UNL student and leadership mission delegate from Scribner. “Nebraska Corn Board and the National Corn Growers Association have been an integral part in giving me the opportunities, and I am incredibly grateful that I have had the chance to develop skills to better serve our state.”

Upon returning from the tour, delegates will submit a report of activities to the Board and submit a blog post to be featured on the Nebraska Corn Kernels blog.

“The Corn Congress trip broadened my understanding of the ground roots process that the national and state corn growers and Nebraska Corn Board has available for Nebraska producers to have a voice in Washington,” said Keith Borer, LEAD participant from Elgin. “The trip helped me understand the many parts of the U.S. government and all of the different forces pulling our elected representatives in different directions. We must be active voices to our representatives to ensure they represent Nebraska’s farm economy well.”


During the 43rd Annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) held earlier this month, the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC) presented its highest honor, the NAYI Award of Merit, to Dr. Richard Fleming.

“Each year the NAYI Award of Merit is presented to an individual who has shown a strong commitment to youth, along with a dedication to the betterment of the agricultural industry,” said NAYC Adviser Christin Kamm.  “This year, Dr. Fleming joins a long list of Award of Merit recipients who have impacted the lives of Nebraska’s youth.”

Dr. Fleming has been with the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) for 52 years.  He began his employment at UNL as an assistant extension editor in the Department of Information.  Since then, he has served in both faculty and administrative appointments.  Upon his retirement in 2006, Dr. Fleming became a professor emeritus with UNL’s Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications.

As Professor Emeritus, Dr. Fleming has continued to serve UNL students as the coordinator of the agricultural journalism program as well as the adviser for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) chapter.

According to one of his previous advisees, “Dr. Fleming had a genuine interest in making sure that each one of the students he advised succeeded.  He went above and beyond the role of adviser and took time out of his schedule to call and check in on our academic progress and to encourage us to continue to pursue our goals and dreams.  Dr. Fleming is very deserving of the NAYI Award of Merit.”

Others that nominated Dr. Fleming said, “Professor Fleming has focused on providing students a first-rate experience at the University of Nebraska –Lincoln and through his long career has touched countless lives.”

Fleming resides in Lincoln with his wife Connie.  They have two grown children.

NAYI is an annual five-day summer Institute where high school juniors and seniors gather in Lincoln to discuss agricultural policy, listen to motivational speakers, and learn more about careers in agriculture.  The Institute is under the direction of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and is planned by 21 college aged men and women chosen by NDA to serve on the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC).  This year’s NAYI had the largest number of delegates in the 43‑year history of the program. 

Keep Pigs Comfortable during High Heat and Humidity

As the temperature and humidity level rise outside, pork producers need to address animal comfort indoors. Iowa Pork Industry Center interim director Jay Harmon said it’s the combination of air movement and wetting that help pigs. Wetting pigs is imperative, because pigs don’t truly sweat like humans. Wetting is like giving them some artificial sweat.

“During high temperatures, pigs can’t lose much heat from their skin because their skin is nearly the same temperature as the air around them,” he said. “Evaporation becomes very important because it’s the evaporation that cools pigs, not the wetting, and using air movement helps accelerate the evaporation so cooling is more effective.”

Harmon, who also is a professor and livestock housing specialist in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, said that if cycle times on sprinklers are changed, they should shorten the time between sprinkling.

“It doesn’t take any longer to wet a pig in the heat versus at cooler temperatures, but the goal is to let pigs dry between cycles and then rewet,” he said. “This allows evaporation to take place.”

In addition, maintaining summer ventilation levels in buildings is very important. Harmon reminds producers to check fan belts and maintain fans on a regular basis.

Two online sources of information offer more information on swine housing environment and heat stress indices: The Environment in Swine Housing by Steve Hoff of Iowa State and Livestock Industry Facilities and Environment: Heat Stress Indices for Livestock by Harmon and Hongwei Xin, also of Iowa State.

Schmacon Debuts at the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters

Move over bacon, there's a new crispy, smoky meat at the Iowa State Fair and it’s called Schmacon. Bold and beefy, Schmacon is a fresh take on bacon. The smoked and cured glazed beef slices are made from whole muscle beef and a proprietary spice blend and cure recipe to create a unique sweet and smoky flavor.

The Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters has added Schmacon™ to its all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast plate for the 2014 Iowa State Fair.

“We are always looking for new and unique beef items,” says John Mortimer, manager of the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters. “The combination of beef’s popularity and the flavor and texture that’s so well loved in bacon makes Schmacon™ the perfect fit for our breakfast menu.”

Created by Schmaltz Products, LLC, an Illinois company, Schmacon is a new beef alternative to bacon that touts being lower in calories, fat and sodium than most pork bacons. It is currently available for restaurants to purchase. The company plans to have it in grocery stores by the end of 2014. Fareway Stores have indicated they will sell the new beef product when it becomes available.

Breakfast is served daily at the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters from 7am until 10am. Patrons will have two choices for breakfast – all-you-can-eat pancakes, scrambled eggs and Schmacon™ or biscuits and gravy served over country-fried steak. The lunch and dinner menu is available from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

The Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters boasts an exclusively all-beef menu including Prime Rib dinners, roast beef sandwiches, ribeye steak sandwiches, taco salads, third-pound hamburgers and is the home of the original Hot Beef Sundae.

Fairgoers will get the big scoop on farming at Iowa Food & Family Project exhibit

A must-see sculpture created from nearly 50 tons of sand will provide the ideal backdrop to a one-of-a-kind celebration of farming hosted by the Iowa Food & Family Project (IFFP) during the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 7-17 in Des Moines.

The exhibit, “What farmers grow makes Iowa go,” will be located in the south atrium of the Varied Industries Building. It will feature the work of Greg and Brandi Glenn, 26-year veterans of sand sculpting and co-owners of Sandscapes®.

The work of art will measure 20-by-24 feet and stand more than 12 feet tall. It will showcase how food is grown and where it’s enjoyed. Included in the sculpture will be farms and farm fields, grocery stores, restaurants and the all-important kitchen table.

“Iowa Girl Eats” Kristin Porter, host of the IFFP’s “Join My Journey,” will make appearances throughout the fair at the exhibit. She’ll greet and meet fairgoers and autograph the popular “Let’s Cook” cookbook published this summer by the IFFP. “The fair is one of my favorite Iowa summer traditions and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone as they stop by the exhibit,” said Porter.

“From the ground up, farmers are dedicated to healthy families, communities and the environment,” said Chris Freland, Industry Relations Manager, Midwest Dairy Association. “The exhibit and related activities will reaffirm the dedication of farmers to growing safe, wholesome food, generating jobs and income that build strong communities and safeguarding air, soil and water quality.

Fairgoers can visit with farmers about food production and participate in numerous activities. Children will be invited to participate in a coloring and illustration contest and receive a complimentary ice cream cone voucher redeemable at McDonald’s. People of all ages can test their food and farming IQ for the chance to win unique prizes.

Also, the Iowa FFP will join the Iowa State Fair and U.S. Department of Agriculture in sending fairgoers on a scavenger hunt throughout the fairgrounds to learn more about agriculture. “AgVenture” trail maps will be available at information stands located throughout the fair. Once completed, they can be redeemed for a special gift at the IFFP booth.

“What farmers grow makes Iowa go” is powered by the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Farm Credit Services of America, Midwest Dairy, Machine Shed Restaurant, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Iowa Corn, McDonald’s, Iowa Food Bank Association, Iowa Grocery Industry Association and United Soybean Board.

Thirteen Candidates to Compete for 61st Iowa State Dairy Princess

Thirteen young women involved with the Iowa dairy community will compete to win the title of 61st Iowa State Dairy Princess. The contest will begin on August 5 in Ankeny, with the coronation on Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m. at the Multi-Media Center of the Cattle Barn at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines. The princess and her alternate are charged with helping consumers learn more about dairy products and the farm families who tend the farms and cows that provide them.

The contestants are:
    Kathryn Appler, 19, daughter of Kent and Laura Appler of Clermont, representing the Iowa Brown Swiss Association;
    Shelby Bodley, 19, daughter of Jamie and Elaine Bodley of Waukon, representing Allamakee County;
    Mindy Burkle, 17, daughter of Dennis and Sherry Burkle of Earlville, representing Delaware County;
    Clare Cook, 19, daughter of Troy and LeeAnn Cook and Ann Denlinger of Bellevue, representing Clinton and Jackson Counties;
    Rachel Demmer, 19, daughter of Rick and Kathy Demmer of Peosta, representing the Iowa Holstein Association;
    Mary Ann Fober, 18, daughter of Brad and Marie Fober of Sumner, representing Chickasaw County;
    Amanda Hoefler, 18, daughter of Brian and Eileen Hoefler of New Vienna, representing Dubuque County;
    Catheryn Lang, 19, daughter of James and Theresa Lang of McGregor, representing the Iowa Milking Shorthorn Society;
    Dayle Lantzky, 18, daughter of Brian and Heidi Lantzky of Hawkeye, representing Fayette County;
    Mikayla Lien, 19, daughter of Gary and Patty Lien of Calmar, representing Winneshiek County;
    Kayla Lueder, 19, daughter or Kevin and Sue Lueder of West Union, representing the Iowa Guernsey Breeders Association;
    Rylie Pflughaupt, 21, daughter of Jordan and Traci Pflughaupt of Vinton, representing the Iowa Jersey Cattle Club; and
    Hailey Schmitz, 16, daughter of Paula and Thomas Geise and Bernard Schmitz of Plainfield, representing Bremer County.

The winners are chosen on the basis of their knowledge and enthusiasm about dairy, personality and communication ability. Both the Princess and Alternate will receive scholarships from Midwest Dairy Association, which sponsors the contest and princess program on behalf of Iowa’s dairy farmers.

The outgoing Iowa Dairy Princess is Mariah Schmitt, daughter of Carl and Terry Schmitt of Fort Atkinson, and the Alternate Princess is Celina Young, daughter of Jill Grabau and Greg Young of Waverly. Their reigns will be completed at the end of the Iowa State Fair, and the new Princess and Alternate will begin their duties on September 1.

Resilient Ag Conference Now Open to Crop Advisers and Farmers

Upper Midwest crop advisers can earn continuing education credits for CCA certification through in-person and online attendance at the Resilient Agriculture Conference, Aug. 5-7, in Ames, Iowa. Farmers and crop advisers throughout the upper Midwest are encouraged to attend in person or online, as most conference sessions will be live-streamed, with the exception of the field activities.

The conference is co-sponsored by the USDA’s Sustainable Corn Project, which is working to identify ways to build greater resiliency into corn-based cropping systems, in response to the effects of climate change in the Corn Belt, such as a longer growing season and extreme rain events. Scientists with the Sustainable Corn Project have been collecting and analyzing data from 35 field sites in eight states, studying the results of various practices such as drainage water management, cover crops, and much more.

At the conference, the scientists will share their findings and a panel of farmers from four different states in the Midwest will talk about what they have done on their farms to build resiliency into their operations.

“With weather variability like we have had these past two years, it’s difficult to know when it’s time to plant corn. This and other changes we’re experiencing in climate patterns make it necessary to adopt management practices that provide the best results in all years,” said Garry Niemeyer, a farmer in Illinois and past president of the National Corn Growers Association. “A farmer concerned with risk management for his operation should consider attending the Resilient Agriculture conference, where all of these issues and many more will be addressed.”

During the conference, farmers also will participate in hands-on activities in the field to increase their understanding of the practices being researched and to learn how to use new decision support tools.

Registration, other conference details and information about the Sustainable Corn Project can be found at Registration is open through July 28.

RFA to DOE: Update Your E85 Data!

Friday, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) pointed to the vast under-representation of E85 stations in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) database and implored DOE to accurately account for all stations selling E85. RFA uncovered nearly 1,000 missing stations as it compared the 2,391 stations found in the database on Tuesday to the 3,349 retail locations found on the “crowd-sourced” website

“The AFDC database is way off in its reporting of E85 stations, and this is negatively influencing discussions over the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements. It isn’t just a handful of stations that are missing; we are talking about the exclusion of hundreds of stations nationwide. In fact, they missed 40 percent of the stations that are included in other databases! That’s simply unacceptable,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.

In a letter sent to the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the RFA illustrates the central role of the database in crucial policy decisions, stating, “EPA’s mistaken belief that existing E85 refueling infrastructure is insufficient to distribute the 2014 RFS volumes specified in the statute is based in large part on information from the AFDC. As a result, the Agency wrongly proposed to reduce required renewable fuel blending volumes in 2014.”

Dinneen stressed the urgent need for updated, accurate information as the EPA decides the final 2014 RFS blending requirements. He noted, “Accurate data is the foundation of well informed decisions. The so-called ‘blend wall’ — the level at which oil companies claim they can no longer blend ethanol into gasoline — can be scaled through increased use of E85. Therefore, an accurate accounting of E85 stations distributing low-cost, renewable fuels is vital to informing the debate over RFS implementation.”

The letter concludes, “The correctness and completeness of the database has never been more important, as crucial policy and regulatory decisions are being informed by the information. Inadequate data leads to ill-informed policy decisions, which can have significant consequences for affected industries.

Insecticides Similar to Nicotine Widespread in Midwest

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

Insecticides similar to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, were found commonly in streams throughout the Midwest, according to a new USGS study. This is the first broad-scale investigation of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Midwestern United States and one of the first conducted within the United States.

Effective in killing a broad range of insect pests, use of neonicotinoid insecticides has dramatically increased over the last decade across the United States, particularly in the Midwest.  The use of clothianidin, one of the chemicals studied, on corn in Iowa alone has almost doubled between 2011 and 2013.

 “Neonicotinoid insecticides are receiving increased attention by scientists as we explore the possible links between pesticides, nutrition, infectious disease, and other stress factors in the environment possibly associated with honeybee dieoffs.” said USGS scientist Kathryn Kuivila, the research team leader.

Neonicotinoid insecticides dissolve easily in water, but do not break down quickly in the environment. This means they are likely to be transported away in runoff from the fields where they were first applied to nearby surface water and groundwater bodies.

In all, nine rivers and streams, including the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, were included in the study. The rivers studied drain most of Iowa, and parts of Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These states have the highest use of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Nation, and the chemicals were found in all nine rivers and streams.

Of the three most often found chemicals, clothianidin was the most commonly detected, showing up in 75 percent of the sites and at the highest concentration. Thiamethoxam was found at 47 percent of the sites, and imidacloprid was found at 23 percent. Two, acetamiprid and dinotefuran, were only found once, and the sixth, thiacloprid, was never detected.

Instead of being sprayed on growing or full-grown crops, neonicotinoids can be applied to the seed before planting. The use of treated seeds in the United States has increased to the point where most corn and soybeans planted in the United States have a seed treatment (i.e., coating), many of which include neonicotinoid insecticides.

“We noticed higher levels of these insecticides after rain storms during crop planting, which is similar to the spring flushing of herbicides that has been documented in Midwestern U.S. rivers and streams,” said USGS scientist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author. “In fact, the insecticides also were detected prior to their first use during the growing season, which indicates that they can persist from applications in prior years.”

One of the chemicals, imidacloprid, is known to be toxic to aquatic organisms at 10-100 nanograms per liter if the aquatic organisms are exposed to it for an extended period of time. Clothianidin and thiamethoxam behave similarly to imidacloprid, and are therefore anticipated to have similar effect levels. Maximum concentrations of clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid measured in this study were 257, 185, and 42.7 nanograms per liter, respectively.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified all detected neonicotinoids as not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

The paper, “Widespread occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in streams in a high corn and soybean producing region, USA” and has been published in Environmental Pollution.

Rabobank Pork Quarterly Report: “Where to source pork?” is the question 

The global pork market is moving into record territory in Q3. Especially in the exporting countries impacted by the porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv), hog and pork prices will continue to break records in the remainder of Q3 and into Q4. In the non-impacted countries, this, plus the high prices for beef and poultry, will support bullish hog and pork prices. However, in the European Union (EU) and China, markets will improve seasonally but will not reach the highs experienced in other countries.
“In the US, Mexico, Japan and South Korea, the countries that have been affected by PEDv, the key question will be ’Where to source pork?’” said Rabobank analyst, Albert Vernooij. “In these countries the supply drops, as well as declining feed costs, are expected to push farmer’s profitability into record territories. In contrast, processors’ margins will be pressured due to the strong competition for hogs.”

While the US is mitigating the effects of PEDv on supply and prices with rising hog weights (recently up nearly 5% on last year), the growing scarcity of pork globally is pushing import prices up, impacting Mexico, South Korea and Japan in particular. In Mexico, pork meat prices have increased around 25% year on year and have the potential to increase another 5%. Also feeling a significant impact is Japan, where imports are relatively expensive compared to other importing countries due to the low value of the yen. With beef supply also under pressure, Japanese processors will find it challenging to source sufficient meat supplies.

For China, the prospects are turning positive with hog prices forecast to recover after a very difficult 1H 2014. Chinese pork prices are expected to stay at the current low level in most of Q3 2014, but will likely show a strong rebound from the end of Q3 onwards driven by the seasonal uplift in demand and lower supply after the sow culling of the last months. This will be supported by the limited global supply, which will increase competition for imports and support higher prices.  The key challenge for hog farmers to recover part of their losses is to limit herd expansion. Many smaller farmers will face shakeouts in 2014, which will advance market consolidation.

Being the only region with enough pork available at reasonable prices, prospects for EU exports to Asia and the US remain positive.  However, this will not be sufficient to totally compensate the lower export to central and eastern European countries. The Russian import ban remains a deciding factor for price levels. In addition the importance of exports to central and eastern European countries for the total carcass valuation, in combination with the high value of the Euro will limit the seasonal increase of EU pork prices. However, if pork trade between EU and Russia partially or totally reopens, it would give a positive boost to EU pork prices.

“With PEDv continuing to impact supply into 2015, prospects for the global pork industry remain positive,” concluded Vernooij. “The main wildcard is keeping supply discipline, as many farmers will be tempted to expand production driven by the low feed costs and high profitability.”

Brazil Could See Record Harvest

Brazilian farmers could produce a record soy harvest in the 2014-2015 growing season as they plant more fields with the crop, consultancy Safras & Mercado said Friday.

The area planted with soy should grow 4% from the 2014-2014 season to 31.2 million hectares (77.1 million acres). With that increase and with good weather, the soy crop for the season should increase by 9% to 94.5 million metric tons of the beans, Safras said. That would be the fifth-consecutive production record for Brazilian soy farmers.

Brazil has been the world's second-biggest soy producer in recent years, after the U.S.

More farmers are choosing to plant soy instead of corn because the price for soy is better, said Safras analyst Luiz Fernando Roque.

The area planted with corn for the summer crop will decline 6.1% to 5.1 million hectares, but greater productivity per hectare should boost the size of that harvest by 8% to 28.8 million tons, Safras said.

Because of Brazil's year-round warm weather, farmers in the country can plant two crops of corn. Safras didn't give a forecast for the size of the second corn harvest for the 2014-2015 season.

Cold Winter Drives Syngenta Profits Lower

Syngenta blamed cold weather in North America for a 1% drop in profit during the first half of the year. The Swiss company, which is the world's largest manufacturer of agricultural chemicals, said unseasonably cold weather delivered two blows to revenue by both delaying planting and reducing the need for herbicides.

Growth in other markets around the globe were in keeping with the company's target of 6% for the full year.

The company says revenue in North America fell 6% as cold weather pushed back the start of the growing season. For the six months ended June 30, Syngenta said net income fell to $1.39 billion from $1.41 billion a year earlier.

Syngenta reported second-quarter sales of $3.83 billion, almost unchanged from $3.820 billion a year earlier. First-half sales rose 1.4% to $8.51 billion.

Reported sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East grew 1%, while revenue in Latin America climbed 11%. Sales in the Asian-Pacific region rose 1%.

Farm Aid Heads to North Carolina Sept. 13

Farm Aid announced today that its annual benefit festival will take place on Sept. 13 at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C., with tickets on sale to the public on Aug. 1.

"In North Carolina and across the Southeast, family farmers have struggled to stay on the land, but they have also pioneered new roads to economic sustainability. This region knows the value of its farmers and offers increasing opportunities for new farmers to build a strong regional food system," said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. "On the Farm Aid stage Sept. 13, we'll celebrate family farmers and the healthy communities they're growing for all of us."

Farm Aid 2014 will feature Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews -- with Tim Reynolds -- as well as Jack White, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Jamey Johnson, North Carolina's own Delta Rae, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Carlene Carter, Pegi Young & The Survivors, and Insects vs Robots.

Farm Aid 2014, an all-day music and food festival, will feature a unique lineup of artists and genres and will offer concert-goers family farm-identified, local and organic foods with its own HOMEGROWN Concessions. In Farm Aid's HOMEGROWN Village, attendees will have the chance to meet farmers, engage in hands-on food and farm activities, and learn about the ways family farmers are enriching our soil, protecting our water and growing our economy, in addition to bringing us good food for good health.

"There is a fair-like feeling when you go to Farm Aid. All day long, people are performing onstage and food from family farmers is being served," said Farm Aid board member John Mellencamp. "It's a great occasion for families to come listen to great music and teach their children about where their food comes from. We're proud to bring Farm Aid 2014 to North Carolina for the first time to feature the family farmers whose hard work and innovations are essential for all of us."

Farm Aid has long collaborated with and supported organizations and organizers in the Southeast who are keeping family farmers on the land and growing the Good Food Movement. Many of the region's farmers have been served by Farm Aid's Resource Network and hotline. Over the past 29 years, Farm Aid has made grants of more than $3.6 million in the Southeast region -- more than half a million in North Carolina alone -- supporting programs that help farmers thrive, grow new markets for farmers and create much-needed change in the food system so that everyone benefits.

Tickets for Farm Aid 2014 will go on sale Aug. 1, at 10 a.m. EDT. Tickets will be available at, the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre box office, all Ticketmaster outlets or by phone at 800-745-3000. A limited number of pre-sale tickets will be sold beginning at 12 p.m. EDT on July 25 at

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