Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday July 8 Ag News

Johanns Continues Efforts to Rein in EPA

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.) today continued his efforts to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overreach by cosponsoring an amendment to legislation currently before the Senate.  The amendment, identical to a bill Johanns previously cosponsored, prevents EPA from finalizing a proposed rule that would ignore limits established by Congress regarding federal regulation of bodies of water in the United States.

“This Administration’s attempt to regulate every corner of America knows no bounds, and EPA is the chief offender,” Johanns said. “Farmers and ranchers are rightly concerned about the uncertainty this proposed rule would bring to farm ponds and field ditches. Our legislation would provide much-needed clarity that the agency must follow Congressional intent and back off from their latest power grab.”

If finalized, the rule would expand federal regulatory authority beyond current jurisdiction to include water that has even the remotest connection to traditionally navigable waters, such as farm ponds, ditches, streambeds, and even low lying areas that may be dry for much of the year.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Pastures that received enough rain this past spring look in pretty good shape.  It might be wise to find the best way to take advantage of this blessing.

               When you get abundant rain and warm, sunny weather, your pastures may produce more growth than needed for your current summer stocking rates.  Options to use the extra growth are needed.

               Sometimes we cut and bale extra growth as hay.  This is a good plan if you need the hay.  Other times we simply let cattle graze what they want and leave the excess in the field.  Rebuilding surface litter that was burned up by recent drought can be healthy for the pasture.

               How about another option?  Try stockpiling, or saving some extra pasture growth for grazing during the winter.

               There are lots of advantages to winter grazing.  Less hay needs to be fed next winter.  Thus, you won’t need to make as much hay this summer.  And stockpiling in summer and fall followed by winter grazing is one of the best methods to improve the health of your grasslands, especially native range.

               If you have some run down, poor condition, low producing pastures, these often are the best candidates for winter grazing.  Grasses that need invigorating will be strengthened by not grazing them during the growing season.  Your winter grazing will clean off much of the frozen growth during winter.  Cattle even eat some plants like yucca and ragweed during winter that they won't hardly touch during summer.  Sure, you'll need some protein supplements, but cattle do a pretty good job of picking high quality plant parts to eat while winter grazing.

               Extra growth is an opportunity to both reduce winter feed costs and improve pasture condition.  Get it by stockpiling extra summer growth for winter grazing.

Nebraska Aims to Expand Livestock Industry after “Golden Triangle” Study

A recent study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln showcases that Nebraska farmers and ranchers may not be operating to their full potential. Although agriculture is still the primary driver of the state’s economy, the study shows that there is room for growth.

The study, which was headed by Bruce Johnson, professor emeritus in UNL's Department of Agricultural Economics, and Eric Thompson, UNL economics professor, aimed to get a current baseline for the state’s agriculture economy as well as provide several scenarios for expansion. The study, titled “Nebraska Animal Agriculture: Economic Impacts of Cattle, Hog, Dairy, and Poultry Industry Changes,” was jointly funded by the Nebraska corn and soybean checkoffs.

Kelly Brunkhorst, transitioning executive director for the Nebraska Corn Board said the idea for this project stemmed from concerns about Nebraska’s livestock industry.  “As we spoke with our counterparts in surrounding states, we realized that outside of our beef industry, we were not witnessing the expansion of livestock they were developing.  We felt we need to detail the advantages that Nebraskans could be enjoying if they understood the economics.”

The study, nicknamed the “Golden Triangle Study,” highlights the fact that Nebraska is well positioned for growth due to the strong interactive nature of its crop, livestock and biofuels industries, which each make up points of the Golden Triangle.

The results of the report were highlighted with pungent potential, but clearly presented the reality that now is the time for Nebraska to act. However, expansion doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of those in the agriculture industry. Livestock expansion in the state will depend heavily on community stakeholders at the local levels. The scenarios depicted in the report have the potential to affect jobs, earnings, communities and households, as well as an enhanced quality of life for all Nebraskans with the value-added economic activity.

The authors of the study note that this report analyzes livestock expansion scenarios, providing a set of economic performance measures to sub-state regions and county-level economies. These measures will allow economic considerations to be incorporated into stakeholders' decision-making processes.

While nearby states have seen significant growth in livestock production in the last 10 years, Nebraska has not kept pace, particularly in the cases of hog and dairy production. One of the key insights of the study lies in the fact that Nebraska still exports a high percentage of its crops – more than one-third of its corn crop, more than 80 percent of its soybean crop, and more than one-half its distiller’s grains production. More value for these products would be captured if they flowed into in-state, value-added processing.

In light of these trends, Johnson's team analyzed several livestock-expansion scenarios that industry leaders consider quite possible, taking into account the economic multiplier effects that ripple through the state's economy from agriculture, especially in rural areas.

The report envisions the following expansion scenarios and estimates both direct and indirect economic impacts.
-    A 25 percent expansion of hog finishing volume in Nebraska; scattered across three regions of the state and 15 counties. About 270 on-farm units, each with a 2,400-head capacity and a twice-per-year turnover rate added.  Total economic impact: 2,676 new jobs; $6.1 million in local tax revenue.
-    More than a doubling of the state's current dairy herd numbers of 60,000, divided across three regions of the state and 18 counties. A total of 24 new dairy operations, each with a 2,500-head capacity and two new milk processing plants added.  Total economic impact: 3,128 new jobs; nearly $6.2 million in local tax revenue.
-    A 10 percent increase in fed cattle production in the state, with expansion distributed geographically in similar proportion to current patterns of production.  Economic impact: 11,661 new jobs; $16 million in local tax revenue. 
-    A tripling of poultry (egg-laying) production in the state.  Economic impact: 1,640 new jobs; $9.8 million in local tax revenue.

Nebraska Soybean Board to Hold Election for Director Seat in District 7

Election ballots for the Nebraska Soybean Board District 7 will be mailed on Friday, July 11, 2014, to soybean producers in that district. Producers eligible to vote in the election must produce soybeans, be a resident of the district and pay the soybean checkoff. Qualified producers who do not receive a ballot by July 18, 2014, can call 402-466-1969 to request a ballot. The voting producer must sign and print their full name and home town on the return ballot envelope for their vote to be valid. Ballots must be post marked by July 31, 2014.

The elected directors will serve a three-year term beginning October 1, 2014 and ending September 30, 2017. NSB Directors are reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out board business.

District 5: Counties of Cass, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee and Richardson.
There will be no election held in District 5 as Candidate Daryl Obermeyer of Brownville, NE, Nemaha County; ran unopposed; therefore he becomes the District 5 Director.

Ballots will be mailed to the following counties in District 7: Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin, Hall, Kearney, Nuckolls and Webster.
·  Keith Keller - Harvard, NE - Clay County
·  Bill Miller - Upland, NE - Franklin County
·  Ron Pavelka - Glenvil, NE - Adams County

Election results will be announced in August. 

Public Info Meetings on Livestock Disaster Programs

If you are a producer that rented or owned pasture in 2012 or 2013 and you had livestock that grazed or intended to graze the pasture, you should plan to attend FSA's Livestock Disaster Informational Meeting on July 15.

There will be two public informational meetings on July 15 with one meeting in Fullerton and the other in Central City. The meeting in Fullerton will be at 10 a.m. at First Bank on Broadway Avenue. The meeting in Central City will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Venture Center/Chamber of Commerce Building located downtown at the intersection of Hwy 14 and Hwy 30.

The Livestock Forage Program (LFP) provides livestock producers with benefits for 2012 and 2013 grazing losses caused by the drought. The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides livestock producers with benefits for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by an adverse weather event.

Sign-up for these livestock disaster programs is currently underway. Appointments are needed and can be scheduled by calling the Merrick County FSA office at 308-946-3035 or by calling the Nance County FSA office on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 308-536-2456.

Questions? Please contact Kim Benner, county executive director, at (308) 946-3035, kim.benner@ne.usda.gov or for farm loans, please contact Donna Seitz, farm loan manager, at (308) 395-8586, donna.seitz@ne.usda.gov for Merrick County or James Bauermeister, farm loan manager, at (402) 564-0506, james.bauermeister@ne.usda.gov for Nance County.

Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program Announce Scholarship Winners

Recipients of Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Scholarships at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been named for the 2014-15 academic year.

Scholarships are awarded in two categories – an undergraduate renewable award of up to $10,000 per year as well as one-time scholarships up to $4,000.

These scholarships recognize students with high capacity to bring entrepreneurial talent to the marketplace, specifically focused on business development in the wide domain of agriculture.

Undergraduate one-time award winners, class, hometown and major include: Katrina Santiago, freshman, Miami, Fla., animal science; Taylor Buckley, freshman, Franktown, Colo., animal science; Jon Janhke, sophomore, Bancroft, mechanized ag systems; Jared McKeever, junior, Wymore, animal science; Larissa Wach, senior, Wauneta, agribusiness; Emily Bledsoe, freshman, Blair, agribusiness; Matt Treadway, junior, Ashland, mechanized ag systems; Andrew Bader, freshman, Gresham, agribusiness; Madeline Cass, sophomore, Lincoln, applied science; Kelsey Foster, sophomore, Berwyn, horticulture; Reece Gronewold, freshman, Pickrell, applied science; Tyler Haun, sophomore, Spencer, agricultural education; Jamie Mashino, freshman, Spencer, agribusiness; Jessica Schmidt, freshman, Gothenburg, Pre-Vet; Zach Settje, freshman, Raymond, animal science; Mathew Grimes, freshman, Raymond, grazing livestock systems; Melinda Knuth, Junior, Hartford, S.D., horticulture.

Students receiving renewable scholarships include: Jeff Hornung, sophomore, Davey, agribusiness; Sam Morse, freshman, Columbus, agronomy; Curtis Wetovick, junior, Fullerton, animal science; Davis Behle, sophomore, Kearney, agribusiness; Haley Bledsoe, sophomore, Blair, animal science; Joe Duba, senior, Wilbur, agronomy; Steven Fish, junior, Imperial, agribusiness; Lukas Fricke, junior, Ulysses, animal science; Doug Grotrian, senior, Johnson, agronomy; Haley Harthoorn, senior, Ainsworth, agribusiness; Spencer Hartman, sophomore, Imperial, agribusiness; Jared Knobbe, junior, Imperial, agribusiness; Logan Peters, junior, Pender, animal science; Travis Schiefelbein, junior, Kimball, Minn., animal science; Rachel Stevens, senior, Fall City, horticulture; Dylan Tegtmeier, junior, Malcolm, wildlife biology; Erich Vogel, sophomore, Hastings, biochemistry.

Established in 2010 by a gift from the Paul and Virginia Engler Foundation, the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program has grown to involve more than 100 students at the university.

The program offers an academic minor focused on business concept development, significant opportunities to develop professional business skills outside the classroom, relationship building, leadership and service opportunities as well as the support for international experiences focused on entrepreneurship and enterprise creation.

More information can be found at engler.unl.edu or by contacting Tom Field, Director of the program at engler@unl.edu. The deadline for scholarship applications for the 2015-16 academic year is Feb. 15, 2015 and the application can be accessed at engler.unl.edu.

Robin Coulter Lapaseotes Memorial Scholarship Established

The Robin Coulter Lapaseotes Memorial Scholarship for Agricultural Entrepreneurship Students has been established in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

A gift of $120,000 was made by the family and friends of Robin Coulter Lapaseotes, a rancher, community leader and entrepreneur from Bridgeport. Coulter Lapaseotes was killed in an automobile accident in February 2014.

Two awards of $6,000 will be awarded annually to recipients who are enrolled in majors in CASNR at UNL, have a declared minor in the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, and are committed to pursuing an entrepreneurial career in agriculture following graduation.

A former advisory board member for the Engler Program, Coulter Lapaseotes was a force of enthusiasm and vision for young women desiring to build businesses in agriculture and rural communities.

The inaugural recipients of the award are Amber Burenheide of Howells and Kolin Scheele of Odel.

Burenheide is a junior who characterizes herself as "a small town girl trying to make a difference in a big way."  A former state FFA officer, Burenheide has grown her business, ABChicken, to the point of producing and processing more than 1,500 farm fresh birds. She also has developed markets for poultry by-products to improve business margins. She points to the bumps in the road as the lessons that help her learn and grow the enterprise, "we all have the choice to get up after we fall down and keep going – entrepreneurship comes from inside you!"

Scheele, a junior, recognizes the importance of leadership in business - "confidence and self-assurance come from getting others excited about the opportunity." He also is active in the Nebraska Beef Scholars program and as co-chairman of the Collegiate Cattlemen's Association. The 2011 state FFA beef proficiency award winner, Scheele seeks opportunities where risk and pressure are part of the equation as these factors "make me drive through difficulties and in the end accomplish what I never thought I could do."

Application for next year's award can be found at engler.unl.edu and the deadline for submission is Feb. 15, 2015.

Iowa State Crop Production Extension Moving to an Integrated Approach

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has created a new team and direction to advise farmers on corn and soybean production.

“We’re moving from the more traditional model of dedicated corn or soybean specialists to a new team of integrated cropping systems specialists who will focus on how corn and soybean production interacts with soil, weather, cover crops, crop rotation and management practices and support farmers’ use of data-driven technologies in precision agriculture,” said John Lawrence, director of agriculture and natural resources extension and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“We also are more closely integrating research, extension and teaching in these positions,” Lawrence said.

Helping to move along this change was a recent initiative by Iowa State President Steven Leath to help colleges and other units hire “high impact” faculty positions. A new integrated cropping system position with an emphasis on precision agriculture was part of that initiative and will be part of the new extension team in the Department of Agronomy.Sotirios Archontoulis

Sotirios Archontoulis (pronounced: So-tee-ree-os Ark-on-tool-is), who joined Iowa State in 2012 as a postdoctoral research associate in agronomy, began July 1 as an assistant professor responsible for leading the team. Archontoulis, a native of Greece, earned master’s and doctorate degrees in 2006 and 2011 from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Thessaly in Greece in 2004. His research interests include cropping systems modeling, agronomy, crop physiology and bioenergy.

“Dr. Archontoulis is an excellent addition to our faculty and will be a tremendous resource for Iowa agriculture. His strong background in cropping systems and cropping systems modeling will lead to asking better research questions, decision support tools for agriculture and enhanced extension education programs,” said Kendall Lamkey, chair of the agronomy department.

Another member of extension’s integrated cropping systems team is Mark Licht, who has served as the extension field agronomist for central Iowa since 2011. Licht moved to campus as part of the new team. He is an Iowa State agronomy alumnus who joined agronomy extension in 2006.

Both of the new positions will integrate research and extension and will be involved in teaching the next generation of agronomists, Lawrence said.

To fill the field agronomist position held by Licht, Mark Johnson, the extension field agronomist for north central Iowa, moved to the central region. Angie Rieck-Hinz, former coordinator for the Manure Applicator Certification Program, was recently appointed field agronomist for north central Iowa.

Roger Elmore, professor of agronomy and extension’s campus specialist for corn production since 2005, left Iowa State last January to take a faculty position at the University of Nebraska. 

Corn Board Candidate Rohwer of Iowa Places Priority on Scientific Development, Political Involvement

Bruce Rohwer has served his fellow farmers extensively at the state and national level. Now, he hopes to continue to do so in a new capacity as a member of the National Corn Growers Association Corn Board.

Bruce is running for election to the Corn Board in the hopes of bringing local perspective to the national level while working to find solutions that take the broader perspective into account. By focusing on the future, he believes the organization will best be able to work through evolving situations and effectively grow markets for corn at home and abroad.

"In addition to the technical work of helping develop new uses for corn or better traits for corn production, NCGA must continue the political path of involvement to defend and promote scientific advancement in corn farming," he said. "Whether that means influencing legislative or regulatory processes, we have to be involved beyond just everyday production."

As a member of the Corn Board, Bruce would bring with him a firm grasp of the policy development process and the ability to articulate agricultural issues to a wider audience. A strong advocate of constructive team dynamics, he would facilitate consensus-building discussions with a results-driven focus.

"I can see issues from a multitude of perspectives because of my experience," said Rohwer. "I have a diversified operation with livestock. So, I can see the livestock producer's point of view. I have also had the privilege of serving on the board of a company that manufactures food. This provided me with another different perspective on the point of view held by another important corn market. I have a grasp of our customers' perspective and knowledge of the political process in which we must be involved."

Rohwer operates a corn and soybean farm along with his son and daughter, in addition to owning a drainage tillage business. Along with a neighbor, he also runs a sow farrow-to-finish operation.

Currently, Rohwer serves as the custodian of records for the NCGA CornPAC and as a member of the NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team and the U.S. Grain Council's Middle East and Africa Action Team. At the state level, he is chair and past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and chair of the ICGA CornPAC.

The NCGA Corn Board election takes place during Corn Congress on July 16 in Washington.

Groups Want ‘Notice, Comment Period’ On Water Rule

A group of agricultural organizations, led by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, said an interpretive rule that accompanies a proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation is a legislative rule that must go through notice and comment rulemaking.

In comments submitted yesterday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 90 organizations said the interpretive rule “binds farmers and ranchers with new, specific legal obligations under the CWA. It modifies existing regulations interpreting the statutory term ‘normal farming, ranching and silviculture.’”

The interpretive rule would exempt 56 agricultural activities from a proposed rule that would expand the jurisdiction and authority of EPA and the Corps of Engineers over certain waters. Currently, based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, that includes “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. The proposed regulation would redefine “waters of the United States” to include, among other water bodies, intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation.

The groups said they are concerned that the interpretive rule, as written, will be construed by the agencies to require compliance with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practice standards if a covered activity is within a water of the United States – which the agencies will determine – and that a practice that fails to comply with the standards will be viewed as resulting in a discharge to a water of the United States, which requires a CWA permit.

The practical effect of the interpretive rule, said the groups, is to require compliance with NRCS standards when undertaking any normal farming, silviculture or ranching activity that federal officials consider to be located in a water of the United States.

NPPC previously requested that EPA and the Corps of Engineers withdraw the interpretive rule.

Registration Open for 2014 Cattle Industry Summer Conference

Bob McCan, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, said if cattlemen and women want a seat at the table and involvement in shaping the future of the beef industry, attendance at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference is a must. The conference features meetings of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Cattlemen's Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB), American National CattleWomen, Inc. and National Cattlemen's Foundation.

NCBA President Bob McCan said the event, hosted in Denver, Colo., July 30 - Aug. 2, gives cattlemen and women an opportunity to engage in NCBA’s grassroots policy process as well as network with producers from across the country. Cattle producers will discuss current issues as a group, work on programs and initiatives, and set the course the industry should take with various projects for the betterment of the beef cattle industry.

“The beef industry faces unique challenges year-round and most alarming is the burdensome, overreaching regulation we have seen from the Beltway,” said McCan. “In order to continue being successful, cattle producers must continue to be engaged in the policy process so that the beef industry remains viable and beef continues to be on kitchen tables around the country and the world.”

Registration for the 2014 Cattle Industry Summer Conference is now available online at www.beefusa.org. Pre-registration closes July 13, and attendees are encouraged to register in advance for the conference to take advantage of savings over the on-site registration prices. Registration prices will be higher on-site and tickets for events will be sold on a space available basis.

Ethanol Production Hit Record

Domestic ethanol production in June averaged 949,000 bpd, the highest monthly level of the year, the Energy Information Administration reported Tuesday. Production for the period profiled also included the highest weekly level ever recorded at 972,000 bpd for the week-ended June 13.

The agency revised higher its ethanol production forecast for this year to 932,000 bpd from 920,000 bpd in June's STEO, while also increasing its forecast for 2015 to 940,000 bpd from 935,000 bpd a month ago.

Biodiesel production, which averaged 89,000 bpd in 2013, is forecast to average 80,000 bpd this year, 1,000 bpd below month prior estimates. In 2015, biodiesel production is expected to average 84,000 bpd, unchanged from June's forecast.

EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook Highlights

    Unrest in Iraq put upward pressure on world oil prices last month, helping North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices reach their highest daily level of the year at just over $115/barrel (bbl) on June 19. North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices increased from a monthly average of $110/bbl in May to $112/bbl in June. This was the 12th consecutive month in which the average Brent crude oil spot price ranged between $107/bbl and $112/bbl. EIA projects Brent crude oil prices to average $110/bbl in 2014 and $105/bbl in 2015, $2/bbl and $3/bbl higher than projected in last month's STEO, respectively. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price discount to Brent is expected to average $9/bbl and $10/bbl in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

    During this year's April-through-September summer driving season, regular gasoline retail prices are forecast to average $3.66/gallon (gal), 8 cents higher than last year. Regular gasoline retail prices are projected to fall from an average of $3.68/gal during the second quarter to $3.64/gal during the third quarter as lower refinery margins more than offset higher crude oil prices. EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.54/gal in 2014 and $3.45/gal in 2015, compared with $3.51/gal in 2013.  EIA is predicting on-road diesel fuel prices to average $3.93/gal in 2014 and $3.88/gal in 2015, compared to the 2013 average of $3.92/gal.

    U.S. total crude oil production, which averaged 7.4 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2013, is expected to average 8.5 million bbl/d in 2014 and 9.3 million bbl/d in 2015. The 2015 forecast represents the highest annual average level of oil production since 1972. Natural gas plant liquids production increases from an average of 2.6 million bbl/d in 2013 to 3.0 million bbl/d in 2015. The growth in domestic production has contributed to a significant decline in petroleum imports. The share of total U.S. liquid fuels consumption met by net imports fell from 60% in 2005 to an average of 33% in 2013. EIA expects the net import share to decline to 22% in 2015, which would be the lowest level since 1970.

    Natural gas working inventories on June 27 totaled 1.93 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), 0.67 Tcf (26%) below the level at the same time a year ago and 0.79 Tcf (29%) below the previous five-year average (2009-13). Projected natural gas working inventories reach 3.43 Tcf at the end of October, 0.38 Tcf below the level at the same time last year. EIA expects that the Henry Hub natural gas spot price, which averaged $3.73 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2013, will average $4.77/MMBtu in 2014 and $4.50/MMBtu in 2015.

Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Shell Earn “F” Grades in Consumer Choice Report Card

Meijer, Thorntons, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip and Other Retail Chains Earn High Marks for Offering Lower Cost, Higher Performance, Renewable Alternatives to Regular Gasoline

A new “Consumer Choice Report Card” released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) grades some of the largest, most well-known retail gasoline chains based on whether they are providing consumers with alternatives to regular gasoline that cost less, reduce pollution and are higher octane for better engine performance. The “Big Five” oil companies all scored at the bottom of the list — with fewer than 1 percent of stations offering American made, renewable alternatives like E85 or E15 — while a number of major independent retail chains received “A+” grades, with more than 25 percent of their stations offering E85 or E15.

“E85 and E15 are made with American renewable fuel that is better for your engine and your wallet, not to mention our environment and our economy, but not enough consumers have access to these alternatives,” said RFA President Bob Dinneen. “Unfortunately, the Big Oil companies are rigging the market to take away consumer choice and prevent many retailers from offering these clean, homegrown fuels.”

The Consumer Choice Report Card is part of a new report from the RFA titled “Protecting the Monopoly: How Big Oil Covertly Blocks the Sale of Renewable Fuels.” The report exposes how the “Big Five” oil companies, along with a number of leading refiners, are engaging in strong arm tactics and covert practices to prevent and discourage the sale of renewable fuels, especially at stations carrying their brand name.

• Distribution contracts routinely include provisions that make it difficult, needlessly expensive, or simply impossible for a retailer to offer consumers choices like E15 or E85. For example, contracts cited in the report include anti-consumer provisions preventing the sale of E85 under the gas station canopy, onerous labeling requirements, minimum sales volume requirements, exclusivity provisions and other language that create practical or financial roadblocks to the sale of renewable fuels — despite the benefit to consumers.

• Of the nearly 48,000 retail gas stations carrying a “Big Five” oil company brand, fewer than 300 (0.6 percent) offer E85 or E15. Independent stations are 4–6 times more likely to offer consumers E85 and 40 times more likely to offer E15.

• Most oil-branded retail gas station chains receive a grade of “F,” meaning that fewer than 1 percent of their branded stations offer E15 or E85. Among oil company affiliated brands, only Speedway/SuperAmerica and Cenex received high marks (“A-“ and “B,” respectively.) Several independent/unbranded chains — including Meijer, Thorntons, Kum & Go, Break Time and Kwik Trip — received grades of “A+,” meaning more than 25 percent of their stations offer E15 or E85.

The report concludes by noting that the only way to ensure that consumers get access to these lower cost, higher performance renewable fuels is for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce compliance with the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard, which calls for increasing amounts of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and made available to consumers:

“Cynically, oil companies frequently cite a shortage of fueling infrastructure as a reason why the EPA should lower the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Yet, as demonstrated in this analysis, the oil industry itself has deliberately created this shortage by making it as difficult and burdensome as possible for retail gas stations to offer greater volumes of renewable fuels. Like a child who breaks all of his pencils and then tells his parents he can’t do his homework, the oil industry should not be permitted to claim it is not possible to expand renewable fuels consumption when it is taking calculated steps to stifle the broad introduction of E85, E15 and other fuels.”

No Movement in Retail Fertilizer Prices

During the week of the July 4th holiday, there were no fireworks involving retail fertilizer price movements. Retailers tracked by DTN reported extremely steady fertilizer prices for the first week of July 2014.  Just like last week, six fertilizers were slightly lower in price compared to last month but the move to the low side was fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $592/ton, MAP $623/ton, urea $535/ton, anhydrous $694/ton, UAN28 $352/ton and UAN32 $401/ton.  The remaining two fertilizers were slightly higher compared to a month prior, but again the move higher was relatively insignificant. Potash had an average price of $483/ton and 10-34-0 $564/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.58/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.63/lb.N.

With fertilizers moving higher in recent months, only three of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits lower in price compared to June/July of 2013.  DAP is now down 1%, urea is 2% less expensive and MAP is 3% less expensive. 10-34-0 is down 6% while UAN32 is 9% less expensive and UAN28 is now 10% lower. Anhydrous is now 14% less expensive while potash is down 16% compared to a year earlier.

Gov. Jay Nixon Sides Against Family Farmers and Ranchers

According to Missouri Cattlemen's Association President (MCA) Jim McCann, Governor Jay Nixon today made the decision to stand against family farmers and ranchers by vetoing bipartisan legislation H.B. 1326 and S.B. 506, which are known as farm bills. McCann said the two bills were supported by 13 agricultural organizations that represent tens of thousands of family farmers and small businesses.

"Governor Jay Nixon once again turned his back on farmers and ranchers with another veto of agricultural legislation," said McCann. "Agriculture is the steam engine of Missouri's economy, generating more than 12 billion dollars and thousands of jobs. One would think the governor would do everything within his power to support legislation that empowers Missouri's farmers and ranchers. The veto did the opposite."

McCann said H.B. 1326 and S.B. 506 include issues extremely important to Missouri cattlemen. These bills include increasing hauling limits for livestock on Missouri highways; extending the equine liability waiver to all livestock; enabling Missouri cattle producers the opportunity to vote whether or not to increase their investment in the Missouri beef checkoff; and enacting the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act.
McCann said the two bills would do a lot for every segment of Missouri agriculture.

"More than a dozen agricultural organizations across the state banded together to show support for these bills, and to spread awareness of the importance they held for the state of Missouri," said McCann. "These organizations were eager to have the support of the governor. Nixon has decided to disregard the value these bills hold for all of Missouri. We are utterly disappointed with the governor's veto. It's a shame the governor essentially ignored Missouri agriculture."

McCann said MCA will be working with the state legislature to explore next steps.

ASA Supports Missouri Farming Rights Amendment

The American Soybean Association has issued its support of the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment (Amendment 1), a measure that would amend the state’s constitution to recognize and protect modern agriculture and the benefits that it provides all Missourians.

“As a proud Missouri-based organization, the American Soybean Association firmly supports Amendment 1 supporting modern agriculture in the Show-Me State,” said ASA Director Tom Raffety, a farmer from Wyatt. “Our soybean farmers in Missouri and their counterparts in other crops and livestock commodities take strides every day to ensure that they conserve our state’s natural resources while continuing to farm productively and provide all Missourians with the food, feed, fiber and fuel they need.”

Amendment 1 will give farmers another tool with which to defend themselves from unwarranted laws and regulations, including ballot initiatives funded by deep-pocketed animal-rights groups. Amendment 1 will not throw out scientifically-based rules and regulations as every right is subject to reasonable regulation, and Missouri’s farm families remain committed to upholding all laws and regulations pertaining to agriculture. Moreover, by guarding against overly restrictive laws and regulations that limit the ability of Missouri farmers and ranchers to decide what production methods work best for them,  Amendment 1 will assure consumers that Missouri farmers and ranchers can provide the choices they want in food and fiber.   

“As is the case so often in agricultural issues, off-farm activists and out-of-state animal rights groups continue to try to tell farmers how to run their operations,” said Raffety. “What Amendment 1 does is reinforce that Missouri’s farmers are good stewards of our land and resources, and know what’s best for Missouri agriculture.”

ASA’s state affiliate, the Missouri Soybean Association, has been a lead voice in the effort to pass the Farming Rights Amendment as part of Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition formed to protect Missouri agriculture from outside special interests and to reconnect farmers and consumers through education and outreach efforts.

“Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Show-Me State, and it’s woven into the cultural and economic fabric of the entire Midwest,” added Raffety. “It’s a big part of the reason that ASA chose St. Louis as our home base. Farming is Missouri’s largest industry and because of its impact, many outside activist groups have targeted Missouri’s farms in their effort to reform agriculture as they see fit. Amendment 1 will protect Missouri’s farms from these attacks, and ASA is proud to support it.”

CWT Assists with 16.9 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 21 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 15.615 million pounds (7,083 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda, Monterey Jack cheese, 1.246 million pounds (565 metric tons) of butter (82% butterfat) and 837,757 pounds (380 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, South America and Oceania. The product will be delivered July 2014 through January 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 74.377 million pounds of cheese, 48.767 million pounds of butter and 15.406 million pounds of whole milk powder to 41 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.926 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Russia Grain Exports Up, Harvest Progress Down

Russia's grain exports for the marketing year July 1 2013 to June 30, totaled 25.372 million metric tons, 62% more than in the previous marketing year, the agriculture ministry reported Tuesday.

Exported grains included 18.297 million tons of wheat, 4.052 million tons of corn, 2.705 million tons of barley and 322,000 tons of other minor grains.

Russia's grain exports in the 2012-2013 marketing year fell to 15.69 million tons from 27.2 million tons in the previous marketing year. Russia harvested 89.3 million metric tons of grain in clean weight, 30% more than in 2012, when 68.7 million tons when crops were damaged by drought.

Russia 2014 grain harvest is down compared with last year, reflecting inclement weather conditions, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

The country's largest grain transportation operator Rusagrotrans said earlier Russia was likely to harvest this year 95 to 97 million metric tons of grain in bunker weight, up from 92.4 million tons in 2013, and grain export in the 2014-15 marketing year is likely to increase to 27 to 28 million tons from 25.3 million tons in 2013-14.

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