Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesday July 2 Ag News

Delegation Urges FSA to Revise Reimbursement Method for Lost Livestock During Tornadoes

Nebraska’s Congressional delegation today wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to correct the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) method for calculating livestock disaster payments in light of the devastating tornadoes in Pilger and surrounding areas last month. The 2014 farm bill reauthorized the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) to provide relief for producers who suffer livestock deaths as a result of natural disasters.

Producers who lost livestock during the June tornadoes discovered USDA is using outdated data when calculating reimbursement, resulting in reduced payments of up to $330 per head. The letter urges FSA to use current market values, which more accurately reflects the intent of the 2014 farm bill.

A copy of the letter can be found below:

July 2, 2014

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We write to request that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) revise its methodology for calculating payment amounts for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP).

During the week of June 16, 2014, tornadoes devastated the town of Pilger, Nebraska and severely damaged crop and livestock operations in the surrounding area.  Producers who had livestock killed by the tornadoes have sought relief from the LIP program that was recently extended by Congress with passage of the 2014 farm bill.  But after producers read the payment schedule produced by FSA, they realize they will receive much less from FSA than they are entitled to receive under the statute.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 states that “payments to an eligible producer on a farm… shall be made at a rate of 75 percent of the market value of the applicable livestock on the day before the date of death of the livestock, as determined by the Secretary.”  However, the rule implementing LIP states that “The LIP national payment rate for eligible livestock owners is based on 75 percent of the average fair market value of the applicable livestock as computed using nationwide prices for the previous calendar year unless some other price is approved by the Deputy Administrator.”

These are clearly not the same standard.  We appreciate that FSA may have some constraints on availability of appropriate data, but it is clearly unfair to producers who expect relief based on the plain language of the law to then find out that the relief received will be significantly less than 75 percent of the market value of their livestock.  For example, according to the LIP fact sheet published by FSA in April, the payment rate for feeder steers weighing 800 pounds or more is $1,149, but data from the Agriculture Marketing Service indicate that 75 percent of the average value of an 800-900 pound steer was approximately $1,278 the week before the tornadoes hit Pilger, a difference of $129 per head.  Moreover, producers also experienced losses for cattle that were at their finished weight of approximately 1400 pounds.  Using the data from the Agriculture Marketing Service, 75 percent of the average value for a finished steer was $1,479, for a difference of $330 per head.

Therefore, we request that you direct FSA to calculate relief for livestock producers based on market values that more accurately reflect the plain reading of the statute.

Nebraska Counties Receive Physical Loss Notice Due to Storms

Farm Service Agency State Executive Director, Dan Steinkruger, announced 29 counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to physical damage and losses caused by excessive rain, high winds, tornadoes, hail, flash flooding, and lightning affecting Nebraska. Those counties are:

-- Antelope, Burt, Butler, Cherry, Cuming Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Fillmore, Gage, Greeley, Hamilton, Holt, Howard, Knox, Madison, Merrick, Nance, Pawnee, Pierce, Platte, Saline, Saunders, Seward, Stanton, Thurston, Washington, Wayne, York

These counties received the physical loss notification on June 20, based on physical damage and losses caused by excessive rain, high winds, tornadoes, hail, flash flooding, and lightning that occurred on June 1 through June 4.

"The 29 counties that received the Administrator's Physical Loss Notification had severe physical losses to farm machinery, equipment, building, and dwellings" said Steinkruger.

This designation authorizes Emergency (EM) Loans for eligible producers. Steinkruger stated, "Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA Service Center for detailed information about available programs and updated Secretarial Disaster Designations."

In addition, 33 Nebraska counties are named as contiguous disaster counties where eligible family farmers may qualify for FSA emergency physical loss loan assistance. Those counties are:

-- Adams, Blaine, Boone, Boyd, Brown, Buffalo, Cass, Cedar, Clay, Colfax, Douglas, Garfield, Lancaster, Loup, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Polk, Richardson, Rock, Sarpy, Sheridan, Sherman, Thayer, Thomas, Valley, Wheeler


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Wouldn’t it be nice to put all your hay under a roof?  Since most of us don’t have that luxury, outdoor storage techniques that minimize storage losses are needed.

               Over one-fourth of your hay’s nutrients can be lost due to weathering between now and feeding next winter.  To minimize these losses, begin by making dense, evenly formed bales or stacks.  They will shed water better and sag less than a soft core or less dense package.  Use net wrap or plastic twine spaced no more than four inches apart on round bales to maintain bale shape and provide a smooth surface that encourages water runoff.

               Store hay on an elevated, well-drained site so it won’t soak up moisture from wet soils or standing water.  Especially avoid terrace valleys.  Also avoid fences or tree lines that cause snow to drift onto hay or that prevent wind and sunshine from drying off wet bales.

               Often our biggest mistake is placing bales so water that runs off of one bale ends up soaking into an adjacent bale.  Never stack round bales during the rainy season unless they are covered or unless they will be fed very soon.  And avoid placing bales in a row with the twine or wrapped ends touching one another.

               Instead, it is best to place round bales or stacks so there is about one foot of air space on all sides for good ventilation.  Round bales also store well when the flat ends are butted end-to-end in a cigar-like shape.  Orient these rows north and south so prevailing winds will not cause snow drifts and so both sides of the row can receive sunlight for drying.

               Follow these guidelines and you will lower your storage losses, increase feed quality, and improve animal performance.

Monitoring Pasture Condition? UNL Extension Has An App for That

            Ranchers are accustomed to checking cattle, wells and mineral supplements to keep tabs on their operation. But what about the grass?

            Monitoring the condition of pastures is just as important, say University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension experts. And now there’s an app for that.

            UNL Extension has released a mobile application called “GrassSnap” that makes the monitoring process easier. The new app takes ranchers through the monitoring steps; stamps the photographs with the pasture name, GPS location, date and direction; records comments about each pasture; and stores the photographs and data in pasture folders. The information can quickly be downloaded to a computer.

            The new app is available for Apple and Android operating systems, both for smart phones and tablets. Download GrassSnap for Apple versions at the iTunes Store, and Google Play for Android devices. The app is free, thanks to support from the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition.

            There are many reasons to monitor rangeland and pastures, said Bethany Johnston, UNL Extension educator. She said all managers should monitor to evaluate changes and progress towards their management goals. Others need to document pasture health for carbon credits, wildlife habitat, or compliance with government programs such as the NRCS Conservation Security Program, which includes a grazing monitoring enhancement opportunity for participating landowners.

            “Photo-point and photo-plot monitoring is one of the easier, more repeatable ways to get qualitative info about how pasture looks right now.”

            A mantra of the method is “look out and look down.” First, “look out” and capture a photo-point landscape view. Next, establish a line transact in a given direction, then “look down” at the ground at regular intervals along this line to capture photo-plot views.

            Looking down at the ground is likely to reveal a whole host of rangeland health indicators, such as the amount of litter on the soil surface, types of vegetation and condition of the plants.

            “We want to get them to look out (at a pasture) and see what that view looks like – but also drive or walk out into it and look down and see what you see,” said Cindy Tusler, former extension educator who helped develop the GrassSnap app.

            Monitoring pasture conditions is not a one-size-fits-all process.

            “Collect information that works for you,” said Johnston. “Your monitoring system can be simple, like a moped, or a higher-end version, like a Cadillac. The ‘moped’ version could be as simple as a photo point and a photo plot. More complex monitoring will bring more detailed data. For example, we set up a ‘Cadillac’ version for a rancher complete with a transect line, spaced photo plots, a perspective pole, and a data sheet to record our information.” GrassSnap is flexible enough to capture data on simple or more complex monitoring systems.

            It is recommended that photographs be taken at least once a year, after the growing season when plants have matured. The goal of the new app is to make this process quick, repeatable, and easy.

            The app employs Geographical Positioning System to make it easier to return to the same spot every year. Once at the site located by a permanent field marker, the app user can use the “overlay” or a ghost image (from the first year) on the screen. This allows the user to hold up the phone or tablet, then move the device until the ghost image lines up with the live image making for more consistent and repeatable pictures.

            The app helps collect and upload data. Then, during late fall and winter, a rancher can review it, make decisions, and be prepared for next year, she said.

            “This is a decision support tool. It will give you easily repeatable information that helps you make decisions. It doesn’t make the decision,” Tusler commented.

            Johnston agreed that human judgment is important. “Each person’s management goals are different, so monitoring and assessment will flow out of those goals. The app makes it easier to remember and compare conditions from one year to the next at exactly the same site.”

            The app is complemented by a new NebGuide on pasture monitoring. “Getting to Know Your Pastures, Techniques to Enhance Monitoring,” written by Johnston, Tusler, and Jay Jenkins of Cherry County, and Jerry Volesky, UNL range specialist, can be viewed online at

            Questions about the GrassSnap app can be directed to Bethany Johnston at the Central Sandhills Area Extension Office in Thedford, 308-645-2267 or visit the GrassSnap webpage at

NARD Selects Long-Time Nebraska TV Anchor/Reporter as New Public Relations Director

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts has named its new Public Relations Director, Erika Hill (also known as Erika Summers in the media), whose nearly ten years of experience in television includes breaking news, agriculture and weather-related stories, crime, politics and city and state-wide coverage of general news.

Hill was born in Lincoln, but grew up in Syracuse, Nebraska and Fort Collins, Colorado. She received her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism at Colorado State University with a minor in Political Science. Hill worked as a television reporter at KLKN-TV Channel 8 Eyewitness News in Lincoln and also as a television reporter at KMTV Action 3 News in Omaha for several years before becoming the Morning and Midday Anchor back at Channel 8 Eyewitness News.  Since becoming an anchor in Lincoln, Hill has raised Channel 8 Eyewitness News’ ratings and earned the media award from the Nebraska Nutrition and Dietetics Association for her work to bring awareness to the organization.  She also has donated her time to several non-profit groups around the city, emceed fundraisers and spoken about the media to women entrepreneurs.

“I am thrilled to be starting this new chapter in my life,” Hill said. “I’m bursting with new ideas to spread awareness about NARD to even more people and organizations across the state, along with assisting all Natural Resource Districts in any way I can.”

Hill’s first day at NARD is August 1st, 2014. She and her husband live in Lincoln. They are expecting their first child in December of this year.

Land-Grant Universities Forge Partnership with Hypoxia Task Force

Scientists from land-grant universities in 12 central U.S. states have entered into a partnership with the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Hypoxia Task Force to support state and national efforts to reduce water pollution and help to maintain the productivity and vitality of American agriculture. The participating land-grant universities include: the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, Iowa State University, University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, University of Minnesota, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of Tennessee, and the University of Wisconsin.

"This collaboration between land-grant universities and the Task Force will continue to promote effective implementation of science-based approaches to nutrient management. Our efforts will help farmers reduce nutrient losses to the environment," said Wes Burger, Mississippi State University Agricultural Experiment Station associate director and professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management. "Nutrient management is imperative for sustainable agricultural activity and environmental quality."

Run-off from non-point sources is a primary contributor of excess nutrients that impair freshwater bodies and cause hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, in the northern Gulf of Mexico. While land-grant scientists and extension educators have been helping farmers, ranchers, state and federal agencies, and others with nutrient management practices and policies within their respective states for decades, a partnership with the Task Force will help scientists share their knowledge about emerging technologies and research developments across state lines.

"We need clean water. We need the food, fiber and fuel produced on our farms. Land-grant universities, with our extension and research resources, can help farmers, state and federal agencies, and others keep local water safe, reduce the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and keep our farms working. Our agreement with the Hypoxia Task Force promises to make land-grant research and outreach programs in this arena even more productive," said Rebecca Power, the director of the North Central Region Water Network and Water Outreach program manager of the University of Wisconsin.

Nearly 80% of all U.S. corn and soybeans as well as a large percentage of U.S. pork are produced in the Mississippi River basin states. However, nutrient pollution costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Land-grant universities are committed to working with the Task Force and other partners towards cleaner water and a healthy agricultural economy for future generations.

Economist Foresees Pork Prices to Rise More

Retail pork prices will keep rising to record highs this summer as the number of hogs going to market over the next several months will be lower than expected because of the PED virus, smaller spring farrowings and growing foreign purchases of U.S. pork, Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says. But he also expects the price increases to level off in the fall and move somewhat lower into the winter as producers benefiting from higher profits increase production. Although producer profits were at a record high near $70 per head in the second quarter this year, he says the record will be surpassed this summer, with third-quarter profits expected to exceed $90 per head.

"These extremely high profits are clear signals for producers to increase pork production," said Hurt, who analyzed the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Hogs and Pigs report, released June 27. "The report did reveal that producers have received this signal, and they intend to increase farrows by 4 percent this fall."

If producers start the expansion and the porcine epidemic virus that has been killing piglets is better controlled, pork supplies can begin to grow by next spring to 4-6 percent in the last three quarters of 2015, Hurt said.

"More relief from record-high retail pork prices can be expected in the second half of 2015 as pork supplies build," he said.

While he believes that pig losses from PEDv will likely trend lower this summer, he says the USDA report suggests that the disease is far from controlled, with the virus apparently continuing to inflict greater numbers of deaths in the spring than had been expected.

"The general opinion had been that the PEDv death losses would be reduced as the weather warmed this spring, because PEDv does not spread as readily in warm weather," Hurt said. Death losses of about 8 percent in the winter were still about 5 percent in May.

There was expectation that the nation's breeding herd was already in expansion, Hurt said. The industry had returned to profitability in the fall of 2013 as corn prices dropped sharply, and pork producers had earlier indicated they would farrow 2 percent more sows over the spring. The USDA, however, found that the breeding herd was down fractionally and that the spring farrowings were also down modestly.

Record-high retail beef prices have some consumers looking around the meat case for alternatives such as pork. In May, USDA estimated the average grocery store price of beef cuts at $5.91 per pound; the average cut of pork, on the other hand, was $4.10 per pound.

"Even though this was also a record pork price, it was $1.81 a pound lower than beef," Hurt noted.

He also said foreign consumers have been strong competitors for limited world supplies of pork.

USMEF-Korea Takes Proactive Approach on Animal Welfare, Sustainability

Animal welfare and sustainability are not yet popular topics of conversation in Asian markets, such as South Korea, but it is only a matter of time before the trends that take root in Europe and the United States will find their way around the globe.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) office in Korea recently took a proactive approach to these sensitive subject matters by hosting a workshop for 230 Korean red meat importers, distributors, retail and food service operators to give them insights into the care that the U.S. beef and pork industries take both in raising livestock and in caring for the land that supports the production of American red meat.

The progress that American agriculture has achieved in the areas of efficient resource utilization was highlighted by Travis Arp, USMEF’s manager of technical services, who also addressed the industry’s ability to produce more high-quality red meat with the same or fewer animals in a humane environment. The educational program was provided with funding support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff.

“One of the primary issues in South Korea is tight regulation on the ability of processors to label product as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ or other marketing descriptors that cannot be uniformly defined,” said Arp. “Since labels can’t be used for this purpose in Korea, our goal is to help the importers and buyers in Korea better understand the care that goes into the production of U.S. pork and beef so they can make their purchasing decisions based on knowledge.”

Arp outlined the positive environmental impacts that both the U.S. pork and beef industries have made, resulting in significant reductions in water use, land use, greenhouse emissions and energy consumption.

At the same time, he noted how the overall efficiency of the U.S. pork industry increased dramatically from 1959 through 2009, realizing a 33 percent improvement in feed efficiency and a doubling of carcass weight production despite a 39 percent decline in the breed herd. Similarly, the U.S. beef industry boosted the yield per animal 28 percent between 1977 and 2007, requiring only four animals to produce the same amount of beef as five animals produced 30 years earlier.

While the U.S. livestock industry has improved its efficiency, it also has focused on the welfare of the animals, working to ensure that all animals raised for food or as working animals enjoy the Five Animal Freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behavior, and freedom from fear and distress.

“The American livestock industries have made concerted efforts to address both product quality and animal welfare, ranging from the pork industry’s PQA Plus program to Beef Quality Assurance and the lamb industry’s Sheep Safety & Quality Assurance,” said Arp. “The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) oversees the process from a regulatory standpoint, enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act and utilizing its own Compliance Guide for a Systematic Approach to the Humane Handling of Livestock.”

Unlike in South Korea, some meat producers in the United States utilize third-party humane handling certification – as well as product certifications for organic, natural, grass-fed and free-range – to provide product differentiation and additional information to consumers at the point of sale. Arp noted that these labeling claims must be approved by the FSIS.

“There are many misconceptions regarding product labeling and what it means for product quality,” Arp told the Korean audience. “Some consumers believe that meat with a ‘specialty label’ is safer than conventionally produced meat, or that meat without an animal welfare label has not been produced with the same care for the animal’s well-being. The reality is that all meat inspected by USDA-FSIS is held to the same health standards, and all producers and processors are held to the same USDA animal handling standards.”

The seminar, which included both an economic overview of the U.S. livestock industry as well as an analysis from the Korea Rural Economic Institute, was an important next step in the ongoing education of Korean importers and buyers, according to Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director.

“Some Korean livestock magazines have begun showing an interest in animal welfare and sustainability issues,” said Yang. “The messages delivered to these importers and buyers provided a meaningful introduction to these issues, and we expect they will be reported back to a broader audience through these publications.”

Through the first four months of 2014, South Korea is the No. 5 market for U.S. pork exports, purchasing 57,269 metric tons (126.3 million pounds) valued at $167.2 million, increases of 31 and 40 percent over last year at this time. Korea also is the No. 6 market for U.S. beef exports (No. 5 in value), purchasing 37,481 metric tons (82.6 million pounds) valued at $256.2 million, up 28 percent in value on 1 percent lower volume.

Celebrating Beef -- and Independence!

Beef producers and importers who invest in the Beef Checkoff Program have a lot to be thankful for as we approach the Fourth of July holiday – one of the strongest beef-buying weekends of the year – with a thriving market and robust prices that reflect strong consumer preference for beef!

Producer support for the beef checkoff is 78 percent – its highest in 21 years, according to the latest producer attitude survey. The checkoff program includes things like promotion and education to and for consumers, retailers and restaurant owners; extensive beef-safety, product-enhancement, human-nutrition and market research to identify and respond to consumers’ changing demands for beef and beef products; beef-industry training, from farm to fork, to help everyone in the production chain take responsibility for their roles in maintaining a desirable product; and foreign-marketing efforts in about 80 countries across the globe – all with a $1-per-head investment.

So what are some of the results that beef producers and importers have helped bring to fruition through their beef checkoff that are making this year’s Independence celebration a bountiful one? Let’s take a quick look at just a few key milestones and accomplishments:

-    Consumer demand for beef has remained strong throughout the latest recession and despite one of the tightest beef supplies in history. Consumer demand for beef advanced 2 percent in 2013, according to ag economist Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State University.
-    Consumers remain steadfast in their willingness to pay more for beef, even as beef prices set new highs. In June 2014, they said they would pay $7.52 per pound for steak, up 18.4 percent from May 2014, according to the Oklahoma State University’s monthly Food Demand Survey.
-    More than 39 percent of participants in a Google poll in June 2014 said they are likely to grill or eat beef over the July 4th holiday as opposed to chicken (23.6 percent), pork (12.2 percent), seafood or fish (7.3 percent), turkey (4 percent) or none of the above.
-    Beef finished first in foodservice from 2009 to 2013, making more money in restaurants than any other protein and racking up the largest pound increase – up 178 million pounds – of any protein, and representing 32 percent of the total protein market in foodservice with sales of 8 billion pounds in the last year alone!
-    With millions of checkoff dollars a year ($7.5 million in 2014) going to promotions of and education and training about U.S. beef across the globe, the value of U.S. beef exports in 2013 eclipsed the $6 billion mark for the first time, surpassing 2012 totals by nearly 13 percent in volume and 12 percent in value.
-    Thanks to those results in the global marketplace, the export value of fed slaughter is currently about $260 per head, up from $207 per head a year ago.

The bottom line is that beef is driving traffic to grocery stores and the meat case this grilling season. In a recent survey, Americans said that they are twice as likely to visit a grocery store that's promoting beef for grilling over a store that promotes any other protein.

Independent economic research has long declared that the beef checkoff makes a tremendous difference for the bottom lines of its investors – compared to what they would be without checkoff investments – and early indications from a new Return on Investment study coming out later this month promise continued evidence of the same.

So pass out the party hats and the sparklers, don your favorite patriotic attire, and fly your American Flag with pride this weekend. Then fire up those grills, and treat your family and friends to the sure winner – BEEF – knowing that you have everything to do with its success!

Suspected BSE Case in Romania

(AP) -- A case of suspected mad cow disease has been found in Romanian beef, officials said Wednesday.

Romania's animal health and safety authority said a preliminary test on May 1 indicated that a cow slaughtered at an authorized abattoir was infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.

It said the carcass has been sent to a British laboratory for further tests and it could be an "atypical form of BSE which appears naturally and spontaneously in cattle."

The officials only revealed the case after Russia decided to ban imports of Romanian beef, citing fears of BSE. It wasn't clear how the Russians learned about it.

They said Romania has not had a case of BSE since 1995 when testing began and there was no risk to public health from the current "isolated case."

BSE is fatal to cows and can cause a fatal brain disease in people who eat tainted beef. It first broke out in the late 1980s in Britain, where hundreds of people fell ill and many died after eating contaminated meat. Over the years, 4.5 million cattle were slaughtered to contain the spread.

Outbreaks followed in Japan in 2001 and Canada in May 2003.

Romania exports up to one million cattle a year, mainly to the Netherlands, Italy, and Croatia.

World Soy Foundation’s Acre Challenge Campaign Nearing $100,000 Goal Thanks to Top Supporting States

The World Soy Foundation (WSF), the philanthropic arm of the American Soybean Association, has never before surpassed the goal of $100,000 raised through their Acre Challenge campaign. But, this year, in just nine months, they have raised over 85 percent of their goal. The top supporting states of this spring have helped give the campaign an extra boost and the WSF is looking to carry that momentum right past the 100K mark in the final three months.

The Acre Challenge, a fundraising campaign started by farmers for farmers, is a way U.S. soybean farmers can help alleviate hunger and malnutrition around the world by donating the value of an acre of soybeans. The campaign begins Oct. 1 and runs for a full year. Just one acre of soybeans can make a life-changing difference. Did you know that one acre of soybeans, when converted into soybean oil and soy flour, provides enough high-quality fat and protein to meet the daily requirements for a balanced diet for 80 people for over a month?

Since March, over 160 donors accepted the Challenge and have donated the value of an acre to the WSF—this puts the total number of donors for the year at nearly 450 individuals from 30 states. The World Soy foundation has high hopes of surpassing this year’s goal to help further their mission and would like to thank each individual donor and recognize the top three supporting states for their extraordinary efforts in helping us get closer to that goal.

Still holding strong in first place is Iowa! Iowa soybean farmers have continued to show their support, with 60 donors giving nearly $16,000! Randy Van Kooten, a current WSF Board Member and former President of the Iowa Soybean Association, says this about the WSF: “I got involved with the WSF because I know the role soy can play in providing nourishment. Helping others makes you feel good about your profession and being a soybean farmer.”

Coming in second for top Acre Challenge supporters are the farmers of Illinois, raising nearly $13,450 from 49 individual donors, followed by Missouri with 12 donors giving just over $7,630 so far. These top three states understand the value of their soybean crop and continue to help the Foundation be part of the solution to reduce global malnutrition through the power of soy!

The Acre Challenge isn’t finished yet. With three months left in the fiscal year, the WSF is working hard to reach their goal of $100,000 by the end of September! To help them reach their goal, and help your state compete for the #1 spot, simply calculate the value of an acre of soybeans in your operation (yield multiplied by price) and give the gift of protein today!

Make your donation by visiting the WSF website or sending your check to: World Soy Foundation; 12125 Woodcrest Executive Drive, Suite 100; St. Louis, MO 63141.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/27/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 953,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 40.03 million gallons daily. That is up 15,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 952,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.59 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 18.2 million barrels. That is a 0.1% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the sixth week in a row.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 385.1 million gallons daily. Finished motor gasoline demand has averaged approximately 139 billion gallons (annualized) since the beginning of May.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.39%, down from last week.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.450 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 106,358 metric tons of livestock feed, 94,819 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.96 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

NMPF Asks FDA to Leave Dairy Farms Out of New Bioterrorism Regs

Arguing that milk leaving U.S. dairy farms is an unlikely target for a terrorist attack, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) asked the Food and Drug Administration to exempt dairy producers from “intentional adulteration” regulations being issued under the major rewrite of federal food safety laws enacted in 2011.

In comments filed with FDA on June 30, NMPF said it’s hard to predict where milk from any one dairy farm will go because of constantly changing processing needs around the country. As a result, NMPF said, milk leaving a dairy farm is unlikely to be a target for intentional adulteration and “activities on dairy farmers should not be addressed through this rule.”

NMPF also pointed out that dairy farms already employ a number of general security strategies that further reduce risks to plant-bound milk and that many anti-terrorist procedures are already being used on these farms.

In addition, NMPF submitted comments jointly with the International Dairy Foods Association questioning FDA’s proposed regulations focused on preventing intentional adulteration at dairy processing plants. Like dairy farms, the two organizations said, processing facilities have taken an active approach to applying food defense concepts.

In all, FDA has proposed seven major regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law in January 2011. Only this rule addresses terrorism, while the others have less direct impact on dairy farms. NMPF will be submitting comments at the end of this month on a major proposed FSMA regulation addressing sanitary transport.

NMPF Makes Implementation Recommendations to USDA on New Dairy Safety Net

NMPF has made a series of recommendations to the Agriculture Department on how to implement the new dairy safety net included in the 2014 farm bill. The recommendations cover issues that are either unclear in the legislation or were left up to USDA to decide. The issues include such things as the timing of enrollment, the timing and structure of premium payments, and the treatment of farms with changing ownership structures.

The new safety net, called the Margin Protection Program (MPP), is required to be established by September 1. It replaces price supports, MILC payments and other, less effective federal programs. It will help protect against the type of catastrophic equity loss that many dairy farmers experienced in 2009 and again in 2012.  NMPF is pleased with its discussions with the Agriculture Department on MPP to date.

In order to help dairy farmers understand the new Margin Protection Program, NMPF is providing a set of data examining how the MPP margin has varied over time, dating back to 2007, up until the current month for which data is available.

This set of tables listing feed and milk prices is available below to download in Excel as well as PDF.  It will be updated by NMPF every two months going forward, using the same calculations that the USDA is expected to use as the program is implemented later in 2014.

CWT-Assisted Dairy Export Sales Top 18.7 Million Pounds in June

Cooperatives Working Together helped member cooperatives sell 18.7 million pounds of dairy products overseas in June. The voluntary, farmer-funded program will provide assistance on 48 overseas sales from seven different cooperatives: Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association and Upstate-O-AT-KA. The products included 10.8 million pounds of American-type cheese, 4.1 million pounds of butter, and 3.8 million pounds of whole milk powder. All will be delivered before the end of the year.

June sales bring the year-to-date total to more than 120 million pounds of dairy product export sales assisted by CWT, the equivalent of 1.753 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Brazilian Soybean Exports Slip in June

Brazil soybeans exports continued on their downward curve in June as the immediate post-harvest clamor subsides in the world's No. 2 producing country.

Shipments totaled 6.9 million metric tons (mmt) last month, down from 8.3 mmt in April and 7.6 mmt in May, but still higher than the 6.5 mmt sent in June 2013.

The numbers underline perceptions that Brazilian port logistics have improved this year, due principally to an improvement in logistics management, dry weather at the key ports and less corn bunging up grain export terminals.

In June, Brazil shipped just 87,600 metric tons of corn (mt), down from 369,000 mt in the same month one year before.

Shipments of all soy complex products remain strong, which has allowed first-half revenues to jump 17% to $20.1 billion, thus substantially outperforming the second item of the Brazilian export list, iron ore with $14 billion.

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q2: Chinese import volume remains historically high

According to the latest Rabobank report, Beef Quarterly Q2 2014, the global beef market will regain its positive momentum in Q3, once the current, temporarily high supply has worked through the system. This will likely support further strengthening of prices, as supply of competing animal proteins tighten. The main wildcards for the start of these positive developments are rainfall in Australia, and to a lesser extent, the continued drought in U.S. and Brazil, pushing more cattle through the system. Indonesian import development during the July Ramadan festivities and Chinese imports towards the high season at the end of 2014 will also have unknown impacts. In addition, the relatively high prices might result in consumers trading down to pork and poultry.

“The continuing positive market fundamentals will be encouraging for producers’ margins,” explained Rabobank Analyst, Albert Vernooij.  “However, longer term, the likely lower availability of feeder cattle and high production costs might limit the possible upside. For processors, the current stabilization gives them room to regain margins, but prospects are less positive due to the approaching tight supply in most producing regions.”

Regional Outlooks:
•        EU: EU beef prices are expected to stabilize around the current levels into the summer, with some potential upside later in the year due to the combination of stable supply, continuing strong export demand and relatively high-priced competing proteins.

•        U.S.: After exploding into all-time record price levels during Q1, the U.S. cattle and beef markets have subsided a bit during Q2. Going forward, seasonal price pressure is starting to weigh on the market along with expectations that more fed cattle will be making their way to market very soon. Feeder cattle and calf prices continue to push into new all-time record highs in the upper USD 200 to mid-USD 210 range.

•        Australia: Total Australian cattle slaughter during the first four months of 2014 increased 12% YOY on the back of dry conditions. Boxed beef exports have, as a result, reached record levels throughout the first five months of 2014. Both the short and medium term outlook for supplies and prices is heavily dependent on rainfall.

•        Brazil: In Q2 2014, the Brazilian beef market was tested by both the discovery of a new atypical case of BSE in Mato Grosso and the growth in production costs. While early reporting of BSE allowed Brazil to keep its ‘insignificant risk’ status, some international embargoes ensued. Strong exports remain however and Rabobank expects prices to recover in Q3 and Q4.

•        Canada: Record price levels in the US have been drawing a lot of Canadian cattle, and extreme winter weather has caused very expensive cattle maintenance and feeding conditions. As a result, year-to-date feeder cattle exports to the US are currently running 44% above year ago levels, a pace simply not possible to continue and a sharp decline in shipments are expected in 2014 2H.

•        Argentina: A poor performance of exports continues to be the combined result of an uncompetitive exchange rate, a 15% export tax and the cumbersome process of obtaining export rights. Rabobank expects production to increase seasonally, while demand will weaken as a result of the generally recessive economic environment.

•        China: China’s beef imports reached 101,000 tons in the first four months of 2014, an increase of 34% YOY, but lower compared to the astonishing growth of 380% in 2013. Even with this volume, beef imports to China are historically very high.

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