Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday September 30 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Your corn is about to get combined.  Maybe you are wondering if you should bale some of the stalks.  Is it worth it?

What are corn stalk bales worth?  One way to look at it is from the cost stand point.  Nutrients removed by stalk bales may need to be replaced with extra fertilizer.  Using this fall’s prices, stalks contain about ten dollars worth of nitrogen, phosphate, sulfur, and lime per ton.

Corn stalk removal also can reduce soil organic matter, increase erosion risk, and increase soil water evaporation.  Nebraska research shows that dryland corn yield declines about two bushels for each ton of residue removed while irrigation cost increases similarly to maintain corn yield.  That’s another eight dollars or so per ton.

Baling stalks tends to cause much more wear and tear on equipment than other baling operations so labor and equipment costs average twenty to twenty-five dollars per ton.  Totaled together, these costs amount to forty to fifty dollars per ton of corn stalks removed.

So, what are corn stalks worth as a feed?  One rule of thumb suggests the dollar feeding value is just a bit higher than straw.  But feed value of stalks varies greatly, and cattle tend to waste more of it.  If you bale the entire field you may only have three to four percent protein and less than fifty percent TDN.  Harvest just the tailings in the two or three rows behind the combine and TDN increases to the lower fifties and protein to about five percent.  But you should test to make sure.

Are baled corn stalks worthwhile?  These numbers suggest that it may be a toss-up, depending a lot on local feed supplies and your individual ability to either cut costs or feed efficiently.

Sales Tax Exemption for Agricultural Repair and Replacement Parts

Kim Conroy, NE Tax Commissioner

LB 96, passed by the Unicameral in April 2014, provides a sales and use tax exemption for repair and replacement parts used to repair agricultural machinery and equipment. This sales tax exemption becomes effective October 1, 2014. The farmer or rancher purchasing eligible repair and replacement parts must issue a properly completed Nebraska Resale or Exempt Sale Certificate, Form 13, Section B, exempt category 2, to the seller to exempt the purchase from sales tax.

The Nebraska Department of Revenue has updated the “Nebraska Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Sales Tax Exemption” information guide to incorporate the changes made by LB 96. In addition, the Nebraska Resale and Exempt Sale Certificate, Form 13, has been updated to identify the exemption for repair and replacement parts used to repair agricultural machinery and equipment.

Farmers or ranchers who paid sales tax on depreciable repair and replacement parts for agricultural machinery and equipment used in commercial agriculture prior to October 1, 2014, may obtain a refund of the tax paid by filing a Nebraska Sales and Use Tax Refund Claim, Form 7AG-1. The Department will continue to accept refund claims for tax paid on depreciable repair and replacement parts as long as the refund claims are filed within three years after the date of purchase.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Reminds Farmers, Ranchers of Sales Tax Change

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) is reminding farmers and ranchers that repair and replacement parts for agricultural machinery and equipment will no longer be subject to Nebraska sales and use taxes, effective Oct. 1. The change in Nebraska state law is the result of the passage of Nebraska Farm Bureau supported legislation during the 2014 session of the Nebraska Unicameral.

“Nebraska Farm Bureau is an advocate for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and that includes having a daily presence at the State Capitol to represent our members. We are pleased to have worked on behalf of our members to be part of the effort to provide this much needed change in Nebraska tax policy,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Prior to the change, Nebraska was one of only eight states that charged sales tax on repair and replacement parts on agricultural machinery and equipment.

“Nebraska’s previous sales tax policy put Nebraska farmers and ranchers doing business with in-state equipment dealers at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in neighboring states. It also created an incentive for Nebraska farmers and ranchers to cross state lines for repair needs,” said Nelson.

The change in state law is estimated to save Nebraska farmers and ranchers between $9 million and $10 million collectively each year. The legislation initiating the tax policy change was introduced by Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton. Governor Dave Heineman signed the bill into law in April.

“We are very appreciative of Sen. Dubas and her colleagues in the legislature who helped to make this change. We thank Gov. Heineman for his support as well,” said Nelson.

Iowa agriculture cooperatives agree on best environmental practices

Members of the Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA), agreed to the Code of Practice for 2014 outlining guidelines for consistent and responsible application of nutrients during a recent meeting.

“The Code of Practice is essential to ensuring consistent use of best practices as we move into fall nutrient application,” said Dave Coppess, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Heartland Coop and vice-president of the ACWA. “It is important that we all are on the same page and agree on how and when we will apply nutrients in a way that is best for the environment and the farmer.”

The ACWA Code of Practice is a formal agreement among the retailers stating they will delay fall anhydrous applications without a nitrification inhibitor until soil temperatures are 50 degrees F and trending lower. ACWA members use the county soil temperature and forecast maps compiled by Iowa State University, available at http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/NPKnowledge, as a reference point for soil temperatures.

“Accountability is a key benefit and concern of ACWA,” said Roger Wolf, ACWA executive director. “It is important that all members act responsibility and the Code of Practice is just one way that they hold each other responsible for their actions and demonstrates that the ag supply chain can voluntarily align with the public mission programs such as the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science-based initiative that seeks to reduce nitrate and phosphorous loads in Iowa waterways by 45 percent from point and nonpoint sources.

ACWA encourages farmers in targeted subwatersheds to adopt nutrient management enhancements to maximize nutrient use efficiency and help protect the watershed’s water quality. Nutrient management enhancements include use of nitrogen stabilizers, slow release fertilizers, incorporation or injection, soil nitrate testing and other technologies that minimize loss of nitrogen to surface or ground water sources. Special NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds are available for eligible farmers in these areas.

Other practices to reduce nitrate flow from tile systems include tile line denitrification bioreactors, constructed wetlands, conservation stream buffers and fall cover cropping systems. More information on these targeted watershed initiatives is available at www.acwa-rrws.org/.

“Accurate fertilizer application is always important to farmers and in this time of softening grain prices it is definitely top of mind,” said Coppess. “The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a year old and the agriculture community remains committed to implementing practices to further the strategy and protect water quality.”

For more information about the ACWA, visit www.acwa-rrws.org/.

New Look and Feel for MyBeefCheckoff.com

The beef checkoff launched a totally redesigned MyBeefCheckoff.com on Sept. 28, providing checkoff payers, leaders, staff and media with an easy-to-navigate selection of checkoff resources and information to highlight checkoff programs and results.

For the first time, MyBeefCheckoff.com will display photos and profiles of both Beef Board members and members of the Federation of State Beef Councils who serve on checkoff program committees. Where this is especially important is in another new feature, a “Meeting Center” that incorporates information from the old MyBeefCheckoffMeeting.com blog (which will go offline soon) along with new ‘visual rosters’ to help all checkoff payers better understand who represents them on each committee. The meeting center will offer committee materials – such as meeting agendas, minutes, presentations, etc. – as well as reporting from and photos of the meetings, and display it all in the Meeting Center.

The remake modernizes and simplifies organization of materials and makes everything accessible from drop-down menus at the top of every page. In addition, the site is “responsive,” which means it views the same on all electronic devices, from computer to laptop to tablet to smartphone.

“MyBeefCheckoff.com is really our one-stop source of information about our national $1-per-head beef checkoff,” says Jeanne Harland, chairwoman of the checkoff’s Producer Communications Working Group and a producer from LaFayette, Ill. “Through this site, producers have an opportunity to get to know their checkoff by reading about the latest results of our investments into checkoff programs.”

The home page also features a MyBeefCheckoff Facebook feed, daily news feed, and facts for producers to share via their own social-media platforms.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit the new MyBeefCheckoff.com.

Nation's Ag Co-ops Set Record for Annual Sales and Income

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the nation's farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set a new sales record in 2013, with total business volume of more than $246 billion. That surpasses the previous record, set in 2012, by $8 billion, a 4 percent gain. U.S. co-ops also enjoyed robust job growth over the previous year.

This third consecutive year of record sales by ag cooperatives reflects increased sales in the overall farm economy in 2013. U.S. crop production and livestock sales both increased 6 percent in 2013, while production input (farm supply) sales increased 2 percent.

"These sales and net income records for ag cooperatives, combined with strong gains in employees for 2013, underscore the strength and productivity of the nation's farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives. These co-ops play a vital and growing role in the nation's economy," Vilsack said.

Secretary Vilsack made the announcement to mark the start of National Cooperative Month in October. He also signed a Cooperative Month proclamation that salutes the nation's entire cooperative business sector, which includes about 30,000 co-ops. In addition to agriculture, the nation's co-ops play a major role in electricity and telecommunications services, credit and financial services, housing and in many other sectors of the economy.

Ag co-ops also enjoyed record net income (before taxes) of $6.2 billion, besting the previous high of $6.1 billion, set in 2012. Co-op income is either reinvested in the co-op for needed improvements or returned to the member-owners. It then circulates in local communities.

The number of full-time employees working for ag co-ops climbed by almost 7,000 in 2013, to 136,000, up 5 percent from 2012. Counting seasonal employees, ag co-ops employ 191,000 people.

In addition to marketing and processing their members' crops and livestock, co-ops are also major players in the farm supply market. Co-op sales of petroleum, feed, seed and crop protectants were all up in 2013. Fertilizer sales declined, the only major farm supply to see sales drop in 2013.

With grain and oilseed prices generally lower in 2014, it appears unlikely that co-ops will set a fourth consecutive sales record when the results are tallied next year. However, livestock, poultry and dairy producers and their co-ops will benefit from lower feed costs, which should offset at least some of the decline in revenue from grain and oilseed sales.

While 33 ag cooperatives recorded more than $1 billion in sales in 2013, 33 percent (726 co-ops) had less than $5 million in sales.

The value of cooperative assets fell in 2013 by almost $1 billion, with liabilities decreasing by $5.3 billion and owner equity gaining $4.5 billion. Equity capital still remains low but is clearly showing an upward trend, with a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Patronage income (refunds from other cooperatives due to sales between cooperatives) increased by almost 33 percent, to $1.2 billion, up from $900 million in 2012.

U.S. farm numbers remained about the same in 2013 as in 2012, with USDA counting 2.1 million in both years. There are now 2,186 farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives, down from 2,236 in 2012. Mergers account for most of the drop, resulting in larger cooperatives.

Producers held 2 million memberships in cooperatives in 2013, down about 7 percent from 2012. The number of cooperative memberships is slightly less than the number of U.S. farms, but this does not mean that every producer is a member of an agricultural cooperative. Previous studies have found that many farmers and ranchers are members of up to three cooperatives, so farm numbers and cooperative memberships are not strictly comparable.

Farmers have chance to direct $3.3 million to nonprofits

Farmers now have the opportunity to contribute $3.3 million to organizations in their communities.  To honor and support the tradition of service organizations in rural America, the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program is partnering with farmers to direct $2,500 donations to individual nonprofit organizations. The program, which kicked off its fifth year on August 1, benefits 1,324 counties across 40 states.

Organizations that received funding in the past include fire departments, food pantries, community groups, and youth service programs like FFA and 4-H. In the smaller, rural communities where this program operates, a donation like this can make the difference in dozens of lives. The results include better-equipped volunteer fire departments, food pantries stocked with more fresh produce, improved meeting halls and fair grounds, and opportunities for youth leadership development.

Since its inception in 2010, Grow Communities has invested more than $16 million in 6,000 nonprofit organizations across rural America. In Nebraska alone, Grow Communities has provided $1,157,500 to nonprofit organizations over the past five years.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities is part of the America’s Farmers initiative. These programs, supported by the Monsanto Fund, have awarded over $23 million to rural communities since 2010. Connect with America’s Farmers on Facebook or @AmericasFarmers on Twitter. Join the #GrowCommunities conversation today.

To enroll or learn more, visit www.AmericasFarmers.com, or call toll-free 877-267-3332.

New Calculator Can Help Soybean Farmers with Seed Decisions

Facing lower soybean cash prices this year, farmers are looking for opportunities to add to their bottom lines. Growing identity-preserved (IP) soybeans is one option for additional profit opportunities, but the costs can seem overwhelming to farmers thinking about getting started.

U.S.-soy-industry-led board QUALISOY developed a calculator that can help farmers determine how much profit they can add by growing IP soybeans, including high oleic varieties.

The calculator, based on a Purdue University study, helps farmers navigate the typical steps required to produce and segregate IP soybeans and gives them an estimate of added profit potential. The United Soybean Board’s Value Task Force funded the study.

“The charge of the Value Task Force is to try to find the next big thing that could really create opportunities for soybean farmers, and we feel that there is a lot of opportunity in IP soybeans,” says Dan Corcoran, a soybean farmer from Piketon, Ohio, and chair of the Value Task Force. “Whether a farmer has ever grown IP soybeans before or not, this tool will help determine the potential value that is out there.”

This calculator, available for use on http://soyinnovation.com/inputs-handling/, also gives a quick look into the limited costs associated with growing IP or high oleic soybeans.

“The soybean calculator is easy to access and has straightforward questions,” says Corcoran. “It takes you on a logical path to get a basis for non-IP products and what it takes to deliver a crop. Then it goes into the additional costs and revenue associated with growing IP soybeans.

“This tool helps you make an educated business decision by removing a large amount of guesswork. It gives soybean farmers a good overview of exactly what we need to invest when we choose to grow IP.”

Right now, opportunities available for soybean farmers to grow IP include non-GMO, food-grade and high oleic soybeans. However, high oleic soybeans have easier handling procedures compared with other IP soybeans. The calculator takes those factors into consideration when delivering its results.

“With the current state of soybean prices, it is important for soybean farmers to grow a product that has increasing demand,” concludes Corcoran. “This concept of growing a product that customers are demanding is beneficial for farmers in general.”

U.S. Biodiesel industry Challenges EU Trade Barriers

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) on Tuesday filed comments with the European Commission challenging unfair trade duties that have blocked U.S. biodiesel from being exported to Europe since 2009.

NBB urged the commission to allow duties on U.S. biodiesel to expire this year as scheduled, citing overwhelming evidence that global trade for biodiesel has changed dramatically since the duties were imposed and that continuing the duties is protectionist and unnecessary.

NBB also emphasized that European biodiesel producers are able to sell biodiesel in both Europe and the United States without duties or limitation and can freely participate in U.S. policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard and the U.S. biodiesel tax incentive. At the least, NBB said, U.S. producers should be able to participate in the European market without having to pay punitive duties

“We have presented a strong case for ending these protectionist barriers that are unfairly hurting U.S. biodiesel producers even as European producers are taking advantage of the U.S. market,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “As we speak, European biodiesel producers are sending biodiesel to the U.S., with significant policy support, while at the same time the European market has been cut off from U.S. producers.”

“The bottom line is that biodiesel trade is dramatically different in 2014 than it was in 2009 when the U.S. industry was just getting off the ground,” Steckel said. “Eliminating these duties will level the playing field and allow U.S. producers to fairly compete in accordance with international law – just as we are allowing European producers to do in the U.S. market.”

The original biodiesel trade duties were imposed by the European Commission on July 7, 2009 and were slated to expire this year. However, the Commission is currently conducting an “expiry review” over whether to reinstate them at the request of European industry. The review is expected to last 12 to 15 months.

Among the points highlighted in NBB’s filing Tuesday:
-    U.S. imports of biodiesel from the EU have grown in recent years while EU imports of U.S. biodiesel have been virtually eliminated.
-    The U.S. biodiesel tax incentive, which was the primary basis for the EU’s initial trade duties, is currently not in effect and hasn’t been in effect for three of the past five years.
-    Because it is structured as a blender’s incentive, the U.S. biodiesel tax incentive is available to European producers, when it is in effect, in the same way it is available to U.S. producers. Additionally, European imports to the U.S. can qualify for the RFS, the policy that requires specific volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply.
-    The U.S. biodiesel market has evolved significantly since 2009 and, with required volumes under the RFS creating a strong and growing domestic market, it is unlikely that eliminating the trade barriers would lead to a flood of U.S. biodiesel exports to Europe.

Mosaic Cuts Production

Mosaic Co. said Tuesday it is cutting back phosphate fertilizer production because of high sulfur and ammonia prices.

The move isn't expected to result in employee layoffs, but will lead to lower operating rates at Mosaic's mines and concentrates plants, the company said.

"Phosphate raw material input costs are disconnected from fundamental agricultural economics, and have escalated despite weaker grain and oilseed prices," Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko said.

He said the company will focus on margins in the near term and limit the buildup of inventory during the seasonally-slow part of the year.

The company also said it expects potash and phosphate sales volumes to be at or near the lower-end of the previously communicated ranges for the third quarter. The less-optimistic guidance stems from weather-driven production outages in potash and by timing of shipments in phosphates.

Cheminova Launches HARROW™ Herbicide

Cheminova, Inc. today announced the launch of HARROW™ Herbicide, a selective herbicide for use in field corn that provides both burndown and residual control of annual grass and broadleaf weeds. An affordable alternative to Basis® Blend herbicide, HARROW may be applied fallow, at preplant, preemergence and postemergence. It provides control of key weeds including annual bluegrass, foxtail, lambsquarters and velvetleaf.

“With HARROW, field corn growers have a flexible herbicide solution that may be used to control weeds at almost any time during the growing season,” said Ken Phelps, Product Manager, Cheminova, Inc. “In addition, HARROW complements our existing portfolio of sulfonylurea herbicides which has grown to include 12 products providing growers effective and affordable weed control across both row and specialty crops.”

The active ingredients in HARROW are rimsulfuron and thifensulfuron-methyl. HARROW will be packaged in 8 x 20 ounce bottles and is on sale September 25.

CWT Assists with 2.7 Million Pounds of Cheese

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 8 requests for export assistance from Northwest Dairy Association and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 1.116 million pounds (506 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia and the Middle East. The product will be delivered December 2014 through March 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 85.642 million pounds of cheese, 48.189 million pounds of butter and 33.171 million pounds of whole milk powder to 43 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 2.117 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Figures are adjusted for cancellations that occurred during the month.

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.

Merck Animal Health Launches Dairy C.A.R.E. Initiative

Merck Animal Health today introduced a new Dairy C.A.R.E. initiative to support the significant efforts of dairy producers to provide the best quality care for their animals. An extension of the Dairy Care365™ program, this new initiative focuses on providing resources on animal husbandry practices and hiring. Dairy C.A.R.E. also offers communication resources to help producers enhance awareness and understanding of their commitment to animals within their own communities. 

“When it comes to managing a productive dairy operation, there are a lot of parts that need to be moving in harmony, and it’s important that we provide our customers with more than products to help them achieve success,” said Scott Nordstrom, D.V.M., director of dairy technical services for Merck Animal Health. “Training and maintaining sound policies and practices are critical to that success. They also help a producer to establish very clear performance expectations for employees who are hands on with the animals every day.” 

Developed with input from veterinarians, university experts and dairy farmers, Dairy C.A.R.E. includes workforce resources, sample animal care commitment statements and policies, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that outline how animals should be handled to optimize their health and well-being. Working with their veterinarians, dairy farmers can customize these materials to meet the specific needs of their farm or use them to enhance the programs.

The initiative also includes the Dairy Care365™ animal handling training videos that feature real on-farm settings to provide a realistic representation of how cows behave and react to their surroundings. Through these videos, employees learn how to work with dairy cattle and youngstock safely and effectively, move cows to the milking parlor and handle non-ambulatory cows. Available in English and Spanish, every video concludes with testing to gauge employee understanding of the material. 

Merck Animal Health is offering hands-on Dairy C.A.R.E. workshops to help farmers customize the materials for their farms, which are free and open to farmers who register for the Dairy Care365TM program. For more information about the Dairy C.A.R.E. initiative and workshops, visit www.DairyCare365.com.

Calls Growing to Boycott Discover for HSUS Credit Card

Alex Fitzsimmons, Center for Consumer Freedom

HumaneWatch, a project of the Center for Consumer Freedom, has called for a boycott of credit card company Discover for its decision to start a new affinity card benefiting the deceptively named Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Below are some facts about HSUS that prompted our call to boycott the organization:
-    The Oklahoma Attorney General has opened an investigation of HSUS, issuing subpoenas in July.
-    In May, HSUS paid up to  $15.75 million to settle a federal RICO lawsuit alleging bribery and fraud.
-    Charity Navigator revoked its rating of HSUS in June, replacing it with a “Donor Advisory.”
-    HSUS gets a “C-minus” grade from the well-respected CharityWatch.
-    HSUS has a radical agenda to put farmers out of business.
-    HSUS only gives 1% of the money it raises to local pet shelters, despite its name and its ads full of dogs and cats.

This announcement coincides with the recent launch of BoycottHSUS.com, where visitors can learn more about HSUS and sign our petition.

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