Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday October 31 Ag News

Critical Habitat Rule Exceeds Congressional Boundaries

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a proposed rule which would drastically change what is considered “critical habitat” for endangered species.

“The proposed rule would allow for designation of unoccupied areas that lack the physical and biological features needed to support the species.  Under the proposal, areas could be designated as critical habitat based solely on the Services opinion of the land’s potential for development of habitat features that would fulfill a life history need of the species,” said Jay Rempe vice president of governmental relations.

Nebraska Farm Bureau worries that if the proposed extension of critical habitat to areas that are both unoccupied by the endangered species and areas that lack the species actual needed habitat, virtually anywhere could be considered an area needed a “critical habitat” designation.

“We believe Congress had a firm grasp of this concept in drafting the Endangered Species Act and did not intend to give the Services unilateral authority to designate any area it determined the species should occupy as critical habitat.  The proposed rule is not only ignoring the intent of the law, but broadening its scope to the point where the Services would, through critical habitat designations, have control over large areas of land,” Rempe said.


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for October 2014 averaged $5.20 per bushel, a decrease of 6 cents from the September price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

The preliminary October corn price, at $3.30 per bushel, decreased 24 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary October sorghum price averaged $5.70 per cwt, a decrease of 5 cents from September.

The preliminary October soybean price, at $9.70 per bushel, was down $1.30 from last month.

The October alfalfa hay price, at $97.00 per ton, was down $12.00 from September.  The other hay price, at $83.00 per ton, was down $3.00 from September.


The preliminary October 2014 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa was $3.20 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This is down $0.31 from the September price, and $1.44 lower than October 2013. This is the lowest price per bushel since January 2007.

The preliminary October 2014 average price received by farmers for soybeans, at $9.50 per bushel, was down $1.50 from the September price, and $3.00 lower than the October 2013 price. This is the lowest price per bushel since October 2010. 

The preliminary October oat price was $3.50 per bushel, up $0.35 from September, but $0.34 below October 2013.

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $131.00 per ton in October, down $9.00 from the September price, and $38.00 per ton less than October 2013. Alfalfa hay prices fell $43.00 per ton from one year ago, to $152.00 and other hay prices were $31.00 per ton lower than last year, at $99.00.

The preliminary October average price was $26.30 per cwt for milk, down $0.10 from September, but $5.90 per cwt above one year ago. Prices for replacement milk cows averaged $2,100 in October.

USDA: October Farm Prices Received Index Declined 9 Points

The preliminary Agricultural Production Index of Prices Received by Farmers in October, at 98 percent, based on 2011=100, fell 9 points (8.4 percent) from September. The Crop Index decreased 9 points (10 percent) but the Livestock Index increased 4 points (3.0 percent). Producers received lower prices for soybeans, corn, and milk and higher prices for hogs, calves, and cattle. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of soybeans, corn, cotton, and calves offset the decreased marketing of cattle, milk, broilers, and wheat.

The preliminary Agricultural Production Index decreased 2 points (2.0 percent) from October 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 111, decreased 8 points (4.7 percent) from last month but increased 5 points (4.7 percent) from October 2013

All crops:
The October index, at 78, decreased 10 percent from September and is 17 percent below October 2013. Lower grain and oilseed prices were the major contributors to the lower crop production index. 

Food grains: The October index, at 84, is up 1.2 percent from the previous month but 17 percent below a year ago. The October price for all wheat, at $5.60 per bushel, is down 14 cents from September and $1.34 lower than October 2013.

Feed grains: The October index, at 55, is down 6.8 percent from last month and 29 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $3.28 per bushel, is down 20 cents from last month and $1.35 below October 2013. Sorghum grain, at $5.88 per cwt, is 65 cents below September and $1.85 below October last year.

Oilseeds: The October index, at 77, is down 12 percent from September and 23 percent lower than October 2013. The soybean price, at $9.64 per bushel, decreased $1.26 from September and is $2.86 below October 2013.

Other crops: The October index, at 94, is down 6.9 percent from last month and 3.1 percent below October 2013. The all hay price, at $173 per ton, is down $3.00 from September and $1.00 from last October. The price for upland cotton, at 67.9 cents per pound, is down 1.6 cents from September and 9.9 cents below last October.

Livestock and products:

The October index, at 137, is 3.0 percent above last month and up 26 percent from October 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, milk, broilers, calves, hogs, market eggs, and turkeys.

Meat animals: The October index, at 141, is up 4.4 percent from last month and 28 percent higher than last year. The October hog price, at $80.00 per cwt, is up $4.30 from September and $11.50 higher than a year ago. The October beef cattle price of $159 per cwt is up $2.00 from last month and $32.00 higher than October 2013.

Dairy products: The October index, at 126, is down 1.6 percent from a month ago but 21 percent higher than October last year. The October all milk price of $25.30 per cwt is down 40 cents from last month but up $4.40 from October 2013.

Poultry & eggs: The October index, at 137, is up 3.0 percent from September and 21 percent above a year ago. The October market egg price, at 93.4 cents per dozen, increased 10.9 cents from September and is 9.8 cents above October 2013. The October broiler price, at 67.0 cents per pound, is up 1.0 cent from September and 14.0 cents above a year ago. The October turkey price, at 81.4 cents per pound, is up 3.9 cents from the previous month and 9.0 cents from a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The October Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is at 112 (2011=100). The index is unchanged from September, but 6 points (5.7 percent) above October 2013. Lower prices in October for concentrates, feed grains, diesel, and gasoline offset higher prices for feeder cattle, milk cows, feeder pigs, and supplements.

IFBF Webinar on Grain Bin Safety, Emergency Response Nov. 5

The U.S. Department of Labor has classified the grain handling industry as "high hazard," meaning workers can readily be exposed to numerous serious and life-threatening hazards ranging from fires and explosions to entrapment and suffocation. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's (IFBF) Margin Management Series continues with a live, grain bin safety webinar on Nov. 5 at 1 p.m.

Dan Neenan, director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), will present important information on grain bin safety as well as rescue information. Understanding grain bin safety protocol and proper preparation is essential for everyone on the farm. The webinar will provide valuable information for everyone involved in the farm operation, including how to respond to an emergency. Webinar participants will have the opportunity to ask Neenan specific questions via text during the webinar.

"Farming can definitely be a dangerous profession, and grain storage is an area where having the latest information and training can be extremely helpful," said Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. "We invited Director Neenan to share the latest safety information with members to ensure everyone involved in the farming operation are well equipped with the latest grain bin safety information to keep everybody safe on the farm."

There is no need to pre-register for the event. Farmers can access the webinar from their home or farm office by going to, clicking the webinar banner and entering the forum as a guest on the day of the event. Interested attendees are encouraged to test their computer's compatibility and connection prior to the webinar by clicking the webinar banner. For more information, contact Kordick at

Renewable Energy Group Expands REG Energy Services Offerings in Northeast and Midwest

Renewable Energy Group, Inc. is expanding its division that sells heating oil and petroleum diesel along with biodiesel blends by offering additional biofuel blends in New York, Minnesota and Iowa, the company announced today.

REG Energy Services, LLC will offer ultra-low sulfur heating oil and diesel (ULSHO/ULSD) blended with up to 20 percent biodiesel at its New Hyde Park, NY terminal. In addition, ULSD blended with biodiesel will be offered at Minnesota terminals in Alexandria, Mankato, Roseville and Rochester and Iowa terminals in Mason City and Des Moines. This adds ULSD to REG's existing biodiesel offerings at those locations.

This is the first time REG Energy Services will offer biodiesel fuel blends along the Magellan Midstream Partners terminal system in Iowa and Minnesota. Iowa has a 4.5 cent per gallon incentive for retailers utilizing blends of 5 percent and above. Minnesota has a B5 requirement in the winter when using ULSD and B10 during the summer months.

"This expansion of REG Energy Services provides further access to our fuel portfolio in the Northeast and Midwest markets where we will now offer biodiesel fuel blends in addition to REG-9000™ biodiesel," said Gary Haer, REG Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "Biodiesel blended fuel provides a convenient solution that further improves REG's ability to better meet our customers' needs and growing demand, while enhancing America's energy and food security, and our environment."

REG now offers fuel at 34 locations across the US.

Pork Industry Launches New Common Audit to Ensure Animal Care and Food Safety

After 18 months of industry collaboration, the National Pork Board announced that a new common swine industry audit platform for pork producers, packers and processors is now certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) and is available to the public. The new audit tool builds on the existing Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program and expands it to serve as a single, common audit platform for the pork industry.

The overarching goal of the common audit process is to provide consumers greater assurance of the care taken by farmers and pork processors to improve animal well-being and food safety. The concept of a common audit was first introduced at the 2013 National Pork Industry Forum and reintroduced last June at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, where a coalition of packers and pork producers explained how the audit is a credible and affordable solution for improving animal well-being.

"As an industry, we know that our customers are demanding a higher level of integrity from the pork industry's quality assurance processes and procedures," said John Johnson, chief operating officer of the National Pork Board. "We are encouraged by the broad support we have received from our industry partners to develop this tool, which has now gained third-party certification.”

To help avoid duplicative, costly and inefficient audit programs that are commonplace in some countries, this new tool is designed to:

• Meet individual company and customer needs.
• Be focused on outcome-based criteria that measure and improve animal welfare.
• Provide clarity to producers about audit standards and expectations.
• Minimize duplication and prevent over-sampling.
• Ensure greater integrity of the audit process through consistent application.
• Provide an objective, science-based platform to facilitate continuous improvement in animal care.

The new common audit framework has several key components, including a new audit tool, instructions for auditors, biosecurity protocols and a platform that will allow audit results to be shared to prevent duplicative audits. The audit tool was beta-tested on farms across the country and is ready for implementation by farms and processing plants across the United States.

"The industry has come together on this audit platform with the goal of better serving the needs of farmers, packers, processors, retail and food service providers and consumers," Johnson said. "This is not a Pork Checkoff program, but rather an initiative that has been led by producers and packers working together to enhance animal care and pork safety. We're grateful to everyone who worked on this effort for their leadership."

The Industry Audit Task Force included producers, veterinarians representing the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and packer representatives from Cargill, Farmland/Smithfield, Hatfield, Hormel, JBS, Seaboard, Triumph and Tyson.

"As packers, we operate between our suppliers - the pork producers - and our customers - those who are selling pork to consumers," said Chris Hodges, chairman of the Packer Processer Industry Council and senior vice president of fresh pork at Smithfield-Farmland. "The eye of the public is on where their food comes from and how it is raised. Meeting the demands of our customers, while still appreciating the challenges of our producers is tough. We are very pleased that these tools will be available to the pork industry to demonstrate the progress we continue to make with on-farm animal care."

Hodges added that the National Pork Board cannot fully deploy the standards of the program without the direct involvement of packers and processors. Many packers have agreed to support the new common industry audit, which means they will utilize the common audit standard when conducting third-party audits.

"This approach has never been more critical," said Emily Erickson, a member of the Industry Audit Task Force and a pig farmer from Jackson, Minn. "As pork producers, we know that we must do more to reassure consumers about our commitment to improving animal care. At the same time, we need a clear and consistent approach that can ensure we're doing the right thing every day for our animals, our farmers and our customers. This new framework delivers on that promise."

National Pork Board President Dale Norton, Bronson, Mich., agreed. "As a pork producer, I am excited because this announcement of a common platform sets a clear vision that challenges the status quo and meets domestic and international consumer needs," Norton said. "It's the right tool at the right time to ensure we provide high-quality pork from well-cared for pigs."

Pork producers and allied industry can learn more about the common industry audit by going to

Annual survey of pork producers begins Nov. 6

The Pork Checkoff will soon conduct its annual survey of pork producers. Each November, the National Pork Board implements the research project to gather important producer information, gauge attitudes and opinions and chart progress against Pork Checkoff goals and projects. The input, thoughts and opinions of America’s pork producers are critical to building research, education and promotional programs that deliver value to the marketplace.

The current survey project will begin Nov. 6 and should continue throughout the month. If you receive a call from a producer, please confirm the project is underway. VuPoint Research, a public opinion research company, is conducting the survey project.

Registration Open for AFBF's Annual Convention

Online registration is now open for the American Farm Bureau Federation's 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, which will be held Jan. 10-14, 2015, in San Diego.

The full Farm Bureau member registration fee is $100 and includes the IDEAg Trade Show and Young Farmer & Rancher competitive events (Saturday, Jan. 10 through Monday, Jan. 12), general sessions, workshops and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Silent Auction.

Non-members may pay $10 in advance for a one-day registration to attend the IDEAg Trade Show and Foundation Silent Auction on Saturday, Jan. 10.

"The 96th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show offers a preview of the future of agriculture," said John Hawkins, AFBF's senior director of conventions and events. "The IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference, thought-provoking educational workshops, and precision agriculture and technology displays will provide exciting opportunities for attendees to get a sneak peek at what's next in agriculture."

About 7,000 Farm Bureau members from across the nation are expected to gather for the convention, where they will hear from distinguished leaders and participate in a grassroots policy setting process that will guide the American Farm Bureau Federation through 2015.

AFBF President Bob Stallman will give his annual 'State of Farm Bureau' address to members at the opening general session of the convention on Jan. 11. On Jan. 12, Commander Rorke Denver will give the general session keynote address, and acclaimed late night TV host Jay Leno will give the closing session keynote address.

ASA Urges Elimination of Argentina DETS

The American Soybean Association (ASA), the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) sent comments this week to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) identifying significant barriers to U.S. exports, particularly on the trade distorting impact of Argentine Differential Export Taxes (DETs) and the artificial advantage they provide to soybean products exported from that country.

Argentina’s system of DETs within the soy sector includes the highest tax rate for raw products like soybeans, lower rates for processed products like soybean meal and oil and the lowest rate for the most processed soy product, soy-based biodiesel. This creates economic incentive for processing the beans in Argentina and exporting the value-added products rather than the raw beans; therefore DETs have distorted the competitive balance among soybean processors globally and have enabled Argentina to become the world’s largest exporter of soybean meal and oil.

The groups stated in comments to USTR, that while U.S. exports of soybean products achieved another strong year in 2013, they could be significantly higher and reach a greater global market share, if the U.S. soybean industry did not have to compete with Argentina’s DETs.

“Robust exports of soybean and soybean products are critical to the prosperity and profitability of the entire U.S. soybean value chain (biotech companies, seed companies, transportation industries, soybean farmers, oilseed processors and exporters),” the comments state. “Expanded volumes of U.S. soybean exports (especially value-added products such as soybean meal, soy oil and soy biodiesel) translate to an increased number of high-quality U.S. jobs.”

The comments also included findings of a 2013 study by the LMC International Report prepared for the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and United Soybean Board (USB). According to the study, DETs affect the global balance of crushing capacity because countries can chose to import (or export) either soybeans or their products and as Argentina shifts its exports away from soybeans towards their products, due to the DET advantage, importers and other exporters are forced in the opposite direction.

“The DETs therefore assist crushers in Argentina to the disadvantage of crushers elsewhere. Over a long period they have encouraged additional investment in crushing capacity in Argentina and have tilted exports from the country away from beans towards their products,” the groups state. “By exporting more meal and oil than it would have done otherwise, Argentina has altered crushing decisions around the world.  This has affect Argentina’s competitors (primarily Brazil and the U.S.), as well as countries which import soybeans and their products. This is because such governmental incentives distort normal market signals and competition among crushers.”

The groups concluded by urging immediate action to eliminate Argentine’s use of DETs on soybeans and soybean products, which ASA believes are inconsistent with WTO obligations and since they’ve been left unchecked, continue to spread across other agriculture products to countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Malaysia, Indonesia and possibly Uruguay.

USDA to Extend Comment Period on Argentina Beef Import Rule

Senators John Hoeven and Amy Klobuchar Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) will extend the comment period for its proposed rule for importing Argentine beef through December 29, 2014. Hoeven and Klobuchar wrote to USDA to encourage an extension of the comment period to ensure that the rule is properly assessed in light of previous cases of foot and mouth disease in Argentina.

The proposed rule would allow beef from northern Argentina to be imported into the United States, which is particularly concerning to U.S. livestock groups due to Argentina's past cases of foot and mouth disease, which affects cloven-hooved animals including cattle, sheep, bison and goats. Extending the comment period will allow greater opportunity for USDA to address concerns and to ensure herd safety in the United States.

Brazil's Mato Grosso Soy Planting Advances 20 Percentage Points

Soybean planting in Mato Grosso -- Brazil's No. 1 producing state -- advanced 20 percentage points over last week after showers returned to break a month-long dry spell.

As of Friday, farmers had planted 40.5% of Mato Grosso's projected soybean area, according to the farm-sponsored Mato Grosso Agricultural Economy Institute (IMEA).

However, planting remains well behind schedule. At the same time last year, some 71.7% of the crop had been planted.

Parana, Brazil's No. 2 producing state, saw planting move forward nine percentage points to 47% complete as of Thursday, according to the agricultural department in the southern state. But that compares unfavorably with the same point last year when some 58% of the crop had been planted.

In the center-north, which includes big planting municipalities such as Sorriso, Nova Mutum and Lucas do Rio Verde, planting was 47.3% complete.

The northeast of the state, a fast-growing soy region, received less rain and planting lags badly there. According to IMEA, only 18.2% of the crop had been sown.

If rains return to the east and remain light elsewhere, the majority of planting could be complete in two weeks.

Fall Wheat Conference Anchors Busy Meeting Season

With the 2014 wheat crop in the bins and sowing of the 2015 winter wheat crop well underway, the U.S. wheat industry is embarking on a busy schedule of meetings around the world. This is a chance to review the experiences of the immediate past to help the industry continue to improve and support its customers into the future.

After a successful North Asia Marketing Conference with customers from Japan, Korea and Taiwan the week of Oct. 13, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Alan Tracy travelled to Brazil to speak at the Brazilian wheat industry (ABITRIGO) conference. There he suggested that wheat buyers should carefully monitor the world corn market as well as wheat to help weather volatile price swings. Tracy also reviewed how consumer-facing U.S. wheat organizations defend against the gluten-free phenomenon. 

This week, USW farmer directors and staff are in the state of New Mexico for the Fall Wheat Conference. The USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) boards hold joint meetings twice each year, including at this conference. In addition to the individual boards of directors meetings, there is a full schedule of committee meetings, including joint committees on biotechnology and international trade.

Consolidating the final 2014 grade and functional data for all six U.S. wheat classes was challenging this year with a late harvest. Yet, as they have for decades, USW and its partner organizations are now sharing the data at USW’s annual series of Crop Quality Seminars. These events will continue into November and USW has posted final data for soft red winter and hard red winter wheat at, and will soon publish complete data for all six classes. For more information about the Crop Quality Seminars and 2014-crop quality data, contact your local USW representative.

Alan Tracy will continue his international travels in November, first to speak at the Latin American Millers Association (ALIM) annual meeting in Dominican Republic. USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Vince Peterson will also speak at ALIM where 2014/15 Chairman Roy Motter, from Brawley, CA, will represent U.S. wheat farmers. Tracy then will deliver what USW considers an important speech at the IAOM Middle East and Africa Region Annual Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, in early December. He then continues to Saudi Arabia for a speaking engagement at the International Grains Forum.

Annual domestic wheat farmer meetings start Nov. 13 when state wheat associations from Oregon, Washington and Idaho meet together. State wheat organizations continue to meet through early December and USW will send representatives to most of those meetings to report on the successes and challenges of the past calendar year.  

Farmers and Ranchers Encouraged to Make Their Voices Heard

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging farmers and ranchers to make their voices heard by voting in the upcoming Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee elections. FSA Administrator Val Dolcini announced that beginning Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, USDA will mail ballots for the 2014 elections to eligible producers across the country. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by the Dec. 1, 2014, deadline to ensure that their vote is counted.

“The role and input of our county committee members is vital as we implement the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Dolcini. “New members provide input and make important decisions on the local administration of FSA programs. We have seen promising increases in the number of women and minority candidates willing to serve on county committees, helping to better represent the diversity of American agriculture.”

FSA County Committee members provide an important link between the local agricultural community and USDA. Farmers and ranchers elected to county committees help deliver FSA programs at the local level, applying their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on commodity support programs; conservation programs; indemnity and disaster programs; emergency programs and eligibility. County committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm may also be eligible to vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate nominations during the nomination period, which ended on Aug. 1, 2014.

Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week may pick one up at their local USDA Service Center or FSA office. The deadline to submit ballots is Dec. 1, 2014. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 1, 2014. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2015.

Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve in the 2,124 FSA offices nationwide. Each committee consists of three to 11 members elected by eligible producers. Members serve 3-year terms of office. Approximately one-third of county committee seats are up for election each year.

More information on county committees, such as the new 2014 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website at You may also contact your local USDA Service Center or FSA office. Visit to find an FSA office near you.

ASA Issues Statement on Center for Food Safety Study on Soy in Infant Formula

Following the release of a study from the Center for Food Safety reported in Friday’s Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., the American Soybean Association has released a statement on the safety of soy-based infant formula, and the tactics used by the activist special interest group CFS in the fight over GMO labeling in Oregon.

“Unfortunately, the dialogue from anti-technology activists and special interest groups like the Center for Food Safety continues to devolve. This time, the victim is science. CFS uses pseudoscience to try to needlessly scare parents away from foods that provide valuable protein to their children. In doing so, they place the health of Oregon children at risk, all in the name of winning votes for an upcoming ballot initiative to label GMOs.

”The CFS ‘study’ found that soy infant formula contains soy.  That should not be shocking news, but what is shocking is the inaccurate information the CFS gave about soy that is genetically modified.  There is a mountain of peer-reviewed science backing the safety of food with genetically modified ingredients. Nearly two decades and trillions of meals have been served globally since the advent of this technology without a single adverse health impact. The world’s esteemed food and health organizations and regulatory bodies—including The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations—have repeatedly affirmed the safety of foods with GM ingredients, as has a unanimous scientific community.

“More than 95 percent of the nation’s soybeans are grown with the benefits of genetic modification. Farmers use this technology because it enables us to grow the soy that American consumers demand for their families, while using fewer natural resources and achieving the sustainable production practices that American consumers demand of us.

“It is irresponsible for special interest groups to suggest safety concerns, directly or by innuendo, about products containing GM soy ingredients. In this case, the CFS has chosen to play politics with children’s health, all in the name of votes.”

Dairy industry fights prostate cancer

November 1st marks the start of the MoDairy initiative’s second year. MoDairy, in support of the Movember Foundation, committed to raising awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and male mental health, all through the power of the moustache.

Globally recognized as the leading global organization changing the face of men’s health, growing a moustache in the month of November reminds us of the health challenges facing a high proportion of males – specifically prostate cancer. Statistically, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

With the high potential of men being affected by prostate cancer, dairy farmers are also at risk. “Adding to the concern, dairy farmers have less awareness as to signs and symptoms, likely have less frequent medical examinations and simply are often more focused on the care of their cows and crops than they are of their own health,” says Amy Throndsen, director of international sales for DCC Waterbeds and founding member of MoDairy.

A group dedicated to supporting Movember, MoDairy is a small coalition dedicated to help dairy producers become more aware of their health.

“The goal of this growing coalition is to increase awareness of prostate cancer and build support throughout the dairy industry to help dairy farmers protect themselves with greater education, understanding and action to help keep their health in check,” says Ed Peck, president of Filament Marketing and member of MoDairy.

Combining humor and health, MoDairy is driving change by growing moustaches, sharing key statistics and encouraging dairy producers to contact their doctors for health screenings.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday October 30 Ag News

Average Crop Revenue Election Set for Certain 2013 Crops

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Dan Steinkruger announced that FSA has begun distributing Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payments for revenue losses associated with certain crops in Nebraska. Discontinued by the 2014 Farm Bill, the ACRE program provided producers with protection from revenue losses for crops grown in 2009-2013.

Crops eligible for October payments in Nebraska include wheat, grain sorghum, dry peas and irrigated barley grown during the 2013 crop year. The Budget Control Act (sequestration) passed by Congress in 2011 requires these payments to be reduced by 5.1 percent.

Nebraska ranks as one of the top states for participation in ACRE, with just over 17,000 farms enrolled in the program. Payments were issued under the program last year for drought losses to non-irrigated corn, soybeans and other crops grown in 2012. The ACRE program was discontinued by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) which established two new programs -- Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Farmers will be making decisions regarding their election into these programs beginning November 17, 2014.

For more information on 2013 ACRE payments, producers should contact their local FSA office or visit FSA's website at

Scientific Climate Info Now Available for Northern Plains

Justin Derner, Northern Plains Regional Climate Hubs

This fall, ranchers, farmers, and land managers in the Northern Plains from Bartlett, Neb., to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming will be making decisions that will affect their operations in the coming year. Land managers often consider markets, weather and changing climatic conditions using data and information from various sources including newspapers and popular press publications, Cooperative Extension agents, State Climatologists, and the Internet.

With the recent launch of the USDA Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub website, ranchers, farmers, and land managers have a new source for region-specific, science-based information, practical management and conservation strategies, and decision-support tools. The national Hubs site features links to the latest climate news, events, thematic climate highlights (e.g. Croplands, Forestland, Grazing Lands and Livestock) as well as educational materials, factsheets, and regional contact information.

The collaborative efforts of the USDA Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub encompass agencies both within and outside of USDA. The Northern Plains hub is located at the Agricultural Research Service Plains Area Office in Fort Collins, Colorado and key partners include the USDA National Agroforestry Center, Cooperative Extension at the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, South Dakota State University, North Dakota State University, and Montana State University. The hub is undertaking educational curriculum development with Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom, and closely coordinating with the North Central Climate Science Center, the National Drought Mitigation Center, the National Integrated Drought Information System, the High Plains Regional Climate Center, and Western Water Assessment.

2014 ELAP Enrollment Closes Nov. 3

Producers are reminded that the enrollment deadline for the 2014 Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) is Nov. 3. The deadline for 2012 and 2013 ELAP has already passed. The 2014 Farm Bill designated ELAP as a permanent disaster program and provides retroactive authority to cover losses that occurred on or after Oct. 1, 2011.

ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). For 2014 program year losses, the notice of loss and an application for payment must be submitted by Nov. 3.

For more information, producers can review the ELAP Fact Sheet on the Farm Bill webpage. Producers are encouraged to make an appointment with their local FSA office to enroll in ELAP.

Country of Origin Labeling Reform Coalition Sends Letter to Congress Asking for Immediate Action

Please be advised that the COOL Reform Coalition sent this letter to Congress at 10:00 a.m. Eastern today.  It is signed by 109 stakeholders.

October 30, 2014


The undersigned stakeholders are gravely concerned about the negative impact that the existing U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule for muscle cuts of meat will have on the U.S. economy. On October 20, 2014, a World Trade Organization (WTO) Compliance Panel released a report determining that the rule violates obligations the United States has undertaken as a member of the WTO with regard to our two largest export markets, Canada and Mexico. While there is an opportunity for the United States to appeal this decision, final adjudication should occur in early 2015. At that time, if the Compliance Panel's original findings are found to be valid, both Canada and Mexico could subject an array of U.S. exports to retaliatory tariffs. A finding of non-compliance would surely result in serious economic harm to U.S. firms and farmers that export to our neighbors.

Canada has already issued a preliminary retaliation list targeting a broad spectrum of commodities and manufactured products that will affect every state in the country. Mexico has not yet announced a preliminary retaliation list, but has implemented retaliatory tariffs in the past which may be indicative of future tariff opportunities. It is expected that U.S. industries would suffer billions in lost sales if retaliation is allowed. We invite you to review the state-by-state retaliatory analysis available at

Given the negative impact on the U.S. manufacturing and agriculture economies, we respectfully submit that it would be intolerable for the United States to maintain, even briefly, a rule that has been deemed non-compliant by the WTO. With little potential for quick Congressional action after a WTO final adjudication, we request that Congress immediately authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL that have been determined to be non-compliant with international trade obligations by a final WTO adjudication. Such action by Congress would not undermine COOL to the extent COOL is consistent with international trade obligations nor would it weaken the U.S. defense of COOL in WTO litigation.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter and for protecting American food production, agriculture and manufacturing from economic harm.

Agri Beef Co.
Altrius Group, LLC
American Bakers Association
American Beverage Association
American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, A.C.
American Feed Industry Association
American Frozen Food Institute
American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition
American Meat Institute
American Peanut Product Manufacturers, Inc.
American Seed Trade Association
American Soybean Association
Animal Health Institute
Archer Daniels Midland
Auto Care Association
California Chamber of Commerce
California Cherry Export Association
California Pear Growers Association
California Table Grape Commission
Campbell Soup Company
Cargill, Incorporated
The Coca-Cola Company
ConAgra Foods, Inc.
Consumer Electronics Association
Corn Refiners Association
Dart Container Corporation
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)
Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association
Food & Consumer Products of Canada
Food Marketing Institute
General Mills
Georgia Food Industry Association
Glanbia USA
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Hawaii Food Industry Association
Herbalife Ltd.
The Hershey Company
Hills & Company
Hilmar Cheese Company Inc.
H.J. Heinz Company
Hormel Foods Corporation
Independent Bakers Association
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
Ingredion Incorporated
International Dairy Foods Association
International Franchise Association
International Sleep Products Association
Kellogg Company
Kraft Foods Group, Inc.
The Latino Coalition
Leprino Foods Company
Louisiana Retailers Association
Mars, Incorporated
Metals Service Center Institute
Midwest Food Processors Association
Mondelez Global LLC
National Association of Egg Farmers
National Association of Manufacturers
National Beef Packing Co., LLC
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Confectioners Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Foreign Trade Council
National Grain and Feed Association
National Grocers Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Renderers Association
National Retail Federation
Nestlé USA
Nestlé Waters North America
North American Equipment Dealers Association
North American Export Grain Association
North American Meat Association
Northwest Food Processors Association
Northwest Horticultural Council
NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies
Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
Penford Products Co.
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association
Pet Food Institute
Produce Marketing Association
Red Gold, Inc.
Remy International, Inc.
Roquette America
Sargento Foods Inc.
The Schwan Food Company
Smithfield Foods
Snack Food Association
Sweetener Users Association
Tate & Lyle Americas
Transportation Intermediaries Association
Tyson Foods, Inc.
United Egg Producers
United Producers, Inc.
United States Council for International Business
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Premium Beef
USA Rice Federation
The Walter Bagehot Council
Wine Institute

College Aggies Online Individual Winners to Receive Full Scholarship to 2015 Collegiate Congress

The College Aggies Online (CAO) program, an initiative led by the Animal Agriculture Alliance, announces the addition of a full scholarship to AgChat Foundation’s 2015 Collegiate Congress scheduled for January 17-18, 2015. The CAO is a nationwide scholarship program aimed at helping college students and collegiate agriculture clubs unitize social media and community engagement to share agriculture’s story.

The CAO competition is held every fall, running approximately 11 weeks between September and November. An online competition, CAO is open to all college students with an interest in agriculture. Since the competition’s inception in 2009, more than 1,500 college students from more than 100 different colleges and universities have participated in the program.

This year the CAO program has teamed with the AgChat Foundation (ACF) as partners in the 2015 Collegiate Congress event which will be held at Dow AgroSciences headquarters in Indianapolis. In addition to monetary scholarships in the amount of $5,000.00 and $2,500, respectively, the top two individual winners will each be rewarded will an all expenses paid trip to attend the Collegiate Congress.

The ACF’s 2015 Collegiate Congress is the first of its kind, and aims to challenge passionate, agriculture college-students from across the U.S. to expand their social media experiences and shorten the bridge between consumers and their food. The event will include sessions on what consumers see and hear, how social media can be improved to tell a story when you are living on campus and away from the farm, how to use blogging, and what it means to make a consumer connection, both on and offline. Attendees can expect a strong focus on networking with other students and exchanging ideas on how to connect with fellow non-agriculture students on their campuses.

In addition, students will learn more about connecting agriculture to consumers through an optional tour of Fair Oaks Farm in Fair Oaks, Indiana. The tour is scheduled for Sunday, January 18 and will include the dairy adventure, pig adventure and the cheese and yogurt factory. Lunch is included at the Cheese Factory Cafe, which offers soups, grilled cheese sandwiches made with Fair Oaks cheese, and Fair Oaks ice cream. The tour will provide a hands-on look at how Fair Oaks creates unique visibility of dairy and pork farming.

“We are excited to be teaming with the College Aggies Online program on the 2015 National Collegiate Congress. As we build a solid foundation for our youngest agvocates, developing alliances with other like-minded programs is essential,” stated AgChat Foundation’s Executive Director Jenny Schweigert. “This year’s College Aggies Online program includes some of the best of the best of college advocates. We are delighted to further their experiences by hosting the top two individual winners of the College Aggies Online competition.”

With support from Dow AgroSciences, National FFA and Animal Agriculture Alliance, the National Collegiate Congress will bring together 165 students to learn about extending their abilities to connecting with consumers.

Learn more about the event at Early bird registration ends November 30. To learn more about the College Aggies Online program visit

CLARIFIDE from Zoetis Packs More Information into Latest Version

New advancements by Zoetis to its CLARIFIDE® genomic test will give producers new tools to predict future performance. More markers, new genetic conditions, Holstein coat color outcomes and a proprietary polled test highlight new test features available in October.

“Recent advancements to the CLARIFIDE test will help dairy producers discover new opportunities to advance their herd’s genetic potential through more advanced genetic decisions,” says Dr. Sue DeNise, executive director, Zoetis research and development genetics research. “These advancements by Zoetis signify our commitment to ongoing research and product development that benefits dairy producer profitability.”

The new technology inherent in the CLARIFIDE test includes the following:
·         More markers. The number of markers increases from 12,000 to nearly 19,000 markers, with reliability comparable to other low density assays on the market. More than 17,500 markers are reported to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), with the remainder used by Zoetis in other research and development efforts.
·         More genetic conditions, haplotypes and milk components with genotype results. These new advancements make the results official for specific breeds. Previously, some breed associations did not recognize haplotype data as official results.
·         New coat color outcomes. CLARIFIDE now provides coat color identification solutions to Holstein producers to help them meet their goals to add red color to their herd.
·         A new polled test proprietary to Zoetis for Holstein and Jersey cattle.

The results of the new assay will be reflected in animals that are included in the USDA-CDCB October reporting period for animals tested with CLARIFIDE. Information is available at regarding haplotype vs. gene-based results, coat color and the polled test.

“Dairy producers have made Zoetis’s CLARIFIDE the most widely used genomic test in all U.S. dairy animals in 2014 thus far,” says Cheryl Marti, senior marketing manager, dairy genetics and reproductives at Zoetis.1 “We’re proud of the paradigm-changing genetic strategies we’ve helped dairy producers adopt through education, industry partnerships and development of modeling tools. This coupled with our unmatched technical support helps turn genomic data into meaningful, useful and profitable results for dairies.”

Bunge Agribusiness Sales Fall 8.2%

Bunge Ltd. said sales in its main agribusiness segment fell 8.2% in the latest quarter, as the decline in commodity prices resulted in slow farmer selling.

One of the largest grain handlers in the world, White Plains, N.Y.-based Bunge buys, sells, stores and transports oilseeds and grains world-wide, among other businesses.

Earlier this year, the company benefited from a strong crop season and increased demand. However, in the latest quarter, the downward shift in commodity prices dented results in the agribusiness segment.

"The transition from tight to plentiful global grain and oilseed supplies, highlighted by falling prices and some of the slowest farmer selling in recent memory in South America, created a challenging market environment," Chief Executive Soren Schroder said.

Sales in the agribusiness segment--the company's largest business by revenue--fell to $9.84 billion from $10.72 billion a year earlier.

For the quarter ended in September, Bunge reported a profit of $294 million, compared with a loss of $148 million a year earlier. On a per-share basis, which includes certain dividend payments, the profit was $1.90, compared with a loss of $1.13. Excluding certain gains and charges, the company recorded a profit from continuing operations of $1.31 a share in the latest quarter, down from $1.89.

Sales declined to $13.68 billion from $14.7 billion a year earlier.

BASF Report Higher Sales, Income

In the third quarter of 2014, BASF observed declining demand in the chemicals business and in the Agricultural Solutions segment. But sales grew by 3% compared with the previous third quarter, reaching €18.3 billion.

A sharp rise in volumes in the Natural Gas Trading business sector was mainly responsible for this growth, which was slowed by a drop in oil and gas prices. The company raised income from operations before special items by €150 million to around €1.8 billion.

The primary contributors to this development were the Chemicals and Oil & Gas segments, together with Other. The increase was dampened by a considerable earnings decline in the Agricultural Solutions segment.

Meanwhile, sales volumes grew compared with the third quarter of 2013. This was largely on account of a sharp increase in volumes in the Natural Gas Trading business sector.

In the Agricultural Solutions segment, sales were slightly below the level of the third quarter of 2013. Price increases in all regions were unable to compensate for a drop in sales volumes. Earnings fell significantly.

DuPont Reports Operating Earnings Up 20 Percent

DuPont announced third quarter 2014 operating earnings of $0.54 per share compared to $0.45 per share in the prior year. GAAP1 earnings per share were $0.47 versus $0.28 last year. Consolidated sales were $7.5 billion, 3 percent below last year, reflecting portfolio changes, as price, volume and currency were in line with the prior year period.

"In the third quarter, we improved our operating margins in five of seven segments and grew operating earnings per share 20 percent, despite a weaker Ag environment and sluggish economic growth in most of the world," said DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman. "Our increase in margins in a slow growth environment reflects the momentum we are building as we execute our plan, which is driving new products, portfolio enhancements and a broad initiative to redesign our operating model with a smaller cost base and a simplified support structure. We are positioning DuPont for our next stage of growth, while increasing returns to our shareholders."

Third quarter 2014 net sales of $7.5 billion were 3 percent below last year due to portfolio changes. Increased volumes were offset by a decrease in local selling prices. The table below shows third quarter regional sales and variances versus third quarter 2013.

Agriculture -- A seasonal operating loss of $55 million improved $7 million, or 11 percent, due primarily to lower seed input costs and operating cost improvements, partially offset by lower sales and the absence of the prior year $26 million gain from the acquisition of a controlling interest in Pannar. Increases in insecticide and fungicide volumes, mainly in Latin America, were more than offset by lower corn seed and herbicide volumes and lower corn seed price.

For the fourth quarter, the company expects sluggish growth in the global economy, along with continuing headwinds in agriculture and from currency. However, the company remains confident in its ability to create higher value from its portfolio while continuing to deliver against cost productivity and corporate initiatives. Overall, the company expects fourth quarter operating earnings per share to grow about 20 percent from last year's $0.59 per share, matching the growth rate the company achieved in the third quarter, and bringing full year 2014 operating earnings within its previously communicated outlook range of $4.00 - $4.10 per share.

CME Earnings Rise 23%

CME Group Inc. said its earnings rose 23% as trading volume picked up in the third quarter.

The company's profit exceeded expectations.

CME Group (CME), which is the largest futures exchange operator in the world in terms of contracts traded, posted a 12% increase in trading volume during the period, reflecting an average of about 13.5 million contracts a day. CME said interest rate volume rose 23% to a daily average of 7.2 million contracts.

Overall, CME Group posted earnings of $290 million, or 86 cents a share, up from $597.9 million, or 71 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Excluding items, the company's per-share earnings were 84 cents.

Revenue rose 6.7% to $762.4 million.

Wednesday October 29 Ag News

Sarpy-Douglas FSA Sets Farm Program Info Meetings

The Sarpy-Douglas County Farm Service Agency and UNL Extension Service are hosting a Farm Bill meeting on Nov. 24 at 9 a.m. at the Chalco Hills Recreation Center located at 8901 S 154th. The meeting is free and open to the public. Meeting attendees will learn about Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Bill programs.

Tim Lemmons, Extension Educator, will demonstrate the online decision-making tools that are available to producers to help make important enrollment decisions regarding the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. Learning more about ARC and PLC is extremely important for producers who must make a one-time decision about base and yield updates as well as ARC or PLC election and enrollment decisions. An FSA representative will be in attendance to answer any questions on ARC and PLC policy and procedure.

For more information about the meeting, please contact the Sarpy-Douglas County FSA Office at 402-896-0121 extension 2.

Access to a full schedule of statewide Producer Information Meetings is available at or

Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or participate in this meeting/event/function should contact CED Bryan Ralston at 402-721-8455 extension 2 or Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 by Nov. 17.

Do Cows Need Protein Supplements on Corn Stalks?

Aaron Berger, UNL Extension Educator

Two factors influence whether or not there is benefit to feeding cows a protein supplement when grazing cornstalks. Consider the following when determining whether or not the feeding of a protein supplement is needed.

The first factor is the quality and quantity of forage available. The amount of corn, leaves and husks will vary with growing and harvest conditions. Cattle will select the grain and best quality forage first when initially turned into a field. As cattle continue to graze, their diet quality will decrease. Once cattle have eaten the available husks and leaves and begin eating more of the stalk, diet quality will go down significantly. Weathering will deteriorate forage quality. Cool, dry weather conditions in the fall and winter will maintain quality for a longer period of time, while wet, warm, muddy conditions will result in a faster deterioration of leaves and husk.

The second factor is cow body condition score at the initiation of grazing. Recent research at the University of Nebraska indicates that mature, spring calving cows in a body condition score 5 or better do not need supplemental protein or energy when grazing targets removal of half of the leaves and husk based on corn yield. See the 2012 Nebraska Beef Report Supplementing Gestating Beef Cows Grazing Cornstalk Residue ( for more information. Plan to supplement cows with salt and mineral. Bred two-year-old heifers in their third trimester as well as lactating cows will have higher nutrient requirements. These will need both protein and energy supplementation to meet their nutrient requirements. Spring calving cows in a body condition score less than 5 would likely benefit from protein supplementation.

For more information on management of grazing cows on cornstalks or other crop residues, please see the recently released UNL Extension Circular “Grazing Crop Residues with Beef Cattle” ( To view a webinar on cornstalk grazing go to the website and see “Cornstalk Grazing - Understanding the Value to Cattle Producers and Corn Farmers”.

Hay Quality and Supplemental Feeding

Daren Redfearn, UNL Forage and Crop Residue Systems Specialist
Mary Drewnoski, UNL Beef Systems Specialist
Jay Parsons, UNL Biosystems Economist

To answer the question, “is my hay feeding program meeting the cowherd’s nutritional requirements?”, two key pieces of information are needed. The first piece of information to obtain is the animal nutritional needs. Nutrient requirements are not consistent for all classes of livestock, so some knowledge of their body weight and stage of production is also required. Your Extension Educator can provide information on determining beef nutrient requirements. The next piece of information is the results from a forage analysis. At a minimum, it is important to know the crude protein (CP) and total digestible nutrient (TDN) values for hay supplies. Most forage quality analyses cost $10 to $20 per sample.

During the winter hay feeding period, it will take about 1000 pounds (DM basis) of grass hay to feed an 1100-pound mature cow for 30 days. This is equivalent to 28 pounds (DM basis) of hay per day. The following example can be used to help explain the relationship between forage quality and stage of production. In a 1000-pound bale of medium-quality grass hay with 7.0% CP (DM basis) and 58% TDN (DM basis), there are 70 pounds of CP and 580 pounds of TDN. The nutritional requirements for a mature cow during the middle 1/3 of gestation is 1.4 pounds of CP (DM basis) and 9.7 pounds of TDN (DM basis) each day. From a couple of simple calculations (Table 1,, the 30-day CP requirement for this animal is 42 pounds and the TDN requirement is 291 pounds. This hay should be adequate to maintain the 1100-pound mature cow during the middle 1/3 of gestation if her daily DM hay consumption is at least 28 pounds.

The nutrient requirements for the same 1100-pound cow the first 90 days after calving increase to 2.9 pounds of CP (DM basis) and 16.8 pounds of TDN (DM basis) each day. Assuming she consumes 28 pounds (DM basis) of hay per day, both her protein and energy requirements will be deficient. In this instance, both additional protein and energy should be provided to meet the increased nutritional requirements.

It would require about 4 pounds per day (DM basis) of distiller’s grains to meet the 17-pound CP deficiency of an animal during the first 90 days after calving if she were consuming medium-quality grass hay containing 7.0% CP (DM basis) and 58% TDN (DM basis). At a cost of $125 per ton for the supplement, the cost of supplementation would be $0.25 per day. However, this supplementation is not needed during the middle 1/3 of gestation. In this example, over-supplementing a 100-cow herd for 90 days during the middle 1/3 of gestation would result in unnecessary feed costs of $2,250. Greater profit potential is the primary reason livestock producers need to know the quality of the forages they are feeding. The cost to determine if additional protein or energy feeding is needed can be quickly recovered in either feed cost savings or improved animal performance.

USDA Making Plans for a Separate Beef Checkoff

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is calling on beef producers to voice opposition to a proposal by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to create an additional checkoff. The checkoff would be in addition to the $1 per head already collected and would go directly to USDA.

Ed Greiman, of Garner, Iowa, president of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, said he's frustrated by the proposal.  He says a beef checkoff working group, comprised of representatives of 11 organizations, has been meeting for three years and his understanding was that everyone was in agreement when a proposal was brought forth this summer.

On Sept. 30, Vilsack met with industry groups and made it clear that if the groups involved didn't reach consensus, USDA may step in.

The current checkoff operates under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. Under this checkoff, the $1 collected is split equally between the state in which it is collected the federal program. The money is used for promotion, education and research.

USDA says there will be opportunities to comment on Vilsack's proposal.

Meanwhile, the NCBA asks producers to send a letter to their elected officials and Secretary Vilsack to voice their opinion on the proposal to implement an additional checkoff. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is the main contractor for beef checkoff funds.

Deadline to Seed Winter Hardy Cover Crops Extended to Nov. 15

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and State Agronomist Barb Stewart with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have until Nov. 15, 2014 to plant winter hardy cover crops and still qualify for assistance.

The seeding date is extended following the announcement that only 81 percent of Iowa’s soybeans and 36 percent of corn were harvested as of Sunday. “The crop report indicates both corn and soybean harvests are behind the five-year average,” said Northey. “Extending the deadline to November 15 will allow additional farmers to get cover crops planted while still benefiting water quality.”

Winter hardy cover crops include cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale, among others. An extension was given to farmers last year, too, following a late harvest. “Late seeded winter hardy cover crops provided adequate spring growth for erosion control last year when allowed to grow to at least eight inches tall before termination,” said Stewart.

Guidance from Iowa State University confirmed cover crops planted through the Nov. 15 deadline still have the potential to provide a substantial reduction in nutrient losses and soil erosion.

The following applies to cover crops planted in the extension period (Oct. 16 – Nov. 15):
-    Cover crops will be seeded as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop.
-    The cover crop to be seeded must be winter hardy (i.e. cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale).
-    The cover crop will be no-till drilled in crop residue.
-    Allow cover crop to add growth as long as possible in the spring prior to termination to maximize benefits.  (Must be allowed to grow until at least 8 inches for those participating in federal programs)
-    The extension does not apply for all federal programs. Contact your NRCS office if you have questions.

Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

Ethanol Stocks Plunge to 5-Month Low

The Energy Information Administration released data Wednesday, Oct. 29, showing ethanol inventories in the United States plunged last week for the fourth straight week, drawn down to a five-month low despite a rise in plant production.

Total ethanol stocks were drawn down about 900,000 barrel (bbl), or 5%, to 17.0 million bbl during the week-ended Oct. 24, the lowest stock level since the week-ended May 16 when supplies were below 17.0 million bbl.

The fact that inventories fell despite higher domestic production and a marginal increase in domestic demand supports speculation more barrels are being exported overseas.

Although domestic ethanol stocks have declined sharply since they reached an 18-month high of 18.828 bbl during the week-ended Sept. 26, they remain 2.1 million bbl, or 13.9% above a year ago.

Plant production increased 41,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 4.6%, last week to 937,000 bpd while up 2.9% year-over-year, with four-week average output edging up 2.1%.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, increased 2,000 bpd to 878,000 bpd last week while up 0.9% year-over-year, with four-week average demand up 1.5%.

USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadlines

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting, today announced extended deadlines for the dairy Margin Protection Program. Farmers now have until Dec. 5, 2014, to enroll in the voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.

"We want dairy producers to have enough time to make thoughtful and well-studied choices," said Vilsack. "Markets change and the Margin Protection Program can help protect dairy producers from those changes."

Vilsack encouraged producers to use the online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. "Historical scenarios also can be explored to see how the Margin Protection Program would function should poor market conditions occur again in the future," said Vilsack. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also extended the opportunity for public comments on both the Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15, 2014.

"USDA is committed to creating strong opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. When dairy producers bring new family members into the business, these changes could affect safety net coverage," said Vilsack. "If our current rules hinder intergenerational changes or if improvements are needed in these programs, then we want to hear from dairy producers."

NMPF Welcomes Four New Co-ops as Members as 2014 Annual Meeting Closes

The National Milk Producers Federation welcomed four new dairy cooperative members, two new board members and one new board officer, as the organization wrapped up its 2014 annual meeting here Wednesday.

Also at the meeting, guest speaker Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Agriculture Secretary, told attendees that the USDA is extending by one week the deadline for farmers to enroll in the new Margin Protection Program. The previous deadline, November 28, will be moved back to Friday, December 5th, to ensure that dairy producers have time after the Thanksgiving weekend to sign up for the new dairy safety net. NMPF had asked USDA to consider an extension, because November 28 is “Black Friday.”

The new cooperative members are Bongards’ Creameries, Norwood, Minnesota; Cortland Bulk Milk Producers Cooperative, Cortland, New York; Mount Joy Farmers Cooperative Association, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, and Oneida-Madison Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Sherrill, New York.

These new members bring the number of dairy cooperatives in NMPF to 31. NMPF members market the majority of the milk produced in the United States, making NMPF the voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.

The two new NMPF board members are Michael Doyle, president and CEO of Foremost Farms USA in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and Scot Meyer, board member of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, Wisconsin. In addition, board member Keith Murfield, CEO of United Dairymen of Arizona, was elected to serve as secretary of the organization.

In addition, NMPF recognized six outgoing board members for their service to the organization and presented the NMPF Political Action Committee Award to board member Dan Senestraro of Dairy Farmers of America.

The six outgoing board members receiving certificates of appreciation were William Blalock, Cooperative Milk Producers Association; Albert Knegendorf, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery;  Dennis Donohue, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative; David Newhouse, Farmers Cooperative Creamery; Dave Fuhrmann, Foremost Farms USA; and  Donald DeJong, Select Milk Producers.

In other NMPF annual meeting news, a provolone made by Dairy Farmers of America in its Turlock, California, processing plant was received the top award, known as the Chairman’s Plaque, in the 2014 NMPF cheese competition. Complete cheese contest results are on the NMPF website.

The 2014 NMPF Communicator of the Year award was presented to Michelle Carter, communications specialist with Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold in Seattle.

The incoming 2015 Young Cooperator council elected its leadership for the upcoming year. Brian and Carrie Preston, Michigan Milk Producers Association, were chosen to serve as the YC Chaircouple. Tommy and Anna Watkins, Southeast Milk, will serve as the Vice Chaircouple, and Donald and Bernadette Harwood, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, will be the Secretary Couple.


With a growing global population and increased pressures on agriculture due to climate change, farmers around the world will increasingly require a broad range of agricultural solutions to improve the on-farm potential of crops on our world’s finite farmland. Today, Monsanto Company reinforced its commitment to further improve the genetic potential of seeds by announcing a $20 million investment in integrated technology centers as part of its global breeding program. These technology centers will utilize continuing advancements in data science, genomic breeding methods and predictive analytics to further enhance seeds. This work will help farmers unlock untapped yield potential as they produce crops to help nourish our growing world.

“We are at a unique inflection point in the evolution of plant breeding where data science and predictive analytics will help to unlock previously untapped potential of plant genetics,” said Sam Eathington, Monsanto vice president of global plant breeding. “Monsanto is committed to continue to deliver new agricultural solutions through plant breeding so that farmers can keep up with the growing demands of food production in the face of population growth and climate change.”

Monsanto utilizes its broad network of breeding and field testing locations, global germplasm library and advanced technologies to develop better products for farmers. And with today’s announcement, the company highlighted its commitment to invest $20 million over the next two years to accelerate plant breeding research across integrated technology centers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota and Nebraska. These integrated technology centers will enable the company to combine some local operations, utilize new advancements and discoveries, as well as share best practices across crop research.

“Advanced plant breeding techniques and the application of data science are key elements working together to contribute to a food-secure future. And we’re scaling our breeding engine to develop products that help farmers around the world meet this challenge,” said Eathington.

About Plant Breeding at Monsanto

Plant breeding is a core platform of Monsanto’s research and development pipeline. The company invests a significant amount of its R&D effort in developing better seeds through plant breeding. Monsanto collaborates with academic institutions, industry partners and organizations to broadly license our technology and share information to ensure farmers have access to many solutions. Teams around the world utilize breeding across row crops – corn, soybeans, cotton, canola/oilseed rape, wheat, sorghum and sugarcane – as well as fruits and vegetables to meet the needs of farmers and society. Monsanto’s global field testing network, genomic breeding methods and predictive analytics capabilities enable plant breeders to identify, select and commercialize better performing crops for farmers regardless of the size of the land they farm. The plant breeding team is focused on delivering new seed products to support improvements in on-farm yield, enhance overall plant health, mitigate increased pest pressures, deliver improvements in fruits and vegetables, as well as increase overall genetic diversity of seed products available to farmers.

Monsanto also remains committed to the advancement and understanding of plant genomes that can benefit broader society. The company worked with a broad network of leaders to complete a draft sequence of the corn genome, which resulted in the first mapping of the corn genome in the world in 2008. The company also previously made its rice genome data publically available to the worldwide research community to expand scientific knowledge and accelerate related research projects.

Bayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management Business Assets

Bayer CropScience (Bayer) and DuPont Crop Protection (DuPont) announced today the signing of an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.  Closing of the transaction is expected in the fourth quarter 2014, subject to customary regulatory approvals.  Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

This acquisition will enable Bayer’s Environmental Science business unit to offer a comprehensive portfolio of products for effective weed control for Industrial Vegetation Management (IVM). Furthermore the company will gain access to the growing Forestry and Range & Pasture business segments in North America. Under the agreement, DuPont will continue to sell its Land Management products outside the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand and its range and pasture products in Mexico and Latin America.

“We are a leader in the professional environmental science market globally and the planned acquisition underlines our ambition to further grow this position in the years to come,” said Bayer CropScience CEO Liam Condon. “It allows us to provide our customers with first-choice solutions to protect and care for the environment in which we live, work and play. Keeping our railways, railroads and infrastructure clean and safe and forestry plantations more productive is part of our mission – Bayer: Science for A Better Life.”

“This agreement is another step in the execution of our DuPont Crop Protection business growth strategy,” said Rik Miller, president of DuPont Crop Protection. “We continue to focus on delivering our science and innovative new offerings to the market that drives profitable growth both today and over the long-term.”

DuPont Crop Protection is a leading supplier of land management herbicides that help land managers and utility foresters control weeds and brush to enhance public safety, improve crew productivity, and protect forestry, range and pasture values. Its current land management product portfolio includes approximately 30 established and innovative brands of herbicides marketed under names such as, DuPont™ Perspective™, Streamline™, Escort™ and Oust™ which will complement Bayer CropScience’s product offering. The acquisition of these assets includes rights in intellectual property, including registrations, data and trademarks related to the land management products.

Bayer CropScience provides industry-leading risk management solutions to professionals that are responsible for reducing risks posed by uncontrolled vegetation in industrial, forestry and natural areas.  Risks include for example reduced access and visibility along transportation corridors, transmission line hazards, wildfires, reduced lifespans of infrastructure like road surfaces and railways as well as decreased productivity of forestry plantations.

AGCO Reports Lower Quarterly Earnings

AGCO reported net sales of approximately $2.2 billion for the third quarter of 2014, a decrease of approximately 13.0% compared to net sales of approximately $2.5 billion for the third quarter of 2013. Reported net income was $0.69 per share and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring and other infrequent expenses, was $0.71 per share for the third quarter of 2014.

These results compare to reported and adjusted net income per share of $1.27 for the third quarter of 2013. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 0.7%, net sales in the third quarter of 2014 decreased approximately 12.3% compared to the third quarter of 2013.

Net sales for the first nine months of 2014 were approximately $7.2 billion, a decrease of approximately 8.7% compared to the same period in 2013. Excluding the unfavorable impact of currency translation of approximately 0.7%, net sales for the first nine months of 2014 decreased approximately 8.0% compared to the same period in 2013.

For the first nine months of 2014, reported net income was $3.50 per share and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring and other infrequent expenses, was $3.52 per share. These results compare to reported and adjusted net income of $4.61 per share for the first nine months of 2013.

AGCO Jackson, Minnesota, Facility Upgrades Drive Product Quality Improvements

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, is in the midst of a multi-year, $42 million upgrade and expansion to its engineering and manufacturing facility in Jackson, Minnesota. The motivation behind the project, which kicked off in 2013, is to further improve the quality of the agricultural equipment built there, as well as the efficiency and production capacity of the facility.

"Farmers expect the best when they purchase AGCO equipment built here in Jackson, and we have a history of meeting those expectations," said Eric Fisher, AGCO director of operations. "With the continuous improvements we're making here and at other AGCO facilities, we continue to provide our dealers and farmers the highest-quality agricultural equipment available."

As of fall, 2014, all Massey Ferguson® and Challenger® tractors built in Jackson must pass 5 quality-assurance tests before being delivered to dealers and farmers. New end-of-line testing procedures ensure each tractor to come off the line performs at or above engineering specifications and is ready to work hard for farmers. The news tests — a jounce test, PTO dynamometer test and chassis dynamometer test — make up the fifth quality-check gate at the Jackson facility. Quality-check gates 1 through 4 verify proper functioning of the hydraulic system, cab electronics, overall systems and fit, finish and tire or track width.
mf on jounce test

The first new quality-assurance test is the jounce test, which rocks each tractor side to side, mimicking a drive across a rough field. The speed and intensity of the rocking are varied throughout the test to simulate farming conditions from everyday to extreme. All hoses, fittings and electrical connections are monitored throughout the test to verify there are no leaks or electrical issues. The lights, wipers and other switches are manually verified again after the test to ensure everything works correctly for new tractor owners.

Tractors with a PTO go through a PTO dynamometer test. For this test, the PTO output is measured across the RPM band and compared to the tractor's rated horsepower and torque output. PTO performance is checked at a variety of speed and load levels to ensure farmers get the productivity they expect from their new tractor.

Finally, every Massey Ferguson and Challenger tractor built in Jackson must pass the chassis dynamometer test. This comprehensive test verifies proper functioning of the steering, brakes and suspension system, as well as transmission shift quality and engine performance. Tractors are held in place on a bed of rollers and run at various speeds and resistance levels to simulate conditions above and beyond what they are likely to encounter in the field. As with each of the three tests, any issues are corrected prior to delivery.

"The AGCO team here in Jackson invests a lot of hard work into every piece of equipment built here," said Arun Shankaran, AGCO senior manufacturing engineer of testing. "The new testing procedures ensure each tractor that comes off the line exceeds farmer expectations and is ready to hit the ground running."

Machining Critical Components In-House

Even well-designed, well-built tractors and sprayers are still the sum of their many parts. To improve the quality of the finished equipment coming out of Jackson, AGCO has invested heavily in manufacturing critical components in-house. The recently completed 30,000-square-foot expansion of the component manufacturing area houses two new laser cutters, a new material handling system and an array of state-of-the-art welding and machining equipment.

All components manufactured in Jackson are first designed in 3-D virtual-reality programs. Operators share 3-D component information through each step of the manufacturing process with touch screens, and manufacturers are not allowed to move to the next step if the real model does not match the 3-D model. This technology helps keep the finished components as consistent as possible.

The two new sheet laser cutters, for example, deliver 6,000 watts of cutting power to within .0016 of an inch for incredibly precise, consistent cuts. "The new laser cutting tools allow us to cut more parts, more accurately, every day," said Rod Paplow, AGCO manufacturing engineer program manager of components. "More accurate cuts mean better joints for welding. Stronger welds make for more durable frames, axles and other parts."

RoGator® axles and Challenger track tractor frames are welded and machined using a StarragHeckert machining center. The StarragHeckert uses a spindle probe to analyze the component to be welded and machined in virtual space, and then machines critical mating surfaces and mounting holes to within .00016 inch of engineered specifications. This level of accuracy and consistency ensures everything fits together as designed, contributing to stronger welds and better component fitment.

AGCO plans to continue the installation of additional robotic welders, sheet lasers and new tube lasers over the next 24 months. These changes will increase component-manufacturing capacity by 20 percent, improve productivity and positively impact quality of all AGCO equipment built in Jackson.

Engineering in Virtual Reality

The engineering facility at Jackson also received an upgrade with the installation of a state-of-the-art 3-D virtual-reality powerwall. Engineering models are displayed in 3-D on an 8-by-16-foot glass screen, allowing engineers to review models virtually, collaborate and improve designs ahead of prototyping.

"The new powerwall is quickly becoming instrumental for our engineering process in Jackson," said Joe Black, AGCO senior business analyst. "Engineers can make small refinements, like adjust clearances, check sight lines and control ergonomics from the cab and review complete tractors, all virtually. This streamlines the design process, helping us build higher-quality tractors and sprayers."

Recent Investments in the Jackson Facility

Farm equipment manufacturing has been a part of the Jackson community since 1963, when Ag-Chem Equipment Company was founded as a distributor of spraying equipment. Ag-Chem was purchased by AGCO in 2001. In 2006, the first tractor assembly was brought to Jackson, with the new assembly line to handle the Challenger track tractors and articulated 4WD tractors. In June 2012, AGCO expanded its Jackson location to bring production of Massey Ferguson and Challenger wheeled row-crop tractors to North America.

That expansion included AGCO's first North American welcome center, the Intivity Center®. The 17,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art visitor center showcases the farmer-focused innovation behind the brands upon which AGCO has been built. It offers an extensive collection of historical artifacts — many never before seen by the public — and includes a glimpse of the future of agricultural equipment through interactive displays demonstrating equipment technology in development at AGCO. For more information about Intivity Center or to make reservations to tour the AGCO Jackson manufacturing facility, visit

Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. and Rentech Nitrogen Partners, L.P. sign agreement to enable construction of new Thio-Sul® manufacturing plant

Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. (TKI), the north American subsidiary of Brussels-based Tessenderlo Group, has signed a long-term agreement with Rentech Nitrogen Partners, L.P. (NYSE:RNF) to lease property adjacent to Rentech Nitrogen's production facility in East Dubuque, Illinois for the purpose of building a new plant to manufacture the TKI liquid fertilizer Thio-Sul®.

The agreement creates an exclusive supply relationship for Rentech Nitrogen to provide ammonia to the new TKI manufacturing facility.  Ammonia is a key ingredient in the production of Thio-Sul®.

TKI will own, construct, and operate the new production plant. Construction is expected to begin immediately upon receiving approval of necessary permits. When completed, the new plant will enhance the TKI position as the world's largest producer of sulfur-based liquid fertilizers.

USDA to Provide $4 million For Honey Bee Habitat

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to help farmers and ranchers in the Midwest improve the health of honey bees, which play an important role in crop production.

"The future of America's food supply depends on honey bees, and this effort is one way USDA is helping improve the health of honey bee populations," Vilsack said. "Significant progress has been made in understanding the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees, and this funding will allow us to work with farmers and ranchers to apply that knowledge over a broader area."

An estimated $15 billion worth of crops is pollinated by honey bees, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is focusing the effort on five Midwestern states: Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. This announcement renews and expands a successful $3 million pilot investment that was announced earlier this year and continues to have high levels of interest. This effort also contributes to the June 2014 Presidential Memorandum – Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, which directs USDA to expand the acreage and forage value in its conservation programs.

Funding will be provided to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications are due Friday, November 21.

From June to September, the Midwest is home to more than 65 percent of the commercially managed honey bees in the country. It is a critical time when bees require abundant and diverse forage across broad landscapes to build up hive strength for the winter.

The assistance announced today will provide guidance and support to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide safe and diverse food sources for honey bees. For example, appropriate cover crops or rangeland and pasture management may provide a benefit to producers by reducing erosion, increasing the health of their soil, inhibiting invasive species, and providing quality forage and habitat for honey bees and other pollinators.

This year, several NRCS state offices are setting aside additional funds for similar efforts, including California – where more than half of all managed honey bees in the U.S. help pollinate almond groves and other agricultural lands – as well as Ohio and Florida.

The 2014 Farm Bill kept pollinators as a high priority, and these conservation efforts are one way USDA is working to help improve pollinator habitat.

USDA is actively pursuing solutions to the multiple problems affecting honey bee health. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) maintains four laboratories across the country conducting research into all aspects of bee genetics, breeding, biology and physiology, with special focus on bee nutrition, control of pathogens and parasites, the effects of pesticide exposure and the interactions between each of these factors. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports bee research efforts in Land Grant Universities. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts national honey bee pest and disease surveys and provides border inspections to prevent new invasive bee pests from entering the U.S. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) and NRCS work on improved forage and habitat for bees through programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and EQIP. The Forest Service is restoring, improving, and/or rehabilitating pollinator habitat on the national forests and grasslands and conducting research on pollinators. Additionally, the Economic Research Service (ERS) is currently examining the direct economic costs of the pollinator problem and the associated indirect economic impacts, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts limited surveys of honey production, number of colonies, price, and value of production which provide some data essential for research by the other agencies.

For more on technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or a local USDA service center.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday October 28 Ag News

Heineman Announces Knox County Designated Livestock Friendly

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

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

With the addition of Knox County, there are now 28 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program. Knox County joins Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Cuming, Dawes, Dawson, Deuel, Dodge, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Holt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kimball, Keith, Lincoln, Merrick, Morrill, Otoe, Pawnee, Saline, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Wayne and Webster counties.

Gov. Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Knox County Supervisors Marty O’Connor, Virgil Miller, Norman Mackeprang, James Sokol Jr., Patrick Liska, Danny Schlote and Jim Fuchtman.

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

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

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

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

On-Farm Research Helps Growers Generate Results

As corn and soybean growers work to get crops out of the fields this fall, next year's growing season may not be the first thing on their minds.  However, Laura Thompson, UNL Extension educator, said harvest is the ideal time to consider how on-farm research could benefit their operations.

"Harvest provides a great opportunity to think through production-related questions and determine what practices and inputs should be evaluated next year," Thompson said. "Did that new product or extra application of fertilizer or water pay off?  How does a grower know if the investment was profitable for their specific operation? With lower commodity prices, it is more important than ever to evaluate if production inputs and practices are really paying off."

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) provides an opportunity for growers to get questions answered about their own fields. Research typically is conducted with the producer's equipment, on the producer's land and using the producer's management practices.

NOFRN is sponsored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Soybean Board. The goal of the network is to put to use a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

Keith Glewen, UNL Extension educator, has worked with farm operators conducting on-farm research for many years.

"The farm operator makes the final decision as to the research topic to be evaluated," Glewen said. "We encourage growers to give careful thought as to what production practice may be limiting profitability or could enhance the use of soil and water resources on their farm."

Some current research topics include irrigation management, planting populations, nitrogen management and cover crops.

For more information on the project or how to participate, contact Glewen at 402-624-8030,, a local UNL Extension office, the Nebraska Corn Board at 402-471-2676, Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 402-438-6459 or the Nebraska Soybean Board at 402-441-3240.

The NOFRN website is at

Green Plains Reports Third Quarter 2014 Results

Green Plains Inc. (Nasdaq:GPRE) announced today its financial results for the third quarter of 2014. Net income for the quarter was $41.7 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, compared to net income of $9.4 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, for the same period in 2013. Revenues were $833.9 million for the third quarter of 2014 compared to $758.0 million for the same period in 2013.

"The strength in our businesses continues as Green Plains has generated over $320 million of EBITDA over the last four quarters," said Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We continue to execute our business strategy, take advantage of the current ethanol industry environment and look for opportunities to further our growth."

During the third quarter, Green Plains had record production of 246.9 million gallons of ethanol, or approximately 96% of its daily average production capacity. Non-ethanol operating income from the corn oil production, agribusiness, and marketing and distribution segments was $22.2 million in the third quarter of 2014 compared to $14.2 million for the same period in 2013. Non-ethanol operating income for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2014 was $79.9 million compared to $52.7 million for the same period in 2013.

Revenues were $2.4 billion for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2014 compared to $2.3 billion for the same period in 2013. Net income for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2014 was $117.3 million, or $2.90 per diluted share, compared to net income of $17.9 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, for the same period in 2013.

"U.S. ethanol production margins continue to reflect strong demand, both domestically and globally. As a result of this environment, we are reaffirming our mid-year guidance of stronger earnings per share performance in the second half of 2014," added Becker.

Green Plains had $414.3 million in total cash and equivalents and $167.7 million available under committed loan agreements at subsidiaries (subject to borrowing base restrictions and other specified lending conditions) at September 30, 2014. Third quarter 2014 EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $91.4 million compared to $37.4 million for the same period in 2013. For the nine-month period ending September 30, 2014, EBITDA was $260.0 million compared to $92.7 million for the same period in 2013. For reconciliations of net income to EBITDA, see "EBITDA" below.

Third Quarter 2014 Business Highlights

-    In August 2014, Green Plains announced a share repurchase program of up to $100 million of its common stock. Green Plains may repurchase shares from time to time in open market transactions, privately negotiated transactions, accelerated share buyback programs, tender offers or by other means. The timing and amount of repurchase transactions will be determined by the Company's management based on its evaluation of market conditions, share price, legal requirements and other factors. No shares have been repurchased pursuant to this program to date.
-    In September 2014, Green Plains paid a quarterly cash dividend of $0.08 per share on its common stock. The cash dividend was a 100% increase from the previous quarterly cash dividend. On a year-to-date basis, Green Plains has paid $5.9 million in dividends to shareholders.

Valmont Announces Third Quarter 2014 Results

Valmont Industries, Inc., a leading global provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure and mechanized irrigation equipment for agriculture, reported third quarter sales of $765.7 million compared with $778.0 million for the same period of 2013. Third quarter 2014 operating income was $87.8 million versus $109.9 million in 2013. Third quarter net income was $23.6 million versus $56.5 million in 2013, or $0.92 in diluted earnings per share compared to $2.10 in 2013. Third quarter net income per diluted share as adjusted for significant non-recurring items was $1.92 for the 2014 third quarter and $2.41 for the 2013 third quarter.

The Company completed a refinancing of its long-term debt in the third quarter. The Company issued $250 million of 5.0% senior notes due 2044 and $250 million 5.25% senior notes due 2054. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the notes were used for a partial tender offer to repurchase approximately $200 million of existing senior notes that are due in 2020. The tender offer resulted in a non-recurring expense of $38.7 million ($24.2 million or $0.95 per diluted share after tax for the quarter). Last year's third quarter included an $8.3 million, (or $0.31 per diluted share) reduction in net earnings arising from a change in the U.K. tax rate. (See Regulation G reconciliation table on last page.)

For the first nine months of 2014, sales were $2,360.0 million versus $2,476.3 million in 2013. Valmont's nine month net earnings were $143.5 million, or $5.43 per diluted share, compared with 2013 nine month net earnings of $223.6 million, or $8.31 per diluted share. Nine month net income per diluted share as adjusted for significant non-recurring items was $6.53 for the 2014 third quarter and $8.46 for the 2013 third quarter.

"It was a particularly weak quarter in the Utility Support Structures Segment. Underutilization of capacity and price weakness in certain markets led to a 59% decline in segment profitability. We expect significant fourth quarter revenue and profitability improvements compared with third quarter results," said Mogens C. Bay, Valmont's chairman and CEO. "Profitability improved in the Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment, benefiting from acquisitions and continuing operational improvements. In the Irrigation Segment, operating income remained strong at 15.4%, somewhat lower than last year's exceptional third quarter results. International Irrigation sales and profitability improved. The Coatings Segment operating income was a solid 20.2% despite reduced volumes in Australia. Consolidated operating income was 11.5% of sales, compared with last year's record third quarter result of 14.1%."

-- Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment (37% of 3rd Quarter Sales)

Lighting, traffic and highway safety products, wireless communication structures and components, industrial gratings, access systems and wind energy and oil and gas exploration applications in global markets.

Third quarter sales were $294.9 million, a 13.3% increase over 2013. Sales gains were supported by the addition of $41.3 million in revenue from the March 2014, acquisition of Valmont-SM, a European manufacturer of offshore structures and components for the wind and energy industries.

In North America, sales of lighting and traffic structures increased, while sales of wireless communication products were slightly lower.

In Europe, lighting and traffic structure sales were lower in all regions except the U.K.

In the Asia-Pacific region, engineered access system sales were comparable to last year, with improved activity in Southeast Asian markets offsetting declines in Australia due to mining weakness. Highway safety product sales improved. In China, wireless communication structure sales were higher and intercompany utility sales declined.

We are pleased with the improved segment results especially in light of constrained spending on infrastructure due to economic weakness in Europe, a decline in the mining sector in Australia, a reduced pace of economic growth in China, and the lack of a new highway bill in North America. Longer term, we believe the pace of investment in infrastructure should increase, since infrastructure spending contributes to the growth of an economy, global competitiveness and employment.

Operating income increased 29% to $33.2 million, or 11.3% of segment sales. The increase was the result of operational improvements and the contribution from Valmont-SM. In addition, a $4.3 million accrual made for contingent purchase consideration at the time of the Locker acquisition was reversed during the third quarter.

-- Utility Support Structures Segment (23% of 3rd Quarter Sales)

Steel and concrete structures for the global electric utility industry.

Sales of $181.2 million were 21% lower than 2013, due to a reduction in North American volumes, including lack of large projects. The resulting sales mix included a greater proportion of smaller projects, which are subject in some cases to highly competitive pricing.

Capacity added in the industry last year has relieved extreme tightness in the structures market, bringing supply into better balance with demand, resulting in increased price competition in some market segments.

The long term drivers of North American utility demand remain in place. There is a need to upgrade transmission infrastructure to meet the goals of improved reliability and increased capacity. Alternative energy sources drive additional needs for transmission capacity. These factors, combined with a regulatory environment that encourages greater investment in the transmission grid should lead to continued demand for Valmont's utility support structures.

Utility Support Structures Segment operating income declined 59% to $17.0 million, or 9.4% of segment sales. The decrease in operating income was due to reduced volumes and related deleverage of fixed operating costs, a less favorable sales mix, and a more competitive pricing environment.

-- Coatings Segment (11% of 3rd Quarter Sales)

Hot-dip galvanizing, and other coatings to protect against corrosion of steel and aluminum in global markets.

Global Coatings Segment sales of $86.7 million were 3% lower than last year.

Operating income of $17.6 million was 11% below last year at a solid 20.2% of segment sales, despite increased zinc costs and weakness in Australia. The reduction in operating income was due to volume declines and the associated fixed cost deleverage in Australia. Benefitting third quarter operating income were $2.5 million of insurance proceeds related to a fire at a facility last year.

-- Irrigation Segment (22% of 3rd Quarter Sales)

Center pivot and linear move mechanized irrigation equipment and parts for agriculture in global markets.

Irrigation Segment sales were virtually unchanged from last year at $174.3 million. Sales in North American markets declined modestly, offset by increased international sales.

International demand improved, benefitting from broad geographic coverage and increased investments in farm productivity.

The long term drivers of demand for irrigation equipment remain quite strong, as global population growth and changing dietary preferences increase the demand for food. Mechanized irrigation equipment is a vital part of the solution to global water and food challenges with its ability to significantly reduce the amount of water used in agriculture and improve farm productivity.

Operating income declined 14% to $26.9 million, or 15.4% of segment sales. The decline in operating income was primarily due to the slightly lower sales in North America and the associated deleverage of fixed factory and SG&A costs.

"In the Utility Support Structures Segment, we expect significant fourth quarter sales improvements and a return to double digit operating income percent, compared to the third quarter, although well below last year's fourth quarter levels. This is supported by our existing backlog and current order flow. In the Irrigation Segment, the fall harvest is not complete and until then, growers are not inclined to visit dealers, resulting in a later start to the selling season. We expect our earnings per diluted share for the year will be in the range of $8.55 to $8.65 per share, which includes the impact of share repurchase, excludes the $0.18 year-to-date fair value adjustments for Delta EMD and excludes the $0.91 year-to-date expenses associated with our debt refinancing," concluded Mr. Bay.

IFB, UI Announce Nov. 1 America Needs Farmers Game Activities

The Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa Hawkeyes are teaming up to celebrate Iowa's farmers for the fourth annual ANF Game Day Nov. 1 when the UI football team entertains Northwestern in a college football game that will kick off at 11:00 a.m. inside historic Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

As in the past, the celebration of America's -- and Iowa's -- farmers will begin with a long list of activities for friends and fans of the Hawkeyes inside and around the Iowa Farm Bureau's ANF Legends Tent inside Krause Family Plaza located immediately south of Kinnick. Fans will have the opportunity to meet Iowa farmers and their families, win prizes in the ANF tailgate toss and high striker games, and meet and secure autographs from a variety of former Hawkeyes including 2014 ANF Wall of Honor honoree Bruce Nelson (click here to hear from Bruce, Pat Angerer, Dallas Clark, and Allen Reisner in addition to radio voices of the Iowa Hawkeyes, Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak. The tent will be open from 8 to 10:30 a.m. with the autograph session running from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

"The ANF program and great role models like Bruce are so important to reaching new audiences who want to understand more about how their food is grown today. Bruce has the character it takes to get the job done and embraces the hard work it takes to succeed, both on the farm and on the football field. We are so proud to have him join our team, to help share that farming perspective," said Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).

"There are a lot of similarities between farming and football," Nelson said. "In football, you're in a three-point stance and your face is about two feet from the dirt all the time. In farming, you're not much further away from that. You're always working with what the environment gives you: you practice in the sun, snow, or rain. You farm in all those conditions, too. In football, there is always something new; you have new opponents and teammates. In farming, there is something new to do every day. About the time you get bored planting corn you go into side dressing or spraying."

Nelson was a first-team All-America center in 2002 when Iowa shared the Big Ten Conference championship and advanced to the 2003 FedEx Orange Bowl. He was a four-time letter winner for the Hawkeyes beginning in 1999, a period that saw Iowa advance from one victory in the 1999 season to 11 victories and a perfect 8-0 record in Big Ten play in 2002.

Nelson was a captain of that championship team and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. He was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft and played professionally for two seasons before being sidelined by injury. He was Carolina's starting center in Super Bowl XXXVIII, a 32-29 loss to New England.

The ANF Wall of Honor salutes former University of Iowa football student-athletes who exemplify the tenacity, work ethic, and character of the Iowa farmer, qualities that have helped Iowa remain one of the leading agricultural states in the nation.

"The symbol ANF represents a lot to me," Nelson said. "I remember when I was a kid and Hayden Fry put it on the helmets of the Iowa football team. That was my first memory and it was special. I knew that the 80s were a tough time for farmers, especially for my dad, uncle, and grandpa. It was a time when they needed support, because there wasn't a lot of financial support going on. When that (sticker) showed up on the helmets, it was special, especially for me growing up on the farm."

ANF-theme activities inside the stadium will include a special ANF presentation by the Hawkeye Marching Band during its pregame show, the UI's second double-sided "card stunt" that will include an ANF-theme design that will be displayed during the singing of "God Bless America" by Miss Iowa, Aly Olson of Des Moines, and the on-field introduction of Nelson, who, after retirement from the NFL, returned to his hometown of Emmetsburg, Iowa to farm.

On game day, ANF Farm Strong merchandise will be available at Herky's Locker Room locations around the stadium with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of ANF Farm Strong merchandise going to support the Iowa Food Banks. Since the IFBF and UI teamed up for the ANF initiative, more than $70,000 has been donated to the Iowa Food Bank Association.

ANF was first launched during the Hawkeyes' 1985 Rose Bowl season by Coach Hayden Fry when the Farm Crisis of the 1980's was hitting the Heartland exceptionally hard. For more information about ANF and Game Day activities, visit

Research Proposals Sought to Target Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

Zoetis is seeking proposals for well-defined studies that focus on optimizing the immune response of sows and gilts for the control of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). The studies should provide insights into new methods that can help control PEDv in breeding and farrowing herds.

Zoetis will award a total of $125,000 to a study or studies under its PEDv immune response research grant program. University researchers or practicing veterinarians are invited to submit research proposals for consideration.

“There is a critical need to better understand immune response to help control PEDv,” said Steve Sornsen, DVM, senior director, Veterinary Business Solutions, Zoetis. “At Zoetis, we are absolutely committed to solutions for our customers to help fight PEDv, and that includes ongoing research to help identify new insight and tools.”

Research proposals must be received by Dec. 5, 2014. The research must be conducted in the United States. To receive a copy of the abstract template or to submit questions, email A committee will review the proposals, and an announcement of the successful applications will be made in January.

Since PEDv was confirmed in the United States last year, the disease has devastated the pork industry, with cases confirmed in 31 states thus far.

CattleFax Announces Agenda for Outlook & Strategies Seminar

The potential for the beef cattle industry to rebuild and expand the cowherd has not been this strong in more than 20 years. Likewise, cheaper feedstuff prices and robust protein demand are fueling expansion efforts in the pork and chicken segments.

Beef industry participants will feel the far-reaching influence of livestock expansion well beyond 2015. CattleFax will discuss those implications in detail during its Outlook & Strategies 2015 Seminar on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

The event’s keynote speaker is Jan Lambregts, Global Head of Financial Markets Research for Rabobank International. He will share his thoughts on what factors will shape the U.S. and global economy in 2015. Art Douglas, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the Atmospheric Science Department at Creighton University, will discuss weather patterns and trends expected for 2015 and beyond.

The CattleFax team will share its expectations on the major trends that will shape the livestock, grain, protein and energy markets over the next 12 to 24 months. Discussions will highlight …
-    U.S. livestock and feedstuff production scenarios and expansion implications
-    Domestic wholesale and retail protein market demand considerations
-    Global supply and demand drivers for agricultural products
-    Strategies to grow profits and manage risk in an expansion-era livestock market
-    Forecasts for 2015 prices in the calf, feeder cattle, fed cattle and beef markets

Seminar discussion will include topics such as beef cowherd expansion, cheaper feedstuffs, energy market price changes, feedyard and packing segment overcapacity, protein market trends, interest rate expectations and world trade policy.

The Marriott Denver South at Park Meadows in Littleton, Colo., is the seminar headquarter hotel. Seminar cost is $325 per person and includes a pre-seminar networking reception on the evening of Monday, December 2. Registration is open, but space is limited.

Interested participants can visit for more information and to download a registration form. Questions regarding the seminar can be answered by calling 800-825-7525 or e-mailing

NCBA and PLC Tell EPA: Don't Drown Land Owners in Regulatory Flood

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council filed comments calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed “waters of the United States” rule. The proposed rule vastly expands the agencies’ jurisdiction and attempts to regulate all land uses.

“The agencies’ proposal jeopardizes private property rights and violates Supreme Court precedent by subjecting nearly all waters to regulation,” said NCBA Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald. “Through the use of broad and ambiguous language, the proposal is a limitless expansion of authority that cannot be supported by the Clean Water Act or the U.S. Constitution.”

In the eight months the proposal has been public, cattlemen and women have voiced their concerns only to have them deemed “ludicrous” by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. NCBA and PLC state the agencies must start over with a transparent and inclusive process with more stakeholder involvement.

Dustin Van Liew, Public Lands Council executive director, added that while there is a need for clarification, this attempt by the EPA and the Corps will only add layers of bureaucracy and subjectivity to the Clean Water Act, further muddling the landscape.

“The proposed rule places no limit on the federal government’s authority over water, violating the Clean Water Act as articulated by the Supreme Court, and will eviscerate over a century of settled water law in much of the country,” said Van Liew. “Contrary to the agencies' claims, the exclusions and exemptions in the proposal are unclear and provide the livestock industry no certainty.”

McDonald added, “Through this process, cattlemen and women have learned one thing; the only thing that is completely unregulated is the arrogance of the EPA.”

The EPA and Corps are required by law to consider public comment; therefore it is imperative livestock producers voice their opposition to this land grab either online or by sending the original and three copies of your comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

Fertilizer Prices Continue on Steady Trend

Prices of retail fertilizer tracked by DTN for the fourth week of October continued on a steady trend with very little price movement.

No types of fertilizer had any significant increases or decreases in prices compared to a month ago. Five of the eight major fertilizers had only slightly higher prices compared to a month earlier while the other half were very slightly lower.

DAP, MAP, potash, 10-34-0 and anhydrous were only slightly higher in price compared to a month previous, while urea, UAN28 and UAN32 were a tiny bit lower.

DAP had an average price of $582 per ton, urea $507/ton, UAN28 $327/ton and UAN32 $369/ton. MAP had an average price of $599/ton, potash $477/ton, 10-34-0 $557/ton and anhydrous $697/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.58/lb.N and UAN32 $0.58/lb.N.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers are higher in price compared to October 2013, all while commodity prices are significantly lower from a year ago. Urea is now up 15% compared to a year earlier followed by DAP, which is 11% more expensive.

In addition, 10-34-0 is up 7%, while anhydrous and MAP are both up 6%. Also, UAN28 and UAN32 are both just 1% higher.

Potash remains the only nutrient which is still lower compared to retail prices from a year ago, coming in at about 3% lower than a year ago.

Voters give a strong "Yes!" to biodiesel policy

Policies supporting biodiesel production would win a resounding vote of confidence if they were on the ballot in next week’s elections, according to a nationwide survey released Tuesday.

Three out of four voters (75 percent) support a tax incentive for biodiesel, the survey found. Seventy-six percent said they support a national renewable fuel standard. The survey of nearly 1,200 registered U.S. voters was conducted by Moore Information Opinion Research between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. It was commissioned by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

“These numbers reflect overwhelming public support for developing cleaner, alternative fuels so that we’re not so dangerously dependent on petroleum,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “These policies are popular because they are effective. We’re gradually reducing our dependence on oil. We’re reducing harmful and costly pollution. And we’re creating jobs and economic activity at home. Congress and the Obama administration should take cues from the people who elected them and step up to make sure we have strong, stable policies supporting biodiesel production.”

Biodiesel – made from a variety of resources including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats – is the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel.

Nonetheless, the EPA late last year proposed holding biodiesel production under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) at 1.28 billion gallons, well below actual 2013 production. The proposal, seen as a retreat from the RFS by the Obama administration, has shaken the U.S. biodiesel industry and caused many companies to pull back production and lay off employees. With just a few months left in the year, the EPA has still not finalized the standard, leaving the industry with tremendous uncertainty and instability.

At the same time, Congress allowed the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive to expire at the end of 2013 and has failed to reinstate it despite broad bipartisan support. House and Senate leaders have expressed hope that Congress will pass an extension in the lame duck session after the elections.

“This is one of those issues that illustrates why voters are so fed up with Washington,” Steckel said. “You have policies with overwhelming support from the public and strong bipartisan support in Congress, yet Washington seems paralyzed with inaction. Jobs are at stake here, and we urge the Obama administration and Congress to act quickly to get this industry back on track.”

Among other findings in the survey, 85 percent of respondents said a candidate’s position on energy issues was somewhat important or very important in their voting decision, and 78 percent said a candidate’s position on alternative fuels was very important or somewhat important.

Growth Energy Announces Multi-Year Support, Presents Workshops during 87th National FFA Convention & Expo

Growth Energy, a company that represents the producers and supporters of ethanol, recently announced support of the National FFA Organization and agricultural education as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. The multi-year sponsorship, a first-time gift to the organization from the company, will immediately launch with teacher and student workshops presented by Growth Energy this week at the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2014, in Louisville, Ky.

The workshops, titled “Ethanol – Past, Present, Future,” take place on Friday, Oct. 31 and will provide an overview of the changing landscape in the ethanol industry and provide resources for teachers and students to take back to their classrooms after the event.

“Sustainable gifts, such as this from Growth Energy, provide long-term support for FFA and agricultural education,” Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation, said. “We are excited to announce this new partnership and look forward to having Growth Energy host workshops this week to immediately engage with FFA members and agriculture educators.”

In addition to the workshops, funding from Growth Energy will help support TeachAg and Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education™ (CASE), which are programs focused on agriculture educator recruitment and retention and curriculum development.

Also included in the gift is support for the national organization’s online personalized career exploration and development resources called “My Journey.” Support for Washington Leadership Conference, an annual event focused on developing students’ leadership skills and service to others, is also included in the sponsorship.

“Growth Energy is thrilled to help sponsor several important programs for FFA, including expanded opportunities to continue to educate FFA members on critical issues such as the important role biofuels and energy play in American agriculture,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said.  “Additionally, together, we will continue to build a robust networking system to attract new agriculture teachers and highlight the opportunities FFA members have as they enter the workforce. Ultimately, what this comes down to is investing in our most valuable resource, tomorrow’s leaders of American agriculture."   

NMPF Leaders Set Sights on Immigration, Trade & Other Issues In Wake of 2014 Victory on New Dairy Safety Net

With a major reform of the federal dairy safety net now complete, the leadership of the National Milk Producers Federation pledged today to step up efforts on other key issues, including the fight for meaningful immigration reform, and opening more foreign markets to U.S. dairy products.

Speaking at the organization’s two-day annual meeting here, Board Chairman Randy Mooney and President and CEO Jim Mulhern also stressed the need to address environmental issues and concerns over the treatment of animals on dairy farms. 

The Mooney-Mulhern joint presentation came less than two months after the Agriculture Department formally launched the new dairy safety net, a margin insurance program known the Margin Protection Program, or MPP.

NMPF conceived of the program after dairy farmers lost billions of dollars in equity in the 2008-2009 recession. The organization, the voice of 32,000 dairy farmers in Washington, then lobbied Congress to include margin insurance in the 2014 farm bill.

“The new Margin Protection Program is going to be more flexible, more fair, and more functional than the old MILC program,” said Mooney, a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Missouri.

“I want, most of all, to remind farmers to take action and enroll their operation in the Margin Protection Program by USDA’s Thanksgiving deadline,” added Mulhern, who took over as NMPF president 10 months ago. “Even if you only want the barebones catastrophic coverage for next year, it will only cost you $100.”

Mooney and Mulhern said NMPF would continue working with USDA to smooth the implementation of the MPP, while also focusing on other key issues on its agenda in the months ahead.

On immigration, Mulhern said congressional inaction this year would not keep NMPF from pressing the fight for reform in 2015. “Our industry and our members must continue to beat the drum in Washington, and – more importantly – in states and congressional districts across the nation, that immigration reform must be dealt with, and finally resolved, in the coming year,” he said.

Regardless of who controls Congress after next month’s elections, the two leaders said NMPF would continue pushing for reform because it is crucial for dairy farmers. “This issue must be resolved,” said Mulhern.

On exports, Mooney and Mulhern said the U.S. dairy industry is intent on being a major player in world markets from here on out. “World trade in dairy is today’s reality and tomorrow’s opportunity,” said Mooney.

Mulhern said dairy farmers have a lot riding on trade negotiations now under way involving both Europe and Asia. “Japan is a huge potential opportunity,” he said. “We could export a lot more dairy products … if the U.S. government can achieve a breakthrough in negotiations and bring back a trade agreement providing meaningful increased market access there.”

But both in Japan and Europe, Mulhern said, entrenched domestic dairy interests don’t want more competition from the United States. “The European defense strategy includes an outrageous focus on bastardizing the concept Geographic Indicators in an attempt to claw back, for their own protectionist use, the names of many common foods,” he said. “These foods include many cheeses that we’ve been making for decades…

“Christopher Columbus’s relatives in the Old World can keep their Parmigiano-Reggiano,” Mulhern said, “But those of us in the New World … have every right to make and market award-winning Parmesan, for the use and enjoyment of folks here and, ultimately, around the world.”

Both leaders also praised the role of Cooperatives Working Together, an NMPF-managed program, in today’s favorable dairy export picture. “The rise in exports in the past decade is due to a number of factors, but a big one is that we have, in our Cooperatives Working Together program, a very effective tool to help seal the deal in markets where we are competing with products from other countries,” Mooney said.

This year alone, CWT, which is funded completely by farmers, has helped find markets for 86 million pounds of cheese, 51 million pounds of butter and 37 million pounds of whole milk power in 43 counties on six continents. “No other investment we make can pay off like CWT,” said Mooney.

Turning to environmental issues, Mulhern said it is important for the dairy industry “to turn them from a liability to an opportunity.”

As examples of this, Mulhern and Mooney cited NMPF’s work with the White House and federal agencies to encourage methane gas generation from dairy farm waste, and also efforts to recover and market valuable nutrients from livestock manure.

Mulhern compared nutrient recovery to whey generation by cheese plants, which not long ago was considered an environmental problem. “Today,” he said, “whey has been transformed into something like white gold, a nutritious high-protein source of money to cheese plants, and a boost for farmers’ Class III price.

“We have a great deal more work ahead of us to turn this from a dream into a reality,” Mulhern said, “but thanks to the vision, commitment and initial spadework of some of our co-ops, I firmly believe this will be a long-term boon to our farmers and cooperatives by creating new revenue sources, reducing regulatory pressures and legal challenges by solving potential environmental problems before they occur, and enhancing consumer and public attitudes toward our industry.”

Finally, concerning animal care, Mooney said it’s frustrating to hear “a small but vocal minority of critics attack dairy farmers and paint a twisted and false image of the care we provide our animals.”

Mulhern noted that conscientious animal care is not just morally and ethically right but also good business, since healthy cows produce more milk. “But it is also clear in this age of social media and the internet that we’re past the point where we can ask people just to take our word” that we are providing proper care, he said.

Both leaders praised the NMPF board for voting the previous day to require dairy cooperatives participating in an industry animal care program to require all their farmer members to be evaluated under the program’s guidelines.

“It means that all of our farms will be held to the same high standards, with no exceptions,” said Mooney. “And it helps us demonstrate that farms, regardless of size, are run by families … who take pride in what they do, and are committed to running a successful business that centers on producing high-quality milk from healthy cows.”

Summing up, Mooney said, while the dairy industry faces challenges, there are also tremendous opportunities. “We have a world of opportunities awaiting us that, working together, we can take advantage of,” he said.

Mulhern concluded by stressing the need for better grassroots involvement by dairy farmers in policy decisions. “The political footprint of agriculture is contracting,” he said. “That’s one reason it was such a challenge to pass a new farm bill.”

As a result, Mulhern said, the quality of grassroots engagement by farmers must improve. “Concentrating and amplifying our efforts,” he said, “we can continue to accomplish great things.”    

CWT Assists with 7.8 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter, Whole Milk Powder

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 13 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Tillamook County Creamery Association and Upstate-Niagara/O-AT-KA to sell 5.735 million pounds (2,601 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, 1,984 million pounds (900 metric tons) of butter (82% milkfat) and 46,297 pounds (21 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered October 2014 through April 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 92.632 million pounds of cheese, 53.421 million pounds of butter and 37.893 million pounds of whole milk powder to 43 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 2.334 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.

NMPF Board Votes to Require that Organizations Participating in FARM Animal Care Program Must Enroll All Dairy Farms in Their Supply Chain

The board of directors of the National Milk Producers Federation voted Monday to require that each dairy marketing organization participating in the organization’s animal care program must enroll all its farmer-suppliers to ensure full participation in the program.

The unanimous vote came as the board, meeting here during NMPF’s annual meeting, reviewed the structure and participation levels of the National Dairy F.A.R.M (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) program.  Now in its fifth year, the FARM program features a set of on-farm practices demonstrating farmers’ commitment to responsible animal care. In addition to dairy cooperatives, the program is open to milk processors and individual farmers.  Cooperatives and processors handling 75% of the nation’s milk supply are implementing the FARM program, although not all farms involved in those organizations have reviewed and adopted the program’s practices. Under the new policy, cooperatives and processors must require that every farmer supplying them must enroll in the program.

NMPF Board Chairman Randy Mooney hailed the vote as sending a clear message that the program must not be implemented selectively, in order to continue demonstrating the universal value and integrity of the FARM program.

“The FARM program has become the dairy industry animal care standard because of its integrity, rigor and authenticity,” Mooney said. “This decision means each farm in a participating cooperative will be held to the same high standards, with no exceptions. It demonstrates that the nation’s dairy farms, regardless of size, are committed to high-quality animal care across the supply chain.”

The NMPF board also this week reviewed new provisions in the FARM program that establish a clear process to investigate allegations of animal mistreatment on farms enrolled in the program. Any such farm will be subject to an independent review and may be temporarily suspended from the program if the allegations are substantiated. A corrective action plan will be developed to address any issues. Once any needed remedial actions are taken, the dairy operation can be reinstated in the FARM program.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said this new policy will further strengthen the consistency of the program, and help such farms improve their animal care practices. “The goal of the FARM program is to assure a high level of quality animal care on our farms,” Mulhern said. “We want the program to be inclusive and adaptive. And where we find problems, we want to address and improve the situation rather than find ways to exclude individual farms from the program.”

Farmland Documentary Premiere on Hulu Ends This Week

The four-week premiere of Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll's feature-length documentary, Farmland, wraps up this week on the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service.

During its theatrical debut this year, Farmland was shown in more than 170 theaters across the country, including Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres, and many key independent theaters. Farmland was produced with generous support from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding affiliate.

"This is a film for anyone who eats," says Moll.  "It's not what you'd expect. I certainly learned a lot when making the film. The world of farming is complex and often controversial, but the farmers themselves are some of most hard-working and fascinating people I've ever met."

Many Americans have never stepped foot on a farm or ranch or even talked to the people who grow and raise the food we eat, yet are increasingly passionate about understanding where their food comes from. Farmland takes the viewer inside the world of farming for a first-hand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers in their twenties. Through the personal stories of these farmers and ranchers, viewers learn about their high-risk/high-reward jobs and passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.

Produced by Moll's Allentown Productions, Farmland received notable attention during its theatrical run securing reviews in several national mediums and recognition in film festivals across the country, including: Atlanta, Cleveland and Newport Beach, Calif. The film also earned a 92 percent audience rating on

CNH to Cut 150 Jobs at Wisconsin Tractor Plant

For the second time in two and a half years, the CNH Industrial plant in Mount Pleasant will be cutting a large number of workers. Union officials said 150 employees will be laid off indefinitely on December 1. The facility is used to make Case IH Magnum and New Holland 8000 series tractors.

Jeff Vassh, who leads the United Auto Workers Local 180, told the Racine Journal Times that CNH will shut down its second-shift tractor assembly this fall and slow tractor production from 40 tractors per day to 30.

CNH blames the slowdown in sales on lower commodity prices, especially in corn and soybeans.

The plant currently employs about 850 union employees. In 2011, the plant expanded its workforce by adding 150 new employees, but then cut about 100 of those jobs in February 2012.

$1.4B Fertilizer Plant Coming to Ill.

(AP) -- A chemical company plans to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant in eastern Illinois, state economic officials confirmed Tuesday.

Cronus Chemicals will build the plant just outside Tuscola, a town about 20 miles south of Champaign, and plans to open a U.S. headquarters in Chicago, according to Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity spokesman David Roeder.

The Cronus Fertilizers plant will employ about 175 people, while another 2,000 temporary construction jobs are expected to be created while the plant is being built. Construction is expected to start on the plant next spring and take about three years.

Cronus is owned by a group of Swiss and Turkish investors. In discussions going back more than a year, Tuscola had been competing for the plant against an alternative site in Mitchell County, Iowa. Sites in other states were also considered.

The 250-acre Tuscola site is primarily farm land that sits alongside a CSX rail line. It is also near Interstate 57 and has easy access to major natural gas lines -- a key component in fertilizer production. The site was once considered for the FutureGen clean-coal project.

Details of any incentives that Illinois offered to Cronus weren't immediately available. Officials say the Chicago U.S. headquarters will have about 25 employees.