Sunday, December 28, 2014

Friday December 26 Ag News

NEFB's Maricle to Serve On New National Promotion & Education Committee

Hilary Maricle of Nebraska Farm Bureau will serve a two-year term on the new national Promotion & Education Committee. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said in a letter Dec. 16. Maricle is a member of the Boone County Farm Bureau and servers as chairman of the NFBF Ag Promotions Committee.

“Congratulations,” Stallman wrote in a letter Dec. 16 to Maricle as to her acceptance on the committee. “I hope you are as excited as I am about the contributions this committee will make as it inspires and equips Farm Bureau to convey the significance of agriculture.”

Because people are more interested than ever in where their food comes from, the national Promotion & Education Committee will fill an important role in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers by providing tools and resources to Farm Bureau members eager to share agriculture’s story.

Other committee members and their terms of office are as follows.

For a two-year term:
-    Chris Hoffman, Pennsylvania
-    Hilary Maricle, Nebraska
-    Renee McCauley, Michigan
-    Val Wagner, North Dakota  

For a one-year term:
-    Phyllis Couture, New York
-    Melinda Groth, Minnesota
-    Teribeth Spargo, Missouri

Stallman also announced that the committee chair and vice chair would be Chris Hoffman as chairman from Pennsylvania, and Val Wagner as vice chairman from North Dakota.

“After their two-year terms expire, you’ll have the responsibility of electing your own leaders,” Stallman said.

More information will be available at the first meeting of the committee to be held during the American Farm Bureau Convention in San Diego in January. They will also have the opportunity to elect a representative to serve on the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture board of directors.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Grain crop prices have dropped, water tables declined, and legal issues are limiting the amount of irrigation water available.  Maybe it’s time to think about planting forages instead.

Many irrigated acres may not receive enough water this summer to grow a good grain or root crop.  And even if they do receive enough water, it may not be profitable to grow grain crops.

Forage crops also need water for highest production, but at least some useful yield can be gathered when total water available is very low.  So what are your best options?

If you expect water limitations will continue for several more years, a perennial forage would eliminate the cost and time of establishing a new crop each year.  Switchgrass is one good choice.  It’s less expensive to plant, its primary water needs occur in early summer when water usually is available, and it can be managed for hay or pasture.  Other warm-season grass options include big or sand bluestem and indiangrass, especially for grazing.  Some wheatgrasses and bromegrasses as well as alfalfa can work with limited irrigation, but these cool-season plants respond best to water applied during spring.  Some irrigators won’t have water available until after this most efficient time has passed.

Of course, annual forages like pearl and foxtail millet, cane, teff, and sorghum-sudangrass are relatively water efficient and will yield proportionately to the amount of water they receive.  And this spring especially, don't forget small grains like oats and spring-type varieties of rye, barley, and triticale for spring forage if you have moisture at those times.

It may not be what you hoped for, but growing forages under limited irrigation may help you make the best out of a bad situation.

Ethanol Committee Reviews Progress, Explores Opportunities

The Ethanol Committee of the National Corn Growers Association met in St. Louis recently to review current programs and initiatives related to domestically produced biofuels, get updates from ethanol industry experts and discuss strategy aimed at continued growth for corn-based fuel.

"Ethanol has been a huge success story for agriculture and rural America because of the economic stimulus it has created through increased corn demand and new jobs. For the general public it provides reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better performance and fuel choice," said Committee Chair Jeff Sandborn, a farmer from Michigan. "Despite all of our success educationally and legislatively, what we have created is a great start not final destination.  We have 10% ethanol in virtually every gallon of fuel sold today but it will take a multidimensional approach to continue to grow the market for ethanol."

The Ethanol Committee is investigating options to grow the ethanol market on many fronts including integrating higher ethanol blend compatibility into plans to update the nation's aging fuel infrastructure; continuing to expand public acceptance and support for ethanol outside the corn belt; and evaluating the benefits of a national ethanol brand to aid in consumer identification at the pump.

The meeting, held in conjunction with similar sessions for all six NCGA action teams and committees, included in-depth discussion of the ethanol related portions of the organization's strategic plan. Input from the committee will be relayed to the NCGA Corn Board for their consideration and for broader organizational discussion and policy development at Corn Congress in March.

"Fuel access is a high priority issue for the ethanol industry and corn farmers. If we are going to continue to grow ethanol markets and realize the economic benefits of our ability to produce corn we will need to redouble our efforts to bring higher ethanol blends like E15 and E85 to the marketplace," Sandborn said.

In addition to Sandborn the Committee includes: Vice Chairman Dennis Gengenbach of Nebraska,  Corn Board Liaison Keith Alverson of South Dakota, Graham Adsit of Wisconsin, Cal Dalton of Wisconsin, Jerry Demmer of Minnesota, David Gottbrath of Indiana, Paul Jeschke of Illinois, Dennis McNinch of Kansas, Jerry Mohr of Iowa, Mark Recker of Iowa, Jay Schutte of Missouri, Dennis Vennekotter of Ohio and Bradley Schad of Missouri Corn Growers Association.

USDA Designates Harrison County in Iowa as a Primary Natural Disaster Area With Assistance to Producers in Nebraska

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Harrison County in Iowa as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by a late freeze that occurred on May 16, 2014.

“Our hearts go out to those Iowa farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Iowa producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in Crawford, Monona, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties in Iowa also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Farmers and ranchers in Burt and Washington counties in Nebraska also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Dec. 24, 2014, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

Iowa Beef Center Offers Online Heifer Development Resources

With the cow herd at the smallest level since 1962, recent moderation in grain prices, and optimism for growth in domestic and export demand, the stage is set for expansion of the national beef cow herd. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef cow-calf specialist Patrick Gunn said this has led to increased heifer retention numbers over the past two years, but environmental and financial concerns have tempered that optimism.

“Previous droughts in many areas of the U.S., coupled with high feed and land prices in recent years, have undoubtedly hampered realization of true expansion to date,” he said. “However, with recent reductions in grain and land prices combined with both fed and feeder cattle markets now at record levels, it appears the national cow herd is ready to expand.”

The recent price boom in all sectors of the beef industry translates to increased value (and cost) of replacement breeding stock, so it’s vital to understand how to maximize reproductive efficiency and breeding herd longevity for enterprises looking to expand, he said. That’s why the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State offered two series, in 2012 and 2014, aimed at the development of yearling heifers and maintenance of the first-calf female.

“In conjunction with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, in early 2014 the Iowa Beef Center offered a successful statewide educational program titled, ‘Heifer Development: Maintaining Your Investment,’” Gunn said. “Through this program, best management practices from pregnancy-check as a yearling through breeding season as a 2-year-old were outlined and resources shared.”

Since then, IBC has received multiple requests for that same information. To assist with the demand, various staff and faculty members have created a series of YouTube videos and are compiling links to additional resources. Links to the videos and additional resources are available on the IBC website, There are links to 10 new videos that highlight best management practices of first-calf heifers and eight videos from the 2012 educational series on best management practices for developing yearling females. As additional resources are identified, they’ll be added to the page.

Ethanol Production Still at Record Pace

Data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the U.S. ethanol industry started out the last month of the year with two record-setting weeks of production. The new record is set at an average production rate of 990,000 barrels per day set for the week ending Dec. 12.

According to the EIA, production for the week ending Dec. 5 averaged 988,000 barrels per day. That production level broke the previous weekly record of an average 982,000 barrels per day set during the week ending Nov. 21.

The prior record was set earlier this year at an average of 972,000 barrels per day for the week ending June 13. With production averaging 990,000 barrels per day for the week ending Dec. 12, a new weekly record has been set.

EIA data shows only 7,000 barrels of fuel ethanol was imported by the U.S. in September, all from Canada. Imports from Canada have held relatively steady in recent months, while imports from Brazil have declined.

From April through September, imports from Canada ranged from a high of 15,000 barrels per month in April to a low of 7,000 barrels per month in September. During the same six-month time period, imports from Brazil ranged from 427,000 barrels per day in May to zero in August and September.

Innovate Conference, Workshops Focus on Technology at AFBF’s 2015 Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show

Agricultural technology and innovation workshops will take the spotlight Saturday, Jan. 10 in San Diego, during the IDEAg Innovate Conference. The conference is one of the highlights of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2015 Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show, Jan. 9-14, at the San Diego Convention Center.

IDEAg Innovate Conference

The IDEAg Innovate Conference will feature topics such as managing agricultural big data, the use of drones for farming purposes, precision agriculture and Internet strategies for farmers and ranchers. The day’s events and exhibits will be open to all farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals, not just Farm Bureau members.

There is no fee for Farm Bureau members to attend but they are encouraged to register online at Non-members may attend the special one-day conference by paying $75, in addition to $10 to attend the trade show, by registering online at

The Innovate Conference opens at 8 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, with Paul Schrimpf of PrecisionAg Magazine introducing the speakers and setting the stage for an exciting morning that will focus on the latest technology related to drones and unmanned aerial vehicles; big data and what it means for the future of agriculture; and the role of irrigation in California agriculture.

Conference sessions include: “Connected Precision Irrigation—The Next Leap in Productivity” with Andy Smith, director of industry relations at Valley Irrigation; “Technology and the Internet of Things in Agriculture” with Lance Donny, founder & CEO of OnFarm; and “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, the Future of Agriculture” with Kyle Miller, farmer and Unmanned Safety Institute ambassador, and Aaron Greenwald, president, chief operating officer and co-founder of Waypoint Global Strategies and USI.

Educational workshops

The Cultivation Center on the IDEAg Trade Show floor serves as the educational centerpiece of the trade show. Located in the middle of the show floor, behind the AFBF booth, the Cultivation Center allows attendees to gather information on various topics. The theater seating area provides the perfect opportunity for exhibitors, sponsors, educators and ag enthusiasts to each present 15-minute sessions. Those sessions will highlight exhibitors’ newest and best ideas and will provide education on technological developments in the agriculture industry.

In addition, Farm Bureau members will be treated to two dozen workshops covering a variety of topics and issues during the AFBF Convention on Sunday, Jan. 11 and Monday, Jan. 12. Topics covered will include how to become a more effective advocate for agriculture, big data, the latest technology trends, updates on economic issues affecting today’s farmers, and skills and ideas leaders can take home and apply at their county and state Farm Bureaus.

Full workshop descriptions will be available in the program available on-site in San Diego.

AFBF Convention kickoff

The convention kicks off with the opening general session on Sunday morning, when AFBF President Bob Stallman will share Farm Bureau’s direction for 2015. At the general session on Monday morning, Commander Rorke Denver will provide insights on teamwork and courage when faced with pressure-filled situations.

Members attending the convention are encouraged to support ag literacy by bidding on items in the online/onsite auction and purchasing tickets to attend the Flapjack Fundraiser, the golf outing or the Foundation’s Night Out event. Learn more at


Before registering online at, farmer and rancher members should check with their state Farm Bureau office to see if they have already been registered. The full Farm Bureau member convention 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, plus an additional $75 to attend the IDEAg Innovate Conference.

Monsanto, DuPont Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuits

DuPont and Monsanto Company announced that they have agreed to settle and dismiss their respective patent infringement lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

The litigation related to claims by Monsanto that DuPont had infringed certain Monsanto seed chipping patents and claims by DuPont that Monsanto had infringed certain DuPont patents related to seed processing. Terms of the settlement are not being disclosed.

According to Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann and DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler, this agreement enables the companies to concentrate their attention on developing new solutions for farmers.

The dismissal of this litigation follows the announcement from DuPont and Monsanto in March 2013 related to a series of technology licensing agreements, as well as dismissal of lawsuits between the companies that also were pending in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

Upon the dismissal of the current litigation, DuPont and Monsanto have no other litigation against each other.

MF Global to Pay $1.21B in Restitution

(AP) -- MF Global Holdings Ltd. must pay $1.21 billion to reimburse customers for losses sustained when the brokerage firm failed in 2011.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Wednesday that a New York court required the payment to ensure that claims made of its subsidiary, MF Global Inc., are paid. The order also imposed a $100 million civil penalty on MF Global Holdings. The company admitted to unlawful use of customer funds as charged by the CFTC.

MF Global Inc. had already settled with the CFTC in 2013. It was required to repay $1.21 billion to its customers, plus a $100 million penalty.

MF Global Holdings, the New York-based parent company, imploded in October 2011 after making big bets on bonds issued by European countries that later turned sour. When it collapsed, more than $1 billion in customer money was discovered to be missing. It was later found that the funds were used to pay for the company's own operations. With $41 billion in assets, it was the eighth-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The CFTC said Wednesday that litigation continues against Edith O'Brien, who had been MF Global's assistant treasurer, and MF Global's former leader, Jon Corzine. Corzine is a former chief of Goldman Sachs, a former Democratic U.S. senator and the former governor of New Jersey.

Survey: Consumer Sentiment Highest in Seven Years

U.S. consumer sentiment jumped in December to its highest level in nearly eight years on cheaper gasoline and better job and wage prospects, a survey released last week showed. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final December reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 93.6, its best showing on a final basis since January 2007 and the latest in a string of increases since August.

The reading was up from 88.8 the month before but under the preliminary reading of 93.8. It was above the median forecast of 93.5 among economists polled by Reuters.

"Consumers held the most favorable long-term prospects for the national economy in the past decade," said Richard Curtin, the survey's director. "Importantly, the 2014 gains in jobs and wages were widespread across all population subgroups and regions."

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions rose to 104.8 from 102.7 in November, versus a forecast of 105.1.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations also climbed to 86.4 from 79.9 in November and was above the expected 85.0.

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