Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday December 5 Ag News

Nebraska Cattlemen Announce 2015 Class of Young Cattlemen’s Conference

Nebraska Cattlemen today announced the 2015 class of the Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC). YCC nominees were accepted from Nebraska Cattlemen affiliate organizations throughout the state and selected by committee to participate in the two-year leadership program. Each class is limited to 10 individuals.

“The next generation of Nebraska Cattlemen will ensure Nebraska remains the global epicenter of the beef industry,” said NC Executive Vice President Pete McClymont. “Our Young Cattlemen’s Conference delivers a strong foundation of industry knowledge and provides the tools these producers need to build a successful future.”

The goal of the Young Cattlemen’s Conference is to expose young and emerging leaders to a variety of areas of the beef industry and provide them with necessary leadership tools. During the two-year program, YCC members are provided training on professional communication, given the opportunity to tour multiple Nebraska-based agriculture production facilities and learn to navigate state agencies and legislative processes.

The 2015 YCC class includes:

- Corey Cable, Bertrand
- Chris Coufal, Dodge
- Nicole Dean, Bridgeport
- Bart Deterding, Cambridge
- Jennifer Leupp, Overton
- Jacob Mayer, Wahoo
- Tessa Quittner, Halsey
- Justin Steffensmeier, Dodge
- Steve Sunderman, Norfolk
- Marcus Urban, Clarkson

YCC is the flagship educational program offered to members of Nebraska Cattlemen. The program receives sponsorship from Farm Credit Services and DuPont Pioneer.

NeFBF Members to Discuss Key Agriculture Issues, Dec. 8-9 in Kearney

Nearly 500 farmers and ranchers from across the state will gather to discuss key agriculture issues and vote on agriculture policy positions for the organization for 2015, at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting and Convention, Dec. 8-9 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney.

Numerous agricultural issues are expected to be discussed, including....

Property Taxes and Agriculture – The heavy reliance on agriculture land to fund schools and local government through property taxes has pushed property taxes paid by farmers and ranchers to unprecedented levels, resulting in property taxes now being one of the highest costs and greatest expenses associated with farming and ranching in Nebraska. Property tax relief is one of Farm Bureau’s top issues and will be a key issue in the 2015 legislative session.
Livestock Expansion – As the cost of land and agriculture machinery continues to rise, it’s more and more difficult for young farmers to get a start in farming through crop production. One way some beginning farmers are looking to get their start is through raising livestock, however, finding a good location, meeting local zoning requirements and finding ways to limit a beginning farmer’s financial risk can present challenges.

Technology in Agriculture – Nebraska farmers and ranchers are rapidly adopting new technologies on the farm. These technologies are helping them save time, money and improve their ability to protect and conserve natural resources. What are these technologies and why are they good for farmers and Nebraskans?

Many of these improvements involve farmers working with agriculture technology companies to collect large amounts of data about their farms. Questions about who owns the data and how that data is used has become a major issue for farmers as they look to protect their private information.

Rural Bridges – When farmers harvest their crops they have to get those crops from the field to the market, but that’s a growing challenge as more and more of Nebraska’s county bridges are being closed or restricted because of age and wear and tear. With high costs for repairs and replacements, solutions are needed.

Beef CheckOff – “Beef, it’s What’s for Dinner” is one of the most famous marketing slogans ever and it was funded by cattle producers through the national beef checkoff. With concerns by some about how the program operates, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling for changes that could affect how the program operates and who pays for it.

Regulating Farms – Farmers and ranchers are finding themselves more and more under the microscope of environmental regulators, like the Environmental Protection Agency. Why are farmers pushing back and why are more regulations not always the answer to solving environmental problems?

State of the Farm Economy – After several good years of prices for grain crops like corn, soybeans and wheat, prices have dropped off. How is that affecting farmers purchasing decisions and how is that impacting Nebraska’s rural economy? How is it affecting livestock farmers?

The schedule, in part, looks like this....

Monday, Dec. 8, 2014

10:30 a.m.           President’s Address, Steve Nelson – Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation President Steve Nelson is a farmer from Axtell and the elected leader of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation. Nelson’s address to delegates will outline how Farm Bureau is working to solve the problems and challenges facing Farm Bureau’s farm and ranch members.

1:00 p.m. and 2:30pm - Farm Succession Planning, Eryka Morehead, Farm Bureau Financial Services - Transferring ownership of the farm or ranch from one generation to the next can be challenging and difficult for everyone involved without proper planning. What’s the key to keeping farm and ranch families working together through the transition?

1:00 p.m. and 2:30pm - Farm Bill Implementation, Robert Tigner, UNL Extension – The passage of the 2014 Farm Bill will bring big changes for farmers and ranchers, particularly for those working in landowner/tenant relationships.  What are the key things farmers and ranchers need to know?

6:30 p.m.  -  Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Event, Deanna Karmazin – The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is an agriculture education entity that houses several programs including ‘Agriculture in the Classroom’, a program to train teachers how to incorporate Nebraska agriculture into their school curriculum and the ‘Agriculture Pen Pal’ program that connects Nebraska classrooms with Nebraska farmers and ranchers.

Tues., Dec. 9, 2014

8:30 a.m.              Voting Delegate General Session – The agriculture policy development portion of the annual meeting provides farmers and ranchers from across the state the opportunity to discuss and debate agriculture issues and determine agriculture policy for the organization for the coming year.

9:00 a.m.              ABC’s of food…Always Be Communicators – More than ever before farmers and ranchers need to be able to communicate how they’re raising food on today’s farms with generations removed from the farm gate. This seminar will provide some helpful tips for farmers and ranchers in opening the dialogue with non-farm audiences.  Presenters are Deanna Karmazin, Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture & Jana McGuire of the Center for Food Integrity. 

6:30 p.m.             Annual Farm Bureau Convention Banquet – Numerous dignitaries and elected officials will be in attendance at the banquet including:
·         Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman
·         Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2014 Silver Eagle Award winner, Clayton Yeutter, former USDA Secretary of Agriculture

NeFBF Delegates Will Elect Four to the NEFB State Board

Nebraska Farm Bureau's House of Delegates will elect four members to the NFBF Board of Directors at the state convention in Kearney Dec. 9.

The NFBF Nominating Committee interviewed individuals nominated by County Farm Bureaus as candidates for the four director positions, which includes the president on Nov. 12-13, in conjunction with the Policy Forum meeting held in North Platte.

On Tuesday, Dec. 9, members of the House of Delegates can nominate additional candidates prior to voting, which is held at 1:30 p.m. Each candidate will be given an opportunity to give a 90-second campaign speech before the vote takes place.

The President, At-Large, District 3 and District 8 positions are open for election. Terms are for three years.   Candidates are...

     Steve Nelson, Kearney-Franklin Co. Farm Bureau
District 3
     Joni Albrecht, Thurston Co. Farm Bureau
     Roger Acklie, Madison Co. Farm Bureau
     Rebecca Graham, Cedar Co. Farm Bureau
     Shane Greckel, Knox Co. Farm Bureau
District 8
     Bill Baldwin, Scotts Bluff Co. Farm Bureau
     Dave Nielsen, Lancaster Co. Farm Bureau
     Shane Daniels, Cherry Co. Farm Bureau 

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Feeding more alfalfa hay than cattle need gets expensive.  Save money by feeding just enough alfalfa to provide the protein your animals need.

               Cattle often need extra protein when their winter diet is based on corn stalks, prairie hay, straw, or winter range.  The protein supplement you chose is important, both in its effectiveness and its cost.  Many cheap protein sources contain mostly urea and other forms of non-protein nitrogen.  These supplements may not be very effective when cattle are eating mostly low energy winter forages.

               Supplements that contain mostly all-natural protein may be better. This type of protein is needed to feed the microbes in the rumen so they can digest more fiber from your forage.  And many times the cheapest natural source of protein is alfalfa, even when hay price is high.

               Keep costs down by determining how much extra protein your cows actually need.  Both a forage test for protein and a close estimate of how much your cows are actually eating are needed to be accurate.  Then you can work with a local extension educator, a nutritionist, or use your own skills to calculate how much more protein is needed.

               Most winter forage diets need between one-half and one pound of extra protein per day.  Since the forage test of your alfalfa will tell you how much protein it contains, you can calculate how much alfalfa to feed each day, or every other day, to keep cows healthy and productive.  This could come from as little 2 pounds of hay when feeding very high protein alfalfa to cows needing only a little extra protein to as much as 8 to 10 pounds when using low quality alfalfa for cows on a very low protein diet.

               It may not sound like a big difference, but when you feed just two or three pounds each day per cow, the savings add up fast.

China Sets New Grain Production Record

Rice, Wheat, Corn Collective Output Hits 607 MT in 2014

China said Friday its grain production this year climbed to 607.1 million metric tons, an 11th consecutive annual record.

As China has loosened some policy rules to allow for greater grain imports in recent years, the level of its yearly grain production has become a closely watched indicator of how its appetite for agricultural trade might grow.

Production of wheat and rice collectively rose by 7.05 million tons, with the quality of grains noticeably higher than previous years, the agriculture ministry's chief economist, Bi Meijia, said at a news conference

Dec. 5 Starts Year-Long Salute to Soil, Focus on Its Health

It's responsible for nearly all life on the planet, but rarely gets the respect it deserves. On December 5, this living and life-giving resource is getting its day as "World Soil Day" is celebrated across the state and across the globe.

The global focus on soil is being amplified across Nebraska through an awareness and education campaign from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) titled "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil." The campaign is designed to help more farmers and ranchers discover the basics and benefits of soil health - and to encourage the adoption of soil health-improving practices like cover crops, no-till and diverse crop rotations.

"We work every day in every county to conserve and protect this vital resource," said NRCS Acting State Conservationist Brad Soncksen, "so to us, every day is 'soil day.'"

Soncksen said improving the nation's soil health has broad implications related to the vitality of our nation's farms, the health of our planet and our ability to feed more than 9 billion people who will be living on Earth by the year 2050.

"Keeping soil healthy improves water and air quality, makes farms more sustainable and resilient, provides for wildlife habitat and reduces flooding," he said. "Increasingly, more and more producers in Nebraska and throughout the nation are harvesting a wide range of production, environmental, and business benefits--on and off the farm--by improving soil health."

Soncksen said that while improving soil health has enormous benefits, it also has its challenges. "We know that every farm is different and has its own set of unique resource issues," he said. "Fortunately, Nebraska's farmers are innovative, courageous and tenacious, and NRCS is committed to help make their farms more productive, resilient and profitable along the way."

Soncksen said that World Soil Day serves as a reminder to all of us that the promise of our future resides in the soil. "As we face mounting global production, climate and sustainability challenges, there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with our nation's farmers and ranchers to improve the health of our soil," he said.

Those interested in learning more about the basics, benefits and promise of improving soil health, Soncksen said, can visit to "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil."

Iowa Corn Supports Nutrient Use, Land Management Research

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Iowa State University, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are partnering on a new effort to improve farm productivity and water quality. The project involves documenting the effectiveness of in-field and edge-of-field nutrient management practices for selected drainage districts (DD) in Palo Alto (DD 15 North), Pocahontas (DD 65, 48-81, 178), and Clay (DD 8) counties in Iowa.

Farmers that participate will lead the voluntary-based approach to help reduce nitrogen and phosphorus exports to downstream waters by using documentation at the multiple-farm scale. Documentation will note potential nitrogen and phosphorus losses in relation to in-field and edge-of-field nutrient management, which support the efforts of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

"As farmers, we take stewardship very seriously. While we cannot control the weather, we do control the manner in which nutrients are applied to our land. Our land is precious, and we applaud farmers who make improvements to their land that dramatically impact water quality," said Wayne Humphreys, a farmer from Columbus Junction, who chairs the Animal Ag & Environment Committee for Iowa Corn.

Farmers participating in the research project can anonymously evaluate their individual nutrient application rates and crop yields to possibly improve yields, fine-tune nutrient inputs and consider if improved drainage within the drainage district can increase potential crop yields and enhance water quality.

"Project partners are committed to working with farmers and documenting what can be done in the voluntary-based approach. Ultimate success will depend on the assistance of farmers in documenting practices implemented in these drainage districts," said Dr. Matt Helmers of Iowa State University.

Farmers in these drainage districts can learn more about participating in the project by calling Dr. Helmers at 515-294-6717 or by emailing

AMPI Dairy Coop CEO steps down

Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) announced today its president and CEO, Ed Welch, resigned for personal reasons. Welch, who has been with the dairy marketing cooperative for 31 years, became CEO in 2008.

“We are grateful to Ed for his years of service to AMPI and wish him the best,” said Steve Schlangen, chairman of the AMPI Board of Directors and a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn. “In the interim, the board has appointed executive senior vice presidents Donn DeVelder and Sheryl Meshke to share the duties of CEO.”

USDA Joins Global Partners to Kick Off International Year of Soils in 2015

Today, USDA joins nations from across the globe to kick off the International Year of Soils, an effort to highlight the importance of soil in everyday life. Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie will address members of the 68th United Nations General Assembly, which designated 2015 for the yearlong celebration.

"We are excited to be working with the United Nations to help raise awareness and promote the importance of conservation of our soil resources," Bonnie said. "USDA is embracing this unique opportunity to tell the world about the importance of soil conservation and how we've worked with private landowners since 1935 to protect and improve this priceless natural resource."

UN's Food and Agriculture Organization spearheaded the global International Year of Soils campaign within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership. The year of awareness aims to increase understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. Soils play a crucial role in food security, hunger eradication, climate change adaptation, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Bonnie is one of several leaders who will address the assembly today, on World Soil Day, about the importance of soil. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – America's agency for soil conservation, classification and studies – plans to make the year a memorable one.

NRCS works hand-in-hand with producers through technical and financial assistance programs and services to help ensure their success. The agency was born amid the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, the nation's largest environmental disaster caused by over cultivation, drought and record-breaking temperatures.

"NRCS conservationists work with America's farmers and ranchers to take care of the soil, ensuring agricultural operations are sustainable for many years to come," NRCS Chief Jason Weller said.

For more information on International Year of Soils, visit 

Soil Renaissance celebrates International Year of Soils

Today, on World Soil Day, the Soil Renaissance celebrates a year of progress in advancing soil and soil health, and joins in the kickoff of the International Year of Soils.

The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS) to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of healthy soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. The celebration officially begins today, Dec. 5, which is World Soil Day.

Launched on Dec. 5, 2013, the Soil Renaissance is a movement to make soil health the cornerstone of land use management decisions, and bring attention to the critical role of healthy soils in vibrant natural resource systems. The Soil Renaissance is led by Farm Foundation, NFP and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

In its first year, farmers, ranchers, educators, researchers, suppliers, NGOs, foundations and government agencies have joined the Soil Renaissance with their expertise and support. "Collaboration has been the linchpin to our success so far," said Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin. "The multitude of challenges in understanding healthy soils requires many hands at work. No single person or organization can fully address the diverse and complex issues of soil health across the nation and the world."

The Soil Renaissance has begun implementing a Strategic Plan that focuses on four foundational issues key to all aspects of soil health work: a standard for measuring soil health; economic tools to assess the value of soil health; identifying research needs; and education and outreach. Teams of experts from across the United States have formed working groups around these four areas, and are working to accomplish important goals.

"Soil health is a key factor in any agricultural production system, whether conventional or organic. Yet soil is too often ignored or overshadowed by other factors," said Noble Foundation President Bill Buckner. "It is critical that we listen to the producers who are earlier adopters of soil health initiatives, and work closely with researchers, policymakers and industry experts to ensure our soils are protected and sustained for future generations."

During IYS, the Soil Renaissance will partner with the Soil Science Society of America to bring attention to the importance of soil and soil health.

The Soil Renaissance serves as a central hub through which interested parties can gain new information about measurement and economic tools, research gaps to be filled and ways they can help. To stay current on all the latest developments, view the complete strategic plan or sign up for the Soil Renaissance newsletter, visit

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