Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Monday December 1 Ag News

Farm Bill Education Meeting in Scribner, Monday Dec. 15 from 9 am to Noon

Nebraska Extension and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), are teaming up to provide educational meetings about the 2014 Farm Bill.   The local meeting is set for Monday, December 15, and will be held at the Mohr Auditorium in Scribner from 9:00 am to Noon.

All farm operators and land owners are invited to attend.     FSA will inform participants about the sign-up process for the Farm Bill including the documentation needed and the deadlines for sign-up.   UNL Extension will provide information about the decisions that will need to be made for base acre reallocation, yield updates, and for the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) vs. Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program selection.  

It should be helpful to attend one of the meetings to get insight on the options everyone has with the 2014 Farm Bill.   Farm Operators and Land Owners will have three main steps to signing up.   One is to review their current base acre allocations which is occurring at this time.   Secondly, a decision about re-allocation of base acres will need to be made.   Finally, the program selection will involve the ARC or PLC program.   ARC is the revenue safety net program similar to the recent ACRE program and PLC is the price safety net program.   With ARC, the options will be an Individual ARC coverage vs. a County ARC coverage.   With PLC, the available Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) will be discussed. Decisions made for this Farm Bill sometime in 2015 will be final for the duration of the Bill.

For more information or assistance contact your local FSA or UNL County Extension Office.   For more information about the 2014 Farm Bill, go to www.farmbill.unl.edu or www.fsa.usda.gov/farmbill

Upper Big Blue NRD is Hosting the 11th Annual CROP-TIP Field Day to Help Farmers Gain an Advantage—Increase Bottom Line

Cornerstone Bank and the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District will be sponsoring the “11th Annual CROP-TIP Field Day” on December 10, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Holthus Convention Center in York.  The public is invited to attend this free event.

The following nationally renowned speakers are featured and will cover these topics:

Jay Fuhrer, North Dakota NRCS-Bismarck:  “Improving Soil Health to Increase Crop Yield and Cutting the Cost of Inputs.”

Bob Utterback, Economist-Farm Journal & Utterback Marketing Services, Inc. (New Richmond, IN):  "Marketing Strategies in the Commodities Market and 2015 Outlook.”

Dr. Al Dutcher, State of Nebraska Climatologist:  “Nebraska’s Weather Forecast:  What’s Ahead in 2015.”

Dan Leininger, Upper Big Blue NRD:  “CROP-TIP Harvest Results.”

Rod DeBuhr, Upper Big Blue NRD:  “Groundwater Quality in the Upper Big Blue NRD.”

The “Cornerstone Resources Observation Plot—Test Irrigation Project” (CROP-TIP) was an idea formulated in January 2004 by Cornerstone Bank and the Upper Big Blue NRD.  Similar to an outdoor classroom, the water conservation project is used as a research plot for producers and youth throughout the area.  We will share the harvest data and irrigation scheduling information at CROP-TIP this year.

We are providing a meal, so a RSVP is necessary by calling DeeDee at the Upper Big Blue NRD at (402) 362-6601.

Beef Checkoff Comments Due December 10, 2014

 (from NE Cattlemen Newsletter)

On November 10, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack published his agency’s Notice of Inquiry on the duplicate beef checkoff under the 1996 Generic Commodity Promotion Act. The Secretary made his publication over objections voiced by 45 NCBA state affiliate cattlemen’s associations, representing over 170,000 cattle producers and without request by mainstream cattle producers.

Cattle producers overwhelming support the current Beef Checkoff program under the 1985 Beef Promotion, Research and Education Act. In a recent survey, the Checkoff received support from 4 out of 5 cattlemen. Yet despite concern shown by cattlemen, state cattlemen’s associations, Federation of State Beef Councils, and the lack of Congressional intent to use the 1996 Act in this way; the Secretary has plowed forward with his plan for a duplicate beef checkoff under the 1996 Act.

So why has the Secretary done this? The USDA has called it a companion checkoff, but cattlemen never asked for a companion to their highly successful existing checkoff. There are enhancements that can be made, places we could build on the success, but to turn over a successful program to create a duplicate program is senseless and wasteful of producer dollars. The answer is simpler though. The Secretary has seen a small opportunity to use the efforts toward consensus in the beef industry as an opportunity to take over the current checkoff and replace it with a checkoff that puts all the major decision-making authority in the hands of the Administration.

That is what this boils down to; the tendency of this Administration to seize greater authority up to, and in some cases beyond, Congressional intent. Congress created the Beef Checkoff in 1985, writing most of the key provisions into statute; the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and their administrative role, the Federation of State Beef Councils and their collection role, and even the dollar per head and importer assessment. Beyond that, they left oversight to the USDA and their rule-making authority. But under the 1996 Generic Commodities Act, the Secretary and future Secretaries would have much greater authority, the authority to use their rule-making to write the beef checkoff as they see fit, without intervention from Congress.

That is what the Secretary is doing here, using the 1996 Act to write a beef checkoff that would place the checkoff in the hands of the Secretary for generations to come, rendering beef promotion a political spoil that any future administration could quickly rewrite to suit its political agenda. Even if that is not the intent, it is the result. 

The comment period will remain open for 30 days, producers are encouraged to submit comments and contact their Senators and Representative. Tell the Secretary that we don’t need a duplicate checkoff!

Surveying Beef Producers about Their Checkoff

The winter Producer Attitude Survey, a nationwide survey of 1,200 beef and dairy producers conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research, will be in the field from mid-December through early January. Results from the survey will be released during the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio Feb. 4-7, 2015, and used in planning future checkoff programs that respond to producer input. View topline results of the last survey here... http://www.beefboard.org/library/files/PAS/Beefmemo14_1.pdf

Pesticide Applicator Training Program in Iowa Undergoes Name Change

The Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP), formerly known as the Pest Management and the Environment Program (PME) at Iowa State University, recently updated its moniker. The name change reflects the program’s emphasis on pesticide safety education to various audiences in Iowa, including certified commercial, public, and private applicators as well as pesticide safety awareness for the general public.

“Our focus has always been on pesticide safety education in addition to applicator certification,” said Kristine Schaefer, program manager at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “This name change better describes the programs we offer and the audiences we serve. We offer much more than applicator training.”

Schaefer noted that the name change is occurring as the national Land-Grant University Pesticide Safety Education Program reaches a 50-year milestone.

"As a land-grant university, we use research-based information to educate the public and certified applicators in the safe application of pesticides,” Schaefer said. “As a result, we are protecting our families and our environment. Our staff is also involved in other areas of pesticide education including integrated pest management, worker protection, environmental quality and agricultural health.”

Schaefer noted that in a recent press release, the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA), American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the Entomology Society of America (ESA) stated, “Everyone benefits from a strong national Pesticide Safety Education Program – the general public, the registrants whose products’ availability depends on safe use, the applicators who must be competent in the safe use of pesticides, the expanded network of trainers educated by PSEP and the regulatory agencies that enforce the law.

“The recognition this program deserves is often muted, due to the increasing number of organizations and initiatives that erroneously equate pesticide safety education with promoting pesticide use. On its 50th anniversary, the WSSA, APS and ESA salute the Pesticide Safety Education Program in the Land-Grant Universities and in the territories for its many efforts to protect human health and the environment, as society continues its ongoing battle against pests.”

During 2013, Iowa State University PSEP staff provided Continuing Instructional Course (CIC) training to nearly 26,000 certified applicators who control weeds, insects, disease-causing organisms, rodents and other pests in agricultural cropping systems, forests, structures, turf, ornamentals, rights-of-way, aquatic areas and other important sites. In addition to in-person and distance pesticide safety education training, over 22,000 PSEP Extension publications were distributed in 2013.

To learn more about PSEP and its programs, go to http://www.extension.iastate.edu/psep

Christie Vetoes NJ Crate Bill

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation Friday that would have banned the practice of confining pregnant pigs in crates, an issue that symbolizes the competing interests facing the potential 2016 Republican presidential contender.

New Jersey has few pig farms, but they are widespread in Iowa, the nation's leading state for pork production that also happens to be a battleground state holding the first presidential caucuses.

While the bill wouldn't affect farmers in Iowa, Mr. Christie has made political alliances with key Republicans there, and pork producers lobbied against the bill.

Meanwhile, animal-rights activists had collected thousands of signatures and enlisted celebrities such as Danny DeVito and Bill Maher. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature by large margins.

In his veto message released Friday, Mr. Christie was critical of the bill, and said lawmakers passed it in response to "misguided partisans and special interest groups."

"This bill is a solution in search of a problem. It is a political movement masquerading as substantive policy," Mr. Christie wrote in his three-page veto message.

Mr. Christie compared the pig-crate legislation to an effort by the Legislature to ban a form of natural-gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey. The technique, also known as fracking, isn't widespread in New Jersey.

National Pork Producers Council, an industry group, praised Mr. Christie's veto.  "Gov. Christie recognized that it's the hog farmers not national animal rights groups who know best how to ensure the well-being of pregnant sows," said David Warner, a spokesman.

Addressing Salmonella Concerns

More than 140 Industry representatives engaged in beef safety programs during the Pathogen Control and Regulatory Compliance in Beef Processing meeting hosted by the North American Meat Association (contractor to the beef checkoff), Oct. 16, and gained new knowledge from research data collected through the beef checkoff.  Dr. Dayna Harhay presented results from her project titled “Genomic and Phenotypic Characterization of Salmonella enterica Serotypes Commonly Associated with Cattle and Beef—Creation of a Reference Data Resource for Examining Salmonella Virulence”. Salmonella continues to be a target pathogen for beef processors and this data enhances the knowledge base of the industry and will help to develop better detection methodologies as well as enhanced interventions to address Salmonella in beef products.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for December 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for December 2014. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for December is 0.125 percent, unchanged from 0.125 percent in November.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during December is 1.125 percent, unchanged from 1.125 percent in November.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for December are as follows, 2.000 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 2.125 percent in November; 2.375 percent with 10-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.375 percent in November and; 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.500 percent in November.

Sign-Up Deadline for the New Dairy Safety Net Is End of This Week

Dairy farmers have only a few more days to go to their county Farm Service Agency office and sign up for the new dairy safety net included in the 2014 farm bill. The deadline is Friday, December 5 for enrolling in the new Margin Protection Program, for the remainder of 2014, for all of 2015, or for both.

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, said there are good reasons to sign up for the program, even though farm milk prices and margins are both favorable right now.

“First,” Mulhern said, “dairy futures indicate margins are leaving their record territory and will continue down into 2015. We liken the situation to a roller coaster cresting, then starting its descent. Lower milk prices and tighter margins are forecast just as the new program kicks in. This program will provide farmers some control over the situation by enrolling now in the MPP.”

In addition, Mulhern said, with U.S. milk production expected to increase by more than two percent this year, signing up for MPP now locks in an increase in each farm’s production history going forward. The upward adjustment in a farm’s production history only happens for farms once they sign up for the program.

“Under the rules, MPP payments are based on past production history, and the only allowed increase in that production base is the percentage increase in national milk production,” Mulhern said. “So, even if next year’s margins don’t trigger any payments, those who sign up now will be able to insure a larger amount of milk production in future years, because of the rise in U.S. milk production in 2014,” he said. He noted that, through October, 2014’s milk production is up 2.2 percent from the first ten months of 2013.

Rather than supporting milk prices, the Margin Protection Program allows producers to insure their income over feed costs on a sliding scale. Basic coverage is free, aside from a $100 annual administrative fee.

Producers decide annually both the percentage of their milk production history to cover – from 25 percent up to 90 percent – and the level of margin they wish to protect, from $4 to $8. NMPF has a variety of tools on its website and on a separate website devoted exclusively to the new program to help producers make their sign-  up decisions. Included is a downloadable calculator that allows producers to plug in their own numbers and quickly see the program’s protection impact on their farm.

“Basic coverage costs you only $100 a year. But that relatively small investment does a lot to protect the future of your farm,” Mulhern said. “We encourage all producers to get to their county FSA offices, before the end of this week, and sign up for the Margin Protection Program before it is too late.”

Brazil Soy Planting 85% Done, Moisture Levels Replenished

Brazilian soybean planting moved forward 9 percentage points last week and would have progressed more quickly were it not for the ample rains that fell across key producing regions, according to AgRural, a local farm consultancy.

Soybean planting was 85% complete as of Friday, slightly behind the 89% planted at the same point last year, AgRural said.

The rain was welcomed in Parana, where parts of the northern and central regions had received little in the way of precipitation for weeks. Planting in the No. 2 soy state reached 91% complete.

In Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 soybean-producing state, planting progressed from 60% to 74% complete amid unexpected showers.

In Mato Grosso, the No. 1 state, planting is virtually complete at 98% and heavy rain nourished the crop over the past week.

Praises Secretary Vilsack for Seeking Public Comments

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today called for a ‘new direction’ for the current beef checkoff program in an Agri-Pulse guest column, while also praising Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for seeking public comment on how to strengthen and modernize the outdated program.

“The checkoff program as we know it today has remained virtually unchanged for three decades while the world around it has morphed dramatically,” said Johnson. “This has raised serious doubts about the structure of the checkoff and whether it is capable of appropriately funding the much-needed research and exploring the new markets and new opportunities that the American beef industry so desperately needs. Clearly, the beef checkoff is in dire need of a major course correction.”

 Johnson noted that the current checkoff’s need for change stemmed from the fact that it is both underfunded and unacceptably inflexible. Johnson offered principles to guide adequate reform of the program under the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996.

“The modernized beef checkoff should be a single program, modeled after the 1996 Act,” said Johnson. “It would have a clear separation of the policy organization from the non-political, promotional checkoff entity… exclude processors and importers from positions of leadership, ensuring that beef producers are always at the helm… and be precluded from allocating a single dime to any organization engaged in lobbying.”

“The idea of bringing new ideas and much-needed change to the checkoff is nothing new, and in fact, organizations like NFU met for three years discussing a new direction,” noted Johnson. “But the meetings were a bridge to nowhere, because they were largely controlled by the organization that has a vested interest in making sure the current structure never changes. That organization, of course, is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).”

Johnson also noted that NCBA’s motivation for obstructing each and every idea should have been predictable, considering over 97 percent of all Beef Board contracts went to the NCBA, and the organization relies on the current program for a vast majority of its funding.

“NCBA regards the checkoff as its own personal financial trough and will do everything possible to cement that status into eternity,” said Johnson. “Clearly, NCBA wants to protect its turf and its income stream, but its days of living off the checkoff slush fund need to come to an end.”

Johnson commended Secretary Vilsack for stepping into the fractured discussions of the beef checkoff working group and allowing industry stakeholders to submit comments on ways the checkoff should be reformed.

“Finally, other voices and new ideas will be heard and given thoughtful consideration,” said Johnson. “Finally, after three long, frustrating years, meaningful structural change is actually a real possibility.

“The beauty of our democracy is that programs like the checkoff can be regularly scrutinized, fine-tuned or reformed. Recognizing that the success of the checkoff is an integral part of the success of rural America, let us work together to move this program forward. The promise of tomorrow relies on the changes of today.”

Country’s largest organic farming conference takes place Feb. 26-28 in La Crosse, Wis.

The 26th MOSES Organic Farming Conference happens Feb. 26-28, 2015 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis. This annual event, organized by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), is the country’s largest conference about organic and sustainable agriculture. Nearly 3,500 people are expected to attend.

“The MOSES Conference is not only a source of networking, information and education for us, but also a source for renewed energy and enthusiasm to begin each new season,” said Sandy Dietz, an organic farmer from Altura, Minn. About 19 percent of conference participants are certified organic farmers. Another 24 percent use organic and sustainable practices on their farms, while almost 5 percent are farmers who label their farms as conventional.

“We welcome these farmers—the conference is a great opportunity for them to see what ‘organic’ is about, and learn what it would take to make it work on their farms,” explained Faye Jones, MOSES Executive Director.

The conference features 67 workshops over six sessions and a two-floor Exhibit Hall with more than 170 exhibitors. Workshops fall into a number of farming categories, such as livestock, field crops, and market farming, plus broader categories like business and environmental issues. A track of workshops is geared for beginning farmers under the banner of New Organic Stewards. The conference also highlights current research in organic and sustainable agriculture through a workshop track and a large poster gallery.

The keynote speaker for the 2015 MOSES Conference is John Jeavons, whose biologically intensive approach to farming is helping growers around the globe increase yields and build soil fertility while using less water. His presentation is Friday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

In addition to attending the conference, farmers can take an all-day Organic University™ course on Feb. 26 to learn in-depth about a topic. Descriptions of these pre-conference courses, conference workshops, and other details about the event are online at mosesorganic.org/conference and in the free MOSES Conference App (also available through the MOSES website).

Conference admission also includes organic meals—breakfasts, lunches and snacks—plus film screenings and entertainment.  Singer-songwriter Susan Werner will perform at the Conference KickOff the evening of Feb. 26.

Registration is available online at mosesorganic.org/conference. To request a Conference Guide with a mail-in registration form, call 715-778-5775.

MOSES is a nonprofit organization that promotes o­­­rganic and sustainable agriculture by providing farmers with education, resources and expertise.

BIVI FLEXcombo® swine vaccine now available in a NEW 50-dose presentation

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI) makes it easier for producers and veterinarians to vaccinate pigs against porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae with a single injection of FLEXcombo®.

Now FLEXcombo®, a member of the FLEX Family™ of vaccines, is now available in a new 50-dose presentation, in addition to a 250-dose presentation, giving producers and veterinarians a choice of sizes that best fit their operations and number of pigs to vaccinate, with less wasted vaccine.

According to Sarah Jorgensen, FLEX brand manager for the BIVI Swine Division, the packaging and mixing process for the new 50-dose FLEXcombo® is the same as what producers are used to with the larger presentation size. “The 50-dose FLEXcombo® package contains a 50-mL bottle of Ingelvac CircoFLEX® and 50 mL of Ingelvac MycoFLEX® in a 100-mL headspace bottle for easy mixing. The result is 100 mL of mixed vaccine, enough to treat 50 head with a single 2-mL injection,” she explains.

Producers and veterinarians have asked for a smaller presentation of FLEXcombo® so that they can better match vaccine quantity with the number of pigs they need to vaccine, while reducing the amount of left over vaccine.

“Customers now have more choice in product size to go along with the added convenience of vaccinating pigs against two of the most important respiratory diseases in swine, all with a single injection,” Jorgensen adds. “More importantly, customers using either presentation size of FLEXcombo® can reduce stress on both pigs and people while decreasing labor costs because of the need for fewer injections. This all results in greater compliance with the Pork Quality Assurance Plus® program and improved pork quality.”

Verdesian Life Sciences Announces New Biological Herbicide

Verdesian Life Sciences, LLC (“Verdesian”) announces a new product that will soon give growers of cereal crops, grass seed, alfalfa and managers of rangeland and non-cropland areas access to a new biological herbicide for suppression of downy brome.

Discovered by scientist Ann Kennedy with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens, strain D7, offers significant activity to combat downy brome, commonly known as cheatgrass. D7 has been further developed for the commercial market by Verdesian Life Sciences.

An invasive species, downy brome infests millions of acres of cropland, rangeland and non-crop areas across the United States. The weed, which outcompetes native grasses, is especially troublesome for winter wheat growers as its development cycle parallels that of winter wheat. In rangeland and non-crop areas, the unwanted plant has virtually eliminated native grass species and the highly flammable weed blankets the ground to provide fertile fuel for brush fires. In addition, the seeds produced by this invasive weed are very irritating to grazing animals and can induce significant stress in livestock.

The plant’s extensive root system is a key to downy brome’s proliferation. D7 suppresses the weed’s development and growth. For wheat growers who currently control the weed with herbicides that inhibit acetolactate synthase (ALS), D7 will offer a second mode of action to improve activity and help protect against resistance development. Uniquely, D7 does not control weeds through pathogenic interactions but rather through the secretion of chemicals selectively suppressive to cheatgrass.

“Most herbicides for control of cheatgrass are ALS-inhibiting,” said Ryan Bond, Ph.D., vice president of marketing, Verdesian. “We’ve seen some resistance development in the last few years, and D7 will give growers a tool to help mitigate that risk by offering a novel mode of action.”

"We’re committed to developing and acquiring new technologies to help growers improve plant health and increase marketable yield,” said Greg Thompson, chief operating officer, Verdesian. “Verdesian is pleased to bring growers and land managers a new biological solution for this devastating weed.”

D7 will be used at low use rates of 2 grams per acre, and its flexible and unique application allows it to be applied in-furrow, via aerial application or as a seed treatment. D7 will be commercially available in 2015.

New Holland Completes Acquisition of Miller-St. Nazianz, Inc.

CNH Industrial announced today that it has completed the acquisition of precision spraying equipment manufacturer Miller-St. Nazianz, Inc. All assets and activities of Miller are being incorporated into CNH Industrial’s New Holland brand. The Miller products will be further integrated into the New Holland Agriculture portfolio which specializes in agricultural machinery.

The global capital goods company and Miller previously announced the merger in August and the transaction was closed on November 26, 2014. The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand. This builds on a successful four year manufacturing and distribution partnership between New Holland and Miller in North America that has seen strong acceptance of a differentiated and best-in-class front-boom self-propelled sprayer offering.

The acquisition of Miller, acknowledged as a leading innovator in front-boom sprayers, brings an exciting product portfolio into the New Holland family for worldwide distribution. This will further expand crop production sales utilizing the New Holland brand network, established in over 170 countries. With this acquisition, New Holland will also gain an expanded offering in hay tools as Miller’s Ag-Bag silage packaging product line will also be managed by New Holland.

“We are very excited to round out our family of crop production products by officially bringing on Miller as a New Holland offering. New Holland dealers are known for in-depth knowledge of field operations and customer needs all while having a community driven approach to servicing their markets,” said Abe Hughes, Vice President of New Holland North America. “Our Miller Sprayer customers will continue to partner with the best innovators, industry leaders and experts in agriculture and at the same time our dealers gain strength and momentum knowing that New Holland continues to invest in them. It’s a true win-win situation.” 

A key piece of farm equipment for today’s modern agribusinesses, sprayers operate through crop fields to distribute fertilizer and crop protection products in the form of droplets. Ag-Bag provides dairy and livestock farmers a convenient and low-cost approach to storing silage that preserves the quality of forage for their animals throughout the year. The Miller acquisition defines a new chapter for New Holland’s commitment to the professional and broad acreage segment of the agricultural industry and provides a strong platform to grow the self-propelled sprayer business on a global scale.

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