Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday December 31 Ag News

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at the Hyatt Place, located at 600 Q Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board will address regular board business. The meeting is open to the public. A copy of the agenda is available by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, PO Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509, or calling either 402/471-2676 or 800-NECORN1.

NE Corn and Soybean Checkoff Tour Coming to Four Districts

The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Soybean Board are teaming up and hitting the road for their first ever Checkoff Tour. The tour, which will take place over the course of two days – January 6 and 8 – is meant to give producers and industry personnel the opportunity to learn more about how their checkoff programs are working to help increase yields and build demand.

During the meeting, representatives from both the Corn and Soybean Boards will give updates on how checkoff dollars are being invested in the areas of education, marketing and research. Producers and industry personnel are encouraged to attend this free event to learn more about the programs and initiatives of the corn and soybean checkoffs, ask questions and provide feedback.

Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board, said these meetings offer valuable information for corn and soybean farmers. “One of the goals of these meetings is to give farmers the opportunity to learn more about the checkoffs firsthand. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to hear from your district checkoff representatives about your investments in research, marketing and promotional activities pertaining to the corn and soybeans you grow.”

The tour will include two stops each day, with one meeting over lunch and the other over dinner. Each two-hour meeting is free to all attendees and will include a meal, presentations and a question and answer session. The schedule and location for each meeting are as follows:

Tuesday, January 6
West Point: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Nielsen Community Center
Mead: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the ARDC

Thursday, January 8
Broken Bow: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the One Box Convention Center
Minden: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Minden Opera House

How to Register

If you are interested in attending one of the events, please RSVP by email or phone with your name and which location you plan on attending. To RSVP, simply send an email to or call (402) 480-4971. Registrations will be closed by noon on Friday, January 2.

“The Checkoff Tour is a great opportunity for the corn and soybean board to personally show producers the impact of their checkoff investment,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Their checkoff investment supports an entire portfolio of initiatives—each focused on adding value to every bushel produced in Nebraska. We look forward to discussing these initiatives as well as answering any questions the producers have about their checkoffs.”

Western Iowa Cooperative Schedules Annual Meetings

Please Join us at one of our Annual Meetings...  Dinner at 6pm and meeting will follow both nights.
     - Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 at the Onawa Community Center
     - Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 at the Correctionville Community Center

Pork Councils Increase Consumer Comfort with Cooking Pork

In an effort to build consumers' comfort with cooking pork, the Ohio Pork Council partnered with four other state pork associations to create sixteen videos featuring step-by-step instructions for cooking pork recipes.

When the modern consumer has questions about food or cooking, they often turn to the internet for answers. With that in mind, coupled with the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, OPC has made an increased effort to create video content designed to help increase the demand for pork, by providing useful online resources related to cooking.

"Research shows that the internet is a primary source of information for many food purchasers," said Jennifer Keller, director of marketing and education, Ohio Pork Council. "When people search the internet for information they use key phrases like "how to..." we want helpful and accurate information to be ranked higher in these searches."

The Ohio Pork Council, in partnership with the Iowa Pork Producers Association; Missouri Pork Producers Association; Illinois Pork Producers Association; and Kansas Pork Association, has taken advantage of the opportunity to create short "How to Cook Pork" videos; creating videos such as "How to Make a Pork Roast," "How to Make Carmel Apple Pork Chops," "How to Make Quick Pork Fajitas," and "How to Make Candied Bacon."

Sixteen professional videos, each featuring a pork recipe and cooking tips to help the viewer succeed in preparing tender, juicy, delicious pork, have been posted to YouTube and promoted through various forms of advertising. One advertising method being utilized is purchasing ads to feature the videos on YouTube, causing the videos to be displayed higher in the search ranking. A benefit of advertising on YouTube is that the views continually accumulate and grow over time making the video and channel more legitimate. As of mid-December the videos have been viewed over 38,000 times.

The "How to Cook Pork" videos are also being promoted with commercials on Pandora Online Radio. The ads feature both an audio and a visual component and will be targeted to women across Ohio.

In addition to how to prepare the recipe, the videos also explain how to use a meat thermometer, how to select pork in the grocery store and how to handle pork while cooking.

While producing the videos, each recipe was photographed, so that the still image may be used in the recipe databases and to accompany the video link in social media posts, blogs, and so on.

Pacific Ethanol Enters Into Merger Agreement With Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc.,

Pacific Ethanol, Inc., the leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States, and Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc., a Midwest-based producer of ethanol and related co-products, announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Pacific Ethanol will acquire all of Aventine's outstanding shares in a stock-for-stock merger transaction.

"With this transaction, Pacific Ethanol strengthens its unique production and marketing advantages by diversifying into two additional discrete markets and connecting its Western markets with Aventine's Midwest and Eastern markets for low-carbon renewable fuels," said Neil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol. "The merger offers a rare opportunity to combine the experience, market presence and diversification that Aventine brings with our industry leadership in Western US markets. It will complement our existing business as we balance assets across new regional markets, expand our footprint for the production and marketing of low-carbon renewable fuels, diversify our technology and increase our mix of co-products."

"This transaction will more than double our annual ethanol production capacity, and it will establish Pacific Ethanol as the fifth largest producer and marketer of ethanol in the United States. Once closed, we expect the transaction to be immediately accretive to earnings with expected operational synergies and the expansion of our ethanol and co-product marketing business. We are impressed with the both the quality of Aventine's assets and the seasoned employees operating the business, and we look forward to integrating our teams," concluded Koehler.

"In late 2012, the new Aventine management team defined a very aggressive turnaround strategy," stated Mark Beemer, CEO of Aventine. "Our mission has been accomplished with our plants achieving five new production records; over $30 million invested in the Pekin facilities, including coal-to-natural gas conversion; and additional capital investments in our Nebraska facilities. In 2014, Aventine achieved record earnings and successfully restarted its 155 million gallons of ethanol production in Nebraska. We look forward to making a successful transition of the business to Pacific Ethanol and bringing the combined strength of the two companies to the market."

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Pacific Ethanol expects to issue approximately 17.75 million shares of its common stock upon closing in exchange for all of the issued and outstanding shares of Aventine's common stock. Upon completion, existing Pacific Ethanol shareholders will own approximately 58% of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of the combined entity, and Aventine will nominate two representatives to be named later to Pacific Ethanol's board of directors, increasing the total board count to nine.

Aventine will be operated as Pacific Ethanol's wholly-owned subsidiary. Aventine currently has $135 million in term loan debt.

Aventine's ethanol production assets include its 100 million gallon per year wet mill and 60 million gallon per year dry mill located in Pekin, Illinois, and its 110 million gallon per year and 45 million gallon per year dry mills in Aurora, Nebraska. Combined with Pacific Ethanol's current ethanol production capacity of 200 million gallons per year, the combined company will have a total ethanol production capacity of 515 million gallons per year, and together with Pacific Ethanol's marketing business will sell over 800 million gallons of ethanol annually.

The closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur during the second quarter of 2015, is subject to customary and other closing conditions and regulatory approvals, as well as the approval of Pacific Ethanol's and Aventine's shareholders.

U.S. Ethanol Production at Record Pace in 3rd week in Dec

The U.S. ethanol industry is closing out 2014 with a bang, as the ethanol industry has set weekly production records in four of the last five weeks. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported another week of record-breaking production at 992,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) for the week ending Dec. 19.

U.S. ethanol producers have steadily been ramping up production in recent weeks. According to the EIA, production for the week ending Dec. 12 was 990,000 bbl/d, for the week ending Dec. 5, 988,000 bbl/d, and for the week ending Nov. 21, 982,00 bbl/d. Those production figures top the prior record set earlier this year on the week ending June 13 with its average of 972,000 bbl/d.

"The most recent weekly data indicates the industry was operating at an annualized rate of more than 15.2 billion gallons per year," said Geoff Cooper, senior vice president of the Renewable Fuels Association. "2014 will be a record year for annual output, with approximately 14.31 billion gallons of production--that eclipses the previous record of 13.93 billion gallons in 2011."

Ethanol stocks were holding steady in the last couple of weeks. The EIA reported stocks on hand for the week ending Dec. 19 at 17.6 million barrels, down slightly from the previous week's ending stocks of 17.7 million barrels. The Dec. 19 ending stocks were up 15.7 percent from the number for the same week last year, which was 15.7 million barrels (the lowest stocks since 2009), and down 13.3 percent from the stocks in the same week two years ago, which numbered 20.3 million barrels. The all-out production levels of 2011 led to price-depressing ethanol stocks in 2012, the peak set in March 2012 at 22.58 million barrels.

4th Week in Dec - Ethanol Supply Surges - Output Down

The domestic supply of ethanol increased to its highest point since early October even as U.S. ethanol production plants dialed back output to a one-month low during the week-ended Dec. 26, the Energy Information Administration reported midmorning on the final day of 2014.

The EIA reported a 500,000 barrel (bbl) build in domestic ethanol supply for the week reviewed, which pushed inventory above 18.0 million bbl to 18.1 million bbl and near a two-month high.

U.S. ethanol producers ratcheted down output by 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 972,000 bpd, which was still well above the comparable year-ago period when production averaged 913,000 bpd and during the same week in 2012 when output was 807,000 bpd. During the four weeks ended Dec. 26, U.S. ethanol production averaged 985,000 bpd, 57,000 bpd, or 6.1%, more than during the same timeline in 2013.

There were 18,000 bpd of ethanol imported to the United States last week, with all the supply received along the East Coast.

Refiner and blender net inputs eased 24,000 bpd to an 856,000 bpd three-week low last week, and near its four-week average through Dec. 26 of 858,000 bpd. For the same week in 2013, ethanol inputs averaged 808,000 bpd, with the comparable four-week average for last year down 24,000 bpd at 834,000 bpd.

Gasoline supplied to market, also referred to as implied demand, again increased, up 96,000 bpd to 9.614 million bpd, the highest weekly rate of demand since July 2010. During the four weeks ended Dec. 26, implied gasoline demand averaged 406,000 bpd, or 4.6%, more than during the same four weeks in 2013, with gasoline demand for 2014 through Dec. 26 up 97,000 bpd, or 1.1%, versus a year ago.

Cropp's Latest Dairy Outlook Summery

University of Wisconsin-Extension expert Bob Cropp says milk prices are expected to fall going into the new year for two main reasons: lower dairy exports and a higher level of milk production here at home. The professor emeritus noted in his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook Report that the Class III price set a new record monthly high every month this year accept for December. But since exports are declining due to higher production in other exporting countries, the value of U.S. milk is starting to take a hit.

"China is the world's largest importer of dairy products and Russia ranks third with the combined total of these two countries accounting for about 20 percent of world imports," Cropp said. "The net result has been a drop in world dairy products well below U.S. prices making U.S was no longer competitive. The strengthening of the U.S. dollar also is impacting exports. U.S. dairy exports were setting new records accounting for 17.7 percent of U.S. milk production in March. But, with falling world prices exports started to slow."

He adds that butter exports through April were more than double the year before, but by May they fell below year ago levels. Non-fat dry milk exports fell below year ago levels by August and cheese by October.

Meanwhile, there are some signs of hope for late 2015. Cropp says dairy exports could show some recovery during the second half of the year because milk prices are considerably lower for all major exporting countries, which should slow the growth in world milk production in 2015.

"Relatively low feed prices will help to sustain milk production. Russia is to stop the ban on EU imports in August, but this is uncertain," he said. "As China works off accumulated dairy stocks they probably will resume importing by the second half of the year, but at a more conservative level."

Cropp mentioned that some forecasters have the Class III price decreasing less than $15 this spring. But lower feed costs will ease some of the pain.

This Year, Resolve to Run for the NCGA 2016 Corn Board

The National Corn Growers Association Nominating Committee is accepting applications for the 2016 Corn Board, but interested members need to act quickly to meet the January 9 deadline.Through the Corn Board, members can become an integral part of the organization's leadership.  Click here for the application, which provides complete information on requirements, responsibilities and deadlines.

"Through my years on the Corn Board, I have enjoyed working the talented, dedicated volunteers who step forward to lead this organization," said NCGA Chairman and Nominating Committee Chair Martin Barbre. "The willingness of farmers to step forward as volunteer leaders plays is crucial to NCGA's continued success. A true grassroots organization, NCGA relies upon farmers to volunteer for leadership, helping to shape policy and drive efforts. Serving on the Corn Board empowers farmers and allows them to play an active role in shaping their industry and our collective future."

The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations.  Board members serve the organization in a variety of ways.  They represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokespeople for the NCGA and enhance the organization's public standing on all organizational and policy issues.

Applications are due Friday, January 9. Nominated candidates will be introduced at the February 2015 Corn Congress meeting, held in conjunction with the Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. Corn Board members will be elected at the July 2015 Corn Congress in Washington, D.C., and the new terms begin Oct. 1.

For more information, growers may contact Kathy Baker at NCGA's St. Louis office at (636) 733-9004.

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