Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday January 30 Cattle Inventory + Ag News


All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2015 totaled 6.30 million head, up 1 percent from January 1, 2014, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.84 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Beef cows totaled 1.79 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Milk cows totaled 54,000 head, up 2 percent from January 1, 2014.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.71 million head, up 1 percent from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.36 million head, up 3 percent from last year.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 95,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 295,000 head, unchanged from January 1, 2014.

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.55 million head, up 4 percent from the previous year. 

The 2014 calf crop totaled 1.61 million head, down 4 percent from 2013.


All cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 1, 2015, totaled 3.90 million head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This is up 100,000 head from January 1, 2014. Beef cows, at 920,000 head, were 3 percent above last year. Milk cows, at 210,000 were up 5,000 head from last year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over were up 2 percent at 940,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were up 6 percent from 2014 at 170,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 130,000 head, were up 1 0,000 head from the previous year; and all other heifers were unchanged at 640,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were up 3 percent from last year at 1.31 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago at 60,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2015, totaled 460,000 head, up 2 percent from last year s historical low of 450,000.

The 2014 calf crop was estimated at 1.05 million head, up 3 percent from the 2013 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2015 totaled 1.22 million head, down 1 percent from one year ago.

January 1 U.S. Cattle Inventory Up 1 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2015 totaled 89.8 million head, 1 percent above the 88.5 million on January 1, 2014.   All cows and heifers that have calved, at 39.0 million, were up 2 percent from the 38.3 million on January 1, 2014.
  • Beef cows, at 29.7 million, were up 2 percent from January 1, 2014.
  • Milk cows, at 9.3 million, were up 1 percent from January 1, 2014.

Other class estimates on January 1, 2015 and the change from January 1, 2014, are as follows:
  • All heifers 500 pounds and over, 19.2 million, up 1 percent.
  • Beef replacement heifers, 5.8 million, up 4 percent.
  • Milk replacement heifers, 4.6 million, up 1 percent.
  • Other heifers, 8.8 million, down slightly.
  • Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, 15.8 million, up 1 percent.
  • Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, 2.1 million, up 3 percent.
  • Calves under 500 pounds, 13.7 million, up 1 percent.
  • Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots, 13.1 million, up 1 percent.
  • The combined total of calves under 500 pounds, and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds outside of feedlots was 25.2 million, up 1 percent.

Calf Crop Up 1 Percent

The 2014 calf crop was estimated at 33.9 million head, up 1 percent from 2013. Calves born during the first half of 2014 were estimated at 24.6 million, up slightly from 2013.

Making Calving Season Easier for You and Your Cows and Calves

Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator, Washington County

Getting more cows to calve during the daytime would make calving season a lot easier and less stressful for you.  You still have to do night checks but if you can have more calves born during the daylight than at night that would be plus.

It is generally accepted that adequate supervision at calving has a significant impact on reducing calf mortality. Adequate supervision has been of increasing importance with the higher price of live calves at sale time. On most farms, supervision of the first calf heifers will be best accomplished in daylight hours and the poorest observation takes place in the middle of the night.

The easiest and most practical method of inhibiting nighttime calving at present is by feeding cows at night; the physiological mechanism is unknown, but some hormonal effect may be involved. Rumen motility studies indicate the frequency of rumen contractions falls a few hours before parturition. Intraruminal pressure begins to fall in the last 2 weeks of gestation, with a more rapid decline during calving. It has been suggested that night feeding causes intraruminal pressures to rise at night and decline in the daytime.

In a Canadian study of 104 Hereford cows 38.4% of a group fed at 8:00 am and again at 3:00 pm delivered calves during the day, 79.6% of a group fed at 11:00 am and 9:00 pm. A British study utilizing 162 cattle on 4 farms compared the percentages of calves born from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm to cows fed at different times. When cattle were fed at 9:00 am, 57% of the calves were born during the day, versus 79% with feeding at 10:00 pm. In field trials by cattlemen utilizing night feeding when 35 cows and heifers were fed once daily between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, 74.5% of the calves were born between 5:00 am and 5:00 pm. In the most convincing study to date, 1331 cows on 15 farms in Iowa were fed once daily at dusk, 85% of the calves were born between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm. Whether cows were started on the night feeding the week before calving started in the herd or 2 to 3 weeks earlier made no apparent difference in calving time.

On many farms, it is physically impossible to feed all of the cows after 5:00 pm. In those instances, try to feed the mature cows earlier in the day, then feed the first calf heifers at dusk. The heifers, of course, are the group of females that are of greatest need of observation during the calving season.

What about the situation where large round bales of hay are being fed to the cows and heifers?  If the cows have unrestricted access to the hay around the clock, then the best method of influencing the time of calving is via the time of day that the supplement is being fed.  At Oklahoma State University, the switch from supplement feeding in daytime to late afternoon/early evening feeding encouraged 72% of the cows to calve between 6 AM and 6 PM.  These cows had 24/7 access to large round bales of grass hay.  Before the change was made, when supplement was fed during the morning hours, the ratio of night time versus day time calving was nearly even, with half of the calves born at night and half during the day.

Another idea would be to control access to the large round bales.  The hay is fed within a small enclosed pasture or lot near a larger pasture where the cows graze during the day.  In the evening, the gate to the area where the hay is placed is opened and the cows are allowed to enter and consume hay during the night.  The next morning, they are moved back to the daytime pasture to graze until the following evening.  In this manner, the nighttime feeding is accomplished with hay or silage only.

Whatever method fits your operation should be utilized.  The advantage of heifers/cows being observed with daylight during calving is obvious.  Also during winter months, baby calves born in the warmer part of the day with radiant heat from the sun to reduce cold stress, have a better chance for early colostrum consumption and therefore survival.

Nebraska Cattlemen Announces Legislative Priorities

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) today announced its priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session. In addition to LB 85 and LB 623 (previously announced), NC will support LB 106 and monitor various tax bills related to property tax relief.

“Nebraska Cattlemen looks forward to working with members of the Nebraska Legislature to lower property taxes and provide the beef industry opportunities for growth,” said NC President Dave McCracken. “Our priority bills will help to ensure our state’s economy will continue to benefit from a thriving beef industry.”

Nebraska Cattlemen Priorities

LB106, introduced by Senator Dan Watermeier, adopts the Livestock Operation Siting and Expansion Act and changes powers of counties relating to zoning.

LB 85, introduced by Senator Al Davis, is a bill regarding fees for the Nebraska Brand Committee. In addition to voicing support for the bill earlier this week, NC encouraged the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) and members of the Nebraska Agriculture Committee to review the fee structure as written and suggested an amendment be made to reflect equitable payment for equitable services received across the beef cattle industry.

LB 623, introduced by Senator Jeremy Nordquist, provides immigrants with deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) status the opportunity to obtain Nebraska driver’s licenses.

A number of tax relief measures will be monitored to ensure comprehensive property tax relief for beef producers throughout the state. NC’s Legislative Committee prioritized the following tax relief concepts which will dictate the group’s support:
a)      Increased money in the property tax credit cash fund
b)      Decreased valuations for real agricultural property
c)      Modifications to the current school funding equation to assist rural school districts in                    receiving more consistent revenue
d)     Long term property tax reduction solutions

USDA NRCS Accepting Applications for Conservation Stewardship Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has $100 million available this year through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their agricultural and forestry land.

Although applications are accepted all year, farmers, ranchers and forest landowners should submit applications by Feb. 27, 2015, to ensure they are considered for this year’s funding (applications received after that date will be considered for future funding). This year’s investment may result in the enrollment of up to 7.7 million acres in the program by private landowners.

Brad Soncksen, acting NRCS state conservationist in Nebraska, encourages Nebraska farmers and ranchers to not miss out on this opportunity.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program is unique. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for the environmental benefits they produce on their operations. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance - the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment,” Soncksen said.

According to Soncksen, CSP has been a very successful program for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Over 2,300 CSP contracts occur in all 93 counties and cover 5.1 million acres in Nebraska.

“CSP is popular in Nebraska because farmers and ranchers don’t have to take land out of production to participate. CSP helps conserve natural resources on working lands. Keeping land in production while protecting natural resources creates a win-win for all Nebraskans. CSP makes it possible to produce crops and livestock while also improving water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat,” Soncksen said.

CSP is available statewide to individual landowners, legal entities, and Indian tribes. Eligible land includes cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pastureland, non-industrial private forestland, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Contracts are set at five years and include all the land controlled by an operator.

The 2014 Farm Bill brought changes to CSP including expanding conservation activities, called enhancements, available to participants to protect natural resources on their land. These enhancements include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing, wildlife friendly fencing, and more. There will also be additional funding opportunities available to irrigators through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative.

Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices. As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the performance of existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.


The December 2014 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa was $3.79 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This is up $0.16 from the November price, but $0.53 lower than December 2013.

The December average price received by farmers for soybeans, at $10.00 per bushel, was $0.20 less than the November price and $3.00 lower than the December 2013 price.

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $133.00 per ton in December, $36.00 per ton less than December 2013. Alfalfa hay prices fell $42.00 per ton from one year ago, to $153.00 and other hay prices were $26.00 per ton lower than last year, at $104.00.

The December average price was $20.90 per cwt for milk, down $3.00 from November, and $1.40 per cwt below one year ago. Prices for replacement milk cows averaged $2,030 in January.

December U.S. Farm Prices Received Index Down 1 Point

The December Prices Received Index (Agricultural Production), at 100, based on 2011=100, decreased 1 point (1.0 percent) from November. At 82, the December Crop Production Index is up 1 point (1.2 percent). At 127, the Livestock Production Index decreased 7 points (5.2 percent). Producers received lower prices for milk, broilers, lettuce, and cattle. Higher prices were received for corn, eggs, soybeans, and grain sorghum. In addition to prices, the indexes are impacted by the five-year average monthly mix of commodities producers market. Increased monthly movement of wheat, broilers, oranges, and milk offset the decreased marketing of corn, calves, grapes, and soybeans.

The Prices Received Index is unchanged from December 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 114, decreased 6 points (5.0 percent) from the previous month but increased 5 points (4.6 percent) from December 2013.

Crop Production:

The December index, at 82, increased 1.2 percent from November but is 9.9 percent below December 2013. Index increases for oilseeds & grains more than offset the index decreases for fruit & tree nut production and vegetable & melon production.

Feed grain: The December index, at 64, is up 6.7 percent from last month but is 14 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $3.78 per bushel, is up 20 cents from last month but is down 63 cents from December 2013. At $7.33 per cwt, sorghum grain is 74 cents above November but is 16 cents below December a year earlier.

Food grain: At 86, the index for December is 2.3 percent lower than the previous month and 12 percent below a year earlier. The December price for all wheat, at $6.11 per bushel, is up 6 cents from November but is 62 cents below December 2013.

Oilseed: At 82, the index for December is up 1.2 percent from November but is 20 percent lower than December 2013. The soybean price, at $10.30 per bushel, increased 10 cents from November but is $2.70 below December a year earlier.

Livestock production:

The index for December, at 127, is 5.2 percent below the previous month but is up 13 percent from December a year earlier. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, market eggs, calves,
hogs, broilers, and turkeys. The price for milk is down from a year earlier.

Meat animal:  At 134, the December index is down 4.3 percent from the previous month but is 23 percent higher than a year earlier. At $64.30 per cwt, the December hog price is down $2.40 from November but is $2.80 higher than a year earlier. The December beef cattle price of $164 per cwt is down $3.00 from the previous month but is $34.00 higher than December 2013.

Dairy: The index for December, at 101, is down 11 percent from the previous month and 7.3 percent lower than December a year earlier. The December all milk price of $20.40 per cwt is down $2.60 from November and down $1.60 from December 2013.

December Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The December Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 111 percent (2011=100), is unchanged from November but is 5 points (4.7 percent) above December 2013. Lower prices in December for feeder cattle, LP gas, diesel, and gasoline offset higher prices for complete feeds, feed grains, feeder pigs, and supplements.

Study Examines Economic Impact of Increased Investment in Inland Waterways System

The success of the American soybean farmer, and the broader economy, relies on inland waterway system—which provides close proximity to productive farm ground and the ability to accommodate commercial traffic.

But the condition of the nation’s locks and dams continues to deteriorate due to underinvestment of federal funding. The National Waterways Foundation (NWF) recently commissioned and released a two-year study examining the waterways’ national economic return on investment and the need for and benefits of an accelerated program of waterways system improvements that sustain and create American jobs.

“The research in this important study sponsored by the National Waterways Foundation is an effort to help develop a more effective framework for policy-makers to understand and measure the current navigation system and look to future possibilities and job creation if proper infrastructure investments are made,” said Mark Knoy, National Waterways Foundation Chairman in a Waterways Council, Inc. news release this week.

According to the news release, the study by the University of Tennessee and the University of Kentucky, “Inland Navigation in the United States: An Evaluation of Economic Impacts and the Potential Effects of Infrastructure Investment” (November 2014), evaluates the inland navigation system as it is currently funded and configured, and as it might be through renewed infrastructure investment. It begins with a basic analytical framework examining navigation’s role as a productive input in various industrial processes and reflects actual, real-world economic interactions and consequences if the system were to suddenly shut down and then if proper infrastructure investments were made.

The study found:

-    Investment in badly needed modernization improvements to our inland waterways’ aging lock and dam infrastructure could lead to 350,000 job-years of new, full-time employment with a present value of more than $14 billion over the 10-year period examined in the study.
-    If we invest in our inland waterways, we can sustain 541,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in new job income annually.
-    If 21 priority navigation projects could be completed at an estimated cost of $5.8 billion total, the 20-year sum of related economic output activity would exceed $82 billion.

National Biodiesel Board Calls for EPA to Act on RFS

The National Biodiesel Board on Friday asked the EPA to immediately establish biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard as it highlighted fallout from the Administration’s ongoing failure to establish functioning renewable fuels policy for the second consecutive year.

Industry leaders said the EPA’s recent decision to allow streamlined imports of biodiesel from Argentina under the RFS has only added new urgency to the need for stable policy.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy sent Friday, former biodiesel producer and NBB Governing Board Member Ben Wootton challenged McCarthy’s recent comments suggesting that the RFS delays haven’t hurt renewable fuels industries. Wootton lost his Pennsylvania biodiesel plant, Keystone Biofuels, in bankruptcy last year as a result of RFS uncertainty. In his letter, he explained to McCarthy how the loss of his plant also forced him to lay off 30 employees and caused him to lose his daughters’ college funds and his retirement savings.

Wootton pointed to a statement late last year in which McCarthy said: “While I would have preferred to have this rule done earlier, it hasn't slowed down that industry that I can see.”

“I would invite Administrator McCarthy to come to my shuttered plant and talk to some of the laid off workers, or to visit practically any biodiesel plant across the country to see the damage that is taking place,” Wootton said.“It is obvious that this administration doesn’t understand the severe damage that the uncertainty surrounding this rule has caused our industry and the thousands of employees it represents. It is beyond frustrating that an Administration I have strongly supported has inflicted so much harm on an industry it says it supports.”

The EPA has failed to establish biodiesel volume requirements under the RFS for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Under statute, all three years’ volumes should have been set. While certain sectors of the renewable fuels industry have fared better in absorbing the RFS uncertainty – particularly more mature industries such as corn ethanol – the delays have been disastrous for new industries still getting off the ground. This is particularly true for biodiesel, the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel under the RFS to reach commercial-scale production nationwide.

Exacerbating the difficulties facing the industry, the EPA earlier this week approved a streamlined approach for allowing imports of Argentinian biodiesel into the US – fast-tracking foreign imports under the RFS that are subsidized by Argentinian tax policy and are likely to undercut U.S. production. The decision has been perceived by biodiesel producers and the domestic soybean industry as adding insult to injury.

“It is shocking that at a time when our renewable fuels policy is in a shambles, the EPA has essentially greenlighted biodiesel imports from Argentina to qualify for the RFS, with very little oversight or verification that the resources used to make the fuel will be grown under the normal RFS sustainability requirements,” NBB CEO Joe Jobe said. “We have done everything we can for two years to help this Administration develop reasonable policy that matches President Obama’s stated support for renewable fuels, but we are at wit’s end. We are desperately searching for any indication that this support actually exists.”

Added Wootton: “Based on years of statements by President Obama and Administrator McCarthy, we all believed we had an ally in this Administration. I and so many others in a similar situation are stunned and frustrated by this lack of leadership and the failure to act.”

Recent EPA statistics show that the U.S. biodiesel market dropped in 2014, from a high of 1.8 billion gallons in 2013 to 1.75 billion gallon last year. But the total volumes – which remained steady only because the EPA last year signaled that it would finalize a strong RFS – mask the fact that dozens of biodiesel plants have stopped production or laid off workers in recent months. The most recent casualty was Green Earth Fuels, a large plant outside Houston that filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

“Our overall production numbers were down only slightly for 2014, but that is an illusion,” Jobe said. “This is an industry hanging on broken promises and leveraging everything waiting for the EPA to comply with the law. We have dozens of producers just barely hanging on.”


All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2015, totaled 175,000 head, bouncing back to the same inventory level as 2013 according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. The sheep and lambs inventory was up 13 percent from last year.

Total breeding stock, at 125,000 head, was 14 percent more than one year ago. Compared to last year, market sheep and lambs increased 11 percent to 50,000 head. The lamb crop for 2014 increased 11 percent to 150,000. Wool production for the State was 900,000 pounds, up 6 percent from last year.


Milk goat inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2015, at31,000 head, was the third largest in the United States according to the latest USDA, National AgriculturalStatistics Service – Sheep and Goats report.  Total milkinventory was up 3 percent from January 2014. Total meat and other goat inventory was 25,500 head, anincrease of 2 percent from the previous year.

Total U.S. Sheep and Lamb Inventory Up 1 Percent

All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on January 1, 2015, totaled 5.28 million head, up 1 percent from 2014. Breeding sheep inventory increased to 3.94 million head on January 1, 2015, up 1 percent from 3.90 million head on January 1, 2014. Ewes one year old and older, at 3.11 million head, were 1 percent above last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2015, totaled 1.35 million head, unchanged from January 1, 2014. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Twenty-four percent were lambs under 65 pounds, 12 percent were 65 - 84 pounds, 20 percent were 85 - 105 pounds, and 38 percent were over 105 pounds. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2014 lamb crop of 3.44 million head, was up 2 percent from 2013. The 2014 lambing rate was 111 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2014, up 4 percent from 2013.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2014 was 26.7 million pounds, down 1 percent from 2013. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.68 million head, also down 1 percent from 2013. The average price paid for wool sold in 2014 was $1.46 per pound for a total value of 38.9 million dollars, down 1 percent from 39.2 million dollars in 2013.

Sheep death loss during 2014 totaled 220 thousand head, a decrease of 2 percent from 2013. Lamb death loss increased 1 percent from 360 thousand head in 2013 to 365 thousand head in 2014.

Total Goat and Kid Inventory Up 2 Percent

All goat inventory in the United States on January 1, 2015, totaled 2.68 million head, up 2 percent from 2014. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.20 million head, up 2 percent from 2014. Does one year old and older, at 1.65 million head, were 3 percent above last year's number. Market goats and
kids totaled 471 thousand head, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2014 totaled 1.71 million head for all goats, up 2 percent from 2013.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.15 million head on January 1, 2015, up 2 percent from 2014. Milk goat inventory was 365 thousand head, up 2 percent from January 1, 2014, while Angora goats were up 8 percent, totaling 160 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2014 was 880 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 159 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.5 pounds. Mohair price was $4.85 per pound with a value of 4.27 million dollars.

Location and Quality Driving Current Land Values

     As 2014 came to a close, land values had stabilized from the double digit increases of the past few years, according to Farmers National Company, the nation’s leading farm and ranch real estate company. Location and quality of land continue to be main drivers of prices for a given tract of land.  The lower supply of land for sale and the continued demand for agricultural land is maintaining general stability of the land market. 

     “While lower grade land has seen drops in value near 15 percent from recent highs, top quality crop and grazing land still bring solid prices as owner operators and investors seek to expand their operations with the most productive land,” said Randy Dickhut, AFM, Vice President of Real Estate Operations of Farmers National Company.

     According to Farmers National Company, the supply of land for sale is less than in the past few years as there is no tax policy change driving sales and landowners remain tight holders of the asset. “Land is viewed as a long term asset and owners consider agricultural land a stable investment in a changing world,” said Dickhut.

     Demand for cropland and grazing land from owner operators remains good, but buyers are being more realistic in what they will pay given lower grain prices. Sellers are having to be realistic in evaluating the quality of their land and the expected selling price in order to have a successful sale.

     Despite leveling or moderately decreasing land values overall, Farmers National Company has seen strong prices paid for specific properties within the last 60 days based on local competition and the desire for quality. According to Dickhut, farmland seldom comes up for sale in many locations, therefore local producers are willing to pay top dollar to grow their operation and asset base. 

     Recent value adjustments in the land market still leave land values at historically high levels in the longer term view. Price softening is happening, but at different rates depending on the region, prices for major commodities in that region, and quality of the land. Profitability from record crop incomes supported by insurance coverage, has kept farm operations in the black and producers interested in adding land.

     “Buyers are being more realistic when considering land purchases which has reduced the fervor of rapidly escalating prices seen at land auctions in recent years,” said Dickhut. “Owner operators continue to be the main purchasers of agricultural land comprising nearly 90% of buyers in many areas.”

     Investors are showing up in the market to purchase land, but are also being realistic in the timing of their purchases and the long term outlook for agricultural land.

     Profitability in recent years has left many farm owners cash rich and opting for land purchases for personal and business investments. The tangibility of land and the ability to grow their operation makes land a preferred investment for the owner operator. Producers are being more realistic with their land purchases as they give more attention to the economics of the asset and seek increased financing.

     Even with lower grain prices, record grain harvests will keep net farm income quite positive in 2015. This factor should keep the current market fairly stable for the time being.

     “As we forecast further out into late 2015 and 2016, circumstances could shift,” said Dickhut.      One of the factors that could impact values moving into 2015 is the potential for rising interest rates. If rates increase gradually, as predicted, market impact should be minimal in the short term.

     Longer term, world demand for water, food, fuel and fiber will determine commodity prices which will affect future land values.  As long as the supply of land for sale remains low and demand continues to be present, land values will be supported, according to Dickhut.

     Farmland investment is still a positive long term opportunity for most producers and investors. Despite slight downward shifts, the land market remains stable and supports business expansion for farm operators looking to grow their businesses and investors wanting a long term asset.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday January 29 Ag News

Ricketts Announces the 27th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference

Gov. Pete Ricketts today announced the schedule for his inaugural Governor’s Ag Conference.  The 2015 event will be held Wednesday and Thursday, March 4th-5th at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.  This year will mark the 27th anniversary of the conference.

“I am excited to shine a spotlight on agriculture and the issues facing our state’s top industry because agriculture’s ongoing success is important to all of Nebraska,” said Gov. Ricketts.

Topics to be covered include international trade, expansion of value-added agriculture, farm transitions to the next generation, and federal regulatory and policy issues impacting Nebraska farms and ranches.

The conference begins at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4th, with a panel who will discuss the importance of planning the transition of a farm operation from one generation to the next.

The conference will resume at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 5th.  Speakers include: Mr. Jim Wiesemeyer,  a Washington, DC-based policy expert with Informa Economics; Mike Dwyer, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) Global Policy Analysis Division; and John Heck, the senior vice president of The Scoular Company and Randy Thelen, the senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

Wiesemeyer will cover federal policy issues impacting agriculture, while Dwyer will give an overview of emerging markets for Nebraska exports.

Heck and Thelen will discuss a recent effort by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to study ways to build value-added agriculture opportunities in Omaha.

“The Chamber has taken a serious look at this issue and developed a strategic plan to implement the findings of the value-added study,” Gov. Ricketts said. “They recognize that such growth helps all of Nebraska be successful, and I am excited they have chosen the Ag Conference to introduce this plan to the public.”

“It is an exciting time to be involved in the agriculture industry,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach.  “The conference is a great way to come together as an industry and gain insight into what we might expect in the future and the challenges we will have to meet along the way.”

Other activities will include the “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception. The reception begins at 6:00 p.m. March 4, featuring a wide variety of Nebraska food products, and entertainment by Jolene Brown.

Anyone interested in agriculture issues is invited to attend. A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Wednesday and Thursday. Registration and additional information is available online at, or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

Row Crop Herbicides Can Limit the Use of Row-crop Ground for Forage Production

Mary Drewnoski, UNL Beef Systems Specialist
Amit Jhala, UNL Weed Management Specialist

The herbicides used on cash crops can affect not only whether the residues of that cash crop should be grazed or harvested for feed but also if a secondary crop (cover crop) planted after the cash crop can be used for forage.

If you graze or harvest forage from cropland then there are two restrictions related to herbicides that you need to consider.

1) If you are going to be grazing or harvesting the crop or its residues then you need to look at the grazing/harvest restrictions posted on the herbicide.
2) If you want to grow a forage crop after your cash crop then you need to look at the crop rotation intervals (plant back restriction) on the label.

A pesticide label is a legal document and the instructions must be followed to avoid violating federal law. If a rotation restriction is listed on the label but not for the species you plan to plant you must follow the restriction listed for “other crops” or the longest rotation restriction listed on the label. Unfortunately, this often limits the use of brassicas such as turnips and radishes as they are not often listed on labels.

Products containing atrazine (Aatrex, Anthem ATZ, Breakfree ATZ, Harness Extra, Lexar EZ etc.) are commonly used in corn for weed control. The restriction for grazing/harvesting corn silage or corn residue itself is only 45 days in many of these products. However, products that contain atrazine restrict the planting of any crop other than corn or sorghum until the following year and restrict the planting of spring seeded small grains, small seeded legumes, and grasses the year following application. Thus if atrazine is used on corn ground, then you should not use any cover crop for forage; however, you can plant a cover crop assuming the risk of crop failure due to potential of atrazine carryover injury. The potential of a herbicide for carryover injury is hard to predict because it depends on several factors, including rate of herbicide applied, soil texture, pH, rainfall, and the half-life of the herbicides (the time it takes for 50% of the active ingredient to dissipate).

Those that rent ground for residue or cover crop grazing should talk with the grower to be sure that the herbicides applied allow use of the forage for feed. Your cattle may not be affected by grazing the forage where a chemical with a grazing restriction/crop rotation restriction is on the label, but there may be other concerns such as problems with the chemical residues in the meat. Sometimes studies were actually conducted to know there is a safety concern. In other cases, the chemical company may not have chosen to conduct all the studies required for labeling. If that’s the case, the government requires the strongest restrictive language be placed on the label. Without the proper tests being conducted the risk for toxicity to cattle or herbicide residues in the meat are unknown. Thus, beef producers should follow these restrictions as part of their Beef Quality Assurance Program thereby “insuring a safe, wholesome, and healthy beef supply.”

Bottom-line, if you want to graze/bale crop residues or produce a secondary forage crop, plan your herbicide regimen with these restrictions in mind. For more information about herbicide grazing/harvest restrictions or crop rotation intervals, refer to 2014 Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska (EC 130). It is available to purchase at

FFA members return from educational, cultural experience in South Africa

FFA members recently returned from a 14-day educational and cultural experience in South Africa.

Members participated in the 2015 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers, an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization for past and present state FFA officers. The experience allows FFA members to experience foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable of the global marketplace.

Seventy-five past and present FFA officers representing 23 states left the U.S. on Jan. 4. The contingent traveled throughout five of the country’s nine provinces while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S.-South African trade relations, toured a host of crop and livestock operations, met with business and industry leaders and explored big-game reserve Kruger National Park as well as Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years of his life. The group also met with producers and consumers of various economic classes to better understand local culture and food purchasing decisions. The most gripping encounter came with a visit to an impoverished settlement area in Soweto township outside Johannesburg.

Prior to departing the United States, the students completed ten weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.

Those who participated in the experience include: Lacey Newman of Tallassee, Ala.; AJ Cannon of Seaford, Del.; Evan Davis of Laurel, Del.; Jana Caracciolo of Clermont, Fla.; Mylie Feaster of Plant City, Fla.; Victoria Harris of Valrico, Fla.; Brandon McKee of Okeechobee, Fla.; Angie Patino of Sebring, Fla.; Austin Polk of Bell, Fla.; Logan Kelly of Coon Rapids, Iowa; Abrah Meyer of Readlyn, Iowa; Lee Thomsen of West Des Moines, Iowa; Michael Tupper of Ionia, Iowa; Renee Kinzinger of New Athens, Ill.; Andrew Klein of Amboy, Ill.; Willow Krumwiede of Pittsfield, Ill.; Cody Morris of Lerna, Ill.; Kyle Apley of Olsburg, Kan.; Taylor Green of Gypsum, Kan.; Jeffrey Hadachek of Cuba, Kan.; Bethany Schifferdecker of Girard, Kan.; Simon Chantelle of Morland, Kan.; Richard Mathis of Amite, La.; Christen Wall of Holden, La.; Monica Aguilar, Mass.; Brianna Mann of Stoneham, Mass.; Jenell Eck of Henderson, Md.; Jeni Lacko of Frederick, Md.; Ashley McAfee of Smithsburg, Md.; Taylor O'Guinn of New Windsor, Md.; Tori Poole of Brunswick, Md.; Hannah Schantz of Fallston, Md.; Valerie Earley of Wykoff, Minn.; Dalton Kampsen of New London, Minn.; Erin Larson of New Richland, Minn.; Kyla Mauk of Howard Lake, Minn.; Jack Roessler of St. Charles, Minn.; Tony Buchanan of Silver Creek, Miss.; Shelbie Dalton of Byhalia, Miss.; Neela Andres of Bozeman, Mont.; Caitlin Creighton of Missoula, Mont.; Breanna Bregel of Carrington, N.D.; Bryce Lynne of Plaza, N.D.; Katie Vculek of Crete, N.D.; Paige Dexter of Amelia, Neb.; Colton Flower of Scottsbluff, Neb.; Blair Hartman of Champion, Neb.; Amanda Lambrecht of Kennard, Neb.; Brandon Nichols of Bridgeport, Neb.; Ben Rice of Firth, Neb.; Andrea Wach of Wauneta, Neb.; Hope Cahill of Tinton Falls, N.J.; Ben Wainwright of Cream Ridge, N.J.; Kait Isaac of St. Johnsville, N.Y.; Brady Rogers of Hurleyville, N.Y.; Ashley Willits of Copenhagen, N.Y.; Sydney Snider of Moscow, Ohio; Brecklin Milton of Ontario, Ore.; Ian Oppenlander of Madras, Ore.; Meghan Stadeli of Silverton, Ore.; Kaden Eisenbraun of Quinn, S.D.; Nicole Hamilton of Hitchcock, S.D.; Nick Baker of Cookeville, Tenn.; Susan Cowley of Fayetteville, Tenn.; Amy Morgan of Cookeville, Tenn.; Elena Smith of Drummonds, Tenn.; Daniel Black of Winchester, Va.; Brittany Bowman of Mount Jackson, Va.; Garrett Coffey of Woodstock, Va.; Alice Cox of Radford, Va.; Zach Jacobs of Swoope, Va.; Morgan Smith of Abingdon, Va.; Ryan Williams of Blackstone, Va.; Megan Miller of Buckley, Wash.; and Connor Anderson of Clear Lake, Wis.

Dietary Guidelines Committee Verbalizes Move to Limit Lean Meats


When the meetings of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee began, they started with the premise from prior years, that “common characteristics of dietary patterns associated with positive health outcomes include: higher intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish/seafood, legumes, lean meat, and nuts.”

However, at the last and final meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in December, the committee made the unprecedented move of striking “lean meat” from the pattern associated with a healthy diet, implying a plant-based diet. This is a major departure, not only from the past guidelines, but from more than 30 years of nutritionally-accepted science and peer-reviewed studies.

Despite recent media coverage, it is important to remember that the Committee’s final report has not yet been publically released. We expect the Committee to release their report to the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture in late January or early February. At that time, the Secretaries will have the opportunity to review the recommendations and request input and comments.

Following that, the recommendations will then be published in the Federal Register, with a comment period.

USW Insists on Uninterrupted Grain Inspections

Official U.A. export grain inspection procedures are well documented and uniform. Export elevators often receive an inspection report on each truck, rail car or barge delivered to their facility. The Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) inspects wheat again at vessel loading as an independent, third party. Its sub-lot inspection system assures buyers that the quality loaded matches the quality stated in the contract.

Last year, unfortunately, circumstances related to a labor dispute disrupted official grain inspection services at an export elevator in the Pacific Northwest. Citing the “extremely troubling precedent” being set, 22 national, regional and state agricultural producer, commodity and agribusiness organizations, including U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), urged USDA to take immediate action to restore official grain inspection and weighing services at the Port of Vancouver, WA.

That effort and pressure from several other sources helped end the dispute and restore official inspection and weighing operations. However, wheat farmers, including those serving on USW’s board of directors, want the government to provide assurance against the potential for similar problems in the future. At its Oct. 30, 2014, meeting in New Mexico, the USW board endorsed the following resolution concerning the interruption in service:

WHEREAS the U.S. Department of Agriculture is mandated under the U.S. Grain Standards Act to provide official inspection and weighing services for exports of U.S. grains and oilseeds.

THEREFORE be it resolved that U.S. Wheat Associates urges in the strongest terms that FGIS take whatever actions are necessary to immediately restore Official grain inspection and weighing service wherever and whenever it is disrupted, either by immediately replacing absent inspectors with FGIS Official personnel or with inspectors from available qualified providers, including other designated or delegated Official Agencies.

Last week, USW President Alan Tracy shared that resolution in a letter to Larry Mitchell, Administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration and FGIS.

“U.S. wheat producers fully support the important mission of USDA/FGIS and believe that the service provided is paramount to keeping wheat competitive in the international market now and in the future,” Tracy said. “We insist that uninterrupted service be delivered in a timely manner on demand by the grain industry.”

The U.S. wheat industry will continue to prove it is the world’s most reliable choice for wheat supplies and will be aggressive in its efforts to ensure that our market remains transparent and open.

NCGA Responds to World Resources Institute Study

The National Corn Growers Association today issued the following statement in response to a study released by the World Resources Institute.

Statement by Keith Alverson, South Dakota corn grower and a member of the Corn Board:

“This ‘new’ study is just more of the same, tired arguments Big Oil have been using for years. They simply are not true. In fact, numerous studies by independent, unbiased third parties have come to vastly different conclusions.

The fact is, ethanol is a very efficient energy source. When calculating the amount of energy used to produce ethanol, from farm to pump, ethanol represents a 40% net energy gain. No other energy source comes close. Ethanol is also better for the environment: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 20 million vehicles off the road.

There is more than enough corn to meet all demands: food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Our farmers have grown the largest 11 corn crops in history over the last 11 years – and we’re doing so more efficiently than ever. Since 1980, corn yields have increased by a remarkable 88%. According to the Field to Market Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, over the last 30 years, corn farmers have significantly reduced the environmental impact of producing corn, including 30% less land, 44% less energy, and 53% less water. Corn used for ethanol also performs double-duty as fuel, and animal feed by-product – so we can operate even more efficiently.

It’s time to finally put these arguments to rest, and instead focus on continuing to grow American energy independence and invest in this clean, renewable fuel source.”

Former U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk to Keynote the National Ethanol Conference

Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will headline the upcoming National Ethanol Conference (NEC) in Grapevine, Texas, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced today. The 20th annual NEC, which will take place Feb. 18–20, looks beyond America’s borders as many speakers will address the conference’s theme of “going global.” Mr. Kirk is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, touted Ambassador Kirk, noting, “Mr. Kirk is uniquely qualified to speak directly to this year’s conference theme ‘going global’. As we look to new horizons and expand into new markets, Mr. Kirk gives us a peek behind the curtain of world markets and trade relations. His valuable insight will help shine a spotlight on new opportunities for American-made biofuels and co-products all across the globe.”

Ambassador Kirk was appointed by President Barack Obama as the United States Trade Representative and served from 2009 to 2013. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Kirk has close ties to the state as he gained his undergraduate and law degrees at Austin College and the University of Texas School of Law respectively. He joined Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s staff before rising to the position of Texas Secretary of State and eventually becoming the Mayor of Dallas.

NEC will give attendees a chance to hear from key industry leaders on export markets as well as public policy, higher-level ethanol blends, rail transportation, and more. In line with the conference theme, NEC will host a panel titled “Going Global: Building Ethanol Demand Internationally.” The panel will be moderated by RFA’s General Counsel Ed Hubbard and will feature Eco-Energy’s Pedro Paranhos, Lakeview Energy’s Jim Galvin, Henrique Pacini of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Mike Dwyer, and ePURE’s Robert Wright.

Early-bird registration concludes on Friday. More information and registration details can be found at

Potash Corp Profit Jumps 77%

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. raised its quarterly payout on Thursday and said fourth-quarter earnings jumped 77%, fueled by record potash sales volumes and higher prices for all three of its key fertilizer nutrients.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, fertilizer giant said the record pace of global potash shipments seen in the first nine months of the year continued into the fourth quarter, with strong demand in all key markets, especially offshore. The firm is the world's largest producer of potash.

Potash sales volumes reached a fourth-quarter record of 2.5 million metric tons, bringing the total for the year to 9.3 million tons, the company said. Nitrogen volumes were relatively flat, it noted, while phosphate sales volumes fell due to certain production challenges.

It said its average realized potash price during the quarter was $284 per ton.

Potash Corp.'s earnings jumped to $407 million, or 49 cents a share, in the latest quarter from $230 million, or 26 cents a year earlier. Sales rose 23% to $1.90 billion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday January 28 Ag News

Landlord/Tenant Lease Workshops Scheduled

Nebraska Extension will be hosting Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshops this February-March to help landlords and tenants put together a lease that is right for both parties and helps maintain positive farm leasing relations.

Topics will include:
-    Latest information about land values and cash rental rates for the area and state.
-    Expectations from the lease, including goal setting for the rental property.
-    Lease termination, including terminating handshake or verbal leases.
-    Lease communication, determining appropriate information sharing for both the tenant and landlord.
-    Alternative cash lease arrangements, flexible provision considerations for your situation.
-    Other topics, like irrigation systems, hay rent, pasture rental agreements, and grain bin rental will be covered as time allows.

Extension Educators Allan Vyhnalek, Jim Jensen, Monte Vandeveer, or Tim Lemmons will present on these topics and provide common sense tips during the presentation. It is helpful if the tenant and landlord, as well as their spouses, attend together.

Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Schedule
Feb. 4, 9:30 a.m. — Grand Island, Hall County Extension Office, 308-385-5088
Feb. 6, 9:30 a.m. — Blue Hill, Community Center, 402-746-3417
Feb. 9, 1 p.m. — Pierce, location TBD, 402-329-4821
Feb. 11, 1 p.m. — Hartington, Courthouse Annex Basement, 402-254-6821
Feb. 12, 1 p.m. — Center, Extension Office Classroom, 402-288-5611
Feb. 13, 9:30 a.m. — Lincoln, Lancaster County Extension Office, 402-441-7180
Feb. 17, 1 p.m. — Norfolk, Northeast Community College, Life Long Learning Center, 402-370-4040
Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m. — Omaha, Douglas County Extension Office, 402-444-7804
Feb. 19, 9:30 a.m. — Clay Center, Fairgrounds, 402-762-3644
Feb. 25, 1 p.m. — Neligh, Fairgrounds, 402-887-5414
Mar. 5, 9:30 a.m. — Auburn, 4-H Building, Fairgrounds, 402-274-4755
Mar. 10, 9:30 a.m. — Albion, Casey's Building, Fairgrounds, 402-395-2158

This free workshop is sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board.  Refreshments and handouts are provided. Registration is requested; please contact the host county.

This workshop has been held extensively across Nebraska for the past two years with over 2,600 attending.  Both landlords and tenants have said they found the workshop to be helpful in improving communications, setting rental terms, and learning about the use of flex lease provisions.  As crop budgets tighten, it is even more important to attend and listen to the latest discussion about leasing issues.

For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, extension educator, Nebraska Extension in Platte County, at 402-563-4901 or

Center Pivot Irrigation Management Short Course

Getting the most value from your irrigation water will be the focus of the Center Pivot Irrigation Management Short Course, a day-long class to be hosted by Nebraska Extension at four sites this February.  A session was added for Feb 6th in Norfolk! 

Topics will include:
-    sprinkler package selection,
-    soil water management, and
-    pumping plant performance.

Also, irrigation industry representatives will be available to discuss the latest in center pivot irrigation technology.

Feb. 6 — Norfolk
Lifelong Learning Center on the Northeast Community College Campus
To register, call 402-370-4040 or email

Feb. 9 — Scottsbluff
Panhandle Research and Extension Center
To register, call 308-632-1276 or email

Feb. 10 — Holdrege
Ag Center on the Phelps County Fairgrounds
To register, call 308-995-4222 or email

Feb. 11 — Central City
4-H Building on the Merrick County Fairgrounds
To register, call 308-946-3843 or email

The day begins with check-in at 9 a.m. and speakers from 9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The program is free but participants are asked to pre-register so appropriate materials and lunch can be provided. To register, contact the host site.

Cargill to relocate meat slicing and packaging from Springfield, Mo., to Nebraska and Texas

Cargill has announced it is moving its meat slicing and packaging facility from Springfield, Mo., to the company’s facilities at Nebraska City, Neb., and Waco, Texas. The Springfield facility will close on March 11, 2015. The decision to close its Springfield facility followed a thorough assessment of Cargill’s turkey and cooked meats future business needs.

Cargill says the decision to close its Springfield facility will help it better serve customers given the meat products sliced and packaged there involve meat produced at other locations, including Nebraska City and Waco. “Given the scale of our facilities where this work is going, the proximity to raw materials, and technology driven efficiencies that can be gained, in addition to the shipping logistics benefits for our customers, we believe this move better positions us for future growth in a highly competitive environment,” stated Ruth Kimmelshue, president of Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill Turkey & Cooked Meats. “Nevertheless, it always hurts when people’s jobs are impacted, which is why we will offer to provide them with an appropriate level of transition support.”

Nebraska Cattlemen Voices Support for LB 85, Encourage Amended Fee Structure

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) today testified in support of LB 85, a bill regarding fees for the Nebraska Brand Committee, sponsored by Sen. Al Davis of Legislative District 43. In addition to voicing support for the bill, NC encouraged the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) and members of the Nebraska Agriculture Committee to review the fee structure as written and suggested an amendment be made to reflect equitable payment for equitable services received across the beef cattle industry.

“Nebraska Cattlemen represents beef cattle producers from all sectors of the industry and continues to advocate for a comprehensive review of the NBC fee structure,” said NC Director of Legislative Affairs Laura Field. “NC’s longstanding policy - thoroughly vetted by our membership - supports brand inspection. We look forward to working with the Brand Committee to address our concerns for those sectors who receive less value for each dollar paid.”

Nebraska Cattlemen’s policy regarding increased NBC inspection fees was originally adopted in 2009 and adapted and approved by membership vote at following years’ annual conventions. The last membership vote was December 2014.

Smith Stands for Nebraska Agriculture at Trade Hearing

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) participated Tuesday in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the U.S. trade policy agenda.  In the hearing, Smith raised concerns to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman about workforce disputes at West Coast ports causing perishable goods such as beef and pork to spoil prior to shipping.  He also asked about U.S. efforts to elevate biotechnology issues in ongoing discussions with China and negotiations through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

“During this Congress, expanding American trade will be one of our top priorities on the Ways and Means Committee,” said Congressman Smith.  “Today I had the opportunity to speak with Ambassador Froman about the importance of making agricultural issues including innovation a priority in U.S. trade initiatives.  Nebraska’s Third District is the number one agricultural district in the nation, and I will continue working to open new markets for Nebraska’s agriculture products starting with a Trade Promotion Authority bill that reflects these priorities.”

USDA Expected to Report Cattle Herd for Jan. 1 at 87.6 Million Head

Analysts and economists participating in The Wall Street Journal cattle inventory survey expect government data to show the U.S. herd as of Jan. 1 nearly even with this time last year, potentially ending eight years of contraction as producers have worked to rebuild following years of drought across the central U.S.

If the average of analysts' estimates is on target, the nation's cattle herd as of Jan. 1 was just shy of this time last year and the smallest in over 60 years. The semiannual U.S. cattle inventory report is scheduled for release on Friday at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT).

The Agriculture Department is expected to report the cattle herd for Jan. 1 at 87.6 million head, 0.1% fewer than a year ago, according to the average prediction of three analysts and economists. Estimates ranged from even with to 0.3% below the supply as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The average estimate for calves born in 2014 was about 33.4 million head, representing a decline of 1.5% from 2013. It takes a cow around nine months of gestation to give birth.

Market analysts expect the agency to report the number of beef heifers, or females, being retained to replace cows in order to breed new calves up 0.6% from last year. Although those heifers remaining on the farm means a smaller number may be headed into feedyards in the next few months, further pinching supplies of slaughter-ready animals in the near-term, they're expected to contribute to an increase in numbers when they calve in the years ahead.

AFBF on Dismissal of Lawsuit against EPA

Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

“Farmers, ranchers and citizens in general should be concerned about the court’s disregard for individual privacy. This court seems to believe that the Internet age has eliminated the individual’s interest in controlling the distribution of his or her personal information. We strongly disagree.”


AFBF was disappointed to learn late yesterday that the federal district court in Minnesota dismissed its lawsuit seeking to block EPA from releasing the personal information (such as a person’s name, home address, GPS location and telephone number) of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The court concluded that no federally permitted livestock or poultry farmer is injured by such disclosure because the Clean Water Act mandates disclosure of information concerning permit issuance. For livestock and poultry farmers without a Clean Water Act permit, the court concluded that so long as the farmer’s personal information can be found somewhere on the Internet, EPA’s distribution of that same information does not result in any injury to the farmer. The court noted that a farmer with a public Facebook page used to promote the farm, or whose information could be found via search engine or any state regulatory website in any form, has no right to sue to stop the federal government from compiling and distributing that information.

AFBF and its co-plaintiff the National Pork Producers Council have 60 days to appeal the decision. Prior to the AFBF suit, EPA had already released personal information of farmers and ranchers from 29 states. AFBF filed suit to block further disclosures regarding farmers and ranchers in Minnesota, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma and Washington.

 Dispute Must Be Resolved Now To Protect U.S. Exports

The National Pork Producers Council and 92 other food, agricultural and allied industry groups today urged the parties involved in a labor dispute that’s affecting food exports that ship out of West Coast ports to resolve their differences as soon as possible. The organizations also called on the federal government to consider all remedies to bring the dispute to a swift end.

Slowdowns by dock workers at the ports in Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., and in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., have stranded thousands of containers of pork and other farm products over the past several months. Since November, pork prices, for example, have tumbled by 20 percent in large part because of the port problem, and meat and other perishable products awaiting shipment soon may need to be destroyed or discounted and sold on the domestic market. One estimate has the U.S. meat and poultry industries losing more than $30 million a week.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been unable to hammer out a new contract since the last one expired in July. Although the ILWU initially agreed to continue sending workers to the ports during the contract negotiations, in November it reneged on that agreement.

Exports of agricultural products have grown to $144 billion in 2013 from $46 million in 1994, with much of the growth in Asian markets, which are most directly affected by the ports slowdowns.

In an open letter to the White House, congressional lawmakers, the PMA and the ILWU, NPPC and the other organizations pointed out that the increase in food and agriculture products exported has been very beneficial to the companies that own West Coast ports and to the dock workers. “But the apparent indifference by [the PMA and the ILWU] to the impact the slowdowns are having on our sectors is disturbing,” the groups said.

ASA Ratchets Up Pressure on Unions, Ports to Resolve West Coast Slowdown

The American Soybean Association (ASA), along with more than 90 fellow farm and food organizations, called on representatives on both sides of the labor dispute impacting operations at five west coast ports to come to the bargaining table and resolve the issue that threatens the supply chain continuity for countless U.S. agricultural commodities. Not only is this dispute causing extreme congestion, delays, and uncertainty, it is costing the agriculture industry millions of dollars for every week that the negotiations and slowdowns drag on.

In an open letter, ASA and its fellow organizations urged both the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to take into account the impact the dispute is having on consumers and to resolve their differences as quickly as possible. The groups also urged the federal government to consider all available remedies to bring the dispute to a rapid end, noting the potentially dire consequences of not reaching an agreement that gets each port back up and running quickly.

“This regrettable situation is having a severe impact on our ability to export agricultural and food products to many of our main export markets,” wrote the groups in the letter. “Inevitably, these overseas customers will look to other sources for their supply of these goods. Similar to what we encountered after ill-advised export embargoes in the past, once lost, a foreign customer can be difficult to recapture.”

All Retail Fertilizer Prices Creep Higher

Retail fertilizer prices all moved higher, but the shift is not very significant, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of January 2015. That repeats last week's survey pattern.

All eight of the major fertilizers crept higher compared to a month earlier. DAP had an average price of $568 per ton, MAP $596/ton, potash $487/ton and urea $469/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $585/ton, anhydrous $707/ton, UAN28 $326/ton and UAN32 $367/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.51/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.58/lb.N and UAN32 $0.57/lb.N.

Half of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits higher in price compared to January 2014, all while commodity prices are significantly lower from a year ago. 10-34-0 is 18% higher, anhydrous is 15% more expensive and both MAP and DAP are now 11% more expensive. In addition, potash is 3% higher compared to a year earlier.

Three nutrients are now lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 2% less expensive and urea is 4% less expensive from a year previous.

Group housing for sows at Cargill-owned farms completed 11 months early

Cargill Pork, LLC, one of the largest pork producers in the U.S., is 11 months ahead of its own schedule for completing the conversion to group housing for sows at company-owned farms.  In June 2014, Cargill Pork announced a commitment to group housing of sows at company-owned farms, with the original completion date set for Dec. 31, 2015.

“We are pleased to achieve 100 percent group housing at Cargill Pork farms nearly one year ahead of schedule,” said Mike Luker, president of Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation’s pork business.  “This is a significant investment in the future of our pork business, and one we made as the result of listening to the marketplace in recent years.”

For a number of years, Cargill’s U.S. pork operation had maintained 50 percent group housing for company-owned sows at farms owned by Cargill Pork.  Its 2011 acquisition of an idled hog farm complex in the Texas Panhandle helped the company achieve 100 percent group housing for its gestating sows at company-owned farms.

Since the Texas site was acquired, Cargill Pork has invested more than $60 million in the purchase and improvement of the 22,000-acre property near Dalhart, including the conversion of sow barns to contain group housing.  Cargill Pork’s Dalhart facility employs more than 300 people, including a team trained to care for the animals at the site.

"In recent years, many of our customers have made commitments related to the pork they will buy in the future, and we intend to meet those needs,” stated Luker.  “We’ve been a pioneer in the use of group housing for gestating sows dating back more than a decade, and recently there has been growing public interest in the welfare related to animals raised for food. Group housing and individual housing for gestating sows both have benefits and challenges.  Although a large-scale change to group housing takes time and is costly, we believe it is the right thing to do for the long term future of our pork production in the U.S., and our customers agree with us and support our decision.  However, we are always mindful about the many family farms raising hogs that have livelihoods invested in their operations and it will require patience and resources, should they choose to move to group housing.”

The target for conversion to group housing at contract farms containing Cargill Pork sows remains Dec. 31, 2017. Hogs produced by Cargill Pork-owned sows represent approximately 30 percent of the total animals harvested each year at Cargill’s two pork processing facilities.

Ethanol Stocks Climb to 2-Year High

The Energy Information Administration released data Wednesday, Jan. 28, showing an increase in ethanol inventories and implied demand while domestic production was little changed.

The data showed total stockpiles increased for the fifth straight week, up 244,000 barrels (bbl), or 1.2%, to 20.631 million bbl during the week-ended Jan. 23, putting supplies 3.7 million or 21.8% higher than the level seen a year ago.

Plant production eased 1,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a one-month high to 978,000 bpd during the week reviewed. Output was up 8.5% year-over-year while four-week average output was up 8.1%.

ASA to EPA: Where Are Your Renewable Fuel Priorities?

The farmer leaders of the American Soybean Association (ASA) today voiced their exasperation, confusion and anger at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency following an announcement that the EPA will approve an application allowing Argentine biodiesel easier access to the U.S. market.

“Today’s decision issued by EPA on Argentinian biodiesel shows a lack of coordination and alarming tone-deafness regarding the purposes of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. “EPA has put the interests of our foreign competitors above those of soybean farmers here in the U.S. At this point, we can only scratch our heads and wonder what EPA’s priorities are when it comes to the domestic renewable fuels industry.”

EPA’s announcement followed a December notice that the agency would postpone setting biofuels volume requirements for 2014 until early in 2015. Speaking at the National Biodiesel Board Conference last week, former Senator Byron Dorgan said EPA’s inability or unwillingness to set the 2014 RFS volume requirements demonstrated that there was “no minimum threshold for embarrassment” at EPA.

Cowan added, “Do they recognize that they have not set volume requirements for 2014—which has already passed—or for 2015, which we’re already a month into? Do they realize that every link in the biodiesel supply chain—from soybean farmers to gas station owners—is in limbo, awaiting their long-delinquent action on these decisions? Do they recall that one of the purposes of this program is to increase domestic energy independence? It sure seems that the answer to each of these questions is a resounding ‘no’.”

ASA wrote to EPA in March 2014 with questions and a request that the Argentine application be subject to a formal public comment period, given the potential ramifications and the numerous factors involved and impacts that go beyond EPA’s domain. EPA did not respond to ASA’s letter, and no public comment period was provided before its announcement. ASA is not aware of any requirement or deadline for EPA to act on the Argentine application.

“President Obama should not be pleased with the job EPA is doing on renewable fuels. The agency’s manner of haphazard decision-making, which is so sorely lacking in direction, belies the Obama Administration’s support for the U.S. biofuels industry,” Cowan said. “Until the past year, the White House could rightly share the credit for the benefits that this industry has provided to the rural economy, energy security, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But these latest actions and inactions from EPA overshadow that progress and can only be seen as an embarrassment.”

Lindsay Corp. Completes Acquisition of Elecsys Corp.

Lindsay Corporation, a leading provider of irrigation systems and infrastructure products, announced the completion of its acquisition of Elecsys Corporation, a provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology solutions and custom electronic systems. Elecsys shareholders will receive $17.50 per share in cash for each share of common stock they owned as of the effective time of the merger, without interest and less any applicable withholding taxes. The agreement was announced on Nov. 4 and approved at a special meeting of Elecsys stockholders by over 99% of shares voted.

Headquartered in Olathe, Kan., Elecsys will continue to be operated by its current management team. As a result of the merger, the common stock of Elecsys will no longer be listed for trading on the NASDAQ exchange.

"We are pleased to welcome the Elecsys management team and employees to the Lindsay family," stated Rick Parod, Lindsay's president and chief executive officer. "Elecsys is a key strategic addition to Lindsay Corporation's long term strategy of leading the market in advanced technologies for managing water use efficiency. The combined strengths of Lindsay and Elecsys will create value for all our stakeholders and we are eager to move forward."

"The acquisition is an exciting opportunity for Elecsys and we are proud to become part of the Lindsay organization," added Karl Gemperli, president and chief executive officer of Elecsys. "Lindsay's financial strength, resources, and global market presence will enable Elecsys to expand our capabilities and global reach. We will continue to deliver leading industrial M2M solutions to customers in our established markets while we seek to achieve synergies with Lindsay's core businesses."

Holders of Elecsys stock certificates will receive an exchange package, with instructions concerning how to deliver their shares for payment, from the paying agent, Computershare. Stockholders who hold their shares in "street name" will receive information from their banks or brokers, who will handle the exchange of their shares directly. Elecsys stockholders with questions can call Computershare:

Lindsay manufactures and markets irrigation equipment primarily used in agricultural markets which increase or stabilize crop production while conserving water, energy, and labor. The Company also manufactures and markets infrastructure and road safety products under the Lindsay Transportation Solutions trade name. At November 30, 2014 Lindsay had approximately 12.1 million shares outstanding, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Culver's Raises Half-Million Dollars for 'Thank You Farmers' Fund

The Wisconsin-based Culver's restaurant chain announced it has contributed nearly $500,000 to the National FFA Foundation during the second year of its 'Thank You Farmers' initiative. The franchise says the program has connected with people across the nation in its goal to thank family farmers who have made Culver's the business it is today.

"We're excited to see the enthusiasm with which guests have embraced 'Thank You Farmers,'" said CEO and Founder Craig Culver. "We're deeply grounded in the farms that produce the dairy and grow the food that have made our restaurant what it is. It's been a natural partnership since Culver's was established over 30 years ago."

The second year of 'Thank You Farmers' kicked off with increased education around farming and where food comes from in Culver's restaurants across the U.S. Participating restaurants pledged their support to farm families through percent-of-sales nights, a guest donation program and event sponsorships--all benefiting local chapters of the National FFA Organization and other agricultural organizations.

Funds were used for projects like a corn maze in Minnesota, painting three blue barns sharing a giant 'thank you to America's farmers' message, and sponsoring a nationwide coloring contest.

In 2013, Culver's also held an online donation campaign to contribute to the cause. That project raised $50,000 for FFA sponsorships.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday January 27 Ag News

Save Hay By Reducing Feeding Waste
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

A lot of expense and many long hours go into harvesting and storing hay for winter feeding.   So why waste it.   Cattle can waste as much as 45 percent of their hay when it is fed without restrictions.   You can reduce these losses to minimize costs and maintain an adequate hay supply.

The first step should be to limit how much hay is available.   Research shows that cattle fed hay with free access every four days needed about 25% more hay than cattle fed daily.   Daily feeding reduces the amount of hay refused, trampled, fouled, over-consumed, or used for bedding.

A second step is to restrict access to the hay by using hay racks, bale rings, electric fences, feed bunks, or anything else that will keep animals off the hay.   It’s especially important to limit the amount of hay accessible to trampling.   So use racks or bale rings with solid barriers at the bottom to prevent livestock from pulling hay loose and then dragging it out to be stepped on.

If hay is feed on the ground, either as loose hay, unrolled round bales, or as ground hay, it is especially important to follow these guidelines.   Limit the hay fed to an amount animals will clean up in a single meal.   Anything left over will be stepped on, fouled, or used for bedding instead of as feed.   Be sure to distribute enough hay so all cows have access to it at the same time.  With a little foresight and careful management, you can stretch your hay further.

Women in Agriculture Conference to Celebrate 30 Years of Programming

Nebraska women will learn how to plan and make better business decisions for their farms and ranches, their communities, their families and themselves at the 30th Women in Agriculture Conference, the longest-running women's conference of its kind in the country, Feb 26-27 at the Kearney Holiday Inn.

The theme of this year's conference is "Our Heritage, Our Present and Our Future," and it features a variety of workshops, "funshops" and speakers, including Rebecca Long-Chaney of Elwood, NE and Celeste Settrini from Salinas, CA.

Long-Chaney will be the keynote speaker Thursday morning with her talk, "Dare to Risk Life Change,” about her life-changing adventure working in the Australian Outback. Settrini will be the capstone lunchtime speaker on Friday as she presents “Channeling Your Inner Rock-Star!” a fun and humorous look at how to unleash that inner voice for agriculture. The Nebraska WIA Conference is celebrating its 30th anniversary of women’s agriculture programming in the state.

Also on Thursday will be Madeline Schultz from Iowa State University, the National Annie’s Program Leader, who will fill participants in on happenings in this exciting program and how they can work to bring this program to their county. The day will conclude with a celebration in the evening of the Women in Agriculture’s history and exciting future.    

On Friday, the morning speaker will be Carla McCullough from the Department of Environmental Quality, who will present a department water division update. She will look at a few of the many programs DEQ monitors and some of the changes that will impact producers in 2015.

In between speakers, conference-goers can choose from 32 concurrent workshops spread over five sessions during the event. Topics include crop and livestock marketing, financial planning, estate planning, farm bill updates, crop and forage insurance, agronomy, beef nutrition, social media and apps, hydrology in Nebraska, GMO’s, community entrepreneurship, disaster preparation and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Thursday evening includes funshops for Twitter, Zumba and a demonstration from the Nebraska Beef Council.

Those interested can register online to where there is a link to the conference registration site, call 402-472-9053, or mail a completed registration form to UNL Marketplace, P.O. Box 830705, Lincoln NE 68583-0705. For more detailed information about Women in Agriculture and for a conference registration book, visit

Early-bird registration fee is $110 for those registering by Feb. 13. Beginning Feb. 14, the fee is $130. Fee includes workshop materials, registration and all meals and breaks.

The conference is sponsored by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics as well as Farm Credit Services of America, Reinke Irrigation, USDA Risk Management Agency and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Lodging is available at the Kearney Holiday Inn, 110 2nd Ave. by calling 308-237-5971.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Names 2015 Leadership Academy Members

Ten farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2015 Leadership Academy. The selected farmers and ranchers will begin the program Jan. 29-30 in Kearney.

“The goal of the academy is to ignite the talents and strengths of the participants and connect their passion for agriculture to opportunities of service within the Farm Bureau organization. By developing their leadership skills they can positively impact their local communities and the state of Nebraska.” said Adam Peterson, facilitator of the 2015 Leadership Academy and central region director of membership for Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Academy members will participate in sessions focused on, leadership skills, understanding the county, state and national structure of the Farm Bureau organization including Farm Bureau’s grassroots network and policy work on agriculture issues.

The 2015 Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy members are:
·         Sallie Atkins of Halsey, a member of Thomas County Farm Bureau.
·         Brock Elsen of Miller, a member of the Buffalo County Farm Bureau.
·         Tim Girard of Osceola, a member of Polk County Farm Bureau.
·         Nicholas Haack of Amherst, a member of Buffalo County Farm Bureau.
·         Spencer Hartman of Champion, a member of Chase County Farm Bureau
·         Kristopher Herbig of Central City, a member of Merrick County Farm Bureau.
·         Chris Johnson of Sidney, a member of Cheyenne County Farm Bureau.
·         LeAnn Miller of North Platte, a member of Lincoln County Farm Bureau.
·         Stacey Nelson of St Edward, a member of Platte County Farm Bureau.
·         Dayna Wasserburger of North Platte, a member of Lincoln County Farm Bureau.

“We congratulate this group of diverse individuals and thank them for their willingness to step up and out of their comfort zone to learn more about how they can influence their community, state and world for the better,” said Peterson.

“Participants will attend two-day seminars in January, Feb. 26-27 in Grand Island, March 26-27 in Lincoln and Aug. 20-21 in LaVista.  The group will travel to Washington, D.C. in September, for visits with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and federal agency representatives. Academy participants are expected to increase their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau upon completion of the program,” Peterson said.

Informational Meetings Scheduled on Syngenta Lawsuits in Several Eastern Nebraska Towns

Nebraska farmers are joining a growing number of Midwest farmers who are filing lawsuits against Swiss-owned Syngenta alleging the corporation’s practices caused them to lose thousands in revenue during the last two years. 

A group of local lawyers has partnered with the firm of Watts Guerra of San Antonio, Texas, to represent Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota & Nebraska farmers in the lawsuits. The lawyers will hold a series of free town hall meetings across the region in the next 30 days to explain the allegations and litigation process to more farmers.

In mid-November, the Associated Press reported that farmers and companies — including ADM and Cargill — have filed more than 50 lawsuits against Syngenta in 11 major corn-growing states, including Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. Hundreds of additional lawsuits are being prepared, including some in Minnesota.

The litigation claims that Syngenta released a corn variety Agrisure Viptera (MIR162) in 2009 before it was approved for import to China, that the company misinformed farmers, grain elevators, grain exporters and the general public into believing that Chinese regulatory approval was imminent, and that the lack of Chinese approval would not impact corn market prices.

MIR162 was not approved for import to China, however, and traces of MIR162 found in grain shipments caused the Chinese to reject more than 130 million bushels of U.S. corn as of October. Those rejections set off a snowball effect that included an 85 percent decline in U.S. corn exports in 2014 compared to 2013, and the price of corn falling from a high of $8.28 per bushel in August 2012 to near 10-year lows.

In October, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported The National Grain and Feed Association estimated the situation with China has cost $2.9 billion in economic losses to the U.S. corn, distillers grains, and soy sectors. The lawsuits seek compensation from Syngenta for those and other losses.

At the free town hall meetings, lawyers will explain the allegations to farmers who may be entitled to compensation even if they didn’t grow corn that included Syngenta’s MIR162 trait.

Town hall meetings will be held on February 5 in Norfolk at 8 am (Holiday Inn Express), Columbus at 11 am (Ramada Inn), Grand Island at 2 pm (Fairfield Inn), and Hastings at 5 pm (Elks Club Golf Course.)

On February 6, they will be held at McCool Junction at 8 am (Kerry’s Café), Hebron at 11 am (Mary’s Café), Beatrice at 2 pm (Holiday Inn Express), and at Nebraska City at 5 pm (Lied Lodge & Conference Center.)

On February 7, meetings will be at Wahoo at 8 am (Wahoo Livestock Auction), Blair at 11 am (Fernando’s) and at South Sioux City at 2 pm (The Marina Inn.)

For more information, please visit

Feedlot Facility Workshops Coming in February and March

The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University will offer several workshops focusing on choices in feedlot facilities in February and March 2015. Russ Euken, ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist, said the workshops, set in various locations throughout the state, will offer an overview of facility types, advantages and disadvantages, and review research on these types.

“Using several scenarios, workshop participants will work on making appropriate choices for an operation including financing decisions, cost benefit measurements, and production and environmental risk management,” Euken said. “Tools and decision aids to help producers analyze the choices of facility type and cost will be used and available to participants.”

He said the intent of the workshops is to involve producers in working through the decision-making process for their specific operations.

“We believe they will leave the workshop with more knowledge and tools to make facility decisions for their operation,” Euken said. “Those who are considering investing in or upgrading feedlot facilities should benefit from attending.”

The workshops are supported by a grant from the North Central Risk Management Education Center. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers are collaborators for the grant and this workshop series. The series brochure is available on the IBC website. Attendance is limited to 30 per site, so early registration is encouraged.

Producers can reserve their spot and meal by contacting their ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist. The registration fee of $20 per person will be collected at the door.

All workshops will run from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the following dates at the listed locations.
    Feb. 18, Nashua - Borlaug Center meeting room, Northeast Research Farm
    Feb. 24, Manchester - Delaware County Extension office
    Feb. 25, Dewitt - Clinton County Extension office
    Feb. 26, Ames - Hansen Ag Student Learning Center, Iowa State University
    March 3, Emmetsburg - Iowa Lakes Community College
    March 4, Cherokee - Western Iowa Tech
    March 4, Osceola - Clarke County fairgrounds
    March 6, Oskaloosa - Mahaska County Extension office
    March 9, Tama - Tama County Extension office
    March 18, Lewis - Wallace Foundation Learning Center, Armstrong Farm
    March 25, Carroll - Carroll County Extension office

Iowa Beef Center Releases 'Cattle Bidder' App

Cattle feeders, order buyers and bankers now have a tool from the Iowa Beef Center to help them make cattle buying decisions. Garland Dahlke said the newly released “Cattle Bidder” app can help users determine maximum bids on feeder cattle purchases.

“The user enters the purchase and sale weights, the expected cost of gain and the desired margin, and the app calculates the maximum purchase price,” he said. “It’s a simple app, but is handy for buyers who know their cost of gain and expected market price by cattle type.”

The program also can account for potential death losses.

Cattle Bidder is for Android 2.2 phones and tablets, and is available as a free download from the IBC website at and  on Google Play at

U.S. Industry Blasts EPA Decision on Biodiesel Imports

The National Biodiesel Board on Tuesday sharply criticized a decision by the EPA to allow streamlined Argentinian biodiesel imports to the U.S. under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“This decision poses a tremendous threat to U.S. industry and jobs, not to mention the overriding goal of the RFS of developing clean, homegrown renewable fuels,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is incredibly damaging, particularly in light of the continued delays in establishing RFS volumes. The Obama administration has effectively run the U.S. biodiesel industry into a ditch over the past year by failing to establish a functioning renewable fuels policy, and instead of pulling the domestic industry out, it is fast-tracking foreign competition.”

“Not only does this threaten U.S. businesses and jobs, it could also undermine our sustainability goals aimed at preventing deforestation from the production of renewable fuels,” Steckel said. “It opens the floodgates for Argentinian biodiesel with very little oversight or verification that the resources used to make the fuel was grown in accordance with strict RFS sustainability requirements.”

To prevent deforestation and other harmful land-use changes, feedstocks used under the RFS generally must be grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 18, 2007 – when the RFS was implemented. Typically, foreign producers must closely map and track each batch of feedstock used to produce imported renewable fuels.

EPA’s decision Tuesday allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to use a survey plan for certifying that feedstocks used – in this case soybean oil. The change – effectively leaving it to the foreign producer to pay an independent third party to survey their feedstock suppliers – is far less stringent than the current map and track requirement and more difficult to verify.

Many of the soybeans processed into soybean oil in Argentina come from Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, and other countries. Given the complex international trade involved, the EPA will have little ability to verify the survey plans proposed by Argentinian producers.

NBB estimates that up to 600 million gallons of Argentinian biodiesel could enter the U.S. as a result of the change. Argentina would be the first country to use a survey approach under the RFS. Canada and the U.S. operate under an aggregate approach in which feedstock is approved so long as the aggregate amount of agricultural land in each country does not grow.

Additionally, Argentina supports its domestic biodiesel program with a cost-distorting “Differential Export Tax” program that allows Argentinian biodiesel to undercut domestic prices. The EPA’s notice can be found on the agency’s website.

“At a time when our U.S. industry needs a lifeline, it feels instead like we’re being pushed back under water,” Steckel said. “This decision simply makes no sense from an economic perspective, an energy security perspective or an environmental perspective. It is baffling.”

Zoetis to Launch Healthy Beef Challenge at NCBA Trade Show in San Antonio

Zoetis is supporting education through state cattlemen’s associations by introducing the Healthy Beef Challenge at the Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show in San Antonio, Feb. 4-7, 2015.

The online quiz competition encourages beef producers to test their knowledge about cattle health and productivity, the industry and products from Zoetis. Producers will team up with others from their state and compete against other state organizations for a chance to earn up to $5,200 for their state cattlemen’s association.

The state with the highest score at the end of 2015 will earn money for producer or consumer education or ag youth scholarships.

“The Healthy Beef Challenge is a fun and interactive way for producers to put their healthy beef knowledge to good use by contributing to their state’s overall team score,” said Mike Amos, director of the cow/calf franchise, Zoetis.

Producers can play the Healthy Beef Challenge daily at Zoetis Booth 6023 during the NCBA Trade Show. Once the show ends, new questions will be available monthly on the Healthy Beef Challenge website ( throughout 2015. The champion will be announced at the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in San Diego.

Teams are placed in one of three divisions based on the membership of their state association: T-Bone Division for 1 to 399 members, Ribeye Division for 400 to 799 members and Filet Division for more than 800 members. Each month, the top-scoring state in each division will win $200. The overall champion will earn $3,000.

“The Healthy Beef Challenge joins many other activities sponsored by Zoetis during convention, including Cattlemen’s College and the CattleFax Outlook Seminar,” Amos explained. “Supporting producers through education has always been a priority for Zoetis, and the competition between state associations will no doubt include some fun rivalries with a healthy upside.”

Only members of NCBA are eligible to play the Healthy Beef Challenge. To become an NCBA member, sign up at Full rules are available at

AGCO Expands 'Parts Book to Go' App

AGCO announced its AGCO Parts Books to Go mobile application program has significantly expanded AGCO's parts mobile app functionality.

A year ago, the app initially successfully launched on the Apple iOS platform into 35 countries through the Apple Store. Now even more robust, today's mobile app launch represents advancement in providing anytime, anywhere access to replacement service parts information on AGCO products.

Already established in the mobile space, the AGCO Parts Books to Go is now available in both the Android and Apple iOS platforms, with the new Android version of the app available on the Google Play Store. Its functionality includes similar Interactive Parts Catalog functionality like the Apple iOS app while maintaining the natural Android user experience.

Interactive drawings with capability for zooming, panning, and call-outs; parts lists; Google-like searches; cart functionality; off-line capability and multi-language support are part of this newly delivered Android app. The Apple and Android versions are now available for customers and AGCO dealers/distributors.

AGCO is committed to supporting parts service for the duration of the service life of AGCO machines. Besides the Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra brands, content on the Apple and Android app is now expanded to include parts book information for many of AGCO's other brands.


Food Nutrition & Science, a leading food industry publication from The Lempert Report, and The Food Journal, a comprehensive publication that takes a deeper dive into food industry topics, have merged. The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science, now at, provides readers with a greater analysis of issues related to all aspects of the food industry.

“We’re excited to work with leaders in the industry to create The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science and to provide valuable information to industry insiders as well as consumers,” said Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science and CEO of The Lempert Report.

The new publication is a partnership between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity, a not-for profit organization dedicated to building consumer trust and confidence in the food system. Published twice monthly, the new publication includes in-depth interviews and fact-based reporting about important food system issues from farm to table. It also includes farmer interviews and videos and corporate sustainability features highlighting how readers’ favorite brands are lowering their environmental foot print.

The first issue examines the decline in the bee population and how this affects the food chain. It also looks at potential causes and what organizations are doing to save the bees. Other features include a video tour of farmer Karen Bohnert’s 500-cow registered Jersey dairy farm and results from a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that suggests fiber intake and fruit consumption are significantly associated with a lower risk of death among the elderly.

For more information or to subscribe, visit

Scientists Find Antibiotics, Bacteria, Resistance Genes in Feedlot Dust

After testing dust in the air near cattle feedlots in the Southern High Plains, researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University found evidence of antibiotics, feedlot-derived bacteria and DNA sequences that encode for antibiotic resistance.

The study was published online in the National Institutes of Environmental Science's peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. The research was funded through a grant from Texas Tech's College of Arts and Sciences. It is the first study documenting aerial transmission of antibiotic resistance from an open-air farm setting.

Phil Smith, an associate professor of terrestrial ecotoxicology at the institute, said that while scientists couldn't assess if the amounts of these materials were dangerous to human health, it helped explain a previously uncharacterized pathway by which antibiotic-resistant bacteria could travel long distances into places inhabited by humans.

The findings come weeks after a report commissioned by British Prime Minister David Cameron concluded that failure to battle drug-resistant infections and their causes could result in 10 million extra deaths a year by 2050 at a cost of $100 trillion to the global economy.

"You can look in the news, and people are raising red flags about antibiotic resistance all the time," Smith said. "Microbes are pretty promiscuous with their genetic information, and they share it across species fairly easily. We know it's there. We know what causes it, but we don't have a really good handle on how it's transmitted and how it moves in the environment. This is an attempt to provide better clarity on that issue.

"Everyone is fairly certain antibiotic resistance comes from extensive use of antibiotics in animal-based agriculture. About 70 percent of all antibiotics used are for animal agricultural purposes. Overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance. But how does it happen? How does it get from where the drugs are used into the human environment and natural environment?"

Smith said scientists collected air samples upwind and downwind of each feedlot. After analysis, they found greater amounts of bacteria, antibiotics and DNA sequences responsible for antibiotic resistance downwind of the feedlots compared to upwind, which helped scientists determine the source of the materials they found.

Because the antibiotics are present on the particulate matter with bacteria, the selective pressure for bacteria to retain their resistance remains during their flight, said Greg Mayer, an associate professor of molecular toxicology at the institute.

With wind blowing regularly on the Southern High Plains, the antibiotics and bacteria can travel on the dust and particulate matter far from the original starting point at the feedlot. Add the infamous West Texas dust storms into the picture, and these materials have the potential to travel hundreds of miles into cities and towns and possibly around the globe.

"I think implications for the spread of some feedlot-derived, antibiotic-resistant bacteria into urban areas is paramount to the research," Mayer said. "Now, we haven't yet taken samples from an urban area to determine whether bacteria from that particulate matter originated from feedlots or whether it still has antibiotic resistant bacteria on it. However, this study is proof of the principle that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could plausibly travel through the air.

"Further studies are now needed to show where the particulate matter is traveling and what is happening to its passengers when it gets there."

Nationwide USDA Organic Survey Underway

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just kicked off the Organic Survey to gather detailed data on U.S. organic agriculture production. The survey is a complete inventory of all known organic producers that are certified, exempt from certification, and transitioning to certified organic production.

"Total organic product sales by farms and ranches in the United States have continued to grow over the last few years, increasing by 83 percent between 2007 and 2012," said USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. "These latest census results show the continued interest in organic agriculture among consumers, producers, and businesses. As we look to the future, the important information we gather will be crucial to capturing the strong private and public sector support to sustain the continued growth of this industry."

Conducted by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the Organic Survey is a result of this growing demand for organic agricultural products and data. The survey looks at many aspects of organic agriculture during the 2014 calendar year – from production and marketing practices, to income and expenses. It also focuses on the future of organic production by including producers transitioning to certified organic agriculture.

Producers who receive the Organic Survey are encouraged to respond. The responses will provide important and detailed information to help determine the economic impact of organic production, and this information will help USDA develop programs and services for organic crop and livestock producers

Farmers and ranchers can fill out the survey online via a secure website,, or return their form by mail. Federal law (Title 7, U.S. Code) requires all producers who receive a form to respond and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential. Recipients are required to respond by mail by Feb. 13, 2015 or online by April 3, 2015.

To learn more about the survey, the USDA Organic Working Group will host a webinar on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET. The webinar will consist of a brief presentation from NASS on the Organic Survey and a question and answer session. The webinar is free and pre-registration is not required. To participate:

Step 1 - Dial In by Phone:
Toll-Free (U.S. & Canada): 866.740.1260
Access Code: 7202000

Step 2 - Also Access the Web:
Meeting URL:
On the left side of the screen, enter
Participant Access Code: 7202000

For more information about the Organic Survey, visit

Baltimore City Council Passes Resolution Calling for End to Overuse of Antibiotics on Farms

By Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

“We are proud of the opportunity to work with Baltimore Councilman Nick Mosby on his resolution calling for a statewide and national end to the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production, which the Baltimore City Council unanimously passed last evening. This makes Baltimore the 50th city in the nation to pass such a resolution. Antibiotic resistance has evolved into a critical threat to public health in part due to the overuse of antibiotics in meat production.

“80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used in livestock production and close to two million American suffer from antibiotic resistant bacterial infections each year, resulting in death for twenty-three thousand of them. Factory farms affect our health and environment in numerous ways, but the overuse of antibiotics has had the most profound impact. 

“With more and more cases of antibiotic resistant bacteria showing up every day, it’s critical that our political leaders take note of the current changing tide within our food culture and respond with legislation that addresses this serious concern. Councilman Mosby is acting with the interest of public health in mind, and we are proud to see Baltimore join a long list of communities that are willing put people over corporate profits.

“Antibiotic resistance is a public health threat that groups including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association have identified as an urgent and growing problem.”