Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wednesday April 29 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               The greening up of pastures usually is a good sign, except when the green is weeds like cheatgrass in native warm-season grasses.

               Early weeds should be controlled in warm-season grass pastures.  Weeds remove moisture that could be used for grass growth later on and they remove valuable nutrients from the soil.  Early weeds also can develop so much growth that they can shade, smother, and reduce early growth of your pasture grasses.

               Herbicides and prescribed burning can control many early weeds, but I think another method actually is better — grazing.  Heavy, pre-season grazing costs you nothing.  In fact, you get some feed from these weeds while herbicides or burning would only kill and remove growth.  Plus, this early pasture might be especially valuable if it saves you from feeding expensive hay.

               Chasing green, as some folks call pre-season grazing, will not harm your summer grass — provided you stop grazing before new grass shoots get more than a couple inches tall.  This usually doesn’t occur until late April or early May in southern Nebraska and slightly later as we move farther north.  Early, preseason grazing of warm-season grass can also remove some old growth from last year, which starts recycling nutrients trapped in dead plant tissue.  In fact, about the only bad news about early, preseason grazing is you have to get fences and water ready earlier, you need to move animals to the pasture, and you won't completely kill out these weeds in one year.

               Funny thing, though.  These so-called weeds might actually make pretty timely and valuable pasture.  Try chasing green with preseason grazing, I think you'll like it.


Nebraska Extension announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a multi-stakeholder initiative working to foster improvements in productivity, environmental quality and human well-being across the agricultural supply chain.

"Meeting the challenge of doubling agricultural output without further pressuring already-stressed water and land resources largely depends on significantly improved efficiency in agriculture and food systems," said Chuck Hibberd, dean and director for Nebraska Extension. "By joining Field to Market, we look forward to contributing our expertise to their efforts to advance the sustainability of commodity crop production."

Field to Market's membership of grower organizations, leading companies, academia, conservation groups and public sector partners provides a platform that unites the agricultural supply chain in defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production.

"Land-grant institutions have a long history of partnering with farmers to manage natural resources, increase productivity and strengthen their bottom line, and they will play a critical role in helping the agricultural system meet future food, fiber and fuel needs in a sustainable manner," said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. "We are pleased to welcome Nebraska Extension to the alliance and look forward to working together to help producers identify opportunities for continuous improvement in both productivity and environmental quality."

Field to Market brings together a diverse group of grower organizations; agribusinesses; food, beverage, restaurant and retail companies; conservation groups; universities and public-sector partners to focus on defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production. The alliance is comprised of more than 70 members representing all facets of the U.S. agricultural supply chain, with member companies employing more than 3.9 million people and representing combined revenues of more than $1.3 trillion. For more information, visit

Consumer Choice Expands with Kum & Go E15 Announcement

Convenience store Kum & Go announced April 27 that it will offer E15 as a fuel option. Kum & Go has more than 20 stations in Nebraska.

“We commend Kum & Go for providing a higher-octane, cleaner-burning, lower-cost fuel for consumers in the Omaha metro area and beyond,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “E15 coupled with their E85 offering shows they are a leader in the market, and demonstrates their commitment to consumer choice and cleaner fuels to help address air quality challenges related to toxic emissions from conventional gasoline.”

During the next two years, Kum & Go plans to make E15 available at more than 65 stores across Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The first station, located in Windsor Heights, Iowa, is scheduled to open April 30.

E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent unleaded gasoline) was approved for vehicles 2001 and newer by the EPA in 2011 after more than two years of testing. Approximately 75 percent of cars on the road are approved to use E15.

Kum & Go has been an industry leader in introducing alternative fuels. In the 1970’s, the company was among the first to offer 10 percent ethanol blends. In 1997, Kum & Go expanded its fuel options to include E85. Today, the company offers E85 at more than 160 locations across 11 states.

Ethanol Stocks Down; Output Lower

U.S. ethanol inventories eased off a seven-week high last week, falling 545,000 barrels (bbl) to 20.797 million bbl during the week-ended April 24, new data from Energy Information Administration showed.  Compared to a year ago, total ethanol supplies are 3.6 million bbl, or 20.8%, higher.

The EIA data showed domestic production falling 9,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a 6-1/2 month low of 921,000 bpd for the week profiled while up 2.6% year over year. Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, declined 4,000 bpd to a three-week low of 875,000 bpd for the week while up 1.2% year over year.

Implied demand for gasoline dropped 265,000 bpd last week to 8.920 million bpd, 2.6% higher than the same week last year.

U.S., Honduras Sign Agreement to Promote Agricultural Development and Trade

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden and Honduras Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock Jacobo Paz today signed an agreement to support agricultural development and trade in Honduras.

Through the Food for Progress Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service will provide the government of Honduras with 30,000 metric tons of U.S. yellow corn and 18,000 tons of U.S. soybean meal, valued at approximately $17 million. The Honduran government will use proceeds from the sale of the commodities to implement projects aimed at improving agricultural productivity, enhancing farmers' access to information and market skills, building government capacity, and strengthening local, regional and international trade in agricultural products.

"The Food for Progress Program is a cornerstone in USDA's efforts to support sustainable agricultural production in developing nations and promote agricultural trade," Harden said. "The Obama administration remains committed to investing in the creation of economic stability and opportunity in Central America. Today's agreement continues USDA's successful partnership with the Honduran government and the private sector under Food for Progress and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. I am proud that our cooperative efforts are building a stronger agricultural sector, creating new opportunities and better lives for the people of Honduras."

The projects supported by this new agreement will focus on the creation of jobs and income opportunities for some of Honduras' most vulnerable citizens. The beneficiaries will include small farmers, as well as small businesses and producer organizations, particularly those that support rural women and youth.

Grain Entrapments Up in 2014

The number of grain bin entrapments and resulting fatalities in the U.S. increased last year to the highest level since 2010, due in part to the large amount of grain stored on-farm, Purdue University reported Wednesday.

There were 38 documented entrapments resulting in 17 deaths in 2014, compared with 33 entrapments and 13 deaths in 2013, according to Purdue's annual "Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities."

This was the highest recorded total since 2010 when there were 59 entrapments and 26 deaths.

Entrapments were reported in 16 states in 2014, mostly in the Midwest. Minnesota had six documented incidents while Indiana and Iowa had four each. Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota each reported three, while Michigan had two and Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and North Carolina had one each.

Bill Field, professor of agricultural health and safety, said in a Purdue University news release that the number of documented entrapment cases has increased for several different reasons. For starters, more grain is being stored on-farm and workers with little experience moving stored grain are at greater risk.

"Dealing with a mountain of grain can be very hazardous," Field said in the news release. "If you're working around grain for the first time and you might not be aware of the risks involved, the potential for an accident is much higher.

In addition, Field said the number of documented entrapments has increased in recent years partly because of better reporting.

"Over the past few years, the surveillance effort was expanded to include not only entrapment in grain but other types of agricultural confined space incidents," he said in the release.

There were 70 total confined space incidents in American agricultural facilities last year compared with 67 in 2013. In 2014, there were 38 entrapments, 12 falls, nine fire-related injuries, eight entanglements and three asphyxiations.

Confined space incidents were reported in 20 states in 2014, compared with 17 states in 2013.

Minnesota and Ohio led the nation with nine reported confined space accidents each. Ohio's total included seven workers who were injured in a fire inside a grain storage unit.

Indiana, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin reported five cases each. There were four cases each in Michigan, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

North Dakota and South Dakota each reported three confined space cases, while Kanas, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and New York had two each. Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina and Idaho had a single case in 2014.


Modern technology is helping first responders when they deal with grain entrapment incidents. Devices such as RES-Q from GSI offer aid in rescuing victims.

The RES-Q tube is designed to fit around the victim of grain entrapment to stop the flow of the grain toward the victim and to block any additional pressure which could be created from rescuers. Once the tube is in place around the victim, the limited amount of grain inside the tube is removed, allowing the victim to be free of a potentially deadly situation. More information can be found on the company's website:

Other equipment companies sell similar rescue tube devices.

Capitol Hill Briefing Focuses on the Role of Milk in Child Nutrition Programs

A Capitol Hill briefing for House staff yesterday focused on a new report on “Fluid Milk in School Programs” by the National Dairy Council. It was hosted by Representative G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) in the House Committee on Agriculture. The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association strongly support the National Dairy Council’s report and helped coordinate the briefing.

The report identified declining milk consumption in schools as a concern because of the nutritional importance of milk in children’s diets. The majority of school-aged children do not meet current government dietary recommended intakes for low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products. With Congress set to reauthorize school nutrition programs this year, this report will provide members of Congress with the information they need to ensure that school children continue to have access to healthy and nutritious dairy products.

“The decline in milk consumption is worrisome because it is difficult to replace the nutrient package found in milk with other foods, without adding extra calories and cost,” Jean Ragalie-Carr, RD, president of the National Dairy Council, told briefing participants. She discussed the role of fluid milk in school meal programs and outlined the opportunity for improved child nutrition through increased milk consumption.

Robert Murray, M.D., professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University, emphasized the importance of milk as a component of a healthy diet. “People must think in terms of the whole food pattern, not just individual nutrients,” he said.

Milk is the leading source of nine essential nutrients for children 2 – 18 years old. Milk also includes eight grams of protein in each eight-ounce serving.

School meals are designed to provide foods recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), including low fat and fat free milk. As the Obama administration continues its work on the next set of dietary guidelines, preliminary findings by the committee charged with drafting the DGA have already demonstrated strong support for continued consumption of dairy products. The school milk report provides background information on numerous USDA programs that include milk, as well as identifies the challenges to maintaining and expanding milk consumption to achieve recommended dietary guidelines.

USDA Dairy Production Production Summary

Total cheese production, excluding cottage cheeses, was 11.5 billion pounds, 3.1 percent above 2013 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 25.4 percent of the production.

Italian varieties, with 4.95 billion pounds were 4.5 percent above 2013 production and accounted for 43.2 percent of total cheese in 2014. Mozzarella accounted for 79.3 percent of the Italian production followed by Provolone with 7.3 percent and Parmesean with 6.1 percent. California was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 31.6 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 4.53 billion pounds, 2.6 percent above 2013 and accounted for 39.6 percent of total cheese in 2014. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 18.7 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2014 totaled 1.86 billion pounds, 0.3 percent below 2013. California accounted for 33.0 percent of the production.

Dry milk powders (2014 United States production, comparisons with 2013)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.76 billion pounds, up 19.4 percent.
Skim milk powders - 544 million pounds, down 13.8 percent.

Whey products (2014 United States production, comparisons with 2013)
Dry whey, total - 870 million pounds, down 8.7 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.13 billion pounds, up 8.9 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 538 million pounds, up 8.1 percent.

Frozen products (2014 United States production, comparisons with 2013)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 872 million gallons, down 2.8 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 412 million gallons, up 2.7 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 45.7 million gallons, down 1.0 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 66.8 million gallons, down 10.4 percent.

Breakthrough Corn Herbicide Receives US EPA Approval

Syngenta announced today that it has received US EPA approval for its breakthrough corn herbicide, ACURON. The first sales of the product to US growers will take place this year.

In the USA herbicide resistance, notably to glyphosate, is increasing with infestations of broadleaf weeds in corn up 50 percent in the past four years. ACURON has been shown to improve control of more than 70 weeds that are increasingly difficult for growers to manage, such as Palmer amaranth and Giant Ragweed.

ACURON incorporates bicyclopyrone, a novel chemical ingredient which is combined with three other active ingredients to target a wider range of weeds than any existing product. The four active ingredients and three modes of action in ACURON deliver a multi-targeted approach to weed control.

Davor Pisk, Chief Operating Officer, said: "As current herbicides such as glyphosate lose effectiveness, corn farmers have to spend considerably more per acre on crop protection. The most cost-effective solution is to use a high performing pre-emergent herbicide that stops weeds before they start. We're delighted that we can now offer ACURON to US corn farmers. It sets a new standard for weed control and will be critical in helping farmers make corn production more sustainable."

ACURON is a key component of Syngenta's $3 billion crop protection pipeline with peak sales potential of more than $250 million.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tuesday April 29 Ag News

Final Chemigation Training Date Changed To May 20 In Norfolk
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

The final chemigation training date for 2015 has been set for Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00 am at the Lifelong Learning Center located at 601 E. Benjamin Avenue in Norfolk. Please note this is a date change from previous listings.

A chemigation certification is required for those who apply fertilizers or pesticides through an irrigation system. This training is good for an initial certification and also for those who need to recertify.  On-line training is available but only for those re-certifying. The training will last approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours including required testing.  Tests can be checked the day of training. There is no fee for this program.

Pre-registration is not required, but it does help in planning for the number attending and room setup. Please plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before start of program to check in. If possible, bring a small calculator when coming to the training.  All training materials will be available on the day of the training, or can be requested for study prior to the training.  If you would like to pre-register, or want study materials, please call 402-370-4000.


A May 12 Nebraska Extension training course will provide crop scouts an opportunity to enhance their skills.

The training is designed for entry-level scouts who will work for crop consultants, industry agronomists or farm service centers in Nebraska and neighboring states, said Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator.

The course is from 8:25 a.m. to 5 p.m. with registration at 8 a.m. at the university's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

"Past participants have consistently given the training high marks and state that the knowledge gained from attending improved their scouting skills," Glewen said.

Topics and presenters include: "How Corn and Soybean Plants Grow and Develop," Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator; "Soybean and Corn Insect Management," Wayne Ohnesorg, Nebraska Extension entomologist; "Using Knowledge of Plant Morphology and a Seedling Identification Key to ID Weeds," Josh Miller, doctoral student, UNL Doctor of Plant Health program and plant pathology, and Rodrigo Werle, doctoral student, UNL Weed Science; "Crop Diseases and Quiz," Tamra Jackson-Ziems, Nebraska Extension plant pathologist, Kyle Broderick, UNL graduate student, Kelsie Musil, UNL graduate student, and Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator.

"Some of the benefits registrants stated the training provided included practical/working knowledge and better accuracy in field scouting," Glewen said. "Other participants appreciated the hands-on, practical format."

Cost for the program is $155, which includes lunch, refreshment breaks, workshop materials and instruction manual. Attendees should register one week in advance to reserve their seat and to ensure workshop materials are available the day of the training session. Updated reference materials are included in this year's take-home instruction manual.

A total of six Certified Crop Advisor Continuing Education Units is anticipated in the integrated pest management (4.5), crop management (1.0) and fertility/nutrient management (.5) categories.

For more information or to register, contact the ARDC, CMDC Programs, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE, 68033, call (402) 624-8000, fax (402) 624-8010, email or visit

The training is part of the Nebraska Extension Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics and is sponsored by extension in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

High School Students Test Skills and Knowledge in Conserving Natural Resources at State Envirothon

Competition is tough at the annual Nebraska Envirothon and you’re invited to see it all go down! The 2015 State Envirothon will be held on Wednesday, April 29th at Camp Comeca in Cozad, Nebraska. Media is welcome to attend! This competition tests high school students’ knowledge of Nebraska’s natural resources. Students test on topics like soil, aquatics, forestry, wildlife, range and policy. The competition also gives students an opportunity to create a proactive plan for sustaining our agriculture and forests.

The Nebraska Envirothon shows people of all ages that no matter how young or old you may be, you can always make a difference in protecting people’s lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.

“Many times, these students walk away from this competition on a mission to make a difference,” said Terry Martin, President of Nebraska Association of Resources Districts. “You can tell each competitor cares about keeping our state beautiful and healthy for decades to come.”

Student teams, consist of five members. Each team first competed in one of seven regional contests around the state. The winners of each region and the next seven overall highest scoring wildcard teams get the opportunity to compete at the state level. Test questions are not only written, but many require hands-on observations, measurements and calculations at the test sites.

This year there will be 12 schools and 13 teams competing at the State Envirothon. High schools participating are: Concordia High School in Omaha, Sidney High School in Sidney, Boone Central High School in Albion, West Point-Beemer High School in West Point, York High School in York, Ogallala High School in Ogallala, Logan View High School in Hooper, Millard South High School in Millard, Milford High School in Milford, Aurora High School in Aurora, North Bend High School in North Bend, Chadron High School in Chadron and Creek Valley High School in Chappell.

The winning team will receive recognition from the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts. NARD is the annual sponsor of the Nebraska Envirothon. Each team member on the winning team will be awarded a $500 scholarship by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to be used towards a major in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the university. Other sponsors and supportersfor this year’s Envirothon include: FYRA Engineering, Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), Midwest Laboratories, Nebraska Forest Service, Monsanto Water Utilization Learning Center, Farm Credit Services of America, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, HDR, Olsson Associates, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources.

Green Plains Reports First Quarter 2015 Financial Results

Green Plains Inc. (Nasdaq:GPRE) announced today its financial results for the first quarter of 2015. Net loss for the quarter was $3.3 million, or ($0.09) per diluted share, compared to net income of $43.2 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, for the same period in 2014. Revenues were $738.4 million for the first quarter of 2015 compared to $733.9 million for the same period in 2014.

"As we indicated in February, U.S. ethanol industry margins were compressed during the first quarter of 2015 as energy prices declined. Domestic and global ethanol prices have adjusted to remain very competitive with wholesale gasoline," said Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Consumer demand for transportation fuels has continued to strengthen providing a more positive outlook for the balance of the year."

"Industry fundamentals remain solid domestically and internationally, driven by increases in U.S. fuel consumption and global protein consumption. Based on the current forward curve, we expect profitable results for the first half and full year of 2015," stated Becker.

During the first quarter, Green Plains' ethanol production totaled 232.5 million gallons, or approximately 92.4% of its daily average production capacity. Non-ethanol operating income from the corn oil production, agribusiness, and marketing and distribution segments was $19.0 million in the first quarter of 2015 compared to $41.1 million for the same period in 2014.

"Our expansion projects to add 100 million gallons of annual ethanol production capacity at several of our existing plants are going well," stated Becker. "We also remain focused on completing our proposed initial public offering of Green Plains Partners LP which will own our downstream ethanol transportation and storage assets."

Green Plains had $420.5 million in total cash and equivalents and $154.2 million available under committed loan agreements at subsidiaries (subject to borrowing base restrictions and other specified lending conditions) at March 31, 2015. First quarter 2015 EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $18.8 million compared to $94.1 million for the same period in 2014.

2015 First Quarter Business Highlights

    On March 9, 2015, Green Plains Inc. announced that its newly-formed subsidiary, Green Plains Partners LP (the "Partnership"), has confidentially submitted a draft registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The registration statement is for a proposed underwritten initial public offering ("IPO") of common units representing limited partner interests in the newly-formed Partnership. It is anticipated that the IPO will raise approximately $200-$250 million in gross proceeds; however, the date, number of common units to be sold and the price range for the proposed IPO have not yet been determined and are subject to a number of factors, including market conditions. It is expected that the initial assets of the Partnership will consist of Green Plains' downstream ethanol transportation and storage assets located in 12 states throughout the Midwest and Southeast United States.

    The Board of Directors of Green Plains Inc. declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.08 per share on the Company's common stock on February 5, 2015. The dividend was paid on March 20, 2015.

USDA extends comment period for ACEP interim rule

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will extend the deadline to provide public comment on the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s (ACEP) interim rule until May 28, 2015.

“We extended the comment period for the ACEP rule to give our partners, landowners and the public additional time to comment on a rule that will be used to implement USDA’s premier conservation easement program on private agricultural lands,” Weller said.

ACEP is designed to help landowners protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives.

NRCS administers ACEP, a voluntary program created in the 2014 Farm bill to protect and restore critical wetlands on private and tribal lands through the wetland reserve easement component. ACEP also encourages farmers, ranchers and non-industrial private forest landowners to keep their private and tribal land in agricultural use through the agricultural land easement component. ACEP also conserves grasslands, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland.

The official notice of the proposed ACEP interim rule can be found in the Federal Register. The original deadline date to submit public comments on the ACEP interim rule is Tuesday, April 28, 2015.  Electronic comments must be submitted through during the 30-day extended comment period. Comments also can be hand carried or mailed to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. NRCS-2014-0011, Regulatory and Agency Policy Team, Strategic Planning and Accountability, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Building 1-1112D, Beltsville, MD 20705.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Steady

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN continue a steady trend for the third week of April. Even 10-34-0, which had some upward price movement due to tight supplies earlier, did not see any large price moves this week.

Fertilizers showing slight price increases compared to a month earlier included DAP, with an average price of $570 per ton, MAP $598/ton, potash $491/ton, 10-34-0 $650/ton and anhydrous $711/ton.

The three remaining fertilizers DTN tracks were lower compared to the previous month, but again the move down was minor. Urea had an average price of $453/ton, UAN28 $329/ton and UAN32 $371/ton.

The urea average price is near the historic low of $450/ton, which according to the DTN index, happened in the fall of 2013. The lowest urea price over the five-year history of the index was below $400/ton for a few months in late summer 2010.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.49/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.59/lb.N and UAN32 $0.58/lb.N.

Prices for 10-34-0 starter fertilizer continue to be significantly higher than year-ago levels, with average prices 23% above April 1014. Anhydrous and potash are 3% more expensive compared to a year earlier.

The remaining five nutrients are now lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. DAP is 3% lower, MAP is 4% less expensive, UAN28 is down 7%, UAN32 is now 8% less expensive and urea is 18% less expensive from a year previous.

U.S.-Peruvian FTA Creates Favorable Environment for U.S. Corn

The U.S.-Peru trade promotion agreement has been instrumental in boosting bilateral trade in food and agricultural products since it went into force on Feb. 1, 2009, including spurring new sales of U.S. commodity corn, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Global Agricultural Information Network report released April 8.

"The increase in the export of U.S. corn to Peru provides another outstanding example of how free trade agreements can open markets, creating real opportunity for America's corn farmers," said John Linder, an Ohio farmer who chairs the National Corn Growers Association's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team.

"With NCGA pushing for policies like Trade Promotion Authority and favorable trade agreements and, once those policies are in place, USGC building markets abroad, the possibilities for farmers are growing by the day. These markets not only help build demand for U.S. corn but also support American jobs and benefit the U.S. economy as a whole."

This marketing year alone, Peru has outstanding sales and accumulated exports of more than 75 million bushels of U.S. corn as of April 16, compared to only 43 million bushels last year at the same time.

"The U.S. Grains Council has been particularly active in Peru promoting U.S. corn for the past several years," said USGC Regional Director for the Western Hemisphere Marri Carrow. "Peruvian buyers are becoming more sophisticated in purchasing grains but have indicated they have a preference for U.S. corn. This trade agreement is a great example of how reducing trade barriers to create mutually beneficial trade partnerships increases opportunities for U.S. products."

Currently, two-thirds of U.S. farm exports to Peru receive duty-free treatment. U.S. corn still has a tariff rate quota of 27.9 million bushels, which was filled within the first week of 2015. While this TRQ is in the process of being phased out over the next nine years, sales of U.S. corn are continuing because of the PTPA.

"With last year's drop in agricultural commodity prices, the price ban system was activated," Carrow said. "Due to Peru's PTPA commitments, it could not fully assess the variable levy mandated by the price ban system against U.S. corn. This gave U.S. corn an advantage over corn sourced from other suppliers, including Argentina and Brazil."

USDA Confirms More H5N2 in Iowa, N.D., Minnesota, Wisconsin

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in additional six flocks in Iowa, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota. No human infections with the virus have been detected at this time. CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low. USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed HPAI H5N2 in the following counties and states:
-- Sac County, Iowa (April 24) -- 33,900 turkeys
-- LaMoure County, N.D. (April 24) -- 71,500 mixed poultry
-- Jefferson County, Wisc. (April 24) -- 1.03 million chickens, 2nd detection in this county
-- Kandiyohi County, Minn. (April 24) -- 42,900 turkeys, 18th detection in this county
-- Kandiyohi County, Minnesota (April 24) -- 67,000 turkeys, 19th detection in this county
-- Chippewa, Minn. (April 24) -- 68,000 turkeys

The affected premises have been quarantined and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system.

The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world. As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine -- restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate -- humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region -- testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4) Disinfect -- kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test -- confirming that the poultry farm is AI virus-free. USDA also is working with its partners to actively look and test for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

For more information about the ongoing avian influenza disease incidents visit the APHIS website. More information about avian influenza can be found on the USDA avian influenza page. More information about avian influenza and public health is available on the CDC website.

Tyson Foods Strives to Eliminate Human Antibiotics From Broiler Chicken Flocks by 2017

Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN) said today it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler* chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. The company will report annually on its progress, beginning with its fiscal 2015 Sustainability Report.  Tyson Foods has already stopped using all antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries, requires a veterinary prescription for antibiotics used on broiler farms and has reduced human antibiotics used to treat broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011.

“Antibiotic resistant infections are a global health concern,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “We’re confident our meat and poultry products are safe**, but want to do our part to responsibly reduce human antibiotics on the farm so these medicines can continue working when they’re needed to treat illness.”

“Given the progress we’ve already made reducing antibiotics in our broilers, we believe it’s realistic to shoot for zero by the end of our 2017 fiscal year. But we won’t jeopardize animal well-being just to get there. We’ll use the best available treatments to keep our chickens healthy, under veterinary supervision,” Smith said.

Tyson Foods is also forming working groups with independent farmers and others in the company’s beef, pork and turkey supply chains to discuss ways to reduce the use of human antibiotics on cattle, hog and turkey farms. Those groups will begin meeting this summer.

Tyson Foods’ international business is committed to taking similar measures on antibiotic use in its global chicken operations but has not set a timeframe.

Will Not Compromise Animal Well-Being; Need Alternatives to Human Antibiotics on Farm

Tyson Foods plans to work with food industry, government, veterinary, public health and academic communities, and provide funding, to accelerate research into disease prevention and antibiotic alternatives on the farm. The company is also getting input from its Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel, which is made up of independent advisors.

“One of our core values is to serve as responsible stewards of animals – we will not let sick animals suffer,” Smith said.  “We believe it’s our responsibility to help drive action towards sustainable solutions to this challenge by working with our chicken, turkey, beef and pork supply chains.” 

Smith said today’s announcement will not materially affect the company’s financial performance.

Dow AgroSciences, Arcadia Biosciences and Bioceres Collaborate to Develop and Commercialize Soybean Traits

Dow AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW), Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., and Bioceres, S.A., announced today an agreement to develop and commercialize innovative traits in soybeans. The collaboration leverages Dow AgroSciences’ technology, regulatory expertise and commercial seed capabilities with a leading soybean abiotic stress platform and unique grower relationships in South America represented by Verdeca LLC, a joint venture between Arcadia and Bioceres.

Under the collaboration, the companies will develop new soybean traits using Dow AgroSciences’ EXZACT™ Precision Technology platform to generate soybean trait stacks. These stacks will combine Verdeca’s agronomic performance and product quality traits with Dow AgroSciences’ herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant traits. The EXZACT Precision Technology platform will facilitate the development of multiple trait stacks with greater degrees of precision and speed-to-market. This collaboration is expected to result in products that provide soybean growers around the world with unique and powerful options to achieve greater yields and improved on-farm economics. Dow AgroSciences has developed the EXZACT Precision Technology platform under an exclusive license and collaboration agreement in plants with Sangamo BioSciences, Inc.

This advancement comes at a time when soybeans are grown on more than 110 million hectares globally and are the world’s fourth-largest crop. Growth in global population, combined with more people joining the middle-class in countries such as China and India, creates an ever-increasing demand for dietary protein from soybeans.

“Soybean farmers are looking for productivity, and this collaboration holds great promise for the technology we can offer them,” said Tim Hassinger, president and CEO of Dow AgroSciences. “Our own expertise, combined with Arcadia’s leadership position in abiotic stress traits and Bioceres’ strong relationship with large soybean growers, presents a unique opportunity for greater yields.”

“As more traits become available to be integrated into superior seed products, seed companies and trait collaborators face the challenge of deploying these solutions in a time-effective and cost-efficient manner. This collaboration will help us meet this challenge by deploying validated agronomic and crop protection technologies through the EXZACT platform, precisely stacking traits which could speed-up technology integration,” said Federico Trucco, CEO of Bioceres.

“Dow AgroSciences is one of the most respected names in our industry, with a traits pipeline that is second to none,” said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia Biosciences. “The open architecture of the Dow AgroSciences/Arcadia/Bioceres collaboration is the first of its kind, and represents the future of efficiently packaging and delivering a complete suite of high-value traits to growers.”

Sukup Manufacturing Acquires DanCorn

Sukup Manufacturing Co., a world leader in grain drying, storage and handling will acquire DanCorn, a leading dealer of the same in Denmark, as well as internationally. DanCorn is the exclusive distributer of Sukup products in all of northern Europe and is located in Hedensted, Denmark.

"As Sukup Manufacturing Co. has been able to expand and grow, our dealers have also grown bigger and shared in our success. DanCorn is an example of the benefit of a mutually strong and lasting partnership," stated Steve Sukup, CFO of Sukup Manufacturing Co.

This acquisition will be of significant benefit to both Sukup Manufacturing Co. and DanCorn A/S. Sukup Manufacturing is a continuously expanding company, growing over eight times since 2002.

DanCorn has experienced tremendous success with the introduction of Sukup (American) style grain drying and storage systems to Northern Europe, where this style is now considered the norm. DanCorn is looking to expand and develop their customer base, and with the new ownership by Sukup Manufacturing Co., they will have a renewed focus on increasing market growth throughout Northern Europe.

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27 Crop Progress and Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending April 26, 2015, rain fell over the weekend in many southern counties, including those in the lower Panhandle, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Southwestern, central and, northeastern areas remained mostly dry. Temperatures were below normal across the eastern two-thirds of the State, while near normal elsewhere. Planting progress was slow due to cool soil temperatures. There were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 25 short, 64 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 11 percent very short, 27 short, 60 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was at 16 percent, near 18 last year, and the five-year average of 17.  Winter wheat condition rated 14 percent very poor, 18 poor, 31 fair, 35 good, and 2 excellent. Winter wheat jointed rated 17 percent complete, ahead of 4 last year, but near 21 average.

Sorghum planted was at 1 percent, near 2 last year and equal to the average.

Oats condition rated 1 percent very poor, 8 poor, 29 fair, 61 good, and 1 excellent. Oats planted was at 95 percent, ahead of 88 last year and 81 average. Oats emerged was at 70 percent, ahead of 55 last year and 44 average.

Livestock Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 13 fair, 73 good, and 13 excellent.  Cattle and calf death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 64 average, and 36 light. Calving progress rated 90 percent complete.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 14 fair, 73 good, and 13 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 65 average, and 35 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 2 percent very short, 9 short, 86 adequate, and 3 surplus. Stock water supplies rated 4 percent very short, 11 short, 84 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Rain events and cool weather slowed planting in Iowa during the week ending April 26, 2015, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 2.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included manure hauling, tillage, anhydrous application, and limited planting.

Topsoil moisture levels improved to 0 percent very short, 10 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus. It was the first April week since 2011 with no topsoil rated very short. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2 percent very short, 14 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus.

Fourteen percent of the corn acreage has been planted, just ahead of last year, but 4 days behind the 5-year average. Farmers in central Iowa led the way with more than one-quarter of their corn crop planted. Eighty-five percent of the oat crop has been planted, almost two weeks ahead of last year, and 1 week ahead of average. Oats emerged reached 41 percent, 9 days ahead of last year, and 1 day ahead of normal. North central and northeast Iowa lagged behind, with only 22 and 23 percent of oats emerged, respectively.

Pasture condition improved to 56 percent good to excellent. Pastures continued to green up, though cool weather has slowed growth. Cattle and hog conditions were reported as good. Poultry producers were concerned with the recent outbreak of avian influenza.


Provided by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist
Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The past reporting week brought unseasonably cool weather throughout the week with the exception of far northwest Iowa where temperatures climbed above normal on Friday (24th). Freezes were widespread on Wednesday (22nd) and Thursday (23rd) mornings with scattered freezes on Tuesday (21st) and Saturday (25th) mornings. Temperatures fell as low as 23 degrees at Sibley on Wednesday morning, 22 degrees at Cresco, Decorah and Elkader on Thursday morning and 24 degrees at Elkader on Saturday morning. A hard freeze occurred as far south as the Missouri border o Thursday morning in valley bottom locations. On the other extreme, Friday afternoon temperatures reached 76 degrees at Hawarden and Sioux City. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from two degrees below normal over the far northwest to eight degrees below normal across the northeast one-third of Iowa. The statewide average temperature for the week was 6.2 degrees below normal. Meanwhile, there was some light rain across northeast and east central Iowa on Monday (20th) morning and also on Tuesday over parts of southwest and south central Iowa. However, nearly all of the week’s rain fell between Friday morning and Saturday morning with greatest amounts across the southern one-half of the state. Weekly rain totals varied from just a trace at Cherokee, Rock Rapids and Sheldon to 1.61 inches at Camanche (Clinton Co.). The state wide average precipitation was 0.54 inches while normal for the week is 0.93 inches. Soil temperatures at the four inch depth were averaging near fifty degrees as of Sunday (26th).

USDA Weekly Crop Progress - Corn Planters Start to Really Roll

Corn planting nationwide increased 10 percentage points during the week ended April 26 and 2% of the crop is emerged, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress and Conditions report released Monday.

This surge put corn planting two percentage points ahead of last year at this time, but progress remains 6 percentage points behind the five-year average. Emergence is 4 percentage points behind the average pace.

USDA reported soybean planting progress for the first time this growing season on Monday. Two percent of the nation's crop is in the ground, compared to 3% last year and a 4% five-year average.

Winter wheat is 28% headed compared to 16% last week, 17% last year and a 24% average. Winter wheat condition declined to 20% poor to very poor, compared to 19% last week.

Spring wheat is 55% planted and 9% emerged, compared to 17% and 4% last year and 29% and 9% on average. 

Cotton is 10% planted, compared to 8% last week, 12% last year and a 16% average. Rice planting is 39% complete compared to 32% last week, 43% last year and a 54% average. Rice is 26% emerged, compared to 17% last week, 24% last year and a 34% average.

Sorghum planting is 24% complete compared to 19% last week, 26% last year and a 25% average. Oats are 71% planted and 43% emerged, compared to 59% and 32% last week, 52% and 36% last year and 60% and 43% on average. Barley is 56% planted and 18% emerged, compared to 32% and 10% last year and 35% and 9% on average.

Monday April 27 Ag News

Cutworm Monitoring Network Gears Up
Michael Rethwisch, UNL Extension Educator

Nebraska Extension educators have organized a pheromone trapping network to monitor black cutworm and variegated cutworm moth activity across Nebraska during the 2015 planting season. Traps started being placed into service the week of April 14.

Traps are already being actively monitored in many locations, including Adams, Burt, Butler, Dixon, Hamilton, Johnson, Lancaster, Lincoln, Nemaha, Richardson, Saline, and Wayne Counties. Additional traps are expected to be placed into service very soon in Madison and Keith/Arthur counties.

So far this year black cutworm moths have not been detected in Nebraska, but variegated cutworm activity has been documented from Adams County east to the Missouri River, and as far north as Burt County. Butler County has had the highest number of variegated cutworms, recording over 30 moths April 15-21.  Variegated cutworm counts this week are lower than last week, in part due to colder night temperatures which limit moth flight activity.

Moth activity does not necessarily correspond with later cutworm caterpillar outbreaks, but serves as an early warning that cutworms may be present. Weedy fields are most at risk as the vegetation is conducive for egg-laying by moths and provides food for the hatching caterpillars. 

Moth counts will be available on CropWatch beginning the week of April 27.

For more information see Corn Cutworms (NebGuide G1153).

LENRD rule change will help producers while continuing to protect groundwater

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors met Thursday, April 23 for their monthly meeting.  During the meeting, a public hearing was held to receive public comment on the proposed changes to the LENRD’s groundwater management area rules and regulations.  After hearing testimony from several producers that wanted to develop new irrigated land, the Board approved the proposed changes to the rules.  The Board has been working with staff to modify the district’s rules to allow development of small tracts of land, up to 35 acres, through the district’s expedited variance process.

The new rule applies to producers who fall under either of two very specific categories.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “The LENRD board felt it important to approve a good cause variance process to address two very specific scenarios which the district encountered during our acre certification process.  One scenario deals with discrepancies discovered with some approved standard variances and the other scenario deals with landowners who were caught in between the rule changes and, through no fault of their own, investments were made and they were not able to complete their irrigation plans.”

Producers who feel they may qualify for a variance under one of the categories should contact the LENRD to apply.  Cooperators will need to provide sufficient evidence that their scenario falls under the good cause variance umbrella.

The district’s old rules didn’t allow for minor modifications when certifying irrigated acres.  Under the rule change, a new category, called a “Variance for Good Cause Shown” will be added to the District’s Expedited Variance Process.  Under this process, the General Manager is authorized to approve or deny applications to add irrigated acres for the situations described above, using a common sense approach.

Sousek added, “The LENRD board will continue to change and modify its groundwater rules and regulations in the future.  These changes will be determined as better science becomes available or when new issues arise, so the district can further develop more comprehensive management plans.  The goal of the LENRD is to promote groundwater development where it is sustainable, all while protecting current and future water users.”

The new rule becomes effective on May 11th, 2015.  To view the rules, please visit the LENRD’s website at, or visit the office in Norfolk at 601 E. Benjamin Avenue.

Watch for Seedling Diseases in Early Planted Corn

Tamra Jackson-Ziems, Nebraska Extension Plant Pathologist

Field conditions vary widely across Nebraska right now and may put early planted corn at added risk for seedling diseases. In some areas cool soil temperatures and episodes of recent rainfall are especially favorable for some of the most common and damaging seedling diseases; in other areas, field conditions are quite dry. Numerous seedling diseases can occur and take advantage of any of these conditions. Be sure to monitor seedling emergence and stand establishment in the coming weeks so that if problems occur, they can be detected as early as possible.

Healthy and seedling disease of corn plants

Seedling diseases can be caused by any of several common soilborne organisms, such as Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia or plant parasitic nematodes. Seedling diseases are often difficult to diagnose because their symptoms are very similar.  Sometimes diagnosis may be of limited value because management is the same for several seedling diseases.  Microscopic examination and other laboratory analyses of the diseased seedlings often can identify the cause(s) of the problems. Seedling diseases can be confused with insect injury, herbicide damage, planting problems, or environmental stresses that often have similar symptoms.  Some of the possible symptoms of seedling diseases are:
    Rotted seed prior to germination
    Rotted or discolored seedlings after germination prior to emergence
    Post-emergence seedling damping off  
    Root or hypocotyl decay 

At least 14 species of Pythium can cause seedling blight and root rot. These pathogens require excessive moisture because they produce motile swimming zoospores that infect plant roots. The pathogen overwinters in soil and infected plant debris by producing thick-walled oospores that can survive for several years in the absence of a suitable host or favorable weather conditions.

More than six Fusarium species can cause seedling diseases and root rots as well and several are common in Nebraska fields. Stressed plants due to weather extremes (temperature and moisture), herbicide damage, and physical injury are more prone to infection and disease caused by Fusarium species.

Rhizoctonia species also can cause seedling diseases, but tend to be more common in drier growing conditions.  Rhizoctonia tends to cause reddish-brown lesions (Figure 4) that can girdle and rot off roots.  Root and crown rot may be severe enough to cause seedling death.


Unfortunately, resistance is not available for seedling diseases in corn. Improved field drainage can help reduce the incidence and severity of some seedling diseases, as well as delaying planting until soil conditions are warmer and will promote rapid seed germination and emergence.  The most common disease management is through the use of seed treatment fungicides.

Crop rotation can provide some reduction in disease, but some pathogens also may infect soybean and other crops.

Most seed corn is already treated with more than one seed treatment fungicide, often an insecticide, and, sometimes with a nematicide. These products provide protection against some of the pathogens that cause seedling diseases, but can be overwhelmed, such as during extended periods of inclement weather or under severe pathogen pressure.

Some fungicides also are labeled for application in-furrow at planting. Use of fungicides in-furrow at planting may provide some additional protection against these pathogens in fields with severe pathogen pressure and chronic seedling diseases, but more research needs to be conducted to better predict their potential benefits and economic return.  

In Summary

Seed treatments will only provide protection during the first few weeks immediately after planting. You can minimize the likelihood of developing seedling diseases by planting high quality seed at appropriate planting depths and soil conditions to support rapid plant growth and emergence. 


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Alfalfa can use a lot of water.      With less irrigation water available, you may not be able to fully irrigate all your alfalfa acres.  So how do you make best use of the water available?

               Alfalfa uses water most efficiently during spring growth, requiring only four to five acre inches per ton of hay.  By mid-summer, though, it takes seven or eight inches to produce the same ton of hay.  By fall, that may drop again to five or six inches per ton.

               So to maximize yield with limited water, produce as much yield as possible during the first cutting or two, when water use efficiency is highest.  This could mean irrigating even before first cutting if rainfall is sparse during spring.

               What if you won’t receive any water until after first cutting?  Then irrigate as soon you get water if it will increase yield enough during second cutting. Then avoid irrigating alfalfa in the heat of summer when it is used poorly.  Wait to apply most of what is left after temperatures cool down later this year.  You might want to modify timing a little, though, to avoid having hay ready to cut near the end of September while it is winterizing.

               If you must decide on spreading water lightly across all acres or using heavier rates on fewer acres, I recommend heavier rates on fewer acres.  The first couple inches you apply just keep plants green without growing.  Once this maintenance moisture is met, then the rest produces growth.

               Whatever you decide, be sure to use limited water on your best land.  That is where plants will respond best to extra water.

               Tough times require tough decisions.  Let’s make the best ones.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to five probable cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in commercial poultry farms in Osceola, O’Brien and Sioux Counties in Northwest Iowa.  These five new cases would join three confirmed cases of the disease in Iowa. State officials have quarantined the premises and if the initial test are confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Osceola County 2 – Pullet farm with an estimated 250,000 birds.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

O’Brien County 1 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 240,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

O’Brien County 2 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 98,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Sioux County 1 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 1.7 million birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Sioux County 2 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 3.8 million birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.


    Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is an opportunity to recognize the important conservation practices placed on Iowa’s landscape and bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state’s soil and water resources.

    On Wednesday, April 22 Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation recognizing April 26 – May 3 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week on the Puetz farm in Plymouth County.

    “Soil and Water Conservation Week is a great opportunity to highlight the efforts all Iowans can do on their property, whether in town or on the farm, to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality in Iowa,” Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said.   “It is vital that we preserve these resources that help make Iowa agriculture so productive and such a key driver of our state’s economy.”

    Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is in coordination with the national Stewardship Week, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts.  This year’s Stewardship Week theme is “Local Heroes: Your Hardworking Pollinators.” Outreach activities and events will be held throughout the week.

    Officials with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will participate in a pollinator “Lunch and Learn” at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines on Wednesday, April 29 and an urban conservation tour in Calhoun County on Thursday, April 30.

    A wide variety of additional outreach activities and events will be held throughout the week.  To see full details of these and all events being held this week in Iowa, visit

Gov. Branstad Celebrates Iowa Dairy Farmers at Capitol Event

Governor Terry Branstad joined Midwest Dairy Council in recognizing Iowa dairy farmers and celebrating National Dairy Council’s 100th anniversary during an event Friday, April 17 at the Iowa State Capitol.

The event featured remarks from Governor Branstad and Lee Maassen of Maassen Dairy, recognizing the commitment of Iowa’s dairy farmers to the health and wellness of all Americans. The Governor also issued a proclamation declaring Thursday, April 16 “National Dairy Council Day” in Iowa, followed by a ceremonial “milk toast” to commemorate the occasion.

"Through its health and wellness initiatives, nutrition research and public advocacy, National Dairy Council has been a key driver for educating Iowans and the nation about the dietary benefits of dairy products and the importance of dairy to a healthy lifestyle,” said Governor Branstad. “It is my honor to congratulate and thank Iowa’s dairy farmers on their commitment and hard work.”

Since its founding in 1915, National Dairy Council has helped people live healthier lives by communicating the nutrient-rich value of dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt in an overall balanced diet. Guided by science, National Dairy Council brings to life a shared vision for a healthy, joyful and sustainable world and a dedication to healthy products, healthy people, healthy communities and a healthier planet – now and for future generations.

“Producing food for the world has been our passion for five generations and we wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” said Maassen, whose family has been farming in Sioux County for more than a century. “Dairy farms like ours are typically passed down from generation to generation, and we look forward to continuing the legacy of bringing nutritious dairy products to market and supporting our collective health and wellbeing for the next hundred years.”

Representatives from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Education also attended the event.

USDA: Total Red Meat Production Down in '14 From '13

Total red meat production for the United States totaled 47.4 billion pounds in 2014, 4 percent lower than the previous year.  Red meat includes beef, veal, pork, and lamb and mutton.  Red meat production in commercial plants totaled 47.3 billion pounds.  On-farm slaughter totaled 93.4 million pounds.

Beef production totaled 24.3 billion pounds, down 6 percent from the previous year.  Veal production totaled 100 million pounds, down 15 percent from last year.  Pork production, at 22.9 billion pounds, was down 1 percent from the previous year.  Lamb and mutton production totaled 161 million pounds, down slightly from 2013.

Commercial cattle slaughter during 2014 totaled 30.2 million head, down 7 percent from 2013, with federal inspection comprising 98.4 percent of the total.  The average live weight was 1,330 pounds, up 16 pounds from a year ago.  Steers comprised 51.8 percent of the total federally inspected cattle slaughter, heifers 28.2 percent, dairy cows 9.5 percent, other cows 8.6 percent, and bulls 1.8 percent.

Commercial calf slaughter totaled 565,800 head, 26 percent lower than a year ago with 98.5 percent under federal inspection.  The average live weight was 283 pounds, up 33 pounds from a year earlier.

Commercial hog slaughter totaled 106.9 million head, 5 percent lower than 2013 with 99.3 percent of the hogs slaughtered under federal inspection.  The average live weight was up 9 pounds from last year, at 285 pounds.  Barrows and gilts comprised 97.1 percent of the total federally inspected hog slaughter.

Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter, at 2.31 million head, was down slightly from the previous year with 91.1 percent by federal inspection.  The average live weight was unchanged from 2013 at 135 pounds.  Lambs and yearlings comprised 93.5 percent of the total federally inspected sheep slaughter.

Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas accounted for 49 percent of the United States commercial red meat production in 2014, unchanged from 2013.

By State  (million pounds, '14 total - '13 total)

Nebraska ......:         7,274.4    -    7,353.0
Iowa .............:         6,597.1    -    6,571.9
Kansas ..........:         5,074.6    -    5,388.1

There were 881 plants slaughtering under federal inspection on January 1, 2015 compared with 862 last year.  Of these, 654 plants slaughtered at least one head of cattle during 2014 with the 13 largest plants slaughtering 56 percent of the total cattle killed.  Hogs were slaughtered at 620 plants, with the 12 largest plants accounting for 57 percent of the total.  Likewise, 5 of the 200 plants that slaughtered calves accounted for 63 percent of the total and 3 of the 521 plants that slaughtered sheep or lambs in 2014 comprised 56 percent of the total head.   

Beef Checkoff Logs Record Number of BQA Certifications!

More than 2,100 producers from across the country became Beef Quality Assurance (BQA)-certified thanks to the recent offer from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI). That is the highest number in the program’s 4-year history, and means nearly 22,000 producers have taken advantage of this offer to sign up for the BQA certification program. Although the free certification period has passed, it’s never too late to proclaim your commitment to quality and become BQA-certified through your state trainings or online at

Kum & Go to Offer E15 Fuel Options in 2015

Today, Kum & Go announced that it will begin offering E15 as a fuel option. The first station, located at 7229 University Avenue in Windsor Heights, Iowa will open on April 30. Over the next two years, Kum & Go plans to make E15 available at more than 65 stores across Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. The EPA approved E15 for use in vehicles manufactured since 2001, however E15 is currently only available at 120 locations in the U.S.

E15 is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. It is the most widely tested fuel to ever be offered for sale in the United States. Since ethanol is cleaner and has a higher octane content than gasoline, E15 reduces the number of pollutants in fuel and produces less carbon emissions than regular gasoline. In addition, E15 is typically the less expensive option at the pump.

Kum & Go has been an industry leader in introducing alternative fuels. In the 1970’s, they were among the first to offer ten percent ethanol blends. Kum & Go expanded their fuel options to include E85 in 1997. Today, Kum & Go offers E85 at more than 160 locations across 11 states. Many stores also carry premium biodiesel blends and later this month Kum & Go will open their first Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station in Springdale, Arkansas.

“We have a strong tradition in our company to implement sustainability within our business and at our locations. From our 100 LEED-certified stores, to our selection of alternative fuels, E15 was a natural addition to our fuel offering,” said Jim Pirolli, Vice President of Fuels, Kum & Go. “Having E15 in our portfolio allows Kum & Go to offer our customers a quality product at a great value.”

Major Retail Chain Kum & Go Announces Launch of E15 Availability

First location will offer E15 on April 30 in Iowa, with plans for 65 total stations across 7 states over next two years

In response to the announcement today that Kum & Go, the fifth-largest, privately held and company-operated convenience store chain in the U.S., will be offering E15, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“We are thrilled to hear that Kum & Go will be offering E15, providing motorists with a choice and savings at the pump. Kum & Go prides themselves on their exemplary service and a drive to give the customer more than what they expect, and this latest announcement underscores their role as an innovator and leader in the convenience store marketplace. Furthermore, this announcement shows that customer demand for higher blends of homegrown, renewable fuels, such as E15, is growing and Kum & Go is taking the necessary steps to deliver what the marketplace demands and what the consumer wants.

“Kum & Go has always given back to the communities they serve, and by offering E15, they are not only providing a choice at the pump, but they are supporting American jobs, our rural economy and our environment by offering a cleaner burning fuel.

“Consumers are getting a higher octane, better performing fuel that burns cleaner and runs cooler in engines, which improves vehicle performance and can extend engine life. With E15, consumers are getting more for less when they fill up.

“Their decision to offer E15 clearly demonstrates the strength of consumer demand for higher ethanol blends such as E15. It proves once again that consumers will select a high performance, low cost fuel when given the choice. Kum & Go is clearly a leader in the fuel retail marketplace and is acutely in tune with what their customers want and need.

“E15 is the most tested fuel in history. The U.S. Department of Energy performed an exhaustive test of E15, driving 86 cars for over 6 million miles, and approving the fuel for use in all light duty cars and trucks model year 2001 and newer. E15 is currently available at over 120 retail locations in 18 states across the nation.”

NASCAR® and American Ethanol Celebrate Five Year Partnership

For five years and more than seven million miles, American Ethanol and NASCAR have worked together to increase horsepower and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the sport by 20 percent with Sunoco Green E15, a renewable fuel blended with American Ethanol.

“This has been a tremendous partnership,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “We are thrilled to help NASCAR in its green efforts and NASCAR’s high performance racing has been the perfect validator for E15, a cleaner burning fuel that is less expensive and has a higher octane content, which improves performance. Furthermore, since NASCAR switched to Sunoco Green E15 five years ago, we have seen a very a substantial change in the national dialogue regarding ethanol – when people see NASCAR rely on ethanol week after week in all three of its national racing series, they understand that it is a fuel that they can rely on as well. That is why this weekend we are unveiling a new American Ethanol paint scheme with E15 prominently located on the hood of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet SS,” said Buis.

Dillon, who has been advocating the benefits of ethanol for three years since NASCAR Race to Green™ began, will drive his first American Ethanol paint out of the 2015 racing season in Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 race at Richmond International Raceway.

“American Ethanol has stepped up to help our nation’s economy, but I really like the environmental contributions the homegrown fuel has made to the sport,” said Dillon. “I am proud to wear the American Ethanol colors in NASCAR and I hope I can bring them to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ in 2015.”

NASCAR is a leader in green initiatives, both on and off the track. In addition to reducing the sport’s environmental impact, NASCAR is empowering consumers to make environmentally conscious decisions in their daily lives by validating green technologies that are available at the pump and developing educational tools for fans. The most recent example is an online tool which allows fans to measure their carbon footprints.

“Away from the track the ethanol we use in our family cars cuts greenhouse gas emissions so well it’s equivalent to taking more than 20 million vehicles off the road. That’s a contribution to society that makes farmers proud, but E15 gives us a means to do even better,” said National Corn Growers Association President, Chip Bowling.

“E15 American Ethanol turns our unrivaled ability to produce corn into a national asset. Consumer demand for ethanol is good for family farmers and fans appreciate that. We have grown the 12 largest corn crops in history in the last 12 years so ethanol demand is critical. It means farmers can pay their bills, reinvest in the broader economy and keep family operations like mine viable for future generations.” 

“In 2011, we made the seamless transition to Sunoco Green E15 and it has proven to be safe and reliable under the most demanding competition conditions. The NASCAR Green platform is about empowering fans with information to help them make decisions about their own green behaviors, and American Ethanol has been a great partner to us in that regard. According to a 2014 study by Toluna, when compared to non-fans, NASCAR fans are more than 75 percent more likely to support the use of ethanol blended with gasoline to fuel their own car.”

E15 is the most tested fuel in history. The U.S. Department of Energy performed an exhaustive test of E15, driving 86 cars more than 6 million miles, and approving the fuel for use in all light duty cars and trucks model year 2001 and newer.

USDA Awards $3.8 Million in Grants for Nanotechnology Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced more than $3.8 million in funding to support grants focused on using nanotechnology to find solutions to societal challenges such as food security, nutrition, food safety, and environmental protection. The awards were made through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology embrace opportunities in a broad range of critical challenges facing agriculture and food systems" said NIFA director, Sonny Ramaswamy. "Advances in nanotechnology help secure a healthy food supply by enabling cost-effective methods for the early detection of insects, diseases, and other contaminants; improve plant and animal breeding; and create high value-added products of nano-biomaterials for food and non-food applications."

Past projects include a Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute venture that led to the development of a new nanotechnology that could keep bacteria from sticking to medical equipment and food processing machinery. A project from Harvard School of Public Health is investigating the effectiveness of a chemical-free, nanotechnology-based method for the inactivation of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms on the surface of fruits and vegetables.

Fiscal year 2014 projects include:
    The University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $496,192
    University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa., $496,180

    University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, Ky., $450,000
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $444,200
    North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $149,714
    Rutgers University, New Brunswick. N.J., $450,000
    Pennsylvania State University, University Park, University Park, Pa., $447,788
    West Virginia University, Morgantown, W. Va., $496,168
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis., $450,100

The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture. AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) bioenergy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.

CWT Assists with 1.2 Million Pounds of Cheese and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 8 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association who have contracts to sell 1.122 million pounds (509 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese and 85,980 pounds (39 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from April through October 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 28.878 million pounds of cheese, 24.388 million pounds of butter, and 8.739 million pounds of whole milk powder to twenty eight countries on five continents. The amounts of and butter in these sales contracts represent the equivalent of 879.062 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

NCGA Submits Comments to Federal Agencies Regarding Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems

Last week, the National Corn Growers Association submitted comments to both the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration about proposed rules regarding the commercial usage and privacy best practices of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

In the letter to DOT, NCGA notes that unmanned aerial systems have widespread potential applications for farmers, and will ultimately reduce costs, improve efficiency, and make farming operations more sustainable. For example, when scouting fields, an unmanned aerial system could provide real-time snapshots, taken from better vantage points that allow farmers to better spot and treat irregularities - all at a fraction of the cost and time it would take to do so on foot.

The letter also notes that UAS technology would "increase chances of early detection of irregularities, [and] farmers are able to treat specific areas of fields rather than mass application of inputs. This has many benefits, for both farmers and consumers: significantly lower operating costs; fewer inputs, such as pesticides and fertilizer; higher yields; and a reduced environmental impact."

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to issue a final rule regarding UAS later this year. In writing the final rules governing UAS, NCGA encouraged the FAA to embrace innovation and remain flexible as the technology continues to advance.

In a separate letter to the NTIA, NCGA called for strong rules protecting farmers' privacy and ownership of any data collected using UAS technology. The letter states, "We consider farm data to be proprietary information that is sensitive to a farmer's business and way of life. Any use of UAS, whether commercial, private, or governmental, over a farmer's land that results in data collection should come with explicit consent from the farmer."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday April 24 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.53 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2 percent from last year.  Placements during March totaled 440,000 head, up 7 percent from 2014. This is the largest number of placements for March since the data series began in 1994.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 395,000 head, unchanged from last year.  Other disappearance during March totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,305,000 on April 1, 2015, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. The inventory is up 1 percent from March 1, 2015, and up 3 percent from April 1, 2014. Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head had 670,000 head on feed, up 2 percent from last month but unchanged from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head had 635,000 head on feed, unchanged from last month but up 7 percent from last year.

Placements during March totaled 150,000 head, an increase of 2 percent from last month and up 24 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head placed 90,000 head, up 6 percent from last month and up 27 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head placed 60,000 head. This is down 3 percent from last month but up 20 percent from last year.

Marketings for March were 136,000 head, up 19 percent from last month but down 4 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head marketed 79,000 head, up 7 percent from last month and up 14 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head marketed 57,000 head, up 43 percent from last month but down 21 percent from last year. Other disappearance totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on April 1, 2015. The inventory was slightly above April 1, 2014. The inventory included 7.46 million steers and steer calves, up 5 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 69 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.34 million head, down 10 percent from 2014.

On Feed, By State  (1,000 hd, % of April 1, '14)

Colorado .....:        890     -      94     
Iowa ...........:        670      -     100    
Kansas ........:      2,110    -      101   
Nebraska ....:      2,530    -      102   
Texas ..........:      2,470    -       99     

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 1.81 million, slightly above 2014. Net placements were 1.74 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 365,000, 600-699 pounds were 275,000, 700-799 pounds were 449,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 720,000.

Placements, by State  (1,000 hd, % of March '14)

Colorado .....:        150      -      91       
Iowa ...........:          90       -    127      
Kansas ........:         410      -     105      
Nebraska ....:         440      -     107     
Texas ..........:         420      -      89      

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.63 million, 2 percent below 2014. March marketings are the lowest since the series began in 1996.  Other disappearance totaled 69,000 during March, 6 percent above 2014.

Marketings, by State (1,000 hd, % of March '14)

Colorado .....:      140     -      108     
Iowa ...........:        79      -      114     
Kansas ........:       370     -      107      
Nebraska ....:       395     -      100    
Texas ..........:       385     -       90     


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Oat pastures have increased in popularity in recent years.  They can reduce problems from drought and provide fast, early grazing.  Oat pastures can be very productive and last through early summer, but they also disappoint sometimes.  While we don’t know all we need to know, here are a few grazing recommendations that will help you succeed.

               Oats grows rapidly.  Once it gets five or six inches tall, it quickly can shoot up to a foot tall in almost no time.  As nice as this sounds, if initial oat growth gets that tall it may not stool out, tiller, and regrow after grazing very well.  So it’s important to start grazing early and to graze hard enough to keep your oats vegetative and leafy, thereby stimulating it to constantly form new tillers.

               So how early is early?  That’s hard to say, but if your animals start to first graze when oats get six to eight inches tall and they remove just half the growth it should recover rapidly and tiller well.  You probably will need to give your oats a couple weeks to regrow after this first grazing, though, before grazing again.

               After this first grazing stimulates tillering, keep oat regrowth between six and sixteen inches tall using either continuous or rotational stocking.  Begin with a light stocking rate, maybe about one animal every two acres.  Then adjust animal number as oat growth changes.  Don’t worry if a few plants head out.  But if many plants get tall and approach the boot stage, either stock heavily for one last hard graze-out grazing or consider cutting for hay.

               We will need to experiment a bit to perfect it, but oat grazing looks promising.

New Sulfur Fertilizer Recommendations for Iowa’s Planting Season

Sulfur Management for Iowa Crop Production, a new Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication, provides a summary of research efforts and guidance on sulfur fertilization and application needs. The 2005-2013 data comes from on-farm, small-plot and field-length strip trials in fields across Iowa.

Farmers, crop advisers, agricultural businesses and suppliers know that sulfur has not historically been an issue with crop production in Iowa. However, this recent research shows improved crop yield when applying sulfur fertilizer in many areas of Iowa, specifically with alfalfa and corn production.

“Spring is a good time for sulfur application before corn and soybean planting, or before alfalfa re-growth,” said John Sawyer, professor of agronomy and extension soil fertility specialist with Iowa State University. “This allows time to get the applied sulfur into the root zone. Rapid sulfur availability is especially important if early season plant growth is exhibiting deficiency symptoms and sulfur is sidedress applied in corn or applied after an alfalfa cutting.”

“Research suggests a more consistent corn yield response to sulfur fertilizer; compared to soybean yield response,” said John Lundvall, soil fertility research team member at Iowa State University. “Given current commodity price pressure and close scrutiny of input costs for the 2015 crop, a farmer planting 2015 soybean into a field with documented sulfur deficiency might be best-served delaying sulfur fertilizer application until after the 2015 soybean harvest but prior to planting the 2016 corn crop.”

Publication authors are John Sawyer, professor of agronomy and extension soil fertility specialist with Iowa State University; Daniel Barker, assistant scientist of agronomy at Iowa State University; and Brian Lang, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

For more information on related publications on soil fertility, go to the ISU Extension and Outreach Online Store at


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial turkey flock in Sac County, Iowa.   The facility has 34,000 turkeys and is within the 10 kilometer monitoring zone surrounding the initial HPAI case in Buena Vista County.  This is the third case of HPAI in Iowa.

    The flock has experienced increased mortality and samples have been sent to the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.  Preliminary results showed the birds positive for an H5 strain of avian influenza.  Samples were then sent to the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa to further confirm the findings.

    State officials quarantined the premise and birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected.

    The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world.  As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4)  Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus.

    The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken.

    These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

    All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.  Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at

Some Nations Begin Banning Midwest Poultry Imports

Some international trade partners are declining to buy egg and poultry products from Midwestern states that have been affected by a deadly strain of bird flu, while others are excluding imports only from counties where the virus has surfaced.

According to the Associated Press, countries like China, Russia, South Korea and Thailand have shut off all imports of poultry products from the United States. Mexico, Japan and Canada are among 33 countries declining to accept poultry products from entire states, including Iowa, the nation's leading egg producer, and Minnesota, the top turkey grower in the U.S.

Other countries, including Hong Kong, limit the ban to counties where the virus has been confirmed. Some countries - including Honduras, Kazakhstan and Qatar - require products to be heated to a temperature that will kill the virus before they'll accept poultry products.

The H5N2 virus has cost turkey and chicken producers over 7 million birds since early March. Federal agriculture officials say the food supply is safe.

Agricultural states are fighting to contain the virus. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency on Thursday to fight the H5N2 strain, a similar action taken earlier by Wisconsin.

American Farm Bureau Appeals Flawed Privacy Decision

The Environmental Protection Agency’s public release to environmental groups of personal details about the home locations and contact information of tens of thousands of farm and ranch families was unlawful. A lower court ruling that upheld the EPA action failed to address key privacy issues and should be reversed, according to court documents filed today by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bureau, along with the National Pork Producers Council, filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to overturn an earlier district court ruling. That ruling held, in part, that because some of the information had been posted online by state agencies, EPA was free to publicly release the same information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The brief to the appeals court states that there is no “merit to the (district court’s) suggestion that citizens lack a privacy interest in information that appears on the Internet. That theory is one that might appeal to George Orwell, but it is not one that has a basis in law or common sense.”

“Personal information is ubiquitous on the Inter­net; if the mere appearance of infor­mation on a website destroyed any con­tinu­ing privacy interest in that information, privacy would be dead. The Supreme Court’s FOIA prece­dents foreclose that conclusion,” the brief stated.

According to the brief, EPA’s disclosure of the requested information serves only one purpose: “to put in the hands of environmental activists informa­tion that will help them to investigate and harass family farms on their own, in their efforts to bring private lawsuits against family farmers.”

The brief states that “the disclosure of information such as names, ad­dres­ses, and other personal identifying information, like the data at issue, creates a pal­pable threat to privacy.”

In addition, the brief states that farms and ranches are inherently different from typical businesses in that information divulged typically leads to a home residence of a farm or ranch family.

“Most businesses’ mailing addresses lead to offices or factories; their telephones are an­swered by receptionists and secretaries; and their GPS coordinates point to parking lots or security-guard booths,” the brief states. “But family farms are funda­men­tally different -- or the great ma­jority of them, their businesses are their homes. Their driveways lead not only to their fields and their hen houses, but also to the swing sets where their children play. Their business telephone numbers are answered not by nameless receptionists in florescent-lit offices, but by their spouses in their family kitchens, and their children in their upstairs bedrooms.

“If anything, the fact that the disclosed information concerns farmers as both individuals and businesses is a greater reason to find the infor­mation pro­tect­ed, not the other way around.”

The EPA shocked the farming and ranching community in early 2013 when it publicly released a massive database of personal information about tens of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers, ranchers and their families in multiple states. The information was collected from state regulatory agencies and then distributed to three environmental groups that had filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The database included the names of farmers, ranchers and sometimes other family members, home addresses and GPS coordinates, home telephone numbers and personal emails.

“We wholeheartedly support government transparency, but we insist on protecting the privacy of farm and ranch families,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

Seventeen Trait Approvals Cap Wild Week for Biotech in Brussels

After expressing severe frustration with the European Commission’s proposal to allow EU member states to opt out of the import of food and feed containing biotechnology traits earlier in the week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed news out of Brussels today that the EU has approved 17 biotechnology traits for import. The traits, which include the Plenish and Vistive Gold high-oleic soybean varieties, as well as dicamba-tolerant and omega-3 soybeans, have been in the EU approval process for multiple years. ASA First Vice President Richard Wilkins, a soybean farmer from Greenwood, Del., noted the association’s guarded optimism about today’s news in a statement:

“On the one hand, we’re happy to see these traits finally receive Commission approval after years of delay. The 17 products approved by the European Commission today have been pending for 69 months on average despite EU laws and regulations that foresee an 18-month time period for a decision. Whenever our technology partners bring a new trait to market, farmers in the U.S. aren’t able to fully recognize the benefits of products with those traits until they are accepted in all of our key export markets, so this is a big, big step forward. We are especially pleased with the announcement with regard to high-oleic soybeans, which will give food processors the frying and baking qualities they need in an oil without the need for partial hydrogenation which produces trans fats. Additionally, dicamba-tolerant soybeans will give soybean farmers another tool to prevent and manage weed resistance in their fields.

“On the other hand, however, this announcement means little if the EU persists in its current unscientific and delayed approval process for new varieties developed through biotechnology. Today more than 40 additional GM applications for import, submitted by various companies, remain pending in the EU system.

“Additionally, the action taken by the EU Commission earlier this week that would allow each of the EU’s 28 member states to “opt-out” of allowing imports of a fully approved, safe GM product is a giant step backwards. We believe that if that proposal is adopted, it would be in clear violation of the EU’s obligations under the World Trade Organization and would negatively impact U.S. soy exports to Europe.

“Again, any time we see the progress of modern agricultural biotechnology furthered by an approval for import in a foreign market, that’s a step forward, and our farmers benefit. But on the whole, this week has shown that we still have a long way to go in Europe.”

Farm Bureau Alarmed by Politicization of EU’s Food Approval Process

The American Farm Bureau today praised the European Commission for its careful and scientific analysis in approving seventeen different genetically modified agricultural products for food and feed. The approval came in the face of fierce opposition by anti-science and anti-trade forces on the continent. Unfortunately, the EC today also undermined its principled position by recommending that individual states be permitted to opt out of importation or use of the products within their own borders. AFBF views this decision with alarm.

In addition to undercutting its own authority, the EC now runs the risk of violating its international trade obligations, undermining the role of science, and jeopardizing the foundation of the single market in Europe.

Nationalizing the EU decision-making process would fragment the single European market. If adopted, this proposal would hinder intra-European trade, leading to higher feed prices, a weaker livestock industry and an overall decrease in consumer welfare.

This proposal would have major effects on GM crop exporters such as the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Argentina, which would lose important customers and face increasing uncertainty in European markets to which they still had access.

Farm Bureau strongly urges the European Parliament to consider the significant impact this legislative proposal would have on the European Union and its trading partners alike. This proposal represents a step backward for trade, science and freedom.

Five Nations Beef Alliance Urges Negotiators to Secure High Quality TPP Deal

Representatives from the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) are in Maryland this week pressing the need for substantial trade liberalization via the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

With the TPP negotiations seeming to be approaching the ‘end game’, discussions over the next few days will be critical given the negotiators are aiming to narrow the outstanding issues prior to a hoped for TPP Ministerial meeting in May.

FNBA members are urging TPP negotiating teams to hold firm and deliver an agreement that will make it easier to do business, establish fair trade rules and reduce costs.

Beef producers are particularly adamant that any TPP outcome must provide new and substantial market access opportunities.

Consumers around the world have a growing appetite for high quality beef products. However, responding to this demand is often stifled by a range of tariff and non-tariff barriers. The TPP offers an opportunity to remove these trade barriers.

However, for this vision to be realized, TPP members must step up to the plate and make genuine commitments to expeditiously liberalize the trade in beef.

Maintaining the status quo is not an option. Beef producers cannot accept this outcome, and neither can the beef supply chain, or our highly valued customer base.

The desire to improve the global trade environment is what brought beef producers from five competing nations together. The TPP has the potential to join 12 nations together - and in so doing provide better access to food supplies for around 800 million people.

Now is the time to secure a game changing, trade enhancing deal.

As US President Obama said2 in relation to the TPP: “It is our chance to put in place new, high standards for trade” and to “lower barriers, open markets, export goods and create good jobs for our people”.

The FNBA concurs.  The FNBA comprises the Cattle Council of Australia; Canadian Cattlemen’s Association; Confederacion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas (Mexico); Beef + Lamb New Zealand; and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (USA).

House Ways and Means Committee Passes TPA Legislation

Last night, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Trade Promotion Authority legislation (H.R. 1890) by a bi-partisan vote of 25 to 13. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and Chugwater, Wyo. cattleman Philip Ellis issued the following statement upon passage:

“We appreciate the House Ways and Means Committee’s efforts to pass this legislation following Senate passage last evening. As we have repeatedly stated, trade is critical to the success and future profitability of our industry and TPA is critical to negotiating future free trade agreements. Cattlemen urge swift passage of this legislation by the full House and Senate.”

ASA Looks Ahead as TPA Bill Emerges from House, Senate Committees

Following the passage of a bill by the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee that would grant trade promotion authority to President Barack Obama, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is calling on both chambers to pass the bill and give the administration what it needs to forge ahead with key trade agreements around the globe.

“Agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and others that expand market access are of vast importance to American soybean farmers as we look to maintain our position at the vanguard of the world’s agricultural trade, however we can’t conclude agreements without trade promotion authority. That’s always been step one,” said Wade Cowan, ASA president and a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas.

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act was introduced last week by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The measure passed the Senate committee late Wednesday, and the House committee late Thursday, and will head to the floors of both chambers potentially as early as next month, per indications from House and Senate leadership.

“This bill is something that both sides of the aisle have come together on,” added Cowan. “It’s a bipartisan bill that hears the concerns of Right and Left, of multiple industries and of multiple constituencies, including our nation’s soybean farmers. It gives USTR the bandwidth it needs to get the best deal possible for American farmers and businesses, and it provides Congress the involvement and oversight it needs to ensure each deal works for everyone. It is a piece of legislation that both the Senate and the House should take up and pass as quickly as possible.”

Trade promotion authority is among the top policy priorities for ASA in the 114th Congress. Soybean farmers, who exported over half their crop with an export value of $30.5 billion in 2014, are the largest agricultural exporters in the U.S.

NCGA Applauds House Ways and Means for Advancing Trade Promotion Authority

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded members of the House Ways and Means Committee who voted to advance the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015) out of committee Thursday evening and urged Congress to quickly pass the bill.

“Thank you to the House Ways and Means Committee members who voted to advance Trade Promotion Authority out of committee and keep this important legislation moving forward,” said NCGA president Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland.

“Trade Promotion Authority will help the U.S. to reach major international trade agreements that support American farmers, businesses, and rural communities. It’s time to act. We urge the Senate and House to bring this legislation to a floor vote as soon as possible.”

Global Soybean Stakeholders Monetize Biotech-Approval Delays

A new white paper shows that a three-year postponement in global approval of biotech-enhanced soybean traits any time in the next 10 years would cost farmers and consumers a total of nearly $19 billion, compared with typical approval timelines.

This new research was released during a recent International Soybean Growers Alliance (ISGA) mission. Farmer-leaders from the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay met with Chinese governmental officials and influencers to discuss the economic implications of these delays for global producers and consumers of soy.

“It’s no secret that soy is part of a global market,” says Bob Haselwood, United Soybean Board (USB) chairman and soybean farmer from Berryton, Kansas. “We need a coordinated effort across North America, South America and China to work toward timely international approvals for new biotech traits to grow a safe, reliable and abundant food supply that is profitable for both producers and consumers.”

Farmers in large soy-exporting countries that quickly adopt new technology — the U.S., Brazil and Argentina — and consumers in large importing countries —China and the nations in the European Union — have the most to lose from delayed approvals, according to the white paper.

“The global supply chain is a powerful economic engine that benefits not only farmers and consumers, but stakeholders at each stage in between,” says Wade Cowan, American Soybean Association (ASA) president and soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas. “It is a point of pride for U.S. soybean farmers that the beans we grow produce an entire secondary economy of jobs in the U.S. and in each of our export markets. We’re also proud that our beans play such a key role in supporting economies as their citizens demand more meat protein, as is the case in China. Those benefits, however, can’t take place if the approvals process breaks down, and that’s why we’re over here, working to ensure that we have a system that works for both the Chinese and their import partners in the U.S. and South America.”

As an example of important biotech approvals that farmers might need in the near future, the study examined herbicide-tolerance traits and analyzed the effects of approval delays through 2025.

Regulatory delays have real costs for society. For example, when new biotech herbicide-tolerant varieties are not approved in a timely manner, farmers continue to incur increased weed-control costs, potential yield losses and reductions in acreage. Some farmers may see greatly increased production costs or be forced out of farming entirely. At the same time, higher prices and reduced supplies strain consumers.

“Timely, science-based approvals are crucial in ensuring increased productivity to meet global supply demands,” says Laura Foell, U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) chair. “This mission provided an opportunity for the world’s largest soy producers and consumers to learn that resolving approval delays will benefit everyone along the supply chain.”

The white paper, The Potential Economic Impacts of Delayed Biotech Innovation in Soybeans, was developed in conjunction with ISGA members, by researchers Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Kenneth A. Zahringer and Jon Kruse at the University of Missouri.

NCGA Moves Put New Emphasis on Market Development and Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association today announced changes to strengthen the organization’s efforts to build new corn market demand.  NCGA will begin an immediate search for a Vice President of Market Development, who will be responsible for managing marketing initiatives to build demand for ethanol, livestock feed, biobased products and food uses of corn.

"Farmers constantly work to increase yields using fewer resources,” said NCGA CEO Chris Novak.  “Looking to the future and continued productivity increases from our corn farmers, we need to be looking for new markets to create sustainable opportunities for today’s farm families.”

As a part of a restructure that brings greater focus on building corn demand, NCGA announced additional personnel changes:

·       Fred Stemme is promoted to Vice President of Marketing and Operations as he takes over new management responsibilities;

·       Paul Bertels will continue to serve the organization as Vice President of Production and Sustainability; and

·       Rodger Mansfield is stepping down after 19 years of service to the organization.

“Sustainable corn production is a major priority for food chain partners and consumers,” added Novak.  “NCGA’s work with Field to Market and the new Soil Health Partnership both provide an important foundation for enhancing our sustainability.  Bertels’ background as a farmer, economist and conservationist makes him ideal to lead new efforts that can assist producers in meeting the expectations of our customers and consumers.”

NCGA President Chip Bowling, a Maryland corn farmer, said the organizational changes come at a critical time for corn farmers.

“As I talk to farmers across the country, they are concerned whether today’s market prices will rise to cover the cost of production, whether they will have operating capital available, and what the future holds for their sons and daughters who may want to come back to the farm,” Bowling said. “I believe that our renewed commitment to building corn demand and enhancing sustainability are the steps that are needed to help my fellow producers and me weather today’s market challenges.”

The announced changes will go into effect immediately.  Details regarding the new Vice President of Market Development position will be available soon at

Rabobank Releases Pork Forecast Report

In its Q2 report, Rabobank says the global pork industry searched for stability during Q1 2015, with strong supply growth and relatively weak demand driving the market.

Pork prices are sharply lower, as robust global supply growth driven by the U.S., Russia and Brazil has outpaced rather subdued demand, dragging producer profitability into negative territory.

Rabobank animal protein analyst Albert Vernooij says: "The increasing competition in the global export market will result in continuous price and margin pressure in most countries around the globe. Therefore, after the buoyant-at least price-wise-last couple of years, the global pork industry is slowly moving towards the bottom of the cycle."

In the U.S., as supply recovers after PEDv, the question is as to what degree recovery will be coupled with the strengthening U.S. dollar and lower prices.

The EU could see prices will follow seasonal developments, but will remain lower than the historical average and below break-even level.

Summit to Cover Livestock Profitability, Farm Security, Animal Ag Policies

There's still time to register for the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 2015 Stakeholders Summit, themed "The Journey to Extraordinary." At the Summit, set for May 6-7 in Kansas City, Mo., expert speakers and panelists will discuss a variety of topics critical to the future of animal agriculture, including livestock profitability, farm security and state, federal and global policy trends impacting the industry.

Summit sessions will include:
-- Fueling Livestock Profitability, featuring Kaleb Little, communications manager, National Biodiesel Board and Alan Weber, economist and founding partner, MARC-IV. This session will cover the economics of livestock production and offer innovative strategies to remain profitable into the future.

-- Around the World in 90 Days -- Policies Influencing Our Journey with Brian Klippenstein, executive director, Protect the Harvest and Dr. Travis Arp, director of technical services, U.S. Meat Export Federation. Klippenstein and Arp will bring the audience up to speed on current U.S. and international policies, respectively.

-- Protecting Our Nation's Food Supply presented by Jared Miller, domestic terrorism intelligence analyst, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Agri-Terrorism Unit. In this session, attendees will learn about the FBI's steps to anticipate and prevent agri-terrorism incidents on U.S. farms and how they can strengthen security measures on their own operations.

"We're very excited about the lineup of speakers and panelists we have assembled," said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. "There is truly something for everyone who is connected to animal agriculture. If your business deals with the production of meat and poultry, this year's Summit is the one event you will not want to miss. I am confident that our attendees will walk away with a wealth of new ideas and immediately applicable tactics to take home and implement in their barn, plant or office."

The Summit is a one-of-a-kind conference, ideal for networking across sectors of the food chain as it is attended by a diverse group of decision makers, including representatives from farms, ranches, food processors, restaurants, grocery stores, legislators, universities and government agencies. The 2015 event, set in Kansas City, Mo., will be the first edition of the Summit held outside of the Washington, D.C., area.

This year's event will explore animal agriculture's continuous efforts to embrace new technologies that will help feed a growing population while measuring sustainability, engage consumers in innovative ways to bridge the knowledge gap, and highlight initiatives that demonstrate agriculture's commitment to transparency.

Registration for the one-and-a-half day event is $425 for Alliance members and $475 for non-members; $375 for those in government or academia. Media and students interested in registering should contact Hannah Thompson. Registration is open through May 4. Registration materials and a full event schedule can be found on the Summit website.

This year, the Summit will be held at the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. Our event room block at the Intercontinental is sold out. For help with hotel arrangements, call the Alliance at 703-562-1414 by April 24.

As always, the Alliance's Stakeholders Summit will be social! Be sure to follow the hashtag #AAA15 for updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-1411.

Current 2015 sponsors include U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, Vance Publishing, Meatingplace, the Farm Credit System, Watt Global Media, Elanco Animal Health, American Feed Industry Association, United Soybean Board, Iowa Soybean Association, National Biodiesel Board, Protect the Harvest, American Veal Association, National Turkey Federation, National Cattleman's Beef Association, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, National Chicken Council, GMO Answers, Food Industry Environmental Network, Kemin, Kansas Livestock Association, Brakke Consulting, AgriBeef, Kansas Farm Bureau, Dairy Max, GNP Company, the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, North Carolina Farm Bureau and other partners.


When Monsanto opened its search for the 2015 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year, the company knew it would get a lot of fantastic nominations. This year, though, the judging was particularly difficult because of all the amazing women who were entered. Today Monsanto, along with the American Agri-Women (AAW) are proud to announce its new 2015 class of regional winners. Beginning today, America can begin voting online for one of these women to be named “National Farm Mom of the Year.”

“Every year we receive such heartfelt nominations about people’s favorite Farm Mom,” says Tracy Mueller, corporate brand manager for Monsanto. “But this year, we’ve especially been overwhelmed by the number and quality of the entries we received. These women have different backgrounds and ways they contribute, but one thing was always clear – their strength, perseverance and dedication to their families, farms, communities and the industry they love.”

The 2015 regional winners of the America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest, include:

    Northwest Region: Shelly Davis (Albany, Ore.)
    Southwest Region: Shelley Heinrich (Lubbock, Texas)
    Midwest Region: Sara Ross (Minden, Iowa)
    Northeast Region: Amy Kelsay (Franklin, Ind.)
    Southeast Region: Megan Seibel (Roanoke, Va.)

Each regional winner will receive a $5,000 award. Their biographical information and original nomination is currently posted online at, where visitors can click to vote for their favorite farm mom based on the judging criteria provided in the contest rules. The woman who receives the most votes between April 24 and May 5 will be named the “National Farm Mom of the Year” -- just in time for Mother’s Day. As a bonus, she will also receive an additional $5,000 prize.

“It was such an honor to read about all of the amazing farm moms and learn about all they do for their families and communities,” says Donnell Scott, of American Agri-Women. “AAW is pleased to be a part of this recognition program.”

For a list of winners, past or present winner profiles or official contest rules, visit Interested parties may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to America's Farmers Mom of the Year, Attn: Sue Dillon, 349 Marshall Ave., Ste. 200, St. Louis, MO 63119.