Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday May 29 Ag News

LENRD Chemigation Permits Due June 1

Farmers planning to chemigate during the 2015 growing season must renew chemigation permits by June 1 to meet state deadline requirements, according to LENRD Water Resources Specialist, Curt Becker.

To legally chemigate in Nebraska, an operator must be certified to apply chemicals and obtain a chemigation permit from their local NRD.

Chemigation renewal permits cost $20 and must be submitted to the LENRD.  An irrigation system that has not been renewed prior to the June 1 deadline cannot apply chemicals through the system until a new permit is obtained.  New chemigation permits cost $50 and the applicant cannot use the system until it passes a mandatory inspection.

Also, applicants must list a certified applicator and obtain their signature on the application form.  Becker stated, "In order to be certified, a person must complete a chemigation safety course and pass an exam once every four years."

If chemigating is necessary, on short notice, emergency permits can be obtained at a cost of $250.  Irrigation systems meeting chemigation law standards will then be allowed to operate after two working days of application.

Approximately 1,916 chemigation permits were approved by the LENRD in 2014.  For more information contact Curt Becker or Vickie DeJong at the LENRD office. For general information on chemigation, see the links below....

UNL Chemigation Page:
NDEQ Chemigation Page:
LENRD website:

Tour of Wheat Variety Trials scheduled for June 11

Are you looking for a positive cover crop experience, improved soil quality and health, reduced soil erosion, a place to haul manure in the summer, a breakup of the weed cycle, diversification of your corn and soybean rotation, an opportunity to receive additional cost share funding for conservation work? Then look no further than growing winter wheat according to Keith Glewen and Nathan Mueller, Nebraska Extension Educators.

Nebraska Extension will be hosting a wheat plot tour on Thursday evening, June 11 at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) near Mead. The tour will start at 6:30 p.m. at the ARDC Agronomy Research site located ½ mile west of County Road 6 and H in Saunders County.

Dr. Stephen Baenziger, UNL Wheat Breeder and Dr. Stephen Wegulo, Extension Plant Pathologist will walk growers through winter wheat variety development plots. Supper will be served following the tour at the ARDC Christenson Research and Education Building.

Wheat variety trials in Nebraska are made possible in-part through funding provided by the Nebraska Wheat Board.

For more information regarding the tour, contact Keith Glewen at 402-624-8005, or Nathan Mueller at 402-727-2775,

Nebraska Valuation Change Notices Being Sent

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, reminds property owners that real property Notices of Valuation Change will be sent by county assessors on or before June 1.

If there was an increase or decrease to the assessed valuation of a real property parcel from 2014 to the 2015 assessed value, the county assessor is required to send a notice of valuation change to the property owner of record as of May 20.

If a property owner disagrees with the assessed value, whether or not a notice of valuation change has been received, a protest may be filed with the county board of equalization. The valuation protest may be filed in person or by mail with the county clerk in the county where the property is located, on or before June 30. Requirements for filing a protest are on the Notice of Valuation Change.

For more information regarding filing a protest, please contact the county clerk where the property is located. County contact information is available at, under "Featured Information."

For further information, see the Real Property Valuation Protest Information Guide and Property Valuation Protest Forms 422 or 422A.

Celebrate the Reasons Why Dairy Makes Sense

More than 75 years since the annual celebration began, June Dairy Month continues to recognize dairy foods and the farmers who produce them. Beginning in 1937, the observance was created as a way to help distribute extra milk when cows started on pasture in the summer months. June Dairy Month’s rich history continues, with communities, companies and people from all over celebrating the many reasons why dairy makes sense for families and the environment.

Not only do dairy foods taste great, but they are good for your health and your budget. Plus, they’re produced by dairy farmers with a longstanding commitment to sustainability. To better understand dairy’s benefits, consider the following:

Dairy is a Nutrient Powerhouse: Dairy foods are full of vitamins and minerals and help build strong bones and healthy muscles, control blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Dairy Provides More for Your Money: At about 25 cents per 8-ounce serving, milk is a bargain, especially when you consider all the nutrients inside. “Dairy is a wise investment for your family,” says Midwest Dairy Association registered dietitian Stephanie Cundith. “No other food group delivers as much nutrition in such an affordable, flavorful and convenient way.”

Dairy Farmers Are Committed to Sustainability:  8,000 Midwest dairy farm families work 365 days a year to ensure nutritious milk and dairy foods are available now and in the future while using a variety of conservation practices and on-farm efficiencies to reduce their environmental impact.

To celebrate June Dairy Month, get to know a farmer by attending a June Dairy Month event in your state or meet a Midwest dairy farm family online. Also, aim for three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy every day, which is the amount recommended for people ages nine and older in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Start by finding a new dairy recipe to prepare, such as this Chocolate Berry Smoothie made with Greek yogurt and chocolate milk. For more dairy recipes, and dairy nutrition and farming information, visit

Celebrate Iowa's Dairy Industry this June

Iowa’s dairy farmers deliver a wholesome and nutritious supply of milk and dairy products every day. June, national dairy month, is the perfect time to celebrate their contribution to human health and the state’s economy. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and dairy partners want Iowan’s to learn about dairy farming first-hand at open houses scheduled around the state.

“Our goal is to create an understanding and appreciation for dairy, including the care and well-being of animals, the stewardship of our land and resources, and finally, the commitment to high quality, nutritious, and safe dairy products,” said Leo Timms, Morrill professor of animal science and Extension dairy specialist with Iowa State University.  “We’re giving visitors an opportunity to get inside a dairy barn farm and experience modern dairy practices.”

Timms said the goal is for consumers to learn about local dairy products and the work it takes to make Iowa twelfth in the nation for milk production. Iowa produces 4.6 billion pounds of milk per year.

Dairy is the fifth largest agricultural business in Iowa, generating nearly $5 billion a year in economic activity from farming and dairy processing to local businesses and schools. There are about 1,370 dairy farms and 207,000 dairy cows in the state, with 98 percent of the state’s farms family-owned. Putting these numbers together, each dairy cow generates $25,000 of local economic activity.

The June open houses include face-to-face conversations with dairy producers and on-farm milking demonstrations. Activities vary by location and may include a meal or samples of dairy products, child friendly area to meet calves and visit educational exhibits, guided farm tour allowing families to milk a cow and see robotic milking machines.

Dairy open houses
-    Friday, June 5, 6-11 a.m. – ISU Dairy Farm  and Ag Discovery Center Open House, 52470 260th St., near Ames.
-    Saturday, June 20, 8:30 a.m.-Noon – 6th Annual Breakfast on the Farm at Iowa’s Dairy Center, 1527 Hwy 150 South, near Calmar.
-    Thursday, June 25, 4-7 p.m. – 8th Annual Western Iowa Dairy Alliance Open House — Dykstra Dairy, 34450 C-12, near Maurice, at the corner of Hwy B58 and Grant Avenue.

Events are held in partnership with the Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Dairy Association, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, Northeast Iowa Community College and various agriculture and commodity group sponsors and supporters in the local communities.

Visitors are asked to take precautions and follow biosecurity policies if they have been at another livestock operation. Those who have recently returned from a trip abroad are asked to wait five days before visiting farms with animals. Visitors are asked to change clothing and footwear if going from farm to farm and to refrain from bringing any food items to the farm. For more information, contact the farm manager of the dairy operation or one of the dairy specialists.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to two probable cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Wright and Sac counties.  The Department has quarantined the premise and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Wright 5 - A pullet farm with an estimated 400,000 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.

Sac 7 – Turkey farm with an estimated 42,000 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.

As the Department receives final confirmations of the disease updated information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at

Nebraska Farm Bureau Regarding EPA Action on Renewable Fuels Standard

President Steve Nelson

“We are disappointed in today’s announcement by EPA regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard. EPA’s failure to meet the biofuels blending objectives under the Renewable Fuels Standard as outlined by Congress doesn’t just affect Nebraska farmers, but other hard working Nebraskans.”

“Nebraska ranks second in U.S. ethanol production and with that production comes jobs and opportunities that have helped grow Nebraska’s rural and broader state economy. One doesn’t have to look any further than to the recent study by the University of Nebraska, which estimates the value of ethanol to Nebraska at roughly $5 billion per year.”

“EPA’s action is a step in the wrong direction and ignores the benefits ethanol and biofuels have provided, including lower gasoline prices for consumers while also reducing our reliance on foreign oil and providing environmental benefits.” 

“We look forward to providing comments on the proposal and working with Congress and the Administration on advancing utilization of our renewable fuel resources.”


The EPA today released targets for the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard, which determines how much ethanol will be blended into the nation’s gasoline supplies. The new requirements for 2015-2016 are 16.3 billion and 17.4 billion gallons – significantly short of the standard mandated by Congress. The EPA proposal will be open for comment beginning July 27 with a final rule expected by Nov. 30.

Smith Reacts to EPA’s Biofuels Announcement

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) numbers for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“I am disappointed with the numbers released today by the EPA,” Smith said.  “Record harvests show the supply exists, but excessive government regulation continues to prevent this clean, efficient and affordable fuel source from reaching consumers.  Ironically, the EPA is blaming ‘constraints in the fuel market’ for its decision.

“In April, I introduced H.R. 1736 to expand consumer choice at the fuel pump.  This legislation would extend to E15 the same waiver from EPA volatility standards already granted to E10, allowing all blends of ethanol to be sold year-round.  The USDA also announced plans this week to make a large investment in blender pumps.  These are exciting opportunities to boost biofuel production in our country, and the EPA must stop undermining these efforts with excessive red tape.”

Smith introduced H.R. 1736 in April to expand the existing waiver of EPA regulations related to the Reid vapor pressure of motor vehicle fuel to include E15 gasoline in addition to E10.


“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to disappoint. Today’s announcement to reduce the Renewable Fuels Standard volume requirements undermines years of forward momentum toward reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The ethanol industry has already shown it can meet the requirements of the law for conventional ethanol.

“On the heels of the Waters of the U.S. announcement, it shows just how out of touch the Administration is with what our rural communities need to thrive.

“I encourage farmers and other ethanol sector advocates to make their voices heard on this subject before the July 27 deadline.”

Comments on EPA's RFS Announcement Friday

Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement following the EPA releasing the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). RVOs are set annually by EPA to dictate the amount of renewable fuel that is blended into the motor fuel supply.  The EPA’s full proposal can be found at

“First of all, I think it is important to say that delayed release of the 2014 and 2015 RFA requirements by EPA is inexcusable.  The intent of the law, passed with strong bipartisan support, was to increase the usage of clean, homegrown, renewable fuels.  It is critically important the EPA get back on track.  We need a strong RFS to encourage retailers to invest in the infrastructure necessary to make renewable fuels available to customers. The release today of the 2016 RVO is a good first step, but we have lost an opportunity to really encourage access to higher blends the last two years.

“While the RVO numbers released today are an improvement on the initial proposal, they don’t restore the levels required by law and continue to use questionable justifications for not meeting the levels required by law.

“The release of this proposal starts another comment period so it is important that Iowans take advantage of that opportunity and again make sure their voice is heard.  More than 10,000 comments opposing EPAs initial proposal helped us get to this point, so I hope Iowans will again review the proposal and share their thoughts with EPA.”

ASA Responds to EPA’s Proposed RFS Volume Requirements for Biodiesel

The Environmental Protection Agency released today its Proposed Rule to establish the volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard, including the volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. EPA proposes setting the biomass-based diesel volumes at the following levels:

    2014 – 1.63 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel, 2.68 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuels
    2015 – 1.7 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel, 2.9 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuels
    2016 – 1.8 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel, 3.4 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuels
    2017 – 1.9 billion gallons of Biomass-based Diesel

The volumes proposed by EPA are certainly an improvement over the previous proposal, which would have set the Biomass-based Diesel requirements at 1.28 billion gallons for 2014 and 2015. The increases proposed by EPA will provide some benefit and certainty to the domestic biodiesel industry and to soybean growers who supply much of the feedstock. However, the proposed volumes do not fully recognize or capitalize on the capacity and further growth potential of U.S. biodiesel.

American Soybean Association President Wade Cowan noted that ASA believes the EPA and the Obama Administration could do more to capitalize on additional benefits that could be achieved with more robust biomass-based diesel volumes, however he welcomed the release of the Proposed Rule and expressed the association’s hope that this action is a further sign of a return to schedule on the implementation of the RFS.

“Again, we are glad to see the volumes for biomass-based diesel increased above the previous proposal. Biodiesel provides significant economic and environmental benefits and we have the capacity to do more,” Cowan said. “The administration wants to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and biodiesel - a domestically produced, renewable fuel that is proven to achieve emissions reductions up to 86 percent better than petroleum diesel - can contribute more to that effort.”

There will be a 60 day public comment period and EPA intends to finalize the rule by November 30, 2015.

“We’re hardly done fighting for biodiesel,” Cowan added. “As we have in the preceding months and years, ASA will continue to point out the benefits and importance of this critical market for soybean farmers.”

By law, EPA is supposed to finalize biomass-based diesel volumes 14 months in advance of the applicable year, making the agency significantly overdue in setting the volumes for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“ASA will continue to work, along with the U.S. biodiesel industry, to support the RFS and to highlight the many benefits that biodiesel provides to the nation, to rural communities, and to soybean growers,” Cowan added.

Biodiesel Industry Welcomes Renewable Fuels Proposal

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) voiced measured support Friday for the EPA’s proposal to increase volumes for biodiesel and other Advanced Biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) while calling for improvements in the final rule.

“This proposal is a significant step in the right direction,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “It is not perfect, but it will get the U.S. biodiesel industry growing again and put people back to work. I want to thank Administrator McCarthy and Secretary Vilsack for restoring growth to the program and for their commitment to renewable fuels.”

“Biodiesel has proven that Advanced Biofuels can do just what we said they would, which is create jobs and strengthen our energy security while significantly cutting harmful pollution from petroleum,” Jobe said. “Biodiesel has displaced more than 8 billion gallons of petroleum diesel in the U.S. over the last decade. That is an incredible achievement, and we will build on that success under the proposal the EPA released today.”

“However, more can be done, and we particularly look forward to working with the administration on strengthening biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 during the comment period in the coming weeks,” Jobe said.

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet the EPA’s definition as an Advanced Biofuel - meaning the EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel.

Biodiesel falls under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuels category. The EPA proposal, which is slated to be finalized in November, would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. Because of biodiesel’s higher energy content, this would count as 2.95 billion ethanol equivalent gallons under the RFS. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion ethanol equivalent gallons in 2016. NBB had requested more aggressive growth to a biodiesel standard of 2.7 billion gallons by 2017, along with additional growth in the overall Advanced Biofuel category.

In its initial proposal in November 2013, the EPA called for holding the biodiesel standard flat at 1.28 billion gallons through 2015 – an effective cut from actual annual production in 2013 and 2014 of about 1.8 billion gallons.

“Biodiesel is one of the most practical, cost-effective means we have for cutting carbon emissions in the transportation sector, and there is no doubt that the industry can exceed the EPA’s proposed volumes in a sustainable way using domestic resources,” Jobe said, noting that the EPA’s proposal for 2017 is only slightly higher than the actual biodiesel production of 1.8 billion gallons in over the last two years. “It is imperative that we get it right. This is a critical component of President Obama’s pledge to address climate change while also making sure America leads in the development of alternative fuels.”

Biodiesel is produced in nearly every state in the country and is supporting more than 62,000 jobs. NBB is the U.S. biodiesel trade association.

EPA Snubs Consumers and Farmers Again, Takes Renewable Fuel Backward

The following is a statement from Maryland corn farmer Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of proposed  renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Once again, the EPA has chosen to ignore the law by cutting the corn ethanol obligation 3.75 billion gallons from 2014 to 2016. This represents nearly a billion and a half bushels in lost corn demand. The only beneficiary of the EPA’s decision is Big Oil, which has continuously sought to undermine the development of clean, renewable fuels. Unfortunately, the EPA’s gift to Big Oil comes at the expense of family farmers, American consumers and the air we breathe.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was working as intended, with no need to change. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased our reliance on foreign oil, lowered gasoline prices for consumers, increased economic stability in rural America and spurred innovation in advanced and cellulosic biofuels.

“We are evaluating our legal options for defending the law and protecting the rights of farmers and consumers. We will fight to protect and build profitable demand for corn, which is of fundamental interest to NCGA and our farmers.”

EPA Misses Opportunity to Advance Successful Energy Policy

In response to today’s proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) numbers and the methodology EPA employed to craft it, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“Today’s proposals are better than EPA’s initial proposed rule for 2014, but they still need significant improvement. We have sincere concerns that these proposed numbers are not moving forward to the degree that Congress had intended for the RFS.

“It is unfortunate that EPA chose to side with the obligated parties who have deliberately refused to live up to their obligation to provide consumers with a choice of fossil fuels or lower cost, higher performing, homegrown renewable energy at the pump. Everyone in Congress, as well as all parties in the renewables and oil industry, knew when this legislation was debated and passed into law that the only way the RFS goals could be met was by introducing higher blends into the market moving forward. Now the obligated parties, controlled primarily by Big Oil, have refused to live up to their obligation and the initial read on EPA's proposal is they have simply acquiesced to the demands of Big Oil. 

“One thing that everyone should keep in mind is that this a proposed rule. We will continue to analyze and review these proposals for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Furthermore, Growth Energy will file exhaustive comments with EPA. Just as we successfully commented on the original 2014 RVO proposal by EPA, which ultimately forced EPA to reconsider their initial flawed rule, we are confident that our forthcoming comments will highlight the changes that are necessary to meet the goals of the RFS.

“The RFS has been our nation’s most successful energy policy in the last 40 years and we must continue to advance a strategy that promotes American jobs, a cleaner environment and energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

EPA states desire to get RFS back on track, but continues to side with Big Oil on blend wall 

Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President for the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), today issued the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“Promises to get the RFS back on track and USDA funding for flex fuel pumps are appreciated, but EPA is yet again proposing to circumvent the RFS by limiting ethanol use to the amount oil companies are willing to blend with the gasoline they refine and not one gallon more.   It’s like the NFL saying it’s ok for the New England Patriots to deflate footballs while everyone else must play by the rules,” said Jennings.
As expected, proposed volumes for the 2014 RFS largely reflect actual use.   The Agency intends for renewable fuel use to increase from 2014 to 2016.   But EPA’s proposed blending targets for 2015 and 2016 fall back on the E10 “blend wall” methodology which has disrupted RFS implementation for more than a year.   Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a  confirming that most retail infrastructure is already compatible with E15.   The majority of cars on the road can use E15.

NFU Extremely Disappointed with Low RFS Volume Targets;

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today said he was extremely disappointed at the decision by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce its volume targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to levels below those mandated by federal law, and reminded the agency that family farmers are both struggling financially and are already feeling the effects of climate change.

“EPA’s delays in announcing the RFS have done a lot of damage to family farmers and to the fragile renewable fuel sector already, and the targets announced today are yet another setback,” said Johnson. “Family farmers are on the front line in climate change, and today’s decision will do little to help them,” he added.  

The RFS targets announced by EPA today are an 11.27 billion gallon shortfall over the 3 years for total biofuels, well below the targets called for by Congress in the law.  “The unwillingness of EPA to adhere to the targets set forth in the law will continue to cause capital investment to turn away from the U.S. renewable fuel sector in favor of foreign investments, leaving this nation without a robust renewable fuel sector,” he said.

Johnson noted that he is perplexed that an administration that has taken admirable steps forward to address climate change is not backing a policy that reduces gas consumption and replaces it with cleaner, greener ethanol.  “They refuse to utilize this low-hanging fruit by implementing existing law and isolating rural America from engaging in climate mitigation,” said Johnson. 

EPA does not have the authority to set the targets so low. The agency cited the fictitious “blend wall” as the reason to invoke its authority to waive the volume targets set by Congress.  The statutes enacting the RFS were intended to force oil companies to build the infrastructure needed to accommodate the mandated biofuels volume. “With regard to the intent of Congress, there’s no such thing as the blend wall,” Johnson said.

Johnson pointed out that both cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels have now reached commercial status and offer the greatest potential for environmental benefits, but delays in issuing volume targets have caused an estimated $13.7 billion gap in capital investment needed to comply with the volume targets set in the statutes that enacted the RFS, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization.  “The cuts to cellulosic and advanced biofuels – the fuel types with the best environmental potential  – will hit industries poised for potentially explosive growth,” said Johnson.  “These cuts are particularly punishing.”

Johnson noted that the RFS has benefitted both farmers and consumers alike.  He urged EPA to strongly consider getting its volume targets back on track with federal guidelines. “Home grown ethanol saves consumers $.50-$1.50 per gallon of gas and has added more than $1.7 billion to the U.S. economy,” he said. “This homegrown fuel supply has helped mitigate this nation’s dependence on foreign sources of petroleum while driving much needed investment in rural communities,” he said.

Also announced this morning was $100 million in grants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to states to build biofuels delivery infrastructure.  “USDA’s announcement of funding up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership is helpful and appreciated. A properly implemented RFS is the most efficient route to opening the transportation fuels market to the domestic biofuels industry,” said Johnson.

USDA to Invest Up to $100 Million to Boost Infrastructure for Renewable Fuel Use, Seeking to Double Number of Higher Blend Renewable Fuel Pumps

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.

"American-made, clean energy sources support the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and sustain the economy in rural communities across the country. We are fortunate that our farmers are producing record amounts of feedstock for these fuels," Vilsack said. "However, a combination of factors, including lower commodity prices and reduced demand for feed as the poultry industry recovers from highly pathogenic avian influenza, are creating uncertainty for America's corn and soybean producers. With this partnership, USDA is helping to ensure the infrastructure is in place for consumers to access more renewable fuels, expand marketing opportunities for farmers, and grow America's rural economies."

Higher blends of renewable fuel offer significant potential for increasing the use of renewable fuels in the U.S. gasoline pool, but currently, the typical gas pump can deliver fuel containing a maximum of 10 percent ethanol, limiting the amount of renewable energy consumers can use to fuel their cars. This new USDA partnership will help support the installation of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel by partnering with states to fund innovative, public-private partnerships to test more comprehensive approaches to marketing such blends. This new investment seeks to double the number of fuel pumps capable of supplying higher blends of renewable fuel to consumers, such as E15 and E85.

The United States exported more than $2 billion dollars of ethanol last year, making the United States the world's largest exporter of ethanol. Additionally, the United States has become a market leader in the export of high-quality distiller's dried grains (DDG), a byproduct of ethanol production used as a high-protein feed for livestock and poultry. Other countries are investing in clean energy technologies because they realize the tremendous economic potential of these energy sources, and the United States must do the same to remain competitive. The projects funded by these competitive grants will expand markets for farmers and help them diversify their rural energy portfolios, support rural economic growth and the jobs that come with it, and ultimately give consumers more affordable options at the pump.

Today's announcement marks USDA's latest effort to increase renewable fuel use in the United States. To formally launch this infrastructure partnership, USDA will post a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in June.

Secretary Vilsack has recognized the biobased economy as one of the four pillars of rural economic growth, in addition to production agriculture, local and regional food systems, and conservation and natural resources. Biofuels lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence on foreign oil, give businesses and consumers more energy options and create well-paying American jobs.

USDA has also helped jumpstart efforts to provide a reliable supply of advanced plant materials for biofuels. Through its Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), for example, USDA is incentivizing more than 850 growers and landowners farming nearly 48,000 acres to establish and produce dedicated, non-food energy crops for delivery to energy conversion facilities.

To ensure those feedstocks are put to use, USDA has invested in the work needed to create advanced biofuels refineries. USDA has supported efforts to build six new biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels in Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina, and Iowa, in addition to two existing facilities in New Mexico and Florida previously supported by the program.

USDA has also worked with agencies to strengthen markets for biobased products. Approximately 2,000 products now carry USDA's BioPreferred label, and approximately 150 applications for the BioPreferred label are in process. Companies in over 40 countries on six continents are now participating in USDA's BioPreferred program.

USDA has partnered with the U.S. Navy and Department of Energy to accelerate the development of domestic, competitively-priced "drop-in" diesel and jet fuel substitutes. Awards under the Defense Production Act were announced in 2014 for three companies (Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels, LLC; Emerald Biofuels, LLC; and Red Rock Biofuels, LLC) to scale up production capacity to supply the U.S. Navy with over 100 million gallons per year of advanced drop-in biofuel beginning in 2016 and 2017 at a price competitive with their petroleum counterparts.

USDA has invested $332 million over the past six years to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production.

Growth Energy Commends USDA Efforts to Enhance Consumer Choice

In response to an announcement by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will be launching a program worth 100 million dollars to help fund infrastructure projects to increase the availability of higher ethanol blends, furthering consumer choice, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement by the USDA is a tremendous win for American consumers. The USDA is helping advance consumer choice and market access for higher blends of cleaner burning, American made, renewable fuels. I would like to thank the administration and in particular, Secretary Vilsack, for his unwavering leadership and dedication to promoting America’s renewable fuels and helping bring a choice and savings to consumers when they fill up at the pump.

“This program will provide grants to states who then can, in turn, form public or private partnerships to help defer the costs of infrastructure enhancements for higher blends, such as adding blender pumps and retrofitting existing fueling facilities.

“By helping build out the necessary infrastructure, consumers will have increased choice at the pump. Higher blends, such as E15, give consumers a choice to use homegrown American biofuels that are less expensive, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and bolster local communities and our rural economy by creating jobs that will never be outsourced.”

Beef Checkoff Educates and Engages with Foodservice Operators and Influencers

At the recent National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) 2015 Show, the beef checkoff engaged in several meetings associated with the conference, which hosted 65,000 attendees.

Starting the week off, the checkoff was a sponsor of the Supply Chain Management Executive Study Group, which brings together the leading supply chain decision makers from the top-tier foodservice operations.

“It is vitally important for the checkoff to be visible with national foodservice operators in order to deepen existing relationships,” says Jana Malot, Beef's Image Committee co-chair and producer from Harrisonville, Pa. “The NRA show is a platform where the checkoff can share what farmers and ranchers are doing to continuously improve how they raise beef, as well as to explain to information-seeking consumers how beef goes from pasture to plate by utilizing websites such as and videos such as the recently-released Pasture to Plate video.”

As part of the Supply Chain Management Executive Study Group, Season Solorio, executive director of issues and reputation management for the beef checkoff, was invited to speak on a panel along with other animal protein representatives (pork and chicken) to discuss issues that affect the supply chain, such as antibiotics, sustainability and animal welfare. The presentation was followed by a number of questions from the audience and one-on-one dialogues with several retail/foodservice operators.

The checkoff continued building relationships with leading foodservice trade media and influencers by sharing the latest foodservice market intelligence showing the value of beef to foodservice, as well as consumer market research from the Consumer Beef Index and Millennial panels that show strong demand among Millennials for beef. Media expressed interest in featuring the checkoff’s data in upcoming editorial to communicate the value of beef for foodservice, as well as praise for the checkoff as a trusted, continual source of the latest market trends and consumer data.

Technomic, a leading resource for foodservice industry data and intelligence, hosted a Planning Session, which the checkoff team attended to gain insights to inform fiscal year 2016 planning and to discuss future opportunities to partner with Technomic on industry-leading research efforts. During the session, Technomic shared macroeconomic, foodservice and distribution industry updates and forecasts.

“Continuing to maintain relationships and visibility with foodservice operators at this 2015 meeting will result in further discussions and engagement to help increase the profit power for beef,” says Malot.

Vilsack Announces Additional 800,000 Acres Dedicated to Conservation Reserve Program for Wildlife Habitat and Wetlands

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that an additional 800,000 acres of highly environmentally sensitive land may be enrolled in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) under certain wetland and wildlife initiatives that provide multiple benefits on the same land.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept new offers to participate in CRP under a general signup to be held Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 26, 2016. Eligible existing program participants with contracts expiring Sept. 30, 2015, will be granted an option for one-year extensions. Farmers and ranchers interested in removing sensitive land from agricultural production and planting grasses or trees to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitat are encouraged to enroll. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during a speech delivered at the Ducks Unlimited National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"For 30 years, the Conservation Reserve Program has supported farmers and ranchers as they continue to be good stewards of land and water. This initiative has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road," said Vilsack. "This has been one of most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and today's announcement keeps that momentum moving forward."

The voluntary Conservation Reserve Program allows USDA to contract with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive land is conserved. Participants establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years.

"CRP protects water quality and restores significant habitat for ducks, pheasants, turkey, quail, deer and other important wildlife. That spurs economic development like hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism all over rural America," said Vilsack. "Today we're allowing an additional 800,000 acres for duck nesting habitat and other wetland and wildlife habitat initiatives to be enrolled in the program."

In addition to Ducks Unlimited's partnership with the Conservation Reserve Program, other longtime partners include Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, National Association of State Foresters, National Wild Turkey Federation, Audubon Society, National Bobwhite Technical Committee, Quality Deer Management Association, National Rural Water Association, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Longleaf Alliance, state soil and water conservation districts, and state forestry, agriculture and natural resource agencies.

"I encourage all farmers and ranchers to consider the various CRP continuous sign-up initiatives that may help target specific resource concerns," said Vilsack. "Financial assistance is offered for many practices including conservation buffers and pollinator habitat plantings, and initiatives such as the highly erodible lands, bottomland hardwood tree and longleaf pine, all of which are extremely important."

Farmers and ranchers may visit their FSA county office for additional information. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the enrollment of grasslands in CRP and information on grasslands enrollment will be available after the regulation is published later this summer.

Titan Machinery Reports Lower Quarter Earnings

Titan Machinery Inc., a leading network of full-service agricultural and construction equipment stores, reported financial results for the fiscal first quarter ended April 30. For the first quarter of fiscal 2016, revenue was $353.2 million, compared to $465.5 million in the first quarter last year. Equipment sales were $245.0 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to $345.0 million in the first quarter last year. Parts sales were $61.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to $68.4 million in the first quarter last year.

Revenue generated from service was $32.9 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to $37.1 million in the first quarter last year. Revenue from rental and other decreased to $13.8 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 from $15.0 million in the first quarter last year.

Gross profit for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 was $60.4 million, compared to $75.9 million in the first quarter last year, primarily reflecting a decrease in Agriculture equipment revenue. The company's gross profit margin was 17.1% in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to 16.3% in the first quarter last year.

This increase in gross profit margin primarily reflects a larger portion of gross profit coming from the company's higher margin parts, service, and rental and other businesses. Gross profit from parts and service for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 was 65.3% of overall gross profit, compared to 56.7% in the first quarter last year.

Operating expenses were 16.2% of revenue or, $57.1 million, for the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to 15.3% of revenue or, $71.2 million, for the first quarter of last year.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thursday May 28 Ag News

2015 Nebraska Corn Interns Announced

The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) are proud to support seven college students as interns starting this summer, including an international internship.

NCB will once again partner with the U.S. Grains Council to host an international student intern in their regional office of Panama City, Panama. Four of the other six internships will be hosted by national cooperators of Nebraska Corn: National Corn Growers Association in St. Louis, Missouri and Washington, D.C., the U.S. Grains Council in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Denver, Colorado. The last two internships will be held in the Nebraska Corn offices in Lincoln and will be year-long internships.

“Nebraska Corn’s internship program has been engaging students for over 20 years, and year after year, we continue to hit homeruns, finding excellent students to fill the various internship opportunities,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, Executive Director for the Nebraska Corn Board. “We are thrilled to be able to offer our future agricultural leaders these great internship opportunities.”

The NCB office in Lincoln is excited to welcome Megan Hamling of Garland, Nebraska, for a year-long internship. Megan will be a sophomore in agriculture business with a minor in communications and leadership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. As part of her internship, she will oversee crop progress report placement, contribute to communication and outreach programs and help with education and promotion activities.

The NeCGA office in Lincoln is happy to welcome Samantha Schneider of Cozad, Nebraska, for a year-long internship, supported by DuPont-Pioneer. Samantha will be a senior in agricultural journalism with an emphasis in strategic communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She will oversee NeCGA’s online communications as well as contribute to a variety of communication and outreach projects.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) office in Washington, D.C. will host Glen Ready of Scribner, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and NCGA. Glen will be a senior in agricultural economics with an emphasis in public policy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He will be involved with a variety of agricultural issues related to environmental regulations, transportation, free trade agreements, biotechnology, ethanol, and energy.

The National Corn Growers Association headquarters office in St. Louis, Missouri, will host Emily Scholting of Springfield, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and NCGA. Emily will be a senior in political science with an emphasis in pre-law at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She will be assisting with production and stewardship projects, as well as participating in committee meetings and policy issues.

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) will host Amanda Clymer of David City, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and USGC. Amanda is a junior in agricultural economics with a minor in entrepreneurship and leadership at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She will be working with the global programs team and assisting with preparation for international trade teams and other market development programs that help to develop demand for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.

The U.S. Grains Council will host their second international intern, Greg Sullivan from Omaha, Nebraska, in Panama City, Panama, in cooperation with NCB. Greg earned bachelors in psychology from St. John’s University (Minnesota) and is currently working on his masters in agricultural business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He will be working on issues related to global trade in food and agricultural products, assisting with communication to importers and working on the upcoming USGC Regional Buyers Conference in Medellin, Colombia, July 7-8, 2015.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) will host Kaydee Caldwell of Edgar, Nebraska, as their summer intern supported by a partnership between NCB and USMEF. Kaydee is a junior in animal science with a management and reproduction option from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She will be assisting with beef, pork and lamb specific projects, as well as promotions and international relationship opportunities.

“We have very high expectations for these interns. Nebraskans should be very proud of our collegiate candidates who apply for these internships and go on to excel in agricultural focused careers,” added Brunkhorst.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               If you expect to harvest alfalfa soon, be careful to minimize wheel traffic on wet soils.  It can have a large effect on alfalfa production.

               Every time you harvest a field of alfalfa, swathers, rakes, tractors, balers, and other equipment drive over nearly every plant one or more times.  During an entire year, some plants are driven on over 10 times.

               All this traffic has to cause some damage, but how much?  Studies have shown that when fields are dry and firm, plants driven on within one day of cutting and before regrowth occurs will yield about 5 to 7 percent less at next cutting.  But driving on these plants just seven days after cutting, when regrowth shoots have started to grow, reduces yield over 25 percent and survival of these plants is reduced.  Driving over the same plants a second or third time the same day caused about the same change in survival or yield as driving over them just once.

               However, when fields are wet, wheel traffic causes much more compaction.  When this happens, yield loss typically exceeds 30 percent, even if regrowth has not yet started.

               These studies emphasize the benefits of baling and removing bales from hay fields as quickly as possible after cutting as well as minimizing driving on wet soils.  It also suggests that adjusting equipment so more wheels trail one another, or that following the same trail when removing bales or stacks from fields can reduce damage from wheel tracks.

               Alfalfa fields must be driven on during harvest, but you can lessen damage by controlling where, when and how often you drive.


               Rain has delayed many folks from cutting alfalfa.  If you haven’t taken first cutting yet, it might help if you slightly changed the way you cut this crop.

               Have you harvested your first cutting of alfalfa yet?  Even if it is not blooming heavily, you might be surprised to find that it already has started to grow your next cutting.

               Walk into your alfalfa field before cutting and look closely at the base or crown of the plants.  Do you see short, new shoots starting to grow?  If so, these new shoots are the new plants that your alfalfa hopes to turn into your second cutting.

               Look closely – how tall are these new shoots?  Are many of them a couple inches taller than your usual cutting height?  If you cut these new shoots off – along with the first growth – your alfalfa plants will have to start a whole new set of shoots for regrowth.  This could cause a delay in second cutting regrowth by as much as one week.

               Fortunately, you can avoid this delay.  All you need to do is raise your cutting height just a couple inches so that you avoid clipping off most of these new, second growth shoots.  Your regrowth then will have a head start towards next cutting.  And since the stubble you leave behind has quite low feed value anyway, the yield you temporarily sacrifice is mostly just filler.

               Normally I suggest cutting alfalfa as short as possible because that maximizes yield and it doesn’t affect rate of regrowth.  But a late cutting that already has new shoots growing is different.

               Don’t blindly start cutting alfalfa when harvest is delayed.  First look for new shoots, then raise cutting height if needed.

Nebraska Cattlemen Applauds Final Approval of LB 623 Driver's License Bill

Today,  the Nebraska Legislature gave final approval to LB 623 on a vote of 34 to 9.   With the passage of the bill, Nebraska joins 49 other states in granting driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants who have approved federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

The bill was a Nebraska Cattlemen priority bill the group helped write.

“Nebraska Cattlemen membership applauds the Legislature’s recognition of the importance of a thriving workforce in Nebraska,” said NC President Dave McCracken.  “LB 623 is good for business and good for Nebraska.”

Sasse Statement on EPA WOTUS Rule

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final Waters of the United States rule.

“This is the epitome of Washington absurdity: instead of tackling the serious crises we face, the federal government is dramatically expanding the EPA’s power over our Nebraska waters. It’s a clear picture of runaway government: it took the Homestead Act just two pages to open Nebraska for settlement but it takes the EPA nearly 300 pages to explain how it intends to displace state government’s regulation of local water.

“Nebraskans care deeply about conservation but we know that this rule isn’t about improving the environment— it’s about keeping bureaucrats busy at the expense of agriculture. The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule is bad news for our state’s farmers and ranchers. I’ll continue to do everything I can to oppose it.”


This week, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released the final Waters of the United States rule under the Clean Water Act. The rule would dramatically expand federal authority and with it EPA’s power to levy fines and require additional permits and reporting.

Senator Sasse, an outspoken critic of the EPA’s regulatory push, invited Mr. Jeff Metz of Morrill County, Nebraska to testify before the Senate Agriculture Committee on March 24 as the EPA was still moving the proposal through the rulemaking process.

NeFU Hails Defeat of LB176 as a Victory For Family Farmers and Rural Communities

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) said the legislative battle to modify the current statutory state prohibiting pork processors to directly own hogs in Nebraska was an important victory for family farmers and ranchers, and rural Nebraska.

“Where do we want the profit centers to be located for hog and livestock feeding in our state, rural Nebraska or Beijing, China?” asked John Hansen, NeFU President.  “When family farmers and ranchers own the livestock, the profits stay in rural communities and powers capital investment, equipment purchases, hiring of more labor, expansion, and improvements in the quality of life since that is where they and their families live.”

Hansen pointed out that Smithfield is a company owned by the Chinese government.  Smithfield owned 887,000 sows in the U.S. at the end of 2014, and 1,111,000 total when counting their operations in Mexico, Poland, and Romania according to Successful Farming magazine.  That is over twice as many sows as Triumph Foods, which includes five hog operations.  Smithfield is also the largest pork processor in the nation.  The top four hog processors control over 63% of all hog slaughter in the nation. 

“Why would it possibly be in the interest of Nebraska for the Legislature to help facilitate the ownership and control of the Nebraska hog industry by hog processors, especially from hog processors from China and Brazil?” Hansen asked.  “Hog processors ought to process hogs, and hog producers ought to own and raise hogs.  That is how we keep competition in the marketplace.  LB176 was a frontal assault on the structure of the hog marketplace.  It would have economically, socially, environmentally, and structurally changed how we raise hogs in our state, damaged the current hog market, and undermined the state ban on beef packer ownership of cattle.  LB 176 was a major change for the worse in our state.”

Hansen noted that according to AgWeb, only 3% of all hogs sold in the U.S. today are open market hogs sold on the cash market.  “When a marketplace has only 3% cash sales, that is a cry for regulatory help and a disgrace to our American free enterprise and competitive marketing system. The anti-trust division of the U.S. Justice Department has failed our nation.  The last thing rural America needs and hog producers need is to have the Chinese government take over control and ownership of our domestic hog industry,” Hansen said.

Hansen thanked the State Senators who stood up for family farm agriculture, including Senators Dave Bloomfield, Kate Bolz, Lydia Brasch, Ernie Chambers, Tanya Cook, Sue Crawford, Al Davis, Mike Groene, Ken  Haar, Sara Howard, Rick Kolowski, Bob Krist,John Kuehn, Beau McCoy, Jeremy Nordquist, Merv Riepe, David Schnoor, and Kate Sullivan for either voting “NO” or “Present Non-Voting.  “They stood up and fought for the interests of family farmers today” Hansen concluded.

National Drought Summary for May 26, 2015

An extraordinarily active weather pattern led to flood intensification across the central and southern Plains, culminating in a Memorial Day weekend deluge. The latest round of heavy rain pushed Oklahoma to its wettest month on record, based on preliminary data, supplanting October 1941. Showery weather extended beyond the Plains, reaching into the lower Mississippi Valley, parts of the upper Midwest, and much of the northern Intermountain West. Meanwhile, drier-than-normal conditions dominated much of the eastern U.S., where diminishing soil moisture began to have some adverse effects on pastures and summer crops. In contrast, beneficial rain dampened some of the hard-hit drought areas of the Far West, including parts of Oregon, Nevada, and northern California.

Great Plains

Mostly dry weather returned to North Dakota, but the remainder of the nation’s mid-section continued to receive substantial rainfall. A small pocket of moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2) persisted from northeastern Nebraska into eastern South Dakota. Otherwise, the Plains were free of severe drought, with only a few remaining pockets of moderate drought—largely due to lingering hydrological concerns. In Texas, reservoirs were collectively 82.0% full by May 27, up from 73.2% a month ago and 62.5% six months ago. In the last month, reservoir storage in Texas has increased 2.77 million acre-feet.

By May 26, month-to-date rainfall totals climbed to 18.97 inches in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and 14.53 inches in Wichita Falls, Texas. In both locations, those values represent the highest monthly totals on record. Previously, Oklahoma City’s wettest month had been June 1989, with 14.66 inches, while Wichita Falls’ had been May 1982, with 13.22 inches. Oklahoma City’s total was boosted by a daily-record total (3.73 inches) on May 23, part of a broad heavy rain event that led to catastrophic flash flooding in portions of the south-central U.S. In Texas, for example, preliminary USGS data indicated that the Blanco River at Wimberly rose more than 35 feet in less than 8 hours, cresting on May 24 at 27.21 feet above flood stage. The preliminary high-water mark at Wimberly was 6.91 feet above the previous record set on May 28, 1929. The San Marcos River near Martinsdale, Texas, surged more than 51 feet in less than 24 hours on May 23-24, based on initial data.

Midwestern and Great Lakes States

Significant rain shifted eastward into Wisconsin and environs, leading to reductions in the coverage of dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). During the week ending May 24, topsoil moisture rated very short to short declined from 24 to 20% in Wisconsin. Additional rain arrived on May 26, after the drought-monitoring period ended, and will be reflected next week. Further analysis of the previous week’s rainfall led to some additional reductions in drought coverage in Minnesota.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to a probable case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Hamilton County.  With the new announcement, Iowa now has 68 cases of the disease in the state. The Department has quarantined the premise and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Hamilton 1 – Turkey farm with an estimated 17,000 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.

FY 2015 Ag Export Forecast Lowered to $140.5 Billion, $12.0 Billion Below Record FY 2014 Exports

Fiscal 2015 agricultural exports are forecast at $140.5 billion, down $1.0 billion from the February forecast and down $12.0 billion from fiscal 2014. If realized, this would be the lowest level of exports since fiscal 2012. Lower exports of high-value products (nonbulk) make up nearly the entire decline from the previous forecast. Exports of horticultural products are down $1.0 billion with slower-than-expected shipments of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables and other horticultural products. The forecast for livestock, poultry, and dairy is lowered $500 million on smaller exports of dairy due to strong global competition and reduced poultry exports due to greater trade restrictions. Cotton exports are unchanged. Oilseed and product exports are raised $100 million as higher soybean meal values more than offset lower soybean prices. The grain and feed export forecast is raised $600 million, with record exports of sorghum and stronger-thanexpected exports of feed and fodders, including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at a record $117.0 billion, down $2.0 billion from February, but $7.8 billion higher than in fiscal 2014. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $23.5 billion, down from $43.3 billion in fiscal 2014.

See the complete report here....

Vilsack on Updated Forecast for U.S. Agricultural Exports

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's third quarter Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.

"The strong pace of American agricultural exports continues, with a trade surplus of more than $23 billion, a $1 billion increase from earlier projections for fiscal year 2015. Fiscal years 2009 to 2014 represent the strongest six years in history for U.S. agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $771.7 billion. For many American products, foreign markets now represent more than half of total sales. U.S. agricultural exports now support more than one million jobs here at home, a substantial part of the 11.7 million jobs supported by exports all across our country. Expanded U.S. trade overall has added roughly $13,000, on average, to every American family's income. Fiscal year 2015 exports are now forecast to be the third-highest on record, led by a strong performance in bulk commodities such as grains, animal feeds, and oilseeds.

"This most recent forecast also underscores how free trade agreements have benefitted the American economy through farm goods. In the combined 20 countries where the United States has free trade agreements, agricultural exports have remained relatively steady so far this fiscal year. Exports to countries where the United States lacks the assurances offered by trade agreements have declined this year, highlighting why it is so important for Congress to act and pass strong trade promotion authority legislation.

"Every day without trade promotion authority, American agriculture suffers as competitors negotiate their own agreements and lower global standards when it comes to environmental impact, consumer safety, and working conditions. USDA will continue to fight to get the best deal for farmers and ranchers, but our ability to open new markets and create new customers is limited without Congressional action."

Ethanol Stocks Tumble, Production Soars

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report late morning Thursday showing ethanol stocks in the United States fell to the lowest level this year while domestic output rose to a five-month high during the week-ended May 22.

The report shows total ethanol inventories were drawn down 300,000 barrels (bbl), or 1.6%, to 20.1 million bbl last week, trimming a year-on-year surplus to 2.6 million bbl or 14.9%.

The EIA report showed soaring production, as domestic output jumped 11,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.15%, last week to a 969,000 bpd, the highest since Dec. 26, 2014, while up 4.5% year over year.

Blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, eased last week, down 1,000 bpd to 905,000 bpd, while up 1.12% year over year.

Implied demand for gasoline surged 473,000 bpd last week to 9.734 million bpd, 4.6% higher than the same week last year, EIA data showed.

USBCA Recommits to Common Cause, Reviews Achievements

Last week, the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance's Board of Directors met in Washington to recommit to the alliance and update the business plan. During the meeting, representatives from all parts of the value chain worked together, reviewing working group findings and planning for a future meeting to address the future of biotechnology and potential market impacts.

Both the Domestic Working Group and the International Working Group reported back to the board on their progress over the past year. Progress by the International Working Group was found to be particularly encouraging, as it managed to elevate issues related to biotechnology and trade to the president's agenda on his most recent trip to China. Additionally, it became evident that the group's work has established USBCA as the go-to resource for the U.S. government on all issues related to agricultural biotechnology and trade.

Established under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2012, the USBCA already has developed, and is working to implement, consensus positions on key policy issues designed to improve the introduction, stewardship, domestic and international regulatory policy, and distribution in U.S. and export markets of commodities and processed products containing or derived from modern biotechnology.

The USBCA's founding organizations are the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, American Seed Trade Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Grain and Feed Association, and North American Export Grain Association.  Other national organizations that subsequently have become participants in the USBCA include American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Millers' Association, United Sorghum Checkoff Program, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Grains Council and U.S. Soybean Export Council. 

Pork professionals from 41 countries will convene at the 2015 World Pork Expo

Twenty thousand pork producers and other professionals from throughout the world will visit World Pork Expo, June 3-5, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Expo presents the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, educational seminars with the latest information, national youth swine shows, plenty of pork barbecue and much more. To date, producers, exhibitors and media from 41 countries have registered to attend.

“World Pork Expo has evolved into a one-stop-shopping place for the newest equipment, software and technology-based products that help pork producers remain competitive in a global economy,” says Ron Prestage, D.V.M., NPPC president and South Carolina pork producer. “It also presents a great opportunity to interact with fellow producers and exchange ideas in an environment that is ideal for your entire team of employees.”

At the heart of Expo is the trade show, which will feature hundreds of commercial exhibits from companies based in North America, Asia and Europe. The trade show will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

While some outdoor exhibits will be in new locations to accommodate fairgrounds renovations, attendees will once again find more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space to explore. For the first time, America’s Best Genetics Alley will be in two locations — in the Agriculture Building and on the second floor of the Varied Industries Building.

“Expo-goers will want to download the World Pork Expo mobile app, as well as pick up an official program once they arrive, to find exhibitors easily,” says Doug Fricke, director of trade show marketing, NPPC. “Both also provide details about business seminars, PORK Academy and other activities. As an added bonus, the app offers interactive maps, social media updates and other notifications when you customize your own schedule.”

Another record-setting year for Expo’s Junior National

This year, the World Pork Expo Junior National is expected to establish another record for participation in its educational programs, contests and shows. After setting a new standard in 2014 with nearly 750 youth from 24 states exhibiting more than 1,600 hogs, even more junior members have registered to participate in 2015 — 200 of which are first-time participants.

Entries for the swine shows, including both the Junior National and the open shows, are 33 percent higher than in 2014. The Expo staff is preparing for as many as 3,500 hogs to be on site. The shows, which kick off with youth showmanship on Tuesday, June 2, will take place in the Swine Barn each day. Classes in one of the two show rings will be live-cast as well as recorded for future viewing.

Seminars and social activities abound

Expo is the place to collect the most current, useful insights on pork-production topics ranging from swine health and reproductive management to pork quality and marketing strategies. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, a series of business seminars and PORK Academy will present more than a dozen educational seminars, all of which are free and will take place in the Varied Industries Building.

Once again, MusicFest will be the social highlight of World Pork Expo from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 4. With the stage set on Grand Avenue of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, this special event will feature four diverse musical acts that offer something for everyone. Entertainment will include an encore show by Jake McVey; the crowd-pleasing group, Hot Rod-Chevy Kevy; Denny Laine, formerly with Paul McCartney and Wings; and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Terry Sylvester.

There’s always plenty of tasty pork for visitors to enjoy at Expo, especially at the ever-popular Big Grill. Staffed by Iowa’s Tama County Pork Producers Association, it serves up free pork lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. all three days of Expo.

“If you miss World Pork Expo, you will miss a great opportunity to connect with fellow pork producers,” says Prestage. “And, when you come to Expo, be sure to engage with NPPC directors and staff. It’s a great place to hear the latest on the many developments that are important to your business.”

Admission purchased at the gate is $20 per adult and $3 for youths aged 6 to 11; there is no charge for children 5 years of age and younger. This price of admission includes entry into Expo for all three days. A special rate of $10 is available for adults arriving on Friday.

Additional information is available at

Zoetis Introduces New AUREOMIX-S Without Penicillin

Zoetis announces the availability of AUREOMIX® S — a medicated feed additive that combines the proven safety and therapeutic strength of chlortetracycline and sulfamethazine without the use of penicillin. AUREOMIX S replaces AUREO S-P 250® and AUREOMIX® Granular 500, the chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine/penicillin combinations that Zoetis voluntarily withdrew last year.

“We worked voluntarily with the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to remove penicillin from these combinations as a confirmation of our commitment to the responsible use of antibiotics,” said Shelley Stanford, DVM, MS, MBA, Director, U.S. Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. “We all can help maintain the effectiveness of these important resources through practicing responsible use.”

AUREOMIX S is indicated for treatment of bacterial swine enteritis and cervical abscesses during times of stress. The granular formula offers several benefits such as excellent flowability, improved medication distribution in the feed, less dust and stability under high temperatures. AUREOMIX S is available in two formulations:
·         Type A: AUREOMIX S 40/40
·         Type B: AUREOMIX S 10/10

Along with a portfolio of antimicrobial products, Zoetis also offers a full line of vaccines that help prevent disease and is committed to educating producers on proper and responsible uses of these tools. Training programs, such as Individual Pig Care, provide guidelines so pig caregivers can identify sick animals sooner to help ensure they are treated with the right product at the right time.

Zoetis supports the FDA’s Guidance for Industry 209 and 213 to phase out the use of all medically important antibiotic products labeled for growth promotion and is committed to helping veterinarians, pork producers and the livestock feed industry stay informed in a changing regulatory environment. To learn more about the Zoetis commitment to responsible use of antibiotics, talk to your local representative or visit


Pest pressure in corn and soybean plants is an ongoing concern for farmers throughout every growing season. Genuity® has launched important updates to two key technology tools, the Genuity Rootworm Manager application and Genuity sponsored These both proved to be valuable resources to farmers last season. Farmers who use these tools as part of a comprehensive integrated pest management approach are able to help maximize their yield potential while reducing their pest risk.

The free Genuity Rootworm Manager iPad® device application debuted in May 2014 as a first-of-its-kind technology to help farmers asses their risk for corn rootworm pressure and provide field-specific recommendations for the farmer. At the end of the 2014 growing season (March-Sept.), the app had been downloaded almost 750 times and had received a National Agri-Marketing Award (NAMA) for Best Tablet App. During the 2015 season, growers who take advantage of this app will now experience improved ease of use and the ability to backup data through Apple iCloud® storage.

The Genuity sponsored monitors corn earworm, Western bean cutworm, corn rootworm and soybean aphids. This tool was developed by climatologist and meteorologist Mike Sandstrom to help farmers understand their current pest pressure and make more accurate predictions for future migrations. During the 2014 growing season, more than 18,000 users accessed the site. Farmers who sign up for this free tool will now be able to experience a more responsive mobile phone and tablet experience with larger map images. Along with the map images, users will now be able to see the migration patterns of all four monitored insects for the past growing season as well as the current season.

“Understanding and managing pest pressures will always be a critical part of any farm operation, but tools like the Genuity Rootworm Manager App and have made it easier for farmers to scout effectively throughout the growing season,” says Sean Evans, technology development manager for Monsanto. “I would strongly encourage farmers who haven’t had a chance to utilize these free tools to do so for the 2015 season and integrate them into their pest management strategies for both corn and soybeans.”

Corn and soybean farmers can sign up at to receive free email alerts to pest pressures that pose a risk in their geographic area. Corn farmers at risk for rootworm pressure can visit or visit the iTunes® App Store for a free download.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wednesday May 27 Ag News

Clean Water Rule Protects Streams and Wetlands Critical to Public Health, Communities, and Economy

In an historic step for the protection of clean water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule today to clearly protect from pollution and degradation the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources.

The rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined and predictably determined, making permitting less costly, easier, and faster for businesses and industry. The rule is grounded in law and the latest science, and is shaped by public input. The rule does not create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions.

“For the water in the rivers and lakes in our communities that flow to our drinking water to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them need to be clean too,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Protecting our water sources is a critical component of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, sea level rise, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures – which is why EPA and the Army have finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect these important waters, so we can strengthen our economy and provide certainty to American businesses.”

“Today's rule marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the Clean Water Act,” said Assistant Secretary for the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy. “This rule responds to the public's demand for greater clarity, consistency, and predictability when making jurisdictional determinations. The result will be better public service nationwide."

People need clean water for their health: About 117 million Americans – one in three people – get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule. America’s cherished way of life depends on clean water, as healthy ecosystems provide wildlife habitat and places to fish, paddle, surf, and swim. Clean and reliable water is an economic driver, including for manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, and energy production. The health of our rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters are impacted by the streams and wetlands where they begin.

Protection for many of the nation’s streams and wetlands has been confusing, complex, and time-consuming as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. EPA and the Army are taking this action today to provide clarity on protections under the Clean Water Act after receiving requests for over a decade from members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, scientists, and the public for a rulemaking.

In developing the rule, the agencies held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country, reviewed over one million public comments, and listened carefully to perspectives from all sides. EPA and the Army also utilized the latest science, including a report summarizing more than 1,200 peer-reviewed, published scientific studies which showed that small streams and wetlands play an integral role in the health of larger downstream water bodies.

Climate change makes protection of water resources even more essential. Streams and wetlands provide many benefits to communities by trapping floodwaters, recharging groundwater supplies, filtering pollution, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife. Impacts from climate change like drought, sea level rise, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures threaten the quantity and quality of America’s water. Protecting streams and wetlands will improve our nation’s resilience to climate change.

Specifically, the Clean Water Rule:

    Clearly defines and protects tributaries that impact the health of downstream waters. The Clean Water Act protects navigable waterways and their tributaries. The rule says that a tributary must show physical features of flowing water – a bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark – to warrant protection. The rule provides protection for headwaters that have these features and science shows can have a significant connection to downstream waters.

    Provides certainty in how far safeguards extend to nearby waters. The rule protects waters that are next to rivers and lakes and their tributaries because science shows that they impact downstream waters. The rule sets boundaries on covering nearby waters for the first time that are physical and measurable.

    Protects the nation’s regional water treasures. Science shows that specific water features can function like a system and impact the health of downstream waters. The rule protects prairie potholes, Carolina and Delmarva bays, pocosins, western vernal pools in California, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands when they impact downstream waters.

    Focuses on streams, not ditches. The rule limits protection to ditches that are constructed out of streams or function like streams and can carry pollution downstream. So ditches that are not constructed in streams and that flow only when it rains are not covered.

    Maintains the status of waters within Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. The rule does not change how those waters are treated and encourages the use of green infrastructure.

    Reduces the use of case-specific analysis of waters. Previously, almost any water could be put through a lengthy case-specific analysis, even if it would not be subject to the Clean Water Act. The rule significantly limits the use of case-specific analysis by creating clarity and certainty on protected waters and limiting the number of similarly situated water features.

A Clean Water Act permit is only needed if a water is going to be polluted or destroyed. The Clean Water Rule only protects the types of waters that have historically been covered under the Clean Water Act. It does not regulate most ditches and does not regulate groundwater, shallow subsurface flows, or tile drains. It does not make changes to current policies on irrigation or water transfers or apply to erosion in a field. The Clean Water Rule addresses the pollution and destruction of waterways – not land use or private property rights.

The rule protects clean water necessary for farming, ranching, and forestry and provides greater clarity and certainty to farmers about coverage of the Clean Water Act. Farms across America depend on clean and reliable water for livestock, crops, and irrigation. The final rule specifically recognizes the vital role that U.S. agriculture serves in providing food, fuel, and fiber at home and around the world. The rule does not create any new permitting requirements for America’s farmers. Activities like planting, harvesting, and moving livestock have long been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation, and the Clean Water Rule preserves those exemptions.

The Clean Water Rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information:

 Statement by the President on the Clean Water Rule

For more than 40 years, American families and businesses across the country have counted on the Clean Water Act to protect the streams and wetlands we rely on for our way of life – from recreation to public health to a growing economy. In recent years, however, court decisions have led to uncertainty and a need for clarification.  One in three Americans now gets drinking water from streams lacking clear protection, and businesses and industries that depend on clean water face uncertainty and delay, which costs our economy every day.  Too many of our waters have been left vulnerable to pollution. That’s why I called on the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear up the confusion and uphold our basic duty to protect these vital resources.

Today, after extensive input from the American public, they’re doing just that – finalizing the Clean Water Rule to restore protection for the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources, without getting in the way of farming, ranching, or forestry. This rule will provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable.  My Administration has made historic commitments to clean water, from restoring iconic watersheds like the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes to preserving more than a thousand miles of rivers and other waters for future generations.  With today’s rule, we take another step towards protecting the waters that belong to all of us.

Fischer Responds to Obama Release of WOTUS Rule

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement after the announcement today of final regulations by the Obama administration, which would expand federal government control over states’ water resources:

“This rule is an attack on the people of Nebraska. Through this unprecedented overreach, the federal government will now extend their control over our state’s water resources and burden our families with costly permit requirements. Make no mistake – this is a blatant attempt to expand the federal government’s control. This rule will have far-reaching consequences and hurt Nebraska families, communities, and businesses.

“Nebraskans are good stewards of our natural resources and protect our water at the state and local level. The Obama administration’s new regulation implies that Washington bureaucrats know better than the people of our state. This rule is reckless and unwarranted, and I will work tirelessly to stop this expansion of federal control.”

In April, Senator Fischer joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues to introduce a new bill that would prevent this joint rule from the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, originally known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) and now renamed by the administration as the “Clean Water Rule,” from taking effect. The legislation, S. 1140 – The Federal Water Quality Protection Act, would direct the administration to issue a revised proposal that would set clear limits on federal regulation of water, require consultation with states and impacted stakeholders, and ensure that a thorough economic analysis is conducted.

Senator Fischer has led a number of efforts in the Senate to enhance public input on the rule, including a March field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee she chaired in Lincoln. She has repeatedly urged EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to scrap the rule altogether, and has also cosponsored legislation to withdraw the proposed regulation.

Smith on Obama Administration’s Launch of Waters of the U.S. Regulations

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today in response to the Obama administration’s decision to finalize and launch far-reaching water regulations under the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, now renamed by the administration as the Clean Water Rule.

“Faced with this unprecedented regulatory expansion by the Obama administration, Nebraskans are rightfully concerned the Waters of the U.S. rule will severely harm our agriculture economy by increasing costs and uncertainty for producers,” Smith said.  “Following widespread outcry from farmers, ranchers, landowners, and local officials across the country, the House has repeatedly acted to block this harmful executive overreach.  Our agriculture producers are already great stewards of the land who protect our natural resources.  Washington bureaucrats should never have control over the puddles and irrigation ditches on rural farmers’ property.

“The Clean Water Act intentionally limited the EPA’s jurisdiction to navigable waters.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration has not listened to Congress or the American people and is now trying to unilaterally expand its regulatory jurisdiction to include virtually all water flows, from ditches to prairie potholes, even on private land.  Knowing the consequences could be especially devastating to rural Americans, I will continue to vigorously oppose this federal power grab.”

Earlier this month, Smith voted in favor of H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, to prohibit the EPA from using its Waters of the U.S. rule to expand its authority beyond Congress’s intent.


Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued the following statement after hearing about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to release its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

“Today’s decision by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to release the final WOTUS rule is bad policy,” Gov. Ricketts said. “It is clear the Administration failed to listen to the concerns of Nebraska’s agriculture and business communities. This rule has the potential to saddle our farmers, ranchers, and other businesses with a huge, unwarranted regulatory burden. It should be scrapped.”

Statement by Common Sense Nebraska Coalition on EPA and U.S. Army Corps Issuing Final “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

“Today the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their final “Waters of the U.S.” regulatory proposal. The announcement comes despite repeated calls and active engagement from  Nebraska’s agriculture and business communities encouraging EPA to start with a fresh regulatory proposal that would focus on protecting waterways rather than simply expanding the regulatory reach of the federal government,” said Common Sense Nebraska spokesman Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“While we will review and analyze the impacts of this ‘final’ proposal over the next several days and weeks, we have little confidence that the agencies listened or have made changes to address concerns expressed by Nebraskans and others.  That lack of confidence is founded in the reality that early on the EPA and the Corps committed to using a campaign type push for public support of this proposal.”

“The idea that the agencies would campaign for regulation, rather than let the public fairly evaluate the proposal on its own merits speaks volumes to those who recognize this proposal as a plan not to regulate water, but rather initiate broad sweeping regulatory authority over private property.”

“Legislation forcing EPA to withdraw the proposal which has already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is on its way to passage in the U.S. Senate, is a reflection of the concerns Americans have expressed with the manner in which federal bureaucrats have instigated this rule.”

“As a coalition of Nebraskans who understand the harmful and damaging implications of this proposal, we will continue to work toward a reasonable fix that focuses on protecting private property rights while maintaining economic opportunities for Nebraskans.”

Common Sense Nebraska coalition partners:

AKSARBEN Club Managers Association
Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter
Farm Credit Services of America
Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association
National Federation of Independent Businesses/Nebraska
Nebraska Agribusiness Association
Nebraska Association of County Officials
Nebraska Association of Resource Districts
Nebraska Bankers Association
Nebraska Cattlemen
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Nebraska Cooperative Council
Nebraska Corn Board
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Nebraska Golf Course Managers Association
Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Association
Nebraska Pork Producers Association
Nebraska Poultry Industries
Nebraska Rural Electric Association
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska State Dairy Association
Nebraska State Home Builders Association
Nebraska State Irrigation Association
Nebraska Water Resources Association
Nebraska Wheat Growers Association
Nemaha Natural Resources District
Pawnee County Rural Water District #1

Revised Clean Water Rule Released

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources from pollution and degradation.

“The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers did as promised, they considered the more than one million comments that they received on the rule, they addressed concerns, refined and improved the rule,” said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs. “We are encouraged by the refinements and clarifications that EPA and the Army Corps have undertaken in this process, and encouraged to see better Clean Water Act enforcement poised to move forward.”

According to Crabtree, the revised rule ensures that surface water quality is protected under the Clean Water Act through a rule that is grounded in both law and science.  Nearly one in three Americans get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule. And healthy ecosystems provide more than drinking water, they provided wildlife habitat and places for fishing, swimming and paddling. Clean water is an economic driver for manufacturing, farming, ranching, tourism, recreation, and energy production.

“Perhaps most importantly, this rule was shaped, and improved, by public input,” Crabtree concluded. “EPA and the Army Corps asked Americans to weigh in on this rule, and over one million of them did so. That process will allow the rule to clear the regulatory waters, overcome the shrill hyperbole from organizations more interested in shilling for industry and industrial agriculture than in clean water, and get about the business of protecting the quality of America’s surface waters.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today issued the following statement on the release of the final Waters of the US rule by the EPA.

“The final rule is nearly 300 pages and will take some time to thoroughly analyze and understand its full impact.  Given the serious problems raised in the initial proposal, I do think it would have been wise for EPA to hold another comment period that would give all interested stakeholders a chance to closely review the rule and make thoughtful comments. It is very important that this be done correctly.  We want to encourage farmers to do additional conservation work on their farms, not stand in their way.  The uncertainty created by this entire rulemaking process has created unnecessary challenges and I hope this final rule doesn’t further exacerbate those issues.”

Soy Growers Will Review Clean Water Rule, Renew Call for Opportunity to Comment

The American Soybean Association will take the coming days to review the revised Clean Water Rule, formerly known as Waters of the United States, issued today by the Environmental Protection Agency, and comment after ASA leaders digest the proposals contained in the rule. In making the announcement, ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan reiterated the association’s request for an opportunity to comment on revisions to the rule, something not yet provided by EPA:

“As is the case with any expansive document, we need the time to determine the potential impacts of this rule for soybean operations in our 30 growing states before we decide how we want to respond. Our farmers and staff will analyze the rule and we will make a full statement once we’ve done so.

“It bears repeating, however, that we haven’t been given an opportunity to comment on EPA’s revision of the rule. We voiced strong opposition to the original version, and while we are encouraged by the agency’s willingness to revisit the rule and potentially address farmer concerns, we are very much in a ‘trust but verify’ mode. ASA needs to establish that the rule does not affect everyday soybean farming operations, and we are now in the process of making that determination. If we find that the rule does not live up to the promises made by EPA, we must have an opportunity to submit comments to the agency to that effect.”

EPA Writes off Rural America, Finalizes Proposed “Waters of the US” Rule

“Nothing left unregulated” is the apparent motto of the Environmental Protection Agency. Today, the Agency finalized its “Waters of the United States” proposed rule, which unilaterally strips private property rights and adds hundreds of thousands of stream miles and acres of land to federal jurisdiction.

Under the guise of clarifying the Clean Water Act, the EPA and the Army Corps added ambiguous language to the law that leaves regulation up to the subjectivity of individual regulators across the country. By law, the EPA must read and consider all comments submitted on the proposed rule, but only six months after receiving over one million public comments on the proposal, EPA has finalized the rule. Philip Ellis, National Cattlemen's Beef Association president, said this is a clear indication there is no intention of considering the concerns of those most impacted by the rule.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, however, that a flawed rule would come from a flawed process. Not only did the EPA write the proposal expanding the reach of the Clean Water Act without input from agriculture, the Agency implemented their own grassroots lobbying campaign to drown out the concerns of private property owners. The tax-payer funded campaign was promoted through social media channels and called for people to share EPA’s oversimplified and misleading talking points.

“The former Obama campaign officials that received political appointments at EPA are apparently putting their activist knowledge base to use,” said Ellis. “Soliciting endorsements and support is a far cry from simply educating the public, as EPA officials claim.”

The Agency even went a step further during a press conference when Administrator McCarthy called the concerns of cattlemen “ludicrous”. This doesn’t sound like an Agency interested in rural America at all. It’s an Agency with an agenda.

In fact, the EPA used maps of waters and wetlands throughout the country that detailed the extent of their proposal, but it wasn’t until the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology was doing research in preparation for a hearing that the maps were discovered. The taxpayer funded maps, presumably kept hidden for years, painted an “astonishing picture” of what EPA intended to regulate, as Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) explained.

“The EPA has been spending taxpayer dollars employing a grassroots lobbying campaign, hiding information, dismissing concerns from stakeholders, and holding closed-door meetings with environmental activists,” said Brenda Richards, Idaho rancher and Public Lands Council president. “There is no question that this rule will infringe on private property rights and usurp state authority over land and water use. Ambiguous language included will only serve to further jam courtrooms across the country with jurisdictional challenges.”

While NCBA and PLC are reviewing the details of the final rule, the entire process has been flawed and must be set aside; the final rule poses an unnecessary threat to private property owners and cattle producers across the country. The only fix is to start over with all stakeholders’ input and direction from Congress.

NCGA: Water Rules Must be Clear and Workable for Farmers

The following is a statement from Chip Bowling, Maryland farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s EPA announcement of a revised rule pertaining to the Clean Water Act.

“We cannot comment on the specifics of the revised rule until we have had a chance to fully review it. We especially want to ensure that the broad promises made in the EPA press release are carried out in the text of this comprehensive rule.

“With the earlier round of proposed rules, NCGA was concerned that the earlier proposed rule represented a significant expansion of federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction relative to anything that has ever been in rulemaking before. We especially will look closely at how on-farm ditches, ponds and puddles are treated in the rule.

“As in the past, we will work with EPA as much as possible to ensure we have rules in place that are clear and workable for farmers.”

National Farmers Union Statement on Waters of the U.S. Final Rule

President Roger Johnson

Released the following statement on today’s release of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Final Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

“NFU’s policy opposes any expansion of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA), but EPA has made genuine efforts in reaching out to agriculture stakeholders in the rule-making process and the final rule clearly demonstrates that the agency took the concerns of family agriculture under serious consideration.  While the rule is not perfect from our perspective, the final rule is an improvement over the proposed rule.

“The final rule puts bright-line limits on jurisdiction over neighboring waters, offering farmers increased regulatory certainty and mitigating the risk of enforcement or litigation. The final rule also provides more clarity on which ditches fall under the Clean Water Act jurisdiction, removing a gray area that has caused farmers and ranchers an incredible amount of concern.

“We appreciate EPA’s work on the regional water features, but remain concerned about waters that cannot impact the quality of jurisdictional waters will fall under jurisdiction, or that farmers will not have the regulatory certainty they need to address these waters appropriately.   NFU hopes EPA will clarify this process through timely guidance.”



The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed preliminary testing shows the presence of a fourth case of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in Nebraska. This case has been found at a farm in Knox County.

The Knox County case is a flock of 3 million hens. The farm is owned by the same operator as the three previously-announced Nebraska cases in Dixon County. Those three cases involve 3.5 million laying hens and a flock of 500,000 pullets (young hens), bringing the total impacted birds to date in Nebraska to 7 million. The location in Knox County is approximately 50 miles from the three Dixon County locations.

The Department quarantined the Knox County facility this morning following a preliminary positive test for the disease; the test is expected to be confirmed tomorrow at a federal laboratory. As with the three previous cases, a perimeter has been established around the Knox County facility, and the birds will be depopulated. Under the USDA protocol, NDA will visit all locations that have poultry within a 6.2 mile radius of the Knox County site to conduct testing.

Ibach said a response team has already been pulled together and is in Knox County to address the HPAI finding, including federal, state and local officials.

“I cannot stress enough the importance for all Nebraska poultry facility operators to ensure they maintain the strictest of biosecurity measures,” Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said. “That means strictly limiting the traffic, both humans and vehicles, into and out of facilities in an effort to avoid any cross-contamination.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a state emergency declaration on May 12 to provide NDA and other state agencies with appropriate resources to address the HPAI situation.

The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk to people from HPAI H5 infections to be low. There have not been any human cases associated with the HPAI H5 virus. Proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills the virus. Dixon 1, Dixon 2 and the Knox County facility are egg laying facilities and therefore the chickens are not consumed, and the eggs from these facilities are processed and go through pasteurization, eliminating product consumption risk.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is working with local health departments and the producer involved to interview workers about their possible exposure and monitor them if appropriate. For more information on public health and avian influenza, go to

Ibach is asking Nebraska poultry producers, large and small, to monitor their flocks for symptoms of the virus and notify NDA immediately if they suspect any problems. All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through NDA by calling 1-877-800-4080 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as industry are 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.

Additional information on HPAI can be found online at Information is available for producers and the general public.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to a probable case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Wright County.  With the new announcement, Iowa now has 67 cases of the disease in the state. The Department has quarantined the premise and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Wright 4 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 1 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.

As the Department receives final confirmations of the disease updated information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at

"Beef. It's What's For Dinner." Digital Advertising Efforts in Full Swing

2015 marks the second year since the beef checkoff’s “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand made the shift from traditional advertising to an all-digital approach, using an integrated digital media plan to reach consumers in a new and highly engaging way.

“The checkoff’s advertising efforts are instrumental in helping to educate millions of Americans on beef’s superior taste, nutritional package, ease-of-use and versatility by providing them with the beef-related information they need, when they need it,” says Terri Carstensen, Chair of the Domestic Consumer Preference committee, and beef producer from Odebolt, Iowa. “Through the checkoff’s digital advertising campaigns, consumers are equipped with the beef tips, techniques and recipes they need to ensure a great beef eating experience, each and every time.”

The success of the checkoff’s advertising program is the result of a three-pronged approach to digital:
-    Surface the information consumers are looking for, when they’re looking for it through a variety of online advertising tools, such as search, social and banner advertising;
-    Delight consumers with educational and entertaining content, including engaging and inspiring videos and recipes;
-    Make a positive difference in the way consumers feel about beef by showing how easy and versatile beef can be for any day of the week.

While the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand uses advertising strategies like search and social advertising throughout the entire year, the major advertising push is centered around the critical grilling season, which runs May through September. And according to the checkoff-funded Google Consumer Survey conducted in May 2015, nearly half (46.3 percent) of consumers are excited about serving beef this summer grilling season - which is nearly double that of any other protein. Additionally, 42 percent of consumers say they are likely to grill beef burgers (61.4 percent) and steaks (45 percent) over other proteins like chicken and pork.

This summer, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” will take advantage of its robust digital toolbox (and America’s love of beef) to reach consumers in a variety of ways, across different platforms:

    Website: serves as the go-to resource for recipes and meal inspirations, cooking tips and techniques, and nutrition information. Additionally, a new landing page supporting the grilling season campaign will be launched, showcasing how beef can help families live a flavorful life. Search, banner and social media advertising will help support the website and the new landing page, directing consumers to useful content and driving traffic throughout the campaign.

    New videos: Three new “No-Recipe Recipe” advertising videos are being created to inspire new meal ideas and cooking techniques, while showing how beef can help bring a delicious and nutritious meal to life. These videos will be available on the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” YouTube channel at the launch of the campaign.

    Social, Banners, Search Advertising: These media components will be used throughout the summer campaign and the rest of 2015 to drive traffic to and various content assets throughout the year, such a recipes collections, videos and the grilling season landing page. Additionally, website partnerships with major media outlets like Meredith Digital and Scripps will give the Beef Checkoff-funded “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” brand the opportunity to integrate recipes on sites like and

    Protein Challenge: The Protein Challenge—launched in April 2015—has already generated more than 137,000 page visits on, making it the most popular page on the website. Search and Facebook advertising efforts have motivated more than 10,500 consumers to subscribe to the daily Protein Challenge emails.

Already, the digital advertising efforts are surpassing 2014 with a nearly 700% increase in the acquisition rate of new Facebook fans and 272% increase in total website visits. With results like that, the Beef Checkoff is confident that this grilling season campaign will generate even bigger results for the beef industry in 2015.

For delicious triple-tested beef recipes, nutrition information and to learn more about the "Beef. It's What's For Dinner." advertising campaign, please visit

Dead Calm in Fertilizer Prices

According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of May 2015, prices appear steady. No fertilizers are significantly lower or higher compared to a month earlier, as has been the case in recent weeks.

Five of the eight major fertilizers were higher in price compared to a month prior but these moves were slight. Potash averaged $492 per ton, urea $459/ton, 10-34-0 $650/ton, UAN28 $332/ton and UAN32 $372/ton.

Three fertilizers were lower compared to the previous month, but again the move down was fairly insignificant. DAP averaged $570/ton, MAP $597/ton and anhydrous $710/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea averaged $0.50/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.59/lb.N and UAN32 $0.58/lb.N.

Only one of the eight major fertilizers is double-digits higher in price compared to May 2014, all while commodity prices are significantly lower from a year ago. 10-34-0 is 17% higher compared to last year.

Two other fertilizers are slightly more expensive compared to a year earlier. Potash is 3% more expensive while anhydrous 2% more expensive compared to a year earlier.

The remaining five nutrients are now lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. DAP is 4% less expensive, MAP is 5% lower, UAN28 is down 7%, UAN32 is 9% less expensive and urea is 17% less expensive from a year earlier.

NBAF breaks ground in Manhattan

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) groundbreaking took place today in a ceremony attended by city, university, state and federal leaders. The NBAF facility will make Kansas the epicenter of new and progressive animal disease research. The Kansas Congressional Delegation, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey all took part in the groundbreaking event in addition to numerous federal officials.

NBAF being located in Kansas reaffirms the Kansas Department of Agriculture s commitment to protect and preserve our tremendous animal agriculture industry, said McClaskey. This state-of-the-art facility will offer great opportunities for advancements in animal agriculture. We understand the inherent value of NBAF and the challenge to protect this valuable industry. We take pride in Kansas agriculture and recognize the significant economic contribution the animal agriculture industry has in Kansas and in the United States. We look forward to the opportunities to partner with NBAF, as together we will play a role in keeping those sectors protected.

Ensuring a safe food supply, protecting natural resources, promoting public health and safety, protecting animal health, and providing consumer protection to the best of its ability, is part of the mission of the Kansas Department of Agriculture. NBAF will provide fundamental research assuring livestock, food and fiber industries in Kansas remain secure.

The agriculture industry impacts the state s economy more than any other sector, accounting for more than $63 billion to the Kansas economy each year and more than $1 trillion nationally. In an economy that relies heavily on the agriculture industry, innovative research is imperative for future progress and security.  Federal, state and local partnerships have all played fundamental roles in the construction of the NBAF. The Department of Homeland Security and the United States Department of Agriculture will continue utilizing partnerships to maximize research capabilities.

New NREL Study Confirms E15 Compatibility with Existing Service Station Equipment

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) today thanked the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) for its work in researching and publishing the E15 and Infrastructure technical report today.

ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty said “’Rumors of E15’s impossibility and high equipment cost have been greatly exaggerated.’  NREL’s analysis confirms what we have been telling station owners since E15 was approved - most underground storage tanks (USTs), piping, and other fueling equipment are already compatible with E15.”

Lamberty said the ethanol industry has been criticized and called “dangerous” and “dishonest’ for suggesting marketers could simply put E15 in tanks they previously used for premium or midgrade gasoline. “Even after highlighting real-world fuel marketers selling E15 from existing equipment, the myth of high priced E15 infrastructure remains,” said Lamberty. “This study effectively busts that myth.”

“In stations where Big Oil couldn’t contractually ban E15, they had to scare the owners out of offering the less-expensive, higher-octane fuel,” Lamberty explained. “As EPA nears its June 1st deadline for proposing new RFS blending targets, this NREL information, coupled with the number of vehicles built and warrantied for E15 growing beyond 50 million, should help them see Big Oil’s blend wall bogeyman isn’t real.”

NREL performed a review of existing literature, applicable codes and standards, equipment manufacturers’ products, and manufacturers’ statements of compatibility with ethanol blends, to compile the E15 and Infrastructure technical report. Among its key findings:
 ·    “It is often stated that tanks cannot be used to store E15, but this assumption is incorrect as the majority of installed tanks can store blends above E10.”
 ·    “For many decades, underground storage tank (UST) manufacturers certified their USTs for blends up to E100, for example, all steel tanks and underground fiberglass tanks since the year 1990.”
 ·    “All existing pipe manufacturers have Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listing for E100.” 
 ·    “Manufacturers of pipe thread sealants (pipe dope) used in UST systems have stated that their products have been compatible with ethanol blends up to E20 for many years.”
 ·    Contrary to concerns over corrosion and potential fuel releases from increased ethanol use, NREL found that EPA data shows releases decreased as ethanol use expanded nationwide. “The number of reported UST releases has been steadily declining since 2000 from occurring in about 2% of all USTs in the United States to about 1% in 2014.”

The study was funded by the Blend Your Own Ethanol campaign, a joint effort of ACE and RFA to provide information for fuel retailers considering ethanol blends beyond E10. A full copy of the report can be found here or at, and interested parties can also register on the BYO website for an NREL webinar on the report which will be offered June 11, 2015 and 1:00 PM CDT.

Agricultural Lenders See Increase in Demand for Services to Support Customers Facing Ag Efficiency Cycle

A survey of Farm Credit lenders in America’s heartland shows an increased demand for market risk management services as farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses respond to a tightening agriculture economy. AgriBank, the St. Paul, Minn.-based Farm Credit Bank, released the poll with a new report  that examines trends innet farm income and farm balance sheets, and points to the need for producers act now to position themselves for success.

When asked which service has seen the greatest increase in demand in 2015, 57.1 percent named market risk management. These same lenders reported significant growth in demand for assistance with business planning, interest rate risk management and crop/revenue insurance.

AgriBank conducted the poll May 14 among chief executive officers of its affiliated Farm Credit Associations. The 17 Associations affiliated with AgriBank are top providers of loans for agriculture and rural borrowers in a 15-state area stretching from Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Arkansas.

AgriBank Poll

"Which of the following services has seen the greatest increase in demand in 2015 as customers start to prepare for the agriculture efficiency cycle?” ​

Business planning - 21.4%
Crop/revenue insurance - 7.1%
Interest rate risk management - 14.3%
Market risk management - 57.1%

AgriBank Insights Report: The Agriculture Efficiency Cycle

A new AgriBank report released with the survey finds that U.S. farmers are in a strong financial position, but crop producers need to cut costs as crop prices fall from historic highs into an agriculture efficiency cycle.

“In recent years, crop farmers across America’s heartland have generally enjoyed a period of strong financial progress. However, in the past few years, commodity prices have declined significantly, and net farm income, based on USDA forecasts, is expected to fall over the next decade,” said Jeff Swanhorst, AgriBank’s chief credit officer. “Producers who see today’s environment as an agriculture efficiency cycle—and find ways to drive down cost per unit of production—can position themselves for continued success.”

Report Highlights

-    Net farm income falling. After the record $129 billion in 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects aggregate nominal net farm income to decline in 2014 and 2015, reaching a five-year low of $73.6 billion in 2015.

-    Farm balance sheets strong but moderating. The U.S. farm sector debt-to-asset ratio, a measure of overall farm financial health, reached an all-time low of 10.6 percent in 2014 and is projected to increase only slightly to 10.9 percent for 2015—still well below the values that prevailed in the 1980s and 1990s. This compares to the high of over 22 percent during the height of the 1980s farm crisis.

-    Agriculture efficiency cycles require cost cuts. While strong balance sheets provide a window of opportunity for producers to adjust to changing market conditions, the expected decline in net farm income means producers must bring income and expenses in line. A solution in periods like this is to drive a higher level of efficiency into operations, which can reduce the cost per unit of production.

The report outlines four steps producers can take to adapt to today’s agriculture efficiency cycle:
-    Understand all of the primary factors that determine their cost per unit of production
-    Research and thoroughly evaluate those practices, techniques and technologies that have the potential to reduce the major cost of production categories. Adopt those that can have a major impact on cost per unit of production.
-    Take advantage of historically low interest rates by locking in fixed rates when appropriate
-    Use crop/revenue insurance and sound, prudent marketing strategies to protect and enhance the gross revenue side of the farm income statement

New USDA Portal Enables Farmers, Ranchers to Request Conservation Assistance Online

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners can now do business with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through a new online portal.  With today’s launch of Conservation Client Gateway, producers will have the ability to work with conservation planners online to access Farm Bill programs, request assistance and track payments for their conservation activities.

“What used to require a trip to a USDA service center can now be done from a home computer through Conservation Client Gateway,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to providing effective, efficient assistance to its clients, and Conservation Client Gateway is one way to improve customer service."

Conservation Client Gateway enables farmers, ranchers and private landowners to securely:

•   Request NRCS technical and financial assistance;
•   Review and sign conservation plans and practice schedules;
•   Complete and sign an application for a conservation program;
•   Review, sign and submit contracts and appendices for conservation programs;
•   Document completed practices and request certification of completed practices;
•   Request and track payments for conservation programs; and
•   Store and retrieve technical and financial files, including documents and photographs.

Conservation Client Gateway is entirely voluntary, giving producers a choice between conducting business online or traveling to a USDA service center.

“Our goal is to make it easy and convenient for farmers and ranchers to work with USDA,” Vilsack said. “Customers can log in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to electronically sign documents, apply for conservation programs, access conservation plans, report practice completion or track the status of conservation payments. Through Conservation Client Gateway, producers have their conservation information at their fingertips and they can save time and gas money by reducing the number of trips to USDA service centers.”

Conservation Client Gateway is available to individual landowners and will soon be extended to business entities, such as Limited Liability Corporations. It is part of the agency’s ongoing Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative, which will feature additional capabilities in the future.

For more information about Conservation Client Gateway, visit:


Soybean and cotton growers looking for new tools to manage weeds will have a new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 with Warrant Ultra Herbicide, a premix of acetochlor and fomesafen approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month.

Warrant® Herbicide – with its active ingredient acetochlor - was launched in 2010. It quickly became a favorite among soybean and cotton growers for its outstanding residual weed control – including control of glyphosate-resistant and tough-to-control weeds – as well as its crop safety due to its unique microencapsulated formulation. Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions recommendations have included products containing the active ingredient fomesafen as a key weed-management option since the launch of the platform in 2011. When fully approved, Warrant Ultra Herbicide will be the only premix on the market to formulate microencapsulated acetochlor with fomesafen, and will provide two mechanisms of action (MOA) for residual weed control. Additionally, fomesafen provides an additional postemergence MOA, which is a useful herbicide resistance management tool when used in the Roundup Ready ® system.

“Warrant Ultra Herbicide provides excellent post-emergence control of problematic weeds such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth – as well as excellent broad-spectrum residual weed control – in a convenient premix,” said Austin Horn, Monsanto’s Marketing Manager for Selective Herbicides.  “University research shows that Warrant Ultra Herbicide provides excellent residual control of annual grasses and small-seeded broadleaf weeds when compared to competitive products. Because of its microencapsulation technology, Warrant Ultra Herbicide also offers superior crop safety when compared to competitive products.”

Warrant Ultra Herbicide received EPA approval on April 14, and state registrations are anticipated for key soybean and cotton geographies in the coming weeks.

Warrant Ultra Herbicide will be part of the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions recommendations and incentives in 2016, the details of which will be announced this fall. The Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions platform focuses on providing growers with recommendations, education and incentives through the combined knowledge of scientists, academics, agronomists and industry partnerships. Through these relationships, Monsanto continually strives to provide a diverse range of crop protection solutions and help farmers get the most out of every acre.

The 2016 introduction of Warrant Ultra Herbicide follows the 2015 introduction of Rowel™ Herbicide and Rowel™ FX Herbicide, which can provide cotton and soybean growers consistent weed control on tough-to-control broadleaf weeds.

More information about Rowel Herbicide and Rowel FX Herbicide – as well as crop management recommendations and incentive information – can be found at

Kubota to Build New Plant, Expand Facilities in Georgia

Kubota Tractor Corporation and Kubota Manufacturing of America Corporation officially announced plans to increase production capacity for Kubota equipment in the U.S. by building a new manufacturing plant and expanding its existing operations in Gainesville, Ga.

The company's expansion plans come on the heels of KTC's recent announcement that it will relocate its U.S. headquarters to Grapevine, Texas, in an effort to get closer to its major markets and customers.

The new Georgia plant will be located on 180 acres at Gateway Industrial Centre, in Gainesville-Hall County, three miles from KMA's existing facilities. The new building will be an estimated 502,000 square feet.

The existing KMA facility, which has been in operation since 1988 and employs approximately 1,300 people, will also undergo enhancements to increase its production capacity to support Kubota's growing turf business.

Both KTC and KMA are U.S. subsidiaries of Kubota Corporation, based in Osaka, Japan, and have been actively pursuing an aggressive growth strategy in the U.S.