Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday July 31 Ag News A Website Dedicated to Beef Cattle Genetics
Matt Spangler, Nebraska Extension Beef Genetics Specialist

A new website dedicated to beef cattle genetics has been launched at the 2015 Beef Improvement Federation Conference. ( is part of the national eXtension program with the goal of being a one-stop site for beef cattle genetics and genomics information. Beef cattle specialists from six land grant institutions have joined forces to provide educational materials that are pertinent to today’s beef cattle producers, without searching multiple sites or filtering through countless hits on a search. The site contains factsheets, short frequently asked question (FAQ) video clips, relevant conference recordings and webinars, a blog and links to other useful beef sites.

One of the developers of the new site, Dr. Darrh Bullock at the University of Kentucky said “Often beef producers get frustrated when they search for information online and get information overload. We wanted to develop a user friendly site that provides information in a concise, understandable way without having to sort through enormous amounts of information.”

The team plans to achieve this goal by including only selected, peer-reviewed publications on the website. Additionally, a list of FAQs will be available and easily accessed in short videos. Archived recordings of webinars and conference presentations can be accessed through the video library. The “Ask the Expert” section of the site can be utilized to find custom answers to specific problems and covers all aspects of beef cattle production.

Another goal of the website is to archive the information generated from current and future beef genetics integrated grants funded by USDA-NIFA. All team members are a part of one or more of the three current grants (Integrated Program for Reducing Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex in Beef and Dairy Cattle; National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef Cattle; and Identification and Management of Alleles Impairing Heifer Fertility While Optimizing Genetic Gain in Angus Cattle). Another team member, Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam from the University of California – Davis, stated “A large investment has been made to develop tools to genetically improve health, feed efficiency and reproduction in cattle and we need to ensure that the information gained is available to beef producers for years to come.”

For more information or to make suggestions please contact any of the team members. The other team members are Dr. Jared Decker, University of Missouri; Dr. Megan Rolf, Oklahoma State University; Dr. Matt Spangler, University of Nebraska; and Dr. Bob Weaber, Kansas State University.

Marketing Plans for Your Livestock Operation

Kate Brooks, Nebraska Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist
Jay Parsons, UNL Biosystems Economist

Now is a good time to revisit your cattle marketing plans. For those of you who don’t yet have a marketing plan, now may be a good opportunity to start putting one together. Every operation should develop and maintain a marketing plan. These plans can be very simple to very complex, depending on your situation and level of detail. These plans need to be flexible and easily updated as things change. As you look at creating a marketing plan, you need to answer these five questions:

1) What are you going to sell?

If you have a current operation, this can be easy to come up with. For instance, you already know whether you are producing for a niche market (i.e. all natural, organic, etc.) or a commodity market. If you have a spring calving herd, you should already know the number and sex of the calves you plan to sell. You also need to determine the target weight you want them to reach at time of sale. If you are selling a replacement heifer or cow, you need to determine the target age, as well as whether she will be open or pregnant at time of sale.

2) Where are you going to sell?

Within the beef industry, there are several options. Auction barns have had a long tradition of selling cattle and calves. Market animals can also be sold through online forums or video auctions, as well as direct marketing to local feedyards. Some have even been known to post sales on Craigslist. It is important to identify your target market and explore all the options available to you to sell your product.

3) When are you going to price or sell that product?

When do you plan to physically market the animals? Establishing your price may occur at a different time than when you physically market the animal. You should feel comfortable with the methods of selling and pricing your cattle. Some producers may only use cash markets or cash forward contracts, while other producers may feel comfortable using the futures market or options market. Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) Insurance is another option to consider when pricing your cattle. More information on LRP for feeder cattle can be found at: You should find an acceptable level of risk and pricing method you can be happy with. The best pricing methods may change from year to year and what your neighbor did may not be the best choice for you.

4) What are your goals and objectives?

Given current market conditions and price expectations, what are the goals and objectives you seek to accomplish with your marketing plan? Keep in mind, seeking only to get the highest price can expose you to more risk than you can handle or feel comfortable. Your goals should be a combination of getting a good price and controlling the risk associated with the market place.

5) How can you accomplish your marketing goals and objectives?

Identify specific strategies and tools that can help you reach your marketing goals and objectives. Specify actions you need to take and deadlines you need to meet in order to put yourself on a timeline that keeps you proactively implementing your plan and managing the market risk.

Planning is essential. Creating a marketing plan can help alleviate stress as well as emotion in implementing your marketing strategy. Understanding your cost of production will help establish your pricing objectives and the triggers that make the marketing plan more valuable. Make sure you continually evaluate your plan and establish contingency or backup plans you can implement if there are price or market changes that differ from your original expectations.


Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach is promoting the celebration of National Farmers’ Market Week in the state, set for Aug. 2-8, by noting a new fresh produce milestone. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) recently registered its 100th farmers’ market in the state.

“The growing demand for locally-produced fruits and vegetables has been a positive driving force for farmers’ markets in Nebraska,” Ibach said. “This sector continues to grow and add diversification to the state’s overall agricultural economy.”

Growth of farmers’ markets in Nebraska is occurring in rural, as well as urban, communities. Since 2000, Nebraska farmers’ markets listed with NDA has increased 257 percent, according to NDA Ag Promotion Coordinator Casey Foster. As demand has increased, some communities have begun holding markets on more days with longer hours. In addition, many of the vendors have begun offering a wider variety of produce, he said.

To facilitate access to market information, NDA earlier this year launched a new web page that provides details on locations, days and times of farmers’ markets across the state. Produce farmers also are given the opportunity to list locations where they sell from, as well as the types of produce they sell.

“There definitely has been a need to have all the pertinent information regarding the state’s farmers’ markets in one recognizable location,” said Foster, who is the farmers’ market coordinator for NDA. “We provide access to the site to registered farmers so they can list all their pertinent information as well as keep it up-to-date. We also have an easy search function to make the page user-friendly for consumers wanting to find market and grower information at specific locations.”

The farmers’ market page can be accessed through the NDA website at The page lists the 100 farmers’ markets, as well as over 400 produce growers. Foster said market managers, as well as individual growers, can contact him to be added to the database by calling NDA at 800-422-6692.

In addition to coordinating farmers’ market programs, Foster also manages several federally-funded specialty crop programs. The Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program both are designed to increase sales for produce growers by encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among qualified senior citizens and individuals in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program.

Foster is working with program officials in Omaha to host two cooking demonstrations for WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program participants during National Farmers’ Market Week. Those sites are:
-       Wed., Aug. 5 – Midtown WIC – 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
-       Thurs., Aug. 6 – One World WIC – 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

“National Farmers’ Market Week provides the perfect platform for us to hold cooking demonstrations that encourage program participants to properly use the fresh fruits and vegetables they receive,” said Foster. “This allows us to promote healthier lifestyles for WIC participants, while at the same time creating greater awareness of farmers’ markets in Nebraska.”


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Reports of high numbers of grasshoppers in alfalfa have been coming to me from a wide area.  It’s time to evaluate and consider potential control options.

               Grasshoppers are eating a lot of alfalfa in a lot of places.  And they will only get worse as the year continues. Control may be needed.

               Control begins with scouting to determine if insecticides are economically useful.  Exact economic thresholds can’t be determined because of variables like value of the alfalfa and growth stage of both alfalfa and grasshopper.  Still, if the grasshopper population in an established field is higher than 5 hoppers per square yard throughout the field or 15 hoppers per square yard in field margins, insecticides probably are worthwhile.  Newly planted fields may need treatment if the grasshopper population is just half this level.

               Around many alfalfa fields, grasshoppers have just started moving in from the field margins.  Treating just the outside 150 feet or so may be sufficient in these situations.  However, if the entire field already is infested, it usually is best to first harvest the alfalfa and then apply insecticide to protect the regrowth.

               To reduce the cost and amount of insecticide used when treating an entire field, harvest alfalfa but leave several small, uncut strips across the field.  The remaining grasshoppers will quickly congregate in these strips, enabling you to just treat these smaller areas.  Reduced Area/Agent Treatments also have proven effective for alfalfa.

               Carefully read and follow all label directions and be especially careful to avoid injuring bee and other important pollinating insects.

               If you have many grasshoppers in your alfalfa, control them soon.  As they grow larger, they’ll only get worse.

Iowa Corn Leader Elected U.S. Grains Council Officer

At the 55th Annual U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Delegates Meeting in Montreal, Canada, this week, Deb Keller was elected to serve as the secretary-treasurer of the organization. Keller, who represents the Iowa Corn Promotion Board with her USGC board seat, is a second generation farmer from Clarion. Her election to the USGC Board of Directors marks the first time a woman has served on the executive committee in USGC's history. She will rotate to the organization's Chairman position in the next two years.

"I am honored to be elected to the officer rotation of the USGC," says Keller. "Exports of corn, sorghum, barley and ethanol are extremely important to all Iowans. Ag exports are what keep our economy going strong. I look forward to helping to enable trade and increase the demand for corn, ethanol and its co-products. I am excited to be a part of the executive committee as the USGC begins its newest program of marketing ethanol to international customers."

Keller says she has been working toward becoming an officer of the Council for the last nine years. She is the past chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and has served on Iowa Corn's Research & Business Development Committee and the Exports & Grain Trade Committee. She has led the U.S. Grains Council Rest of the World Action Committee and served as a member of the National Corn Growers Association's Research & Business Development Action Team.

"Deb has given a lot of time and leadership as an advocate for agriculture at the local, state, and national level," said Craig Floss, the ICPB's Chief Executive Officer. "I have no doubt that she will do an outstanding job representing Iowa's corn growers in a leadership role with the USGC."

Keller farms 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans with her husband, Gary. They have three children. One of their daughters and son-in-law as well as Gary's brother farm with them.

Also at the USGC meeting, Dick Gallagher was re-elected as the Corn Sector Director on the USGC Board. Gallagher farms in Washington, Iowa, and has served at ICPB Chair and currently serves on the Iowa Corn Exports and the Grain Trade Committee.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis to Assume New Role  as Co-chair of the Board of Directors

Growth Energy announced today that CEO Tom Buis has been named as co-chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors. Buis will join POET Founder and Executive Chairman Jeff Broin as co-chairmen of the Growth Energy board. In his new role Buis will remain actively involved in member activities and policy matters important to the industry. Buis will continue overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization until a new CEO has been appointed.

“I love this job and I love advocating for an industry that means so much for America,” Buis said. “As co-chair, I will remain engaged in growing membership and advocating for policies that benefit American farmers and consumers, but I’m also at a point in life where I’m ready to assume more of a guiding role as a leader on the board. I am proud of the accomplishments we have had at Growth Energy, as it has grown from a startup to the largest trade association representing the ethanol industry in America.”

“We couldn’t ask for more from a leader than what Tom Buis has provided as CEO of Growth Energy,” Broin said. “He is a tireless advocate not only for ethanol but for rural America and for every driver in America. I’m thankful that he is willing to continue to provide insight and guidance for this industry now and in the future.”

Growth Energy has retained Korn/Ferry International, the world's largest executive search firm, to lead a nationwide search for its next CEO.

Variable El Nino Impact Predicted

Bryce Anderson, DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist

Wide swings in precipitation during the upcoming fall and winter due to El Nino have weather agency forecasters cautious about the impact on harvest conditions, river flow and fire potential in the upper Missouri River basin. The region extends from Montana to Minnesota and from North Dakota to Nebraska.

El Nino is the term used to describe the warming of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that takes place every few years. This warming alters the weather pattern of the tropics, and can extend its influence over many other areas of the world, including the U.S. Recent temperature readings place the eastern Pacific temperatures at 3 degrees Celsius above average, which is well above the average reading. This warming extends to a depth of approximately 300 meters. Thus, a huge pool of water has the anomalous warmth. This warmer-ocean regime is expected to remain in place for the balance of the year.

"Forecasts have El Nino in effect through the winter into spring," said Dennis Todey, South Dakota state climatologist. "The likelihood is 90% or above for this -- certainly through this winter."

The extent of warming in the current El Nino may rival some of the strongest such events in recorded history. "El Nino was strong in 1982-83, and in 1997-98. The readings for those events certainly compare to this one," Todey said.

The impact of El Nino-adjusted weather patterns on the U.S. is not guaranteed. "Every El Nino is different," observed Doug Kluck, regional director of the Missouri River basin climate office in Kansas City. Still, there are some large trends which command respect.

One of those features is the prospect for a wet harvest. "September to November precipitation tends to be above normal; it's wetter in the fall," said Todey. "That can certainly mean harvest delays if it turns very wet." Todey also cited possible issues with winter wheat planting due to wet fields. In recent history, El Nino conditions were in place during the fall 2009 season, when harvest season was very slow to proceed; in some fields, harvest did not get finished until the following spring.

Looking to winter, the situation changes from too wet to potentially too dry. "Northern states have much less snow during El Nino winters," Todey noted. This drier trend combines with a forecast for above-normal temperatures to produce a higher range fire risk. "The fire situation is complicated. A more-open winter with less snow cover, along with the warmer temperatures, leads to a higher potential," Todey said. Fire threats in the region are highest in Montana and Wyoming, where the winter season is forecast to bring above-normal temperatures to these states.

In addition to the warm Pacific tropical waters, a large area of the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North America -- nicknamed "The Blob" -- is also commanding forecasters' attention for its potential to affect fall and winter weather. "The question really is what impact that Pacific blob will have," said Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. "There is no analog to the state of the oceans right now. There is a lot of warm pool inertia."


With the effective date of the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule set for Aug. 28 – just 60 days after it was finalized – the National Pork Producers Council this week joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Public Lands Council, the United Egg Producers and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association in calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to postpone implementation of the regulation. The WOTUS rule is supposed to clarify the agencies’ authority under the Clean Water Act over various waters. Currently, that jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – includes “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. The new regulation would broaden that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also would encompass lands adjacent to such waters. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, NPPC and the other groups said complexities and uncertainties associated with the rule and the fact that there was little time for the regulated community to comply with it and for EPA and Corps of Engineers staff to be trained to interpret and implement it should prompt the delay. “The regulated community needs to know how the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction will be determined and assurances that such determinations will be made in a timely, predictable, and consistent manner,” said the organizations. They requested that the WOTUS rule’s effective date be delayed “until all relevant staff at the agencies have been adequately trained on implementation of the rule.”


Included in a six-year highway funding bill approved Thursday by the Senate are two provisions important to the U.S. pork industry. The “Ports Performance Act” would require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics to collect metrics of port marine terminal productivity, which would serve as an early warning system for determining when ports stop operating normally and for when the federal government needs to step in to protect the economy. The ports measure was prompted by the recent work slowdowns at West Coast ports, the result of a labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents companies that own West Coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers. The nearly four-month slowdowns cost the U.S. meat and poultry sectors hundreds of millions of dollars. The other provision would permanently extend for truckers hauling livestock a waiver from DOT’s Hours of Service rule, which requires drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every 8 hours of service. It would have prohibited drivers hauling livestock and poultry from caring for animals during the rest period. NPPC has petition the agency each of the last three years, seeking a waiver from the requirement. This spring, livestock operators were granted a two-year waiver – the maximum allowable under the current law – from the rule, beginning June 12. The waiver would become a permanent part of the federal highway safety law under the Senate bill. Because the House Wednesday passed a transportation bill that only extends highway funding for three months, the Senate Thursday also took up and approved that measure. When it returns after a month-long recess, the House is expected to consider a multi-year highway bill.

Bayer CEO: No Plans to Buy Syngenta

The CEO of German drugmaker Bayer has quashed any talk of acquiring its competitor Syngenta, which is currently being pursued by U.S. firm Monsanto.

"I would say that Syngenta is not a logical acquisition target for Bayer because there is quite some overlap in the businesses," Bayer's CEO Marijn Emmanuel Dekkers told CNBC. "Both Syngenta and Bayer are very strong in chemical crop protection: herbicides, insecticides, fungicides that farmers use to fight off disease for their crops. So no, that is not a logical target for Bayer."

CNBC and Reuters reports that Bayer's underlying core earnings increased by one third in the second quarter, helped by lower raw material costs at its plastics division, as well as a gain in prescriptions of new drugs such a stroke prevention pill Xarelto.

Dekkers says this companies is marketing Xarelto in 60-70 countries at the moment so the introduction has been very successful. In the United States, Xarelto has more market share than all of the other oral anti-coagulants combined of our competitors.

Thursday July 30 Ag News

Ricketts Announces Trade Mission to Japan
Nebraska’s relationship with Japan is key to growing exports, overseas investment

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that he and Lt. Governor Mike Foley will lead trade delegations to Japan in September in a continuing effort to grow Nebraska’s economy through foreign trade and investment.

Gov. Ricketts will lead a delegation of Nebraska business leaders to the 47th Annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference (MWJA), in Tokyo, September 12th-16th.

Lt. Gov. Foley will arrive in Japan the week prior, September 9th-11th, with a separate delegation that will focus on promoting Nebraska beef and pork to its largest export partner. Gov. Ricketts will address the conference on September 14th.

“Because Japan continues to be one of Nebraska’s top export customers and business investors, this is the perfect opportunity to continue building on our current relationships and reaffirm our commitment as a key player in Japan and the world marketplace,” said Gov. Ricketts.

Company officials will have the opportunity to meet with approximately 300 top industry and government officials and listen to internationally-known speakers from the U.S. and Japan. Top level executives from leading firms across Japan, such as Ajinomoto Co. Inc., Itochu Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Sony, Sumitomo Chemical, Toshiba Corp., and Toyota participate in the conference each year.

Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, CEcD, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), will join the Governor’s delegation of Nebraska business representatives and government officials at the conference. In addition to organizing the September 12th-16th portion of the trade mission, DED will work with its Nebraska delegation members to identify appropriate companies for them to meet, and make introductions on their behalf thereby providing networking opportunities throughout the conference.

“This annual conference provides an excellent framework for the Governor and our delegates to meet with key corporate global company leaders, continue to sell the benefits of doing business with Nebraska, and further sustain and forge a traditions-rich relationship,” said Hicks-Sorensen. “We are looking forward to many exciting opportunities that exist for expanding and growing our global business reach.”

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is organizing the September 9th-11th portion of the trade mission. Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, along with representatives of several commodity groups and farm organizations, will join Lt. Gov. Foley for the agricultural trade team activities. The group will be participating in several U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) promotional functions, and the delegation will visit Tokyo to meet with retailers, distributors, importers, and restauranteurs.

“Lt. Gov. Foley and the agriculture delegation will promote Nebraska as a primary source of high-quality, world-class beef and pork to the Japanese marketplace,” Gov. Ricketts said. “They also will meet with food bloggers and media members to tell the Nebraska story. These folks are highly influential in consumer purchasing decisions in Japan, so it is important to have a direct dialogue.”

Over 20 percent of Nebraska’s beef exports and over 50 percent of the state’s pork exports are destined for Japan. In 2014, Nebraska’s beef exports to Japan reached $276 million and pork exports were $235 million. Japan is Nebraska’s largest foreign direct investor, having invested more than $4.4 billion into the state since 2010. Japan is the state's third largest export market, as Nebraska posted merchandise exports of more than $735 million to Japan in 2014, representing 9.3 percent of the state’s total merchandise exports.

“We don’t want to take this market for granted,” Director Ibach said. “There is room to grow our market share, but we must keep in mind that our competitors are trying to do the same thing. These promotional activities keep Nebraska top-of-mind for existing customers and open doors with new ones.”

This is the second overseas trade mission of the Governor’s administration. Governor Ricketts has said that trade missions are an important part of his strategy to Grow Nebraska, and has said he hopes to conduct two trade missions a year.

Three USGC Delegates Honored for A Decade of Service

Three U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) delegates – Randy Ives of Gavilon; Ray Defenbaugh of Big River Resources; and Stan Garbacz from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture – were honored for 10 years of service to the organization at its 55th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting this week in Montreal, Canada.

Asked about their experiences with the Council, the three told different stories but were unanimous in recognizing its value.

The highlight for Ives has been seeing the ethanol industry come together to meet challenges from antidumping cases to biotechnology acceptance.

“The Council has played a very, very exceptional role as we’ve taken distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) exports from a million short tons to four million and now to nearly 10 million tons,” Ives said.

“A great accomplishment in the last four to five years was educating consumers, end-users and U.S. marketers so we maintained our customer base as DDGS have changed.”

Garbacz said he sees the Council’s work in China as a major achievement.

“China was actually a major corn exporting country when the Council began programs in the country,” Garbacz said. “The Council not only found demand in China for U.S. corn but it also hired people to show the Chinese how to use corn in livestock feed. That brought China to the point where it was importing U.S. corn.”

Working with the Council in China also helped Nebraska promote exports of swine genetics, according to Garbacz.

That produced a double benefit.

“If you’re producing more swine, you need more genetics and with more livestock, you need more livestock feed such as corn,” he explained.

For Defenbaugh, whose company was the first ethanol plant to join the Council, ethanol promotion is a big Council story.

“I encourage anyone in the ethanol industry to have a Council membership,” he said. “Look at how the Council promotes DDGS overseas and how that market has changed with their help. And now they’re promoting ethanol.”

The Council, he concluded, “is an excellent organization for promoting rural America through the enhancement of exports. That is good if you live in rural America and are involved in agriculture.”

Garbacz emphasized the need to continue the Council’s work: “You’ve got to stay on top of markets, especially with the volatility in some countries. The Council has people in every region of the world providing us information that we can analyze so we know what we need to do to compete.”

CNH Industrial Celebrates 50 Years of Operations in Nebraska

CNH Industrial N.V. celebrated an important milestone in Nebraska this past week, marking 50 years of operations at its Grand Island plant. Local dignitaries, including Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, Grand Island City Council Leader Linna Dee Donaldson, Grand Island Chamber President Cindy Johnson, and Grand Island Area Economic Development President Dave Taylor, joined hundreds of current and former employees and their families at the plant to honor the legacy of the capital goods manufacturer's premier agricultural equipment manufacturing facilities.

Built to produce combines for the North American market, the first unit came off the production line at the Grand Island plant on Monday, Nov. 22, 1965, a mere five months after the groundbreaking. Customer demands quickly required the operations to expand beyond combines to include haytool equipment. Since opening, the facility has tripled in size from 324,000 sq. ft. to 980,000 sq. ft. today.

"Fifty years is quite an achievement and our success is a direct result of our employees' commitment and the community's support," said Bill Baasch, CNH Industrial vice president of manufacturing for North America. "Today, we honor our history, celebrate our past and present employees, and continue to take pride in our continued contribution to producing world-class agricultural equipment in Nebraska for farmers around the world."

The Grand Island facility operates as one of CNH Industrial's state-of-the-art Centers of Excellence, hosting current product design, manufacturing, and testing all in one location. The plant manufactures combines and hay tools, such as self-propelled and pull type windrowers, and bale wagons, for CNH Industrial's Case IH and New Holland Agriculture brands. Several business units make up the manufacturing area of the Grand Island plant, including fabrication, welding, paint and assembly. Each area uses modern technology to aid in their process, including an automotive grade e-coat paint system, laser cells, robotic welders and wireless testing systems.

The plant manufactures three distinct combine harvester model families at the site: the Case IH 140 series, Case IH 240 Series, and the New Holland Agriculture CR Twin Rotor series. Approximately 35% of its production is exported to 40 countries around the world.

The Grand Island plant is one of 12 manufacturing plants in CNH Industrial's North American footprint, which includes 13 research and development centers and a workforce of 11,000. CNH Industrial designs, produces, and sells 'machines for work' and is present in all major markets worldwide, giving it a unique competitive position.

Senator Presses DOJ to Scrutinize Proposed JBS-Cargill Merger

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent a letter to the Department of Justice pressing the Antitrust Division to review JBS USA's proposed acquisition of Cargill Inc.'s pork unit. Grassley expressed concern that the merger will increase concentration and decrease competition in the U.S. pork industry.

"If the JBS-Cargill deal is finalized, the four largest pork processors will control roughly 71 percent of the processing capacity in the country. Continued mergers and acquisitions in an already consolidated pork industry could reduce competition. And, reduced marketing opportunities for farmers and independent producers, and the subsequent impact it could have on pork prices for consumers is of great concern," said Grassley.

JBS USA and Cargill Inc. are currently the third and fourth largest U.S. pork processors respectively. If the transaction is finalized, JBS USA will become the second largest pork processor with a daily slaughter capacity of around 83,000 head. This equates to nearly 20 percent of U.S. daily pork processing capacity.

Grassley has long worked to ensure such mergers are carefully reviewed by the Justice Department to ensure a competitive market. This transaction, reportedly valued at $1.45 billion, comes almost one year after Tyson Foods purchased Hillshire Farms.

JBS USA has a plant located in Marshalltown, Iowa, and Cargill Inc. has a plant located in Ottumwa, Iowa.

ICGA Stands Up for Ethanol; Comment Period Closes

The period to submit comments to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed rule closed. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) worked diligently on your behalf to make sure that your voices were heard to oppose the proposed rule and stick to the statute passed by Congress for the Renewable Fuels Standard.

ICGA farmer members and leaders collectively joined voices in opposition and attended public hearings and rallies, spoke with officials on Capitol Hill, and submitted comments. ICGA also sent a letter opposing the ruling to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to ensure that our message was made clear. The Association also worked hard to engage Iowans around the state to submit comments by running radio ads targeting farmers and online advertisements that worked to reach consumers and farmers alike, collecting comment cards at events around the state and encouraging race fans at the Iowa Corn 300 to stand up for the ethanol industry.

"This proposed rule by the EPA is going to have a very real impact on farmers, ethanol producers, rural communities, and consumers. It will result in a depressed farm economy which we have already seen from the effects of the 2014 proposed rule, which will in turn hurt agricultural businesses and lenders, as well as our main streets in rural America," ICGA stated in final comments submitted.

In closing in his letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy, ICGA President Jerry Mohr wrote, "On behalf of Iowa's corn farmers, we collectively join our voices in opposition to the proposed rule to lower the RVO for ethanol and we encourage the EPA to rethink the proposal and implement the statutory levels for corn based ethanol. Iowa's hard working farm families need nothing less."

Correcetion: Ames workshop will examine stewardship of antimicrobial drug use in livestock

Stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animals is the subject of workshop targeted to livestock producers, their feed suppliers and veterinarians in seven Midwestern states. The workshop will be Sept. 16, 2015 at the Gateway Hotel, 2100 Green Hills Drive, Ames, IA.

This free workshop is an opportunity for participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of two Guidance for Industry (GFIs) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, as well as FDA's revised Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The workshop is also an opportunity for other stakeholders, such as state and federal agencies, colleges of veterinary medicine and university extension personnel, to gain insights into the changes needed to meet the requirements.

Led by Farm Foundation, NFP, this workshop is targeted to pork, cattle, poultry and sheep producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers in Iowa, Eastern Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Western Illinois, Northern Kansas and Northern Missouri. Advance registration is requested and can be completed online. This is one of 12 regional workshops Farm Foundation will host across the nation in the next three months. A complete list of workshop locations is available on the Farm Foundation website.

The Sept. 16 workshop will include presentations by producer leaders, the local veterinary community, and representatives from the regional feed industry. Officials from FDA and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will also participate. A major part of the agenda is designated for producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers to identify and discuss the management challenges ahead.

To gauge awareness of the changes being put in place by FDA on the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animals, Farm Foundation, NFP is asking stakeholders to complete a brief survey. The survey is also intended to learn more about the potential implications of these changes. The survey is open to all livestock producers, feed suppliers and veterinarians, whether or not you attend a workshop. CLICK HERE to complete the survey. Survey results will only be gathered and reported in the aggregate. Survey results will be shared with workshop participants.

Comments gathered at the 12 workshops will be compiled in a report assessing the economic and physical challenges facing producers as they implement the new provisions in the GFIs and revised VFD. Informational and educational needs will also be evaluated, as well as the role of veterinarians in monitoring and managing antimicrobial drug use.

Farm Foundation will convene a national summit in late fall 2015 for farmers, ranchers, feed suppliers, veterinarians, academics and government agency staff to address the issues identified in the regional workshops. This will also be an opportunity to advance the conversation on the industry's adaptation to the changing landscape of antimicrobial drug use.

Many producers and businesses across the entire food and agricultural value chain have already taken action to reduce the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animal production. FDA's GFI 209 and GFI 213 call on animal drug sponsors of approved medically-important antimicrobials administered through medicated feed or water to remove production uses (i.e., to promote growth or improve feed efficiency) from their product labels, and bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products--to treat, control, or prevent disease--under the oversight of a veterinarian by the end of December 2016. Manufacturers of products containing these medically-important antimicrobial drugs have voluntarily agreed to submit changes to their product labels to comply with the GFIs. FDA also revised the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to facilitate the increased veterinary oversight of medicated feeds called for by GFI 209 and 213. By the end of 2016, administration of these products to food-producing animals will be restricted to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Successful adaptation to the policy changes is critical to public and animal health, ensuring consumer confidence in food safety and the future viability of animal agriculture in the United States. "The success of achieving this goal--for both public health and the economic health of animal agriculture--hinges on producers having access to the information they need to adjust production practices, and the capacity of veterinarians to provide the additional oversight needed," says Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin. "As an organization respected for its objectivity, Farm Foundation is well positioned to quickly respond to this informational need and draw relevant and diverse stakeholder groups to the table for constructive discussions on this important topic."

In addition to Farm Foundation's leadership, individual producers and many companies are providing financial support for this educational effort. These include JBS United, Hormel Foods Corporation, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Rose Acre Farms, Elanco Animal Health, J.R. Simplot Company and North American Meat Institute. The staff of Adayana Agribusiness Group will facilitate the workshops.

NCGA to Congress: Farmers Need Safe, Reliable Roads & Bridges

The National Corn Growers Association today expressed disappointment that Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill before its August recess. Congress voted to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund’s authorization through Oct. 29, the second such short-term extension this year.

“Once again, Congress kicked the can down the road – and that road is in bad shape,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Farmers rely on our nation’s infrastructure system every day. We need safe, reliable roads and bridges to get our products to market quickly, safely and efficiently. Instead, our roads and bridges are at best, in disrepair, and at worst, unsafe or unusable – and that hurts every farmer in America.”

Eighty percent of the domestic corn crop is trucked to market, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. By one estimate, America’s transportation deficiencies will cost U.S. agriculture $1.3 billion in exports by 2020. Approximately 73% of America’s bridges are located in rural areas, which disproportionately rely on federal funding for repairs and maintenance.

“It’s time to get serious about passing a long-term highway funding bill. Every year we don’t act, the cost of repairs increase, and the burden on our economy grows. Senators and Representatives are returning to their home states for August recess. We’re asking them to take notice of their roads and bridges, to listen to their constituents, and to come back to Washington with solutions for our nation’s infrastructure problem.”

Access to China Key Factor in Maintaining Meat Export Growth

Philip Seng, president and CEO, U.S. Meat Export Federation

The U.S. red meat industry has achieved outstanding export growth in recent years, enhancing profitability for all members of the supply chain. In 2014, both beef exports ($7.13 billion) and pork exports ($6.67 billion) shattered previous records for export value. Beef exports have steadily increased in value in each of the 11 years since global markets began to reopen after the first U.S. case of BSE. For pork, export value has increased in 15 of the past 20 years.

In 2015, several headwinds have made it difficult for the U.S. industry to maintain this positive trajectory. Severe congestion in the West Coast ports – the result of a prolonged labor impasse – impacted our first-quarter results. Unusually large supplies of European pork and Australian beef have poured into key Asian markets, buoyed by favorable exchange rates that make them very attractive to price-sensitive buyers. Key competitors have also achieved gains due to free trade agreements that reduced import duties on their beef and pork products.

These are all important factors affecting U.S. exports, but they are issues over which we have little or no control. The same cannot be said about one of the biggest obstacles U.S. exports currently face – lack of access to China.

China is one of only a handful of international markets that never reopened to U.S. beef following the 2003 BSE case. At that time, and for several years thereafter, China was not a large importer of beef. But that changed dramatically in 2012, when beef import demand in China surged due to strong economic growth and a sharp decline in domestic production. China now imports more beef every month than it did in an entire calendar year in 2011. In the first half of this year, imports totaled nearly $910 million – up 28 percent from a year ago.

While the U.S. industry remains on the sidelines, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Argentina and Canada are all gaining a strong foothold in China. Being shut out of the Chinese market also affects the prices U.S. beef cuts command in other Asian destinations, as China has begun to exert significant influence on global beef trade. For the U.S. beef industry, the lost opportunity due to our lack of access to China is currently estimated at more than $100 per head.

But is there a scientific basis behind China’s demands?

Considering that we export to about 100 countries, all of which have determined that U.S. beef is safe, it would be easy to view China’s import conditions as overly strict. But a growing number of major beef producing and exporting countries are meeting China’s requirements, aware of the market’s potential global impact on beef demand. In mid-2014, for example, China began testing beef imports from Australia for hormone residues, citing a hormone ban that had been in place for more than a decade, but had only been sporadically enforced. Australia responded quickly, implementing a certification program to meet China’s requirements. In the short term, Australia’s exports to China dipped by nearly 50 percent. But that decline was temporary, as Australian producers adjusted and exports to China quickly rebounded.

When Canada confirmed its most recent BSE case in February, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency voluntarily suspended export certificates to China and began consultations with its counterpart agencies in China to restore access. Trade resumed in early April. A similar situation just occurred in Argentina, where trade was suspended due to a finding of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in dairy cattle. Argentine government and industry representatives immediately traveled to China to meet with regulatory officials and reached an agreement to resume trade.

As these examples illustrate, our competitors have learned that the best way to do business with China, as with any customer, is to meet its expectations.

Limited pork access also costly

With regard to U.S. pork, the Chinese market is not entirely closed. The U.S. technically has access for a full range of pork and pork variety meat products (with the exception of processed products), and recently gained access for pork fat. But a significant percentage of U.S. pork production is ineligible to ship to China due to ractopamine use and other factors that conflict with China’s import requirements. This has made it very difficult to capitalize on significant growth opportunities in China that have emerged this year due to high domestic prices, and which are presently being captured by European suppliers.

China produces and consumes about half the world’s pork. And while it is largely self-sufficient in production, even a small fluctuation in China’s need for imported pork can shake up the global market. The U.S. industry has benefitted from these fluctuations in the past – especially in 2011 and 2012, when exports to China were very strong. But with the enforcement of its import requirements and only a small number of U.S. plants being eligible to serve China, we saw a major slowdown in the second half of last year. So far in 2015, exports are down nearly 50 percent from a year ago. In the meantime, EU export volume to China is more than one-third higher year-over-year.

Our lost opportunities in China span a wide range of product categories. China has been an excellent destination for large volumes of ears, feet, stomachs, snouts and other pork offal items, but we are also missing a chance to market pork muscle cuts to China’s rapidly growing processing, foodservice and retail sectors.

Similar to the beef complex, China has no lack of suitors who want a piece of its imported pork market. In addition to the EU, Canada and Chile compete aggressively in China and Mexican pork is a recent entrant into the market. Ractopamine is not an issue for suppliers from the EU and Chile (where it is not approved for use), but other competitors are also undeterred by China’s demands. Canada, in fact, has created a ractopamine-free verification program that even includes segregation at the cold storage facility level. This is another instance in which exceptional opportunities for export growth carried the day.

Our limited access to China has very negative consequences for U.S. pork producers. When the flow of U.S. pork to China slowed severely late last year, industry analysts estimated that the lost value in pork offal alone was more than $7 per head – and it is now estimated to be more than $9 per head. Combine this with lost opportunities for muscle cuts, especially as China’s hog prices reach multi-year highs, as well as the impact on the price U.S. pork can command in other markets, and China’s influence on producer profitability is substantial.

The case for exports is often made by stating that 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States. But this argument is much less compelling when the market that contains nearly 20 percent of the world’s population has little or no access to our red meat products, which I believe are the finest and safest in the world. Yes, China’s import conditions are stringent, but China is not lacking for suppliers willing to meet its demands. This means the U.S. industry faces some difficult decisions as we look for ways to expand access for U.S. meat in this critically important market.

June Farm Prices Received Index Decreased 1.9 percent

The June Prices Received Index (Agricultural Production), at 105, decreased 1.9 percent from May. At 88, the Crop Production Index decreased 2.2 percent. The Livestock Production Index, at 121, decreased 0.8 percent. Producers received lower prices for cattle, broilers, and hay but higher prices for eggs, onions, and lettuce. In addition to prices, the indexes are impacted by the five-year average monthly mix of commodities producers market. Increased monthly movement of wheat, hay, grapes, and peaches offset the decreased marketing of cattle, strawberries, milk, and oranges.

The Prices Received Index is down 7.1 percent from the previous year. The Food Commodities Index, at 113, decreased 1.7 percent from the previous month and is down 7.4 percent from June 2014.

Crop Production:

The June index, at 88, decreased 2.2 percent from May and is 11 percent below June 2014. Marketing of vegetables & melons and fruit & tree nuts decreased during June.

Feed grain: The June index, at 60, is down 1.6 percent from last month and 20 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $3.58 per bushel, is down 4 cents from last month and 92 cents from June 2014. At $7.63 per cwt, sorghum grain is 6 cents above May and 10 cents higher than June a year earlier.

Food grain: At 75, the index for June is 5.1 percent lower than the previous month and 17 percent below a year earlier. The June price for all wheat, at $5.43 per bushel, is up 10 cents from May but is down $1.06 from June 2014.

Oilseed: At 77, the index for June is unchanged from May but is 31 percent lower than June 2014. The soybean price, at $9.58 per bushel, decreased 2 cents from May and is $4.72 below June a year earlier.

Other crop: The June index, at 91, is unchanged from the previous month but is 15 percent below June 2014. The all hay price, at $162 per ton, is down $13.00 from May and $35.00 lower than June 2014. The price for upland cotton, at 65.1 cents per pound, is up 1.0 cent from May but is down 18.8 cents from June 2014.

Livestock Production:

The index for June, at 121, is 0.8 percent below the previous month and down 5.5 percent from June a year earlier. Compared with a year ago, prices are lower for milk, hogs, and broilers. Prices for market eggs, cattle, calves, and turkeys are up from a year earlier.

Meat animal: At 127, the June index is down 2.3 percent from the previous month and 1.6 percent lower than a year earlier. At $59.90 per cwt, the June hog price is up $1.00 from May but is $24.90 lower than a year ago. The June beef cattle price of $155 per cwt is down $5.00 from the previous month but is $8.00 higher than June 2014.

Dairy: The index for June, at 84, is up 1.2 percent from the previous month but is 27 percent lower than June a year earlier. The June all milk price of $16.90 per cwt is up 20 cents from May but is down $6.30 from June 2014.

June Prices Paid Index Unchanged

The June Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 109, is unchanged from May but is down 3.5 percent from June 2014. Lower prices during June for feeder pigs, hay & forages, complete feeds, and LP gas offset higher prices for feeder cattle, other services, supplements, and gasoline.

IGC Trims 2015-16 World Wheat Forecast

The London-based International Grains Council on Thursday lowered its forecast for global wheat production by 1 million metric tons for 2015-2016, to 710 million tons.

In its monthly report, the IGC raised its forecast for total grains production this year to 1,970 million tons, a 4 million ton boost from the previous month's forecast of 1,966 million tons, largely due to an increase in the estimate for corn production. The harvest is forecast to be 43 million tons below the 2014-2015 record season, but will still be the third-largest crop on record, the council said.

"Unfavorable weather has reduced crop prospects in some regions, especially in the EU and Canada," the council said. However, the drop was outweighed by output gains in corn in China and sorghum in the U.S., it added.

The IGC said poor weather had fuelled a rally in wheat prices early in the month, but worries about supply were outweighed by lower demand and ample wheat stocks. However, consumption is still predicted to outweigh supply by 2 million tons for the season.

The council's forecast for North American wheat saw the most significant drop, falling to 90.3 million tons for the season, from last month's prediction of 92 million tons. The EU also saw a drop from 152.7 million tons, from June's forecast of 153 million tons, while the Black Sea region was revised down only slightly.

Meanwhile, higher forecasts for South America and Asian wheat harvests offset some of the expected losses. The council raised expectations for each region's crops by half a million tons from June's prediction.

The IGC predicted 2,013 million tons of grains were produced worldwide in the 2014-2015 season, a 2 million ton increase from June's forecast.

Potash Corp. Earnings Fall

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. posted a 12% drop in its second-quarter profit on Thursday and scaled back the top end of earnings guidance for the year as weaker nitrogen prices impacted results.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, company said increased global supply weighed on nitrogen prices in the quarter, though pricing for potash and phosphate -- its two other key fertilizer nutrients -- improved from a year earlier.

Potash Corp. said quarterly potash sales volumes of 2.5 million metric tons were in line with year-earlier levels, while its average realized price improved to $273 a ton from $263. Potash gross margin was $417 million, up from $395 million a year earlier.

It said sales volumes for nitrogen were also similar to year-earlier levels, at 1.6 million tons, while average nitrogen prices fell 15%. Phosphate sales volumes fell 20%, it said, though prices rose almost 9%.

Potash Corp. earned $417 million, or 50 cents a share, in the latest period, the midpoint of the company's guidance range. Analysts were expecting 51 cents a share.

Revenue fell 8.5% to $1.73 billion, just ahead of the $1.71 billion analysts expected.

Targeted increase of a naturally occurring sugar improves the yield of drought affected corn

A collaborative project between Syngenta and Rothamsted Research has shown that genetically altering the amounts of a naturally occurring sugar can substantially improve the yield of drought affected corn. The research is published in the journal of Nature Biotechnology.

Drought significantly impacts crops worldwide, hitting poorest farmers most dramatically; in the U.S. and even in the UK predictions are that water will become increasingly limiting for crops. The world’s major crops (corn, rice and wheat) are particularly affected by drought during the flowering period.

Syngenta scientists introduced a single transgene to alter the amounts of a naturally occurring sugar, called trehalose 6-phosphate or T6P, in a highly tissue-specific manner. The plants were evaluated over several years in extensive maize field trials in North and South America.

In doing so, corn under no or mild drought, increased in yield between 9% and 49%, and corn under severe drought, increased in yield between 31% and 123%.

The research includes support by a team of scientists at Rothamsted Research, led by Professor Matthew Paul, to understand the regulation of plant and crop processes by T6P. This biological knowledge will help Syngenta develop crop traits for the world’s farmers.

T6P drives the allocation of the plant’s main sugar, called sucrose, to different parts of the plant during growth and development. By altering the amounts of T6P in key cells that deliver sucrose to developing seeds in the cobs, more sucrose is transported into the corn kernels. This increases seed numbers per cob and the overall harvest index and yield.

Professor Matthew Paul said: “The work shows that T6P exerts significant control of yield in corn. This is one of few reports where genetic modification of an intrinsic plant process for yield works in the field.

We think that this can be explained because there is a tension between the need to produce enough seed to survive against the need to adjust seed number to ensure viability.

It is possible that natural selection has placed greater emphasis on survival of a few viable seed rather than on maximizing seed numbers and productivity per se, as required in an agricultural system and there is still room to select for this.”

Dr. Michael Nuccio, Principle Research Scientist at Syngenta and the study leader said: “Our collaboration with Rothamsted Research has given us significant new insights into how our corn trait functions to improve response to drought in the field. This knowledge will be important for designing the next generation of crop varieties able to remain productive under water-limiting conditions.”

The scientists consider the corn yield increases could be the tip of the iceberg. Professor Matthew Paul concluded: “Corn is the world’s highest yielding crop. This technology has the potential to greatly improve maize productivity.

Imagine what could be achieved for global food security if this trait were targeted in other crops too. Not only does it increase maximum yield output but it also prevents catastrophic yield loss in dry years.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wednesday July 29 Ag News

Preventing Beef Cattle Lameness - Hosted by Zinpro Performance Minerals
August 19, 2015 - Nielson Community Center - West Point, NE

General Information: 

  - Registration 8:30-9:00 am
  - Seminar concludes at 3:30 pm
  - A noon meal to be served with all RSVP’s
  - You may RSVP by phone with your Zinpro Sales Representative, or electronically via the following link:
  - Be sure to designate which seminar date you plan to attend, along with the total number of guests you plan to bring with you

Key Presenters: 

  - Dörte Döpfer, DVM/Ph.D. ~ University of WI, Madison - Managing Digital Dermatitis in the Feedyard
  - Tom Noffsinger, DVM ~ Benkelman, NE - Cattle Handling to Prevent Lameness
  - Connie Larson, Ph.D. ~ Zinpro Corporation - Reducing Lameness and Improving Performance

For More Information, Contact your Zinpro Sales Representative:

  - Mark Gerber 319-350-1561  -  Dwight Kickhafer 612-308-7818
  - Floyd Sutton 608-558-0988  -  Gary Tibbetts 970-396-0813

Tiemann Elected New U.S. Grains Council Chairman

Alan Tiemann, a farmer from Nebraska, was elected today as U.S. Grains Council chairman during the organization’s 55th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

“Markets don’t just happen, we have to work to make them happen,” Tiemann said in his first speech to USGC delegates as chairman. “The Council has been successfully doing that for more than 55 years and has developed a level of excellence in its work that I want to focus on this year.

“That is why our theme this year is Excellence in Exports. I have found the Council displays excellence in its membership, its global staff team, the relationships it fosters, the collaboration it has with its partners and its dedication to export markets. All these areas have been key in making the Council the successful organization it is today.”

Tiemann farms in Seward, Nebraska, and has spent more than 35 years in production agriculture.

An at-large director and past chairman for the Nebraska Corn Board, Tiemann has been a delegate from that Board to the Council since 2005. Prior to that, Tiemann served as a delegate to the Council from the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board for a number of years.

At the Montreal meeting, the Board of Delegates also elected the Council’s 2015-2016 Board of Directors. That body now includes:

• Alan Tiemann, Chairman, Nebraska Corn Board
• Chip Councell, Vice Chairman, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board
• Deb Keller, Secretary/Treasurer, Iowa Corn Promotion Board
• Ron Gray, Past Chairman, Illinois Corn Marketing Board
• Thomas Sleight, President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council
• Steve Brody, Agribusiness Sector Director, DuPont Pioneer
• Mark Seastrand, Barley Sector Director, North Dakota Barley Council
• Dick Gallagher, Corn Sector Director, Iowa Corn Promotion Board
• Bill Kubecka, Sorghum Sector Director, United Sorghum Checkoff Program
• Craig Floss, State Checkoff Sector Director, Iowa Corn Promotion Board
• Jim Tobin, At-Large Director, Monsanto Company
• Jim Stuever, At-Large Director, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council
• Charles Ring, At-Large Director, Texas Corn Producers Board
• Jim Raben, At-Large Director, Illinois Corn Marketing Board

The new board was seated Wednesday and will serve until July 2016.

USGC Presents Ethanol Export Promotion Strategy To Delegates During Annual Meeting

An ethanol export promotion strategy developed in consultation with industry partners and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was presented to U.S. Grains Council (USGC) members from throughout the grains sector this week at USGC’s 55th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

The Council has been working in partnership with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy to develop country-by-country marketing plans for U.S. ethanol in a handful of near-term markets.

“In 2014, the Council and its partners completed in-depth market assessments in Southeast Asia, Peru, Panama, Japan and Korea that produced valuable information used develop this strategy,” said USGC Chairman Ron Gray.

“Our plans in these markets continue to develop, and we are carrying on market assessment work in places like Canada and the European Union. However, we are also moving forward aggressively with market development and policy-focused work in countries like the Philippines that have the potential to increase demand for U.S. ethanol in the near term.”

Ethanol was the subject of a general session panel at the meeting, including input from Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Green Plains Renewable Energy Executive Vice President for Ethanol Marketing Steve Bleyl, moderated by USGC’s Chief Economist Mike Dwyer, a leading global biofuels analyst.

Ethanol export plans were explored in more depth during the Ethanol Advisory Team (A-Team) meeting, comprised of members from throughout the value chain, and a breakout session focused specifically on USGC’s ongoing ethanol-focused programs.

“U.S. ethanol exports are becoming increasingly vital to our stakeholders’ bottom line, which makes finding new markets for U.S. ethanol is a priority for the Council,” Gray said. “This plan shows our and our partners’ commitments to making that happen.”

Among other activities, two trade teams in the United States and three missions traveling overseas are scheduled to focus on ethanol in the remainder of 2015.

More about the meeting is available online at

Ames workshop will examine stewardship of antimicrobial drug use in livestock

Stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animals is the subject of workshop targeted to livestock producers, their feed suppliers and veterinarians in the Southeast United States. The workshop will be Sept. 16 2015 at the Gateway Hotel, 2100 Green Hills Drive, Ames, IA. 

This free workshop is an opportunity for participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of two Guidance for Industry (GFIs) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, as well as FDA's revised Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The workshop is also an opportunity for other stakeholders, such as state and federal agencies, colleges of veterinary medicine and university extension personnel, to gain insights into the changes needed to meet the requirements.

Led by Farm Foundation, NFP, this workshop is targeted to pork, cattle, poultry and sheep producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers in Iowa, Eastern Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Western Illinois, Northern Kansas and Northern Missouri.  Advance registration is requested and can be completed online. This is one of 12 regional workshops Farm Foundation will host across the nation in the next three months. A complete list of workshop locations is available on the Farm Foundation website...

The Sept. 16 workshop will include presentations by producer leaders, the local veterinary community, and representatives from the regional feed industry. Officials from FDA and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will also participate. A major part of the agenda is designated for producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers to identify and discuss the management challenges ahead.

To gauge awareness of the changes being put in place by FDA on the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animals, Farm Foundation, NFP is asking stakeholders to complete a brief survey. The survey is also intended to learn more about the potential implications of these changes. The survey is open to all livestock producers, feed suppliers and veterinarians, whether or not you attend a workshop. Survey results will only be gathered and reported in the aggregate. Survey results will be shared with workshop participants.

Comments gathered at the 12 workshops will be compiled in a report assessing the economic and physical challenges facing producers as they implement the new provisions in the GFIs and revised VFD. Informational and educational needs will also be evaluated, as well as the role of veterinarians in monitoring and managing antimicrobial drug use.

Farm Foundation will convene a national summit in late fall 2015 for farmers, ranchers, feed suppliers, veterinarians, academics and government agency staff to address the issues identified in the regional workshops. This will also be an opportunity to advance the conversation on the industry's adaptation to the changing landscape of antimicrobial drug use.

Many producers and businesses across the entire food and agricultural value chain have already taken action to reduce the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food animal production. FDA's GFI 209 and GFI 213 call on animal drug sponsors of approved medically-important antimicrobials administered through medicated feed or water to remove production uses (i.e., to promote growth or improve feed efficiency) from their product labels, and bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products--to treat, control, or prevent disease--under the oversight of a veterinarian by the end of December 2016. Manufacturers of products containing these medically-important antimicrobial drugs have voluntarily agreed to submit changes to their product labels to comply with the GFIs. FDA also revised the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to facilitate the increased veterinary oversight of medicated feeds called for by GFI 209 and 213. By the end of 2016, administration of these products to food-producing animals will be restricted to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Successful adaptation to the policy changes is critical to public and animal health, ensuring consumer confidence in food safety and the future viability of animal agriculture in the United States. "The success of achieving this goal--for both public health and the economic health of animal agriculture--hinges on producers having access to the information they need to adjust production practices, and the capacity of veterinarians to provide the additional oversight needed," says Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin. "As an organization respected for its objectivity, Farm Foundation is well positioned to quickly respond to this informational need and draw relevant and diverse stakeholder groups to the table for constructive discussions on this important topic."

In addition to Farm Foundation's leadership, individual producers and many companies are providing financial support for this educational effort. These include JBS United, Hormel Foods Corporation, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Rose Acre Farms, Elanco Animal Health, J.R. Simplot Company and North American Meat Institute. The staff of Adayana Agribusiness Group will facilitate the workshops.

NCGA Announces Leadership At Its Best Participants

The National Corn Growers Association announced the participants who will constitute the 30th class of NCGA's Leadership at Its Best Program, which is co-sponsored by Syngenta.  This year's class includes 14 aspiring leaders from 9 states.

"We are excited to see such great interest in the program and strongly believe the quality of the applicants bodes well for the future of our industry," said NCGA President Chip Bowling.  "For decades now, Leadership at Its Best has helped train strong, confident volunteers who have shaped the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level. As a graduate of Leadership At Its Best, I personally understand the importance role this program plays in helping develop the skills and build the relationships necessary to effectively lead such a dynamic grassroots organization."

This year's Leadership at Its Best Class includes: Aron Carlson (Ill.); Aaron Frank (Colo.); Jeremiah Freidel (S.D.); John Greer (Neb.); Lynn Greer (Neb.); Kirby Hettver (Minn.); Kurt Hora (Iowa); Shane Kinne (Mo.); Larry Klever (Iowa); Fred Miller (Ohio); Guy Mills Jr. (Neb.); Doug Rebout (Wis.); Dirk Rice (Ill.); and Keith Truckor (Ohio).

Open to all NCGA membership, Leadership at Its Best provides training to interested volunteers of all skill levels.  The first session addresses personal communications skills, public speaking and association management.  The second session addresses public policy issues, working with the Hill and parliamentary procedure.  Through this program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid background in the procedures and processes used by NCGA and many state organizations.

Participants must be members of NCGA.

Since 1986, the National Corn Growers Association, the state corn associations and, most importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from the Syngenta- co-sponsored Leadership At Its Best Program.  More than 560 growers have gained invaluable media, communications, association management and public policy knowledge and skills over the lifetime of the program. 

Avian Flu Vaccine Being Developed for Chickens

Scientists have developed a vaccine strain that has tested 100 percent effective in protecting chickens from bird flu and testing is underway to see if it also protects turkeys, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the House Agriculture Committee at a hearing on Wednesday.

If it does, the agency plans to quickly license it for widespread production and is seeking funding from the Office of Management and Budget to stockpile it nationally, reports the Waterloo Courier.

"Hopefully we'll be able to get a lot of folks working collaboratively together and we stockpile enough so that if this does hit and hits us hard we're in a position to respond quickly," Vilsack said.

Developing a vaccine targeted to the H5N2 virus that has killed 48 million birds since early March in 15 states, including hardest-hit Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, is one aspect of planning for a potential recurrence of the bird flu, Vilsack said.

Scientists believe the virus was spread through the droppings of wild birds migrating north to nesting grounds. They're concerned it could return this fall when birds fly south for the winter or again next spring.

Ethanol Stocks, Demand Up

Output Dips to 9-Week Low

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report Wednesday showing ethanol stocks in the United States were little changed last week, up 89,000 bbl to 19.648 million bbl in the week-ended July 24 while 5.7% higher than a year earlier.

The EIA also showed domestic production fell to the lowest level in nine weeks, down last week by 8,000 bpd to 965,000 bpd while up 1.2% year on year.

Blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, rose last week by 6,000 bpd to a three-week high of 903,000 bpd, while 2.96% higher year on year.

Implied demand for gasoline plunged 410,000 bpd to 9.339 million bpd for the week reviewed, although 3.7% higher than the same week last year, EIA said.

Application Open for Beef Industry Internship in Washington D.C.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council's government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for the spring 2016 public policy internship. The deadline to submit an application is Oct. 1, 2015.

NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs ,Kristina Butts, said this is a great opportunity for students with an interest in the beef industry and public policy.

“The internship gives college students the opportunity to work alongside staff on a range of issues that impact U.S. cattlemen and women,” Butts said. “The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill; to assist with NCBA and PLC’s regulatory efforts; and to work closely with the communications team.”

Producer-led and consumer-focused, NCBA is the nation's oldest and largest national organization representing America's cattle producers. PLC is the only organization in Washington, D.C., dedicated solely to representing cattle and sheep ranchers that utilize federal lands. The organizations work hand-in-hand on many issues, sharing office space in the heart of the nation's capital.

Summer 2015 intern Chris Pudenz said the internship has been a great experience and has him considering job opportunities in D.C. in the future.

“I’ve learned so much about policy issues that impact the beef industry in far-reaching ways: Country-of-Origin Labeling, the “waters of the United States” regulation, international trade agreements, the potential impact of foreign animal diseases, and many more,” said Pudenz, who is a junior at Hillsdale College studying economics. “The work I do is always valued, and I know that I’m working alongside first-rate NCBA staff to help U.S. beef producers every day. Before this summer, I had no desire to work in a Congressional office, but now I’m seriously considering working on Capitol Hill after I graduate from college. I didn’t really know what to expect from this internship before I arrived in D.C., but looking back I can’t imagine having spent the summer any other way.”

The full-time internship will begin January 11, 2016 and end May 13, 2016. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, college transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information about the NCBA public policy internship is available on

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday July 28 Ag News


The 17th annual Soybean Management Field Days Aug. 11-14 focuses on staying competitive in a global marketplace, increasing profits and meeting the world's growing food and energy needs starting right here in Nebraska. The event consists of four stops across the state.

"Soybean Management Field Days are an excellent opportunity to access unbiased research that addresses many of today's potential soybean production and management decisions,” said Ron Pavelka, chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board of Directors. By participating in the Soybean Management Field Days, producers will see their checkoff dollars at work bringing leading technology and ideas to producers.

Topics include grain marketing and farm financial outlook; soil fertility concepts for soybeans; the role of water quality and nozzle selection in weed management; integrated soybean production study; soybean irrigation management; and Nebraska Soybean Checkoff investment.

Agronomists, plant disease, and insect specialists will be available to address production-related questions. Participants can bring unknown crop problems for complimentary identification:
            > Aug. 11: Rick and Chuck Bergman farm near Holdrege, 11289 741 Road.
            > Aug. 12: Jason and Dennis Bonsack Farm near Alda, 3770 S 90th Road.
            > Aug. 13: Mike Anderson farm near Wakefield, 85335 586th Ave.
            > Aug. 14: Kent Moravec farm near Greenwood, 23509 E Rock Creek Road.

The field days are sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board in partnership with Nebraska Extension and are funded through soybean checkoff dollars. For more information, including maps and directions to the sites, visit or contact Nebraska Extension at 1-800-529-8030.

2015 Nebraska Ethanol Ambassadors Announced

The Nebraska Ethanol Board is proud to welcome David Hansen and Maggie Louthan as ethanol ambassadors.

Hansen of Lincoln, Nebraska, is a junior chemical engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is involved in Partners in Pollution Prevention analyzing industrial manufacturing facilities and recommending waste reduction solutions.

Louthan of Smithfield, Nebraska, is a sophomore agricultural education student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a member of the Nebraska Agriculture Youth Council, Sigma Alpha, Block and Bridle and CASNR Coffee Club.

“We’re excited to have two talented students with diverse experience on our team for the 2015-2016 academic year,” said Megan Grimes, Nebraska Ethanol Board. “This is a great opportunity for participants to learn about the multi-faceted ethanol industry and share information among peers, community groups and classrooms.”

The ethanol ambassador program engages two undergraduate students in the importance of Nebraska’s ethanol industry. Ambassadors learn about ethanol production, technology, research and marketing, and then have opportunities to work with the public. They also deliver presentations to middle and high school classrooms. The program lasts one academic year (August-May) with new recruits each year. For their time and efforts, ambassadors are earn a $1,000 scholarship to assist with their education.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Are you one of the fortunate ones to have extra grass this year?  If so, there are ways you can improve next year's grazing by managing this year's grass.

               Extra grass is not normal.  If you are lucky enough to have more grass than needed this year, don’t forget that next year could be hotter and drier than this year – producing less grass.

               But you can boost carrying capacity and gains on next year's pasture by strategically managing your extra grass this year.

               Start by identifying pasture improvements that could help future grazing.  Control weeds, accumulate enough growth on warm-season grass pastures to conduct an effective prescribed burn next spring, or select pastures where stressing the existing stand will help you establish legumes next spring.  All these practices temporarily reduce pasture growth, but they can provide long-term benefits.  Thus, it is better to do them when you have extra grass rather than when grass is short.

               Another way to help next year's growth is to avoid overgrazing this fall unless you are doing it intentionally to prepare for interseeding next spring.  Heavy fall grazing weakens plants as they go into winter and causes them to grow less vigorously after spring green-up.  If you do graze heavy this fall, do it on pastures that will be used last next spring.  This will give them extra time to recover.

               A particularly valuable way to manage extra grass is to begin to stockpile some growth now for either grazing this winter or to start grazing extra early next spring.  This could save on winter hay needs or give you an area to get animals away from mud next spring.  Plus, it's usually good for your grass, too.

               Take advantage of extra grass to begin long-term pasture improvements.  It happens so rarely that next year might be too late.

Green Plains Reports Second Quarter 2015 Financial Results

Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) announced today its financial results for the second quarter of 2015. Net income for the quarter was $7.8 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, compared to net income of $32.3 million, or $0.82 per diluted share, for the same period in 2014. Revenues were $744.5 million for the second quarter of 2015 compared to $837.9 million for the same period in 2014.

"Strong U.S. ethanol demand, due primarily to lower gasoline prices, resulted in an improvement in our second quarter results compared to the first quarter," said Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer. "While ethanol margins remain variable, we believe, based on the current forward curve, our diversified platform will generate profitable results for the full year of 2015. Our strong balance sheet provides us with significant flexibility in capital deployment and allocation for the remainder of the year."

"Demand for ethanol remains robust both domestically and globally. Our expansion projects are progressing to meet the demand growth we expect from E15 in the U.S. and expanding blend rates in foreign markets," stated Becker. "The long-term picture is very exciting for our company and industry."

During the second quarter, Green Plains' ethanol production totaled 238.7 million gallons, or approximately 93.9% of its daily average production capacity. Non-ethanol operating income from the corn oil production, agribusiness, and marketing and distribution segments was $16.4 million in the second quarter of 2015 compared to $16.5 million for the same period in 2014.

Revenues were $1.5 billion for the six-month period ended June 30, 2015 compared to $1.6 billion for the same period of 2014. Net income for the six-month period ended June 30, 2015 was $4.5 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, compared to net income of $75.5 million, or $1.88 per diluted share, for the same period in 2014.

"We are pleased to have successfully completed the initial public offering of Green Plains Partners LP," stated Becker. "We believe the partnership's access to cost-effective capital, as well as the additional liquidity to the company from the offering, will enhance our ability grow."

Green Plains had $417.0 million in total cash and equivalents and $175.4 million available under committed loan agreements at subsidiaries (subject to borrowing base restrictions and other specified lending conditions) at June 30, 2015. Net proceeds from the Offering of $157.9 million were received after the close of the second quarter. EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the second quarter 2015 was $39.3 million compared to $74.5 million for the same period in 2014.

2015 Second Quarter Business Highlights

*    On July 1, 2015, Green Plains Partners LP, a newly-formed subsidiary of the Company, closed its initial public offering (the "Offering"). In conjunction with the Offering, Green Plains contributed its downstream ethanol transportation and storage assets to the Partnership. A total of 11.5 million common units representing limited partner interests of the Partnership, which included 1.5 million common units pursuant to the underwriters' overallotment option, were sold in the Offering at a price to the public of $15.00 per common unit. The Partnership received net proceeds of approximately $157.9 million from the Offering, after deducting the underwriting discount, structuring fees and offering expenses. The Partnership used the net proceeds (i) to make a distribution of $155.3 million to the Company, (ii) to pay origination fees under the Partnership's new revolving credit facility and (iii) for general partnership purposes. After completion of the Offering, Green Plains owns a 62.5% limited partner interest and a 2% general partner interest in the Partnership and the public owns the remaining 35.5% limited partner interest in the Partnership.
*    During the second quarter of 2015, Green Plains Processing LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Green Plains, amended its senior secured credit facility to increase the outstanding borrowings by $120 million. The proceeds were primarily used to refinance debt outstanding, with maturity dates ranging from November 2015 to May 2020, at certain of Green Plains' subsidiaries and to pay fees and expenses in connection with the increased credit facility and for general corporate purposes.

New Tools Available to Calculate Projected Payments Granted by 2014 Farm Bill

Three new resources have been developed by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to help Iowa corn and soybean producers calculate Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments for the 2014 and 2015 crop years. Posted on Ag Decision Maker, these tools will help farmers who enroll in these programs from the 2014 Farm Bill  calculate the amount of the government payment if prices and/or county revenues are down.

“Both the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments depend on the marketing year average or MYA prices for commodities such as barley, corn, grain sorghum, oats, soybeans and wheat.” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economics specialist with Iowa State University.

For corn and soybeans, the official 2014 MYA price will be announced by USDA in early September 2015. Until then, the actual amount of these payments will be unknown," Plastina said. "However, using county yields and price projections published by USDA, these payments for the 2014 and 2015 crop years can be reasonably projected by the new calculation tools.” The projected prices used in the ARC/PLC payment calculators will be updated monthly.

The Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC-CO) program is based on county revenues and acts like a type of insurance for crop producers. When yields fall below a certain level, farmers who have selected this coverage, are paid the slight difference.

Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments offer protection when the actual crop price drops below its ‘reference price’ for that commodity set in the 2014 Farm Bill. PLC payments occur if the MYA price is lower than the reference price: $3.70 per bushel of corn, and $8.40 per bushel of soybeans.

“If ARC/PLC payments are triggered for the 2014 crop year, they will be issued after the end of the marketing year when USDA announces the official MYA price, but not before Oct. 1, 2015,” said Plastina. “The 2015 crop year ARC/PLC payments won’t be verified until the fall of 2016.”

For details on the calculation tools, USDA base acres and program payment yields, see the online Ag Decision Maker articles New ARC-CO and PLC Spreadsheets Calculate Projected Payments and New Safety Net: PLC, ARC-CO, ARC-IC.

To download the new spreadsheet tools PLC Payment Calculator, ARC-CO 2014 Payment Calculator and ARC-CO 2015 Payment Calculator, go to the complete list of Decision Tools on the Ag Decision Maker website. In order to use the calculators, your computer will need to have Microsoft Office Suite and the Excel program.

New Beef Program Specialist Brings Education, Experience and Enthusiasm

Two and a half years ago, Erika Lundy began working at the Iowa Beef Center as an Iowa State University graduate student focusing on feedlot nutrition. Eight weeks ago she started working for IBC as the center’s new extension program specialist. She is excited to put her education and experience to work.

“This position will allow me to collaborate with our field specialists, stakeholders, leaders and producers to identify industry and producer needs, to develop new and enhance current extension educational programs,” Lundy said. “As a young producer myself, I can bring some of my own production questions to the table and work on fresh ideas to ensure that both the Iowa Beef Center and Iowa’s beef industry continue to thrive.”

Lundy grew up near Adair on a diversified family farm with cattle, corn, soybeans and hay production, including 230 cow-calf pairs and a 100-head feedlot operation. She attended Iowa State where she received a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a minor in agricultural business, and a master’s degree in animal science with a focus on feedlot nutrition. As an undergrad, she had internships with the Iowa Beef Industry Council and a feed company, and worked in a ruminant nutrition lab, all of which expanded her interest in beef nutrition. Her grad school experience included an extension assistantship with IBC and research focused on feeding new generation distillers grains.

“During a time of volatile feed prices, characterizing novel feedstuffs like these new generation products can aid in our understanding of how they can fit into finishing diets,” she said. “During the past few years I’ve helped with planning programs using this info, and have presented sessions on distillers grains, carcass quality and grazing management to a variety of audiences.”

IBC Director Dan Loy said the Iowa beef industry is well positioned for sustainable growth well into the future, and Lundy will help facilitate the center’s efforts.

“Erika brings background and expertise in both cattle feeding and cow-calf sectors, and is well-prepared to support current programs and develop leadership in new exciting projects,” he said.

Lundy said she looks forward to increasing her knowledge and understanding of vital components of the state’s beef industry, and to sharing that knowledge with others.

“For the time being, I’ll be more of a general beef industry information source and hopefully serve as an asset to other members of our team, so we can be a resource for front-line industry information delivery,” she said. “I would like to get involved with program planning and producer education, especially in the areas of forage production and management, animal well-being and fostering young and beginning producers.”

She said this position allows an opportunity for personal and professional growth, and to increase the visibility and value of IBC.

“I am very excited to join an already very successful team in establishing strong relations with beef producers across the state,” she said.  “Our aim is to supply producers with the latest science-based resources to help the Iowa beef industry strive for sustainable and profitable growth.”

Lundy can be reached at the IBC office at 313 Kildee Hall on the Iowa State campus, by phone at 515-594-9881 and by email at

August is Iowa Soybean Month

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has declared August as Iowa Soybean Month to recognize the contributions and leadership of Iowa soybean farmers in environmental stewardship, biodiesel, transportation, soyfoods, international marketing and agronomic and production research. Throughout the month, we will share interesting facts, photos and information about contributions soybean farmers make to Iowa, the nation and the world. Look for updates on the Iowa Soybean Association Facebook page and @IowaSoybeans on twitter.

Iowan selected as new Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO

The Iowa Pork Producers Association Board of Directors has announced the hiring of a new chief executive officer.

Pat McGonegle of Urbandale has accepted the position and will begin leading the organization on October 1. He replaces Rich Degner, who is retiring on September 30 after 35 years with IPPA, the last 17 as CEO.

McGonegle comes to Iowa Pork from the National Pork Producers Council in Urbandale and is well-known to Iowa hog farmers and IPPA staff. He has been with NPPC for 19 years and served as the vice president of state relations and resource development since 2002. McGonegle made many contributions to the council's success, including the Strategic Investment Program, the Alliance Program, LEADR and positive state organization relations.

"I am pleased to accept this opportunity to lead a dynamic organization," McGonegle said. "I look forward to working with the leadership and the entire grassroots of the Iowa Pork Producers Association."

The IPPA Board of Directors hired a national search firm to fill the position and several highly qualified candidates emerged to express interest in the role leading the nation's number one pork producing state.

"We felt Pat had the complete package for the Iowa Pork CEO job. He has the experience and knowledge of the industry we were looking for, as well as the leadership style and personality," said IPPA President David Struthers, a Collins-area hog farmer. "He also has the necessary contacts within the industry and other allied organizations that we work with. We felt he would probably make the transition to the CEO position as smooth and easy as anyone we interviewed and we're pleased that he accepted our offer."

It was important that the new CEO maintain and build on the excellent relationship the association and the pork industry enjoy with other Iowa agricultural organizations and Iowa State University.

"Pat understands those relationships and wants to keep them strong and he knows ISU is a great resource for us in Iowa agriculture and across the nation," added Struthers.

McGonegle has worked in the pork industry for more than 30 years and started his career with IPPA as a field director in 1983. He also has served as executive director of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association and worked in sales for ADM Animal Health and Nutrition.

The Vincent, Iowa, native has a degree in animal science from Iowa State University. He and his wife, Julie, have two children.

Farm Credit Services Launches 'Rural Visionaries' Award

Rural America is constantly evolving to meet the needs of a changing global agriculture economy, and a new effort is underway to champion the women, men and youth whose insights and influence are ensuring thriving rural communities for years to come.

Farm Credit has introduced Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives to celebrate the vision and commitment it takes to be a leader in rural enterprise today and tomorrow. This program comes as Farm Credit enters its 100th year of financial support through its network of locally owned cooperative associations.

"For a century, Farm Credit has had the privilege of working hand in hand with the rural entrepreneurs and innovators who've helped shape the fabric of our nation," said Leigh Picchetti, senior vice president of communications for the Farm Credit Council. "As we mark the beginning of this milestone year, we can reflect on our history and heritage, while also asking 'what's next' for rural communities."

Nominations for Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives will be accepted at until Dec. 18, 2015. A panel of experts will evaluate the entrants and select the top 100 honorees to be announced during National Ag Week, March 14-18, 2016. These 100 individuals will be celebrated and supported at the national and local level in an effort to build awareness of and appreciation for rural American contributions to everyday life.

Of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees, 10 exceptional leaders will each receive a $10,000 award to help further their contributions to thriving rural communities and agriculture. These 10 honorees and a guest will be invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in a special recognition event in 2016.

To recognize the diverse ways individuals are contributing to the future success of rural communities, nominations will be accepted in ten categories based on age.

Beef Market Research: Who, What, When, Where, Why & How?

WHO represents the target market for beef promotion, and who do they trust?

WHAT do they care about most when it comes to food and food production, and what are the characteristics of the beef they would serve to their families?

WHEN do they decide to eat beef and what beef products do they choose most?

WHERE are they from/demographics, and where do these consumers go to get information, and where do they shop?

WHY do they want to eat beef and why do they not eat more beef?

HOW do they get information about beef, and how do they share that information?

These are just a few of the questions that the beef checkoff leaders seek to answer through extensive market-research efforts as they guide investment of checkoff dollars into promotion, research and information programs aimed at increasing beef demand.

Knowledge about consumers – beef buyers and potential buyers – is critical. After all, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to buying beef – or any other product, for that matter. Until we understand the wants and needs of a target audience, what are the chances of meeting their requirements in the beef and beef products we produce for them? It would be like shooting in the dark and hoping to hit something.

That’s why market research is the foundation of all other programs funded by the beef checkoff. In short, it grounds checkoff planning efforts with knowledge about what drives a beef-purchase decision at the retail meat case and in restaurants. It spotlights beef’s strengths and weaknesses. It helps planners set consumer goals and track progress toward those goals, then share that information with chefs, retailers, restaurants, nutritionists, dietitians, doctors, foodies, and other influencers. And it helps target checkoff investments in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

So what are the answers to the above questions? Here are the short ones, according to the extensive collection of checkoff-funded market research:

*    The target market for beef promotion and education is the millennial generation – those born between 1980 and 2000. They trust what they can see, but also the advice of foodies and health professionals. They also want to dig online and find out what their friends and other sources tell them. They love great food, since they grew up in the era of food shows on TV, and beef is included in their definition of “craveable”, wonderful food. They want hints, tips, knowledge about choosing a great steak – anything that can help them maximize their enjoyment of beef.
*    They care about where their food comes from and how it serves their families’ needs. They want their beef to be safe, nutritious, flavorful, tender, convenient, easy to prepare, and raised with care for the animals and environment. They want lots of choices and information that will set a good example for their children.

*    When millennials want to “celebrate” by getting out to the grill, they choose beef more often than any other protein. On an everyday basis, however, they make decisions about what to fix for supper at 4 p.m. or later, and often make decisions while in the grocery store. They choose ground beef for family meals most often but want information to expand their choices to new and different cuts and uses.

*    Millennials are 80 million strong; more racially diverse; finding their niche in the world; asking more questions about their food; increasing their food spending. They get their information overwhelmingly through social media, including food bloggers, dietitians, “foodies” and other influencers. About 83 percent of them sleep with their cell phone right next to their beds. They shop at various retail stores, but they love Trader Joe’s, Costco, farmers’ markets, and food trucks. By 2020, total spending power of older millennial parents will hit $1.4 trillion a year.

*    Beef’s great taste is the No. 1 reason that millennials and other consumers eat beef, and the most limiting factors to increased beef consumption are “health reasons,” “limiting cholesterol or fat,” and “other meats seem healthier.” About 45 percent say they are extremely or very likely to add one more beef meal per week once they discover that beef is nutrient-rich, that many lean cuts are available, and that lean beef compares favorably to chicken.

*    Millennials overwhelmingly get their information about beef and beef production through online and social-media channels. More than 90 percent of Americans eat beef at least monthly, and 35 percent have more than three servings of beef a week, with similar numbers for millennials.

These obviously are highly simplified answers, but every one of them is important to the beef community’s ability to change negative perceptions about beef – as defined through another comprehensive area of market research: consumer perceptions. And a deep understanding of consumers is an absolute necessity for developing checkoff programs that drive that change.

In short, market research not only puts all of the puzzle pieces on the table, it also helps checkoff leaders put them together for a clear picture of today’s marketplace. Learn more about these and other research programs funded through your checkoff program at Beef Research.

ACE submits comments to EPA on 2014-2016 RFS

Today the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) submitted comments to EPA on the proposed blending volumes for 2014, 2015, and 2016 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  ACE’s full comments can be read on the ACE website.  Here are excerpts from ACE’s Executive Vice President, Brian Jennings.

“The RFS is intended to reduce the GHG emissions of motor fuel and provide consumer access to E15 and flex fuels which are less expensive and cleaner than gasoline.   These sweeping goals will not be realized if EPA continues to ride the brakes on the RFS.  Issuance of the final RFS in November has consequences beyond trying to get the program back on track.   The decision will come at the same time the President prepares to negotiate an international agreement to reduce GHG emissions in Paris.   What an embarrassment it will be if EPA betrays the Administration’s commitment to curb climate change by restricting the use of low carbon biofuels in the U.S.”

“Congress struck the phrase ‘or distribution capacity’ from the RFS waiver provision because it understood oil companies would exploit those words to confine ethanol blending at E10.   EPA needs to accept this.”

“Four of the six fueling positions at Good & Quick offer ethanol-free premium gasoline, while E15 and E85 are offered at only two fueling positions each.   The sales debunk the petroleum industry mantra that ‘nobody wants E15.’   In fact, the volumes prove almost nobody wants ethanol-free premium, while six times as much E15 is being sold from half as many fueling positions.   The figures also demonstrate concerns over E15 mis-fueling are misplaced.   The ‘fear’ is if E15 is priced below E10, customers will suddenly lose their ability to distinguish between the two fuels, and will ‘mistakenly’ purchase E15.   If that were true, E15 would be the highest selling fuel at Good & Quick.   In reality, by making E15 available, consumers are still choosing E10 most of the time, and they are selecting to buy E15 more often than premium.   Perhaps oil companies know this is what will occur and that’s why they support the way EPA is abandoning its responsibility to properly implement the RFS.”

National Biodiesel Board Submits RFS Comments

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) on Monday called on the EPA to strengthen its proposal for biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In extensive comments submitted to the agency on the pending RFS rule, NBB cited compelling benefits of increased biodiesel production and significant additional capacity for growth in the industry.

“The growth and expansion of the U.S. biodiesel industry in recent years represents a tremendous success story under the RFS,” NBB wrote in its comments, which can be found here on our website. “Today, nearly 2 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel displace an equivalent amount of petroleum diesel. This has resulted in significant reductions in pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact across the nation.”

“The industry now has production plants in nearly every state in the country making fuel from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks, including recycled cooking oil, plant oils such as soybean oil, and animal fats,” the comments state. “In short, the biomass‐based diesel program has exceeded expectations and is achieving the goals that Congress outlined in creating the RFS. As a result, it warrants additional volume growth to meet the objectives of Congress in expanding renewable fuel use in the diesel market and in promoting advanced biofuels under the program.

NBB’s comments follow a letter from 36 U.S. senators last week calling for increased biodiesel volumes, and add to thousands of comments submitted by biodiesel supporters to the EPA in recent weeks. The comment period on the EPA’s pending proposal closed at midnight Monday.

“The EPA’s proposal is an improvement over its initial draft, but the agency can and should do much better,” said Anne Steckel, NBB vice president of federal affairs. “We have presented credible, compelling reasons for increasing biodiesel use under the RFS, and we hope the EPA carefully reviews our comments and those of thousands of other biodiesel supporters who have weighed in.”

Growth Energy Submits Comments on EPA RVO Proposal

Yesterday, Growth Energy submitted detailed comments in response to the proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2014, 2015 and 1016 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) which are part of the broader Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy noted, “The RFS has been an overwhelming success. It has created American jobs, revitalized rural America, injected much-needed competition into a monopolized vehicle fuels market, lowered the price at the pump, improved the environment, and made our nation more energy independent and secure by reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. It makes no sense that EPA would try and move this program backward.  We hope that EPA will review our comments closely and finalize the volumes at the statutory levels.”

ASA Commends EPA for Progress on Biodiesel, Calls for Larger Volumes in 2016, 2017

The American Soybean Association (ASA) urges the Environmental Protection Agency to fully recognize and capitalize on the potential for biodiesel in the nation's renewable energy discussion, while at the same time recognizing the agency's improvement in its approach to biomass-based diesel fuels in its proposed final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard.

In comments submitted this week, ASA pointed to the numerous benefits of soy-based biodiesel, including its contribution to a more diversified energy market; increased domestic energy production; reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; new jobs and economic development; expanded markets; and reduced soy meal feed costs.

"While the recent proposal for biodiesel under the program was a step in the right direction, it does not fully capitalize on biodiesel’s benefits and potential for growth," said ASA President Wade Cowan in the association's comments. "The U.S. biodiesel industry has the capacity and has demonstrated its ability to increase production above the levels in the Proposed Rule, particularly when you consider U.S. production capacity, feedstock availability, and the potential for increased imports of biodiesel qualifying for the RFS."

The association further pressed the agency to increase its volumes for 2016 and 2017 to 2 billion and 2.3 billion gallons, respectively, to represent the capacity of the industry.

"As an industry we have always advocated for RFS volumes that are modest and achievable and the biodiesel industry has met or exceeded the targets each and every year that the program has been in place," Cowan commented.

Accounting for more than half of the feedstock used, soybean oil remains the largest source of oil for biodiesel production.

Trade Policy Talks, Priorities Take Center Stage at USGC Annual Meeting

U.S. Grains Council (USGC) delegates received powerful insights into the global grain trade and trade policy’s role in the future dynamics of the market during Monday's opening general session.

Informa Economics Vice President Nick Hoyt set the stage with a keynote presentation delving into global supply and demand dynamics for coarse grains and co-products, including the impact of a strong dollar, growing production from competitors like Brazil, and a U.S. corn yield that has yet to be determined.

A panel discussion about the now-ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks as they relate to both U.S. and Canadian agriculture followed, featuring Phil Karsting, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) administrator; Nick Giordano, National Pork Producers Council vice president and counsel for global government affairs; and Jack Hughes, Hill+Knowlton Strategies vice president headquartered in Montreal.

The panelists agreed that a high-quality TPP agreement would effectively lower taxes and the regulatory burden for agricultural producers and that access to critical markets like Japan is essential to both the United States and Canada. They also urged the farmers and agribusiness representatives in the room to educate policy makers about the importance of these agreements to their profitability.

“Trade policy sets the rules of the road for the global marketplace,” said Ron Gray, USGC chairman. “Being in Canada for our meeting while the TPP talks are ongoing sets the stage for this conversation about the complexity of negotiating this type of agreement and how critical it is to establish trade preferences with a block of countries accounting for 40 percent of world’s gross domestic product.”

The Council’s members are keenly interested in the outcome of the TPP negotiations, with the organization participating in the talks on behalf of the grains industry. The Council’s objectives in the TPP talks include:
• securing increased market access for U.S products;
• ensuring that existing access remains open; and
• achieving a more robust sanitary and phytosanitary chapter that will reduce non-tariff trade barriers and provide for faster resolution of barriers that do arise.

More about the ongoing annual meeting is available online at

University of California, Santa Cruz Researchers Strive to Enhance Milk Production With $150,000 Zoetis Grant

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz will continue research related to mammary gland development, thanks to $150,000 in research funding from Zoetis. The award is part of the competitive Zoetis Cattle Call research grant program, which supports efforts by North American researchers and veterinarians to improve dairy and beef cattle performance.

This year’s grant recipients, Lindsay Hinck, Ph.D., professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, along with Sharmila Chatterjee, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar, are working on basic research that could identify potential pathways to higher milk production in dairy cattle.

Dr. Hinck’s research lab studies mammary gland development and stem cell biology, focusing primarily on human breast cancer.

“I had never thought about the practical role our research could play in the dairy industry,” Dr. Hinck said. “It turns out that our investigation into regulatory mechanisms governing mammary stem cells can directly translate to milk production. This is a new and exciting direction for our research program.”

“Basic biological research is the foundation for solutions that could help improve cattle health and productivity in the future,” explained Roger Saltman, DVM, MBA, group director of Cattle and Equine Technical Services at Zoetis. Dr. Saltman is part of the Zoetis research committee that evaluates Cattle Call grant applications.

“We see many innovative ideas through our Cattle Call research grant program,” Dr. Saltman said. “What’s interesting about this proposal is that mammary development is a fundamental process that is not fully understood. Research such as this holds great promise for the dairy industry as we strive to get more milk from the same number of cows.”

Coalition Urges Senate to Reject COOL Repeal

Today, a coalition of 142 rancher, farmer, rural, consumer, manufacturer, labor, faith and environmental groups from across the United States delivered a letter urging the Senate to reject both the effort to repeal the country of origin labeling (COOL) law and the so-called compromise to convert COOL into a voluntary labeling program for beef, pork and chicken. Congress enacted COOL for beef, pork, chicken, goat, lamb, seafood and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills and expanded COOL to cover venison in the 2014 Farm Bill. Consumers overwhelmingly support these labels.

Rather than bow to pressure from the meatpacker lobby, the letter urges the Senate “to defend consumers’ right to know where their food comes from and the ability of farmers and ranchers to proudly identify their livestock as born and raised in America.”

In 2008, Canada and Mexico challenged COOL at the World Trade Organization (WTO), contending that these commonsense labels were a barrier to trade. Canada and Mexico have threatened an absurdly high penalty designed to frighten the U.S. Congress into rashly repealing COOL rather than allowing the WTO dispute process to be completed.

“It is premature for Congress to unilaterally surrender to saber-rattling from our trading partners in the midst of a long-standing dispute. COOL opponents have highlighted Mexico and Canada’s threats of retaliation as if their aspiration to seek billions of dollars in penalties were already approved by the WTO. But these unapproved, unrealistically high retaliation claims are merely aggressive litigation tactics designed to frighten the United States, a standard practice in WTO disputes. Congress should not fall for it,” the letter observes.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal COOL for muscle-cuts of meat and ground beef, pork and chicken. Last week, dueling COOL amendments were offered on the Senate highway bill. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced an amendment to totally repeal COOL that was identical to the House repeal bill. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced legislation that repealed mandatory COOL for beef, pork, chicken and ground meat but gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture the discretion to establish a voluntary COOL labeling program for only some of those meat products. The Stabenow-Hoeven measure was also offered as an amendment to the highway bill being considered this week in the Senate.

Both the full repeal and voluntary COOL measures inappropriately include chicken and ground meat even though the WTO ruled that the COOL labels for ground meat were WTO-legal and the dispute never considered chicken. The letter notes, “the legislation would repeal COOL for ground beef and ground pork as well as for chicken, but the WTO explicitly ruled that the COOL label on ground meat was WTO-legal, and the WTO never addressed chicken or other covered commodities.”

The broad-based coalition vehemently opposes any effort to repeal COOL but also opposes any effort to weaken COOL, including converting it into a voluntary labeling program. The United States had a voluntary COOL program for meat prior to implementing the mandatory labeling program under the 2008 Farm Bill, but the meatpackers refused to participate in the voluntary program.

“Voluntary COOL labeling is no solution to the WTO dispute: Meatpackers won’t use it, consumers won’t see it, farmers and ranchers won’t benefit from it and Canada and Mexico have already bluntly rejected this so-called compromise. Voluntary COOL is indistinguishable from repealing COOL,” the letter states.

Providing commonsense information to consumers is not something that should be left solely to the discretion of the meatpacking, food manufacturing and grocery retailing industries that have long-opposed consumer labeling disclosures. The letter states: “We do not believe that the interests of producers or consumers can be served by granting to the opponents of COOL the exclusive right to decide whether or not to affix voluntary COOL labels.”

The next phase of the WTO COOL dispute is expected to take up to six months and will consider the extent to which a simple consumer label has prevented Canada and Mexico from exporting cattle and hogs to the United States. Cattle imports are now higher than when COOL went into effect and hog imports are rapidly rising, severely undercutting the contention that COOL is a trade barrier.

“COOL is extremely important to our organizations and to the American public. We oppose any legislation that would undermine any portion of the COOL law, whether by outright COOL repeal or by converting the mandatory COOL law to a voluntary program,” the coalition letter states. “We urge Congress to stand up for America’s consumers, farmers and ranchers by rejecting any effort to unilaterally repeal or weaken a popular food label even before the WTO process has concluded.”