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.

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