Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday October 30 Ag News

Using Body Condition Scoring as a Management Tool
Steve Tonn, Nebraska Extension in Washington County

Body condition scores when used on a consistent and regular basis can be an effective tool to monitor the effectiveness of your beef cow nutrition program as environmental conditions and nutrient needs change.  Body condition is closely related to reproductive performance.

Fall or at weaning time is an important time to body condition score your spring calving cows.  Pay particular attention to young females weaning their first calf.  They are the ones that are the most likely to be thin.  Watch them to make sure that they begin to regain condition after the nutrient demand for lactation has been removed.  First calf heifers should regain a body condition score of 6 on a scale of 9 prior to calving again.  A body condition score 6 cow or heifer should have no visible ribs or backbone showing.

Mature cows that are thin at weaning may bounce back in condition at 60 days postweaning.  These cows should return to a condition score of 5 once the calf is removed.  A score of 5 is thinner than a 6 so you will be able to see a bit of rib in the last pair or two.  Mature cows should be at a score of 5 at calving.

To make body condition score a true management tool it should be used more than just at weaning time.  Work in body scoring cows when you are doing other cow related jobs.  There are several key times when body condition scoring should be considered and recorded:

45 Days after Weaning

This will give you a good idea how fast cows are “bouncing back” after weaning.  Thin cows should be gaining back if cow type is matched with feed resources.
90 Days before Calving

This is the last opportunity to get condition back on cows economically.  This would be the time to separate thin cows from cows in good condition.  This would be when you would place the thin cows/heifers on a higher nutritional diet to help them gain back condition.

Calving Time

If you have thin cows at calving you may want to change your pre-calving feeding program for next year.  Because of the nutritional demands of lactation, it is difficult and very expensive to try and get cows to increase in body condition.  Thin cows at calving will produce less milk and poorer quality milk, less vigorous calves and will be slower to rebreed.

Beginning of Breeding Season

Thin cows at breeding may indicate a poor match of calving season to feed sources.  Was your hay of lower quality than you thought?  Did all the cows have equal access to feed?  Were your thin cows heavy milkers?  First calf heifers? Three year old cows?  Cows that are thin at calving will be slower to rebreed and will become late calvers.  This will lower the reproductive efficiency of your cow herd.

BCS Scoring System

1-2  Very Thin     very bony, no fat deposits, no muscle definition     emaciated
3-4   Thin              backbone is visible, rib bones are visible, full straight muscling in hindquarter
5-6   Moderate(Good)  Ribs cannot be seen, backbone not visible, hindquarters plump and full
7 – 9   Fat             Abundant fat over ribs and brisket. Back is square and smooth.

Ideally, it would be good to keep a record of body condition score for each individual cow throughout the production year.  However each operation has to adapt this tool to their situation.  But keeping tally of your body condition score can be easy and low tech.  Get a tablet, write BCS 3, 4, 5, 6 across the top, and draw lines down the paper to make columns.  Then make hash marks in each column corresponding to how you BCS the cow.  Or even simpler make columns  thin (3-4), moderate (5-6) and fat (7+).

Add up your tally marks, multiply by the BCS number at the top, and divide by the total number of cows.  This will give you the number of cows in each BCS group and the average of your whole herd.

Body condition scoring your cows throughout the production year forces you to look at the data and address management issues that may arise.  “If you can’t measure it; you can’t manage it.”

Some excellent resources for body condition scoring are the UNL Body Condition Score App found at the UNL Beef website; the Nebraska Extension Publication EC281 Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows: Tool for Managing the Nutrition Program for Beef Herds and the American Angus Association Body Condition Score website


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Grass remaining for winter grazing can really help cut feed costs for stock cows.  Your grazing strategy can greatly influence how effectively you use this pasture.

               Grazing winter range or pastures has many benefits.  It can save as much as a dollar a day per cow compared to feeding expensive hay.  It removes old growth so pasture next spring and summer is fresher.  And some weeds may be eaten that cattle won’t touch during summer.  Plus, there is little risk of damage to your dormant pasture.

               But the way you manage your cattle during winter grazing can have a big effect on its success.  For instance, maybe you have a goal of feeding as little protein supplement as possible while winter grazing.  Then you must make sure your stocking level is light enough so cattle can select just the higher quality plant parts to eat.  Another strategy might be to stretch winter pasture as far as possible.  Then it might be best to restrict animal access to small areas at a time, like with strip grazing.  Or, if you use forage from winter range just as a filler to keep cattle from bellowing when you limit feed corn, corn by-products, or other nutrient dense feeds, then high stocking levels and unrestricted access might be best.

               Whatever your strategy, though, consider carefully what kind of nutrition animals are getting from the pasture so you neither underfeed nor overfeed expensive supplements.  Be sure to provide salt, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A free choice at all times.   Winter grazing is a great opportunity to reduce winter feed costs.  With the right grazing strategy, it can help you meet many of your feeding goals.

Current National Drought Summary

A slow-moving storm that had first arrived in California on October 15 drifted eastward across the southwestern and south-central U.S., generating heavy showers. Eventually, the storm lifted northward across the Plains, providing beneficial moisture for emerging winter wheat. However, rain mostly bypassed a few areas, including eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma. Farther south, the storm’s trailing cold front became infused with tropical moisture from Patricia, the strongest hurricane on record. (On the morning of October 23, several hours prior to crossing the southwestern coast of Mexico, Patricia’s sustained winds peaked at 200 mph and the central barometric pressure plummeted to 25.96 inches, or 879 millibars. When Patricia made landfall later that day near Cuixmala, Mexico, winds were estimated at 165 mph and the central pressure was 27.17 inches, or 920 millibars.) In part due to the influx of tropical moisture, October 22-25 rainfall topped 20 inches at a few locations in northeastern Texas. Storm-total rainfall reached 5 inches or more in a broader area covering much of eastern Texas, as well as portions of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Consequently, areas of the South that had received little rainfall in the last 4 months were suddenly deluged by flooding rains. Significant rain began to overspread parts of the Midwest and Southeast on October 27, after the drought-monitoring period ended, and will be reflected in next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

Great Plains

Widespread rain fell from the southern and central High Plains northward into the Dakotas, hampering fieldwork but providing much-needed moisture for emerging winter grains. On October 25, Oklahoma’s winter wheat was rated 22% very poor to poor, while only 31% of the crop was rated good to excellent. A substantial portion of the wheat was also rated very poor to poor in Texas (20%), Colorado (16%), and Kansas (15%). Although many areas of the Plains received rain that should help to revive pastures and promote winter wheat growth, eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma remained dry. In those areas, there was some introduction or expansion of dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). In Kansas, statewide topsoil moisture was 52% very short to short by October 25. However, topsoil moisture was at least 70% very short to short in central, north-central, and northeastern Kansas.

Midwestern and Great Lakes States

Through the end of the drought-monitoring period (on the morning of October 27), mostly dry weather prevailed across the heart of the Midwest. By October 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rated topsoil moisture 66% very short to short in Missouri. Topsoil moisture was rated at least half very short to short in Illinois (59%), Indiana (58%), and Ohio (52%). The dry conditions have promoted harvest activities and winter wheat planting, but left newly planted wheat in need of moisture. In USDA’s first winter wheat condition report of the season, dated October 25, nearly one-sixth (15%) of Missouri’s wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition. Due to the short-term dryness, there was further expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1), primarily from Missouri to the lower Great Lakes region.

However, significant rain (locally 1 to 2 inches or more) fell in the upper Midwest, trimming the coverage of dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). In northeastern South Dakota, where some dryness was removed, October 22-23 rainfall totaled 1.59 inches in Aberdeen and 1.44 inches in Watertown. On the same dates in Minnesota, Alexandria netted 1.31 inches.

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days, active weather will continue across much of the nation. As a storm system moves across eastern Canada, rain will end later today in the northeastern U.S. However, a few rain and snow showers may linger in the Great Lakes region. Meanwhile, a parade of Pacific storms will cross the Northwest, where 5-day rainfall totals could reach 5 to 10 inches (or more) west of the Cascades. Significant precipitation (locally 2 to 6 inches) will also reach the northern Rockies. The first of the Pacific storms will dip into the Southwest before tracking eastward. As a result, heavy rain will return to parts of the south-central U.S. and quickly spread eastward. Five-day rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches can be expected from the southeastern Plains to the southern Appalachians. In contrast, little or no precipitation will occur across the northern Plains and southern California. Elsewhere, mild weather in the western U.S. will be replaced by sharply colder conditions early next week.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for November 3 – 7 calls for the likelihood of warmer-than-normal weather across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., while below-normal temperatures will cover the West. Meanwhile, wetter-than-normal conditions across the majority of the nation will contrast with below-normal precipitation in the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, and lower Southeast.

Action Needed to Win Passage of Federal Truck Weight Increase

Next week, the House will consider a full, six-year Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill.  While there are numerous positive aspects of the Committee passed bill, it does not address the ability for states to allow increased truck weights on federal interstates within their state for trucks with an additional sixth axle. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) has indicated his intent to offer an amendment when the bill reaches the House floor to include the increased truck weight provisions. The bill will be considered on the House floor Nov. 3-5.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) asks all individuals and state soybean associations to contact your members of the U.S. House of Representatives and urge their support for the Ribble Amendment to improve trucking efficiency. The amendment will mirror H.R.3488, the Safe, Flexible, and Efficient (SAFE) Trucking Act of 2015, which Rep. Ribble has introduced as a stand-alone bill.

ASA supports the provision to allow an increase in truck weight limits on federal interstates. The provisions would give states the option to selectively raise interstate weight limits for trucks equipped with six axles, instead of the typical five. The goal is to make U.S. truck transportation safer and more efficient.

The U.S. federal weight limit has been set at 80,000 pounds since 1982. Many truck shipments meet this limit with significant space left in the trailer – forcing shippers to use more trucks and fuel.

Studies by the U.S. DOT and Transportation Research Board have both determined that six-axle trucks with up to 97,000 pounds do not lose stopping or handling capability, nor do they adversely affect our nation’s roads. In fact, the higher weight limit would cut the number of trucks otherwise needed.

According to a soybean farmer funded study, allowing six axle 97,000 lbs. semis would result in 1.2 million fewer truck trips, 5.5 million fewer gallons of fuel consumed, 56,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and $11-$28 million in reduced fuel costs – and that is just for soybean farmers.


The Senate next week will consider the “Federal Water Quality Protection Act” (S. 1140), sponsored by Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Joe Donnelley, D-Ind. The bill would repeal the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also would give those agencies specific instructions and a deadline for rewriting the rule, which is supposed to clarify their authority under the Clean Water Act over various waters. That jurisdiction did include “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters, but the rule broadened 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 encompasses lands adjacent to such waters.

The regulation took effect Aug. 28, but implementation of it recently was halted by a U.S. Court of Appeals until litigation over the rule, including a lawsuit, is concluded. Opponents of S. 1140 are expected to filibuster the bill, so proponents will need 60 votes in favor of cutting off debate and moving to a vote on the legislation. If that “cloture” vote fails, the Senate is expected to take up a resolution of disapproval of the WOTUS rule.

National survey results: large majority of voters support RFS

A recent national survey shows that biodiesel is an increasingly popular alternative fuel and that support for a Renewable Fuel Standard is on the rise. With just one month until the Environmental Protection Agency releases a final RFS rule, 80 percent of voters support a renewable fuel standard.

“This is just more evidence that the EPA should strengthen biodiesel volumes in the final RFS proposal,” said Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs. “There is substantial public support and mounting data behind strong renewable fuel volumes that allow for additional growth in the program. We are hopeful the administration and EPA recognize the opportunity they have to deliver meaningful policy that will reduce carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on oil.”

Moore Information conducted an online survey of registered voters nationwide on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board. The survey showed continued support for a national renewable fuel standard to support increased biodiesel use in the U.S. Fully 80 percent support a fuel standard today and just 10 percent oppose. The remaining 9 percent are unsure. This is up from just 70 percent support two years ago.

The survey also showed that despite drops in oil and gas prices, public support for renewable fuels has not been adversely affected. On the contrary, it appears the public is increasing its support for renewables, like cleaner burning biodiesel.

“Voters clearly support biodiesel and the RFS. The policies are working,” Steckel said. “Now is the time to build on that success.”

World's Largest Livestock Expo to Open 18-Day Run

The North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center for its 42nd annual gathering Nov. 3-20. Exhibitors from 48 contiguous states will show upwards of 30,000 prize cattle, goats, swine, horses, sheep and other species, as they compete for nearly $750,000 in premiums and awards. NAILE, started in 1974, has grown to become the world's largest all-breed, purebred livestock exposition.

The expo attracts agricultural professionals and livestock breeders from around the world. Some 200,000 competitors and attendees are expected to contribute an estimated $16.1 million to the area's economy. It also hosts the National Collegiate and 4-H/FFA Livestock Judging Contests, designed to assist in preparing the next generation for tomorrow's breeding challenges.

The exposition's premier event, the Sale of Champions, benefits youth exhibitors who often pursue careers in agriculture. In 2014, the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion steers, hogs and lambs fetched auction sales of $87,500. Ten percent of the sales are donated to charitable organizations. The remaining 90 percent of the proceeds are split, with 10 percent going to promote the expo and 80 percent given to the youth exhibitors. More than $1.75 million has been raised through the auction to further promote youth involvement in agribusiness and fund charitable endeavors.

In addition to sales and judging contests, visitors can enjoy the North American Quarter Horse Show in Broadbent Arena Nov. 3-11. Consistently ranked as a top five show by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), the nine-day competition features more than 200 classes of events such as cutting, reining, halter, team penning, tie down roping and barrel racing.

Held in conjunction with NAILE is the separately ticketed North American Championship Rodeo Nov. 12-14 in Freedom Hall. This serves as the finals for the Great Lakes Circuit of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), with $80,000 in prize money and the title of Regional Champion on the line.

DuPont Celebrates the Opening of the World’s Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

DuPont celebrated the opening of its cellulosic biofuel facility in Nevada, Iowa, with a ceremony including Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and many other dignitaries. This biorefinery is the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant, with the capacity to produce 30 million gallons per year of clean fuel that offers a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as compared to gasoline.

The raw material used to produce the ethanol is corn stover – the stalks, leaves and cobs left in a field after harvest. The facility will demonstrate at commercial scale that non-food feedstocks from agriculture can be the renewable raw material to power the future energy demands of society. Cellulosic ethanol will further diversify the transportation fuel mix just as wind and solar are expanding the renewable options for power generation.

DuPont brings an unparalleled combination of science competencies and almost 90 years of agronomy expertise in Iowa to develop both a pioneering clean fuel and biomass supply chain. Vital to the supply chain and the entire operation of the Nevada biorefinery are close to 500 local farmers, who will provide the annual 375,000 dry tons of stover needed to produce this cellulosic ethanol from within a 30-mile radius of the facility. In addition to providing a brand-new revenue stream for these growers, the plant will create 85 full-time jobs at the plant and more than 150 seasonal local jobs in Iowa.

“Iowa has a rich history of innovation in agriculture,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Today we celebrate the next chapter in that story, using agricultural residue as a feedstock for fuel, which brings both tremendous environmental benefits to society and economic benefits to the state. The opening of DuPont’s biorefinery represents a great example of the innovation that is possible when rural communities, their government and private industry work together toward a common goal.”

Biomass-based businesses can bring new sources of revenue and high-tech opportunities to rural economies around the world. As a global company with operations in more than 90 countries, DuPont is uniquely positioned to deploy its cellulosic technology for a global rollout, in transportation fuel and other industries.

FACT SHEET: The DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol Facility

“Today, we fulfill our promise to the global biofuels industry with the dedication of our Iowa facility,” said William F. Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “And perhaps more significantly, we fulfill our promise to society to bring scientific innovation to the market that positively impacts people’s lives. Cellulosic biofuel is joining ranks with wind and solar as true alternatives to fossil fuels, reducing damaging environmental impacts and increasing our energy security.”

In Asia, DuPont recently announced its first licensing agreement with New Tianlong Industry to build China’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant, and last fall a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was announced between DuPont, Ethanol Europe and the government of Macedonia to develop a second-generation biorefinery project. The company also is working in partnership with Procter & Gamble to use cellulosic ethanol in North American Tide® laundry detergents.

The majority of the fuel produced at the Nevada, Iowa, facility will be bound for California to fulfill the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard where the state has adopted a policy to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The plant also will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology where investors from all over the world can see firsthand how to replicate this model in their home regions.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday October 29 Ag News

Take it from an Iowa farm girl: here are 10 good reasons to keep eating meat
Laurie Johns, public relations manager, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation

 Just when I’d dealt with the whole ‘sitting is the new smoking’ study, by upping my exercise regimen,  it now appears another aspect of my daily life is casting health dispersions; red meat.  But this one, I don’t plan to give up.  Let me explain.

First, what I’m talking about is a new report by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer, which puts processed meats in the same carcinogenic category as cigarettes, diesel-engine exhaust and asbestos. Specifically, the WHO hypothesis isn’t based on new studies, but a compilation of observational studies, which concluded that eating more than a pound a week of red and processed meat increases the risk of colorectal or stomach cancers.

Despite this study, the US Department of Agriculture hasn’t changed its recommendation for keeping lean meats in the diet ( ).

So, with all that in mind, I submit my Top 10 List of Reasons Why I Still Eat Bacon:

10)   I grew up on a livestock farm.  My Grandma not only served meat three times a day, seven days a week and happily cooked pies with lard, she lived to the feisty age of 99.  We loved her, her BLT’s and her pies!

9) The World’s Oldest Woman, 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones, has a sign on her kitchen that reads, “Bacon Makes Everything Better’ and eats two strips every day. She must know something.

8) I know hundreds of Iowa livestock farmers, hearty and strong, who eat meat every day, usually from animals they grow on their own farms.  They definitely know something!

7) Fake meat is, well, fake. Why do vegetarians go to such extremes to create fake foods that taste like meat?  Why do they need to, and who enjoys such things, especially after reading those tofu dogs not only have meat, but (ahem) human DNA?

6) As my favorite doctor, (my husband) always chirps; “Commonality doesn’t equal causality.”  So, if eating two slices of bacon a day raises the risk of getting cancer by 18-percent (according to the new WHO report), it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it.  You can apply ‘lottery logic’ here; buying a ticket every day doesn’t mean you’ll win the lottery.  Besides, scientists agree when it comes to your cancer risk, the “genetic lottery” is a more predictable, if not a guaranteed indicator of risk:

5) Humans are mortal.  Unless you’re Susannah Mushatt Jones, life is short.  Do you want to live to 100 if all you could eat is fake cheese that won’t melt, Tofurky, flax, miso paste and beans?  Well, that’s your choice.  (I’ll be sitting upwind from you, thanks).

4) Sun exposure, genetics, obesity, radon, hair dyes, cell phones, lead, antiperspirants, eye shadow, Teflon and exposure to talcum powder and fluoridated water are also accused of increasing our risk to cancer.  Maybe the question should be; what doesn’t? Or, even better, who wants to deal every day with the stick-thin, smelly, off-the-grid, flax-eating, toothless, chaffed and desperate-for-a-make-over Nervous Nelly who lives her life to avoid all risks?

3) Steak with red wine shallot sauce? Testify!

2) Red meat just goes with red wine.  Which I happily drink … for medicinal purposes.

1). Red meat is the tie that binds us all at so many family and social gatherings; it’s the hushed reverence we feel as Moms bring out the Thanksgiving turkey; it’s the steaks Dads brag about grilling to perfection on for the Fourth of July; it’s kids, enjoying a brat at the World Series; it’s football fans noshing on hamburger-hearty chili at Superbowl tailgates. In short; it’s just plain, unapologetically American, and I, like many, proudly raise a fork and salute the men and women, the farmers, who help make it all happen!

Iowa Corn Applauds USDA’s $210 million Investment to Boost Biofuels Infrastructure

Wednesday, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Iowa as one of the 21 recipients of federal grants through the Biofuel Infrastructure Program (BIP) amounting in $210 million. The Iowa Department of Transportation will receive $5 million, which could bring as many as 100 new stations and 187 additional pumps to the state through the “Fueling Our Future 100” initiative.

“Iowa Corn farmers commend Secretary Vilsack on this funding commitment as it will nearly double the number of biofuel pumps nationwide, providing American consumers with additional fuel choices,” said Bob Hemesath, a farmer from Decorah and President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). “In Iowa, this initiative will provide consumers with greater access to higher blends of ethanol, all while lowering the cost at the pump, adding value to agricultural products such as corn and helping eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.”

A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10 percent ethanol, which limits the amount of renewable energy that consumers can utilize. The new partnership will increase the number of pumps, storage tanks, and related infrastructure that offer higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, E85, and other mid-level blends.

“This goal of increased reliance on domestically produced renewable fuels can only be realized if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upholds the higher renewable volume obligation numbers required under the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Hemesath. “We urge them to consider revising their current proposed numbers by the November 30th deadline.”

The BIP program, which also requires a private match, is expected to support approximately $10 million in higher ethanol blend projects in Iowa with a partnership of investment from retailers, the state, and federal government. 

Sheep Production Skill Development Workshop Set for Nov. 21

The Sheep Production Skill Development Workshop will be held Saturday, Nov. 21, starting at 9:30 a.m. in the Deb and Jeff Hanson Agriculture Learning Center located at 2508 Mortensen Road in Ames.

Topics covered throughout the day will include reproductive management of ewe stock, basic sheep nutrition and feeding, a hands-on session at the Iowa State University Sheep Teaching Farm, condition scoring, mouthing, and aging, using CIDRs and ram breeding tests, and hay sampling.

“This workshop will be a great learning opportunity for sheep producers and breeders and allow attendees hands-on experience at our teaching farm,” said Daniel Morrical, professor and extension sheep specialist in animal science at Iowa State University. “Many decisions go into sheep production and we would like to help develop those management skills needed for a successful operation.”

The Sheep Production Skill Development Workshop is free to anyone interested in attending. Attendees are asked to wear clean shoes and clothes to reduce biosecurity risk. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the programming will begin at 10 a.m. The hands-on session at 1:15 p.m. will conclude the day. Lunch will not be provided.

Statement by Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President, On Reinstatement of Crop Insurance Funds in the Federal Budget

“We are pleased that a deal was reached to reinstate the $3 billion in cuts to crop insurance that Congressional leaders had sought in a budget agreement with the White House.”

“Reinstating these funds will help ensure that the crop insurance delivery system that farmers rely on each year will continue to operate without interruption.”

“Crop insurance is a key risk management tool for Nebraska farmers and one of, if not, the most important farm program component available to Nebraska farm families today.”

“While the agreement has been approved in the House, we urge the Senate to follow suit to protect this vital risk management tool.”

Wheat Growers Please with Promise to Reverse Crop Insurance Cuts

This morning in a colloquy on the Senate floor, Senate leadership committed to working with House leadership to reverse crop insurance cuts that are included as part of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement currently before the Senate as part of an omnibus appropriations bill, due in December.

Following is a statement from NAWG President, Brett Blankenship, wheat grower from Washtucna, Wash.

“After days of expressing concern over cuts to crop insurance to members of Congress, we are pleased that House and Senate leadership have committed to reversing the cuts currently proposed in the budget agreement. Crop insurance is an essential part of the farm safety net, and it needs to stay as such. It is encouraging to see leadership listening to grower concerns and keeping crop insurance in tact as a risk management tool for growers. I also want to thank Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Peterson, Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for their tireless efforts to defend crop insurance.”

Earlier this week, the Administration and Congressional leadership announced a bipartisan budget deal that would both raise discretionary spending caps by $80 billion for FY 2016 and FY 2017 and it would increase the debt limit until March 15, 2017. As one of the offsets for the increase in discretionary spending, the deal also included a $3 billion cut, over ten years, to crop insurance. Following significant pushback from the agricultural community and many Members of Congress, Congressional leadership committed to reversing the crop insurance cuts when Congress turns to an omnibus appropriations bill later this year.

Agreement to Remove Crop Insurance Cuts Reached, NSP Applauds Ag Leadership

In the wake of the announcement this week of a two-year budget agreement, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson announced an agreement to avoid the cuts to crop insurance, which are included in the vote today on the Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015. While the language to cut crop insurance funding will remain in the bill, House leadership has agreed to reverse this provision in the omnibus bill later this year.

Following this announcement, National Sorghum Producers Chairman James Born released this statement:

“The work done in the last 48 hours to protect crop insurance, an essential farmer safety net element fought hard for through the 2014 Farm Bill process, is a true testament to the agriculture leaders we have representing farmers and ranchers across the United States.

On behalf of the sorghum industry and our producers, I extend my deepest gratitude to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson for their leadership in this matter. I also thank Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for their efforts in the Senate.

I would also like to thank the numerous Members who supported House Agriculture Committee leadership and the grassroots efforts by our members and proponents to ensure crop insurance remains intact as a vital component to the farm safety net.

Agriculture’s voice was heard loud and clear this week, and as agriculture income has dropped in the past two years, we remain united in working together to protect the agriculture safety net."

 NFU Cautiously Optimistic Over Removal of Crop Insurance Cuts from Budget Deal

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today voiced cautious optimism over the budget deal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this evening. The agreement, led by the House Agriculture Committee, would remove harmful provisions that would have undermined public-private delivery of crop insurance within the upcoming omnibus package. This will prevent further consolidation of the crop insurance sector, which would have provided less choice for family farmers who depend on this cost-effective safety net program.

“No one involved in agriculture was consulted when the budget was being negotiated,” said Johnson. “It’s outrageous to think that the agriculture committees were completely left in the dark, but we are thankful that the Committee, its members, and other members of Congress stood up for a program that is critical to family farmers.”

Johnson noted that the 2014 Farm Bill provided $24 billion in savings, which accompanies the $12 billion in savings that was part of the 2011 renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA). “While the rest of Congress has been paralyzed, the agriculture committees delivered savings in the name of deficit reduction,” he said. “It would be shameful to punish agriculture for doing its job over the last several years.”

Absent this deal, the budget would require $3 billion in cuts to the reimbursement rates between the government and the companies that sell and administer the crop insurance program. The cut, from 14 percent to 8.9 percent, is far deeper than the 12 percent of previous proposals. However, the average rate of return for participating companies has been less than 4 percent, causing many crop insurance companies to exit the sector.

“Caps already exist on administrative and operating costs for crop insurance companies, and producers pay an estimated $4 billion into this program annually. It’s time for Congress to realize that crop insurance is not a piggy bank,” noted Johnson. “We are thankful for our allies in the House and the leadership of Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson.”

“We now call on the Senate leadership to follow the House’s lead and reject cuts to crop insurance,” he said.

USDA Overview of the United States Hog Industry

Breeding Herd Efficiency Continues to Increase

The Overview of the United States Hog Industry report provides an official periodic review of efficiency trends and changes in the structure of the United States swine breeding herd. This report will also note changes in hog inventory, compare historic hog prices and review live hog imports and
marketings. This report compares the current 2014 production year data to the 2008 production year data previously released in the Overview of the U.S. Hog Industry report, published in October 2009. 

The efficiency of the United States breeding herd increased significantly from 1994 through 2012. However, due to the effects of the Porcine Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), the average number of pigs per breeding animal declined in 2013 and 2014. The average number of annual pigs per breeding herd animal (including sows, gilts and boars) was 19.5 in 2014, down from 19.8 in 2013, but up from 18.7 in 2008. The steady increase in the average number of pigs per breeding animal prior to 2013 was due to the increase in the number of litters per sow per year and the increase in litter rates. Producers were able to increase pig crop while decreasing breeding herd and farrowings as a percent of the total inventory until the introduction of PEDv to the domestic herd in 2013. The average utilization of breeding females was 49 percent in 2014, up from 42 percent in 1994, but down from 50 percent in 2012. The size of the annual domestic pig crop increased 13 percent between 1994 and 2014 while the number of farrowings decreased 7 percent during the same period.

The influence of large operations, those with inventories of 5,000 or more hogs and pigs, on the United States annual litter rate has increased greatly since 1994. During that year, the average number of pigs weaned on operations with less than 5,000 head was 8.00. The average number weaned on all operations was 8.19 pigs per litter and the average on operations with 5,000 or more head was 8.73. By 2008, operations with 5,000 or more head weaned 9.48 pigs per litter while the average for all operations was 9.41 and the average for operations with less than 5,000 head was 8.93 pigs per litter. For the 2014 production year, operations with 5,000 or more head weaned 9.97 pigs per litter while the national average was 9.93 pigs per litter and operations with less than 5,000 head weaned 9.41 pigs per litter.

Historically, the majority of the annual pig crop was produced on operations with fewer than 5,000 hogs and pigs. By 1996, due to industry consolidation and the loss of many small operations, the percentages of the annual pig crop raised by operations with fewer than 5,000 head and by operations with at least 5,000 head were near equilibrium. For the 2014 production year, 93 percent of the annual pig crop was produced on operations with at least 5,000 head, up from 27 percent in 1994 and up from 88 percent in 2008. From information collected for the 2012 Census of Agriculture, only 5 percent of hog and pig operations had 5,000 or more head, but accounted for 68 percent of the nation's inventory. Conversely, 95 percent of operations had fewer than 5,000 head, but accounted for only 32 percent of the inventory.

Producers have increased production of total hogs and pigs over the last 20 years while decreasing the size of the breeding herd. The breeding herd accounted for 12 percent of the total United States hogs and pigs inventory in 1994, but only accounted for 9 percent in 2014. From 1994 to 2014 the total United States hogs and pigs inventory increased 7 percent while the breeding herd decreased 19 percent.

Iowa continues to be the largest pork producing state in the country. As of December 1, 2014, Iowa accounted for 31.4% of the total United States hog and pig inventory. North Carolina (13.0%), Minnesota (12.0%), Illinois (6.9%) and Indiana (5.5%) round out the top five pork producing states. 

The hog Market Year Average price was at or below $50 every year between 1998 and 2009 before increasing to $76.50 in 2014. The corn market year average price increased from $2.00 per bushel in 2005 to $6.89 per bushel in 2012. This resulted in a marketing year hog to corn ratio of 9.3 for 2012. The market year average price per bushel of corn in 2014 was $3.65 leading to a marketing year hog to corn ratio of 21.0 for 2014 compared to a ratio of 11.6 in 2008. 

Federally Inspected slaughter weights and dressing percentages have increased steadily for the last twenty years (page 12). In 1994, Federally Inspected live weights averaged 256 pounds per head. Dressed weights averaged 185 pounds resulting in an annual dressing percentage of 72 percent. For 2014, the average live weight had increased to 285 pounds while the average dressed weight increased to 214 pounds. This resulted in an average annual dressing percentage of 75 percent.

A product of increased slaughter weights and increased Market Year Average prices for hogs and pigs is an increased value per head. Although there has been fluctuation in the value per head, it has trended higher since 2008. The average value per head of all hogs and pigs in 2008 was $88.74. This resulted in a total value of 5.95 billion dollars for all hogs and pigs raised in the United States during that production year. The average value per head increased to $143.93 in 2014, resulting in a total value of 9.52 billion dollars for all hogs and pigs raised in the United States during that production year.

Gross income for United States hog and pig producers increased from 16.1 billion dollars in 2008 to 26.5 billion dollars in 2014. Additionally, gross income for meat animals (hogs and cattle) increased from 64.9 billion dollars in 2008 to 108.3 billion dollars in 2014.

Live imports into the United States continue to be important to the domestic hog industry, but have declined significantly since 2008. Imports of all hogs and pigs into the United States during 2014 totaled 4.9 million head, down 51 percent from the peak in 2007 (Source: USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service). Feeder pig imports from Canada during 2014 accounted for 3.9 million head, or 79.5 percent of the total 2014 imports into the United States (Source: USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service). The feeder pig imports accounted for approximately 15 percent of Canada's annual pig crop (Source: Statistics Canada, Agricultural Division). These feeder pigs, if produced domestically, would require about 3 percent more breeding herd annually in the United States. 

The majority of the annual hogs and pigs disposition is made up of marketings, which include custom slaughter for use on farms where produced and State outshipments, but exclude interfarm sales within the State. Marketings for the 2014 production year were 148.3 million head, up 47 percent from 101.1 million head in 1994 but down slightly from 148.8 million head in 2008.

University Researchers Studying Ways to Combat PEDv

Kansas State University is flexing its research muscle in swine nutrition and grain science in hopes of taking out Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), a disease with 100 percent mortality rate in piglets less than 7 days old.

European farmers have dealt with PEDv since the 1970s, but it wasn't until 2013 that the costly disease was discovered in a U.S. herd. Some estimates indicate that 8 million pigs died due to the virus in 2014. PEDv causes acute diarrhea and dehydration in pigs of all ages. It does not pose a risk to other animal species, and is not a threat to the human food supply.

Kansas State University researchers are studying the presence of the virus in animal feed, work that may help to implement further biosecurity measures and save pigs' lives.

"We have established that feed and feed ingredients may act as a vehicle to transfer the virus," said Jason Woodworth, a research associate professor of animal sciences and industry. "This is extremely important because feed and ingredients are not normally considered a vector in transmitting diseases."

One study found that pelleted feed should be processed to a minimum temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the feed from PEDv. Pelleted feeds are often used in hog operations to improve nutrient digestibility and feed conversion.

"The pellet mill we used in our study is similar to those used in commercial mills," Woodworth said. "By successfully determining an appropriate combination of conditioning time and temperature that can impact PEDv infectivity, we have established a mitigation step that can be implemented quickly in commercial feed production."

The studies involved nearly a dozen researchers from Kansas State University and Iowa State University, many specializing in swine nutrition, grain and feed science, and veterinary medicine. They conducted the feed processing portions of the research in the Cargill Feed Safety Research Center at Kansas State University's O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center.

New USDA Commitments to Help Build Up Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced a commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prioritize $5.6 billion over the next two years within USDA programs and services that serve new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Deputy Secretary Harden also announced a new, tailored web tool designed to connect burgeoning farm entrepreneurs with programs and resources available to help them get started.

“Today’s announcement is symbolic of the evolution of USDA’s efforts to better serve the next generation of farmers and ranchers. What began seven years ago with the recognition that the rapid aging of the American farmer was an emerging challenge, has transformed into a robust, transparent, tech-based strategy to recruit the farmers of the future,” said Harden. “No matter where you’re from, no matter what you look like, no matter your background, we want USDA to be the first stop for anyone who is looking to be a part of the story and legacy of American agriculture.”

The new web tool is available at The site was designed based on feedback from new and beginning farmers and ranchers around the country, who cited unfamiliarity with programs and resources as a challenge to starting and expanding their operations. The site features advice and guidance on everything a new farm business owner needs to know, from writing a business plan, to obtaining a loan to grow their business, to filing taxes as a new small business owner. By answering a series of questions about their operation, farmers can use the site’s Discovery Tool to build a personalized set of recommendations of USDA programs and services that may meet their needs.

Using the new web tool and other outreach activities, and operating within its existing resources, USDA has set a new goal of increasing beginning farmer and rancher participation by an additional 6.6 percent across key USDA programs, which were established or strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, for a total investment value of approximately $5.6 billion. Programs were targeted for expanded outreach and commitment based on their impact on expanding opportunity for new and beginning farmers and ranchers, including starting or expanding an operation, developing new markets, supporting more effective farming and conservation practices, and having access to relevant training and education opportunities. USDA will provide quarterly updates on its progress towards meeting its goal. A full explanation of the investment targets, benchmarks and outcomes is available at: BFR-Commitment-Factsheet.

Deputy Secretary Harden made the announcements during remarks to more than 60,000 attendees at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. The National FFA Organization is the largest youth organization in the United States, and focuses on preparing students for a wide range of careers in agriculture, agribusiness and other agriculture-related occupations.

As the average age of the American farmer now exceeds 58 years, and data shows that almost 10 percent of farmland in the continental United States will change hands in the next five years, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established.

NCGA Statement on Election of Speaker Paul Ryan

National Corn Growers Association Chip Bowling today released the following statement regarding the election of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House of Representatives:

“We congratulate Speaker Ryan on his election and wish him the best of luck. In his speech today, Speaker Ryan called the House ‘broken’ and urged his colleagues to come together, re-establish order, and find unity and common ground. We hope Congress will heed the advice of their new leader. It’s time to get back on the path of doing the people’s business. From reforming our tax code to finding long-term solutions for our nation’s roads and bridges, there is important work to do. We ask Congress to take Speaker Ryan’s words to heart. Let’s wipe the slate clean, put aside partisan differences, and commit to moving our country forward together.”

New Seven-Figure Fuels America Ad Campaign Lays Out President Obama's Choice on the RFS:  Clean Renewable Fuel or Oil Industry Lies

Fuels America will launch a seven-figure TV and digital ad campaign Friday morning depicting President Obama's choice of who to listen to when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard: his own experts who have repeatedly shown that ethanol and renewable fuel is dramatically reducing carbon emissions, or the oil industry, which has spent decades covering up the science and facts on both renewable fuel and climate science.

"It's absurd that oil companies are feigning concern over America's climate after over a century of oil spills, pollution, and harm to our environment and public health," said Chip Bowling, President of the National Corn Growers Association. "The truth is that slashing the amount of clean, domestic renewable fuel in our motor fuel supply would dramatically increase pollution and carbon emissions, while strengthening the RFS and building on the progress of the past 10 years would help in our efforts to combat climate change."

The 30-second TV spot and digital ads [available upon request] are both airing in the Beltway. Members of the Fuels America coalition announced the new campaign today on a press call, which you can listen to here.

The campaign follows aggressive attempts by oil industry-funded special interest groups API and Smarter Fuel Future to discredit the climate benefits of renewable fuel-and as usual, their claims are false and wholly unsupported.

In reality, the RFS is the most effective policy reducing America's greenhouse gas emissions, and cutting down asthma- and cancer-causing pollution. The Department of Energy (DOE) found that using traditional corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent in comparison to regular gasoline. Administrator McCarthy recently called the RFS a "vital tool" in the fight against climate change. And DOE research has shown that advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol-the cleanest motor fuel in the world, produced right here in America-reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 88-108 percent compared to gasoline.

In the 10 years of its existence, the RFS has cut transportation-related carbon emissions by nearly 590 million metric tons - the equivalent of taking over 124 million cars from the road over the course of the decade. However, the Obama Administration's delays and misfires on the RFS have already frozen over $13.7 billion in investment in the next generation of biofuels, and the EPA's proposal has threatened to send billions of dollars and decades of innovation overseas.

"The oil industry has been covering up climate science for decades, and now suddenly they're advising the Obama Administration on climate policy," said Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President at BIO. President Obama's choice on the Renewable Fuel Standard is clear. He can choose to listen to Big Oil's distortions and lies, or he can listen to his own scientists who have shown that the RFS significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions."

Bunge 3Q Earnings Down

Bunge Ltd. reported a steeper-than-expected slide in third-quarter revenue as strength in the commodity-trading firm's oilseeds and grains businesses wasn't enough to counter weakness elsewhere.

Like many other companies in the agriculture space, Bunge has grappled with softer commodity prices and weaker global demand. Earlier this week, seed maker DuPont said profit nearly halved in its latest quarter. Farm equipment maker Deere has been suffering from slumping commodity prices and reported a 40% profit decline in its most recent period.

Bunge, one of the world's largest traders and processors of agricultural commodities, saw profit in most of its business segments drop in the latest quarter. Fertilizer swung to a loss, while earnings from sugar and bioenergy plummeted to $3 million from $44 million. The company's food unit's profit fell to $45 million from $74 billion.

But in its core agribusiness division, earnings jumped 16%. Soybean processing in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Europe drove the increase, and increased farmer selling in Brazil bolstered Bunge's grains unit.

Pointing to some improvement in Brazil runs contrary to what many companies with operations have reported. DuPont saw third-quarter revenue from the country plunge 33%, and this week Cummins Inc. announced a 3% workforce reduction thanks in part to a hit from Brazil's flagging economy.

Looking ahead, Chief Executive Soren Schroder, said Bunge still expects at least $1 billion in agribusiness profit this year and sequential improvement in the food business.

The firm cut its capital spending forecast for the year to about $750 million from $875 million, but Bunge said the change is due to the timing of certain projects and that the $125 million gap will carry forward into 2016 and 2017.

Overall, the company reported a profit of $239 million, or $1.56 a share, down from $294 million, or $1.90 a share, a year earlier. Revenue declined 21% to $10.79 billion. Analysts expected $1.56 in per-share profit on $12.64 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

Potash 3Q Earnings Down

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. on Thursday reported an 11% decline in its third-quarter profit and cut its annual earnings guidance as a result of weaker market conditions for potash.

The Canadian fertilizer company also moved forward the planned closure of a New Brunswick potash mine to the end of November and said it would take three-week inventory shutdowns at three mines in its home province of Saskatchewan.

Potash Corp. said it expects the moves to lower potash production in the fourth quarter by almost 500,000 metric tons, but it doesn't expect any layoffs related to the changes.

"While this will reduce available production levels until our new Picadilly mine is fully ramped up, it is expected to improve our cost profile and help manage inventories," the company said in its earnings statement. Potash is building the 2-million-ton Picadilly expansion project in New Brunswick to replace the closing Penobsquis mine.

Potash Corp. said earnings for the quarter fell to $282 million, or 34 cents a share, from $317 million, or 38 cents a year earlier. Excluding a 3-cent charge largely related to its phosphate business, results were in line with the 37 cents analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected.

Sales for the quarter fell to $1.53 billion from $1.64 billion, but came in ahead of the $1.45 billion analysts were expecting.

The company, a major producer of the key fertilizer ingredients of potash, nitrogen and phosphate, said global potash demand remained strong during the quarter, but as a result of economic headwinds and currency volatility, prices were lower in most key potash markets.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday October 28 Ag News

Nebraska Cooperative Council Annual Meeting

The 2015 Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2015, at the Kearney Holiday Inn.  The annual meeting features nationally recognized speakers, a business session, Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and membership reception.  Time is 4:00pm - 8:30pm.  Advance Registration Discount is available to all participants who are pre-registered. To receive this discount, the preregistration form and fee must be received in the Council’s office by November 6, 2015.  Go to for more information. 

Nebraska Cooperative Council Director/Manager Workshop - "Managing Your Risk"

The commodity super cycle that began in 2006 has lost all momentum, and the full impact is beginning to be felt all across the Midwest and plains states. Whether or not long-term lows in commodity prices have occurred remains to be seen. What is clear is that there is still a rebalancing process that must take place in production ag. While commodities are much lower, input costs have not yet readjusted, and this imbalance will impact more highly leveraged producers.

During the Director/Manager Workshop, speakers will provide an economic overview of agriculture and agribusiness and what to expect in the next year. We will then discuss the financial conditions that exist for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and the risks associated. We will also discuss risk management strategies for cooperatives in this changing economic environment.  The final presentation of the day will focus on leadership with a special emphasis on board leadership.

Dr. Michael Swanson, Agricultural Economist and consultant for Wells Fargo.
Bill Davis, Chief Credit Officer - Farm Credit Services of America
Tom Houser, CoBank Vice President of the Regional Agribusiness Banking Group in Omaha
Doug Stark, President and Chief Executive Officer - Farm Credit Servcies of America

DATE: Fri., November 20, 2015
TIME: 7:30am (CT) Registration; 8:00am-2:00pm Program (lunch provided)
LOCATION: Kearney, Holiday Inn (308/237-5971)

Early registration is available until November 6th for $280, or $305 after that.  To qualify, the form and fee must be received in the Council office by November 6, 2015.  Go to for more information. 

Statement by Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Regarding World Health Organization Classification of Processed and Red Meat

“It is our hope that those who consume meat products produced by Nebraska’s farm and ranch families will take the time and effort to look beyond the simplistic headlines surrounding the World Health Organization’s (WHO) announcement, assessing cancer and the consumption of red meat and processed meat.”

“Those who have reviewed WHO’s materials understand the classification is not an assessment of the cancer risk posed by meat consumption. In other words, WHO determined that a rock falling from a cliff could be harmful if it fell on you. It did not determine the risk of that actually happening.”

“Experts have pointed out that billions of dollars have been spent on studies around the world and no single food has ever been proven to cause cancer. It is our hope that people will avoid knee-jerk reactions to national headlines that would imply eating meat is the equivalent of eating asbestos. Any insinuation of such is ludicrous and clearly not the case as the WHO pointed out in its own Question and Answer documentation that accompanied the classification. Unfortunately, those realities failed to make their way into national headlines because of our societal obsession with fear mongering and sensationalism that all too frequently puts flash over substance.”

“Lean meat protein continues to be an important part of a balanced diet and Nebraska farmers and ranchers remain committed to producing the highest quality products for consumers, which include members of their own families.”

Iowa Cattle Industry Convention to include policy discussions

The Iowa Cattle Industry Convention will bring together producers and industry partners for educational sessions, policy discussions, and a trade show Dec. 8-9 at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport Conference Center.

Three ICA policy committees will meet on Tuesday, Dec. 8 to discuss issues regarding beef products, cattle production and business issues. Topics expected to come up for discussion are national issues like CME feeder cattle index changes as well as statewide issues such as the Iowa Beef Checkoff, the state’s preconditioned and tag programs, and in-state price reporting. A full report of expiring and updated policies can be found at

Those discussions will lead to the ICA annual meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9, where the policy positions will be presented to ICA membership for discussion and final adoption. Kristina Butts, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Tracy Brunner, NCBA President Elect, will also speak at the annual meeting.

ICA members who register for the convention by Nov. 27 will be entered into a drawing for an Eby trailer. Find program and registration materials at, or call the ICA offices, 515-296-2266.

Grain Storage: Core It, Cool It, Store It

Grain is quickly coming out of the fields this fall, with 92 percent of soybeans and 73 percent of corn harvested in Iowa as of Oct. 26, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Since much of it has been harvested and put into the bin at 60 degrees and warmer, proper grain drying and cooling is essential for storage life and grain quality. For safe grain storage during warmer conditions, Greg Brenneman, agricultural and biosystems engineering specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach says you need to core it, cool it and check it.

“With grain this warm, moisture migration within the grain mass and spoilage can occur very quickly, even with fairly dry grain,” said Brenneman.

Core it

Fines and broken grain tend to accumulate near the center of the bin and often cause aeration and storage problems. Brenneman recommends removing a few loads of grain from the center, so the unloading sump will “core” the bin and remove most of those fines. Then, remove grain until approximately half of that center peak is gone.

After coring, the top of the grain should be visually inspected to ensure an inverted cone has been created. If no cone is created, bridging of the grain has taken place and a very unsafe condition has been created. No one should enter the bin until situation has been safely corrected.

Cool it

This week’s forecast shows cooler temperatures for Iowa, providing an ideal time to get stored grain cooled down. However, farmers may still need to run fans later this fall to lower temperatures further.

“The sooner you can lower grain temperatures, the better,” said Brenneman. “Grain should be stored at 30 to 40 degrees for winter storage, so you may still need to run fans a couple times during the fall to get grain down to wintertime storage temperatures.”

The time required to completely cool a bin of grain depends on fan size. In general terms, a large drying fan will take 10-20 hours to cool a bin of grain. However, a small aeration fan can take a week or more to completely cool a full bin.

In either case, it is best to measure the temperature of the air coming out of the grain to see if cooling is complete. It is also much better to err on the side of running the fan too long rather than turning it off too soon.

Check it

If grain is dried down to the proper moisture and correctly cooled, it should store very well through the winter. Even so, it is best to check stored grain at least every two weeks during the winter and once a week in warmer weather. 

To do a good job checking grain, inspect and probe the grain for crusting, damp grain and warm spots. Also, run the fan for just a few minutes and smell the exhaust air for any off odors. 

For more details, order a copy of “Managing Dry Grain in Storage” AED-20 from Midwest Plan Service at, or check out more grain drying and storage information at

Integrated Crop Management Conference Provides Latest Research and Technologies

The annual Integrated Crop Management Conference will be held Dec. 2-3, 2015 at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus. This year, the conference has added additional speakers to its program, providing topics and information on the latest in crop production and technology from around Iowa and the Midwest. Online registration is available at

“Our goal is to construct a program that provides in-depth cutting edge topics, transfers the latest research findings, and still provides practical, take-home information to use in Iowa crop production,” said Alison Robertson, associate professor and extension specialist in plant pathology and microbiology at Iowa State University and planning committee chair.

The conference will include 41 workshops led by Iowa State faculty and staff, along with speakers from Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Kentucky. Presenters will provide research updates and information on crop management, pest management, nutrient management, soil and water management and pesticide applicator training. Attendees can choose from up to six topics each hour.

“Concurrent sessions allow attendees to tailor the conference experience to their interests and needs,” said Brent Pringnitz, program services coordinator.

Sessions available include an interactive session of plant disease diagnosis trivia, a presentation on tractor and planter adjustments to improve profitability and lowering input costs while maintaining or increasing yields, and a discussion of recent advances in the application of transgenic technology in generating disease resistance crop species. Participants can also earn up to 14 Certified Crop Adviser continuing education credits and recertification for Commercial Pesticide Applicators in categories 1A, 1B, 1C, 4 and 10.

“New information on crop production and protection technologies will provide producers and agribusiness professionals with the knowledge they need for their operations,” Robertson said.

Other topics will include: herbicide and insecticide resistance, variable seeding rates, crop weather risk and market outlook for 2016 and managing low to negative crop margins. Precision agriculture, nitrogen application and input decisions, new decision-maker tools, integrated management of white mold, and a corn disease update are also on the list for discussion.

“The conference allows for a large number of participants to gather each year, and provides practical, need-to-know information from several invited speakers across the Midwest,” said John Sawyer, professor and extension specialist in soil fertility and nutrient management at Iowa State. “Not only do attendees have the opportunity to interact with extension specialists from Iowa State and others, but it’s an opportunity for them to network with each other and talk about what’s going on in the industry.”

The annual event attracts almost 1,000 participants each year.

“Enrollment to the conference is limited and we encourage people to register early,” Pringnitz said.

Register by going to the conference website at Early registration is $200 and runs until midnight Nov. 20, when the fee increases to $250. Pre-registration is required and no registrations will be accepted at the door. Registrations will be accepted, as space allows, until noon on Nov. 30.

The Integrated Crop Management Conference is hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Agronomy, Economics, Entomology, and Plant Pathology and Microbiology.

Budget Deal has Implications for Agriculture

This week, the White House and Congressional leaders struck a tentative budget deal that provides a framework and additional funding needed to allow Congress to complete the annual appropriations funding legislative process.

According to Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, the budget deal contains significant implications for agricultural and Farm Bill programs. “This bill takes a small step in reforming federally subsidized crop insurance programs by reducing the cap on the profits that crop insurance companies extract from administering the program from 14.5 percent to 8.9 percent,” said Bruckner. “In addition, it also indicates that the Standard Reinsurance Agreement must be renegotiated by December 31, 2016 and once every five years thereafter.”

“This is a small but a positive step forward,” noted Bruckner. “Insurance companies have been one of the largest beneficiaries of the subsidized crop insurance program. They witnessed double digit returns over the last decade or more, with one year being as high as 34%. During belt-tightening times, it is most appropriate to ask crop insurance companies to accept a reduction in the profits from federal subsidies that they receive.”

“Moreover, the budget deal scraps the Farm Bill provision that prevented taxpayers from benefiting from government negotiations with the private sector over the delivery of crop insurance,” added Bruckner. “This was an outrageous gift to the crop insurance lobby and it is a policy that should never have seen the light of day.”

Bruckner noted further that while there is a great deal more crop insurance subsidy reform needed to support and protect family farmers and the environment, renegotiation is a small but important first step toward much needed comprehensive reform.

“And with the additional funding the budget deal provides to the appropriators to finish the fiscal year 2016 funding bills, Congress has the opportunity to turn back the tide on cuts to conservation,” Bruckner continued. “Congress should move quickly to eliminate the 23 percent cut to the Conservation Stewardship Program in the pending House bill and the $300 million cut to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that is currently included in both the House and Senate bills.”

“Opponents of cuts to crop insurance company profits have criticized ‘opening up the Farm Bill’ but those criticisms ring hollow when compared to how often Congress has opened up the Farm Bill to cut conservation programs,” concluded Bruckner. “It is disingenuous to use rhetoric about family farmers to protect crop insurance company profits while at the same time cutting the conservation programs that farmers and ranchers depend upon to improve soil and water quality, conserve water, and prepare for extreme weather events.”

NCGA Opposes Proposed Cuts to Federal Crop Insurance Program

National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a corn farmer from Newburg, Maryland, issued the following statement in response to a proposed $3 billion cut in crop insurance support as part of a national budget deal.

“Slashing the federal crop insurance program is bad policy. The 2014 farm bill provides farmers with a critical safety net, the cornerstone of which is the federal crop insurance program. Cuts to the crop insurance program will lead to fewer insurance providers and agents, and that means fewer choices for farmers to manage their risk.

“This deal is yet another attempt to reopen the farm bill, despite major reforms and $23 billion in budget savings. Agriculture remains the only industry that has voluntarily accepted spending reductions. We stand with Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson in defending the farm bill and calling on Congress to remove these cuts.

“We urge all farmers to contact their elected officials immediately. Tell them that if cuts to federal crop insurance are not removed, they must vote no on the budget bill.”

U of M research shows pigs infected with pathogen predisposes them to shed Salmonella

A recent University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) study shows that pigs infected with Lawsonia intracellularis, a bacterial pathogen that causes disease in pigs and horses, predisposes these animals to shed the foodborne pathogen Salmonella enterica.

S. enterica is responsible for 1.5 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The results of this CVM study will be used as the basis for future research that is designed to show that vaccinating pigs for L. intracellularis could decrease shedding of S. enterica, potentially helping to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses attributed to this pathogen.

Pigs are frequent asymptomatic carriers of S. enterica, and pigs that carry the pathogen can result in contaminated pork products. “Swine can act as a reservoir for the spread of S. enterica throughout the herd, within the packing plant, and during processing to the finished product,” the study notes.

Researchers in the CVM Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences—Drs. Klaudyna A. Borewicz, Hyeun Bum Kim, Randall Singer, Connie Gebhart, Srinand Sreevatsan, Timothy Johnson, and Richard Isaacson—characterized the composition of the gut microbiome (all microbes living within a defined community) in pigs challenged with S. enterica serovar Typhimurium (a subspecies of S. enterica) and/or L. intracellularis and then compared it to the fecal microbiome of non-challenged control pigs.

The research analysis demonstrated that there was a disruption in the composition of the gut microbiome in pigs challenged with either pathogen. Moreover, the compositions of the microbiomes of pigs challenged with either L. intracellularis, S. enterica, or both were similar to one another but differed from those of the non-challenged control animals. Significant increases in some other specific bacteria were also seen in the challenged pigs.

To determine whether the changes were specific to experimentally challenged pigs, the researchers also characterized the compositions of the fecal microbiomes of pigs naturally infected with S. enterica and found that similar changes in the gut microbiome were associated with carriage of S. enterica regardless of whether the pigs were experimentally challenged or acquired this pathogen naturally.

The study, “Changes in the Porcine Intestinal Microbiome in Response to Infection with Salmonella enterica and Lawsonia intracellularis,” was published in the October 13, 2015, issue of PLOS One, a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

ASA Applauds EU Vote on Biotech Opt-Out Proposal

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes news this morning of the European Parliament’s overwhelming rejection of a proposal that would allow individual EU member states to opt-out of importing and using foods containing biotechnology for non-scientific reasons. The body voted 619-58 to approve a committee report recommending opposition to the controversial “opt-out” proposal. ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan issued the following statement on today’s vote:

“This is a much-needed action today by the European Parliament. ASA has repeatedly called on the EU to make science-based decisions on the issue of biotechnology, and we are very happy to see the Europeans do so this morning. One of the unifying principles of the EU is to provide a single market, both within Europe and as a partner in in global commerce. Enabling each of its 28 member states to go rogue on GMO acceptance, based on societal or political concerns, is hardly a unifying strategy for success.

“Soybean farmers welcome today’s news as we look to expand our European markets for animal feed, edible oils, biodiesel and biobased products. Europe is a top-five market for American soybeans, and we looking forward to further expanding our trade relationship.

Moving forward, the Commission has been directed by the EU Parliament to come up with a new proposal. However, in our view, it would be more appropriate for the EU to use its own existing procedures to approve new biotech products rather than trying to come up with another approach. The Commission just needs to do its job by following its own regulations and procedures.”

What Safety Net Does This Budget Strengthen? Certainly Not Crop Insurance.

In response a statement today from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on a prospective budget agreement that will potentially cut more than $3 billion from the nation's crop insurance program, the American Soybean Association (ASA) countered that the proposed budget would weaken the farm safety net at a time when it is most needed.

"Chairman Ryan made the claim this morning that this budget deal would strengthen our safety net programs when the exact opposite is true,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, soybean farmer Wade Cowan. “When he discusses strengthening the safety net, apparently we’re not talking about farmers.”

Specifically, the budget would make cuts to the federal crop insurance program in the form of a reduction on the rate of return for crop insurance providers to 8.9 percent, a decrease of almost a third. Also, while the bill exempts many spending categories from the mandatory 6.8 percent reduction under sequestration, it does not do so for farm programs. The combination of these cuts comes at a time when crop values are down more than 50 percent over the past three years, and key agricultural production areas across the country are struggling with the type of volatile weather events that lead to an increased need for crop insurance claims.

“It is unconscionable that after the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees put more than three years of careful work into creating a farm bill that protects farmers and actually brings budget savings to the table, Congressional leadership would strike a backroom deal that hobbles our risk management framework,” said Cowan. “The farm economy is cyclical, and to assume that the farm economy won’t notice a $3 billion hit is extraordinarily short-sighted on the part of this Congress”

Added Cowan, “We will continue to oppose any budget deal with this cut of our safety net included.”

Big Data Brings Farmers New Rewards, New Risks

Farmers and ranchers see tremendous benefits with technology, but can't turn a blind eye to the privacy concerns that remain, Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst told the House Agriculture Committee today. Hurst, a board member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, was asked to testify on innovation and its implications for agriculture.

"The big data movement--and the innovative technologies and analytics it yields--could lead to at least as much change in agriculture as the Green Revolution and the adoption of biotechnology did," Hurst said. "Farmers are reporting higher yields, fewer inputs, more efficiency and higher profits thanks to technology."

While farmers are eager to adopt these groundbreaking tools, they are not willing to simply hand over their sensitive business information - nor should they have to. Farmers have the right to know what information is collected, how exactly their data is used and who else has access to it. "It's then up to farmers to determine whether the benefits outweigh the privacy and security risks associated with usage," Hurst said.

These concerns are best resolved through private partnerships where farmers can work directly with businesses to address problems and find workable solutions. "If we rely on the government to make changes, the undue overhead might irreversibly deter innovation," Hurst said.

AFBF has led the way in addressing big data concerns and recently joined with other industry players to produce a set of principles to govern data privacy and security. AFBF and its partners are currently developing tools to help farmers evaluate privacy agreements and data storage options. When farmers and businesses work together, Hurst told the committee, they can "expand their return on investment and unlock the power of ag data."

NAWG Commends Congress for Passing PTC Implementation Extension

Wednesday afternoon, the Senate unanimously approved the short-term highway bill extension, which includes a three-year extension for implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC). The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this week.

Following Senate passage, NAWG President, Brett Blankenship, wheat grower from Washtucna, Wash. made the following statement:

“We are very pleased by the passage of the PTC extension ahead of the December 31 implementation deadline. A shutdown of the nation’s freight rail network would have disastrous consequences for the nation’s economy and U.S. wheat growers who rely on the rail system to move their grain. When implemented, PTC will be a critical safety component of our national rail network. It remains essential for Congress to hold railroads accountable to efficiently complete the PTC requirements set forth in Rail Safety Improvement Act, and to also realize the current status of implementation. We now look forward to the President’s signature.”

USDA Announces $210 Million to be Invested in Renewable Energy Infrastructure through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. In May 2015, USDA announced the availability of $100 million in grants through the BIP, and that to apply states and private partners match the federal funding by a 1:1 ratio. USDA received applications requesting over $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available. With the matching commitments by state and private entities, the BIP is investing a total of $210 million to strengthen the rural economy.

"This major investment in renewable energy infrastructure will give Americans more options that not only will suit their pocketbooks, but also will reduce our country's environmental impact and bolster our rural economy," said Vilsack. "The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one more example of how federal funds can be leveraged by state and private partners to deliver better and farther reaching outcomes for taxpayers. The volume and diverse geographic locations of partners willing to support this infrastructure demonstrate the demand across the country for lower cost, cleaner, American-made fuels. Consumers will begin to see more of these pumps in a matter of months."

The 21 states participating in the BIP include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The amount awarded to each state is available at: The final awards being announced today are estimated to expand infrastructure by nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations.

A typical gas pump delivers fuel with 10 percent ethanol, which limits the amount of renewable energy that consumers can purchase. The new partnership will increase the number of pumps, storage and related infrastructure that offer higher blends of ethanol, such as E15, E85, and even intermediate combination blends.

USDA's Office of the Chief Economist just released a comprehensive report on ethanol. The report, titled U.S. Ethanol: An Examination of Policy, Production, Use, Distribution, and Market Interactions, brings clarity to the complex interaction of ethanol production with agricultural markets and government policies. The corn ethanol industry is the largest biofuel producer in the country, with production increasing from about 1.6 billion gallons in 2000 to just over 14 billion gallons in 2014, stimulating economic activity in rural communities.

NMPF Reflects on 100 Years of Leadership at Federation’s 99th Annual Meeting

Kicking off a year-long centennial commemoration, the leadership of the National Milk Producers Federation today reflected on the organization’s many achievements on behalf of dairy farmers, and noted continuing challenges ranging from assuring humane animal care to reforming federal immigration laws.

Speaking at the Federation’s 99th annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, Board Chairman Randy Mooney and President and CEO Jim Mulhern also unveiled an updated NMPF logo and a booklet chronicling the organization’s 100 years of leadership on behalf of dairy producers.

The updated logo retains an image of the Capitol — used by the organization for half a century — but with a refreshed look. “A new century and new challenges call for a new, more modern design,” said Mulhern.

The Mooney–Mulhern presentation marks the beginning of NMPF’s 100th year, as the organization was founded in Chicago in 1916. “As our work today demonstrates, leadership is a journey, not a destination,” said Mooney. “It’s not just a word on a piece of paper; leadership is the tangible result of hard work.”

In the past century, NMPF has recorded numerous legislative victories, including enactment of the Capper-Volstead Act in 1922, and the establishment of federal milk marketing orders in the 1930s. It was instrumental in the creation of the dairy price support program in the 1940s and convinced Congress to create the mandatory dairy check-off program in the 1980s.

But the two NMPF leaders related how past achievements reflect on current issues facing dairy producers.

In the last few years, one of those was the need to create a new and better federal safety net for dairy farmers, now known officially as the Margin Protection Program. This catastrophic risk management program protects against worst-case scenarios like the Great Recession, Mooney said. NMPF conceived of the program after dairy farmers lost billions of dollars in equity in the 2008-2009 recession. The organization then lobbied Congress to include it in the 2014 farm bill. Ten months in, more than 55 percent of America’s dairy farmers are enrolled.

“Without question, the program has its challenges, challenges we continue to work to address,” said Mulhern. “But it’s important to recognize that the program was designed as a producer insurance safety net, not an income enhancement program. . . . And for those wondering how MPP stacks up against its predecessor, the old MILC program would not have paid a penny this year to any dairy farmer, anywhere in the country.”

The pair touched briefly on the self-help program Cooperatives Working Together, which was recently extended for through 2018. CWT helps its members to export key products like American-type cheese and butter. So far in 2015, the program has helped export the equivalent of 1.3 billion pounds of milk production.

In addition to economic issues, the need to counter imitation dairy products has been a long-time concern for the Federation. NMPF continues to urge the government to crack down on the misuse of dairy terms for non-dairy items, such as soy and almond “milk.” The revamp of the REAL® Seal brand has helped inform consumers of the benefits of original, American-made dairy products, Mulhern said.

Another very recent major accomplishment has been the conclusion of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between the 12 countries that border the Pacific Ocean. Access to foreign dairy markets was one of the more controversial points, and the issue wasn’t resolved until the last day of the negotiations. Though final details are still being reviewed, Mulhern called the early results a victory.

“It appears that we have successfully prevented the very real risk of a harmful agreement that would have sacrificed U.S. dairy farmers’ interests as chits in a high-stakes poker game,” he said.

NMPF is also working with the USDA on revising federal dietary guidelines, which are being updated this year. New research has shown that saturated dairy fats are not as unhealthy as once thought. Mulhern also mentioned the Federation’s efforts to relax restrictions on chocolate milk in schools through this year’s child nutrition reauthorization bill.

More recently, animal health and environmental concerns have come to the forefront of NMPF’s list of issues. The National Dairy FARM program, launched in 2009, continues to evolve to promote the best practices of dairy farmers.

“The FARM program quantifies the great steps that farms contributing more than 90 percent of the U.S. milk supply are taking to care for their herds,” said Mulhern. “No other sector in livestock has as comprehensive or widely adopted program as ours.”

NMPF has plenty of other objectives to tackle in the next 100 years, said Mooney. The country is dealing with a failed immigration system, as farmers struggle to obtain the workforce needed to milk cows and perform other agricultural jobs. The organization also continues to challenge EPA’s Waters of the U.S rule, even as it develops other means to improve water and air quality on farms.

Mooney and Mulhern toasted other milestones, as well. Dairy Management Inc. and the U.S. Dairy Export Council turned 20 this year, and the National Dairy Council has been educating the public on the nutritional value of dairy products for 100 years.

Representatives from Major Food Marketing Companies Extol Need for Continuous Improvement and Collaboration with Dairy Farmers

Representatives from Chobani, Walmart, Starbucks and Kroger commended dairy producers this week for their hard work and passion, but also for their dedication to top-notch animal care, during a panel session at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

During a discussion Tuesday, NMPF Vice President of Animal Care Emily Meredith hosted a conversation on the shared expectations between well-known food brands and dairy producers on the subject of animal care. Panelists included Michael Gonda, senior vice president of communications for Chobani; Tres Bailey, director of federal government relations at Walmart; Ann Burkhart, director of ethical sourcing for Starbucks; and Mike Nosewicz, Vice President of Network Optimization and Fresh Dairy at Kroger.

Each panelist said their company is often contacted by “hyper-conscious” consumers who want to understand how their food goes from the farm to the dinner table, and if it’s produced humanely. One of the most common issues raised, they said, is tail docking.

“We realize we’re not experts in this,” said Gonda, of Chobani. “When it comes to something like animal welfare, we need to look at consumer expectations and have an emotional response.”

One way to connect on that emotional level is for farmers to utilize social media to share their experiences with animal care and the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program.  Today’s customers, said Bailey, are embracing communications on the internet, and companies need to meet them there, instead of the other way around. Several other panelists echoed this sentiment.

“We should celebrate the incredible work this industry does,” said Gonda. “And share information about that work so consumers understand the care that goes into dairy products.”

The FARM Program used Tuesday’s panel to help launch several social media accounts that will broadcast farmers’ stories and share their support of animal well-being. Meredith fielded some questions from the audience using the Twitter hashtag #FARMProud.

Many concerns around animal care arise from consumers being misinformed, said Burkhart, of Starbucks. No matter the consumer’s agenda, a company must correct any falsities and provide a way for that consumer to trust the company.

“We want to tell stories with metrics about dairy farming across the supply chain,” she said. “That will create opportunities for us to share your message with customers.”

The panelists noted the benefits of the FARM Program, and how it’s improved the company’s relationship with their suppliers. Almost all of the panelists lauded the recent NMPF Board decision to phase out the practice of tail docking by Jan. 1, 2017. Nosewicz called the decision “a godsend.”

Bailey said that in conversations with commodity groups, the FARM Program emerged as the leader in animal care practices.

“The FARM Program is consistently one of the best animal care program we’ve seen,” he said. “Kudos to you.”

A consistent theme during the panel was the concept of “continuous improvement” toward a transparent and ethical supply chain. The FARM Program, Nosewicz continued, supports this idea.

“We want the dairy industry to be the gold standard for animal care,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but we are getting closer.”

Added Burkhart: “We want basic animal care and welfare to be collaborative. It shouldn’t be a competitive sport.”

BASF Reports Lower Net Income

In a weaker than expected market environment, BASF sales in the third quarter of 2015 were €17.4 billion, 5% below the level of the previous third quarter. EBITDA increased by €358 million to €2.9 billion, mainly due to higher depreciation.

In contrast, income from operations (EBIT) before special items declined by €171 million to €1.6 billion. In the Chemicals segment, EBIT before special items rose slightly, while it increased sharply in the Functional Materials & Solutions segment. In the remaining segments, earnings declined significantly.

Compared with the previous third quarter, sales rose by 6% to €1.1 billion in the Agricultural Solutions segment through higher volumes and prices. The sharp depreciation of the Brazilian real resulted in negative currency effects.

EBIT before special items declined by €36 million to €7 million. This was largely the result of higher costs arising primarily from capacity increases and inventory reduction.