Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday October 31 Ag News + Crop Progress


For the week ending October 30, 2016, unseasonably warm conditions persisted throughout the week, with temperatures averaging nine degrees above normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation was limited to a few counties in the northeast. Many producers finished soybean harvest and were focusing on corn. There were 6.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 10 percent very short, 32 short, 56 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 29 short, 61 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn harvested was 69 percent, near 70 both last year and the five-year average.

Sorghum harvested was 81 percent, ahead of 66 last year and 70 average.

Soybeans harvested was 91 percent, near 95 last year, and behind 96 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 7 poor, 31 fair, 54 good, and 7 excellent. Winter wheat emerged was 95 percent, near 96 last year and 92 average.

Alfalfa fourth cutting was 92 percent.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 5 percent very poor, 11 poor, 28 fair, 50 good, and 6 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 11 short, 87 adequate, and 1 surplus.


Corn for grain and soybean harvest progress remains behind both last year and the five-year average, although there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the week ending October 30, 2016, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Besides harvest, other activities included chopping and baling corn stalks, tillage, and applying manure and fertilizer. There were reports of outside piling of corn for grain.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 5 percent short, 85 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 4 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus.

Seventy-one percent of the corn crop for grain has been harvested, 2 days behind the five-year average. Moisture content of all corn being harvested remained at 17 percent, unchanged from the previous week. Central and southeast Iowa were the only 2 districts with over 80 percent of the corn for grain crop harvested.

Eighty-nine percent of the soybean crop has been harvested, one week behind last year, and 5 days behind normal. Farmers in southwest and south central Iowa still have one-third or more of their soybean crop to harvest.

Grain movement from farm to elevator was rated 68 percent moderate to heavy. Off-farm grain storage availability was rated 75 percent adequate to surplus. On-farm grain storage availability was rated 67 percent adequate to surplus.

Pasture condition rated 60 percent good to excellent. Livestock conditions were described as favorable, with reports of cattle in fields feeding on stover.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Corn harvest pace had caught up to normal, while soybean harvest pulled ahead of average as of Oct. 30, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report released Monday.

The nation's corn crop is 75% harvested, compared to 61% last week, 82% last year and a 75% average.

Eighty-seven percent of the soybeans are harvested, compared to 76% last week, 91% last year and an 85% average. 

Winter wheat planting is 86% complete, compared to 79% last week, 87% last year and an 88% average. Winter wheat is 70% emerged, compared to 60% last week, 69% last year and a 69% average.  Winter wheat condition decreased slightly to 58% good to excellent, compared to 59% last week.

Sorghum harvest was 76% complete, compared to 67% last week, 77% last year and a 68% average.

Winkelbauer resigns from Lower Elkhorn NRD board

At their October board meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Luke Winkelbauer.  Winkelbauer farms in the Norfolk area and represented Subdistrict 2 on the board.

Winkelbauer is the fourth board member to step down this year.  Former board members Cory Beller, Chris Carlson, and Tim Tighe resigned after moving out of their respective subdistricts.  Winkelbauer did so because of the time commitment.

In his resignation letter, Winkelbauer said, “At this time, I am unable to fulfill the time commitment needed to fully engage and participate with the discussions and decisions required, as well as being able to attend the meetings and events."  Winkelbauer said that he hopes to someday return to the board when he has the time available.

LENRD general manager, Mike Sousek, said, “Luke is an extremely hard worker and his time commitment is currently involved with his family operation.”  Sousek thanked him for his time on the board.

In other items of business, the board voted 7-6 to reject signing a contract with JEO Consulting Group in the amount of $23,000 to conduct an economic study on the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, near Pierce.

The reservoir has had problems with algae blooms in 7 out of the last 10 years.  It could take as much as $500,000 to do the necessary work to address the issue.

While the economic study could have helped determine if that work would be worthwhile, some of the board members felt the $23,000 price tag of the study was too high.

"A few months ago, we were looking into some possible projects at Willow Creek," Sousek said. "Those projects came with a very large price tag, so the discussion at that time was that maybe we need to look and see what the economic value of the lake actually is.  We'll keep plugging away and we'll try to find more creative ways to find a solution or address the issues that we're currently having at the Willow Creek reservoir."

 Hoskins Producer Selected To Participate in the 2017 Young Leader Program

       Blake Hokamp of Hoskins, NE has been selected as the Nebraska Soybean Association’s (NeSA) 2017 DuPont Pioneer Young Leader. The Young Leader Program is sponsored by the American Soybean Association and DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred.  It is designed to recognize and strengthen leadership in the agricultural community as well as cultivate producer leaders who are shaping the U.S. soybean industry.

        Blake farms a corn and soybean rotation in Wayne county near Hoskins, NE.  He assists with his families farm and custom farming operation and serves as a Yield Specialist and Agronomist for AgVenture.  He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska– Lincoln with a bachelors degree in Agronomy and Crop Production.  

        Blake considers  the  top issues facing the soybean industry  are being able to  have more end users right here in the U.S. as well as building all kinds of specialty markets in our area  for things like high oleic or non-gmo . This gives farmers options to consider.  He feels diversification of technologies will be needed to break our yield ceilings.  Using the best management practices is a start to gaining higher yields with less inputs. 

        Blake will be a part of the 2017 class of DuPont Pioneer Young Leaders, which is made up of selected leaders from each soybean producing state, to participate in an educational leadership experience in late November at Pioneer headquarters in Johnston, IA.  He will complete the second part of training February 28 –March 3, 2017  in San Antonio, TX  in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic.

Fall is Optimal for Marestail Management 

Rodrigo Werle - NE Extension Cropping Systems Specialist

With corn and soybean harvest nearing completion in Nebraska this is a great time to begin scouting fields for winter annual weeds. The primary species to look for is marestail, as many populations in Nebraska have evolved resistance to glyphosate and ALS-inhibiting herbicides. Timing is critical to successful control of marestail, especially in no-till soybeans as herbicide options are limited.

During the 2016 growing season, UNL extension educators and specialists received numerous reports from producers and consultants about unsatisfactory marestail control, particularly in soybeans. Poor control in soybean was often due to late application of herbicides where marestail had already bolted and was too big for successful control.

During the 2016 Soybean Management Field Days, and the 2016 Water and Crops Field Day at North Platte, 290 farmers and consultants were surveyed and over half reported problems with glyphosate-resistant marestail in soybeans. Of those who reported problems with marestail, only 25% apply herbicides in the fall. However, UNL research suggests fall management of marestail and other winter annual weeds is often more effective than spring applied management programs.

Benefits of Fall Herbicide Application for Marestail Control

Marestail is classified as a surface-germinating, facultative winter annual weed. This means that no-till (where surface disruption is minimal) favors marestail establishment and that seedlings can emerge in the fall and spring depending on climatic conditions. According to research conducted in eastern Nebraska, more than 90% of marestail emerged in the fall. Studies have indicated that fall-emerging marestail tend to have higher winter mortality; however, plants that do survive produce more seed and are more competitive compared to spring-emerged marestail.

Marestail plants can produce up to 200,000 seeds and spread mainly by wind. Even if you have not had previous problems, it may be worth taking time to walk your field edges this fall to determine if a preventative application is justified and to avoid surprises in the spring. Marestail starts off as a small rosette, typically 1-4 inches across, and may require special attention when scouting fields as plants can be easily covered by crop residue.

Fall Herbicide Recommendations

For successful marestail management in the fall, apply herbicides following harvest while weather conditions remain favorable (air temperature above 50°F and low winds). Preliminary data for eastern Nebraska suggests that a fall burndown applied with a residual herbicide may eliminate the need for an early spring burndown for marestail control; however, this would not replace an at-planting residual application for management of additional troublesome weed species such as waterhemp and Palmer amaranth.

If marestail management is postponed until early spring, as soon as weather conditions become appropriate (temperature above 50°F), apply a burndown along with residual herbicides to control established plants prior to bolting and to suppress the ones that may not have emerged.

For specific herbicide options to control marestail and other winter annual weeds please check the Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska or contact your local UNL extension educator, and always read herbicide labels before application.

Keep in mind that using effective herbicides from different modes of action will help you battle the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds. (Rotation, rotation, and rotation!)


               I just got the nitrate test results back from the lab and the level was 3,000.  Am I in trouble?

               Every year I get questions similar to this one.  Unfortunately, with just this information I can’t give a useful answer.  So – I ask the question “Was this reported as nitrates or as nitrate nitrogen?”

               So – why is it important to know the difference between nitrate nitrogen and nitrates?  Well, using the previous example, if the score was 3,000 parts per million of nitrate nitrogen, then the forage has a nitrate concentration that is almost 50 percent higher than what we often consider to be the potentially toxic level.  It would be risky for cattle to eat this forage without taking some precautions.

               However, 3,000 parts per million of nitrate should cause no worries since this is less than one-third the danger level for nitrates.  Thus, the same level can range from quite dangerous to perfectly safe.

               These big differences are due to how individual labs test for and report results for nitrates.  Labs that report nitrate concentration are referring specifically to the nitrate ion,  designated chemically as NO3-.  Most labs and advisors consider 9,000 to 10,000 parts per million of the nitrate ion to be the level where toxicity concerns begin.

               Some labs, though, report the amount of nitrogen in the nitrate ion as nitrate nitrogen and report it chemically as NO3-N.  Thus, a much smaller amount of nitrate nitrogen is needed to produce the same effect as the entire nitrate ion.  As a result, the danger level for nitrate nitrogen begins somewhere between 2,000 and 2,300.

               Next time you test your hay or corn stalks or cover crop for nitrates, look closely to see how your lab reports your results.  Then, when you talk with someone about the safety or feeding alternatives for your forage you can be sure both of you are talking the same language.

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics Set for November 

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. They offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Grand Island — Thursday, Nov. 3
    Fairbury — Thursday, Nov. 3
    Valentine — Tuesday, Nov. 8
    North Platte — Thursday, Nov. 10
    Norfolk — Tuesday, Nov. 15
    Lexington — Thursday, Nov. 17
    Norfolk — Wednesday, Nov. 30

To sign up for a clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Green Plains Reports Third Quarter 2016 Financial Results

Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) today announced financial results for the third quarter of 2016. Net income attributable to the company was $7.9 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2016 compared with net income of $6.2 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for the same period in 2015. Revenues were $841.9 million for the third quarter of 2016 compared with $742.8 million for the same period last year.

"We generated $42 million of segment operating income for the third quarter of 2016, which is our best performance since the end of 2014. Based on current markets, we expect a stronger fourth quarter," said Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer. "We have grown significantly over the last year as we have increased our ethanol production capacity organically and through acquisitions by nearly 50 percent to approximately 1.5 billion gallons per year, and acquired Fleischmann's Vinegar Company. We continue to focus on our core competencies as we efficiently integrate these acquisitions and aggressively grow our platform to create long-term shareholder value."

During the third quarter, Green Plains produced 292.2 million gallons of ethanol compared with 215.6 million gallons for the same period in 2015. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $52.6 million, or $0.18 per gallon, for the third quarter of 2016 compared with $34.9 million, or $0.16 per gallon, for the same period in 2015. The consolidated ethanol crush margin is the ethanol production segment's operating income before depreciation and amortization, which includes corn oil production, plus intercompany storage, transportation and other fees, net of related expenses.

Revenues were $2.5 billion for the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2016, compared with $2.2 billion for the same period in 2015. Net loss for the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2016, was $(8.0) million, or $(0.21) per diluted share, compared with net income of $10.7 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, for the same period in 2015.

"We experienced a stable ethanol margin environment in the third quarter as we continued to see strong ethanol demand worldwide driven by increasing consumption of gasoline and broader appetites for an efficient source of octane," added Becker. "As we continue to expand and diversify our operations, we expect to immediately benefit from the recently acquired businesses."

Recent Highlights

-    On Aug. 15, 2016, Green Plains completed a private offering of $170 million aggregate principal amount of 4.125% convertible senior notes that will mature on Sept. 1, 2022. The net proceeds from the offering were used to finance the recent acquisitions.
-    On Sept. 23, 2016, Green Plains acquired three ethanol plants located in Madison, Ill., Mount Vernon, Ind. and York. Neb. for approximately $237 million in cash plus certain working capital adjustments from Abengoa BioEnergy. Concurrently, the ethanol storage assets were sold to Green Plains Partners LP for $90 million. All three plants are currently operational and will add 236 million gallons per year of ethanol production capacity.
-    On Oct. 3, 2016, Green Plains acquired SCI Ingredients Holdings, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Fleischmann's Vinegar Company, Inc., for approximately $250 million, financing the transaction with $135 million of debt and the balance with cash on hand. Fleischmann's Vinegar Company will operate as a standalone business.

Results of Operations

Consolidated revenues increased $99.1 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. Revenues from ethanol, corn oil and cattle sales increased $82.7 million, $20.9 million and $13.1 million, respectively, while revenues from grain decreased $17.1 million. Ethanol and cattle revenues were affected by increased volumes sold, partially offset by lower average realized prices. Corn oil revenues were impacted by increased volumes sold. Grain revenues were impacted by both lower volumes sold and lower average realized prices.

Operating income increased $11.0 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2016, compared with the same period last year primarily due to increased margins on ethanol production and cattle. Interest expense increased $1.6 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2016, compared with the same period last year primarily due to higher average debt outstanding. Income tax expense was $5.1 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2016, compared with income tax benefit of $0.6 million for the same period in 2015.

Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the third quarter of 2016 was $49.1 million compared with $36.3 million for the same period last year.

USDA Invests $1.7 Billion to Protect Sensitive Agricultural Lands through Conservation Reserve Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue nearly $1.7 billion in payments to more than half of a million Americans who have contracts with the government to protect sensitive agricultural lands. The investment, part of the voluntary USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), will allow producers to protect almost 24 million acres of wetlands, grasslands and wildlife habitat in 2016.

CRP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who remove environmentally sensitive land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

Of the nearly $1.7 billion in payments, an estimated $62 million will be issued for CRP acres in Nebraska. That covers about 780,000 acres enrolled in the program through 22,710 contracts.

“We have seen record demand to participate in this important program,” said USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Despite the current enrollment limit of 24 million acres, USDA is committed to continuing our important partnerships with farmers, ranchers, state and local governments and sportsmen to maintain the environmental benefits provided by the Conservation Reserve Program.”

More than 1.3 million acres were newly enrolled in CRP in fiscal year 2016 using the continuous enrollment authority, double the pace of the previous year. In fiscal year 2016, FSA also accepted 411,000 acres through its general enrollment authority, plus 101,000 acres in the new CRP-Grasslands program, which balances conservation with working lands. More than 70 percent of the acres enrolled in CRP-Grasslands are diverse native grasslands under threat of conversion, with more than 97 percent of the acres having a new, veteran or underserved farmer or rancher as a primary producer.

During its 30-year history, CRP has reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent, respectively, and restored 2.7 million acres of wetlands. It also has protected more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian buffers, enough to go around the world seven times. The program provides 15 million acres that are beneficial to pollinators, and hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat that has resurrected waterfowl and gamebird populations, like pheasants, quail and prairie chicken.

CRP has sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking nine million cars off the road, and prevented nine billion tons of soil from erosion, enough to fill 600 million dump trucks.

ISU Economists to Present on Impact of Downturn in Iowa Agriculture

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host Ag Outlook and Management seminars across the state during the months of November and December.

The program is designed to provide participants with a concise evaluation of current market conditions, expected trends in crop and livestock income potential, and management implications.

Speakers will vary by location but will include Iowa State University state specialists Chad Hart, associate professor in economics and extension grain markets specialist; Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist; Lee Schulz, extension livestock economist; and Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist. This program takes a deep look into the outlook for agriculture in 2017 and provides an opportunity to discuss the current situation with university experts on the Iowa economy.

“This program will discuss the current downturn in the agricultural sector and its impacts on farmers and the ag industry, and present strategies to deal with them,” Zhang said. “Speakers will provide an overview of crop, livestock and land markets, and discuss ag policy.”

The seminars will be held in eleven locations across the state
    Spencer – Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 8:30 a.m. Spencer School Administration Building
    LeMars – Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. Plymouth County Extension Office
    Altoona – Monday, Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. Polk County Extension Office
    Waterloo – Thursday, Nov. 17 at 9:30 a.m. Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall Room 102
    Fort Dodge – Thursday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. Webster County Extension Office
    Mason City – Friday, Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. NIACC, Muse-Norris Center
    Eddyville – Friday, Dec. 2 at 9 a.m. IHCC Bioprocess Training Center
    Greenfield – Monday, Dec. 5 at 9 a.m. Warren Cultural Center Auditorium
    Iowa City – Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 12:30 p.m. Johnson County Extension Office
    Mt. Pleasant – Thursday, Dec. 8. Henry County Extension Office
    Clarinda – Thursday, Dec. 15. Wibholm Hall

There is a registration fee for the program at most sites that includes a catered meal, refreshments and all training materials. Additional registration information can be found at

15 new blender pumps and 3 underground storage tanks to be installed through the “Fueling our Future 100” Initiative

 Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that $368,200 has been awarded through the 4th round of the “Fueling Our Future 100” initiative to support the installation of 15 new blender pumps and 3 underground storage tanks that can be used to distribute higher blends of renewable fuels.  The funds are being awarded to 6 fuel retailers to assist in installing renewable fuels infrastructure at 7 sites across the state.

In total, 217 blender pumps and 18 underground storage tanks will be installed at 70 sites by 17 companies to provide consumers with access to higher blends of ethanol through the program.

The funding for the projects is from a $5 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program Iowa received to support the initiative.  All funds must be matched by non-federal funds, including up to $2.5 million from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program.  The fueling sites applying for assistance will also be required to provide a minimum of $2.5 million.

Pumps and tanks funded through this round of funding for the program are required to be operational by the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, 2017.  Pumps and tanks funded through this program are required to be in operations for the intended purpose of dispensing higher blends of ethanol for at least 5-years from the date they enter service.

This new program is a partnership across state government, including collaboration between the Governor’s office, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Transportation, and Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Iowa Near the Top of U.S. Rural Income Growth

 The United States Census Bureau released its report on income and poverty in urban and rural America in September. While the report focused on nationwide trends, Iowa State University associate professor and extension rural sociologist David Peters was more interested in how rural Iowans had been affected over the last decade.

“The results were a bit surprising,” Peters said. “Despite recent concerns of a decline in rural Iowa’s income, this proved not to be the case. Over the last decade rural households are doing well and, in fact, are doing better than urban Iowans and better than other rural areas in this country. The statistics certainly fly counter to the narrative that you can’t make a living in rural Iowa.”Iowa farmland landscape

The 2015 median household income in rural Iowa was $60,223, almost 11 percent higher than urban incomes ($51,705). Rural Iowans also have become wealthier than rural residents in other states. After being on par with national rural averages prior to 2012, incomes of rural Iowans were about 10 percent higher than those living outside the state.

“I would have suspected rural incomes to go up and down mirroring market trends,” Peters said. “When commodity prices were high we didn’t see a huge jump in income and didn’t see a corresponding decline as prices have gone down.”

Peters attributes that steadiness to a decoupling of farm and rural economies. Many rural residents are able to easily commute to larger cities for jobs, meaning that for many residents income is consistent even when farm commodity prices decline.

“Unlike states like Nebraska or the Dakotas, Iowa has a number of fairly good sized cities spread out throughout the state,” Peters said. “Most rural Iowans can reach one of these cities after driving for only 25-30 minutes. People who choose to live in small towns can still easily be engaged in a meaningful career in larger cities.”

Incomes in rural Iowa have also grown faster than those in urban parts of the state. Since 2005, the median income of rural Iowans has grown by 9.6 percent while urban Iowans have seen their income grow by just 3.7 percent.

Iowa ranks 21st nationally in rural median income, with its rural income growth of nearly 10 percent over the last decade the sixth-highest growth rate in the country. Conversely, Iowa has the 30th highest urban income average and its 3.7 percent growth is 26th-best.

“Iowa needs to focus on professional service jobs,” Peters said. “High-end technology and service jobs are wonderful to target and Iowa should continue to pursue those type of jobs. However the state has to pay attention to middle skill jobs because they provide good incomes and are more stable through periods of recession. There must be a focus on good high school and technical degree granting jobs; you can make a good living in rural Iowa and those industries are thriving.”

Detailed information on income trends in both rural and urban Iowa can be found in Peters’ publication "Household Income Trends in Iowa and the U.S, 2005-2015: Rural versus Urban Differences" (SOC 3077).

Reminder: Free BQA Certification Period Ends in Two Weeks!

The countdown continues for beef and dairy producers to become Beef Quality Assurance (BQA)-certified for free online through Nov. 13. As an added bonus, anyone who becomes certified during this period is eligible to win a prize package, courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. and the BQA program, funded in part by the beef checkoff.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. will pick up the $25-$50 online training fee for every person completing BQA training through Nov. 13. That includes anyone who works with cattle – whether they be beef- or dairy-focused. Visit to take advantage of the open certification period.

ASA to NYT: GMO Article Paints Incomplete Picture

The American Soybean Association (ASA) responded to an article from The New York Times  Saturday calling into question the pesticide use and yield data over the 20-year history of GMO cultivation in the United States and Canada as compared to Western Europe. ASA President and Greenwood, Del., soybean farmer Richard Wilkins noted in a statement that dialogue on the issue is critical, in light of inaccuracies and omissions in the article:

“We appreciate a continued dialogue on the issue of GMOs and biotechnology. We continue in our work to be more open and transparent on our operations and we welcome the questions that this article raises. In the interest of a fair and honest discussion of this issue, we have to confront the inaccuracies and false conclusions of the article.

“In his interpretation of the data, the author fails to standardize the data from France when comparing it to similar data from the U.S., where we have more than 9 times the amount of arable land. Additionally, while he has no problem drawing sensational and plainly false links to sarin and Agent Orange, the author fails to distinguish between even the most basic types of chemicals used. For example, over the past two decades, farmers have excelled at replacing more toxic herbicides with less toxic ones, even when applied at a higher poundage.

“The article also lacks any mention of reduced or eliminated tillage as a result of increased use of GMOs on American soybean operations. Our farmers live on their land, drink from the wells, and rely on productive soil that will yield for their children and grandchildren as well. GMO technology provides for weed control without tilling the soil multiple times. This has dramatically increased the use of conservation tillage, reduced soil erosion, improved water quality, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“While it is fair for the Times to point out that GMO technology is not a ‘silver bullet,’ it is important to remember that farmers are practical businesspeople. They look at what will give them the best total return, factoring in yield, seed price, input price and the price of practices like tillage. Farmers are not loyal to GMO technology based on principle, but rather on sound business logic, and overwhelmingly, these men and women have made the determination that GMO technologies make economic sense. The business judgements of millions of individual farmers – made each year for the past 20 years – provide a more complete picture about the benefits of GMOs than the New York Times’ cherry-picked data.”

'World's Largest Livestock Event' Returns to Kentucky

The North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE), the largest all-breed, purebred livestock expo in the world, returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center Nov. 1-17. The event draws nearly 30,000 entries across 10 livestock divisions, all under one roof.

Representing the 48 contiguous states, NAILE exhibitors show cattle, mules and donkeys, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas, sheep and horses, as they compete for nearly $750,000 in premiums and awards. The expo also attracts livestock breeders and agriculture professionals from around the world, contributing an estimated $8 million to the area's economy.

NAILE strives to prepare the next generation for tomorrow's breeding challenges, hosting the National Collegiate and 4-H/FFA Livestock Judging Contests. The exposition's premier event, the Sale of Champions, benefits young exhibitors who often go on to pursue careers in agriculture. In 2015, the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion auction of steers, hogs and lambs brought in a record-breaking $110,000. Through the years, more than $1.75 million has been raised to promote youth involvement in agribusiness and fund charitable endeavors.

The expo kicks off with the North American Quarter Horse Show in Broadbent Arena Nov. 1-9. Consistently ranked as a top five show by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), this competition features events such as halter, reining, cutting and team penning.

The North American Championship Rodeo is also held in conjunction with NAILE, Nov. 10-12 in Freedom Hall. Top cowboys and cowgirls compete for $80,000 in prize money and the title of Regional Champion in events ranging from bull riding to steer wrestling and women's barrel racing to team roping. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. each night and tickets range from $25-$32 for adults and $5-$10 for children, depending on the evening.

The Giant Country Store draws shoppers interested in browsing the latest in western wear, livestock gear, musical instruments, handcrafted furniture, art, jewelry and more. The Farm City Luncheon is also a NAILE tradition. Produced by Louisville's Agribusiness Industry Network, the program includes the presentation of the "Agribusiness of the Year" award and "Wing Tip Rodeo." Ticket order forms are available at

Ethanol Workshop In Mexico City Offers Information, Expertise To Local Industry

Mexican authorities considering how ethanol fits into their country's energy mix heard from U.S. researchers about air quality, lung health and other quality of life benefits and from Colombian and Paraguayan regulators about their successful implementation of biofuels programs at a recent workshop hosted by Mexico's Secretariat of Energy (SENER) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Mexico City.

For two days, national and foreign experts shared their experiences and technological advances in production, distribution and commercialization of ethanol for mixture with fuels. Environmental issues were a specific focus of the event, with topics covered including ozone formation, air quality in high altitude metropolitan areas like Mexico City and ethanol’s effects in vehicles and on health. The economic, social and environmental advantages and disadvantages of ethanol in comparison to other oxygenates such as MTBE and aromatics, such as benzene, toluene, and xylene, were also discussed in depth.

Among the experts were representatives from the National Federation of Biofuels of Colombia, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Paraguay, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy For All. From the United States, there were experts from Oakridge Labs, the American Lung Association, Urban Air Initiative, Growth Energy, the U.S. Grains Council, University of Illinois-Chicago, and Lifecycle Associates as well as a number of independent consultants who are considered experts in their respective fields.

They talked about their experience in the blending of ethanol into their gasolines by showing the background, regulatory framework, research and the benefits obtained in their countries in air quality, jobs, rural development, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and others.

In each of the cases covered in this workshop, convincing scientific data was shown on the effects of ethanol use and the benefits reached on the areas mentioned above, leading to technological improvements and widespread benefits.

The workshop was one part of a larger effort by U.S. industry to share information with Mexican regulators as they consider increased use of ethanol produced locally from sorghum or imported from the United States.

"Workshops like these are extremely important for sharing knowledge and experiences around the benefits that biofuels like ethanol provide countrywide. In the U.S., we have seen ethanol reduce harmful emissions, create jobs and provide consumer choice and savings at the pump," said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, about the effort. "Growth Energy will continue our dialogue with colleagues in Mexico regarding how embracing ethanol will help contribute to a cleaner environment, improve water quality, and create a stronger rural sector and happy consumers."

At the conclusion of the workshop, USDA and SENER agreed that it would be helpful to establish a bilateral ethanol working group to continue the dialogue established at the Mexico City workshop and to plan a “study group” of Mexican government and industry representatives to come to the United States to see firsthand the U.S. ethanol supply chain and experts to learn further about the benefits of ethanol blending.

“There is still much work to be done, not only in Mexico but around the world, to educate governments and its citizens on the powerful role that ethanol blending can play in mitigating carbon emissions in the transportation fuel sector and improving air quality without risking groundwater contamination," said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, which works globally to promote the export of U.S. ethanol and feed grains. "It is encouraging to hear that SENER wants to continue the dialogue established in Mexico City with the formation of a standing bilateral working group of representatives from Mexico and the United States and that Mexico supports a visit to the United States to better understand our ethanol supply chain and to visit further with fuel and environmental experts to better understand the issues."

The workshop was intended to contribute to dialogue in Mexico about the many benefits of ethanol and to support alliances that will allow for the formation of associations and further research to help Mexicans to realize the benefits that the United States and other Latin American countries have achieved with the introduction of ethanol in their fuels.

"As the world leader in biofuel production, innovation and use, the U.S. has a wealth of information, analyses and industry experience that can be shared with Mexico and its policymakers as they work to allow the introduction of cleaner, less carbon intensive, biofuel into their fuel market," said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). "Biofuels have been critical in the fight to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in our most congested cities. We look forward to working together with Mexico as it evaluates the benefits that biofuels can offer."

Donnell Rehagen Named as National Biodiesel Board Chief Executive

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today named Donnell Rehagen as the trade group’s chief executive. Rehagen was named interim CEO in June after serving 12 years as NBB’s chief operating officer.

“We couldn’t be more excited to elevate Donnell to the permanent position of CEO,” said NBB Chairman Ron Marr. “His detailed knowledge of our organization and deep understanding of our industry certainly leads to a smooth transition. But the main reason we have asked him to take on this position is his proven ability to think strategically about our issues and apply creative solutions that lead to success.”

As COO, Rehagen managed the implementation and execution of NBB’s budget and the day-to-day responsibility of managing the organization’s program managers, staff and contractors. Additionally, Rehagen has led the annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, NBB’s signature event that attracts thousands of enthusiasts to learn more about biodiesel and for industry professionals to network with their peers.

Prior to joining NBB in 2004, Rehagen was the fleet administrator for the Missouri Department of Transportation where he was responsible for all aspects of the department’s $400 million fleet including implementation of their biodiesel (B20) use program.

“Donnell will be just the fourth chief executive to lead NBB in our nearly 25 years as the country’s largest trade association representing the biodiesel industry,” Marr said. “It’s that kind of stability in our leadership and our commitment to providing our membership the tools to be successful that has helped make biodiesel a 2 billion-gallon-per-year industry.”

Rehagen said he is excited for the opportunity take on new responsibilities to help the industry meet current challenges and prepare for more growth ahead.

“I have a passion for this industry,” Rehagen said. “I’m proud to be a part of the team that has helped lead biodiesel’s growth to become the first advanced biofuel to reach full commercialization, but I also recognize the challenges we face. It is incumbent upon us as an organization to define and manage a path that ensures we continue the industry’s ascent.”

The 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard’s volume requirements are expected to be announced by the end of the month and Rehagen said he’s hopeful the EPA will recognize the national benefits that will be realized by increasing biodiesel’s requirement to 2.5 billion gallons.

Additionally, Rehagen said he will immediately continue the task he began as interim CEO of helping to coordinate members’ visits to Capitol Hill at the end of November. NBB is pressing Congress to provide a long-term extension of the biodiesel tax incentive and convert it from a blender’s credit to a producer’s credit to keep the focus on domestic production.

Chairman Marr also thanked the Governing Board’s search committee who led the search effort that attracted nearly 300 applicants.

“We had no shortage of qualified candidates. This was no easy task. But when our decision was made, it was exciting to look around the room and have everyone agree that we could not have found a more outstanding leader for our organization,” Marr said.

Jon Leafstedt and Gary Weihs, managing partners with Kincannon & Reed, a leading executive search firm focused on the food, agribusiness, and renewables sectors, conducted a rigorous national CEO search for the NBB and assisted in evaluating a strong slate of well-qualified CEO candidates.

Donnell has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems from Southwest Missouri State University.

He was born and raised in Jefferson City, where he and his wife Shelly have raised four children of their own. They are also the proud grandparents of two young grandsons.

CWT Assists with 2.4 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 11 requests for export assistance from Foremost Farms, Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and United Dairymen of Arizona. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 1.784 million pounds (809 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 652,568 pounds (296 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from October 2016 through January 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 44.192 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 10.979 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 19.096 million pounds of whole milk powder to twenty-three countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 794.321 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Friday October 28 Ag News

NC Hosts Price Discovery & Market Volatility Forum

Your input is valuable in providing Nebraska Cattlemen leadership and staff direction prior to the upcoming annual convention. Join them to learn of NC efforts and actions regarding market conditions.  This is exclusive to current paid members.  Forum locations and dates include...

Monday, November 7, 2016
1:00 pm CST LOUP Room
River's Edge Convention Center
265 33rd Ave, Columbus, NE

Monday, November 7, 2016
7:00 pm CST
Nielsen Community Center
200 Anna Stalp Avenue, West Point, NE

Dirt Rich or Dirt Poor: Principles of Soil Health, Adaptive Grazing and Cover Crop Livestock Integration

The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition and Nebraska Extension Present: Dirt Rich or Dirt Poor: Principles of Soil Health, Adaptive Grazing and Cover Crop Livestock Integration. Featuring Allen Williams.  Stops include....

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
5 PM - 9 PM (Central time) Gage Co. Extension Office Meeting Room, Beatrice, NE
Contact Paul Hay, Nebraska Extension in Gage County - 402 223 1384 or 402 239 1341

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
10 AM - 2 PM (Central time) Northeast Community College Lifelong Learning Center, Norfolk, NE
Contact Wayne Ohnesorg, Nebraska Extension in Madison County - 402 370 4040

Cost $15 which covers the cost of the meal. NGLC will pick up the cost of all student registrations. Must preregister by November 7 to reserve a meal by calling the UNL Extension office indicated.

Registrations will be taken until full. For more information, contact Ron Bolze, Coordinator, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, 402 321 0067 (cell) or

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting, Monday, November 21, 2016 and Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at Cornhusker Marriott in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board will be in a Strategic Planning Session on November 21st and the part of the morning on November 22nd. The board will address regular board business the afternoon of November 22nd. The meeting is open to the public. A copy of the agenda is available by calling either 402/471-2676 or 800-NECORN1 or by emailing

Wait for Soil Temps to Remain Below 50 Degrees to Apply Anhydrous Ammonia

Farmers are reminded to wait until soil temperatures remain below 50 degrees Fahrenheit before applying anhydrous ammonia (NH3) fertilizer this fall. Soil temperatures have been slow to cool due to the unusually warm late October temperatures, and officials with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach said that waiting can help reduce nitrogen loss and better protects the environment.

“It is important that farmers wait for cooler soil temps to apply anhydrous so that there is a better chance the fertilizer stays put and will be available to the crop next spring,” said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “Soil temperatures, like air temperatures, can change quickly so it is important that we wait with applications until soils are likely to remain below 50 degrees.”

ISU Extension and Outreach maintains a statewide real-time soil temperature data map on its website that agriculture retailers and farmers use to determine when fall N applications are appropriate. The website can be found at

“The reason for waiting to apply anhydrous ammonia until soils are cold is that nitrification, the process of biological conversion of ammonium to nitrate, occurs at a more rapid rate with warm soils. Since ammonium-N does not leach and is not subject to denitrification, as is nitrate, it is more stable in the soil,” said John Sawyer, professor and extension specialist in soil fertility and nutrient management at Iowa State University.

In addition to waiting for soils to cool below 50 degrees, use of a nitrification inhibitor should be considered to help further slow conversion to nitrate.

Temperature is only one soil condition that farmers should consider when applying anhydrous ammonia. Making sure that the soil is not too dry, too hard or too wet, will reduce injection issues that allow ammonia to move to the soil surface and be lost to the air. If conditions are not suitable, then waiting for better conditions is suggested.

Farmers with questions about timing of fertilizer applications can talk to their local ISU Extension and Outreach field specialist or their ag retailer for more information.

Educational Program for Sheep Producers to be Held in Ames

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host an educational program for sheep producers on Nov. 19 in Ames, Iowa. The event will be held at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center and will feature speakers Dan Morrical and Curtis Youngs.

Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the cost is $5 per person.

“The focus of the presentations in this session are part of the industry roadmap goals to increase lamb crop and improve consumer satisfaction with American lamb,” said Morrical, professor in animal science and extension sheep specialist at Iowa State.

Morrical will present at 10 a.m. on the new veterinary feed directive and its impact on sheep producers. He will also provide information on producing better market lambs at 11:30 a.m.

Youngs, professor in animal science at Iowa State University, will inform attendees on critical management factors to achieve a high lamb crop during a presentation at 10:30 a.m.

There are two options for the day’s afternoon sessions. Morrical will speak on evaluating lamb carcasses and using Sheep Brands computer ration software to balance rations, beginning at 1:15 p.m. in Kildee Hall on the Iowa State campus.

The second option is hands-on skills development held at the ISU Sheep Teaching Farm and presented by Youngs and Joe Sellers, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

An educational program designed specifically for youth and led by Amy Powell, extension program specialist in animal science at Iowa State, will also be held at 10 a.m. Youth who attend will learn about lambing management and newborn lamb care. In the afternoon session youth can select either option. 

The event is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach and Premier Sheep Supply. Contact Morrical at 515-294-2904 or with any questions.

Farm Lending Declines, But Remains Elevated

Farm lending at commercial banks declined in the third quarter of 2016, but remained elevated as lenders continued to assess the downturn in the U.S. agricultural economy, according to the Federal Reserve's Agricultural Finance Databook.

The need for short-term financing in the farm sector remained high as profit margins remained weak. The volume of farm loans originated in the third quarter decreased about 19 percent from a year ago but remained elevated by historical standards.

Consistent with recent trends, loans for operating expenses continued to drive the demand for new loans. So far in 2016, loans used to finance operating expenses have comprised about 70 percent of all non-real estate farm loans and nearly 60 percent of total loan volume.

Alongside growing risk in the sector and slight declines in loan performance, agricultural bankers made modest adjustments to loan terms. Bankers also continued to rely more heavily on farm real estate as collateral.

Most prominently, the share of collateral on loans of more than $250,000 that was comprised of farm real estate increased from 10 percent to 32 percent. The sharp increase reversed a five-year decline in the use of farm real estate as a share of total collateral on non-real estate loans.

Farmland values continued to decline at a modest pace, which may put further pressure on agricultural credit conditions for some borrowers.

USDA Invests $1.7 Billion to Protect Sensitive Agricultural Lands through CRP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue nearly $1.7 billion in payments to more than half of a million Americans who have contracts with the government to protect sensitive agricultural lands. The investment, part of the voluntary USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), will allow producers to protect almost 24 million acres of wetlands, grasslands and wildlife habitat in 2016.

CRP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who remove environmentally sensitive land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and increase wildlife habitat. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

"We have seen record demand to participate in this important program," said Vilsack. "Despite the current enrollment limit of 24 million acres, USDA is committed to continuing our important partnerships with farmers, ranchers, state and local governments and sportsmen to maintain the environmental benefits provided by the Conservation Reserve Program."

More than 1.3 million acres were newly enrolled in CRP in fiscal year 2016 using the continuous enrollment authority, triple the pace of the previous year. In fiscal year 2016, FSA also accepted 411,000 acres through its general enrollment authority, plus 101,000 acres in the new CRP-Grasslands program, which balances conservation with working lands. More than 70 percent of the acres enrolled in CRP-Grasslands are diverse native grasslands under threat of conversion, with more than 97 percent of the acres having a new, veteran or underserved farmer or rancher as a primary producer.

During its 30-year history, CRP has reduced nitrogen and phosphorous runoff by 95 and 85 percent, respectively, and restored 2.7 million acres of wetlands. It has also protected more than 170,000 stream miles with riparian buffers, enough to go around the world seven times. The program provides 15 million acres that are beneficial to pollinators, and hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat that has resurrected waterfowl and gamebird populations, like pheasants, quail and prairie chicken.

CRP has sequestered an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking nine million cars off the road, and prevented nine billion tons of soil from erosion, enough to fill 600 million dump trucks.

Vilsack on How Ag Export Surge Boosted GDP Growth

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement:

"Today's report on gross domestic product growth in the third quarter of 2016 brings welcome news for our overall economy, and brings further affirmation that America's agriculture sector remains a shining star in our nation's ability to seize export opportunities. Economic growth has increased 2.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, a direct result of the gains made in export sales. Exports reached 10 percent growth in the quarter, the highest since 2013, with agricultural exports contributing disproportionately to the gains. Although a strong U.S. dollar and lower commodity prices have created headwinds for America's farmers and ranchers, this report demonstrates their ability to remain resilient and to seize opportunities to sell U.S. food, fiber and fuel to markets around the world.

"In this Administration alone, agricultural exports have topped $1 trillion since 2009, far and away the best stretch in our nation's history. Our farmers and ranchers have also helped to maintain a consistent agricultural trade surplus year after year since the 1960s-a remarkable feat in our global marketplace. Since 2009, USDA has worked to remove hundreds of unfair barriers to trade; open or expand key markets for products such as beef, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and more; and led 17 trade and investment missions and attended 23 trade shows, generating billions-of-dollars in sales for U.S. businesses.

"In order to continue this momentum, we can and should do more to expand global markets. U.S. farmers are facing unprecedented competition amid a slowing global economy and appreciating dollar. That's why it is important for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs on and off the farm. The American Farm Bureau Federation has found that ratifying the TPP agreement will boost annual net farm income in the United States by $4.4 billion-an increase which would directly boost out economic prosperity. As the agriculture sector expands, U.S. real income will increase by $57.3 billion and sixty-six percent of GDP growth from TPP would go to American workers through increased wages and job opportunities.

"Today's announcement shows the capability of America's agricultural sector to increase overall growth and prosperity across the country. American agriculture needs the good deal laid out in the TPP agreement to bolster its position in the world economy."

Broad Beef Producer Input Sought for 2016 National Beef Quality Audit

Beef producers all across the country, from every segment of the industry, are being encouraged to participate in a survey that will help establish a benchmark and course for the beef industry for 2017 and beyond. The Producer Survey of the checkoff-funded 2016 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) will collect producer information and opinions, which will be added to the audit's traditional production research to form an in-depth look at where the industry stands and what its successes and shortcomings are.

"It's very important that every interested producer weigh in with their information and opinions," according to Jesse Fulton, NBQA audit manager. "By having substantial participation in the survey across all industry segments, we create the best opportunity for determining where the industry is and where we need to take it."

The survey will be completely anonymous and include both information about the industry's cattle operations and the opinions of the people who run them about the strengths and weaknesses of the industry. Input from every segment of the industry - cow-calf, stocker, feeder, dairy and others - is valued and will become part of the detailed picture of the U.S. cattle industry.

The survey can be accessed at the Beef Quality Assurance website at

USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2017

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that producers on farms with base acres under the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, can begin visiting FSA county offices starting Nov. 1, 2016, to sign contracts and enroll for the 2017 crop year. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2017.

“FSA issued more than $7 billion in payments in October 2016 under the ARC-County and PLC programs for the 2015 crop to assist enrolled producers who suffered a loss of price or revenue or both,” said Dolcini. “Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers on the farm must enroll by signing a contract each program year. I encourage you to contact your local FSA office today to schedule an appointment to enroll.”

If a farm is not enrolled during the 2017 enrollment period, the producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2017 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in 2015 must still enroll during the 2017 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to

Cattle Weights Reached Record High in 2015

Commercial cattle slaughter has trended down since the early 2000's after a steady increase during the 1990's, according to USDA's recent livestock slaughter summary report. Cattle slaughter was 28.8 million head in 2015, down 5 percent from 2014 and the smallest annual cattle slaughter since 1963. The largest number of cattle slaughtered in the last 25 years was 36.6 million head in 1996. This coincides with the peak of the 1990 to 2004 cattle cycle.

Commercial cattle average live weights have seen a steady increase over the past 25 years and reached a record high in 2015 at 1360 pounds. This was 30 pounds higher than the year before. Since 1990, average live weight has increased 224 pounds, or 20 percent. Since USDA slaughter records began in 1935, commercial cattle average live weights have increased by 56 percent.

Federally inspected average dressed weights for all cattle, steers and heifers have also steadily increased. Cattle average dressed weights reached a record high of 829 pounds in 2015, up 21 pounds from 2014. Since 1990, cattle average dressed weights have increased 143 pounds, or 21 percent. USDA records began in 1921 when federally inspected average dressed weight for cattle was 541 pounds and reached a low of 450 pounds in 1934. Steer and heifer average dressed weights also reached record highs last year. Steers averaged 892 pounds in 2015, 20 pounds higher than a year earlier. Heifers averaged 818 pounds, 18 pounds higher than 2014.

Due to changes in size group categories since 1990, a comparison of what size plants are slaughtering cattle was limited to 2000 and 2015. In 2000, plants that slaughtered over 1,000,000 head per year slaughtered 21.1 million head or 59 percent of the federally inspected cattle slaughter. In 2015, plants
that slaughtered over 1,000,000 head per year slaughtered 16.2 million head or 57 percent of the federally inspected cattle slaughter. The biggest changes have come in the second and third largest size groups. In 2000, 15 percent of federally inspected slaughter was conducted in plants where
500,000 to 999,999 head are slaughtered yearly versus 8.5 percent in 2015. However, only 10 percent of slaughter was conducted at plants slaughtering 300,000 to 499,999 head during the year in 2000 versus nearly 19 percent in 2015.

Commercial Hog Slaughter and Weights Continue Upward Trend

Commercial hog slaughter has trended upward since 1990, according to USDA's recent livestock slaughter summary report. A record high commercial hog slaughter of 116.5 million head was recorded in 2008. Since 2008, commercial hog slaughter hasn't been below 110 million except in 2014 when the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) hit the industry. In 2015, commercial hog slaughter was the second largest it has ever been, at 115.4 million head. Since 1990, commercial hog slaughter has increased over 35 percent.

Commercial hog average live weights have seen a steady increase over the past 25 years and reached a record high in 2014, at 285 pounds. This was 9 pounds higher than the year before. Since 1990, average live weight has increased 34 pounds, or approximately 14 percent. In 2015, average live weights decreased 2 pounds to 283 pounds. Since USDA slaughter records began in 1935, commercial hog average live weights have increased by 27 percent.

Federally inspected average dressed weights for all hogs and barrows and gilts have also steadily increased. Hog average dressed weights reached a record high of 214 pounds in 2014, up 7 pounds from 2013. Since 1990, hog average dressed weights have increased 33 pounds, or 18 percent. Hog average dressed weights decreased by 1 pound in 2015 to 213 pounds. USDA records for slaughter began in 1921 when federally inspected average dressed weight for hogs was 173 pounds and reached a low of 137 pounds in 1958 and 1959. Barrow and gilt average dressed weights reached a record high in 2014, at 212 pounds. Weights were 210 pounds in 2015. Sow average dressed weights have been relatively steady over the past 25 years. In 2015, sow average dressed weight was 309 pounds, up 4 pounds from 2014. In 2002, sow average dressed weights reached a record high of 317 pounds.

Due to changes in size group categories since 1990, a comparison of what size plants are slaughtering hogs was limited to 2000 and 2015. In 2000, plants that slaughtered over 4,000,000 head per year slaughtered 24.7 million head or 34 percent of the federally inspected hog slaughter. In 2015, plants that slaughtered over 4,000,000 head per year slaughtered 68.7 million head or 60 percent of the federally inspected hog slaughter. There were large decreases in the second and fourth largest size groups. In 2000, 35 percent of federally inspected slaughter was conducted in plants where 3,000,000 to 3,999,999 head are slaughtered per year versus 3 percent in 2015. In plants that slaughtered between 1,000,000 and 1,999,999 head per year, 24 percent of federally inspected slaughter was conducted at these plants in 2000 versus only 4 percent in 2015.

OIG Finds BLM Wild Horse and Burro Programs Out of Compliance

In a report from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of the Interior, the OIG found the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program does not maximize efficiencies and is not compliant with federal regulation. Public Lands Council President and Utah rancher, Dave Eliason, said this report confirms what public lands ranchers have long known to be true.

“The fact is that wild horse and burro populations are growing at unsustainable rates on our nation’s public lands,” said Eliason. “The unchecked growth of these populations threatens the productivity of public grasslands and the health and welfare of the wild horse and burro populations. The BLM’s solution has been to move more of these wild horses and burros off the range and into short-term holding facilities, some horses being held in those facilities for an average of five years, rather than transporting horses to the under-utilized long-term holding facilities. The OIG report points out that this solution is not financially sustainable or efficient.”

The BLM was charged under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act of 1971 with managing and protecting the nation’s wild horses and burros. Under BLM’s management, horse and burro populations have exponentially exceeded the appropriate management levels and continue to grow at a rate of 20 percent per year. Additionally, 45,000 horses and burros remain in long-term holding facilities at a cost to taxpayers of $50,000 per animal.

“It is clear that we must manage our wild horse and burro population to ensure we meet sustainable appropriate management levels,” said Eliason. “Earlier this year the BLM’s own Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recommended selling horses to private owners and euthanizing animals that cannot be sold. Wild horses and burros are a part of our nation’s heritage, but no one wins when these populations outgrow the resources available.”

OIG recommends BLM develop and implement policy to use appropriate rate determinations and adjustments for wild horse and burro populations and a plan for sustainable on and off-range population management. The report finds that implementing these strategies and maximizing the transition to long-term facilities would save taxpayers $3.7 million. PLC urges the BLM to allow for the sale of wild horses and restore a thriving ecological balance.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Thursday October 27 Ag News

Ricketts, Ibach Tout Growing EU Beef Exports

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) announced that a recent trade mission led by state officials to the European Union led to agreements expanding markets for Nebraska beef.  Last week, a delegation led by NDA Director Greg Ibach met with leaders from a number of European companies and signed six letters of intent formalizing commitments to purchase and promote Nebraska beef.

“Growth in demand for Nebraska beef in Europe is helping grow our market share and grow Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts, “I am committed to supporting our beef industry by promoting the Nebraska beef brand all around the globe.  Missions like these continue to help Nebraska’s share of beef exports grow exponentially both in the EU and around the world.”  

Nebraska is the number one producer of beef in the nation, and the high-quality, great-tasting beef it produces continues to grow in popularity across the world.

“Signing these letters of intent is great news for Nebraska's farmers and ranchers,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “Nebraska has long been a leader and innovator in beef production, raising some of the best cattle and beef in the world.  By promoting the Nebraska brand of excellence and quality we will continue to increase our exports of beef.  More exports mean more jobs and growth in the Nebraska economy.”

Representatives from import companies and restaurant chains doing business in England, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands met with Ibach and others.  The delegation included: Chris Calkins, professor of Animal Science, University of Nebraska; Myron Danner, Nebraska Rancher and member of the Nebraska Beef Council; Jerry Wiggs, Greater Omaha Packing Company; and Stan Garbacz, Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

During the trip, the group promoted the attributes of the Nebraska beef production system.  They touted the grasslands, where families raise their herds to produce calves that will fill the feedlots across Nebraska and those cattle will consume locally-grown corn, distillers grains, and roughages.  The group went on to share that these finished cattle are processed in plants that pay special attention to consumer expectations and food safety.  This unique system allows Nebraska’s farm families to feed families around the world.

In 2005, when NDA started promoting Nebraska beef in partnership with the Nebraska Beef Council, the United States exported $36.3 million of beef to Europe.  Nebraska’s share was $1.8 million or 5 percent.  Ten years later in 2015, when the U.S. exported $315.4 million to Europe, Nebraska’s share of the market had grown to 45.2 percent or $142.7 million.  In the first 6 months of 2016, Nebraska has continued to grow our market share exporting 50 percent of the U.S. total. 

The following is a summary of the delegations activities during the trip:

London, England - Met with Goodman Restaurants to sign a letter of intent for the group to increase purchases of Nebraska beef.  A new customer, Roar Global, signed a letter of intent to purchase and promote Nebraska beef.  This decision follows a visit to Nebraska this summer where they saw firsthand, the innovative system Nebraska families and businesses have created to produce high quality beef.

Düsseldorf, Germany - Albers GmbH Foods pledged to continue to promote and expand their sales of Nebraska beef.  While in Germany, the Albers family hosted a promotional event to hear presentations from Chris Calkins and Myron Danner where 70 current and potential new customers learned how to utilize lower-priced wholesale cuts in the chuck to create value-added consumer cuts.

Paris, France - The Nebraska delegation attended the SIAL Food Show where they met with numerous current and potential customers, including a potential importer for the China market when it opens.  While there, Gunnar Dafgärd AB of Sweden, and Meta Foods with European operations based in the Netherlands, signed letters of intent aimed at growing the Nebraska beef footprint.

Valencia, Spain - The delegation presented at a workshop to share the Nebraska beef story with 50 potential customers of the INALCA company in Spain.  INALCA, an Italian importer, has been a long-term buyer of Nebraska beef and is working aggressively in the Spanish market to expand its sales.  INALCA pledged to work with Nebraska to accomplish this goal.

USDA Invests Nearly $1.4 Million for 17 Nebraska Value-Added Projects

USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul announces that USDA is investing in 17 projects throughout Nebraska providing nearly $1.4 million through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

"Investing in value-added projects helps agricultural producers with the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products.  Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program,” said Moul.  “The value-added program facilitates keeping products local which impacts Nebraska’s economy.”

Nebraska Value-Added Recipients include:
BUTLER COUNTY - Wendy McKenzie - $40,579 - To support the processing and marketing of goat cheese.

LANCASTER COUNTY - Lakehouse Farm, LLC - $75,000 - To provide a strategic plan to increase regional networking of producers, end-users and consumers, and create a joint steering committee which will be tasked with exploring the development of a Regional Food Hub.

LANCASTER COUNTY - Robinette Farms, LLC - $24,834 - To process, expand the market area and distribute micro-greens, eggs from pastured hens and pastured boiler chickens.

PLATTE COUNTY - Annette Hellbusch - $32,000 - To market and distribute vegetables and help cover rental expense for an indoor farmers' market.

SARPY COUNTY - Volcanic Peppers, LLC - $49,996 - To assist in the processing and marketing of hot pepper sauces.

SAUNDERS COUNTY - Heartland Nuts N’ More - $49,999 - To implement a marketing plan to provide a central market for member producers to sell their high-quality nut oil from cultivar tree nuts.

WAYNE COUNTY - Eltee Mangalitsa’s, LLC - $49,950 - To process and market Magalitsa pork.

VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.

Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentives Program

The Center for Rural Affairs is seeking participants in the Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentives Program (CRP-TIP) to learn more about how CRP-TIP is being implemented. Landowners in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota or South Dakota who have participated in CRP-TIP are encouraged to contact the Center to talk about their experiences with the program.

“One of the major barriers to getting started in farming is access to land,” commented Anna Johnson with the Center for Rural Affairs. “And we know we can learn a lot from both beginning farmers and ranchers as well as landowners who have utilized the CRP-TIP program. That’s why it is vitally important that we talk with people that have put this program to work, on the ground.”

According to Johnson, the CRP-TIP program provides a valuable opportunity both for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers to get started in agriculture and for conservation practices to be implemented on more acres. CRP provides payments to landowners for taking environmentally sensitive land out of production for a period of time. It is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency. CRP-TIP is a relatively new part of the program. Landowners with expiring CRP contracts are eligible for two additional years of payments if they sell or rent their land to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher. That farmer or rancher then has to use sustainable farming or grazing practices on the land.

“The CRP-TIP program was created through the 2008 Farm Bill,” continued Johnson. “With the next farm bill debate beginning in earnest next year, we believe it is more important than ever to hear from farmers, ranchers and landowners about how this program works and how we could make it work even better.”

Producers can contact Glen Ready with the Center for Rural Affairs at or (402) 687-2103 ext. 1011.

The Center for Rural Affairs, Dakota Rural Action, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, in cooperation with the USDA Farm Service Agency have embarked on this project to learn more about the impact of CRP-TIP and look for ways to improve the implementation of the program.

NCGA Promotes NASS Survey Completion; It Is Important to Farmers

National Corn Growers Association's Risk Management Action Team Chair Steve Ebke, who farms in Daykin, Neb.,  discusses the importance of responding to surveys distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Statistics Service. Responses to recent surveys from USDA have reached historical lows, and this can impact farmers' bottom lines.

"There seem to be county-to-county differences that are unaccounted for and, when you look at it, some counties did not have enough information from responses to the National Agricultural Statistics Service for them to publish data. Farm Service Agency uses that data to calculate ARC payments. So, if NASS does not have the data, they will have to look elsewhere for it.

"This has resulted in a great deal of concern in the countryside. What we are doing at this time is urging everyone to complete their NASS surveys so that each county has a sufficient amount of data for FSA to calculate the payments based upon what actually happened in that county."

Ebke says a lack of data has led to discontent regarding Agriculture Risk Coverage program payments for 2014 and 2015.

"In fact, I just received my county agricultural production survey in the mail for 2016 the other day. You can either do it manually with the booklet that you receive and mail that back in, or you can complete it online. Most of the information in that survey is information farmers have readily available.

"One thing that we want to emphasize is that your data is confidential. Your individual data is confidential and never individually presented somewhere. Your data is aggregated and only presented in that format. The confidentiality of your individual data submitted on the NASS survey is protected by federal law."

Failing to complete the survey, according to Ebke, puts your farm at risk for receiving ARC payments that do not reflect actual production in your county.

"I just want to urge everyone to go ahead and complete this as it is very important to your bottom line. We have additional information on our website and even a direct link to USDA's site, where you can complete your survey."

Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit

December 10, 2016
Hansen Ag Student Learning Center - Ames, IA
2508 Mortensen Road, Ames, IA 50011

(Don't miss out on the Cattlemen's Night Out Political Action Committee Fundraiser on Friday, December 9, 2016)
Saturday, December 10, 2016 - Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit

Attendees will have the opportunity to enhance their leadership and communication skills, shape the priorities of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association through the policy development process, network and much more at this first annual, FREE event.

Registration is FREE! Download a registration form or register online by November 29 to guarantee a meal.

The day will feature:

Iowa’s Best Burger-Enjoy Iowa’s 2016 Best Burger, from the Chuckwagon Restaurant in Adair, for the noon meal.

State of the Industry Panel-What are the current realities of the cattle industry? How will successful cattle producers navigate these challenges and continue to build their business? Hear insights and advice from thought leaders in the cattle industry.

Communication for Connection and Cooperation (Not Compliance or Control) - Alan Feirer, Group Dynamic

Learn how to give feedback and assign tasks in ways that build relationships, improve staff retention and engagement. In this session, we will identify and overcome three common obstacles to effective communication. Chief among these is the words we use and how we say them, so we will spend a lot of time on words to use, words to avoid, and ways to give better feedback.

This session will be interactive, fun, and practical. The methods learned can be utilized right away.

Beef Up your County Board- Join us and other successful county leaders in sharing what practices develop a board that operates like a well-oiled machine. Advice on conducting effective board meetings and dealing with conflict are a few topics seasoned leaders will be prepared to share. Additionally, we will identify different ways to get involved in the community and how those type of events can increase community awareness for your organization. Continue to sharpen the saw by learning from your peers and join us for a great discussion!

Tools in your Iowa Beef Industry Headquarters Toolbox-How can the organizations at the Iowa Beef Industry Headquarters support your local county cattlemen? Find out what services and opportunities are available, and hear from local leaders who have effectively worked with us to enhance opportunities in their county.

Social Media that Sticks - Shannon Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds - Tips and guidelines to for using social media to successfully promote your county organization, build awareness of your own cattle business, or clear up misconceptions with consumers.
Policy and Governance

Cattle Production Policy Meeting: The Cattle Production Committee focuses on areas of cattle health and well-being, live cattle marketing, and science and technology.

Business Issues Policy Meeting: The Business Issues Committee focuses on areas of agriculture policy, public/private lands and environmental management, and tax and finance.

Beef Product Policy Meeting: The Beef Product Committee focuses on areas of beef safety, global consumer marketing, and nutrition, health and information.

ICA Annual Meeting: Be a part of the ICA policy development process. ICA's Policy Committees will present recommendations for all members to vote on. Resolutions approved by a majority vote of the members in attendance become the official policy of the association.

Iowa Beef Industry Council Annual Meeting: Learn how the Iowa Beef Industry Council, funded by the $1-per-head beef checkoff, is invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development to increase beef demand. The meeting will include an election of executive committee members.
Awards and Recognition

2016 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Class Recognition
Commercial Producer of the Year
Seedstock Producer of the Year
Hall of Fame
Environmental Stewardship Award Program
Foundation Heifer Award
Ralgro Wheel Presentation
Beef Quality Assurance
President’s Council
County Membership Awards

Registration is FREE! Download a registration form or register online by November 29 to guarantee a meal.  More info and registration at

Iowa Pork Industry Center to Offer PQA Plus 3.0 Advisor Certification Session

To help meet industry need, Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University has added one more Pork Quality Assurance Plus 3.0 advisor certification session on Wednesday, Dec. 14. With the introduction of this new program by National Pork Board earlier this year all PQA Plus advisor certifications done under the former 2.0 program expired Aug. 31. Attendance at an all-day session and passage of an exam at the end of the session is now necessary for recertification.

Iowa State University extension swine veterinarian Chris Rademacher said those who want to become certified for the first time are welcome to submit applications for this session. The Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine has approved seven hours of CE credit for the session.

“All previous PQA Plus advisor certifications expired on August 31 regardless of when the advisor most recently certified through the 2.0 program,” Rademacher said. “This also means everyone needs to complete the two-page application form and be approved to attend this session.”

Rademacher is coordinating this training session, which will be held at the Hansen Ag Student Learning Center on the Iowa State campus in Ames. There is a 15-person minimum with the application deadline of Dec. 1 or whenever the 30-person maximum is reached. No walk-ins are allowed and no individual spot is guaranteed until the application is approved and specific payment is accepted by IPIC. The cost is $75 per person and includes refreshments and the noon meal. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the session starting at 9 a.m.

“Those who wish to attend need to submit their application soon to ensure receipt in time for approval and payment,” Rademacher said. “The form is available as a fillable pdf document and as a word document. People can choose the format that best suits their needs.”

Those who qualify and are interested in the program should download the application form from the IPIC website, then complete and submit it soon.

Poultry Slaughter Production Narrows Gap on Red Meat Production

Total federally inspected red meat and poultry production in 2015 was 94.3 billion pounds, a record high. Federally inspected poultry slaughter production also reached a record high in 2015 at 46.3 billion pounds. Since 1990, poultry slaughter production has almost doubled.  In 1990, federally inspected red meat production was about 60 percent higher than poultry production. The gap between poultry and red meat has steadily decreased and red meat is currently only 4 percent higher than poultry. In terms of gross domestic product, the red meat and poultry slaughter industry is the largest segment of United States agriculture. Red meat and poultry products from slaughter also contribute to agriculture's positive trade balance. In 2015, beef and veal exports totaled over $5.15 billion, pork exports totaled over $4.01 billion and chicken exports totaled over $2.79 billion.

The Overview of the United States Slaughter Industry report provides an official review of changes in the United States slaughter industry over the past 25 years. Additionally, this report gives a brief overview of survey and estimation procedures as well as terminology used in the National Agriculture Statistics Service's (NASS) slaughter publications. The 2016 Overview of the United States Slaughter Industry report will highlight data from NASS' annual Livestock Slaughter report and annual Poultry Slaughter report.

Commercial Pork Production Reaches Record High in 2015

Total commercial red meat production was 48.4 billion pounds in 2015, up 2 percent from 2014. Commercial red meat production reached a record high in 2008 at 50.2 billion pounds. In the past 25 years, commercial red meat production has increased 25 percent. Most of the increase is due to a rise in pork production.

Commercial beef production during 2015 was 23.7 billion pounds, down 2 percent from 2014. Over the past 25 years, beef production has held relatively steady, ranging from a low of 22.6 billion pounds in 1990 to a high of 27.1 billion pounds in 2002.

Commercial veal production was a record low in 2015 at 82.5 million pounds, 12 percent below 2014. This was the seventh year in a row that veal production was a record low.

Commercial pork production during 2015 was a record high at 24.5 billion pounds, 7 percent above the 22.8 billion pounds produced in 2014. Pork production also surpassed beef production as the majority of red meat production for the first time in 2015. Since 1990, pork production has increased 60 percent.

Commercial lamb and mutton production was 150.6 million pounds in 2015, 3 percent below 2014 and the second lowest production on record. Lamb and mutton production has been on a steady decline the past 25 years and reached a record low in 2011 at 148.7 million pounds.

The percent of commercial red meat production by state over the past 25 years been relatively unchanged. In 1990, the top 10 states were Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, South Dakota, California, and Michigan. In 2015, the top 10 states were Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Colorado, Missouri, and Indiana. These states had 75 percent of the commercial red meat production in 1990 and 78 percent of the commercial red meat production in 2015.

NBB Sends Letter to Congress Urging Action on Biodiesel Tax Incentive

The National Biodiesel Board sent a letter to House and Senate tax committee leaders urging extension of the biodiesel tax incentive before it expires on December 31st. The letter was sent on behalf of U.S. biodiesel producers nationwide.

“We strongly urge you to extend the biodiesel tax credit and take this opportunity to make a simple, common-sense reform by focusing the credit on U.S. production,” said Donnell Rehagen, Interim NBB CEO in the letter. “Legislation pending before Congress – S. 3188 and H.R. 5240 – would accomplish these objectives by extending the incentive through 2019 and changing it from a blender’s credit to a domestic producer’s credit. The legislation has strong support from American biodiesel producers and strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate – reflected last year when a similar proposal passed the Senate Finance Committee.”

The growth of the U.S. biodiesel industry in recent years is paying tremendous dividends in reducing emissions, strengthening our energy security, generating competition in the diesel sector and creating jobs and economic activity in every state in the nation. The biodiesel industry supports nearly 48,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in wages across the country.

“Many biodiesel producers who are now poised to expand and hire would likely cut jobs and production. Congress can avoid this with a long-term extension giving producers the policy stability they need to plan for the future.”

U.S. biodiesel producers have more than 1.5 billion gallons of unused production capacity that stands ready to be utilized under the right policy framework. Mobilizing that capacity would create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. Additionally, reforming the incentive would save the Treasury some $90 million as imports are reduced and domestic production rises, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Under the current “blender’s” structure of the incentive, foreign biodiesel imported to the U.S. and blended with petroleum diesel in the U.S. is eligible for the tax incentive. Increasingly, foreign biodiesel producers are taking advantage of the U.S. incentive by shipping their product here. In 2015 alone, some 670 million gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel was imported to the U.S., making up nearly a third of the U.S. market.

R-CALF Presents Cattle Industry Priorities for New Congress

In a prepared statement presented during the 2018 Farm Bill listening session sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), R-CALF USA said the need for major changes is urgent if Congress wants to prevent the U.S. cattle industry from going the way of the packer-controlled poultry, hog and sheep industries.

"Our industry is fast becoming chickenized, meaning dominant packers are eliminating competition in the fed cattle market and substituting it with corporate ownership or control," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. This process is also known as vertical integration, in which dominant packers acquire complete control over the supply chains within their respective industries.

Bullard described the U.S. cattle industry as an industry where 4 of every 10 ranchers in business 30 years ago are gone today, where cattle supplies have shrunk to 70-year lows, where domestic production has shrunk to a 20-year low, and where the cattle cycle, which historically provides several years of strong prices, is now dysfunctional. He said cattle prices have been falling farther and faster than any time in history despite historically low supplies and strong beef demand.

"These are not indicators of progress. These are indicators of an industry in decline."

He said incremental changes will not reverse the declining cattle industry because the dominant packers are simply too powerful and too sophisticated to let one or two new hurdles stop them from continuing to capture the live cattle supply chain away from independent producers.

"We must act aggressively to reverse our industry's decline before the packers dismantle or destroy the competitive processes and marketing channels within our industry. When those are gone, we will no longer be able to bring our industry back," he said.

The group's urgent priorities include:

- Reinstate mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) to provide independent producers the tool they need to compete in their domestic market and abroad.

- Support the so-called GIPSA rules so the overarching rules of competition envisioned in the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) can be enforced; and then amend the PSA to disallow packers from circumventing those rules of competition by claiming to have a business justification for violating the PSA. Bullard said these changes will empower producers to self-monitor and self-enforce the rules of competition without having to wait for the government to act.

- Remove from the packers' toolbox the tools they use to manipulate prices. This includes banning packer ownership of cattle; banning un-priced cattle procurement contracts (such as formula contracts); and prohibiting packers from shorting or otherwise speculating in the cattle futures market for the purpose of lowering prices.

- Remove the Agriculture Secretary's discretion to allow fresh meat from countries where foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) exists. This includes amending the Animal Health Protection Act to prohibit the importation of fresh meat from Brazil or any other country that is not free of FMD without vaccination.

- Provide producers with real-time and more accurate market information. This includes amending the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act to address the numerous new cattle procurement practices the group says that dominant packers use to circumvent reporting requirements. The group identifies five new practices that it says causes reporting inaccuracies.

- Restore the integrity of the national beef checkoff program by prohibiting any lobbying group from contracting for checkoff dollars and making the checkoff program voluntary.

- Reinstate a Livestock Title in the Farm Bill to include all livestock-related provisions.

Youth grain handling safety resources more important than ever

The recent death of a 16-year-old South Dakota boy in a grain bin incident is a grim reminder of the hazards of grain handling.

“Tragedies like this motivate safety people to work even harder,” said Marsha Salzwedel, M.S., Agricultural Youth Safety Specialist with the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, part of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wis.

On the same day that Salzwedel presented a grain handling safety talk in Indianapolis during the National FFA Convention, Taylor Watzel, an FFA student from Winner, S.D., became trapped in a grain bin. He died from his injuries the next day, Oct. 19.

“If we can get people to use these resources, we can prevent incidents like the one with Taylor from happening in the future,” Salzwedel added.The resources highlighted in her talk are available at

Salzwedel shared information about youth agricultural work guidelines, as well as the curriculum she developed with the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, during a general session of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education, held in conjunction with the FFA Convention.

“The work guidelines can be used in supervised agricultural experiences or by anyone supervising young workers to determine if a youth is able to perform a job safely,” Salzwedel said. “When working with grain, adding the curriculum enhances youth safety. We want to educate youth about flowing grain hazards, but we also want the adults supervising the youth to make sure the young people are doing age appropriate work.”

CarbonTV Debuts Season 2 of Hit Farming Series American Harvest

Season two of the popular agriculture docu-series "American Harvest," presented by Chevy Trucks, debuts exclusively on CarbonTV. The new season focuses on the next generation as they battle the odds to pursue careers in the rapidly evolving agriculture industry. "American Harvest: Next Generation" is available on-demand for free on and related CarbonTV OTT apps.

"American Harvest" Season 1 introduced the Johnsons, a multi-generational family of farmers in Central Minnesota. In Season 2, the series follows Leah Johnson as she manages a full-time job at Red River Marketing while also helping her father and brother run the family farm. Josh Fiedler and his wife Liz, who grew up raising cattle, prepare to re-enter their old lives with a risky move back to the family farm. Chad Olsen, owner and operator of one of Olsen Custom Farms, enters into another year of custom harvesting along the route from Texas to Canada. With a fleet of more than 80 combines, Chad's business is a feat of organization and problem solving. They must all find a way to make a living in an agriculture industry that is far different than the one in which their parents grew up.

"Viewers loved Season 1 for its authentic portrayal of the high-stakes American farming industry," says Daniel Seliger, EVP of Content and Marketing at CarbonTV. "Season 2 continues the story with a focus on the passion and commitment of the next generation."

Watch "American Harvest: Next Generation" now:

Growing Demand For Feed Wheat May Ease Storage Crunch At U.S. Elevators

Grain handlers are anticipating an uptick in orders for feed wheat, which should allow them to move excess wheat inventories as farmers bring in a record fall harvest, according to a new report from CoBank.

“While all grain prices have fallen to low levels in the face of this year’s record-large harvests, wheat prices have fallen the most,” says Tanner Ehmke, CoBank senior economist and co-author of the report. “As a result wheat is destined to become a staple in livestock’s feed rations for at least the next year or two and will remain competitive with other feed grains for the foreseeable future, barring a major weather event.”

Current USDA forecasts indicate that wheat feeding and residual use will climb to 260 million bushels in 2016, up from 152 million bushels last year. With cash wheat prices on the plains continually finding new lows—some local areas are posting the lowest prices in decades—USDA’s feed-wheat estimate could likely see upward revisions given wheat’s high stocks-use ratio, according to the CoBank report.

In some areas hard red wheat has traded more than 40 cents below the price of corn. In other areas soft red wheat has a 30-cent premium to corn, as prices drop with the arrival of the new crop. The shortfall in South American corn production has boosted U.S. corn exports, supported corn prices and widened the wheat-corn price spread. Further, an abundance of lower-priced old-crop corn—which could be discounted due to new-crop supplies—adds more pressure to grain prices.

In contrast a shorter supply of other feed grains, such as oats, barley and sorghum, will likely add to the attractiveness of corn and wheat in animal diets.

“A key question becomes whether farmers will be willing to sell wheat stocks as several market factors are incentivizing crop retention and storage,” notes Ehmke. “Still, the need to make room for the large fall harvest could ultimately motivate sales.”

Storage and price matters aside several other factors come into play as livestock producers incorporate wheat into rations. One such factor is that wheat has less energy than corn, therefore requiring livestock producers who add more wheat to rations, to have to add other grains with a higher energy content to compensate. However, wheat also contains more protein than corn, meaning livestock farmers must also consider the cost savings from reducing the amount of competing protein sources like soybean meal.

The substitution rate of wheat in place of corn is dependent upon the method of grain processing used prior to feeding.

“These factors, along with on-farm logistics and other animal health considerations, mean livestock producers will need to work closely with their nutritionist, veterinarian and other key advisors,” says Trevor Amen, the other co-author of the report and an economist and livestock specialist at CoBank. “These relationships will be crucial as producers consider ration ingredient changes and how to best incorporate them.”

Regardless of the individual decisions that each livestock operator must make based on local markets, they all stand to reap huge rewards with an abundant feed supply that is likely to grow into 2016-17 with a potentially record fall harvest. In the meantime, grain handlers that still hold substantial wheat inventories are being offered an opportunity to create much needed space by sending more wheat into the feed mix.

IGC Revises Grain Production Forecast

The International Grains Council Thursday raised its forecast for global grains production in the 2016 to 2017 marketing year, for the sixth time in seven months.

Production will hit a record 2.077 billion metric tons, ahead of the 2.069 billion tons forecast last month, the IGC said. The previous record, for 2014 to 2015, stands at 2.048 billion tons.

"This month's upward adjustments for [corn] include for the U.S., Argentina and India, while larger numbers for wheat are mostly in the Black Sea region," the London-based IGC said.

It raised its forecast for corn production by eight million tons to 1.035 billion tons, for wheat by one million tons to 748 million tons, for soybeans by three million tons to 332 million tons and for rice by two million tons to 484 million tons.

The upward revision in the production forecast exceeded a five million ton hike in the IGC's global grains consumption forecast to 2.054 billion tons.

"A rise in feed demand accounts for about half of the projected 72 million [year-over-year] gain in grains consumption," the IGC said.

As a result, the IGC expects year-end stocks to climb from 2016's 475 million tons to 498 million tons next year, not the previously expected 492 million tons.

The IGC said efforts by Chinese policymakers to encourage consumption of domestic grains instead of imports will contribute to a slight decrease in global trade volumes, which are expected to decline from 344 million tons last year to 337 million tons in 2016 to 2017.