Saturday, December 31, 2016

Friday December 30 Ag News

'Managing Cover Crops,' 'Building Soils' Available Free

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education's (SARE) most popular publications are now available in eBook format, including Managing Cover Crops Profitably and Building Soils for Better Crops. The two publications are now available in .epub and .mobi formats. Download these publications in .epub format for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Kindle users can access both publications using the .mobi format.

To download free eBook files for your mobile device, visit

SARE Outreach may make additional titles available in eBook format if demand for these titles is high.

North Central SARE Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Farm Beginnings Program Starts Jan. 7

Gary Lesoing, Nebraska Extension Educator

The Farm Beginnings Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Farm Beginnings participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers; attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences. The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining firsthand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation.

While this isn't a program for someone wanting to get into conventional farming, it is a program that has attracted several people interested in farming on a smaller scale, some who have migrated out from urban to rural areas. Participants may be interested in growing alternative crops, producing fruits and vegetables for direct sale to consumers, grocery stores or restaurants. Others may be interested in growing livestock for direct marketing. This is an opportunity for people interested in learning about this type of farming from farmers that are doing it and making a living at it.

The Farm Beginnings Program consists of a series of 11 sessions from January through April that cover a variety of topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management. While the class participants will learn firsthand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course.

We also schedule a farm tour early in the course and tour several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating. If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.

One past participant in the class said, "This program had a huge impact. I have improved my business plan, my overall efficiency and continue to try new ideas I thought to not be possible." Any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions. Most of the farmers that present come from small to medium sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products. Many of these farmers direct market their products.

As part of the class tuition, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society's Healthy Farms Conference at Columbus on Jan. 27 and 28. This is a conference that has been held annually for a number of years and has sessions that focus on topics in sustainable agriculture, such as vegetable production, grass-fed beef, pasture poultry, meat and dairy goat production, composting, cover crops, organic farming, growing crops in high-tunnels, bee keeping, farm transitioning and agri-tourism.

Cost of the total program is $500, but you may qualify for a partial scholarship. For more information about the program, contact me at or at (402) 274-4755, Nebraska Extension in Nemaha County.

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society are facilitating the Farm Beginnings Program to be held in Nebraska City at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at 5985 G Road.

Ten new seminars being offered at 2017 Iowa Pork Congress

The Iowa Pork Producers Association will offer 10 new seminars of interest to pig farmers and other attendees at the 2017 Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

The 45th annual convention and tradeshow will be held Jan. 25 and 26 at the Iowa Events Center and all of the educational opportunities are offered at no additional cost to attendees.

Seminar topics include explaining how producers can manage margins in a market downturn, the latest swine health trends and the new Veterinary Feed Directive that takes effect on Jan. 1. Seminars will be led by some of the swine industry's leading experts

In addition to the seminars, producers can obtain or renew certification in the pork industry's PQA Plus and TQA program as well as manure application.

The following is a complete schedule of seminars, training sessions and speakers:
Wednesday, Jan. 25


● Iowa Regulations & Nuisance Case Update
Eldon McAfee - Brick Gentry Law Firm
9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, Rooms 105 & 106

● VFDs Are Here, What Have You Done?
Dr. Chris Rademacher - Iowa State University
Jeff Verzal - Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Dr. Paul Thomas - AMVC
10:45 a.m. - Noon
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108

● Manure Nutrient Utilization & Water Quality
Dr. Dan Andersen - Iowa State University
Rick Juchems - Iowa pork producer
12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106

● Keynote Presentation - Best Time Ever to Be in Agriculture
Dr. Lowell B. Catlett, professor emeritus - New Mexico State University
2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, Rooms 107 & 108
● Prices & Profitability: Economic Outlook
Dr. Steve Meyer - Express Markets, Inc.
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106
Underwritten by National Hog Farmer
Training Sessions

● Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification
Mark Storlie - Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, room 103

● Transport Quality Assurance certification
Dave Stender -Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, room 103
Thursday, Jan. 26


● Evaluation of Antibiotic Alternatives for Nursery Pigs
Dr. Nick Gabler - Iowa State University
9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108

● Managing Margins in Market Downturns
Ron Durre - Farm Credit Services of America
Pat Von Tersch - Professional Ag Marketing
Al Wulfekuhle - Iowa pork producer
10:30 a.m. - Noon
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106

● The Consumer Connection: A Producer Perspective
Cristen Clark - Iowa pork producer & food blogger
Jarrod Bakker - Iowa pork producer
Gary Sovereign - Iowa pork producer
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108

● Swine Health Trends: Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
Dr. Rodger Main - Iowa State University
Dr. Pablo Pineyro - Iowa State University
1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106

● Opportunities Abound: A Toolbox for Beginning Farmers
Colin Johnson - Iowa State University
Dr. William Edwards - Iowa State University
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108
Training Session
● Confinement Site Manure Applicator certification
Jeff Prier, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Dan Andersen- Iowa State University
10 a.m. - Noon
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, room 103

All seminars and training sessions are held in the lower level of Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center. Seminars are funded by the Pork Checkoff!

The Iowa Pork Congress is open to all pork producers, allied business partners and others involved in the pork industry. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Admission at the door is $10 for those not preregistered.

For more information, contact the Iowa Pork Producers Association at (515) 225-7675, (800) 372-7675 or visit

Iowa Counties Must Sign Up Jan. 1-31 to Evaluate Animal Confinement Sites

Counties interested in evaluating construction permits for proposed animal feeding facilities must adopt and submit a construction evaluation resolution to the DNR between Jan. 1 and 31.

About 87 counties pass a resolution each year, which allows them to review construction permit applications required for larger totally roofed animal feeding operations (confinements).

The Master Matrix development, submittal and approval process allows applicants and county supervisors to discuss options for site selection, facility type and management.

"County supervisors review the master matrix items selected by the applicant and determine if a passing score for the matrix has been achieved. The county then submits a recommendation to the DNR on the permit application," said Gene Tinker, the DNR's animal feeding operations coordinator.

Producers in counties that file the resolutions must meet higher standards for a construction permit than sites in other counties. They must earn points on a master matrix by choosing a site and using practices that reduce effects on the environment and the community.

Counties that participate in the master matrix process may accompany the DNR on site visits to proposed locations. The county board of supervisors may also appeal the DNR's preliminary approval of a permit to the Environmental Protection Commission.

County boards of supervisors may approve the resolutions at any time, but must submit resolutions between Jan. 1 and 31. Send resolutions to Gene Tinker at DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, email to or fax to 515-725-8202. Sign-ups in January apply to permit applications received in the following February through January of 2018.

For historical information on counties that adopted resolutions, check the DNR website at and search for master matrix.

More information is available from the Iowa State Association of Counties at

Cattle on Feed Report

Brenda Boetel, Professor, Dept of Ag Econ, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday December 23, 2016. The latest numbers released by the USDA were neutral in total numbers of placements and marketings, compared to trade expectations. Total cattle on feed on December 1, 2016 numbered 10.7 million head, down 1.3 percent from December 2015 levels, and at industry expectations.

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.84 million head, up 15 percent from 2015.  Placements were up 21% in Kansas, 16% in Nebraska, 16% in Oklahoma, 23% in Minnesota and 26% in Texas. This is the reversal of the year over year decrease in placements seen in September and October but a return to the increase in placements seen throughout most of 2016.  Based on growing cattle supplies the current increase in placements will likely continue into 2017.  Cattle weighing over 800 pounds saw an increase of 5%, while placements for cattle weighing 600-699 saw an increase of 26.6% and cattle 700-700 increased 37%.  The trend of increased heavier weight placements changed to higher year over year increased placements for lower weights in September 2016.  Placing lower weight cattle subsequently means higher numbers of days on feed.

November marketings, at 1.79 million head, were up 16.6 percent but in line with industry expectations. This is the largest November marketings since 2006.  November had one more business day than 2015. 

Burger King, Tim Hortons to Curb Antibiotics Used in Chicken

Restaurant chains Burger King and Tim Hortons plan to switch to chicken raised without antibiotics considered "critically important" to human medicine, their owner said on Wednesday, making it the latest company to ditch the drugs over health concerns. According to Reuters, Restaurant Brands International Inc, which owns both chains, said it aims to make the change in U.S. stores in 2017 and in Canada in 2018.

An estimated 70 percent of antibiotics that are important to fighting human infections and ensuring the safety of invasive procedures such as surgeries are sold for use in meat and dairy production.

Concern has been growing among scientists, public health experts, consumers and shareholders that the overuse of such drugs is contributing to rising numbers of life-threatening human infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria dubbed "superbugs."

"We believe that it is important to reduce the use of antibiotics important for human medicine in order to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in both veterinary and human medicine," Restaurant Brands said.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.

McDonald's Corp has already removed all antibiotics important to human medicine from its U.S. chicken supply chain, and Wendy's Co said in August it would quit using chickens raised with antibiotics important to human health by 2017, reports Reuters.

Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest U.S. chicken processor, has said it intends to stop using all antibiotics important to human medicine to raise its chickens in 2017.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thursday December 29 Ag News

Groundwater Management addressed during three public hearings

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) held three public hearings during their December board meeting to address modifications to their Rules and Regulations for Management of Groundwater, changes to the LENRD Groundwater Management Plan, and to certify irrigated acres.

The first hearing was to accept public comment on changes to the Rules and Regulations for Management of Groundwater which modified the controls in place for any Phase 2 or Phase 3 Area in the LENRD, and establishes a set of controls for a Phase 4 Area, with all changes intended to provide greater protection of groundwater quality in the LENRD.  The proposed changes will add the prohibition of fall and winter application of commercial nitrogen to fields within the Phase 2 Area between the dates of October 15 and March 15 to further reduce the chance of nitrate-nitrogen leaching into the groundwater.  Although there are currently no areas in the LENRD that are designated as Phase 3 Areas, the changes include a requirement to prohibit the application of more than 80 pounds of commercial nitrogen without the use of a district-approved nitrification inhibitor after March 15 of each year.  The producer also has the option of splitting their nitrogen applications into multiple applications to avoid this requirement.  If an inhibitor is used, proof of such use must be submitted to the district annually.  LENRD Water Resources Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The changes also establish a set of controls for a Phase 4 Area, which can be implemented by the Board of Directors in areas with acute groundwater contamination conditions.”  The controls for a Phase 4 Area include: annual deep soil testing for nitrate-nitrogen when planting a non-legume crop (such as corn), proof of APH (actual production history) for determination of yield goals and verification of nitrogen budgets, annual sampling of irrigation wells for nitrate-nitrogen and required use of cover crops to sequester residual crop nutrients.

The next hearing was held to certify irrigated acres across the district.  767 tracts of land were certified as irrigated acres.  Approximately 88% of the district’s acres are now certified.  The next irrigated acre certification hearing will be held on March 23rd at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

The third hearing was to allow changes to be made to the Groundwater Management Plan to include the requirement of flow meter installation on high capacity wells classified for use as: public water supply wells, commercial wells, industrial wells, livestock wells, or any wells that are designed to pump more than 50 gallons per minute.  Bruckner added, “This is the first step in a two-step process to implement this requirement.  The next step will be to develop language for the Rules and Regulations for Management of Groundwater to spell out the specifics of this new requirement.”

The 2017 allocation rates were also set at the December meeting.  Each year, the board must determine the annual groundwater allocation amounts for the Wayne and Madison County Quantity Management Subareas for the upcoming crop year.  The staff recommended using the same amounts for the 2017 season.  Bruckner, said, “These allocation amounts are the same as 2016.  We are continuing to develop the framework for further expansion of irrigated acres in defined areas within the district by 2018.”

In other business, the board approved a proposal from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission to proceed with a Bathymetric Survey of the Willow Creek reservoir.  LENRD Assistant General Manager, Ken Berney, said, “The survey will help to design potential habitat projects, and also focus on the sedimentation rate of the reservoir.  The data will be very useful in planning for the future of the recreation area.”

The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, January 26th at 7:30 p.m.

CVA Welcomes Dale Broekemeier as Director of Specialty Grains

Central Valley Ag (CVA) is pleased to announce the hiring of Dale Broekemeier as Director of Specialty Grains. In this position, Dale will focus on the growth and execution of programs for white corn, non-gmo and organic corn and beans for CVA customers.

“I am excited to welcome Dale to our team” said Matt Ashton, Senior Vice President of Grain for Central Valley Ag. “Dale’s background, experience and talent will be a welcome addition to our team and help us continue to provide the value and service that our customers expect.”

Broekemeier holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and comes to CVA from Gavilon where he was the Specialty Grain Manager.

“This is a tremendous opportunity, and I am excited to join such a respected organization like CVA”, commented Broekemeier. “I am eager to join the team and begin working for our customers.”

What Did It Cost You to Produce a Calf in 2016?

Steve Tonn, Nebraska Extension Educator – Beef Systems

Margins are tightening for cow-calf producers and it appears that trend will continue for the next few years.  Do you know what it costs you to produce a calf?  Where are areas that you can increase income or decrease expenses?  With one calf crop weaned and the next one not far off, now is the time to analyze the business and see what it costs you to produce a pound of weaned calf.  

Cow costs and thus the cost to produce a weaned calf have shot up over the last 15 years. From 1987 to 2001, the Livestock Market Information Center reports that annual cow costs increased from $300 to $400 per cow. From 2002 to 2015, cow costs more than doubled from $400 to $875 per cow.

These annual cow costs figures are from National Ag Statistics Surveys. Cow costs in much of Nebraska would be equal to or higher than the national average due to the cost of pasture. Obviously not every cow weans a calf, so the actual cost per calf produced is much higher than $875!

This information prompts the question: What did it cost you to produce a pound of weaned calf this year? What do you project it will cost in 2017?

Unit cost of production (UCOP) is a value based on a relationship in production between costs and units of product made or produced.

Unit Cost of Production = Costs / Units Produced

The relationship between the numerator (Costs) and the denominator (Units Produced) is what drives the UCOP value. The power of the UCOP ratio for cow-calf producers is that everything involved in the production of a pound of calf is represented in the numerator or denominator of the equation. For example, if a producer wants to buy a pickup that will be used in the production of calves, he can estimate how the purchase of that pickup will affect his UCOP in terms of cost per pound of calf produced. The same thing goes for the purchase of a bull. Evaluating the purchase of a bull in light of how many estimated pounds of calf that bull will produce in relation to his cost can give insight into what a producer might be willing to spend.

What did it cost to produce a pound of weaned calf this year? What is it projected to cost next year? The old adage "you can't effectively manage what you don't measure" is true in relation to managing the cow-calf enterprise. The first step in calculating UCOP is to have accurate production and financial records. These records do not have to be complicated, but they need to be accurate and thorough. If current management and information systems don't provide the data to run this type of analysis, consider making changes that will provide the records needed.

Unit Cost of Production takes into account both product produced and input costs. Knowing UCOP allows a manager to look forward utilizing both present and projected input costs with production numbers to make informed decisions. You can’t change last year’s cost of production numbers, but with good information, you can make management changes that will impact the upcoming year. Cow-calf producers who know UCOP numbers and understand the interaction between costs and production can implement strategies to effectively manage resources to meet business and personal goals.

As with most things in life, the first few times you do something, you make mistakes and through the process learn how to get better. The first time someone learns to drive, there is going to be gears grinding, lurching and jerking, and some killed engines. There also is likely going to be some parent or adult with more gray hair (or perhaps less hair) in the process! Passing the driver’s test and being able to drive is well worth the hassle and effort!

Learning how to calculate UCOP is a similar process for cow-calf producers who have never done it before. The first few times through the mental gears will be grinding and there will be frustration along the way. However once someone does it and gets comfortable, the value of knowing this information and being able to confidently make decisions that improve profitability is extremely satisfying!

For many cow-calf producers, pulling together the production and financial information needed to get this year’s cost of production number or to project next year’s number is a daunting task. Check out these resources to help you with your calculations.

A note from the author:  Steve's Final Newsletter

This will be my last monthly cow calf newsletter.  I am retiring from Nebraska Extension.  I hope you have found these newsletters informative and helpful to you in your cow calf enterprise.  Archived newsletters can be found at the Nebraska Extension in Washington County web site, click on Agriculture  click on  ag newsletters.

It has been my privilege and honor to work with you through the Mid Plains Beef Series sessions, this newsletter and other educational events.  I have great respect for the work you do to provide food for the world. My best wishes to you for much success in your cow herd enterprise.

The new Nebraska Extension Beef Educator for Southeast Nebraska will be Kristen Ulmer.  Her office will be at the Saunders County Extension Office in the UNL Ag Research and Extension Center, south of Mead beginning Jan. 17.  Kristen is a graduate of Virginia Tech and received her Master’s Degree Dec. 2016 from UNL.  Her research focused on managing corn residue and double cropped forages in crop and livestock systems.  Contact Kristen by calling 402-624-8030.

New Nebraska Crop Management Conference Jan. 19-20

Nebraska Extension has a new offering in its winter line-up of programs for farmers and agribusiness seeking research updates and recommendations for Nebraska crop production. The Nebraska Crop Management Conference will be held Jan. 19-20 at the Younes Conference Center, 416 W. Talmadge Rd., in Kearney.

With two half-day workshops, 22 program sessions and recertification options, attendees will be able to customize their learning experience by registering for those sessions most pertinent to their farming operation.

"This compact format will allow attendees to access a lot of information in a short time at a single site. Some may want to come just for the pesticide license recertification training the first day while many may want to attend the full conference and a pre-conference workshop," said Chris Proctor, weed management extension educator and conference coordinator.

"With four program tracts there are a lot of opportunities for attendees to focus on what's most important to them. It's also a great way for attendees to hear what researchers at UNL have been up to over the past year." In addition to the Nebraska Extension experts discussing recent research findings for Nebraska, guest speakers will include:
- Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska
- Bob Nielsen, professor of agronomy at Purdue University and host expert for two national corn information websites: Chat 'n Chew Cafe and the Corn Growers' Guidebook
- Seth Naeve, associate professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics focusing on soybean issues
- Andrew Kniss, associate professor in weed biology and ecology at the University of Wyoming

Workshops include pesticide application technology and soil nutrient management. Individual sessions cover a range of topics from bacterial leaf streak and corn rootworm resistance to precision ag technologies, crop resistance and climate variability, manure management, dicamba drift and resistance gene transfer, and Nebraska cover crops research.

The conference also includes commercial and private pesticide applicator recertification, chemigation recertification and nutrient management recertification for the Central Platte Natural Resource District. Industry representatives will be available at a commercial expo Thursday evening.

The conference has three registration options, each of which has an early registration discounts through Jan. 15. Individuals can register for

- The full conference (Thursday noon through Friday); cost is $150 (early) or $175 (late).

- The full conference (Thursday afternoon through Friday) and one pre-conference workshop (Thursday morning); cost is $200 (early) and $225 (late).

- Pesticide applicator recertification (Thursday); cost is $65 early and $85 (late). (Individuals who had been planning to get their Nebraska Pesticide Applicator Recertification at a Crop Production Clinic in Kearney can register for recertification sessions on the first day of the conference.)

CCA credits are pending approval and updates will be available on the conference website.

For more information, visit, or contact: Chris Proctor, weed management extension educator, at or 402-472-5411.

Headwinds to Ag Outlook Remain Despite Strength in Exports

Cortney Cowley, Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Matt Clark, Assistant Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Some agricultural commodity prices in the U.S. got a boost from exports over the summer, but elevated exports seemed to only keep prices for some commodities from dropping further. Low commodity prices in late 2016 have put downward pressure on farm income, credit conditions, such as repayment rates for farm loans, and farmland values. USDA forecasts in November for farm income indicated crop revenue is expected to remain unchanged from 2015, supported by high yields and a summer spike in export volumes for most commodity crops, especially soybeans. However, revenues for livestock and animal products have been forecasted to decline sharply in 2016, and despite above-average export volumes in soybeans, corn and cattle, another year of record production could continue to suppress prices for most agricultural commodities.

Financial Outlook

Declining repayment rates and lower farmland values have contributed to a weak financial outlook in the farm sector. In the Tenth District, the overall rate of loan repayment has declined since mid-2013. Furthermore, repayment rates on farm loans have declined in each major industry in the District’s agricultural economy. In 2012, a majority of bankers indicated they expect higher loan repayment rates for each agricultural industry, including corn, soybeans, wheat, cow/calf and feedlot operations. By 2014, as crop prices had receded and livestock prices were near record levels, bankers were expecting lower repayment rates for crop operations but higher repayment rates for cattle operations. However, the outlook for all industries became much more pessimistic in 2015 and 2016, and bankers’ expectations for repayment rates across all categories have weakened.
Alongside lower repayment rates, farmland values have begun to show measurable declines. After increasing at a slower rate for several quarters, values for nonirrigated cropland and irrigated cropland began to decline in 2015, and ranchland values started to fall in 2016. In the third quarter, values for all types of farmland declined more than 6 percent from year-ago levels.

Soybean Outlook

The outlook for crop and livestock commodities likely will influence the financial outlook for U.S. agriculture. For example, soybeans and other oil crops comprise about 12 percent of total cash receipts and 22 percent of crop cash receipts in the U.S. agricultural economy. Prices for soybeans are higher than a year ago and, based on current futures prices, could continue to rise if export markets strengthen further. Soybean exports over the summer are typically much smaller than exports in the fourth quarter. This year, however, exports were very strong through the summer and early fall, exceeding year-ago levels by up to 150 percent in August. According to the USDA, the United States and Brazil account for more than 80 percent of global soybean exports, and despite relative strength in the dollar, the United States was able to take advantage of lingering effects from adverse weather conditions during Brazil’s growing season. Soybean shipments increased 13 percent in October, and the value of soybean exports has increased 18 percent year-to-date. However, U.S. inventories for soybeans, measured as stocks-to-use ratios, are expected to increase sharply in the current crop year, as inventories in the rest of the world are expected to continue to decline slightly.

Increasing soybean inventories in the United States reflect the continued disparity between production and consumption in the U.S. and globally. As of November, the USDA projected record soybean production in the United States for the 2016 - 2017 crop year, which began in September 2016, following two years of near-record production. Farmers in the United States and Brazil produce twice as many soybeans as their respective countries can consume. As production continues to increase, U.S. farmers likely will become increasingly dependent on exports to countries like China that consume 10 times the amount of soybeans they produce. As populations and incomes increase in China and other developing countries, demand for livestock products and livestock feed products, such as soybean meal, are expected to increase. In fact, the USDA projects world trade of soybeans and their derivatives to increase 25 percent by 2025. However, global production is still outpacing consumption, and potential headwinds to soybean markets include increasing U.S. inventories, expanding production in the rest of the world and the strengthening dollar. If U.S. soybean inventories continue to increase, the dollar remains strong and weather conditions remain favorable in South America for the next crop, the outlook for soybean prices in 2017 could become less optimistic.

Corn Outlook

Like soybeans, corn is an important commodity in the United States. Feed crops and food grains, which include corn, are responsible for 36 percent of crop cash receipts and 20 percent of total cash receipts from agricultural commodities. Unlike soybeans, however, corn prices have been below year-ago levels for most of the year. Corn markets have received some support from exports, which were well above historical averages through mid-2016. Although corn exports declined sharply in October, they remained near the high end of the historical range and 17 percent higher than the average export volumes for October from 2008 to 2015. Total exports for the 2016 – 2017 crop year are expected to be more than last year, but U.S. corn inventories are still projected to increase 30 percent, as corn inventories in the rest of the world decline 25 percent.

Growth in U.S. corn inventories is a concern because larger inventories have been linked to lower prices. Larger inventories are supported by higher production expectations for the 2016 – 2017 crop year. In December, the USDA’s projection for domestic corn production in 2016 was 41 million tons more than the 2015 production estimate. Exports and total domestic consumption are also expected to increase but not enough to offset the growth in U.S. production. At the same time, growth in domestic consumption and trade are expected to outpace increasing production in other corn-producing countries.

Wheat Outlook

The outlook for wheat is slightly more pessimistic than for soybeans and corn. In fact, in October, the monthly average price for wheat fell to the lowest level since June 2003. Wheat, unlike other commodity crops, has not received as much of a bump in demand from exports. Wheat exports were below the previous seven-year average in 2016 in every month except June. In the 2016 – 2017 crop year that began in June, U.S. inventories are expected to remain at record highs, while inventories in the rest of the world decline slightly. In addition, the United States is a smaller player in wheat production and trade than in corn and soybeans, and U.S. supplies of wheat continue to grow faster than consumption. Therefore, growing inventories, especially in the United States, suggest low prices for wheat may persist into 2017 and beyond.

Cattle Outlook

Similar to commodity crops, U.S. cattle prices have remained depressed this year due to expanding production and inventories. Although U.S. beef exports have not been above the recent range from 2008 to 2015, they have met or exceeded average levels every month in 2016. However, the U.S. cattle inventory is also continuing to expand. Since 2000, the correlation between cattle inventories and cash prices is -71 percent, suggesting that a 1 percent increase in inventories has been accompanied by a 0.71 percent decline in prices. As the U.S. cattle herd continues to grow, cattle prices may remain suppressed, despite strength in export markets. In recent years, beef consumption in Asia has grown at a faster rate than production, and this trend is expected to continue. However, growth in U.S. beef production is not expected to slow until 2020. Therefore, U.S. producers will need to continue to take greater advantage of export markets to help support domestic prices in the midst of large supplies. If not, it may be closer to 2020 before production slows enough for inventories to decline and prices to rebound.


Despite strong exports for most commodities in 2016, prices remained lower than year-ago levels for all major commodities except soybeans. Respondents to the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions seemed to indicate there still is a lot of pessimism in the agricultural sector throughout the District. Low commodity prices are weighing on farm income, and bankers are expecting lower farmland values and lower repayment rates across all sectors. Moving forward, if production of crops and livestock continues to expand at the current pace, agricultural producers in the United States likely will become increasingly reliant on international demand and exports to support domestic prices and farm incomes.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks at Lowest in Weeks

Fuel ethanol inventories fell to a near six-week low last week with draw-downs on the East and Gulf coasts where ethanol can be exported, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday. The EIA said blending demand, however, increased to its highest rate since mid-August.

Fuel ethanol inventories declined by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2%, to an 18.7 million bbl three-week low. There was a year-over-year supply deficit of 1.5 million bbl or 7.4% below a year ago, according to the EIA's weekly petroleum status report for the week-ended Dec. 23. Stocks were at a 13-month low of 18.4 million bbl during the week-ended Nov. 25.

Plant production decreased for the second straight week, down 8,000 bpd or 0.8% to 1.028 million bpd for the week-ended Dec. 23. That was an increase of 37,000 bpd or 3.7% compared to last year. Ethanol production averaged 1.063 million bpd, up 4,000 bpd or 0.4% for the four weeks ended last week.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol, a gauge for demand, rose 17,000 bpd or 1.85% to 935,000 bpd during the week-ended Dec. 23. It is the highest input rate since the week-ended Aug. 12. Year-over-year, refiner and blender inputs were up 28,000 bpd or 3% from 907,000 bpd. Blending demand was up 26,000 bpd or 3.0% to 905,000 bpd, for the four-week average.

Fertilizer Prices Continue Mixed Moves

Retail fertilizer price moves continued to be mixed the third week of December 2016, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Five of the eight major fertilizers showed lower prices from the previous week, although none were lower by a significant amount. The five were DAP with an average price of $432 per ton, MAP $437/ton, 10-34-0 $442/ton, UAN28 $217/ton and UAN32 $255/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly higher. Potash had an average price of $321/ton, urea $336/ton and anhydrous $468/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. All fertilizers are now double digits lower.  Urea is now down 14%, DAP is 17% less expensive, MAP are 19% lower and potash is 21% less expensive. UAN28 is 22% lower while 10-34-0, anhydrous and UAN 32 are all 23% lower compared to a year prior.

USDA Makes it Easier to Transfer Land to the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam today announced that beginning Jan. 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, making it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members. The land that is eligible for the early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP.

This change to the CRP program is just one of many that USDA has implemented based on recommendations from the Land Tenure Advisory Subcommittee formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015. The subcommittee was asked to identify ways the department could use or modify its programs, regulations, and practices to address the challenges of beginning farmers and ranchers in their access to land, capital and technical assistance.

“The average age of principal farm operators is 58,” said Baccam.  “So, land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land is an increasingly important issue for the future of agriculture and a priority for USDA. Access to land remains the biggest barrier for beginning farmers and ranchers.  This announcement is part of our efforts to address some of the challenges with transitioning land to beginning farmers.”

Baccam made the announcement while touring the Joe Dunn farm in Warren County, located in central Iowa near Carlisle. Dunn is the father-in-law to Iowa native and former Marine Aaron White, who with his wife, are prospective candidates for the early termination program.  Baccam was joined by Farm Service Agency Iowa State Executive Director John Whitaker when meeting with Dunn and White.

“The chance to give young farmers a better opportunity to succeed when starting a farming career makes perfect sense,” said Baccam. “There are Conservation Reserve Program acres that are rested and ready to be productive, an original goal of CRP. The technical teams at USDA will tell us which ones can terminate from the program with little impact on the overall conservation efforts. When they do, we’ll be ready to help beginning farmers like military veteran Aaron White.”

Normally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest.  The new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy.  With CRP enrollment close to the Congressionally-mandated cap of 24 million acres, the early termination will also allow USDA to enroll other land with higher conservation value elsewhere.

“Starting the next generation of farmers and ranchers out with conservation and stewardship in mind is another important part of this announcement,” Baccam said.  “The land coming out of CRP will have priority enrollment opportunities with USDA’s working lands conservation programs through cooperation between the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.”

Acres terminated early from CRP under these land tenure provisions will be eligible for priority enrollment consideration into the CRP Grasslands, if eligible; or the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as determined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

According to the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land survey, conducted by USDA in 2014, U.S. farmland owners expect to transfer 93 million acres to new ownership during 2015-2019. This represents 10 percent of all farmland across the nation. Details on the early termination opportunity will be available starting on Jan. 9, 2017, at local USDA service centers. For more information about CRP and to find out if your acreage is eligible for early contract termination, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or go online at

High levels of mycotoxins present in 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis

The Alltech® Mycotoxin Management team analyzed corn, spring wheat, barley and triticale samples from across Canada as part of the 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis. The results indicated a high risk for the presence of mycotoxins in total mixed rations (TMR), distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and silage. On average, 3.8 different mycotoxins were present in the TMR and DDGS samples collected.

The 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis tested 45 TMR samples from across Canada, from June 1 to November 30, at the company’s ISO-accredited Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analytical services laboratory in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The report showed that only 2 percent of the samples contained no mycotoxins. Two percent of the samples contained eight to nine mycotoxins, 20 percent contained six to seven mycotoxins, 29 percent contained four to five mycotoxins, 29 percent contained two to three mycotoxins and 18 percent contained one mycotoxin. Type B trichothecene mycotoxins (including DON) were present in 80 percent of the samples, and fusaric acid was present in more than half.

Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a type B trichothecene mycotoxin and was the most prevalent mycotoxin found in new-crop corn silage as well as spring wheat, barley and triticale samples. High levels of fusaric acid were also present in the samples collected. The combination of DON and fusaric acid can result in a high risk equivalent factor (REQ) that can be toxic to animals. Producers should observe their herd and monitor their animals for poor feed intake as well as reduced milk or meat production.

“Mycotoxin issues aren’t limited to growing regions with contaminated crops,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist for the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team. “Mycotoxins move around quickly and spread contamination, so ensure that you sample your TMR and silage regularly and monitor your animals.”

The Alltech 37+ mycotoxin analysis program can detect the presence of more than 37 different mycotoxins in feed, raw materials and forage. It also provides a risk assessment of the threat mycotoxins present to animals as well as tailored recommendations for your operation, all within two weeks of sample submission. For more information on the Alltech Mycotoxin Management program, visit or contact your local Alltech representative.

Wednesday December 28 Ag News

Preparing the Cow Herd for Cold Weather
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Moisture, high winds, and cold temperatures increase the cow's energy requirements. Cows in an optimal body condition score (BCS 5 to 6) are better able to withstand adverse environmental conditions. As a risk management strategy as we go into the winter, reduce the number of BCS 4 cows and increase the number of BCS 5 cows in your herd.

Another management strategy is to provide cattle with an area that provides wind protection. The lower critical temperature of a beef cow is the lowest temperature a cow can be exposed to before she needs to have changes metabolically to cope with cold stress.

Usually what happens metabolically is cows begin to shiver. These processes require extra energy. Lower critical temperature for beef cows is influenced by hair coat condition (dry or wet/muddy), body condition (thin, moderate, fleshy) and hair coat description. 

As hair coat changes from summer to winter, BCS changes from thin to fleshy, and hair coat changes from wet to dry, the lower critical temperature decreases which means cows can withstand harsher conditions without an increase in energy needs. Magnitude of coldness is equal to Lower Critical Temperature - Wind Chill Index. Energy requirement increase about 1% for each degree of cold stress. As an example, cows that have a heavy winter hair coat that is dry and are in condition score of 5 have a lower critical temperature of 19°F.


Let's say, for the next week temperature is going to be 5°F and the wind out of the North at 15 mph, then the wind chill index is -10° F. At those environmental conditions, Extension Beef Specialists say that energy needs of the herd increases by about 30%.

• If the total digestible nutrients (TDN) requirements of the cows are 12 lb of TDN per head per day for this week, you would consider bumping the ration to 15.5 lb/hd/day. This is an increase in 3.5 pounds of TDN per head per day.

• If grass hay is 57% TDN, that's an increase of about 6 lb/hd/day on a dry matter basis.

• If the hay is 88% dry matter, that would mean each cow receives an additional 7 lb/hd/day.

If these cows were being fed 24 lb/hd/day under current conditions, could they eat 31 lb/hd/day during the harsh weather conditions? For a 1200 pound cow, this calculates to about 2.3% of her body weigh on a dry matter basis, - - so yes, the cows could eat the extra feed needed to maintain body condition.

Be very careful if you plan to use grains (corn) to increase the energy density of the diet during severe conditions as you may do more harm than good. Feeding more than 2-3 lb/hd/day of corn to cows on a forage based diet will decrease fiber digestion. When cows are on a forage-based diet and supplemental energy is needed, consider the use of high energy, non-starch feed stuffs such as distillers grains and soy hulls to meet cow energy requirements. It is not advisable to change rations daily, but if is predicted that weather conditions will be severe over a period of time then ration changes may be warranted.

A webinar titled Caring for Cattle in Cold Weather ( highlights the effects of cold weather on cattle and management practices to help mitigate these effects.

Decline in Ag Economy, Reining in Regulation, and Calls for Tax Reform are Top Agriculture Stories of 2016

The ongoing decline in Nebraska’s agriculture economy is among the top agriculture stories of 2016, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau. Also making the list are a series of actions slowing major federal regulatory proposals widely known to be detrimental to agriculture, and a growing call for tax reform and property tax relief, said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

“One out of every four jobs in Nebraska is generated from agriculture and agriculture businesses. It’s impossible for the state’s broader economy not to feel the impact of a third straight year of decline in farm incomes,” said Nelson. “Whether it’s cattle, corn or everything in between, farmers and ranchers are receiving lower prices for virtually every commodity produced in our state and it appears we are going to be in a down cycle for a while. That’s not good news for farm and ranch families or for the state as a whole.”

The downturn in the ag economy has directly contributed to shortfalls in state revenues that will have the state legislature looking to close a $1.2 billion budget shortfall when they return in January. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projections for profitability on Nebraska farms and ranches in 2016 is expected to drop by nearly half since 2013, declining from $7.5 billion to just over $4 billion.

In addition to falling farm prices, a series of measures to slow excessive and unnecessary regulations on agriculture were noteworthy in 2016.

“The sheer volume of major regulatory initiatives proposed on agriculture has been staggering over the last several years. 2016 was a landmark in that the brakes were put on many major regulations viewed to be unnecessary and damaging to agriculture operations,” said Nelson.

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati validated a previous federal stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. If implemented, the wide reaching regulation could have given the agency more control over activities on private land, including requirements for farmers to obtain federal permits for common farming practices.

In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit leveled a major setback against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which had attempted to implement new restrictions on the handling and storage of anhydrous ammonia, a common fertilizer used in agriculture. The court action required OSHA to start over using the official rulemaking process for implementing changes which would have translated to higher costs and limited farmer and rancher access to the fertilizer product.

“If implemented, these regulations would be damaging to Nebraska farms and ranches. The legal actions supported by Farm Bureau to stop these measures were major wins and we expect positive regulatory reforms under the new Administration,” said Nelson.

The growing call for state tax reform to address property taxes also topped Nebraska Farm Bureau’s list of key stories in 2016.

“2016 is likely to be remembered as the year when momentum for major tax reform in our state began. We heard more from individuals, both inside and outside of our organization, about the need for tax reform to address the property tax burden than ever before,” said Nelson. “The concerns about property taxes came through loud and clear, particularly on election day when voters in Southeast Nebraska soundly rejected a $369 million community college bond measure that would have raised property taxes for farmers, businesses, and homeowners.”

Looking forward into 2017 Nebraska Farm Bureau predicts tax reform to remain on the list of major news items at both the state and national levels.

“In addition to state tax reform, we’re anticipating movement on federal tax reform, including potential action to eliminate the federal estate tax or ‘death tax’,” said Nelson. “We also fully expect movement on several other key issues for agriculture, including broader regulatory reform and healthcare reform. Development of a Farm Bill and trade issues are likely to be making headlines as well.”

Motor Fuels Tax Rate Set for January Through June

The Nebraska motor fuels tax rate for January 1 through June 30, 2017, will be 27.3 cents per gallon, up from 25.8 cents per gallon. The components of the future and current rates include wholesale, variable and fixed rates.

The wholesale tax rate is set depending on the wholesale price of fuel. The variable rate is adjusted to comply with legislative appropriations for roads. The fixed rate is the rate that will increase annually through 2019 as a result of LB 610.

Questions regarding the calculation of the variable percentage rate may be directed to the Nebraska Department of Roads at 402-479-4635. Statistical information regarding motor fuels tax receipts can be found on the Nebraska Department of Revenue's (Department) website under Motor Fuels, and Statistics.

The Petroleum Release Remedial Action Fee is not included in the state motor fuels tax and remains unchanged at 0.9 cents per gallon on motor vehicle fuels and 0.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuels.

Current and historical motor fuels tax rates per gallon can also be found on the Department's website under Motor Fuels, and Fuel Tax Rates. For questions about the motor fuels tax, please contact Motor Fuels Taxpayer Assistance at 800-554-FUEL (800-554-3835) or 402-471-5730.

Avoid Winter Manure Application to Retain Nutrients, Protect Water

For some Iowa livestock producers, manure application is now limited. But all livestock and poultry producers can benefit by avoiding manure application on snow-covered ground.

Runoff and nutrient loss are more likely when manure can't be injected into the soil or incorporated into a field. Freeze and thaw cycles throughout winter can cause nutrients to runoff when snow melts. Keeping nutrients on the fields also protects streams.

For animal producers with totally roofed (confinements) facilities, limits on applying liquid manure on snow-covered ground began Dec. 21. Confinement facilities with 500 or more animal units cannot apply liquid manure on ground covered with an inch or more of snow or 0.5 inch of ice. Generally, 500 animal units is equal to 1,250 finishing hogs; 5,000 nursery pigs; 500 steers, immature dairy cows or other cattle; or 357 mature dairy cows.

Except in emergencies, state law limits liquid manure application from Dec. 21 to April 1 on snow-covered ground unless manure can be properly injected or incorporated. Producers must call the local DNR field office to report emergency applications before they apply.

Starting Feb. 1, liquid manure application on frozen ground is restricted.

While the law affects confinements with liquid manure, open feedlots and poultry producers can help keep manure in place by using common sense and choosing application areas far from a stream, on flat land with little snow cover.

All producers must follow setbacks from certain buildings and environmentally sensitive areas for surface application.

Find more information on separation distances and manure application at Look for recommendations from the Iowa Manure Management Action Group on applying manure in winter at

New Alfalfa Checkoff to Launch in January

A new national alfalfa checkoff program has been created to invest more research dollars into the industry.

National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance President Beth Nelson says there is a need for more research.

"Alfalfa is the nation's third most valuable field crop behind corn and soybeans," Nelson said. "Our acres have been declining and we attribute some of that to the lack of public research. There isn't the same public commitment to research you seen in corn and beans or wheat."

The checkoff rate is $1 for every bag of alfalfa seed sold. Participation by the seed companies is also voluntary.

The checkoff will officially launch January 1, with the first request for research proposals will be made this spring.

CWT Assists with 1.5 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 10 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc., Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 436,515 pounds (198 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 1.049 million pounds (476 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from December 2016 through March 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 50.322 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 12.125 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 21.316 million pounds of whole milk powder to 23 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 892.911 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals and milk equivalent have been adjusted for cancellations.

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 affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

US Farm Equipment Sales, Exports Continue to Decline

Russ Quinn, DTN Staff Reporter

Tough times continue for U.S. farm equipment manufacturers as both domestic and global sales continue to be down compared to a year earlier. In a recent Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Ag Executive Advisor December newsletter, the group released data from November. The number of farm tractors and combines sales is not very good.

Looking at the U.S. numbers, total two-wheel-drive tractors are actually up 8.4% comparing Nov. 2016 to 2015. What is supporting this market is 40 horsepower (hp) tractors and under. This market saw an increase of 22.6% during this time.

"Farm tractors under 40hp reported a growth of 33% in Nov. 2016, compared to the same period last year," the report said. "Year to date, this category has experienced an 11.7% growth."

Tractors from 40hp to 100hp was down 5% while tractors over 100hp were even worse, coming in 27.1% lower compared to last year. The newsletter said tractors in the 40 to 100hp range continue to underperform compared to the previous year, but they straddled the five-year average.

"The relatively strong incomes in the livestock sub-segment that supported demand is expected to become subdued over the next year," the reported added.

Four-wheel drive tractors were also lower, down 4.2% compared to a year earlier. Combine sales fared even worse than tractor sales during this time with sales data showing a 30% drop looking back to November 2015.

The global market for manufacturers is not much better, according to AEM. U.S. farm equipment exports were down 14% overall for the first three quarters of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, for a total $5.1 billion shipped to global markets.

The region with the largest drop off was Asia, down 44% from last year with a total of $440 million. Australia/Oceania was down 30% for a total of $395 million, South America was off 28% with a total of $374 million, Africa dropped 21% to $160 million and Canada was off 15% for a total of $1.5 billion.

Two regions that continue to be growth leaders for U.S. farm equipment manufacturers are Central America and Europe. Central America gained 16% for a total of $978 million while Europe gained 4% for a total of $1.2 billion.

"The ag equipment industry continues to suffer from a global ag downturn in large part to low commodity prices," the newsletter said. "While some counties might benefit from their higher commodity production levels, the U.S. manufacturers are watching from the sidelines as a strong dollar is making them less competitive in the global marketplace."

The AEM stated their outlook for the fourth quarter of 2016 remains subdued as the U.S. dollar is experiencing its longest rally in 16 years.

President Claims another 1.5 Million Acres through Antiquities Act

The Obama administration on Tuesday declared two new monument designations - 1.35 million acres at Bears Ears in Utah and 350,000 acres at Gold Butte in Nevada. Both designations were made unilaterally and despite overwhelming local opposition. Public Lands Council President and Utah rancher Dave Eliason criticized the outgoing administration for both their disregard for local input and the manner in which these latest designations were executed. 

“Designating a monument in this manner – under the cloak of darkness and without even the decency of notifying the local communities, the states, or the congressional delegations of Utah or Nevada – speaks volumes about the disregard this administration has for local input,” said Eliason. “If the administration was proud of this action, they would have touted it proudly yesterday when the designation was made. Instead, the administration hid out while no one impacted by this monument was given the courtesy of a simple phone call until a full day after the papers were signed."

The designations of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada make it the 29th time President Obama has used his executive power under the Antiquities Act, more than any other president before him.

MyPlate, MyWins Helps Americans Turn Resolutions into Real Solutions for Healthy Eating in the New Year

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) launched a New Year’s campaign to help Americans turn their resolutions into real solutions for healthy eating in 2017. This campaign is supported by new and existing MyPlate, MyWins resources available on, which are designed such that Americans can decide where to start on the journey to healthy eating.

“As Americans begin thinking about setting goals for the New Year, MyPlate, MyWins is the place to start,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “With the new resources available on the MyPlate, MyWins webpages, Americans can set small, attainable, healthy eating solutions to incorporate into their lifestyle now and into the future.”

Turning Resolutions into Real Solutions

Every January, Americans are overloaded with information about New Year’s resolutions. While starting with the best intentions, many people set unrealistic resolutions and incorporate goals that are difficult to maintain. Starting with small steps and celebrating milestones along the way are shown to be more beneficial strategies in keeping resolutions. This is where MyPlate, MyWins comes in; MyPlate, MyWins is a resource to help Americans turn resolutions into real solutions to achieve a healthy eating style in alignment with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.

Real solutions are small, practical changes that add up to a healthy lifestyle over time. These changes can be incorporated into Americans’ lives to maintain a healthy eating style based on the five food groups of MyPlate. MyPlate, MyWins encourages consumers to find and celebrate their wins and their real solutions. Since everyone has different eating habits, MyPlate, MyWins helps individuals create their own, personalized nutrition goals and solutions.

New MyPlate, MyWins Animated Video Series

Over the course of five weeks as part of the New Year campaign, CNPP will release five MyPlate, MyWins animated videos to the new Make Small Changes webpage. These short, animated videos demonstrate simple changes Americans can make to their typical meals to decrease sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars. Each video has a different theme including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and beverages.

“Making a small change, for example, switching from two slices of pepperoni pizza for lunch to one slice of veggie pizza, a salad, and an apple decreases sodium and saturated fat intake, while adding items from other food groups,” said Angie Tagtow, Executive Directors of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “The videos demonstrate to Americans that small, healthy changes, or switches, during meal and snack times can add up over time and improve your eating style.”

To supplement these videos, there are new, meal-specific webpages with nutrition information, more examples of small ways to improve typical meals, and five new MyPlate, MyWins tip sheets. The tip sheets provide suggestions for making healthier choices in typical dining environments: potlucks and parties, coffee shops, buffets, Italian restaurants, and Asian cuisine takeout. All of these resources can help consumers utilize real solutions in their typical day to achieve nutrition goals and maintain a healthy eating style now and into the future.

SuperTracker New Year’s Challenge and More Resources

On January 2, 2017, SuperTracker will kick off a public New Year’s Challenge that encourages participants to start slowly and develop a healthy eating style over time. Over five weeks, participants will be challenged to incorporate the five MyPlate food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy – into each day. To officially join the challenge and receive encouraging messages along the way, individuals will need to create a free SuperTracker account.

The MyPlate, MyWins landing page has many additional resources to assist Americans in modifying their meals in order to maintain healthier eating habits throughout their lives. The Stories from Families and Individuals page includes videos from relatable families about their healthy eating solutions and testimonials from the MyPlate staff. There also are ways to get involved for partners, professionals, and consumers. Additionally, CNPP encourages consumers to share their real solutions and wins via Twitter and Facebook using #MyPlateMyWins.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Friday December 23 CoF, H&P, Chicken Reports + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.37 million cattle on feed on December 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 5 percent from last year.  Placements during November totaled 510,000 head, up 16 percent from 2015. Fed cattle marketings for the month of November totaled 445,000 head, up 16 percent from last year.  Other disappearance during November totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 600,000 head on December 1, 2016, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from November 1, 2016, but down 5 percent from December 1, 2015. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 510,000 head on feed, up 1 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,110,000 head, up fractionally from last month but down 6 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November totaled 102,000 head, a decrease of 21 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 68,000 head, down 25 percent from last month and down 42 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 170,000 head, down 23 percent from last month and down 22 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November totaled 100,000 head, up 4 percent from last month but down 7 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 61,000 head, up 13 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 161,000 head, up 7 percent from last month but down 7 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Down 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.7 million head on December 1, 2016. The inventory was 1 percent below December 1, 2015.

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.84 million head, 15 percent above 2015. Net placements were 1.77 million head. During November, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 470,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 490,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 425,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 458,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.79 million head, 17 percent above 2015.  Other disappearance totaled 69,000 head during November, 13 percent below 2015.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2016, was 3.40 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 3 percent from December 1, 2015, but down 4 percent from September 1, 2016.

Breeding hog inventory, at 415,000 head, was down 1 percent from December 1, 2015, and down 1 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 2.99 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, but down 5 percent from last quarter.

The September - November 2016 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.09 million head, was up 4 percent from 2015. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, unchanged from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record 11.60 for the September - November period, compared to 11.15 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 185,000 sows during the December 2016 – February 2017 quarter, up 6 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for March – May 2017 are 185,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On December 1, 2016, there were a record high 22.4 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The December 1 inventory was up 1 percent from the previous quarter and up 7 percent from the previous year.

The September-November quarterly pig crop was 6.10 million head, up 11 percent from the previous quarter and up 5 percent from last year. A total of 560,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.9 for the September-November quarter, just below last quarter’s record high 11.0 pigs saved per litter.

As of December 1, producers planned to farrow 520,000 sows and gilts in the December 2016-February 2017 quarter and 520,000 head during the March-May 2017 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 4 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2016 was 71.5 million head. This was up 4 percent from December 1, 2015, and up slightly from September 1, 2016.  Breeding inventory, at 6.09 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 65.4 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up slightly from last quarter.

The September-November 2016 pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 5 percent from 2015. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.04 million head, up 4 percent from 2015. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 51 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.63 for the September-November period, compared to 10.53 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.20 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.70 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.97 million sows farrow during the December-February 2017 quarter, up 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2016, and up 3 percent from 2015. Intended farrowings for March-May 2017, at 3.00 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2016, and up 5 percent from 2015.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 46 percent last year.


All layers in Nebraska during November 2016 totaled 8.96 million, up from 6.64 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.   Nebraska egg production during November totaled 223 million eggs, up from 147 million in 2015. November egg production per 100 layers was 2,493 eggs, compared to 2,220 eggs in 2015.


Iowa egg production during November 2016 was 1.30 billion eggs, down slightly from last month, but up 73 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during November 2016 was 54.5 million, up 2 percent from last month, and up 52 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for November were 2,377, down 2 percent from last month, but up 14 percent from last year.

November Egg Production Up 10 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.53 billion during November 2016, up 10 percent from last year. Production included 7.44 billion table eggs, and 1.09 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.01 billion were broiler-type and  81.0 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during November 2016 averaged 367 million, up 7 percent from last year. November egg production per 100 layers was 2,328 eggs, up 3 percent from November 2015.
All layers in the United States on December 1, 2016 totaled 369 million, up 6 percent from last year. The 369 million layers consisted of 312 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 53.6 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.49 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on December 1, 2016, averaged 77.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 3 percent from December 1, 2015.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 7 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during November 2016 totaled 42.5 million, down 7 percent from November 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 46.1 million on December 1, 2016, down 4 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 270 thousand during November 2016, up 24 percent from November 2015.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 4 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during November 2016 totaled 760 million, up 4 percent from November 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 659 million on December 1, 2016, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.71 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during November 2016, up 7 percent from November 2015.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               How do you find information about on-going Nebraska research, education opportunities, or management recommendations for rangeland, pastures, or forages?  Try

      is a new website recently developed to help provide guidance towards the effective production, use, and enhancement of the grassland and forage resources of Nebraska.  The site describes the many and diverse research programs undertaken by faculty at the University of Nebraska in subjects such as rangeland ecology and management, grazing, fire ecology, forage crops and pasture, bioenergy, wildlife habitat, and integrated crop-livestock systems.

               The website also describes some of the educational opportunities at the University.  In particular, it focuses on the two majors involved with grass and grazinglands, specifically the Grazing Livestock Systems Major and the Grassland Ecology and Management Major.

               One of the best features of, in my opinion, is the extension and outreach section.  It contains nearly one hundred different Extension Circulars and NebGuides as well as over forty magazine and on-line newsletter articles written by Nebraska extension specialists to specifically answer questions related to your farm and ranch management challenges.  These articles are divided into eighteen separate categories to make it quick and easy for you to find the information most useful to your situation.

               Not only that, there is a link that allows you to listen to every one of these Hay and Forage Minutes for the past year, just in case you missed one or want to hear it again.

       That’s all one word – no spaces.  Check it out today.

Save on Gas This Holiday Season by Filling Up with Super Duper E15

Due to agreements by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), gas prices are expected to rise this holiday season. In some Midwestern states, prices have risen as much as 28 percent from previous weeks. In Iowa, prices for unleaded gas remain around $2.21 compared to $2.08 a month ago. Before you cancel that holiday road trip to see Grandma, consider fueling up with E15, the best value, higher-octane fuel made from 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.

Iowa corn farmers have launched a new communications campaign to educate consumers on E15, calling the fuel, ’Super Duper Unleaded’ which refers to the fact E15 contains five percentage points more ethanol than E10, also known as Super Unleaded. “Many consumers get to the pump and automatically reach for Super Unleaded because it’s the cheapest fuel, without realizing Super Duper E15 can save them even more money,” said Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon. “Although E15 is the best value, many believe you must own a flex-fuel vehicle to use it, which isn’t the case. The ‘Super Duper Unleaded’ campaign is a fun and lighthearted way to let everyone know E15 is very similar to Super Unleaded — but even better. It’s ‘Super Duper.’”

E15 is the most tested fuel in history, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the fuel for use in all model year 2001 and newer vehicles, including cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). This approved group of vehicles includes more than 80 percent of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today.

“E15 is a good thing for consumers, retailers, and the state of Iowa,” explained Klever. “Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from Iowa corn that is cleaner burning. And when you use E15 at the pump, it saves you money, supports Iowa jobs and lessens America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

E15 is currently offered in 23 states, including 70 stations in Iowa. E15 has a higher-octane content, which means more power. It also burns cooler and cleaner, reducing carbon emissions and engine wear. NASCAR has traveled more than six million miles on E15, starting with the 2011 racing season, and NASCAR drivers and mechanics give the fuel high marks for power and durability. The combination of performance and lower price make E15 a great value.

Go to for a chance to win $50 in American Ethanol, to learn more about E15 and the benefits of ethanol and to locate local retailers near you.


 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted some of the top ag issues in Iowa in 2016.

“Iowa farmers saw record production for both corn and soybeans again in 2016, however low prices are making profitability a real challenge on both the crop and livestock side.  Despite the economic challenges, farmers are by nature optimistic and we continue to see investments in the future and new and innovative technologies that will allow them to be even more productive while also reducing environmental impact,” Northey said.

Record Production, Economic Challenges

Much of Iowa had a nearly ideal growing season that saw Iowa farmers produce record corn and soybean crops again this year.

Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.69 billion bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production report. This surpasses last year’s record of 2.51 billion bushels. The statewide average yield is expected to be a record setting 199.0 bushels per acre, 7.0 bushels per acre higher than the previous record that was set last year.

Soybean production is forecast at 561 million bushels for Iowa. If realized, this will be the largest crop on record, 6.80 million bushels above last year’s record high. The statewide yield forecast is 59.0 bushels per acre, 2.5 bushels more than the previous record set last year.

However, the significant drop in crop prices over the past few years has made it a very challenging time on the farm economically as in many cases current prices are below the cost of production for farmers.  Average statewide corn prices fell from $3.37 to $3.008 from November 2015 to Nov. 2016.  Statewide average soybean prices have recovered somewhat from $8.14 to $9.25 from Nov. 2015 to Nov. 2016, but in many cases are still below the cost of production.

It has also been a challenging year economically for Iowa livestock farmers.  Cattle prices have continued to fall and were at $101 per hundred weight in October, down from $128 per hundred weight last year and $161 two years ago.   Hog prices are also down from $55.50 in Oct. 2015 to $41.70 in Oct. 2016.

Iowa egg production has recovered from the devastating highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak that resulted in the depopulation of more than 30 million Iowa laying hens last year.  Iowa egg production in October 2016 was 1.30 billion eggs, up 3 percent from last month, and up 71 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during October 2016 was 53.7 million, up 1 percent from last month, and up 55 percent from last year.  However, egg prices have fallen dramatically, from $1.26 per dozen in October of 2015 to just $.21 per dozen in October of this year.

The tighter margins seen on the farm are starting to ripple through the economy.  Land prices are down 5.9 percent over the past year.  There have been several announcements of layoffs and mergers by manufactures, machinery providers, seed companies, and other business that serve the agriculture industry.

Despite the challenges, opportunities remain.  In general, exports remain strong.  Agricultural exports account for 10% of the U.S. exports and supports nearly one million jobs across the country.

To help continue to grow exports, Northey participated in trade missions with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and USDA to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ukraine and Romania.

Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is continuing to expand efforts to work with all Iowans to make water quality improvements.

Earlier this year Northey announced that 1,900 farmers committed $3.8 million in cost share funds to install nutrient reduction practices in 97 counties in Iowa.  Eligible practices include cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include 900 first-time participants and more than 1,000 past users that are trying cover crops again and receive a reduced cost share rate.

There are also currently 45 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative.  This includes 16 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 22 urban water quality demonstration projects.  More than 100 organizations are participating in these projects.  These partners will provide $19.31 million dollars to go with over $12 million in state funding going to these projects.

Nearly $350 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices built without government assistance.

More information about the initiative can be found at

Fueling our Future

Through the “Fueling our Future 100” initiative, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Northey have announced that 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.

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.

“Thanks to the investments made by the state, the federal government and by these companies, customers will have greater access to higher blends of renewable fuels. This will increase consumer choice at the pump and allow them to increase the amount of clean burning, homegrown renewable fuels they use,” Northey said.  “The ‘Fueling our Future 100’ initiative, along with the EPA’s recent announcement of the RFS levels for next year, is good news for customers, the renewable fuels industry and our energy independence.”

Northey’s 99 county tour turns 10

In November, Northey completed his 10th 99 county tour of Iowa.  Northey has visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year since taking office in 2007.

“Visiting each county every year has been enjoyable and invaluable for me to better understand the diversity and scale of Iowa agriculture and also the passion and commitment of our state’s farmers.  Getting out to our rural communities; visiting farms, businesses, schools and community meetings; and listening to a wide variety of Iowans is important for all elected officials as we seek to serve the people of our great state,” Northey said.

November 2016 USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies on November 30, 2016 in freezers were down 8 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down slightly from the previous month but up 4 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 13 percent from the previous month and down 7 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 8 percent from last month and down 54 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2016 were down 13 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 10 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 40 percent from last month but up 25 percent from November 30, 2015.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on November 30, 2016 were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 3 percent from November 30, 2015.  Butter stocks were down 29 percent from last month but up 21 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 4 percent from last month but up 17 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 2 percent from last month but up 4 percent from a year ago.

Production Growth, Overseas Competition Demands Transportation Investment

In the aftermath of another historic soybean harvest, U.S. farmers continue to demonstrate their ability to respond to growing demand from domestic and international customers. However, this increased production requires a corresponding increase in transportation capacity to ensure the industry, and the individual farmer, remain profitable.  A recent study funded by the soybean checkoff offers warning that future production increases, along with infrastructure improvements by South American competitors, could suppress the profitability of the U.S. soybean industry.

“Transportation infrastructure gives U.S. farmers a significant competitive advantage over our international competitors, but without investment, we won’t enjoy that advantage for long,” said Mark Seib, a soybean farmer from Poseyville, Indiana, and director on the United Soybean Board. “We need to focus on investing in our infrastructure now to position ourselves for a competitive and profitable future.”

The study, “Farm to Market – A Soybean’s Journey,” is an expansion of the original 2012 report that highlights how soybeans are transported to domestic and international customers.  In addition to documenting the volume of total U.S. soybeans transported across the various modes, the report provides transportation profiles of 26 individual states – an expansion from the 17 states featured in the 2012 study.  The 26 states profiled account for 97 percent of soybeans transported in the country.  The research was funded by the soybean checkoff and performed by Informa Economics.

Some of the key findings of the study include:

-    Rail carloadings of soybeans will increase 20 percent to approximately 240,000 rail cars by the year 2023.  Barge loadings will increase 32 percent to over 21,000.
-    China, the leading international customer for U.S. soybeans, will continue to import larger volumes. China’s annual soybean net imports increased by 24 million metric tons (882 million bushels) from 2006 through 2010.  From 2010 through 2023, Chinese soybean net imports are expected to increase an additional 74 million metric tons (2.7 billion bushels) to 126 million metric tons (4.6 billion bushels).
-    Soybean production in Brazil, the second leading producer worldwide, is expected to exceed 129 million metric tons (4.7 billion bushels) by 2023, up from 87 million metric tons (3.2 billion bushels) in 2013.
-    Exports of soybeans from Brazil will expand to exceed 74 million metric tons (2.7 billion bushels) in 2023 from 45 million metric tons (1.7 billion bushels) in 2013.
-    Infrastructure improvements in Brazil are estimated to reduce freight costs between 20 and 30 percent or $40 per metric ton.  Such an improvement would result in Brazil’s inland transportation costs to be nearly equivalent to those in the U.S.

Lower transportation costs have historically served as one of the key sources of competitive advantage for the U.S. soybean industry.  While many previously planned infrastructure investments in Brazil have not come to fruition, if even a percentage of such investments are realized, the competitiveness of the U.S. soybean industry will be diminished.

“While it is very difficult to establish a precise forecast for our industry in a very uncertain and turbulent marketplace, it is important to scan the horizon to better understand the potential future demands on our transportation system as well as the efforts by our competitors to improve their efficiency,” explains Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.  “The time to plan for infrastructure improvements is before you experience the bottleneck, not after it.  Keeping our finger on the pulse of how soybeans get from the farm to our ultimate customers is essential as we promote a transportation system that helps farmers remain profitable.”

In addition to providing a forecast for future production and transportation demand, the report provides data in the following areas:

-    Status and outlook for the livestock industry – both nationally and in the 26 featured states
-    Rail transportation: Number of carloadings; Average distance moved; Leading origination and destination areas; Capacity
-    Barge transportation: Percentages moved by various rivers; Commodities transported; Average distances moved per commodity; Capacity per barge
-    Overview of current and future state of infrastructure development in Brazil
-    Storage capacity – both nationally and in the 26 featured states

“Great nations, as well as great industries, continue to invest in themselves,” explains Steenhoek.  “Investing in infrastructure should not be an isolated incident.  It needs to be perpetual.  By issuing this report, it is our hope that we will increase attention and focus on the importance of investing in our economy and industry to enable us to remain competitive in the 21st century.”

The STC Farm to Market Analysis provides vital information to shape and support the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) ongoing efforts to educate policymakers on the importance of increasing investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Soybean exports provide a significant and positive contribution to our trade balance and transportation is key. ASA supports increased funding for infrastructure, particularly for the ageing and decaying inland waterways infrastructure. Lower transportation costs have historically served as one of the key sources of competitive advantage for the U.S. soybean industry.

The full results of the study can be accessed at or

Soy Growers Urge Vice President-elect to Nominate Ag Experts to CFTC

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and other ag organizations earlier this week urged Vice President-elect Mike Pence to quickly fill the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) vacancies with individuals well versed in agriculture commodity markets and issues.

In a letter, industry groups pointed to the opportunity of President-elect Donald Trump to make nominations for the vacancies existing since 2014-15.

“As you know, with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFTC has taken on much more responsibility for overseeing financial markets than in the past. This has led to a makeup of the Commission that largely reflects backgrounds and experience in the financial sector,” the letter states. “Historically, however, there have always been Commissioners who understood agricultural futures markets, as well as the policy issues that impact the agricultural sector.”

The groups said the industry appreciates the efforts of the sitting commissioners to learn the industry, but representation is vital for the ag futures markets.

“We respectfully request that President-Elect Trump, with the consent of the U.S. Senate, ensures the CFTC has at least one Commissioner with a background in, and familiarity with, issues important to production agriculture and agribusiness. We appreciate your consideration,” the group states in the letter.

Lenders expect financial stress to worsen for farmers, ranchers

According to a recent study of lenders, financial stress on farmers is expected to continue for some time.

“Our research indicates a continued deterioration in agricultural credit conditions,” said Allen Featherstone, head of the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics.

The 2016 Fall Agricultural Lender Survey by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics and the University of Georgia studies the expectations of lenders in regard to interest rates, spread over cost of funds, farm-loan volume, nonperforming loans and land values as indicators of the overall health of the farm finance sector.

According to the twice-a-year study, more than 50 percent of land values are decreasing within the areas covered by participating lenders. These values are set to continue to decrease over the short- and long term and are affecting credit limits for landowners and producers. Non-performing loans are also on the rise for all loan types, and expectations show the number of these loans will continue to increase in this stressed financial market.

The survey indicates the decreased liquidity in production operations has increased demand for farm loans and, in particular, operating loans in attempts to bridge the gap of the current fiscal downturn. Making matters worse, interest rates on those loans are expected to increase and continue to rise over time.

These problems aren’t isolated to just one crop. They are spreading into every aspect of farming. “Both the livestock sectors and the crop sectors are struggling meeting cash-flow issues,” said Featherstone.

25 Congressional Members Question Plant-Based "Milk" Label

(AP) -- Got milk? Twenty-five bipartisan members of Congress say if it's from soybeans, almond or rice, it should not be labeled as milk.

Democratic Vermont Rep. Peter Welch and Republican Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, leading the charge against "fake milk," signed a letter along with other Congressional members, asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate and take action against manufacturers of "milk" that doesn't come from cows.

They want the FDA to require plant-based products to adopt a more appropriate name, other than milk, which they say is deceptive.

"We strongly believe that the use of the term 'milk' by manufacturers of plant-based products is misleading to consumers, harmful to the dairy industry and a violation of milk's standard of identity," the letter states.

Dairy farmers are struggling with "deep cuts in income" following a 40-percent drop in milk prices since 2014, the members of Congress say. The forecast is for prices to remain low. In recent years, the sale of plant-based products, often labeled as milk, has jumped in recent years, the letter states.

They say milk has a clear standard of identity: "obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows," among other qualities.

"While consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, it is misleading and illegal for manufacturers of these items to profit from the 'milk' name," the letter states. "These products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled."

The Soyfoods Association of North America said the term "soymilk" has been used on products for over 100 years. It asked the FDA in 1997 to recognize the one-word name "soymilk" but that the FDA has not made a decision on the petition.

The FDA said Friday that it had received the Dec. 16 letter and planned to respond directly to lawmakers.