Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday April 28 Ag News

Moving Late Calving Cows Up in the Breeding Season
Bethany Johnston & Jay Jenkins, NE Extension Beef Educators

As the end of the calving season nears for many cattlemen, the last few cows in the heavy pen seem to last forever. Those late calvers are doing more than dragging out the calving season. They are costing you money. Their young calves are usually lighter at weaning, late calving cows usually rebreed later or not at all.

How can you move up a late calving cow in the breeding season? The answer is a CIDR. CIDR stands for Controlled Intravaginal Drug Release device. It is inserted into the cow’s vagina, where it releases the hormone progesterone. CIDRs are a common estrus synchronization tool, but they can also be used to bring cows into heat before she would normally come into heat on her own.

In order for this to work, you should insert the CIDR no sooner than 20 days after calving. The uterus must shrink back to its original size for reproduction to occur. Recovery takes time-imagine something holding a 90 pound calf needing to shrink to the size of a volleyball. Trying to “jump start” the cycle with a CIDR (progesterone device) too early after calving could result in less than desired pregnancy results.

If you plan to use natural service breeding insert a CIDR for 7 days, then remove the CIDR on day 7, and give an injection of prostaglandin. Bulls can be immediately be placed with the cows. There is no need for extra bulls, a bull to cow ratio of 1:25 should be sufficient. However, all bulls should have a breeding soundness exam by a veterinarian. Young bulls may require special attention and a higher bull to cow ratio.

This protocol requires two cattle handlings and will cost around $15 for the CIDR and prostaglandin.

Since the CIDR will synchronize estrus you could also use artificial insemination (A.I.). If you choose to A.I. you need to add a GnRH injection at the CIDR insertion, leave the CIDR in for 7 days, and inject prostaglandin when you remove the CIDR.

If you plan to A.I. it would be worth your time to look over the different estrus synchronization protocols at: or visit with your A.I. representative or Extension Educator. Choose a system that works best for you. Any of the 7-day CIDR protocols will “jump start” the estrus cycle. The “recipe” for each system should be followed exactly- no guessing or giving late injections!

Cows should be in good condition, a body condition score of 5 or greater at the time of calving, and maintaining or gaining weight after calving through breeding. Cows maintaining or gaining weight are more likely to conceive and sustain a pregnancy than cows losing weight.

It will cost a little money and take some extra work, but it is possible to move those late calving cows up.

New Bill Would Help Get More Vets Practicing in Shortage Areas

A recently introduced bill to increase grants that encourage veterinarians to practice in veterinary shortage areas has the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation.  The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (S. 487, H.R. 1268) would eliminate the withholding tax on grants awarded under the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which provides grants to veterinary school graduates who agree to work for three years in underserved areas.

“Many farmers and ranchers operate in areas that lack adequate veterinary services for their livestock. Expansion of the VMLRP will not only help to improve the health of farm animals but will contribute to the safety of our food supply,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Sens. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Reps. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the Senate and House sponsors of the bill.

Animal Disease Response Training in Nebraska, Kansas

A Kansas State University center is offering training to help local and state emergency responders prepare for something they hope never happens: a serious animal disease outbreak.

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center conducted six animal disease response training sessions in Nebraska in April and is offering two sessions in Kansas in May. The training will be offered in Manhattan on May 9 and in Ottawa on May 11. Registration is available at Each one-day session is an awareness-level course designed to cover many aspects of foreign animal disease response, including biosecurity, quarantine, cleaning and disinfection, depopulation and disposal, and proper use of personal protective equipment.

The training targets nontraditional agricultural first responders such as firefighters, public health officials, law enforcement and emergency medical technicians as well as veterinarians and others. Bringing many professions together helps individuals better understand their roles in the response to an animal disease outbreak, said Ken Burton, program director at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.

"A lot of the traditional human response personnel don't recognize their potential role in a high-consequence animal disease outbreak," Burton said. "They feel they wouldn't be involved, but the idea behind the class is to make people understand it doesn't matter what your role in the community -- what your day job might be -- the whole community is going to be involved in responding to and be affected by an animal disease outbreak."

Chelsea Kramer, emergency response coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, attended all six training sessions and said she would like to see more animal disease response training in Nebraska.

"The training gives nontraditional responders an opportunity to see the response as a whole so when they are asked to set up roadblocks or do traffic control or other pieces, they know why they are being asked -- they know what the purpose is," Kramer said.

Kramer said robust response plans are important.

"In Nebraska, our state's economy is driven by agriculture," Kramer said. "To protect Nebraskans' way of life, we need to respond to emergencies in a timely and effective manner."

Animal disease response training is designed within the Incident Command System framework and is listed in the Federal Emergency Management Agency state and federal catalog. Emergency responders and veterinarians who complete the course will be eligible for continuing education credit.

The training includes presentations, and then concludes with a tabletop exercise during which individuals consider their responses to a scenario and then discuss how they would work together. Burton said responses to the training have been favorable.

"The scope, size and overall effect of an animal disease outbreak are eye-opening," he said. "Law enforcement realizes it's so much bigger than just a checkpoint. The comments are almost all positive."

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center is working to schedule animal disease response training sessions in northwest and southwest Kansas later this year.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted Soil and Water Conservation Week, which runs from April 30 to May 7.  The week is an opportunity to recognize the important conservation practices placed on Iowa’s landscape and bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state’s soil and water resources.

“Iowans in our towns and on our farms continue to engage in water quality and soil conservation efforts.  This week is an opportunity to celebrate all the work that has been done and highlight the efforts currently underway to prevent erosion and improve water quality,” Northey said.  “It is vital that we preserve the soil and water resources that help make Iowa agriculture so productive and such a key driver of our state’s economy.”

On Thursday, May 4 Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Northey will visit a farm in the Big Creek watershed where four saturated buffers were installed last fall and a bioreactor and oxbow restoration project will be built later this year.  Branstad will also sign a proclamation recognizing April 30 – May 7 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week during the event.  The farm is located at 2155 290th Street, Madrid.

On Wednesday, May 3, there will be a field day and ribbon cutting ceremony for a number of urban water quality projects that have been installed in Rockwell City. The projects, undertaken by the City, will capture stormwater and utilize innovative methods to remove contaminants and improve the quality of the runoff prior to its discharge into the storm sewer system.  The events will start at 9 a.m. with a tour at Featherstone Park (large camping cabin on south end) and will also include a ribbon cutting for the downtown square improvement project at 11:30 a.m. at the Rockwell City Town Square.

Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is in coordination with the National Stewardship Week, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts.  This year’s Stewardship Week theme is “Healthy Soils are Full of Life.” More information about the activities that will be held during Soil and Water Conservation Week in Iowa can be found at

Trump Threatens to Terminate ‘KORUS’

In a recent interview, President Donald Trump threatened to terminate a trade agreement with South Korea, which he referred to as a “horrible deal that’s left America destroyed.” A Washington Post article says Trump sharply criticized the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea, known as “KORUS,” which was most recently ratified in 2011. “It’s a Hillary Clinton disaster, a deal that should never have been made,” Trump said, “it’s a one-way street.”

South Korea is the sixth-largest trading partner with the U.S. However, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says America’s trade deficit with Korea was $27.7 billion last year. The week of May first marks an anniversary for the trade deal, which triggers a review period that could lead to renegotiation or termination of the deal by either side.

The president says the process to terminate KORUS is much simpler than the process for NAFTA. “With NAFTA, if we terminate tomorrow, it ends in six months.” Trump says, “With KORUS if we terminate, it’s over.” South Korea’s Trade Ministry told the Associated Press it has no plans to renegotiate the deal.


NPPC Newsletter

The Trump administration is considering withdrawing from the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement, citing America’s trade deficit with the Asian nation. The trade deal was ratified in 2011 and is set for a review. On his recent trip to South Korea, Vice President Pence said the United States would like to “reform” the agreement.

The National Pork Producers Council, which was a strong supporter of the trade pact, is hopeful the administration will “modernize” rather than withdraw from KORUS. South Korea is the No. 5 market for U.S. pork exports; the U.S. pork industry shipped more than $365 million of product to South Korea.

Florida Teacher Calls Ag Students “Murderers”

A Florida teacher is on the verge of losing his job after bullying and harassing FFA students that were raising livestock to be sold for slaughter. An Associated Press article says Thomas Allison, Jr., who teaches middle school at the Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, has been placed on unpaid leave. A Marion County School District letter documenting the case notes that he called students who are raising livestock “murderers.”

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier has written a recommendation of termination. The recommendation states that Allison, “has engaged in a repeated, egregious pattern of mistreating, ridiculing, insulting, intimidating, embarrassing bullying and abusing FFA students, crushing their dreams and causing them to feel that they must discontinue FFA activities to enjoy a peaceful school environment."

A local newspaper reported that Allison is accused of harassing the FFA group’s teacher/adviser, as well as encouraging his honors science students to harass FFA members. A direct investigation says Allison is on a mission to eradicate the animal agriculture program because of his animal rights beliefs.

Allison adds that he won’t stop speaking up against animal agriculture and will fight for his job at an upcoming hearing before the school board.


NPPC Newsletter

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., this week introduced legislation to make the regulatory process more transparent and “fair.” The “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017” would require agencies during the rulemaking process to issue a simple notice that explains the problem they intend to address and allows the public to weigh in on the need for the regulation and on options agencies should consider. Agencies also would be required to use the “best reasonably available” scientific, technical and economic information in putting a regulation together, and they would need to conduct cost-benefit analyses on rules and adopt the most cost-effect regulation. The legislation also would improve agency use of guidance documents and ensure agencies don’t use such documents as a way avoid the public input required to write new rules. Additionally, the measure would expand and strengthen retrospective review requirements so that agencies regularly assess whether rules are meeting their objectives.

ICBA Supports Bill Offering Tax Relief for Rural Lending

The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today expressed support for legislation to support farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners by providing tax relief for agricultural and rural residential lending. The Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), would promote access to credit and reduce borrowing costs amid the current environment of weak commodities prices.

“ICBA strongly supports the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act to help community banks offer lower rates to certain rural borrowers and homeowners, which will help revive rural economies threatened by low commodities prices,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “This legislation will help farmers and rural communities remain viable during a challenging economic environment as community banks will receive greater flexibility to serve producers and the rural housing market. The legislation will also allow community banks to provide lower loan rates so they operate on a more level playing field and can compete with other rural lenders that already utilize these benefits.”

While farmers enjoyed robust prices for their commodities earlier this decade, the current sag in farm prices has reduced net farm income from $123 billion in 2013 to a projected $62.3billion this year. Meanwhile, strict mortgage and appraisal regulations are driving lenders out of rural mortgage lending, curtailing access to credit, and threatening the rural housing market.

Under the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act, the interest received on farm loans secured by agricultural real estate would not be taxable. The bill would provide similar relief to interest on loans secured by rural single-family homes that are the principal residence of the borrower in towns with a population of less than 2,500. Together, these provisions will offer community bankers greater flexibility to work with farmers who may have trouble servicing their debt while giving lenders a strong incentive to remain in the rural farming and housing markets.

As espoused in its Plan for Prosperity regulatory relief platform, ICBA supports targeted tax relief for community bank lending consistent with advantages enjoyed by other lenders serving the same markets.

ACE urges ethanol advocates to participate in EPA regulatory reform comment period

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) submitted a public comment focused on its ethanol priorities soon after EPA formally began seeking input on existing regulations to be reviewed by its newly established Regulatory Reform Task Force. The Task Force was formed in response to Executive Order 13777 to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding those that can be repealed, replaced and modified to make them less burdensome.

Following the organization’s comment submission, ACE is now encouraging ethanol advocates to submit their own comments to EPA's regulatory reform effort.

Ethanol advocates are urged to address the following topics when submitting comments to EPA. 
 ·    Allow Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 and higher ethanol blends. 
 ·    Update the lifecycle analysis of corn ethanol.
 ·    Modify EPA's mistaken interpretation of Section 211(f) of the Clean Air Act, because it currently limits the concentration of ethanol in fuel without cause. 
 ·    Streamline the approval process for high-octane fuels such as E25-40 blends. 
 ·    Adjust fuel economy (CAFE) compliance to allow flex fuel vehicles to utilize the same incentives that are provided to other alternative vehicles. 
 ·    Discontinue use of the MOVES2014 emissions model until a new emissions study based on real-world test fuels and methods is conducted. 

“It’s imperative for advocates of this industry to take advantage of the opportunity to provide input to the Trump Administration on the kind of regulations that are limiting ethanol’s ability to grow in the marketplace,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president. “This is a golden opportunity for the Trump EPA to hear directly from those in rural communities—farmers, ethanol producers, retailers and others—who can share their personal experiences on how certain regulations are holding them back.”

The comment period is open through May 15.

CNH Announces First Quarter Financial Results

CNH Industrial N.V. announced consolidated revenues of $5.6 billion for the first quarter of 2017, up 5.8% compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Net sales of Industrial Activities were $5.3 billion in the first quarter of 2017, up 6.1% compared to the first quarter of 2016. Reported net income was $49 million for the first quarter of 2017.

Operating profit of Industrial Activities was $219 million for the first quarter of 2017, a $41 million increase compared to the first quarter of 2016, with an operating margin of 4.1%, up 0.6 p.p. compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Agricultural Equipment's net sales increased 10.5% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of 2016, as a result of a strong rebound in demand in LATAM and the continuation of positive market momentum in APAC. Revenue in NAFTA and EMEA were flat to slightly down due to a weak demand environment, partially mitigated by positive pricing.

Thursday April 27 Ag News

Pocket Field Guide Available for Nebraska Soybean and Corn Growers

Nebraska farmers have a handy new resource to help them diagnose potential problems in their soybean and corn fields. The Nebraska Soybean & Corn Pocket Field Guide provides photos and facts to help farmers make an initial identification of problems they may encounter during the growing season. The guide was produced by a team of University of Nebraska researchers, and funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB), Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the United Soybean Board (USB).

The field guide is intended to be a resource farmers can carry with them when scouting crops. If they find signs of injury or disease they can quickly research potential causes of the damage. The guide also helps farmers identify unfamiliar weeds or pests. When problems are encountered, farmers are encouraged to confirm their initial diagnosis with their local extension agent or by sending samples to the UNL Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic. The guide also provides helpful information on crop management topics such as climate, soil, water use and crop development phases.

NSB Chairman Tony Johanson of Oakland spearheaded the effort to produce the field guide. Johanson is a master seed advisor for Central Valley Ag and has used a field guide from Purdue University for several years. He wanted a guide created specifically for Nebraska farmers. “I always felt funny giving farmers a field guide with information from Indiana,” said Johanson.

He says it’s also a way to demonstrate the value of the Soybean Checkoff. The Nebraska Soybean Board partners with the University of Nebraska on a number of research projects. UNL Professor Emeritus Jim Specht has conducted much of that research, and he co-authored the Nebraska Soybean & Corn Pocket Field Guide. “This is a way to put the University of Nebraska’s leading ag research into farmers’ hands, where it can help them in their fields,” said Johanson. “It’s valuable information specific to conditions faced by farmers in Nebraska.”

The Nebraska Soybean & Corn Pocket Field Guide is available free of charge by contacting NSB through their website,, or by calling 402-441-3240.


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) entered into an agreement with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District to help farmers improve irrigation water management, reduce soil erosion and install conservation practices through the Lower Elkhorn Water and Soil Conservation Initiative. This Initiative is available through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Producers in the northeast Nebraska 15-county Initiative area (see map) originally had until mid-October to apply, but the sign up has been extended to June 16, 2017. Producers should visit one of the NRCS offices located in the Initiative area to apply.

Robin Sutherland, District Conservationist in the Stanton NRCS field office said, “This Initiative is a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to receive financial and technical assistance to make their operations more productive and sustainable.”

Through the Initiative, NRCS and the Lower Elkhorn NRD work together to provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers apply soil and water conservation practices like flow meters, irrigation water management, nutrient management, as well as adopt soil health practices like no-till and cover crops on eligible cropland.

For more information about the RCPP and other conservation programs available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service center or

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding President Trump’s Action to Renegotiate, Not Withdraw, from NAFTA

“President Trump’s decision to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico versus completely withdrawing from the trade compact is clearly the right decision. Stepping away from a trade agreement that has a proven track record of creating jobs and generating billions of dollars for Nebraska agriculture and the state’s broader economy would be a mistake of epic proportions.”

“While we understand the President’s desire to work to secure better trade deals for America, it is imperative that new negotiations do not jeopardize arrangements within NAFTA that benefit Nebraska agriculture. Today, roughly 30 percent of farm income is generated from international trade, with NAFTA being a major contributor. We will watch these negotiations closely to make sure any renegotiations do not come at the expense of provisions that benefit Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.”

ASA Welcomes President Trump’s Decision to Focus on NAFTA Modernization

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed an announcement from President Donald Trump late Wednesday that the United States would remain a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The announcement came following reports that the White House was readying an executive order to withdraw from the agreement, prompting significant concern and swift action from ASA and other farm groups that recognize the importance of NAFTA and agreements like it. Instead, the White House announced that it will engage with Canada and Mexico in a renegotiation of the major trade pact, which has significantly benefitted soybean producers.

“We are relieved by the president’s decision that the United States will work on improving the NAFTA rather than withdrawing from it, and we will continue to closely monitor negotiations as they move forward,” said ASA President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill. “When you’re talking about $3 billion in soybean exports a year, any threats to withdraw from agreements and walk away from markets makes farmers extremely nervous. We remain supportive of efforts to modernize NAFTA and further expand access for U.S. soy in Mexico and Canada, and we look forward to working with the administration to realize these goals.”

Moore used the situation to underscore the importance of having key administration personnel like Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in place, and called on the Senate to swiftly confirm Ambassador Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative.

“It is clear that Secretary Perdue clearly sees the link between increased access to global markets and success for American farmers,” said Moore. “We are grateful that he was sworn in this week and had the opportunity to provide advice on the NAFTA decision. As we move forward, it is key Amb. Lighthizer be in place at USTR. We applaud the Senate Finance Committee for its approval of his nomination, and look to the full Senate to confirm him as quickly as possible.”

Farm Bureau Welcomes Decision to Improve NAFTA

The American Farm Bureau Federation thanked the Trump administration today for its decision to pursue renegotiation over withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The full text of the letter from AFBF President Zippy Duvall is below:

“Thank you for your recent decision to choose the path of renegotiation for the North American Free Trade Agreement, rather than withdrawal. Your leadership in reaching out to President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada began an important step to finding a path forward for updating this important agreement. There are compelling reasons to update and reform NAFTA from agriculture’s perspective, including improvements on biotechnology, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and geographic indicators. As you know, overall, NAFTA has been overwhelmingly beneficial for farmers, ranchers and associated businesses all across the United States, Canada and Mexico for decades. Walking away from those gains would have been a severe blow to the agricultural sector and we appreciate the path that will allow for reform and enhancement, rather than abandonment of past achievements.

“The NAFTA modernization effort should recognize and build upon the strong gains achieved by U.S. agriculture through tariff elimination, harmonization—or recognition of equivalency—of numerous regulatory issues, and development of integrated supply chains that have arisen due to the agreement. With NAFTA, U.S. farmers and ranchers across the nation have benefited from an increase in annual exports to Mexico and Canada, which have gone from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion in 2016. We strongly caution against any actions that would lead to a re-imposition of tariffs or other barriers to agricultural trade with our NAFTA partners.

“Trade is critical to the livelihood of the U.S. agricultural sector because it spurs economic growth for our farmers, ranchers and their rural communities. Agriculture supports jobs in the food and agricultural industries and beyond. The fact is, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States and over 20 percent of U.S. farm income is based on exports.

“Expanding opportunities for U.S. crop and livestock producers to access international markets will boost farm income in the United States. Just as important as expansion, we need your engagement on behalf of agriculture to protect our current access to foreign markets, which amounts to $134 billion annually.

“Existing trade agreements have proved successful in tearing down tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that hinder U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ competitiveness and prevent us from taking advantage of consumer demand for high-quality U.S. food and agricultural products throughout the world.

“Trade agreements also provide the highest standard of trade rules, allowing the United States to lead in setting the foundation to establish market-driven and science-based terms of trade and dispute resolution that will directly benefit the U.S. food and agriculture industry. If we surrender the lead, we will fall behind as our competitors aggressively work to establish alternative trade agreements that give their agricultural interests an advantage over our own.

“There are numerous areas in agriculture alone where the agreement can be modernized, ranging from the handling of wheat to dairy issues, from animal health certifications to transparency on agricultural biotechnology. We look forward to working with the administration in developing the full list of topics for discussion.

“As farm income continues to fall to its lowest level since 2009, we urge your immediate attention both to securing and to maintaining solid and fair trade agreements that bring the benefits of agricultural trade to our struggling farm economy.”

New NAHMS Survey to Measure Antibiotic Use, Stewardship

Starting in May, the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will ask pig farmers who have at least 1,000 pigs and farm in any of the top 13 pork-producing states about their on-farm antimicrobial use and their related stewardship practices. Those states include Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

Specifically, the NAHMS Antimicrobial Use on U.S. Swine Operations 2017 study will:
-    Estimate the percentage of production sites using and the percentage of weaned market pigs receiving specific antimicrobials in feed and/or water by reasons for use.
-    Describe antimicrobial-use practices in feed and water on production sites.
-    Provide baseline data (historical) on antimicrobial-use practices in place before implementation of FDA policy changes (prior to 2017), which can be used for evaluating trends over time.
-    Describe antimicrobial stewardship practices on production sites with weaned market pigs or swine nursery and grower-finisher facilities.

“As an industry, we welcome this latest effort by USDA to get accurate information to the public about how America’s pig farmers actually use antibiotics,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer in Goldsboro, North Carolina. “We’ve been good stewards of antibiotics over the years by working with our veterinarian partners and by following guidelines, such as those in the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus certification program. Also, this survey will provide benchmark data that can help our industry as we continue on our journey of continuous improvement.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact producers in the 13 states who have at least 1,000 pigs to ask for their participation in the study. Later this summer, those who agree to participate will meet with a veterinarian from the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, who will conduct the survey. Importantly, the NAHMS study will protect participants’ privacy by not revealing names or contact information associated with individual data.

“The industry stands to gain with reliable information and improved transparency to consumers and others about how we use antibiotics on our farms,” Archer said. “There’s too much misinformation out there today, and we see this as a way to provide a more accurate picture of how we are doing the right thing on our farms every day.”

For more information about the NAHMS study, contact: USDA–APHIS–VS–CEAH NRRC Building B, M.S. 2E7 2150 Centre Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117. Phone: (970) 494-7000 Email: or visit NAHMS at:

Study: Iowa pork industry remains important economic driver

A new study commissioned by the Iowa Pork Producers Association shows the state's pork industry continues to be a key contributor to the rural Iowa and the state economy.

The economic contribution study was conducted in late 2016 by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale, which produced the results in accordance with methods prescribed and endorsed by the Minnesota IMPLAN Group. The research results are based on IMPLAN modeling data from 2015.
Economic Contributions

The industry contributed $36.7 billion in sales in 2015, with $13.1 billion, or 35.6 percent, from swine production; $18.3 billion, or 49.7 percent, from hog slaughtering; and $5.4 billion, or 14.7 percent, from pork processing.

The sales total included $12.2 billion in added value beyond the $24.5 billion cost of inputs. There were 141,813 jobs associated with the pork industry, or about the total combined populations of Ames, Ankeny and Coralville in 2015, with nearly 52 percent in production alone. One in nearly 12 working Iowans has a job tied to the pork industry.

The industry produced $8.3 billion in labor income, contributed $756.4 million in state and local taxes and $1.56 billion in federal taxes in 2015.

"Iowa has long been the nation's leader in swine production because of the proximity to abundant supplies of corn and soybeans, the primary components in swine feed," said IPPA President Curtis Meier of Clarinda. "We're proud of our ranking and are pleased that the industry is such a profound economic contributor to our local communities. The study shows what pork does for rural Iowa."
Select County Analysis

In addition to analyzing state level hog production and related economic activity, county level results for a cross section of 25 Iowa counties were estimated. These counties included some of the top producing counties (Hardin, Plymouth and Washington), as well as some of the lesser producing ones (Iowa, Marshall and Union).

The average hog inventory per county is 206,623 head, while the average number of hog farms per county is 63. This results in an average inventory per Iowa hog farm of 3,265 head.

The 25 focus counties selected for further analysis have inventories that account for 31 percent of Iowa hogs. Additionally, these counties represent 28 percent of the farms in Iowa, with an average inventory per hog farm of 3,671 head, 406 more than the statewide average head per farm.
Reliance on Feedstuffs

Iowa's pork industry relies heavily on the ability of corn and soybean farmers to produce abundant supplies to feed pigs and the study looked at how many acres of Iowa cropland is dedicated to feeding pigs in Iowa.

Hogs raised in Iowa consume grain raised on more than 5.7 million acres: 3.3 million acres of corn and Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles; and 2.4 million acres of soybeans. Overall, pigs eat 24.7 percent of the acres planted to corn and soybeans in the state: 24.5 percent of the corn acres and 25 percent of the acres planted to soybeans.

"Our association represents the best pig farmers in the nation and they are committed to humanely raising quality pork at the lowest cost possible," Meier said. "Farmers are the original environmentalists and work daily to preserve our natural resources for future generations by supporting the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, abiding by manure management plans developed for their farms and actively contributing to and supporting their local communities."
Local Economic Contributions

Decision Innovation Solutions also looked at what the construction and operations effects of a new, 2,400-head wean-to-finish hog barn in Iowa would be on the local and state economy. Employment, labor income, value added and sales are all common measures of economic activity. An Iowa hog farm relies on roughly 30 percent of its needs from local businesses.

Construction of a new hog farm requires purchases of steel, concrete and equipment. Once completed, the farm purchases feed, veterinary care and other professional services, and several more inputs to produce hogs for sale. One new barn would generate 14.6 jobs, provide more than $869,000 in labor income; $1.1 million in value added and $2.3 million in sales, according to the study.

Keep an Eye on Stored Grain this Planting Season

With the arrival of planting season, producers need to regularly check their stored grain in order to prevent spoilage. According to Charles Hurburgh, grain quality and handling specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, producers need to double the frequency they inspect their grain because this is a high risk year and the condition of stored grain could deteriorate quickly.

“Pay attention to dew point temperatures in the air,” said Hurburgh, who also serves as director of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative. “If we have a stretch of big storms, there will often be dry air afterward with dew points in the 30s and 40s. Run fans if the grain is warmer than that in order to keep gain cold as long as possible.”

Humid weather can cause grain storage problems and can become an issue if grain is not cooled. If the relative humidity is 65 percent or above, fungi and other spoilage organisms can develop. Aeration in storage bins is done to stay below 65 percent humidity in the grain mass, which helps prevent spoilage.

“If the corn is cold, occasionally water will condense on the top of the bins, so having a bin with a roof ventilator is a plus,” said Hurburgh. “If the water has condensed on the roof, take care of it right away with a roof fan and it won’t be necessary to aerate the whole bin with air warmer than it needs to be.”

Last fall was not a good cooling period, as temperatures were warm with relatively high dew points. More of the grain’s storage life was used up, which will mean higher risks this summer. The large carryover means that some of the 2016 crop will need to be in condition even into 2018.

Wet weather is delaying planting in some areas, but a higher moisture harvest is not currently being forecasted.

“A common misconception is if planting season is later, then harvest season will be later,” said Hurburgh. “It’s also a misconception that early planting means early harvest, but there is no real correlation between planting date and having wet corn in the fall. The planting date will have no predictable impact on harvest moisture, at least up to a time corn is likely to be switched out in preference to soybeans. It has everything to do with the weather in August and September.” 

For additional information the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative has developed online learning modules to help teach producers proper grain storage practices. The Iowa Grain Quality Aeration Module (CROP 3083B) and Iowa Grain Quality Fan Performance Module (CROP 3083C), produced in cooperation with the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and Crop Advisor Institute, helps users understand the function of aeration in preventing grain spoilage and how fan performance helps to cool grain, as well as the requirement for fan selection.

Sheep Production Workshop Offered as Part of Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival

The 2017 Midwest Commercial Sheep Production Workshop will be offered during the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival. The workshop will be held on Saturday, June 17 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames, Iowa.

The workshop will focus on the Let’s Grow goals and objectives campaign from the American Lamb Board aimed at increasing both the overall lamb crop and the quality and consumer satisfaction of the lamb that is produced.

“There is a great group of speakers coming in, as well as a producer panel that is focused on the sheep industry’s sustainability in Iowa,” said Dan Morrical, professor and sheep specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “The Iowa Sheep Industry Association has done a great job of putting together this educational programming to draw the interest of commercial producers.”

The following topics will be discussed:
-    Maximizing Resource Use by Extending the Lambing Season: Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University
-    Identifying Profitable Sheep: How to Grow Your Profits and Reduce Labor: Dan Persons, Rafter P Ranch and Shearwell
-    Evaluating Finish of Live Market Lambs: Brad Anderson, Mountain States Lamb; Mark Henry, Centralized Ultrasound Processors Lab; Dan Morrical, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
-    Evaluating Finish of Lamb Carcasses: Anderson and Morrical
-    Logistics of Grazing Cover Crops and Crop Stover: Ehrhardt
-    Producers Share Experiences with Integrating Livestock and Crop Production: A panel of producers will share and discuss how livestock production can complement row crop production
-    How the NSIP Can Benefit Sheep Flocks of Differing Sizes and Goals: Rusty Burgett, National Sheep Improvement Program

Cost of attendance is $35 and online registration is available from the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival website. A student discount is available.

A Shepherding 101 program also will be offered for the beginning shepherd or for those who want to review the basics of raising sheep.

USDA Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2016 Summary

Total 2016 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 78.3 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2015. Production increased 3 percent for cattle and calves and 2 percent for hogs and pigs.

Total 2016 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals decreased 16 percent to $82.8 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for 77 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for 23 percent.

The 2016 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $83.3 billion, down 16 percent from 2015. Gross income decreased 18 percent for cattle and calves and 9 percent for hogs and pigs from previous year's gross income.

Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves decreased 18 percent from $78.1 billion in 2015 to $63.9 billion in 2016. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 54.3 billion pounds in 2016, up 4 percent from 2015.

Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $18.9 billion during 2016, down 9 percent from 2015. Marketings totaled 36.6 billion pounds in 2016, up 2 percent from 2015.

USDA Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2016 Summary

Milk production increased 1.8 percent in 2016 to 212 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 22,774 pounds, was 378 pounds above 2015. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.33 million head, up 14,000 head from 2015.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2016 totaled $34.5 billion, 3.3 percent lower than 2015. Producer returns averaged $16.34 per hundredweight, 5.1 percent below 2015. Marketings totaled 211.4 billion pounds, 1.8 percent above 2015. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

An estimated 1.0 billion pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 3.3 percent more than 2015. Calves were fed 91 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

Five-State Animal Care and Welfare Webinars Offered

South Dakota livestock producers, industry professionals and 4-H youth are encouraged to tune in the first Wednesday of each month for webinars provided by SDSU Extension.

The Animal Care Wednesday Webinar series is made possible through a five-state partnership of university and extension staff from Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

"These webinars are designed to provide a brief snapshot of animal welfare and care topics," said Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Associate.

Past webinar topics have included: antibiotic resistance and stewardship, show animal resources on the VFD (veterinary feed directive) changes, medication and remote delivery methods for cattle, equine welfare and neglect and understanding public perceptions of livestock practices.

"We see these webinars as a great way to provide information, while at the same time generating discussion on current animal care topics," Carroll explained.

The 30-minute webinars are held the first Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. CST. However, anyone is welcome to view the webinar once it has been aired at

"These webinars provide a flexible way to learn about current animal welfare and care topics that impact animal agriculture in the United States," Carroll said.

The May 3 webinar is titled "Cattle Transportation & Preparing for Emergencies". The webinar will be presented by Lisa Pederson, the North Dakota Beef Quality Assurance Specialist.

Conference Works To Increase Inclusion Of U.S. DDGS In South Korea

Ninety-six percent of feed millers in South Korea now include U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in their rations for the country’s livestock and poultry industries, thanks in part to work started by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in 2004 to introduce this feed ingredient.

How to continue growing this market with nearly 100 percent adoption? Increase average inclusion rates from the current 4.3 percent to the recommended level of 6 percent. To do so, the Council organized a DDGS conference in South Korea on April 25 to provide local millers with additional technical expertise and logistical support.

More than 100 South Korean DDGS buyers, feed formulators, research and development personnel as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) attended the conference. It included one-on-one meetings between U.S. suppliers and South Korean buyers as well as a technical seminar on the nutritional and economic value of U.S. DDGS by Dr. Jerry Shurson from the University of Minnesota. Activities like this conference not only provide valuable education, but also help connect Korean importers and traders to reliable U.S. DDGS suppliers.

“The attendees from the feed industry gave us excellent feedback, reporting that this seminar was timely and very useful,” said Haksoo Kim, USGC Korea director. “Thanks to the Council’s efforts, they now understand the advantages of U.S. DDGS and will increase their inclusion rates.”

South Korea purchases of U.S. DDGS continue to grow. South Korea imported nearly 845,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS in the 2015/2016 marketing year, up from about 621,000 metric tons the prior year. In the first six months of the 2016/2017 marketing year (Sep. 2016-Feb. 2017), South Korea imported nearly 516,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS, up 31 percent from the same time period the previous year.

The Council projects that South Korea will continue to increase its imports of U.S. DDGS with the improvement of inclusion rates and more efficient supply systems between U.S. suppliers and South Korean buyers.

Farm Bureau Responds to President’s Tax Plan

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that promotes the business of farming and ranching and recognizes the unique financial challenges we face. Farm Bureau welcomes a pro-business approach to tax reform, but any tax reform proposal must treat all businesses fairly. Most farm and ranch businesses don’t operate like large corporations: they are small, family-run businesses that depend on deductions and provisions that give them the flexibility they need to keep their businesses running in all seasons.

“Lower tax rates will go a long way in helping farmers and ranchers. But the future of other important provisions for agriculture—like immediate expensing, the deduction for interest expense, cash accounting and like-kind exchanges—is still unclear to us. Farmers run their businesses in a world of uncertainty—from unpredictable markets to uncertain weather and disease outbreaks. The tax code should not add to the challenges of growing our nation’s food, fuel and fiber. We are ready to work with the administration and Congress to address all of agriculture’s needs in the tax code.

“Farm Bureau is pleased to see President Trump’s plan will immediately take on one of our top concerns, the estate tax. Eliminating the estate tax will free farmers to invest in the future of their family businesses rather than selling off their land and legacy when a family member dies. Farmers and ranchers have already benefitted from congressional action to reduce this burden, and we’re ready to bury the death tax once and for all.”

National FFA Organization Awards More Than $2.7 Million in Scholarships

The National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation has awarded more than $2.7 million in scholarships to 1,884 recipients. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of 115 sponsors.

More than 8,300 students applied online for the scholarships, with many of the applicants being considered for multiple awards. Approximately one in every four students who applied was awarded a scholarship. The scholarships were available to students pursuing two-year or four-year degrees or vocational programs. The average recipient had a GPA of 3.76 on a 4.0 scale and were in the top 16 percent of their class.

This year marks the 33rd year for the scholarship program, which began in 1984 with 16 scholarships offered. Since then, more than $47 million has been awarded in scholarship funds through the National FFA Organization.

The selection process takes into account the whole student, including FFA involvement, work experience, supervised agricultural experience, community service, leadership skills and academics.

A list of recipients is available on the scholarship results page on Recipients are listed first by the state in which their high school is located then alphabetically by student last name.

National Dairy FARM Program Releases Stockmanship Training Video with BQA

The National Dairy FARM Program announced today the release of a stockmanship training video as part of the program’s partnership with the National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program.

The 27-minute video is divided into several chapters, including “Point of Balance,” “Understanding the Flight Zone” and “Utilizing Tools to Effectively Move Cattle.” Each segment contains reminder points and multiple choice questions to test viewers on the content. The video can serve as a training resource to satisfy the FARM Animal Care Version 3.0 requirement for annual employee training.

The video, directed by Dr. Robert Hagevoort of New Mexico State and the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium, is available on the FARM Program website and YouTube page in both English and Spanish.

“We are more than happy to develop and provide a tool for farmers and employees that will help them better understand why cows behave the way they do, and as a result become more careful and more efficient animal caretakers,” said Hagevoort.

The FARM Program, created by NMPF in 2009, believes the dairy industry has a great story to tell when it comes to producing safe, abundant and affordable milk and dairy beef. Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that informs U.S. beef producers and consumers about common sense husbandry techniques and accepted scientific knowledge that can help raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. FARM’s partnership with BQA demonstrates that U.S. milk producers are committed to providing the best in animal care, residue prevention and environmental stewardship.

USDA Dairy Products 2016 Production Summary

Total cheese production, excluding cottage cheeses, was 12.2 billion pounds, 2.8 percent above 2015 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 26.6 percent of the production.

Italian varieties, with 5.29 billion pounds were 4.1 percent above 2015 production and accounted for 43.5 percent of total cheese in 2016. Mozzarella accounted for 77.7 percent of the Italian production followed by Provolone with 7.6 percent and Parmesan with 7.6 percent. Wisconsin was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 30.8 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 4.76 billion pounds, 1.3 percent above 2015 and accounted for 39.1 percent of total cheese in 2016. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 20.1 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2016 totaled 1.84 billion pounds, 0.6 percent below 2015. California accounted for 30.6 percent of the production.

Dry milk powders (2016 United States production, comparisons with 2015)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.75 billion pounds, down 3.8 percent.
Skim milk powders - 559 million pounds, up 25.3 percent.

Whey products (2016 United States production, comparisons with 2015)
Dry whey, total - 955 million pounds, down 2.3 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.10 billion pounds, up 4.7 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 468 million pounds, down 5.1 percent.

Frozen products (2016 United States production, comparisons with 2015)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 919 million gallons, up 2.4 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 435 million gallons, down 0.8 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 41.2 million gallons, down 7.9 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 66.9 million gallons, down 9.8 percent.

Bipartisan Congressional Letter Voices Support for Tackling of Canada’s Protectionist Dairy Practices

Adding to the groundswell of recognition that Canada’s protectionist dairy policies are harmful to U.S. dairy exports, a bipartisan group of 68 members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Donald Trump yesterday urging him to insist that Canada comply with its dairy trade commitments, including those under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

At a time when questions are arising about the future of the U.S. role in NAFTA, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said the 25-year-old pact is a critically important agreement that needs to be modernized, not withdrawn from, as they praised the congressional letter’s focus on ways to improve upon the existing NAFTA trade relationship.

The congressional letter to President Trump followed a call Tuesday between him and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during which dairy exports were among the key topics discussed. The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Ron Kind (D-WI), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Peter Welch (D-VT).

“We very much appreciate the bipartisan support from Members of Congress on this important issue. As the U.S. reviews the value of NAFTA, it’s essential that our trade negotiators focus on preserving dairy trade with Mexico and other key markets, while challenging barriers such as Canada’s systematic abuse of trade rules and tools,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.  He said that Canada’s new pricing policy uses a government-administered system to hurt the U.S. dairy industry, “undercutting our farmers’ exports and threatening to cause great damage to world dairy prices by dumping Canada’s surplus on the world market.”

“U.S. dairy companies and the workers they employ across rural America compete in global markets on a daily basis. They should reasonably be able to expect that others are also going to play by the rules,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “When our trading partners hold up their end of the bargain – as we have seen Mexico do for dairy – trade benefits our farmers, workers and companies. But to preserve that positive impact, it’s essential that we hold countries accountable when they walk the other direction, too – as Canada has chosen to do on dairy.”

“We appreciate the efforts of each member of Congress who signed the letter, recognizing the importance of our exports to Mexico while noting that Canadian dairy policies are directly hurting American exports,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “As we conveyed to our Mexican partners in our visit there earlier this year, NAFTA is very important to both our countries and has yielded strong benefits for agriculture. To build upon that track record, we need to address unfinished business such as the remaining tariff and nontariff trade barriers that Canada has pursued.”

The letter cited the importance of exports to the U.S. dairy industry, noting that approximately 15 percent of U.S. milk production amounting to roughly $5 billion a year leaves the country. As the letter stated, “the U.S. dairy sector relies on its exports to survive,” making Canada’s latest policy aimed at upending both bilateral and global dairy trade particularly harmful. In addition, the letter noted that “U.S. exports helped the dairy sector maintain roughly 110,000 U.S. jobs in farming and manufacturing.”

IGC Raises Global Output Forecasts for 2016-17 and 2017-18

The International Grains Council said Thursday that it still expects global grain production to break the 2.1 billion metric ton mark to reach the highest ever volume, largely thanks to strong maize production in the southern hemisphere.

The IGC upped its monthly output forecast for 2016-17 to 2,111 million tons from its adjusted estimate of 2,106 million tons given at the end of March. This represents a 5% year-on-year increase.

The grains body also released updated estimates for global grain production in 2017-18, inching its forecast up to 2,054 million tons from 2,050 million tons. Despite the increase, this would still constitute a 3% year-on-year drop.

Forecasts of huge harvests across several grain-producing regions has seen the IGC raise its production forecast in 11 of its last 12 reports.

Of the expected 36 million ton production increase on-the-year, the IGC says wheat and maize will account for 17 million tons and 18 million tons of that increase, respectively.

The IGC upgraded its corn production forecast to 1,059 million tons from 1,053 million tons and its soybean forecast to 345 million tons. The body forecast wheat production at 753 million tons, also maintaining its expectation of a 1 million ton increase in rice production to 483 million tons.

Strong soy bean production in Brazil is one of the drivers behind the IGC's production forecast hike.

Robust wheat buying in India also keeps pressure on global trade demand.

The council said the upward revision in expected production slightly outstrips a hike in its consumption forecast. As a result, its forecast for year-end global grain inventories was raised by 3 million tons to 516 million tons.

Arysta LifeScience Granted EPA Approval for New Plant Growth Stimulant

Following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval, Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the launch of RIO™, a plant growth stimulant that activates endogenous natural plant hormone activity for enhanced plant reproductive growth.

RIO is the newest brand in the company’s BioSolutions portfolio. The product is labeled for various specialty and row crops.

“At Arysta LifeScience, we understand the growing interest and demand for plant growth stimulants, as they allow growers to enhance their crops’ genetic expressions and reach their genetic potential. Plant growth stimulants is just one area in which Arysta LifeScience is providing our customers with more choices and more ways to improve the quality of their crops and the boost to their yields,” said Royce Schulte, BioSolutions Business Manager, Arysta LifeScience. “RIO is derived from natural plant sources and encourages plants to reach their full potential.”

How RIO Works

RIO boosts natural plant hormone activity that allows plants to develop more effectively, including mineral uptake, cell division (for roots, stems and leaves), chlorophyll and photosynthesis activity, fruit set and growth, and nutrient and carbohydrate translocation to the growing fruit. This efficacy – in turn – can result in higher yields and improved crop quality.

“The active ingredients in RIO work similarly to the way plant growth regulators work, but the product stimulates natural plant hormone activity,’ Schulte explained.

The mode of action in RIO also activates metabolic pathways and influences root development, which leads to increased foliar area, formation of more vigorous floral buds, high flower/fruit sets and increased size/consistency of fruit.

“With RIO, growers should see increased yields and improved quality of various specialty and row crops,” Schulte concluded.

For additional information on RIO or the BioSolutions portfolio of products, ask your retailer or local Arysta LifeScience sales representative, or visit

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday April 26 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Are weeds showing up in your new alfalfa?  If they get thick, your alfalfa will suffer.  Check your fields today after listening to some options to control those weeds.

               Alfalfa seedlings compete poorly with weeds.  Control decisions can be difficult.  Vigorous weed growth this spring might be making it extra tough for your seedlings to compete with these weeds.

               When weeds, especially broadleaf weeds, threaten seedling alfalfa, a common method to control them is mowing.  Adjust mowing height so several leaves remain on alfalfa seedlings after clipping to help your alfalfa seedlings regrow rapidly.  Also, do not smother small seedlings with clippings.  So mow weeds before they get so tall that they produce a large quantity of clippings.

               If you would rather spray broadleaf weeds than mow them, use either Buctril, Butyrac, Pursuit, or Raptor.  Buctril controls most small broadleaf weeds fairly inexpensively, but alfalfa injury can occur when temperatures exceed 80 degrees.  If you expect those high temperatures when you spray, it might be better to use Butyrac, Pursuit, or Raptor.  These herbicides also control most small broadleaf weeds, but weeds must be less than three inches tall or results will be inconsistent.  Pursuit and Raptor are more expensive but their soil activity will continue to control weeds throughout much of the season.

               Mowing is not very effective with grassy weeds, so use Poast Plus or Select to kill grassy weeds.  Make sure you spray before grasses get 4 inches tall or control will be spotty.

               Weeds reduce growth of new alfalfa by shading and competing for moisture.  You can prevent these problems by acting quickly.  Exam your fields soon and control weeds as needed.

Green Plains to Acquire Cattle Feed Yards from Cargill

Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) today announced that its subsidiary, Green Plains Cattle Company, has entered into an asset purchase agreement to acquire two cattle-feeding operations from Cargill for $36.7 million, excluding working capital. The transaction includes feed yards located in Leoti, Kan. and Yuma, Colo. and will add capacity of 155,000 head to the company's operations. Upon completion of the acquisition, Green Plains Cattle Company will become the fourth largest cattle-feeding operation in the United States with total capacity of more than 255,000 head.

As part of the transaction, Green Plains Cattle will also enter into a long-term supply agreement with Cargill Meat Solutions to provide a reliable supply of cattle from the Leoti and Yuma locations, as well as Green Plains' existing feedlot in Kismet, Kan., with appropriate flexibility and economic opportunities for both parties.

"The growth of Green Plains Cattle achieves one of our strategic initiatives of further diversifying our income streams and investing in adjacent businesses. This purchase also aligns with our overall strategy to meet growing global protein demand in downstream markets that take advantage of our supply chain, production platform and commodity management expertise," commented Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer of Green Plains. "A key component of the acquisition is the long-term agreement with Cargill under which Green Plains Cattle will be a strategic supplier of their beef-packing demand.”

Green Plains Cattle Company currently owns a 70,000 head cattle-feeding operation near Kismet, Kan. and a 30,000 head operation near Hereford, Texas.

"One of the inherent benefits of this transaction is the scale of internal demand for our co-products produced at company-owned ethanol plants. Our cattle business will now consume more than 300 thousand tons of dried distillers grains and 40 million pounds of corn oil annually," Becker added. "The ability to effectively control our feed supply cost provides our cattle business with a strategic operating advantage resulting in more predictable and stable cattle-feeding margins while enhancing Green Plains' knowledge of ration dynamics. Since our entry into cattle feeding a few years ago, the meat and protein market fundamentals have remained favorable and the business has been accretive to Green Plains' earnings.”

The Leoti and Yuma cattle-feeding operations consist of approximately 1,900 acres of land, supporting infrastructure and feed storage assets, which are strategically located near major meat packers. The transaction is anticipated to be accretive to 2017 earnings with completion expected in the next 30 days, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.


Growers and industry representatives who want to learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests are encouraged to register for Nebraska Extension's field crop scout training course May 10 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (formerly the Agricultural Research and Development Center) near Mead.

The training is designed for entry-level scouts who are working for crop consultants, industry agronomists or farm service centers in Nebraska and neighboring states, said Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator. It is also ideal for growers who scout their own fields or who are interested in improving productivity, as well as for students employed by agribusinesses.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the course running from 8:25 a.m. to 5 p.m. Course topics include how corn and soybean plants grow and develop; soybean and corn insect management; using knowledge of plant morphology and a seedling identification key to identify weeds; and crop diseases and quiz nutrient deficiencies.

"Some of the benefits registrants stated the training provided included practical/working knowledge and better accuracy in field scouting," Glewen said. "Other participants appreciated the hands-on, practical format."

Cost for the program is $165, which includes lunch, refreshments, workshop materials and the instruction manual. Attendees should pre-register to reserve their seat and to ensure workshop materials are available the day of the training session. Updated reference materials are included in this year's take-home instruction manual.

Certified Crop Adviser continuing education credits are available with six in pest management, one in crop management and 0.5 in fertility/nutrient management.

For more information or to register, contact Nebraska Extension at 402-624-8030 or 800-529-8030, e-mail Keith Glewen at or visit

Casey’s General Stores to Offer E15 and E85; Expand Availability to Rural America

Today, Casey’s General Stores, Inc., a Midwest convenience store chain, announced it will expand consumer choice by offering higher ethanol blends of E15 and E85 at 17 sites in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas. E15 is a fuel that contains 15 percent ethanol and works well for any car 2001 and newer. E85 contains up to 83 percent ethanol and is a choice for flex-fuel vehicle owners.

The Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, and Kansas Corn Commission along with Growth Energy are assisting Casey’s with their new program. The retail chain boasts over 1,950 convenience stores across 15 states making it the nation’s 4th largest and its adoption of higher biofuel blends marks a major milestone for renewable fuel availability, especially across rural America where demand for higher ethanol blends is at an all-time high.

“We like the potential that E15 and E85 could bring to Casey’s and are excited to provide our customers with a wide variety of fueling options” said Terry Handley, President and CEO of Casey’s. “We appreciate the assistance Growth Energy, and the farmers funding the corn checkoff in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas have invested in our E15 and E85 program.”

“We commend Casey’s initiative in expanding their fuel offering to include clean-burning, high-octane, and more affordable biofuel choices,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, “Each day more and more retailers are embracing higher ethanol blends because today’s 21st century drivers demand 21st century fuel. E15, in particular, offers drivers an exceptional value in addition to tested higher performance and reduced emissions.”

Casey’s joins Family Express, Kum & Go, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuels, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons in offering their customers expanded fuel choices at the pump. E15 is the most tested fuel in history. The United States Department of Energy, NASCAR, and consumers have put it to the test over millions of miles with great results.

To find their nearest E15 station, Casey’s customers should go to

Survey Shows Iowa Farmers Increasing Nutrient Loss Reduction Practices

The 2016 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll examined trends in farming practices and strategies since 2013, the year that the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was started. The Farm Poll survey listed a number of nutrient loss reduction practices as well as some practices that are not recommended, and asked farmers if they had changed their use of the practices since 2013.

“For the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy to meet its goals, most of Iowa’s farmers will have to continuously improve their nutrient management practices,” said J. Gordon Arbuckle, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University and director of the Farm Poll. “These survey questions give us an idea of which practices are being adopted more or less quickly.”

The results indicate that farmers are increasing their use of recommended practices and decreasing use of some practices that are not recommended. For example, about 26 percent of farmers reported they had increased their use of conservation tillage methods and 19 percent increased their use of continuous no-till. About 21 percent reported a reduction in fall tillage and 19 percent had reduced spring tillage. Only five and seven percent of respondents reported an increase in their fall and spring tillage, respectively.

“Reductions in tillage decrease soil loss, which means less phosphorus in waterways,” said Arbuckle. “Of course, there’s also the added benefit of keeping the soil where you want it – in the field growing crops.”

The poll also found farmers had increased their use of several nutrient management practices since 2013. The greatest change was reported in the use of precision agriculture practices such as variable rate fertilizer application, with 34 percent of farmers reporting either moderate or major increases in the practice. Soil testing and similar methods of determining fertilizer rates saw 31 percent of respondents reporting an increase in the practice while 27 percent reported increasing their use of nitrogen stabilizers.

Twenty-two and 20 percent of farmers reported an increase in spring or growing season applications of nitrogen, respectively. A decrease in fall application of nitrogen fertilizer was reported by 17 percent.

“Research shows that applying nitrogen during the growing season instead of the fall can reduce nutrient loss and potentially increase profits,” Arbuckle said.

A significant number of farmers reported increases in the use of other important conservation practices. Thirty-five percent reported having increased use of structural practices such as terraces, buffer strips or grassed waterways. Twenty percent reported an increase in cover crop use, and 14 percent indicated they had shifted at least some marginal cropland into other uses such as pasture or hay.

About 36 percent reported increasing their use of tile or other drainage practices, which can lead to nutrient loss.

“These results show positive trends in the use of practices that can reduce nutrient loss into waterways,” Arbuckle said. “Although the results indicate that many farmers are headed in the right direction, many more will need to adopt or increase their use of a diversity of nutrient loss reduction practices to meet strategy goals.”

The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll has been in existence since 1982, surveying Iowa farmers on issues of importance to agricultural stakeholders. It is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation.

FieldNET® by Lindsay Introduces Revolutionary Irrigation Management Tool

Officials today announced the launch of FieldNET Advisor, a groundbreaking new tool from FieldNET by Lindsay that takes irrigation management to a new level. FieldNET Advisor uses patented technology to deliver growers the information they need to make faster, better-informed irrigation decisions – improving yields while reducing water usage and other input costs – delivering the smartest solution in irrigation.

“FieldNET Advisor is a game-changer for growers and the irrigation industry,” said Brian Magnusson, vice president of technology products at Lindsay Corporation. “This innovative solution uses FieldNET’s industry-leading remote irrigation management platform to drastically simplify and automate the use of proven irrigation scheduling methods, which are backed by more than 40 years of research, to help growers decide precisely when, where and how much to irrigate.”

Magnusson said FieldNET Advisor provides growers with continuously updated, science-based irrigation recommendations that are customized for each field. After entering the field’s crop type, hybrids and planting dates, FieldNET Advisor will:
-            Track the available soil water throughout the field by combining a soil map of the field, proprietary dynamic crop canopy and root growth models, the most accurate hyper-local weather data available powered by DTN/The Progressive Farmer, and the applied irrigation history.
-             Create a high-resolution map showing the amount of water available to the crop across the entire field.
-             Forecast the crop’s future water needs and predict when and where, without additional irrigation, the yield will begin to decline due to water stress. It also calculates the amount of yield that would be lost due to the stress, which varies based on the crop’s development stage and the severity of the stress.
-            Automatically generate variable rate irrigation (VRI) prescriptions, which are continuously updated to account for actual and forecasted weather, changing crop water requirements, and as-applied irrigation.
-             Integrate into FieldNET’s powerful remote monitoring and control platform, giving growers the ability to immediately put their irrigation decisions into action and monitor their progress.

“This incredibly powerful new tool takes the hassle out of irrigation and helps growers better optimize their irrigation management” Magnusson said. “FieldNET Advisor gives growers information that’s based on years of proven crop research to help them make better-informed decisions about when to run their irrigation systems and how much water to apply – helping improve yields while reducing overwatering and the related input costs and nutrient losses.”

Magnusson added that for growers who already have FieldNET remote monitoring and control equipment installed on their pivots, FieldNET Advisor requires no additional hardware or sensors.

For more information about FieldNET Advisor, talk to your local Zimmatic dealer or visit

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Up; Production Down

The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report midmorning on Wednesday, showing domestic ethanol inventories and blending demand increased last week while plant production fell.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week ended April 21 showed fuel ethanol inventories rose by roughly 200,000 bbl or 1.3% to about 23.3 million bbl, a three-week high, while up 1.6 million bbl or 7.9% year-over-year.

Domestic plant production declined by 6,000 bpd or 0.6% to 987,000 bpd last week, but remained 60,000 bpd or 6.5% higher year-over-year. For the four weeks ended last week, ethanol production averaged 996,000 bpd, up 51,000 bpd or 5.4%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, increased by 20,000 bpd or 2.2% to 932,000 bpd during the week-ended April 21, and were up 14,000 bpd or 1.5% over a year ago level. For the four-week period ended April 21, blending demand was up 14,000 bpd or 1.5%.

Little Movement in Retail Fertilizer Prices

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to be fairly steady with no significant moves either higher or lower the third week of April 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, five are slightly higher in price compared to a month earlier. Those are DAP, MAP, potash, anhydrous and UAN32. DAP had an average price of $438 per ton, MAP $466/ton, potash $339/ton, anhydrous $509/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly lower in price from last month. Urea had an average price of $352/ton, 10-34-0 $437/ton and UAN28 $247/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Half of the eight major fertilizers are still double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, both anhydrous and UAN32 are 13% less expensive and UAN28 is 10% lower. Urea is 9% less expensive. Both DAP and potash are 8% lower, and MAP is 7% less expensive compared to a year earlier.

138 food, ag groups urge Senate to expedite Lighthizer confirmation

A total of 138 food and agriculture trade associations and companies working collectively through the diverse and broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade today urged the U.S. Senate to expeditiously vote to confirm Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative (USTR).

The groups took the action following a 26-0 vote on April 25 by the Senate Finance Committee to recommend Lighthizer's confirmation to the full Senate.

In their letter to the Senate, the organizations cited the central role that the USTR plays under U.S. law in developing and coordinating U.S. international trade policy and leading trade negotiations with other countries. They noted that action on Lighthizer's confirmation is "particularly urgent" given the administration's plans to notify Congress soon of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The letter, organized as part of the ongoing work of the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, emphasized that delays in scheduling a vote on Lighthizer's confirmation risk "imperiling U.S. national interests" by creating a vacuum during which "foreign competitors are ramping up efforts to supplant U.S. leadership and take away U.S. market share while nervous U.S. foreign customers seek out non-U.S. suppliers to meet their import requirements to ensure basic food security for their people."

Confirmation of the USTR is an "essential step" in enabling the U.S. government to put its teams in place to engage in trade negotiations on NAFTA and with Asia-Pacific nations "to further enhance U.S. economic growth and job creation," the groups wrote.

"To enable the United States to reengage on trade to benefit all Americans, including U.S. food and agriculture producers, manufacturers and agribusinesses, it is of utmost importance to confirm (Lighthizer) as USTR immediately," the organizations concluded.

Once confirmed, the groups reiterated their desire to work with Lighthizer and other administration officials and Congress to "develop and implement a coherent and effective U.S. trade policy that continues to promote America's food and agriculture producers and exporters."

ASA Applauds Introduction of Biodiesel Tax Credit Reform, Extension Act

The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports the work of Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Cantwell (D-Wash.) and the other 14 senators who today introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the biodiesel tax credit to a domestic production credit and extend the new policy for three years.

“This bill allows producers the security they need to grow their operations and will help to continue biodiesel’s success in diversifying the fuel market,” said ASA president and Illinois soybean farmer Ron Moore. “This tax credit and extension is vital to the industry’s continued growth, and will maximize the added value of domestic production of biofuels.”
Biodiesel production, in addition to providing a clean fuel alternative, benefits soybean farmers and the livestock industry. Approximately half of U.S. biodiesel is produced from soybean oil that is a by-product of soybean production, which is driven by demand for protein meal.

Joining Grassley and Cantwell to co-sponsor the American Renewable Fuel and Job Creation Act of 2017 are Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

National Biodiesel Board Applauds New Biodiesel Tax Credit Bill

Today the National Biodiesel Board applauded the introduction of a bipartisan biodiesel tax credit bill that would convert the blender’s credit for biodiesel to a $1-per-gallon production credit for fuels produced in the United States for three years. The bill provides an additional 10-cent-per-gallon credit for small U.S. biodiesel producers.

“Well-crafted and efficient tax incentives can be powerful policy mechanisms to achieve the nation’s energy objectives and to create jobs. But subsidizing foreign manufacturing and hurting U.S. workers were not Congress’ intent. We applaud the senators’ bill to close this loophole by reforming the credit as a domestic production credit,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board. “Updating this tax credit is necessary to create a level playing field for U.S. biodiesel producers—and it has the added benefit of saving millions of taxpayer dollars.”

This bipartisan bill seeks to reinstate the biodiesel and small producers tax credits that expired at the end of 2016, but with a change to who is eligible for the credit. Previously, the tax credit was open to blenders of biodiesel, but this legislation would provide tax credits to U.S. producers instead of blenders. Doing so prevents subsidization of foreign manufacturers.

Taxpayer dollars and U.S. energy policy should be—and typically are—aimed at incentivizing domestic production, not foreign production. The current structure of the biodiesel tax incentive as a blender’s credit increasingly allows foreign producers to access the credit if their fuel is blended in the United States. Importantly, this reform would not block imported biodiesel from entering the U.S. market; in fact, significant imports would likely continue coming to the U.S. and receiving incentives under the Renewable Fuel Standard and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

U.S. biodiesel producers just need a level playing field to compete with foreign production. For example, since 2009, the European Union has levied duties on U.S. biodiesel that effectively block U.S. biodiesel from entering the European market. Additionally, Argentinian biodiesel that receives significant incentives under that country’s Differential Export Tax regime is increasingly being shipped to the U.S. market where it also can qualify for the U.S. tax incentive. Without this reform, U.S. tax policy is increasingly creating competitive disparities in which U.S. companies are losing U.S. jobs and market share to subsidized foreign production in Europe, Argentina and other nations. Because of this flood of imports, the National Biodiesel Board also had to file an antidumping and countervailing duty petition against Argentina and Indonesia for violating trade laws and for harming U.S. workers and manufacturers.

Changing the structure of the tax credit also would save taxpayers millions of dollars. Biodiesel imports to the U.S. have grown sharply in recent years, largely as a result of the tax credit. In 2015 alone, the U.S. Treasury spent more than $600 million on tax credits for imported biodiesel and renewable diesel. Importantly, this fuel often had already received subsidies in its country of origin (Argentina, Indonesia and the European Union, for example). According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, reforming the tax incentive would save U.S. taxpayers $90 million as imports are reduced and domestic production grows.

Since being implemented in 2005, the biodiesel tax incentive has played a key role in stimulating growth in the U.S. biodiesel industry, helping it become the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. By helping biodiesel compete on a more level playing field with petroleum, the $1-per-gallon tax credit creates jobs, strengthens U.S. energy security, reduces harmful and costly emissions, diversifies the fuels market and ultimately lowers costs to the consumer. There is a clear correlation between the tax incentive and increased U.S. biodiesel production, which has grown from nearly 100 million gallons in 2005 when the tax incentive was first implemented to almost 1.8 billion gallons in 2016.

The American Renewable Fuel and Job Creation Act of 2017 was introduced by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), with 14 other original sponsors, including Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding the U.S. Withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

“Today we learned President Trump’s administration is considering an executive order to have the U.S. withdraw from NAFTA. This dangerous move could cost Nebraska farmers and ranchers more than $2.6 billion per year in agricultural exports. Such a loss couldn’t come at a worse time as farm and ranch families already face significantly lower prices for virtually every agricultural commodity produced. We also remain very concerned that the proposed action could threaten Nebraska’s broader economy as we have already witnessed significant state revenue shortfalls as a direct result of a weakened agricultural sector.”

“Canada and Mexico are two of Nebraska’s largest export markets with billions of dollars’ worth of beef, hogs, corn, soybeans, and other agricultural products being exported each year. Rather than entirely throwing out an agreement which has clearly boosted Nebraska agricultural exports and farm and ranch family income, the president should work to update and improve it. The families who have dedicated their lives to producing the food that too often gets taken for granted should not be used as a geopolitical football to help gain leverage over our trading partners. This proposed move would be nothing short of a slap in the face to the farmers and ranchers who played a significant role in his election. President Trump should reconsider this decision.”

Sasse:  Scrapping NAFTA would be a disastrously bad idea

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse issued the following statement regarding reports that the Trump Administration is preparing to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"Scrapping NAFTA would be a disastrously bad idea.  It would hurt American families at the checkout, and it would cripple American producers in the field and the office.  Yes, there are places where our agreements could be modernized but here's the bottom line: trade lowers prices for American consumers and it expands markets for American goods.  Risking trade wars is reckless, not wise."

Smith Statement on Reports of NAFTA Withdrawal Proposal

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today in response to reports the Trump administration is considering an executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“I strongly oppose withdrawing from NAFTA,” Smith said.  “Canada and Mexico are two of our largest trading partners, both representing billion-dollar export markets for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.  While there is nothing wrong with taking a look at a 25-year-old agreement to see what has been working and what hasn’t, the current market access granted to U.S. exporters must be the baseline for any renegotiation.  I have and will continue to express this position to the Trump administration and look forward to working with the White House to strengthen NAFTA.”

Smith is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and founder and co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus.

Soybean Growers Strongly Discourage NAFTA Withdrawal Order

Following reports Wednesday that an executive order is being prepared that would withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), American Soybean Association (ASA) President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill., warned in a statement that such a move could have disastrous consequences for the nation’s leading agricultural export in light of the still-struggling U.S. agricultural economy.

“Without mincing words, initiating a process to withdraw from NAFTA is a terrible idea, and it will only mean a longer and more difficult struggle for farmers to recover in this economy. With surplus production and domestic prices lagging, we need more opportunities and easier avenues to sell our products abroad, and signaling the U.S. intent to withdraw from NAFTA runs absolutely counter to that goal. Soybean farmers sent more than $2.5 billion in soybeans, meal and oil to Mexico last year, making it our number two market overall and the leading purchaser of U.S. meal and oil. Canada is number three in meal sales and number 10 in oil. Add to that the sales of the meat, dairy and eggs that require soy meal as animal feed, our North American partners are unquestionably among the most vital and vibrant markets for American soybeans.

“If any actions to announce the intent to withdraw from NAFTA are underway, the administration should immediately abandon such plans and focus instead on ways to work with Canada and Mexico to modernize and optimize the agreement during a renegotiation. ASA has been supportive of the administration’s efforts to improve NAFTA. That’s where the action should be; beginning withdrawal procedures before modernization negotiations even take place are counterproductive and send the wrong signal. Further, a U.S. Trade Representative is still waiting to be confirmed, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue just was sworn in yesterday. We need to give both time to have input on NAFTA modernization.”

NCGA Urges White House: Don't Withdraw from NAFTA

The National Corn Growers Association today denounced reports that the White House has drafted plans to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The following is a statement from NCGA President Wesley Spurlock.

"Mr. President, America's corn farmers helped elect you. We are strong supporters of your administration and continue to stand ready to work with you to build a better farm economy. That begins with strong trade policy.

"Withdrawing from NAFTA would be disastrous for American agriculture. We cannot disrupt trade with two of our top trade partners and allies. This decision will cost America's farmers and ranchers markets that we will never recover.

"NAFTA has been a huge win for American agriculture. Corn and corn product exports today account for 31 percent of farmer income. Mexico is the top export market for corn. Canada is also a top market for corn and ethanol. With a farm economy that is already weak, losing access to these markets will be a huge blow that will be felt throughout the ag value chain.

“Mr. President, agriculture and rural America are counting on you. We urge you not to withdraw from NAFTA."

U.S. Grains Council Statement On Potential NAFTA Withdrawal

A statement from U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight:

"We are shocked and distressed to see news reports that the Trump Administration is considering an executive order to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"Mexico and Canada are among our largest and most loyal grain export markets, and our organization has worked closely with partners in both countries for more than 30 years.

"An executive order as reported will have an immediate effect on sales to Mexico, market prices and the profitability of U.S. farmers, who are already facing below cost of production prices. Our top grain market is not a negotiating tactic.

"There is strong support and rationale to update and modernize NAFTA. Before today, we believed we were on track to have a reasonable discussion about how to update the agreement in ways that make sense for all parties. We hope we can get back to that position soon."

Statement of NPPC President Ken Maschhoff On NAFTA

“The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a tremendous success for the U.S. pork industry, which has seen an explosion in exports to Canada and Mexico since the deal was implemented in 1994.

“In fact, Mexico and Canada are now our No. 2 and No. 4 markets, so we absolutely must not have any disruptions to U.S. pork exports there. Even a short-term interruption in our exports would have a significant negative economic impact on U.S. pork producers.

“Abandoning NAFTA and going back to pre-NAFTA tariffs would be financially devastating to U.S. pork producers. Tens of thousands of U.S. jobs dependent on those exports would be lost.

“The bottom line is U.S. pork trade with Canada and Mexico has been very robust, and we need to maintain and even improve that trade. We’re all for modernizing NAFTA, but we cannot support efforts that would undermine the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers.”

U.S. Food & Ag Dialogue for Trade issues statement on possible U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA

The U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade (Trade Dialogue) issued the following statement regarding press reports of possible U.S. withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Over 130 food and agriculture trade associations and companies participate in the Trade Dialogue.

"The U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade is pleased to work with the Trump Administration to expand jobs and exports through modernization of NAFTA.  U.S. engagement in constructive, substantive negotiations with Canada and Mexico as soon as possible should be the singular priority and focus regarding NAFTA. Our North American trading partners are our largest food and agriculture export markets. Food and agriculture support over 15 million American jobs and is the largest U.S. manufacturing jobs sector.  Building on our food and agriculture exports to Canada and Mexico is essential to meeting the Trump Administration's economic growth targets." 

Wheat Grower Organizations Alarmed About Possible NAFTA Withdrawal

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are alarmed over media reports today that the Trump Administration is considering a withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico is our largest U.S. wheat buyer, importing more than 10 percent of all U.S. wheat exports this year. NAFTA truly opened the door to the strong and growing market opportunity in Mexico. Closing that door would be a terrible blow to the U.S. wheat industry and its Mexican customers.

USW and NAWG understand that there are several elements of the trade agreement that could be re-examined and modernized. However, we believe withdrawing from NAFTA would be a serious mistake. It could lead to new tariffs on U.S. wheat and threaten to undermine the long-standing, loyal relationship U.S. wheat farmers have built with Mexico’s wheat buyers and food industry. That would be devastating to U.S. wheat farmers already facing unprofitable prices and increasingly aggressive wheat exporting competitors.

USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 18 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit our website at  

Administration Proposes Comprehensive Tax Reform Plan, Includes Repeal of Death Tax

This afternoon, top officials in the Trump Administration released their proposal for comprehensive tax reform, calling it the “biggest tax cut in U.S. history.” The plan is designed to serve as the starting point as Congress and the Administration work to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year.

Danielle Beck, National Cattlemen's Beef Association director of government affairs, said the Administration included in the proposal immediate repeal of the Death Tax – a priority for NCBA.

“Permanent repeal of the death tax has been a priority for cattlemen and women for decades,” said Beck. “Since the Death Tax was implemented nearly a century ago it has not only failed to meet the misguided goals set by Congress, but has threatened the existence of many multi-generational farms and ranches.”

The tax reform proposal comes on the heels of an executive order signed by President Trump yesterday on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America. The EO establishes an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Policy and contains specific policy goals aimed at supporting rural agriculture, economic development, job growth, and infrastructure improvement, including:

Promoting the preservation of farms and agribusinesses as they are passed from one generation to the next, including changes to the estate tax and the tax valuation of family or cooperatively held businesses.

“The Death Tax is clearly on the Administration’s radar and for that we are appreciative,” said Beck. “NCBA will assist the Administration however we can as they work to put together a comprehensive tax reform package.”

Farm Bureau Applauds Regulatory Accountability Act

AFBF President Zippy Duvall

“American Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports the bi-partisan Regulatory Accountability Act introduced today by Senators Portman and Heitkamp. This bipartisan effort is one that should be welcomed by all stakeholders – farmers, ranchers, policymakers, state officials, environmentalists, scientists – anyone who wants a system that is open, transparent, and fair and who recognizes the current system fails to live up to our expectations.

“Reasonable people may disagree about regulatory policies, but we shouldn’t argue about how they are developed. When agencies use economic or scientific data, those facts and figures should be available for everyone to evaluate. When agencies decide on regulatory requirements, they should not make demands or impose costs that go beyond the will of Congress. When the government proposes rules, we should all have ample opportunity to evaluate and comment on the proposals. All too often, this doesn’t happen. Agencies must engage in greater outreach and do so sooner in the process. Increased transparency and disclosure can only help to instill greater confidence in the system. That confidence is too often lacking today.

“We applaud Senators Portman and Heitkamp for their leadership in assuring that agencies cannot ‘tip the scales’ in favor of their own proposals by using social media to advocate for them. This amendment is an important improvement to the Regulatory Accountability Act and we strongly support it.

“Over the past 40 years, presidents of both parties have enunciated principles found in this bill.  The RAA builds on those bipartisan principles. We support this legislative reform and will be working with senators on both sides of the aisle in pressing for its early consideration.”

NAWG Praises Introduction of The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) applauds Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) for introducing The Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) of 2017.

The RAA amends the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to increase accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process and codifies the bipartisan regulatory process established under Executive Order 12,866. This bill will also make sure federal agencies balance regulatory costs and benefits when developing new rules or changing existing regulations, and it provides stakeholders more opportunity to get involved earlier in the regulatory process.

NAWG President David Schemm made the following statement:
“Wheat producers continue to face an ever-tightening maze of regulations which can be taxing and difficult to navigate. Overzealous regulations can place unnecessary burdens on farmers and hinder their ability to carry out the day-to-day operations, which can marginalize their profits and become costly for taxpayers. 

“NAWG welcomes The RAA which creates a better regulatory framework and process from the get go, so we won’t have to keep facing increased regulatory burdens that don’t show substantial benefits. Wheat growers want to ensure a safe, affordable and abundant food supply for all our customers and a safe working environment for ourselves, families and employees, but if we are faced with complicated regulations that add to our cost of production, it becomes more difficult to maintain a viable farming operation, especially with low commodity prices. We thank Congress for continuing to address regulatory issues impacting agriculture and Senators Portman and Heitkamp for introducing this bi-partisan bill.”

President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Boost Rural America

President Trump is sending a clear signal this week that he is interested and engaged in helping boost rural America. With the executive order signed on Tuesday, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue will chair a newly established Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, charged “to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.”

Craig Uden, National Cattlemen's Beef Association president, said he is glad to see President Trump’s engagement this week.

“We are appreciative for President Trump making agriculture a high priority right out of the gate,” said Uden. “With Secretary Perdue in office and the establishment of this task force, we are in a strong position moving forward to develop policy that will bolster our rural economy rather than the continuous over-regulation we have recently faced.”

President Trump has specifically asked the task force to look at issues that have been high priority for NCBA – such as needed changes to the death tax and the protection of private property rights.

“The rural farm economy has suffered with a drop in net farm income and increasing regulatory environment. This is a great step forward to putting rural America back into focus and addressing the issues that have negatively impacted our industry over the years.”

In addition to the executive order establishing the task force, President Trump signed another executive order this week calling for the review of previous designations under the Antiquities Act. The Act, while intended to preserve Native American artifacts and areas of historical importance, instead has been used to place heavy restrictions on the land, bypassing Congress and local communities.

“The end result is a crippling effect to local economies – ranchers forced off the land, conservation efforts halted, and jobs lost,” said Uden. “We are pleased to see that the Administration recognizes the hardships these designations have caused and is willing to re-evaluate previous action. Trump’s action this week is a positive sign for rural America.”

White House Takes Important First Step to Reining in the Antiquities Act

The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applaud the executive order signed today that calls for a review of designations made under the Antiquities Act by previous presidents.

Dave Eliason, PLC president, said while the Act was intended to preserve Native American artifacts and areas of historical importance, Presidents have instead used the Act to bypass Congress and local communities to place heavy restrictions on massive swaths of land. Most recently, President Obama boasted of using the Antiquities Act more than any previous president—locking up 256 million acres of land and water in 30 separate designations.

“Western communities have been calling on Congress for years to address the continued abuse of the Antiquities Act. Elevating millions of acres to monument status without local input or economic analysis results in unrecoverable losses to the local communities.”

 In 1996, southern Utah faced a devastating reality when President Clinton designated 1.9 million acres as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Livestock grazing was drastically reduced from 106,000 AUMs. Now there are only 35,000 AUMs in use.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon was initially created in 2000 by President Clinton and comprised 53,000 acres of public land. In the final days of his tenure in the White House, President Obama went on to expand the monument by another 48,000 acres. This expansion will effectively prohibit logging on approximately 35,000 acres, adding to the risk of wildfire as fuel loads increase, and negatively affecting the economy of multiple counties within the monument.

“The Executive Order is an important first step to reining in past designations that were pushed through without local input,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “However, in order to bring the Act back to its original intent, Congress must act. Sen. Murkowski’s bill S. 33 Improved National Monument Designation Process Act would require Congressional approval of new designations, taking the power away from the Administration and placing back into the hands of those most impacted.”

The livestock industry, which supports many of the western communities, stands ready to work with the administration and assist in their review of designations and calls on Congress to pass Sen. Murkowski’s legislation without delay.

DuPont Reports Quarter Sales, Net Earnings

First-quarter sales at DuPont were $7.7 billion, up 5 percent versus prior year on a 4-percent benefit from volume and a 1-percent benefit from local price. Volume grew in almost all segments, led by Performance Materials, Electronics & Communications and Agriculture. Agriculture sales were positively impacted by the change in timing of seed deliveries which benefitted first quarter sales by approximately $140 million. This timing change benefitted total company net sales by 2 percent in the quarter.

"Our team delivered strong operational performance in the first quarter, growing operating EPS by 30 percent," said Ed Breen, Chairman and CEO. "The strength of our new product introductions and increased demand in key markets together resulted in top-line increases in almost every business.

In its agriculture dividion, DuPont's operating earnings were of $1.22 billion increased $135 million, or 12 percent, on local price and volume growth. Pricing growth was realized by double-digit increases in Brazil driven by the company's newest corn hybrids and increased sunflower seed sales in Europe. Volume growth was driven by an approximately $140 million benefit from the change in timing of seed deliveries, increased insecticides and sunflower seed sales partially offset by a decrease in expected corn acreage in North America. Operating margins expanded by about 240 basis points.