Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday June 29 Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2017, was 3.45 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was down 1 percent from June 1, 2016, but up 3 percent from March 1, 2017.

Breeding hog inventory, at 420,000 head, was down 1 percent from June 1, 2016, but up 1 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.03 million head, was down 1 percent from last year, but up 3 percent from last quarter.

The March – May 2017 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.12 million head, was up slightly from previous year. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 185,000 head, unchanged from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.45 for the March – May period, compared to 11.40 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 190,000 sows during the June – August 2017 quarter, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for September – November 2017 quarter are 190,000 sows, up 6 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On June 1, 2017, there were 22.2 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The June 1 inventory was up 2 percent from the previous quarter and up 7 percent from the previous year. 

The March-May 2017 quarterly pig crop was 5.91 million head, up 4 percent from the previous quarter and 8 percent above last year. A total of 540,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.95 for the March- May quarter, up from 10.75 the previous quarter. 

As of June 1, producers planned to farrow 540,000 sows and gilts in the June-August quarter and 540,000 head during the September-November quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2017 was 71.7 million head. This was up 3 percent from June 1, 2016, and up 1 percent from March 1, 2017. This is the highest June 1 inventory of all hogs and pigs since estimates began in 1964.

Breeding inventory, at 6.07 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 65.6 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from last quarter. This is the highest June 1 market hog inventory since estimates began in 1964.

The March-May 2017 pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 4 percent from 2016. This is the second largest March-May pig crop since since estimates began in 1970. Sows farrowed during this period totaled 3.06 million head, up 3 percent from 2016. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.55 for the March-May period, compared to 10.48 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.70 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.60 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.06 million sows farrow during the June-August 2017 quarter, up slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2016, and up 2 percent from 2015. Intended farrowings for September-November 2017, at 3.06 million sows, are up slightly from 2016, and up 4 percent from 2015.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 47 percent the previous year.

Cuming County FSA Reminds Producers of Upcoming Acreage Reporting Date

Cuming County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Sarah Beck is reminding area producers that accurate and timely reporting of acres for all crops and land uses, including failed and prevented planted acreage, can prevent the potential loss of FSA program benefits. The next acreage reporting deadline that producers should pay close attention to is July 17, 2017, for all spring-seeded crops and Conservation Reserve Program acres.

“In order to comply with FSA program eligibility requirements, all producers are encouraged to visit the Cuming County FSA office to file an accurate crop certification report by the July 17 deadline,” said Beck.

Beck also noted that an FSA office visit is necessary even if farmers and ranchers have filed crop acreage reports with their insurance provider. The USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI) allows FSA and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to share common acreage reporting information electronically between offices. Once a producer files at one location, data that’s important to both FSA and RMA will be securely and electronically shared with the other location, avoiding redundant and duplicative reporting. However, producers must still visit both locations to validate and sign acreage reports, complete maps or provide program specific information.

The following exceptions apply to the above acreage reporting date:

·    If the crop has not been planted by the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.

·    If a producer acquires additional acreage after the above acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported no later than 30 calendars days after purchase or acquiring the lease. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the county office.

·    If a perennial forage crop is reported with the intended use of “cover only,” “green manure,” “left standing” or “seed,” then the acreage must be reported by July 17.

According to Beck, Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy holders should note that the acreage reporting date for NAP-covered crops is the earlier of the date listed above or 15 calendar days before grazing or harvesting of the crop begins.

For questions regarding crop certification and crop loss reports, or to schedule an appointment to complete acreage certification, please contact the Cuming County FSA office at (402) 372-2451.

Nebraska Teachers Focus on Agriculture at National Conference

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation sent eight Nebraska K-12 teachers to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, June 19-23 in Kansas City, MO.

The annual conference uses workshops, awards ceremonies, and tours of agricultural operation to show general K-12 education teachers as how agriculture can be used effectively in formal classroom instruction.

Brandi Lambert, a first-grade teacher in Waverly, is one of the Nebraska teachers that attended the three-day conference. “The whole conference was so inspiring and reaffirmed my belief of the importance of agriculture in the classroom,” she said. “I would encourage other teachers to attend the conference because of the wealth of ideas, resources, and connections that you walk away with.”

“I want the students in my classroom to take away a new appreciation for all that farmers do to feed the world.” Said Jane Gundvaldson, who received the trip in conjunction with receiving one of the Foundation’s Teacher of the Year Awards. “We have great farming happening in our area, but students just don’t have the opportunity to learn about it. I want to make a difference in their lives and have them learn about agriculture in Nebraska, not just the Gretna area, but the entire state. I can do this when teaching Nebraska history, math, science, or even writing!”

Teachers from across Nebraska attended, including teachers from Omaha, Gretna, Lincoln, Sidney, Minatare, Waverly, and North Bend. Three teachers were recognized on stage at the conference – Matthew Koth and Jane Gundvaldson as Nebraska’s Teacher of the Year Award recipients, and Judi Roach and Jane Gundvaldson as recipients of the CHS Conference Scholarship.

Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, says supporting teachers is a smart investment. “We are thrilled to partner with teachers who recognize the benefits of incorporating agriculture into their classrooms. The impact of attending this conference will multiply as they share the knowledge and resources gained with their students and fellow teachers,” she said.


The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) is a Nebraska tradition and a unique opportunity for students to increase their knowledge and appreciation of agriculture.  Nearly 200 Nebraska high school juniors and seniors will serve as delegates at this year’s 46th annual NAYI, July 10-14, in Lincoln. NAYI is sponsored in part by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).

“NAYI is a meaningful and memorable experience for students interested in agriculture,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “It’s also an investment in Nebraska as NAYI delegates learn about potential career paths available in the agricultural industry.”

During the five-day Institute held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus, delegates participate in agriculture policy and group discussions as well as career development activities. Motivational speakers and a farm management program help delegates grow their leadership potential and strengthen their pride in Nebraska agriculture. The week also provides delegates an opportunity to network with industry leaders, top-notch speakers and ag representatives.

Since its start in 1971, NAYI has shared the importance of agriculture with nearly 6,000 youth from across the state. Delegates apply for and are selected to attend the Institute free of charge due to numerous donations from agricultural businesses, commodity groups and industry organizations.

“I’d like to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support of NAYI,” said Ibach. “Their generous contributions have helped make NAYI the incredible program that it is, and the longest running one of its kind in the nation.”

NAYI events and additional youth learning opportunities throughout the year are organized by the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC). NDA selects Council members who are passionate about agriculture and who want to teach young Nebraskans about the state’s leading industry. This year’s Council is comprised of 21 college-age men and women from across the state.

To learn more about NAYC or NAYI, visit the NAYI website at Or, follow NAYI activities on Facebook and Twitter by searching and liking the Nebraska Ag Youth Institute or by following #NAYI17.

Developing a Marketing Plan in 5 Steps

Having a plan is one of the most important ingredients for marketing both old and new crop corn and soybeans. That plan creates both a purpose and accountability for a farmer to market grain in a more timely fashion.

The reasons a marketing plan is so important and factors to consider when creating a plan is the focus of the Ag Decision Maker article “Developing a crop marketing plan.” The article is written by Steve Johnson, farm management specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and is available in the June issue of Ag Decision Maker.

“Farmers need to have an actual marketing plan to overcome the emotion and procrastination that comes with marketing grain,” Johnson said. “In the early summer months, some Iowa farmers are holding their largest amount of unpriced old crop corn bushels in more than 20 years.”

The article spells out five primary steps farmers should keep in mind while developing a marketing plan.

Cost of production, along with how much it will cost to store the grain after harvest and before a sale, must be known so a farmer can determine a good sales price.

Price objectives that reflect both the futures price and cash price received.

Time objectives that mark when that crop will be sold. Uncertainty about the level of that season’s production elevates futures prices in the spring or early summer months, making it an ideal time to sell off portions of an upcoming crop.

Employing a variety of marketing tools can spread risk and attempt to capture futures when prices are high or when basis (the gap between futures price and cash price) narrows.

Write down the marketing plan and note the reason for using a particular strategy or tool. This provides purpose for why a decision was made and can reduce second-guessing when marketing grain.

“Farmers often feel that prices are going to go higher, especially in the spring when the greatest uncertainty in production occurs and prices rally,” Johnson said. “Having a plan, writing it down and sticking to it can help farmers overcome the struggles they have around emotion and procrastination.”

The components of a crop marketing plan are also contained in the Marketing Tools Workbook section of the Iowa Commodity Challenge website.

“ISU Extension and Outreach, in partnership with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, have created a one-stop shop for marketing strategies, tools and market planning that features a variety of learning activities, videos, workbooks and access to a crop marketing simulation game,” said Johnson.

Four Prairie Strips Workshops to be Held this Summer

Four workshops will be held this summer and fall to help Technical Service Providers (TSPs), Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) and other advisors who work directly with farmers and landowners achieve their certification in prairie strip design, establishment and monitoring.

The full-day workshops will cover field mapping, prairie plant identification, seed mixtures, maintenance, determining costs, ‘AgSolver applications’ and more. Attendance at the workshop is the first step of a three-part certification program to become a prairie strips consultant.

The workshops are free for all attendees. A limited number of qualified attendees will receive a $250 stipend for attending the workshop and a $1,000 bonus after successful installation of prairie strips on a client’s field. Program participants will create a communications piece to support their business credentials in prairie strips.

All workshops will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will be run by faculty and extension staff from Iowa State University. The four dates and locations for training workshops are:
    July 12, The Wallace Learning Center, Lewis
    August 3, Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, Calmar
    September 11, Northeast Iowa Community College Clock Tower Business Center, Dubuque
    September 28, Iowa State University Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm, Sutherland

An online registration form and additional information about the workshops are available. Completed registration forms and questions should be submitted to

The workshops are sponsored by the McKnight Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance.

USGC Talks Crop Quality, Supply Directly With Customers In Japan, South Korea

Exports are brokered across continents, but customers still appreciate the opportunity to talk face-to-face with their suppliers – particularly U.S. farmers.

Michael Fritch, who farms in central Iowa, traveled this month with U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Senior Director of Global Programs Cary Sifferath to facilitate discussions on crop progress, quality and marketing in two of the largest and most stable markets for U.S. feed grains, Japan and South Korea.

Japan is traditionally a top market for U.S. feed grains, coming in as the second largest buyer of U.S. corn, following Mexico, in 2015/2016. Japan was also the second largest buyer of U.S. barley and the third largest buyer of U.S. sorghum in 2015/2016.

This far in the marketing year (September-April), Japan purchased 8.92 million tons (351 million bushels) of U.S. corn, a 71 percent increase year-over year. The country has bought more U.S. sorghum in the current marketing year (nearly 137,000 tons, or 5.4 million bushels) than overall purchases for the past four marketing years. Japan has also been a strong buyer of U.S. co-products in recent months, purchasing 62 percent more U.S. DDGS compared to last year at this time, more than 275,000 tons.

The Japanese market was built over decades through an open and honest exchange of information on crop quality, emerging technology and supply availability between members of the U.S. agriculture value chain and Japanese buyers and end-users. Missions like the one this month are critical to maintaining this loyalty to U.S. feed grains and co-products.

“Japan is a very important long-term buyer of U.S. corn and other feed grains,” Sifferath said. “We have to assure them of the stability of a long-term supply of U.S. corn and that we are continuing to produce good quality corn to meet the demands of the Japanese feed industry as well as other global markets.”

More than 110 Japanese customers and feed millers attended the crop seminars in Japan, including members of the Japanese Feed Manufacturers Association (JFMA) and JA Zen-Noh, the most influential agricultural cooperative and the largest importer of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubes (DDGS).

During these meetings, Sifferath presented on the results of U.S. crop quality. Fritch, as a fifth generation farmer, provided a from-the-farm update on crop progress and conditions as well as an explanation of the latest farming practices and technologies utilized on his farm in central Iowa.

“Our customers appreciate corn farmers like Mr. Fritch coming from thousands of miles away to Japan to present on their farming practices and to talk with customers directly,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “Doing so gives customers trust and credibility in U.S. corn and the Council can show the transparency and openness of the U.S. grain marketing system.”

The pair also traveled to the northern part of Japan, visiting a feed mill and large beef operation that uses imported U.S. corn as well as the port expansion at Kushiro Port, which will allow the intake of Super Post-Panamax vessels.

The pair next took their crop quality information to the third largest market for U.S. corn and DDGS, South Korea.

South Korea has purchased 4.12 million tons (162 million bushels) of U.S. corn thus far in the marketing year (September-April), up significantly year-over-year. South Korean purchases of DDGS are also up 27 percent year-over-year, at more than 677,000 tons. The country is a top market for U.S. ethanol, with more than 27.1 million gallons in purchases this marketing year.

Sifferath and Fritch met with the Korean Feed Association (KFA), which accounts for 70 percent of the nation’s total mixed feed production, as well as Nonghyup Feed Inc., the feed business unit of the National Agricultural Cooperatives Federation, the world’s eighth largest cooperative. The pair also visited the new grain port in Pyeongtaek and Cargill’s newest and largest animal feed mill in their global feed operations, Cargill Agri Purina.

“The seminar held in Seoul was a very timely and beneficial opportunity for the feed grain industry in Korea to get information on the new crop corn and the current supply and demand situation as corn planting has almost been finished," said Haksoo Kim, USGC director in Korea.

In both countries, the clear message was that U.S. farmers and agribusiness value these steady North Asian markets and are willing to go the distance – literally – to keep buyers and end-users informed.

“We appreciate Japan's and South Korea’s loyalty as top customers for U.S. feed grains,” Sifferath said. “The U.S. corn industry is committed to ensuring a stable supply of quality grains to their markets and the rest of the world.”

IGC Raises 2016-17 Grain Production Forecast, Cuts 2017-18 Estimate

The International Grains Council said Thursday that it still sees global grain production breaching the 2.1 billion metric ton barrier to reach the highest ever volume, with forecasts for southern hemisphere maize production moving ever higher.

The IGC nudged its monthly output forecast for 2016-17 up to 2,124 million tons in June, from its adjusted estimate of 2,120 million tons given at the end of May. This represents a more-than 5% year-on-year increase.

The grains body also updated its estimates for global grain production in 2017-18, slightly cutting its forecast to 2,049 million tons from the 2,053 million ton projection it released in May. That would constitute a 4% year-on-year drop in global grain production.

Forecasts of huge harvests across several grain-producing regions has seen the IGC raise its production forecast in 12 of its last 13 reports.

Of the expected 34 million ton production increase on-the-year, the IGC says wheat and maize will account for 16 million tons and 19 million tons of that increase, respectively.

The IGC upgraded its corn production forecast to 1,069 million tons from 1,065 million tons and its soybean forecast to 351 million tons. The body forecast wheat production at 754 million tons, cutting its forecasts for a rise to a 0% growth at 484 million tons.

Strong maize production in Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa is one of the drivers behind the IGC's production forecast hike.

The report also highlighted an upward revision to soybeans based on Argentinian and Brazilian production.

The council said the downward revision for 2017/18 comes after adverse weather conditions in the northern hemisphere over recent weeks.

NAWG Commends Senate Agriculture Committee for Holding a Hearing to Examine the Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a Full Committee hearing on “Conservation and Forestry: Perspectives on the Past and Future Direction for the 2018 Farm Bill”. Members heard testimony from several USDA representatives including Mr. Tom Tidwell, Chief of the Forest Service; Mr. Jimmy Bramblett, Deputy Chief of Programs at the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Ms. Misty Jones, Director, Conservation and Environmental Programs Division at the Farm Service Agency.

NAWG President David Schemm submitted written testimony for the record and made the following statement:

“Cropping systems, climate, and soils vary across the country for wheat farmers. Accordingly, conservation programs need to provide farmers the flexibility they need to efficiently manage their resources.

“NAWG has prioritized working lands conservation programs in our discussions about the next Farm Bill and support the continuation of voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs.

"Working lands programs, such as CSP and EQIP, are the most beneficial in helping grower manage their operations to address natural resource concerns and maintain a viable crop. These programs should be balanced with CRP which can also play an integral part of a conservation plan on a farmer’s operation.

“Wheat growers are focused on managing our operations for long term success. Without a successful crop each year and long term financial stability, we cannot purchase new equipment, test new practices and experiment with new cropping systems. Farm Bill Conservation programs provide a backstop that allows us to make investments in pioneering technology and try new conservation practices.

“NAWG members are very supportive of Farm Bill Conservation Program and we encourage the committee to retain the variety of conservation program the Farm Bill offers. We are also looking forward to working with Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization.”

During the second panel, members heard testimony from Mr. Steven Horning, Horning Farms in Watertown, S.D.; Mr. Paul D. Dees, Chairman, Delta Wildlife in Stoneville, MS; Ms. Barb Downey, Downey Ranch in Wamego, KS; Mr. Adam Sharp, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Dr. Salem Saloom, Tree Farmer and Owner, Saloom Properties in Brewton, AL; Mr. Chuck Roady, Vice President and General Manager of F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company; and Dr. Christopher Topik, Director of North America Forest Restoration, North America Region of the The Nature Conservancy.

American Ethanol Revs Up NASCAR and RCR Partnerships for Coke Zero 400, Unveils Patriotic Paint Scheme on Austin Dillon’s No. 3

This Sunday’s Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway is the “final lap” for the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola program – the sport’s official thank-you to the men and women who serve our nation in the armed forces.

American Ethanol is proud to announce that retired Four Star General, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and Growth Energy Board member Wesley Clark will serve as the Grand Marshal of the race.

Employees from Growth Energy member companies who have served our country in the military and their spouses will accompany General Clark at the track – and root for Austin Dillon’s No. 3 car, which will be decked out in a patriotic American Ethanol paint scheme that NASCAR unveiled Wednesday.

“At Growth Energy, honoring our military members is a strong tradition, and this July 1 we’re proud to work with NASCAR and Richard Childress Racing partners to thank and honor our veteran members at the race,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

NASCAR has surpassed 10 million miles on Sunoco Green E15, made with American ethanol – a homegrown biofuel. Biofuels are a win for America as they solidify our energy security, promote a healthy environment, and allow us to invest back into our local communities instead of abroad.

“Our partnership with NASCAR and Richard Childress Racing goes beyond sponsorship agreements. We share many of the same ideals, which makes being a part of the sport such an enriching experience for Growth Energy and American Ethanol,” said Skor. “We are working to make sure that every NASCAR fan in America is a fan of ethanol. We are confident that more and more NASCAR fans will come to value our industry as one that embodies the values they hold dear.”

Syngenta joins Produce Marketing Association Gold Circle Campaign for Food Safety

Syngenta is reinforcing its commitment to food safety through the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Gold Circle Campaign for Food Safety. By participating in this campaign, Syngenta joins more than 300 fresh produce suppliers and buyers – from growers and distributors to retailers, foodservice operators and solutions providers.

“We are excited to partner with PMA and support its membership through participation in the Gold Circle Campaign,” said Lisa Moricle, Head, Vegetable Seeds Marketing at Syngenta, North America. “Participation in this and numerous other food safety initiatives around the world is just one example of our Good Growth Plan commitment to improve the sustainability of agriculture in action.”

PMA, a global trade organization representing companies from every segment of the global fresh produce and floral supply chain, founded the Gold Circle Campaign to address the industry’s challenge of increasing food production with fewer resources, while bolstering confidence in the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. In particular, the campaign funds critical research and education delivered by dozens of research-based organizations, including the Center for Produce Safety (CPS). CPS focuses on prevention research that provides real-world solutions applicable to the entire produce supply chain.

Made in the USA Biodiesel Supports Jobs, Fourth of July Values

As the nation celebrates its independence, American-made biodiesel is powering fleets across the country and supporting more than 64,000 jobs throughout the supply chain.

“Biodiesel showcases the heart of July 4th – American independence. We are proud to deliver a renewable energy source made in the USA that supports thousands of domestic, green energy jobs,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “Our industry is an American success story driving economic activity and independence throughout the supply chain.”

There are countless real-life examples of the power of biodiesel supporting America’s economic independence and jobs throughout the supply chain. Here are a few:

Feedstocks:  Biodiesel is made from easily accessible fats and oils. Resources are diverse and readily available. They include recycled cooking oil, soybean oil, animal fats, and more.

    Farmers - Robert Stobaugh farms 6,000 acres of soybeans, corn, rice and wheat in the Arkansas River valley, while at the same time powering his farm equipment with biodiesel. Soy protein feeds the world, while the surplus oil used in biodiesel fuels U.S. energy independence. “The thing I like best about using biodiesel is it powers the equipment that's used to grow the largest feedstock supply used to make biodiesel,” explains Stobaugh, an NBB Governing Board member. “I call it full-circle production. Biodiesel creates American jobs and literally drives the American economy as well as the farm economy.”

    Restaurants – Asheville, N.C.-based Blue Ridge Biofuels collects over 700,000 gallons of used cooking oil annually from nearly 1,500 restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. They use this waste oil to produce clean-burning, renewable biodiesel. “We not only produce and deliver biodiesel, we use it to power our own diesel fleet and many of our employees use it too” said General Manager Woody Eaton.

    Biodiesel Producers:  There are nearly 90 NBB-member biodiesel plants across the country, collectively producing more than 1.8 billion gallons of biodiesel annually (2016). Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG), the largest biodiesel producer in the U.S., employs 690 people in the U.S. alone and indirectly supports thousands of other jobs. In 2016, REG produced 513 million gallons of biomass-based diesel in 12 plants, located in eight states. REG’s biodiesel production involved 46,616 truckloads across 43 states, 4,995 railcars, and 87 marine vessels.

    Quality Control Experts: Judy Elliott’s job is key to the biodiesel industry’s commitment to fuel quality.  Elliott is one of seven independent auditors contracted with the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission. Based in Crown Point, Indiana, Elliott audits biodiesel producers, marketers, and laboratories seeking BQ-9000 Producer or Marketer status under the industry’s strict quality assurance program.  America is home to 13 labs and eight consulting companies that assist companies that are seeking BQ-9000 certification.

    Fuel Suppliers/Marketers: AMERIgreen is an energy wholesaler in the Mid-Atlantic and New England markets that provides biodiesel and Bioheat® through 35 distributors in the region. They also supply fuel to 13 biodiesel retail pumps. AMERIgreen supports over 30 jobs organizationally and dozens more through distribution partnerships. “AMERIgreen works diligently every day to support American jobs, and to deliver the highest quality biodiesel to all of our distribution partners,” said Jason Lawrence, Vice President of Operations for AMERIgreen. “We are proud to support our industry this way and we look forward to its continued growth.”

These are just a few examples of the dedicated commitment to renewable energy across the biodiesel supply chain.

Hundreds of fleets across the country are powering their vehicles with cleaner-burning, domestically produced biodiesel. Biodiesel users and advocates include the City of New York, Kettle Chips, Method Home Products, Disney, Harvard University, the Super Bowl, the U.S. military, Enterprise Rental Car, Clif Bar, and many others.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday June 28 Ag News

ABC, BPI Settle LFTB Libel Suit

(AP) --- ABC and a South Dakota meat producer announced a settlement Wednesday in a $1.9 billion lawsuit against the American network over its reports on a lean, finely textured beef product that critics dubbed "pink slime."

The terms of the settlement are confidential. Dakota Dunes-based Beef Products Inc. sued ABC in 2012, saying ABC's coverage misled consumers into believing the product is unsafe, is not beef and isn't nutritious. ABC spokeswoman Julie Townsend said in a Wednesday statement that the network throughout the case has maintained its reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about the product.

"Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company's interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer's right to know about the products they purchase," Townsend said.

BPI and its family owners said in a statement that the lawsuit was difficult, but necessary to start rectifying the harm suffered as a result of ABC's reports on lean, finely textured beef. The coverage emphasized that the product at the time was present in 70 percent of the ground beef sold in supermarkets, but wasn't labeled.

After the reports aired, some grocery store chains said they would stop carrying ground beef that contained the product. BPI claimed in the 2012 complaint that sales declined from about 5 million pounds (2.3 million kilograms) per week to less than 2 million pounds (907,000 kilograms) per week.

The product can be added to ground beef to reduce the overall fat content. It's made from trimmings left after a cow is butchered. The meat is separated from the fat, and ammonia gas is applied to kill bacteria. Former Department of Agriculture microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein named the product "pink slime" in a 2002 agency email.

BPI has said the sales drop forced it to close plants in Iowa, Kansas and Texas, laying off more than 700 workers. Only a Nebraska plant in South Sioux City remained open.

"Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: it is beef, and is safe, wholesome, and nutritious," the company and family said in the statement. "This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business, while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family."

Both ABC and BPI declined to comment beyond their written statements.

BPI could have been seeking damages as high as $1.9 billion, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing from Disney, which owns ABC. BPI was also seeking "treble" damages, or triple the amount, under South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act and punitive damages.

Opening statements in the trial against ABC and correspondent Jim Avila were in early June, and the trial was scheduled to last until late July.

Helicopter flight data to be shown at July 13th meeting

Last summer, Northeast Nebraska residents may have seen a low-flying helicopter with a large “spider web” array of scientific equipment towed about 100 feet below it.  The equipment is designed to map geologic structures beneath the earth.  Flights were conducted over portions of the following counties:  Cedar, Cuming, Dixon, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Platte, Stanton, and Wayne Counties.  The helicopter flew lines spaced approximately 3 miles apart over most of the area.

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will have the final report from these flights available at their committee meeting on Thursday, July 13th at 7:00 p.m.  The meeting will be held in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.  Technicians from Aqua-Geo Frameworks, LLC, will be presenting the information discovered during the exploration of the aquifers, hundreds of feet below the land surface.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The geologic information available from the flights will improve the district’s understanding of the available groundwater resource and potential groundwater/surface water connections in an area of the state made more complex by the presence of glacial deposits.”  He added, “Understanding these isolated aquifers will help us to protect the resource and make better management decisions in the future.”

The LENRD planned these flights with grant assistance from the Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund.  If you would like to learn more, visit the ENWRA website at under the “2016 AEM flights” tab.

Nebraska’s NRDs Celebrate 45 Years of Protecting Natural Resources

July 2017 marks 45 years of protecting lives, property and the future of natural resources for Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs).  Throughout 2017, the NRDs will be celebrating the success of projects and programs that help protect Nebraska’s natural resources.  NRDs are unique because they are governed by locally elected boards and Nebraska is the only state to have this system.  A handful of board members, managers and staff have been a part of the system since the NRD creation in 1972.

Senator Maurice Kremer introduced and the Nebraska Legislature enacted Legislative Bill (LB) 1357 in 1969 to combine Nebraska’s 154 special purpose entities into 24 Natural Resources Districts by July 1972.  The original 24 NRDs’ boundaries were organized based on Nebraska’s major river basins which allows for better management practices to be applied to similar topography.  In 1989, the Middle Missouri NRD and the Papio NRD were merged into one, becoming the Papio-Missouri River NRD which resulted in the current 23-NRD system.

“Nebraska’s 23 NRDs have been addressing natural resources issues and concerns with local solutions for 45 years,” said Mike Sousek, General Manager of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) in Norfolk.

Nebraska's NRDs are involved in a wide variety of projects and programs to conserve and protect the state's natural resources.  Sousek added, “NRDs are charged under state law with 12 areas of responsibility including flood control, soil erosion, and groundwater management.  While all NRDs share the 12 main responsibilities, each district sets its own priorities and develops programs to best serve local needs and to protect Nebraska’s natural resources for future generations.”


Bio Nebraska Executive Director Phil Kozera and Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio) Executive Director Joe Hrdlicka announced today new Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg will be a speaker at its animal health symposium scheduled for Tuesday, July 18th and Wednesday, July 19th in Ames that will focus on the biotech industry’s role in mitigating animal health emergencies. Gregg will speak at approximately 8 a.m. on the 19th.

Kozera and Hrdlicka said they are again pleased to have Lt. Governor Gregg and commitments from some of the nation’s foremost research and regulatory experts to lead the discussion on preventing past and future emergency outbreaks. The event kicks off with a 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. facility tour and a 5 to 7 p.m. networking reception on Tuesday, July 18th. The main symposium is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19th. Tuesday’s facility tour will be located at the USDA National Centers for Animal Health in Ames with the networking reception following at Olde Main Brewing Co. Wednesday’s events will feature presentations and panel discussions at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus.

Dr. John Schleifer, DVM, MS, DACPV, Staff Veterinarian with Rembrandt Inc. is scheduled to lead off the industry discussion on Wednesday followed by a list of leading animal health experts addressing critical topics to livestock producers and animal health professionals in government, academia and industry (See full agenda at website listed below).

Those interested in attending this event may register by clicking this link:

Recent outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AIV) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) have had serious consequences in the Heartland region, impacting animal health, human health, animal producers, the encompassing agriculture industry, and the overall economy both domestic and abroad, Kozera and Hrdlicka said. They indicated the impact of these recent outbreaks inspired the symposium.

“These were not the first diseases emerging in the region, and will certainly not be the last, Hrdlicka said. “In our discussion with industry and regulatory experts, we believe it’s critical to open the dialogue to minimize impact from future events.”   Kozera said our regions’ leadership in animal production dictates a need for an ongoing conversation on practices designed to quickly respond to outbreaks. “We have seen first-hand the significant dangers these diseases pose for the economies of Midwest states like Nebraska and Iowa,” he said. “It is critical that animal health professionals, producers, academia and government leaders collaborate in an effort to minimize future threats.”

Dr. Marcus Kehrli (director of the National Animal Disease Center with the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service) assisted the organizations coordinating the event. “I’m pleased to work again with these organizations on this event,” he said. “The discussion and collaboration is needed to prepare for these emergencies and raise the level of awareness surrounding the significant impact of these events.”

ICA 2017 Carcass Challenge Winners Announced

Six years ago, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association developed a program to benefit Iowa cattle producers and friends of the industry. The Carcass Challenge Contest showcases Iowa’s feeder cattle genetics and feedyard performance; offers a fun, competitive statewide contest to demonstrate Iowa’s beef production opportunities and advantages; and raises non-dues revenue, which the ICA then invests in educational events for all sectors of the beef industry.

Educational Opportunities

The 2016-17 Carcass Challenge Contest included a few changes for the program. For starters, the 2016 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) class recruited a record setting number of 81 head of steers to be fed at Kennedy Cattle Company of Atlantic. The steers were delivered in early November and marketed in May. Proceeds from the steers help fund YCLP.

Throughout the program, data was gathered to be used for educational purposes. Bi-weekly email communications with sponsors and donors provided updates on the steers and educational information on the data collected.

David Trowbridge and Faye French with Gregory Feedlots, along with Matt Groves with the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity Coop, played a major role in developing advanced educational materials. New charts and graphs were created to display the data that was collected and showcase different performance traits, offering an opportunity to “see” the steers’ performance on paper. Program participants were able to see how genetics and pre-contest environment affected the cattle.

In early February, ICA and Kennedy Cattle Company hosted an open house at the feedlot for everyone involved with the program. By that point in time, the steers had been on feed for three months, weighed twice, ultrasounded twice by Isaiah Shnurman, interpreted by Mark Henry with The Cup Lab and reimplanted. The group was presented with educational charts and graphs and given the opportunity to visit with Trowbridge and Groves and discuss the information as a group. Zak and Mitch Kennedy also shared their philosophy on feeding and handling cattle.

Winners Announced

On June 1st, ICA hosted the Sixth Annual Carcass Challenge Banquet at the Iowa State University Alumni Center in Ames.  The audience was presented with Mallorie Wilken, Ph. D. with Elanco Animal Health on the benefits of using modern technology to advance their cattle’s performance in the feedlot. The keynote speaker of the evening was Bob Fields with Global Protein Solutions. Bob presented very positive and thought provoking information to the group of Iowa cattle producers and friends of the industry. Much was taken away from Bob’s presentation on cattle marketing, domestic and international trade and bringing back full-circle to the end consumer from a retailer’s point of view.

Awards were presented to the Top 10% of the number of steers in the contest based off the contest performance and carcass data that was taken at harvest on May 2nd at the Tyson Plant in Dakota City, SD. The main award is for Retail Value per Day on Feed (RVDoF). The RVDoF is a measurement of profitability and a value-added calculation that consider important consumer quality issues such as tenderness and flavor. Additional awards given in the contest were for the Highest Average Daily Gain, Largest Ribeye Area, Highest Marbling Score and the Chef Award, which recognizes a 12-14 inch ribeye with the highest marbling score. The winners all received an engraved rawhide banner and cash or merchandise award. The top winning steer donors were award a check for $5,000, which this year’s winners have graciously donated back to the ICA.

The 2017 winner of the Carcass Challenge Contest in the RVDoF went to John Wessels with Pine View Angus of Colesburg and Mike Cline with Har-Mar Farms of Elgin. In second place, the award went to Rex Hoppes and Mike Henderson with Advanced Beef Genetics of Anita. The third place winner was Brian McCulloh with Woodhill Farms of Viroqua, WI. In fourth place was JD Morris of Algona and the Kossuth County Cattlemen and fifth place was Carl Bormann of Bancroft, also sponsored by the Kossuth County Cattlemen. Jim Bradford and the Guthrie County Cattlemen took home the sixth place award. The Jones, Delaware & Dubuque County Cattlemen steer raised by Jason Kurt walked away with the seventh place winnings. And in eighth place, the award went to Brad Balsley of Floyd and Bob Noble of Riceville.

The winners of the individual categories were Pine View Angus and Har-Mar Farms for the Chef’s Award and the Highest Marbling Score of MDAB07, the highest marbling score ever held in the history of the contest. The winner of the Largest Ribeye went to Advanced Beef Genetics with a 17.1 inch ribeye area. Advanced Beef Genetics also took home the award for the Highest Average Daily Gain of 5.20 pounds per day.

Young Cattlemen Begin Recruiting Efforts

The Carcass Challenge provides the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) with not only funding, but a team project to encourage leadership skills. YCLP class members recruit steers and donors for the program, and proceeds from the sale of the steers funds the next class of YCLP participants.

The ICA would to thank the sponsors, donors and everyone involved with the program. We are already making plans for the next Carcass Challenge Contest. The deadline for registering a spring 2017 steer for the contest is October 6th. Details and entry requirements can be found on the ICA website under the ICA Programs tab. The 2017 YCLP class will soon be working on recruiting steer donors for the contest, but anyone interested in participating in the program can call the ICA office at 515.296.2266 to get involved.

Some Retail Fertilizer Prices Have Barely Budged So Far in 2017

Retail fertilizer prices continued to show little movement in either direction the third week of June 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. A look at data collected by DTN so far this year shows prices for some fertilizers have barely budged since the beginning of the year.

Of the eight major fertilizers, prices for all but one were slightly lower compared to a month prior. DAP had an average price of $436 per ton, MAP $470/ton, urea $333/ton, 10-34-0 $435/ton, anhydrous $497/ton, UAN28 $243/ton and UAN32 $273/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, potash, was just slightly higher compared to the previous month. Potash had an average price of $340 per ton the third week of June 2017.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.36/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Though prices for some fertilizers have inched higher since the beginning of the year, prices for all retail fertilizers are still lower compared to a year earlier. Three of the eight major fertilizers are still double-digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago while anhydrous is 12% less expensive and UAN32 is 10% lower. Both UAN32 and urea are down 9%, DAP is 7% less expensive and both MAP and potash are both 5% lower.

U.S. ethanol production capacity continues to increase

Fuel ethanol production capacity in the United States reached 15.5 billion gallons per year, or 1.01 million barrels per day (b/d), at the beginning of 2017, according to EIA's most recent U.S. Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity report. Total capacity of operable ethanol plants increased by about 4%—or by more than 600 million gallons per year—between January 2016 and January 2017.

Most of the 198 ethanol plants in the United States, representing most of the U.S. fuel ethanol production capacity, are located in the Midwest region (as defined by Petroleum Administration for Defense District, or PADD, 2). Total nameplate capacity in the Midwest was 14.0 billion gallons per year at the beginning of 2017 (918,000 b/d), an increase of about 4%—or by more than 530 million gallons per year—between January 2016 and January 2017.

Nameplate production capacity, the measure of capacity that EIA tracks, is the plant manufacturer's stated design capacity to produce fuel ethanol during a 12-month period. Of the top 13 fuel ethanol-producing states, 12 are located in the Midwest. The top three states—Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois—contain more than half of the nation’s total ethanol production capacity.

Actual U.S. production of fuel ethanol reached a total of 14.8 billion gallons (965,000 b/d) in 2016. In EIA's June Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), U.S. production of fuel ethanol was forecast to reach 15.8 billion gallons (1.03 million b/d) in 2017, equivalent to slightly more than 100% utilization of reported nameplate capacity as of January 1, 2017.

Ag Industry Urges Trump to Appoint Full USDA Leadership Team

As President Donald Trump approaches the 200-day mark of his administration, more than a dozen prominent agriculture organizations are urging him to move quickly to fill vacancies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“With a struggling rural economy—which has seen a 55 percent decrease in income over the last three years—we need leaders and decision makers in place to serve farmers, ranchers and consumers,” reads a letter sent to the White House today by the National Corn Growers Association and 16 other agricultural groups.

The organizations praised the selection of Sonny Perdue to lead USDA, but noted that the agency has more than 100,000 employees and needs a full leadership team.

“The absence of high-ranking officials at USDA puts our farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage. It is impossible to pilot such a large and complex agency without a team of powerful and talented people at the helm,” the letter reads.

“Secretary Perdue is an outstanding leader, but USDA is too large and too important to be a one-man show,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “It’s time to get a full leadership team in place.”

NAWG Joins Ag Industry Groups in Urging the Administration to Appoint USDA Leadership Team

Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers joined more than a dozen other prominent agriculture organizations calling on President Donald Trump to quickly to fill vacancies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

NAWG CEO Chandler Goule made the following statement:

“Farmers have had to deal with a rapidly declining market, and months and years of sustained low prices means rural America is struggling. We need, now more than ever, strong leadership at the USDA to continue effectively implementing key Farm Bill programs that will help bring producers out of these tough economic times.

“We commend President Trump for nominating Sonny Perdue to Secretary of USDA but now it is time to get his top policy advisors in place. From promoting agriculture production to keeping our food supply safe, the USDA’s role and responsibilities are vast and complex and require more than one Senate-confirmed official at the Department.

“NAWG encourages the Administration to quickly fill leadership vacancies within the USDA especially as we head into the reauthorization of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

Ag Equipment and Machinery Depreciation Act Being Proposed

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has joined Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) to introduce the bipartisan Agriculture Equipment and Machinery Depreciation Act to help farmers purchase new equipment and replace worn-out machinery by amending the U.S. tax code to permanently set a five-year depreciation schedule for certain agricultural equipment. The current tax code sets a seven-year depreciation cost recovery period for agricultural equipment.

Changing the depreciation schedule for agricultural equipment to five years would make the tax code more consistent and support rural development by aligning the length of time that farmers can take a depreciation deduction with the average useful life of that property.

"This commonsense legislation will give farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to invest in new, more modern equipment so they can create more jobs and growth in our communities," said Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "A five year depreciation schedule allows for predictability and fairness in our overly complex tax code, giving the agriculture community the ability to produce more efficiently and at a lower cost."

Under the tax code, taxpayers are allowed a depreciation deduction to allow them to recover the costs of investing in certain property, like farm machinery and farm-use motor vehicles. The recovery period for the deduction should match the useful life and financing of that property.

According to surveys from the Farm Service Agency, on average farmers and ranchers finance farm equipment and machinery for five years.

NGFA, grain/oilseed value chain partners urge USDA to drop proposed biotech regulatory changes

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), in a joint statement submitted recently with four other agribusiness associations representing the grain and oilseed value chain, urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to withdraw its proposed regulations governing the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms.

APHIS requested comments on its proposed so-called "Part 340" regulatory revisions, which among other things would eliminate the notification process for certain genetically engineered organisms in favor of an affirmative permitting scheme.

The NGFA, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association and North American Millers' Association said the APHIS proposal was "premature" since governmental authorities in important U.S. export markets have not been consulted adequately yet nor signaled acceptance of the agency's proposed new regulatory approach. A failure to obtain such acceptance could result in significant disruptions in trade of U.S. agricultural commodities and processed products, the NGFA and the other groups warned. They urged the agency to withdraw the proposed changes and instead turn its focus to engaging with international governments to build a better understanding and acceptance of the reasons the agency is seeking to modify its regulatory oversight.

"Above all else, APHIS needs to 'do no harm' by avoiding prematurely implementing a regulatory approach under its Part 340 rules with respect to advancements in genetic engineering technology that puts U.S. grain and agri-bulk exports at risk," the NGFA and the other organizations said. "APHIS should not be working at cross-purposes to undercut the administration's focus on trade and exports."

The NGFA and the same grain- and oilseed-based agribusiness organizations also submitted a joint statement in response to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) request for comments on the use of genome-editing techniques to produce new plant varieties intended for use in human and/or animal food.

The organizations recommended that FDA require notification from plant breeders that develop and intend to commercialize plant genome-editing techniques. This would enable the agency to be informed about the kinds of traits being developed so it can determine whether to advise seed developers to consult with the agency on any food safety or labeling-related issues prior to commercialization of such gene-edited crops.

"In the absence of a notification requirement, FDA's awareness about the presence of foods developed through various plant-breeding techniques in other countries or regions of the world would be limited severely," the statement said.

Waters of the U.S. Withdrawal a Step Toward Regulatory Certainty for Soybean Farmers

With an announcement yesterday from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it would formally repeal the Waters of the United States rule, the American Soybean Association (ASA) hailed what it called a significant step toward greater regulatory certainty for soybean farmers. ASA released the following statement from Vice President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer on EPA’s withdrawal of the rule:

“Soybean farmers have been watching the Waters of the U.S. rule since its unveiling in 2015 as an unfortunate example of the positive goal of clean water obstructed by unworkable and impractical federal regulation. Farmers cannot operate without clean water, and each of us takes his or her role as a steward of that resource very seriously. The WOTUS rule, however, subjected the creeks and streams and ditches that crisscross our operations under an overly broad, one-size-fits-all regulatory definition that made no sense for our individual farms. We are happy to see the rule withdrawn, and the action this week from EPA is a significant step toward greater regulatory certainty for soybean farmers. We look forward to sitting down with Administrator Pruitt and his team at EPA to help build a practical and workable plan to safeguard water quality in our nation’s growing regions.”

Syngenta teams up with RFD-TV for a second season of “FarmHer”

Syngenta U.S. announced that it will return as the presenting sponsor of “FarmHer on RFD-TV” for a second consecutive season, which starts this fall.

“We are proud to continue our support of the FarmHer movement,” said Wendell Calhoun, communications manager at Syngenta. “The television show is a great way to showcase some of the amazing women in our company and industry and the impact they make every day to shape agriculture and our world. The first season was a resounding success, and we’re looking forward to what the team has to offer for season two.”

During the show’s inaugural season, viewers had the opportunity to meet women from across the country who contribute to agriculture in invaluable ways. Marji Guyler-Alaniz, the show’s host and founder of the FarmHer movement, visited more than 43 farms, ranches and agricultural labs. Through photography, video and interviews, she gave viewers a glimpse into the lives of some of the women who make up more than 30 percent of the farming workforce.

Guyler-Alaniz and her team have already begun traveling the country from coast to coast, visiting FarmHers to be featured in season two.

“The diversity of operations and the women who are an integral part of them will continue to expand,” Guyler-Alaniz said. “We’ll take viewers inside a working ranch, then to a whitetail deer farm. We’ll travel from the green mountains and grapes of northern California to Florida, where we’ll visit an almost 90-year-old rancher. In Iowa, we’ll experience a large herd of wild horses and a small greenhouse operation. I can’t wait to continue our FarmHer journey with the RFD-TV audience in season two.”

The Syngenta #RootedinAg Spotlight segment will also be returning in season two with a focus on the women who have inspired others to follow their dreams.

“FarmHer on RFD-TV” returns September 8, with episode premieres airing Fridays at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time. For more information, please visit Viewers should check their local listings to find RFD-TV in their area. For more information about the Syngenta sponsorship and to see #RootedinAg Spotlights from season one, please visit

Soybeans Help Boost Monsanto Co.'s Quarterly Profit

Higher soybean plantings in the U.S. this spring boosted biotech seed giant Monsanto Co.'s quarterly profit, despite the broader slump in agricultural commodity prices.

Farmers this year have dedicated more acres to soybeans after a string of record-breaking harvests have eroded the price of widely grown crops like corn and wheat. Soybean prices had fared better due to strong demand from China and elsewhere, though prices have declined as farmers ramped up planting. Heavy rain this spring also forced some farmers to switch some corn fields to soybeans, which typically can be planted later.

That trend coincided with Monsanto's introduction of new soybean varieties that are genetically engineered to resist a more powerful combination of herbicides. About 20 million U.S. acres were sown with the new seeds, executives said Wednesday.

"For soybeans, the momentum continues to be tremendous," Monsanto President Brett Begemann said, as the St. Louis-based company reported better-than-expected profit for the period.

Chief Executive Hugh Grant said Monsanto's sale to German chemical conglomerate Bayer AG was progressing through antitrust reviews around the world. The $57 billion deal to create the world's largest supplier of pesticides, seeds and crop genes is expected to close this year, he said.

Some jurisdictions already have cleared the deal. South Africa required Bayer to sell a herbicide and crop gene franchise that competes with Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" suite of crops and weed killers as a condition of the deal.

A 29% increase in quarterly sales for soybean seeds and crop genes prompted Monsanto on Wednesday to maintain its forecast earnings of $4.09 to $4.55 a share for its fiscal year, which wraps up Aug. 31. Shares climbed 0.9% to $118.36.

Monsanto's new soybean variety, engineered to resist the herbicide dicamba as well as glyphosate, has also been linked to crop damage across some portions of the southern U.S. A growing number of farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee have reported crop damage allegedly caused by dicamba drifting from neighboring fields. Some farmers have sued Monsanto.

The company has said it advises farmers on how to use the spray safely and will fight the lawsuits.

For the quarter Monsanto reported income of $843 million, or $1.90 a share, up from $717 million, or $1.63 a share, a year ago. Revenue from seeds and genomics, Monsanto's biggest business, fell 2.3% to $3.1 billion despite strong results from the soybean seed segment.

Tuesday June 27 Ag News

Growing and Grazing Cover Crops conference is Aug 9 in Lincoln, NE

Nebraska Extension, Lancaster County Farm Bureau,  Nebraska Corn Board, and North Central SARE have teamed up to provide a unique learning and networking opportunity for potential cover crop growers and cattle operators.  The Opportunities for Growing and Grazing Cover Crops conference will be held on August 9th at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, NE and will focus on bringing farmers and ranchers together to discuss partnerships and best management strategies.

There are many challenges and opportunities with cover crops, but utilizing cattle to graze cover crops may provide a benefit to both farmers and cattle owners.

“Using cattle to graze cover crops is a way to capture extra income while also gaining some environmental benefits”, said Mary Drewnoski, UNL Beef Systems Specialist.

Many events are held throughout the year to help farmers properly select and grow cover crops, but very few connect the farmers and the ranchers at one event.  “Cover crops can be a way for both livestock producers and grain producers to improve soil health and increase their income”, said Rod Hollman, President of Lancaster County Farm Bureau. “Cover crops can provide extra feed for livestock allowing producers to increase the size of their herds.”

The event will be held on Wednesday, August 9th in the Exhibit Hall at the Lancaster Event Center as a part of the Lancaster County Superfair.  The event will start at 11:00 am with a welcome and lunch, and will conclude at 5:30 pm following a tradeshow and networking session.  A reception will follow the event sponsored by Polansky Seed.

Pre-registration is required by August 4th.  More information and registration for the conference can be found at or by calling 402-441-7180.  There will be many activities going on at the fair for the whole family and you can view the entire fair schedule at

Ibach will Celebrate Arrival of Nebraska Beef in China

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach will be in Beijing and Shanghai June 29-30, 2017 to celebrate the arrival of Nebraska beef into China for the first time in 14 years.

“We are working to ensure that Nebraska beef will be well represented in the Chinese marketplace,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Nebraska is home to 4 of the 6 eligible suppliers that are currently approved to ship beef to China.  Nebraska stands to benefit greatly by capturing a share of China’s beef import market which was estimated to be $2.5 billion in 2016.”

While in Beijing, Ibach will participate in a variety of promotional events along with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, staff from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), representatives from approved Nebraska plants and the leadership from the U.S. beef community.

During the trip, Ibach will also be meeting with key Chinese importers of beef along with representatives of businesses and establishments that have expressed interest in learning more about Nebraska beef products and the story of the Nebraska beef at several events organized by USDA and USMEF.

“Nebraska leads the nation in beef exports and commercial red meat production, and China is the second largest importer of beef in the world,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “We feel it is important to make sure importers and consumers hear the Nebraska beef story early and often as we work to capture market share in China.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               How should you graze regrowth in pastures that had tall growth trampled during a previous grazing?  I don’t know but I have some ideas.

               Grass growth of cool-season grasses like smooth bromegrass has been phenomenal in many parts of Nebraska this spring.  For some reason the rainfall and temperatures and sunshine all combined to produce an abundance of tall grass.

               As good as this sounds, when it came time to graze this tall grass much of it got trampled rather than eaten.  As we come back to graze those pastures a second time, there is a combination of new regrowth, tall stemmy grass, dead and brown trampled grass, and partly pushed over but still green old grass.  How should that mess be handled?

               Animals turned into these pastures with enough time and space will wander around grazing just the regrowth.  And when that’s all gone they’ll stand around and beller to be moved to fresh pasture.  That may be fine if you have plenty of pasture, but there are other options.

               One option that I’m kind of fond of is to increase stock density.  In other words, only give the herd part of the pasture at a time.  This requires some temporary cross fencing as well as planning regarding water access, but it can be well worth it.

               If you increase stock density so your animals have access to about one day’s worth of grazing at a time, grazing and manure distribution will be more uniform, animals will eat more of the less desirable older forage so carrying capacity will increase, and grass that was trampled previously will be better incorporated into the soil for faster recycling and soil improvement.

               Obviously, either option is acceptable.  But if you want to extend grazing and improve conditions for next time, putting a little extra management into the grazing will pay off in the long run.

NDA Invites 4-H, FFA Members to Enter Poultry Calendar Photo Contest

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is inviting 4-H and FFA youth to participate in their annual Poultry Calendar Photo Contest. The contest highlights the state’s diverse poultry population and raises awareness of biosecurity measures for poultry owners. The deadline to enter is July 15, 2017.

“With the building of a new chicken processing plant in Fremont, a turkey hatchery in Beatrice and a chicken hatchery in Grand Island, it’s exciting to see how the poultry industry is expanding in Nebraska,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “This contest gives 4-H and FFA students the opportunity to promote and support the state’s expanding poultry industry by taking photos of the wide variety of poultry found in our state.”

Winners of NDA’s Poultry Calendar Photo Contest will be announced during the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. The photos will be featured in the 2018 NDA Poultry Biosecurity Calendar which will also include information on biosecurity measures owners can take to keep their flocks healthy and prevent the spread of diseases like avian influenza.

NDA staff members will judge the photo contest entries based on originality, composition and photographic skills. Contest rules and official entry forms are available online at

Printing of the 2018 NDA Poultry Calendar is funded through a grant from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Service, Western Region. Calendars will be available at local University of Nebraska Extension offices.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that four successful watershed-based demonstration projects funded in 2014, and set to end this year, will receive a 2nd round of funding. The locally-led projects will build upon previous demonstration objectives and continue working towards accelerated implementation of practices that improve water quality.

“Extending these projects will allow us to build on the strong foundation that has been created in these watersheds and continue to learn more about the best ways to get water-quality-focused practices on the land.  These projects create a great opportunity for farmers to see practices up close and better understand how they might work on their own farm,” Northey said.

The projects receiving extensions are the Cedar Creek Partnership Project (Wapello County), Deep Creek Water Quality Initiative Project (Plymouth County), Lower Skunk Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative (Henry County), and the Walnut Creek Watershed Project (Montgomery County). More details about each of the projects can be found at

These projects will receive a total of $1.88 million in additional funding through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative over the next three years. In addition to the state funds, these four projects will access approximately $4.1 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions.

These funds will allow the projects to focus on scaling up implementation of conservation practices identified in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and continue to build on existing assessment and evaluation methods.  Also, an additional $200,000 has been allocated for these projects which will be targeted towards implementation of select priority nutrient reduction conservation practices including wetlands, saturated buffers and bioreactors.

These four projects will continue to build upon existing partnerships as well as expand efforts to include new partnerships developed during the first three years. Thirteen new partners have joined the existing 37 partners currently involved in these projects. Partners include agriculture organizations, institutions of higher education, private industry, the local, state and federal government, and others, all working together to move conservation based water quality efforts forward.

“These projects are hitting their stride in terms of engaging farmers, getting practices on the ground and coordinating with partners and stakeholders.  We have always understood that it would take a long-term commitment to improvement in these watersheds and I’m excited to continue to learn from these projects as we work to scale-up and expand water quality efforts across the state,” Northey said.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship also has been successful in securing additional federal resources for several of these projects through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP).  These funds, when paired with Iowa Water Quality Initiative and partner investments, do more than what any one group or organization can accomplish alone.

Fischer Welcomes Latest Step in WOTUS Withdrawal Process

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is taking further action to undo the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

“Today’s announcement from the administration signals another important step toward full removal of the harmful WOTUS rule. All Nebraskans would have been affected by the far-reaching consequences of this misguided policy. I will continue to monitor the WOTUS withdrawal process to help ensure we see common-sense rulemaking that puts Nebraskans in charge of the decisions involving our state’s water resources.”

Today, the EPA announced that the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule was removed from the Code of Federal Regulations. Doing so opens a public comment period after which the agency will review and respond to substantive comments regarding the withdrawal of the rule. This announcement signifies that the EPA is following through on President Trump’s executive order to roll back the WOTUS rule completely.

Earlier this year, Senator Fischer and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a resolution that expressed the need to vacate the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule. The resolution signified the senators’ intent to continue working with the Trump administration to scrap the harmful rule altogether. She’s also sponsored other legislative proposals to stop the rule.

In March 2015, Senator Fischer chaired a field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Lincoln, Nebraska, to hear firsthand from Nebraskans about the effects of WOTUS.

Sasse Statement on Move to Rescind WOTUS

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after the EPA, Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposal to rescind the Obama-era WOTUS rule.

“WOTUS was a nightmare dreamed up by Washington’s bureaucrats. This is a major victory for farmers and ranchers across Nebraska — the very people who know and care the most about our water. We should all be thankful for this step towards reining in the Obama administration’s out-of-control EPA.”

In February, Senator Sasse sent a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt requesting withdrawal from WOTUS.  Senator Sasse urged Administrator Pruitt to:

1. Withdraw the Waters of the United States Rule and Restore State and Local Control Over Non-Federal Environmental Protection.
2. Put a Stop to EPA Freelancing in Implementing the Renewable Fuels Standard.
3. Improve Coordination with Federal Agencies.
4. End Abusive “Sue and Settle” Practices.
5. Eliminate the EPA's “Clean Power Plan.”
6. Reduce Needlessly Costly Regulations.
7. Protect the Privacy of Farmers and Ranchers.
8. Collect Additional Information on Mining Rules.
9. Review Rule for the Nebraska Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plan.
10. Decentralize EPA Enforcement Actions.

Smith Applauds Plan to Repeal WOTUS

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers released a proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS.

“WOTUS was one of the most flagrant abuses of regulatory power in modern history and threatened the future of agriculture,” Smith said.  “I was pleased to join President Trump at the White House in February when he signed the executive order directing the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to go back to the drawing board on WOTUS.  Today’s repeal proposal is another important step toward certainty and relief for producers, landowners, and local communities.”

Smith introduced H.J. Res. 59, the House resolution utilizing the Congressional Review Act to block WOTUS, in July 2015.  In January 2016, both chambers of Congress passed the Senate companion to Smith’s resolution, which was vetoed by President Obama.

Rep. Bacon Statement on WOTUS Repeal

Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) issued the following statement today following the repeal of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule:

“The Waters of the US Rule was the prime example of government overreach and resulted in costly compliance measures. It placed burdensome regulations on Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, landowners, county governments and others that unnecessarily delayed infrastructure projects and conservation.  I am pleased that this cumbersome rule has been repealed. WOTUS was intended to regulate navigable waters; not puddles and irrigation ditches.”

Ricketts, Nebraska Ag & Business Groups Applaud WOTUS Repeal

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska agriculture and business groups applauded an announcement by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt that the Trump Administration had finalized the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“Thank you to President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for delivering on your promise to roll back this job-killing regulation,” said Governor Ricketts.  “This policy returns federal oversight of intra-state waterways to pre-2015 standards, respects the rights of private land owners and states, and provides for ample protection of clean water.  Removing this threat to our state’s top industries gives Nebraska the freedom to grow more opportunities for the next generation in the areas of agriculture and manufacturing.”

“Today, countless farmers, ranchers, homebuilders, manufacturers, county governments, golf courses, and small businesses are loudly celebrating the demise of EPA’s proposed WOTUS rule,” said Steve Nelson of Axtell speaking on behalf of the Common Sense Nebraska coalition.  “For over two years, our coalition which represents the very industries who would have had to bear the brunt of this federal land grab, have worked tirelessly to stop this breathtaking assumption of authority by the federal government that flies in the face of Congressional intent, legal precedents, and even science.  We want to thank the Trump Administration and EPA Administrator Pruitt specifically for now going back to the drawing board to write a new rule that actually protects water without trampling the rights of businesses and state regulatory agencies.”

“I applaud the Trump Administration and Secretary Pruitt’s announcement to walk away from the previous administration’s WOTUS rule and begin the process to develop a new rule,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach.  “The expansive reach and inability to determine what water or land may fall under jurisdiction under the existing regulation puts Nebraska’s agriculture industry in jeopardy.  Our farmers and ranchers have proven to be thoughtful stewards of our land and resources, and jurisdiction of those resources should be the responsibility of the states.  I look forward to the development of a new rule, founded in common sense, that will support Nebraska’s ability to protect our water and land resources.”

About Common Sense Nebraska

Common Sense Nebraska is a diverse, Nebraska-based coalition consisting of organizations and entities that have united in response to the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule, a regulatory proposal that would harm both rural and urban Nebraskans through expansion of the EPA’s powers and authorities under the federal Clean Water Act.  The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans.  For more information visit Common Sense Nebraska on Facebook.

Common Sense Nebraska Coalition members include:

AKSARBEN Club Managers Association
Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter
Farm Credit Services of America
Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association
National Federation of Independent Businesses/Nebraska
Nebraska Agribusiness Association
Nebraska Association of County Officials
Nebraska Association of Resource Districts
Nebraska Bankers Association
Nebraska Cattlemen
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Nebraska Cooperative Council
Nebraska Corn Board
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association
Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board
Nebraska Pork Producers Association
Nebraska Poultry Industries
Nebraska Rural Electric Association
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska State Dairy Association
Nebraska State Home Builders Association
Nebraska State Irrigation Association
Nebraska Water Resources Association
Nebraska Wheat Board
Nebraska Wheat Growers Association
Nemaha Natural Resources District
Pawnee County Rural Water District #1

EPA Proposes Rule To Repeal ‘WOTUS’

The National Pork Producers Council hailed today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it will propose a rule to rescind a controversial Clean Water Act regulation that gave the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.

The proposal – expected to be published in the Federal Register in the coming days – will repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which ostensibly was implemented to clarify EPA’s authority over various waters.

Based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, EPA’s jurisdiction had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the WOTUS rule broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

“This is great news for America’s pork producers,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands.

“It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and likely would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers,” Maschhoff added. “We’re extremely grateful to President Trump and EPA Administrator [Scott] Pruitt for recognizing the dire consequences this ill-advised Obama-era regulation would have had on pork producers and all of American agriculture.”

NPPC helped lead the agricultural community’s opposition to the WOTUS rule, including producing maps showing the extent of the lands affected by the regulation. (EPA’s jurisdiction in Missouri, for example, would have increased to cover 77 percent of the state under the rule.) The organization also led the legal efforts against the rule, filing suit in a U.S. District Court and presenting a brief to a U.S. Court of Appeals. The latter halted implementation of the WOTUS rule shortly after its Aug. 28, 2015, effective date.

Once the proposed repeal rule is published, it will be subject to a public comment period.

NCGA Statement on WOTUS Repeal

The following is a statement from Texas farmer Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s announcement of the proposal to repeal the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule:

“The goal of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation’s waters. The 2015 rule moved us further away from that goal. Repealing it is an important first step toward providing farmers the certainty and clarity we have long desired.

“We are thankful this Administration is working to draw clear lines in terms of what is and what is not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act. In doing so, they will enable farmers to implement best management practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips without the burden of bureaucratic red tape or fear of legal action. These types of land improvements have enormous water quality benefits, such as reducing sediment and nutrient runoff—a win for farmers and the environment. Government should be making these actions easier, not more difficult.

“We salute the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers for their efforts. We stand committed to working with these agencies as they develop a new rule that defines jurisdictional boundaries in clear terms that are inclusive of the realities of farming.”

Earlier this year, President Trump issued Executive Order 13778, directing EPA and USACE to review the final 2015 WOTUS rule, and publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with law. Today’s announcement is the next step in that process.

Farm Bureau Applauds EPA Move to Ditch Flawed WOTUS Rule

Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation

“Farmers and ranchers across this country are cheering EPA’s proposal today to ditch its flawed Waters of the U.S. rule. We know the importance of clean water, and farmers and ranchers work hard to protect our natural resources every day.

“But this rule was never really about clean water. It was a federal land grab designed to put a straightjacket on farming and private businesses across this nation. That’s why our federal courts blocked it from going into effect for the past two years. Today’s announcement shows EPA Administrator Pruitt recognizes the WOTUS rule for what it is—an illegal and dangerous mistake that needs to be corrected.

“Farm Bureau looks forward to supporting Administrator Pruitt’s proposal. EPA should ditch this rule once and for all, go back to the drawing board, and write a new rule that protects water quality without trampling the rights of businesses and the states.”

Inquisitive neighbors encouraged at soil health field days across Midwest

When it comes to caring for farmland and adopting the next generation of farming practices, there cannot be enough sharing. That’s the philosophy of the Soil Health Partnership, hosting its fourth year of field days this summer and fall within its network of more than 100 farms.

At the field days, Midwestern farmers can learn how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can make farmland more productive, efficient and sustainable.

Some events are open for registration in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Nebraska. The organization plans about 70 field days throughout the summer and fall, with more events yet to be scheduled in those states, plus additional events in Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Whether you are brand new to the topics covered during a field walk, field day or round table discussion, or you are a seasoned soil health veteran, you can learn valuable information that will help your business,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership and National Corn Growers Association director of soil health and sustainability. “We know local information is most relevant to agronomists and other farmers, and this is a unique chance to learn from neighbors and other experts about what has worked in your area.”

Protecting and improving soil is one of the best opportunities for increased yield potential and water quality, erosion control and carbon mitigation, Goeser said.

The Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health, from an economic as well as environmental standpoint. An initiative of NCGA, the SHP works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, industry, foundations, federal agencies, universities and well-known environmental groups toward common goals.

For a list of field days, and to register, visit More dates will be added throughout the summer.

America’s Oldest and Largest Cattlemen’s Group Calls On NAFTA Negotiators to Preserve Market Access, “Do No Harm”

Kevin Kester, a fifth-generation California rancher and president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association – the oldest and largest national association of cattlemen - today testified in support of the market access that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has delivered for America’s cattle producers, and warned against the re-adoption of failed policies that harmed the industry in the past.

“NCBA strongly supports NAFTA because the terms of NAFTA developed Canada and Mexico into two very important export markets for U.S. beef,” Kester testified at a hearing hosted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Quite frankly, it is difficult to improve upon duty-free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico—so please do no harm and do not jeopardize our access.”

Kester pointed out that Canada and Mexico have become two of the top five export markets for U.S. beef producers, accounting for approximately $1 billion each in annual sales. Kester also warned USTR’s NAFTA negotiators to beware protectionist calls to resurrect failed policies of the past, such as mandatory country-of-origin labeling, also known as COOL.

“COOL was U.S. law for over six years and failed to deliver on its promises to build consumer confidence and add value for our producers,” Kester pointed out. “Instead, COOL resulted in a long battle in the World Trade Organization with the United States facing the promise of $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and Canada unless COOL was repealed by Congress. Canada and Mexico still have the authority to retaliate against the United States if COOL is brought back into effect—and rest assured they will retaliate against us if necessary.”

Skunes Testifies on NAFTA at USTR Hearing

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is critical for corn farmers and agriculture at large, and continuing its long-term success is a top priority to our members, National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Kevin Skunes testified Tuesday at a hearing of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to examine priorities for the upcoming NAFTA renegotiations.

“North America has become the most important export market for the U.S. corn industry,” Skunes testified. “Corn farmers export about 20 percent of our annual corn crop, and exports account for about one-third of our income. Today, the agriculture economy is experiencing its fourth year of a downturn marked by low commodity prices. I cannot stress enough how important export markets are to our ability to stay in business.”

Skunes, a farmer from Arthur, North Dakota, highlighted how NAFTA has positively impacted U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico since its implementation in 1994.

“Free trade has benefitted American farmers, and NAFTA has been extremely valuable to our industry,” said Skunes. “Twenty-three years of investment has led to a sizeable increase in trade. Since 1994, U.S. corn exports to NAFTA partners have increased more than seven-fold. Today, we export a record volume of more than 14 million metric tons of corn to Mexico and Canada, valued at $2.68 billion. In 2016, corn exports to these two neighbors supported 25,000 jobs, on top of helping support 300,000 U.S. corn farmers.”

Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. corn as well as a significant market for distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Canada is a top-10 export market for corn and DDGS, and the number one export market for U.S. ethanol.

NCGA’s top priority for NAFTA modernization is to preserve duty-free access for corn and corn products, and to expand market access for corn in all forms, including livestock products, DDGS, and ethanol, Skunes told government officials.

“We look forward to working with USTR and the Administration to build on the success corn farmers and the broader agriculture industry have enjoyed under NAFTA.”

USGC: NAFTA Modernization Efforts Should Seek to Ease Uncertainty For Customers, U.S. Farmers

Concerns about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have disrupted relationships with longstanding customers of U.S. grains and caused significant concern in farm country, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Chairman Chip Councell testified Tuesday to a panel of government officials examining priorities ahead of NAFTA renegotiation talks.

Councell, a farmer from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, spoke at the hearing to provide information and offer personal insights into the impact of NAFTA changes to the U.S. corn, sorghum and barley industries.

He told panelists he has been to Mexico twice this year and helped to host a team of Mexican grain buyers visiting the United States to talk with farmers and policy makers. Through those conversations, he learned firsthand that buyers’ concerns are translating into dollars lost in farm country.

"Because our agriculture economies have grown to be so closely intertwined, this trade agreement in particular is critical to my business. The last several months have highlighted how important it is to maintain this strong, stable relationship if we are going to continue to grow," Councell said.

Councell told panelists that the Council has "strong but unconfirmed evidence" Mexico will purchase corn from South America later this year, and that he himself took a futures position for his entire 2017 corn crop when withdrawal talk began, fearing what might happen to markets as the new crop approached.

"What is happening now in our relationship with Mexican buyers will change how the Mexican industry invests in infrastructure, impact our demand for years to come and impact individual producers like myself financially," he said.

Councell said that rising demand for feed and food has created new opportunities for grain and oilseed exports to Canada and Mexico over the past three decades, which have been tariff-free thanks to NAFTA. Proximity and natural logistical advantages have led to efficiencies and integration on both sides of the border and helped dramatically expand U.S. farmers' exports to Mexico, in particular.

With these successes in mind, Councell urged panelists to ensure negotiators make every effort to do no harm to existing markets and avoid retaliation against U.S. agriculture. He also outlined improvements the Council would suggest for the agreement, including elements drawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text as well as updated sanitary and phytosanitary, biotechnology synchronization and energy provisions.

The U.S. Grains Council is a private, non-profit organization that works to build demand and develop markets for U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and related products including ethanol, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), and corn gluten feed and meal.

The Council hosts programs in Canada and Mexico and has strong relationships with the feed and livestock industries in both countries.

Canada was the ninth largest export market for U.S. corn; the seventh largest export market for U.S. DDGS; and the top export market for U.S. ethanol in the 2015/2016 marketing year.

Mexico was the top export market for U.S. corn in the 2015/2016 marketing year and is a steady and significant buyer of U.S. barley, sorghum and DDGS. The Council has maintained an office in Mexico for 35 years, helping the Mexican feed and livestock industry develop through training, information exchange, technology transfer and market development.

U.S. Wheat Organizations Share Positions on NAFTA with USTR

Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) CEO Chandler Goule and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Director of Policy Ben Conner testified to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

Since the Trump administration announced its intention to renegotiate NAFTA, the wheat industry has urged the government to not harm its trade relationships with Canada and Mexico.

“NAFTA has been one of the most advantageous trade agreements for wheat farmers in U.S. history,” said Goule. “By removing import tariffs, NAFTA has established a crucial market for wheat producers in Mexico.”

"U.S. Wheat Associates has been helping to facilitate the relationship between our farmers and their Mexican customers for over 45 years, but that relationship took off with NAFTA. It is a highly successful partnership that resulted in Mexico being our largest customer the past two years." Conner said.

“While Mexico is an important customer to the U.S. wheat grower, some improvements can be made that benefit the food and agriculture sectors in both countries,” continued Goule. “For instance, a new agreement should include the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules that the three countries already agreed to as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The SPS provisions of TPP provided more tools to address problems.”

Conner also pressed for resolution of barriers that are a disincentive for U.S. wheat farmers to deliver wheat to nearby Canadian elevators.

"U.S. farmers should be able to deliver their wheat to a Canadian elevator and not automatically receive the lowest grade because it was grown on our side of the border. This is a no-brainer, and it is already Canada’s legal obligation under existing trade agreements."

International Dairy Groups Join U.S. in Calling for Action Against Unfair Canadian Trade Policies

An international coalition of 10 dairy industry organizations, including three U.S. dairy groups, is asking their governments’ trade ministers to intercede in the increasingly acrimonious dispute over Canada’s harmful dairy policies that is having global repercussions. The groups co-signed a joint letter today requesting that their respective trade ministries “pursue all avenues available to challenge these measures, including WTO dispute settlement and bilateral trade agreement relationships.”

The U.S. dairy sector, represented by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), together with seven dairy groups from Argentina, Australia, the European Union, Mexico and New Zealand, is insisting that Canada remove the recently implemented policies that are facilitating the dumping of Canadian dairy products in the international market, while making already prohibitive Canadian restrictions on dairy imports even more onerous.

“IDFA will use every opportunity to urge administration officials and legislators who are working to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to tackle these unfair, illegitimate and protectionist policies,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.

Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO, said that “Canada’s revised dairy policy amounts to a ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ approach, damaging not just its neighbor to the south, but also causing harm to other major dairy exporting countries around the world. This policy must stop now, before any more damage is done to American farmers and those from other nations seeking to compete on a level global playing field.”

“Canada has been adopting policies that run counter to our longstanding agreements and upending what has until recently been a mutually beneficial trade relationship,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Our trade agreements must be honored and not ignored—or worse—by our closest neighbor.”

In February, Canada implemented a special milk Class 7 pricing policy that artificially lowers milk ingredient prices for Canadian processors and is designed to incentivize the substitution of domestic Canadian dairy ingredients for imported ingredients, while also pushing Canadian proteins out onto world markets at below-market prices. The result of this policy is the widely reported cancellation of purchases by Canadian cheese makers of U.S.-sourced ultra-filtered (UF) milk, and the even more damaging ability of Canadian exporters to sell milk proteins globally at a much lower price, thereby undercutting exports from the U.S. and the other countries. It is due to this latter impact that dairy groups in multiple countries have been expressing opposition to Canada’s new system.

The letter was sent to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, as well as to Argentina and Australia’s Ministers for Trade, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, the EU Commissioner for Trade, and New Zealand’s Minister of Trade. In addition to the U.S. dairy leaders, the letter was signed by the CEOs of the European Association of Dairy Trade (Eucolait), European Whey Products Association (EWPA), European Dairy Association (eda), Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), Camara Nacional De Industriales de la Leche (CANILEC), the Centro De La Industria Lechera (CIL), and the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC).

“Our respective dairy industries are firmly of the view that the operation of Ontario’s Class 6 and Canada’s Class 7 contravene Canada’s international commitments,” the letter reads in part. “Canada's increasingly protectionist policies are diverting trade with attendant global price-depressing impacts, and are in conflict with the principles of free markets and fair and transparent trade. We therefore request the authorities of Argentina, Australia, the EU, Mexico, New Zealand, and the US to take all steps available to them to resolve this issue and ensure that Canada complies with its international obligations. “

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue conducted a series of meetings with Canadian officials, raising the points of disagreement and reinforcing that these issues need to be resolved, particularly in light of the renegotiation of NAFTA.