Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday October 30 Ag News + Crop Progress & Condition


For the week ending October 29, 2017, temperatures averaged near normal across western Nebraska, but two to five degrees below normal in the east, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation was limited across the State. Dry weather allowed farmers to make good progress on corn and soybean harvests. Some producers experienced cornstalk breakage and ear loss due to high winds. There were 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 13 short, 84 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 15 short, 80 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 3 percent very poor, 9 poor, 24 fair, 43 good, and 21 excellent. Corn harvested was 45 percent, well behind 66 last year and 67 for the five-year average.

Soybeans harvested was 89 percent, equal to last year, and near 93 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 3 percent very poor, 9 poor, 33 fair, 45 good, and 10 excellent. Winter wheat planted was 98 percent, near 100 last year and 99 average. Emerged was 88 percent, behind 95 last year, and near 91 average.

Sorghum condition rated 3 percent very poor, 2 poor, 17 fair, 51 good, and 27 excellent. Sorghum harvested was 47 percent, well behind 79 last year and 71 average.

Alfalfa fourth cutting was 96 percent complete, ahead of 91 last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 3 percent very poor, 11 poor, 43 fair, 38 good, and 5 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 95 adequate, and 0 surplus.


A mostly dry week allowed Iowa farmers to progress their harvest with 5.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending October 29, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting corn for grain and soybeans, spreading manure, applying fertilizers, hauling grain, and starting fall tillage.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 2 percent very short, 7 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 6 percent very short, 16 percent short, 73 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus.

Nearly a quarter of the corn for grain crop has been harvested this past week reaching 44 percent complete, but it still remains nearly two weeks behind the 5-year average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 19 percent. East central and south east Iowa are the only districts to have over 50 percent of their corn for grain crop harvested. There were several reports of corn yields being better than expected; however, excessive winds this past week has caused lodging in the fields. Corn condition rated 66 percent good to excellent.

Eighty-three percent of the soybean crop was harvested, six days behind average. Southwest, south central, and south east Iowa still has a third or more of their soybean crop to harvest.

Pasture condition remained unchanged from last week at 35 percent good to excellent. Livestock conditions were reported as normal, with few reports of cattle in fields feeding on stover.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

The U.S. corn harvest made up some ground last week, but continued to trail the five-year average pace for the week ended Sunday, Oct. 29, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report released on Monday.

USDA estimated that 54% of corn was harvested as of Sunday, down from 73% a year ago and 18 percentage points behind the five-year average of 72% harvested. That represented a slight improvement from last Monday's report when the corn harvest trailed the average pace by 21 percentage points.

USDA estimated that 83% of the soybean crop was harvested as of Sunday, down slightly from 85% a year ago and near the five-year average of 84% harvested.

Meanwhile, USDA said 84% of winter wheat was planted as of Sunday, down from 85% a year ago and below the five-year average of 87% planted. Sixty-five percent of winter wheat was emerged, down from 69% a year ago and down from a five-year average of 68%.

USDA also reported crop conditions for the 2018 winter wheat crop for the first time. Fifty-two percent of winter wheat was rated in good-to-excellent condition.

Sorghum was 59% harvested, behind the five-year average of 69%.

Cotton was 93% in the bolls opening stage and the crop was 46% harvested nationwide, slightly ahead of the average pace of 45% harvested.

Ricketts Seeks Applicants for Agriculture, Economic Development Directors to Grow Nebraska

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced plans to seek applicants to serve as the next Director for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).

“These positions are a key part of realizing my administration’s vision to grow Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts.  “As we look for directors to lead these agencies, I’ll be seeking trusted advocates who can market our state around the world, successfully recruit businesses and investment in targeted industries, and continue to make Nebraska an event better place to do business.”

Interested applicants can apply here or by emailing the Governor’s office at

Former NDA Director Greg Ibach was sworn in as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at a ceremony earlier today.  DED Director Courtney Dentlinger recently announced plans to leave the agency to serve as the Government Affairs Manager for the Nebraska Public Power District.

NDA Deputy Director Mat Habrock will serve as interim director.

DED Director Dentlinger will serve until December 1, 2017. An interim DED director will be named at that time.

Ricketts Congratulates Ibach at USDA Under Secretary Swearing-In Ceremony
Today, Governor Pete Ricketts attended the swearing-in ceremony of former Director of the Department of Agriculture Greg Ibach.  Ibach was sworn-in as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

“Greg has been a tremendous contributor to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture,” said Governor Ricketts during his remarks.  “We’re very excited that he is going to be able to make a contribution to the USDA and help out the Trump Administration.”

Combine Adjustments for Downed Corn

As if rain delays weren’t frustrating enough this harvest, a broad swath of southern Nebraska experienced high winds Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, downing corn and leaving 20-70 bu/ac grain on the ground in some areas.

In some fields it may be beneficial to harvest the field in one direction so the snouts can get under the flattened corn, dead heading from the field end to the beginning to continue harvesting in the same direction.

Checking the fields will also help growers to priorize those areas that are weakened and most likely to go down with snow or more high winds. 

In 2015 Nebraska faced similar challenges and Marion Calmer, farmer and president of Calmer Agronomic Research Center, Lynn Center, Illinois shared his recommendations for harvesting downed corn.

Each tip is listed below, but it’s worth the time to view the presentation where Calmer discusses each recommendation more fully and shows photos of how and where to make the combine adjustments.

Each harvest situation, manager, and combine differs. Making just two or three of these adjustments may be all that's needed, Calmer says, to improve your harvest....
-    Install auto header height on your corn head.
-    Flatten the corn head angle to 20°F for downed corn so gravity is less of an energy. Corn tends to slide up and over the hoods a lot easier when the head is set at a flatter angle.
-    If the corn is lodged “with the row,” steepen the corn angle.
-    Synchronize gathering chain speed to ground speed. (If you’re running in standing corn at 2 mph, the gathering chain should be making 27 revolutions per minute.)
-    Set the clearance between the tray and cross auger flighting at 2 inches for downed corn. (Opening up the gap allows more of the dislodged material to move over the poly hood.)
-    Open stripper plates
-    Use more taper from bottom to top on stripper plates.
-    Center the stripping tunnel above the stalk roll tunnel.
-    Synchronize gathering chain lugs to be opposed from one another.
-    Attach metal paddles onto every other gathering chain lug to increase the conveying capacity of chain.
-    Install a corn reel.
-    Take off any end risers or tall corn extensions.
-    Remove rubber ear savers.
-    Add weight to poly divider snouts to help them stay under the canopy.
-    Grind the wear shoe tips of the dividers or shim to give more pitch to help them stay under the canopy.
-    Use stalk rolls with revolving windows,
-    Start harvesting on the downwind side of the field.
-    Consider turning the gathering chains around to increase aggressiveness.

Stay Safe!

Slogging through harvest with downed corn is slow, frustrating, and can fray one's nerves. Take time to rest so when you're working, you can stay alert.

4 Ag Land Lease Workshops Scheduled

Allan Vyhnalek - NE Extension Educator

Four ag land lease workshops will be held in conjunction with the "So You've Inherited a Farm, Now What?” workshops this fall. Land lease workshops, designed to help landlords and tenants develop a lease that is a good fit for both parties, will be held at:
Hall County: November 6, 1:30 p.m. (Grand Island – Hall County Ext Office)
Phelps County: November 8, 4 p.m. (Phelps County office in Holdrege)
Holt County: November 9, 6:30 p.m. (O’Neill at the Holt County Extension office)
Cass County: December 4, 1:30 p.m. (Weeping Water – Cass County Extension office)

Topics will include the latest land values and cash rental rates for the area and state, communication and information sharing between a tenant and landlord, common lease provisions, and lease termination, among other topics.

If you have questions about the workshops, please contact Nebraska Extension Educator Allan Vyhnalek... 

November Ag Law and Ag Finance Clinics

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

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island — Thursday, November 2
    Norfolk — Thursday, November 9
    North Platte — Thursday, November 9
    Valentine— Friday, November 10
    Fairbury — Friday, November 17
    Norfolk — Thursday, November 30

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

Ag Land Management, Tenant/Landowner Workshop

Anyone who owns farmland may want to participate in this workshop providing information and education about leasing farmland.   Learn lease strategies for this asset by attending this seminar at the  Holt County Annex, 128th N. 6th St, O’Neill.  The event will be held November 9th, 2017 at 6:30 PM.

What are key lease provisions?   How do we manage leasing with proper landlord/tenant communications and expectations?   What are the current land values?   What are the current cash rental rates?   These are some of the topics which will be covered.  “Unfortunately, there are folks that manage their lease from information received from the coffee shop, or other place of socialization,” says Allan Vyhnalek, one of the presenters.   We hope participants learn about other ways to research information which can be used to set leases.

To attend please call 402-336-2760 to register.   The cost is: $5.00.

The workshop is designed for both the landlord and tenant, so both are receiving the same message.   It is also designed to be a refresher course for those that would like to have the latest information on land management and rental.   The program is being provided by Allan Vyhnalek, and Jim Jansen, Extension Educators from Nebraska Extension.   They provide the farm land management education in eastern Nebraska.

For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, Farm Succession, Phone: 402-472-1771, or e-mail

Workshops aim to give ranchers the tools to know their costs, operate their ranch as a business

Having information to make effective business decisions is important for ranch success.

Enterprise analysis and unit cost of production (UCOP) are tools that can help ranchers identify where value is being created on the ranch, where costs are occurring, and what changes could be made to improve profit.

For cow-calf producers, UCOP is figured as cost per pound of weaned calf.   Knowing what it costs to develop a bred heifer, harvest a ton of hay or put a pound of gain on a stocker or a yearling are valuable information as well for the ranch business manager.
A series of two-day workshops in November and December at several Nebraska communities will provide a hands-on learning experience for producers to learn how to calculate a unit cost of production for a cow-calf operation.   Workshops will be held in Chadron, O’Neill, North Platte, and Kimball.
Workshop participants will work through a sample ranch to determine the profitability of four common types of ranch enterprises: cow-calf, stockers/breeding heifers, hay, and land.   Participants will go through the steps of analyzing costs and calculating what it costs to produce a unit of product for each enterprise. They will also learn how to identify how changes that could improve ranch profitability.

It takes time to set up and calculate a UCOP, but the benefits are:
·    Knowing what present costs are;
·    Projecting what unit cost of production will be in 2018;
·    Identifying opportunities to improve profitability;
·    Using information to make management and marketing decisions.

Sounds difficult?   Hands-on, group activities, and examples of how to calculate key numbers will help participants through the process. They will receive access to Excel® spreadsheet templates that can help analyze cost of production for their own operation.   Extension Educators Aaron Berger, Jay Jenkins, and Bethany Johnston will be available for follow-up after the workshops.
Below is the date, location and contact information for pre-registration with the local host.

Nov. 13 and 14 at O’Neill: O’Neill Community Center Room C, 8:30 am-4 pm CST; contact Amy Timmerman 402-336-2760 or;

Cost is $50 per person and covers meals for both days. Please pre-register one week prior for a meal count.  Payment is due the day of the workshop. Workshops are limited to 30 people per location. Contact Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122 with questions about the workshops.

USDA Providing Funds to Protect and Restore Agricultural Land, Grasslands and Wetlands Across Nebraska

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). This program, created under the 2014 Farm Bill, provides funding for the purchase of conservation easements to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to restore and protect critical wetlands and grasslands.

Acting State Conservationist Myron Taylor said, “Conservation easements are a good tool to ensure natural resources are conserved and protected for all Nebraskans. We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

The main goal of ACEP is to prevent productive agriculture land from being converted to non-agricultural uses and to restore and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.

Applications can be submitted at any time, but to be considered for 2018 funding opportunities, applications in Nebraska must be received by December 1. Applications are currently being accepted for both agricultural land and wetland reserve easements.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of conservation easements. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

A key option under the agricultural land easement component is the "grasslands of special environmental significance" that will protect high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses.

All applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife. Eligible applicants will be compensated with a payment rate comparable to the local land use value.

Applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and ensure they have established current year ownership eligibility with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center and at

“NRCS staff will work with all interested applicants to help them through the application process and provide one-on-one assistance to create the conservation easement option that works best for their farming or ranching operation,” Taylor said.

For more information about the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services it provides, visit your local USDA Service Center or

Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference Feb. 22-23

Risk management will be the focus of the 2018 Women in Agriculture (WIA) Conference February 22-23 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney.

The conference is an annual two-day event designed to educate and uplift women producers involved in any aspect of Nebraska's agricultural industry. Through workshops and presentations, attendees will learn how to better manage risk, improve their farms and ranches, and become more successful operators and business partners.

This conference focuses on the five areas of agricultural risk management with more than 30 concurrent workshops on:
    Production Risk
    Market Risk
    Financial Risk
    Human Risk
    Legal Risk

Keynote speaker Ruth Hambleton, founder of Annie’s Project, will empower and educate women producers. Hambleton counseled hundreds of farm families through the 1980s farm crisis and brings fresh hope for the current financial crunch.

Ann Finkner, Farm Credit Services of America Senior Vice President Chief Administrative Officer, will be the capstone speaker. Finkner understands the complexity, stress, and multiple roles women in agriculture face and will share resources to help women recharge.
Women in Ag promo
Information and Registration

Early bird registration is $125; registrations after February 5 are $150. For more information about the conference, visit the Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference website....

IFBF to Conduct Annual Farm Income Tax Webinar

With new changes to the tax code and revised regulations, farmers know that staying up to date on the latest tax changes and preparing farm income taxes can be a real challenge. To aid in the process, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) will present its annual Iowa Farm Income Tax webinar on Nov. 13 at 1 p.m.

A host of experts will cover the key information farmers need to know as they look towards this year's tax preparation. The speakers will draw on their expertise to provide the latest information and tax tips to help farmers navigate the challenges of tax preparation. Webinar participants will also have the opportunity ask questions of the presenters.

Webinar presenters include Kristine Tidgren, extension staff attorney with the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) at Iowa State University (ISU), and Charles Brown, ISU extension farm management specialist.

The live webinar will be available online to anyone wishing to attend, and a recording of the session will be available exclusively to Farm Bureau members online, along with webinar materials, following the webinar.

Farmers can pre-register and receive reminder e-mails at the Iowa Farm Bureau website. Pre-registration is not required, so farmers can also join the webinar from their home of farm office the day of the event.

"Today's farmers face countless challenges, and we know that yearly farm income tax preparation is one of the biggest challenges faced," says Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. "Each year there are valuable updates and tips shared, and this year will include 2017 tax strategies, health insurance information, proposed tax law changes and more. We look forward to providing our members a timely and valuable farm income tax update as they prepare for this year's tax filing."

For more information, contact Kordick at

ISU Extension and Outreach Offers Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has scheduled a series of Pro-Ag Outlook and Management Seminars to be held across the state in November and December.

The program is designed to provide agribusiness leaders a concise evaluation of current market conditions, expected trends in crop and livestock income potential and management implications. Participants also will receive an overview of the agricultural industry and learn how changes may affect Iowa producers.

Speakers will vary by location but will include ISU Extension and Outreach state specialists Chad Hart, associate professor in economics and extension grain markets specialist; Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist; Lee Schulz, assistant professor and livestock economist; and Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist. ISU Extension and Outreach field specialists will also be present at the meetings.

This program takes a deep look into the outlook for agriculture in 2018 and provides an opportunity to discuss the current Iowa economic situation with university experts.

Seminars locations and dates
    Waterloo – Friday, Nov. 10 at 9:30 a.m. Hawkeye Community College, Tama Hall
    Altoona – Monday, Nov. 13 at 9 a.m. Polk County Extension Office
    Fort Dodge – Thursday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. Webster County Extension Office
    Mason City – Friday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. Hardin County Extension Office
    Carroll – Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 9:30 a.m. Carroll County Extension Office
    Spencer – Friday, Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m. Spencer School Administrative Building
    Greenfield – Monday, Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. Warren Cultural Center
    Iowa City – Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 12:30 p.m. Johnson County Extension Office

Registration can be done on-site 30 minutes prior to the start of each program. There is a registration fee for the program. Additional registration information can be found at

America’s Pig Farmers Demonstrate Principles of One Health Day

The National Pork Board, representing America’s 60,000 pig farmers, is pleased to celebrate global One Health Day on Nov. 3 by reaffirming its ongoing commitment to the core value of doing what’s right for the overall health of people, pigs and the planet. 

“As pig farmers, we believe in raising pigs in ways that go beyond animal health and that are mutually beneficial to human and environmental health,” said National Pork Board President Terry O’Neel, a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “One Health Day is a good time to reflect on our ongoing responsible antibiotic use, but also to focus on how we can continue to improve our on-farm antibiotic stewardship and reduce the risk of increased antimicrobial resistance.”

While the official observance of One Health Day is only in its second year, America’s pig farmers have long held and practiced the approach that the One Health community espouses toward responsible antibiotic use. On Nov. 3 at Iowa State University, the National Pork Board’s Heather Fowler, Checkoff’s director of producer and public health, will present an overview of the pork industry’s part in responsible antibiotic use. She will address veterinary, medical and public health students.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a public health issue with numerous contributors across human, animal and environmental health,” Fowler said. “Because of this, we must take the One Health, multi-disciplinary approach to identify feasible solutions that can be implemented across these three sectors.”

Fowler sees collaboration as the only way forward in identifying real-world solutions for the complex global issue. As proof of the industry’s seriousness about the responsible use of antimicrobials, she points to long-time programs such as Pork Quality Assurance® Plus certification, as well as the Pork Board approving a Checkoff investment of more than $6 million for antibiotic-related studies since 2000.

“We have held true to our vision of doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet on our farms every day and by fulfilling our mission through research, education and outreach efforts,” O’Neel said. “Now, it’s our job to share this with the public and to collaborate with others to help ensure the best possible outcome for humans, animals and the environment.”

2017-18 National FFA Officer Team Elected at 90th National FFA Convention & Expo

Students from Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and Oklahoma have been elected by delegates throughout the United States to serve on the 2017-18 National FFA Officer team.

Breanna Holbert, an agricultural education major at California State University of Chico, was elected national president. Holbert is the first female African American elected to the office of president. Erica Baier, an agricultural education major at Iowa State University, was elected national secretary.

Piper Merritt, an agricultural economics major at Oklahoma State University, was elected central region vice president. Bryce Cluff, an agricultural technology and management: education major at the University of Arizona, will serve as western region vice president.

Ian Bennett, majoring in agriscience and environmental systems - plant breeding and genetics at the University of Georgia, was elected southern region vice president. Gracie Furnish, a career and technical education major at the University of Kentucky, will serve as eastern region vice president.

Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary, and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern, and western regions of the country.

National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each officer travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public, and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.

Growth Energy: 2 Billion Miles Surpassed on E15

Today, Growth Energy announced that in just five months, American drivers have surpassed another billion miles on E15, bringing the total miles driven across the U.S. to 2 billion. This comes  on the heels of Growth Energy’s recent announcement that more than 1,000 stations across the country are currently offering E15 to consumers.

“This latest milestone cements the fact that drivers have embraced the tremendous benefits E15 offers and highlights just how rapidly consumer demand is growing,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “E15 is a smart choice for consumers who care about their car’s engines, want a healthy environment, and seek better value at the pump. We’re thrilled to lead the charge with Prime the Pump to bring more and more drivers this option every day.”

More than 1,000 fuel stations around the country are offering E15—nearly triple the number of stations from the same time last year, and almost 16 million American adults have access to the fuel with more choosing it every day. Growth Energy is proud to partner with leading retailers including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons to offer E15 to their customers.

“E15 is experiencing incredible growth both in terms of retailers offering it at their convenience stores and consumers reaching for it at the pump. This momentum is another clear reminder for lawmakers that we must make this choice available year-round,” Skor added.

E15 is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, as well as, all flex fuel vehicles, which combined represent more than 87 percent of the vehicles on the road.

Soy Growers Respond to FDA Action on Heart Health Claim

The American Soybean Association (ASA) issued a statement Monday in response to indications from the Food and Drug Administration that the agency will revoke the unqualified health claim regarding soy protein and coronary heart disease (CHD). ASA President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore reiterated the ability of soy protein to contribute to heart health:

“In a time when heart disease is the number one cause of death both in the United States and the world, we can’t afford to discourage people from taking steps to improve their diets with heart-healthy ingredients. There is still evidence that shows eating soy protein can help reduce the risk of heart disease, and while we are of course disappointed that FDA is looking at moving the health claim for these products from ‘unqualified’ to ‘qualified,’ it’s important for consumers to remember that soy protein can be an important part of a heart-healthy diet. Even in today’s announcement, FDA still refers customers to the agency’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, which state that healthy eating patterns include soy beverages and a variety of protein foods, including soy products. Moving forward, we hope that in its upcoming reevaluation of the available data, FDA will focus on the many studies that show the heart-healthy benefits of a diet that includes soy protein.”

Dairy Cattle Impact on Beef Supplies

Jared Geiser, Research Assistant  &  Brenda Boetel, Professor and Extension Economist
Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The dairy cattle sector is a vital contributor to U.S. beef supplies. With fluctuating beef cow inventories over the past decade, the U.S. dairy herd has offered a stable source of both feeder cattle and cull cows to fill beef demand. In 2016 the dairy sector contributed 5.7 billion pounds (22.7%) of beef through cull cows and finished dairy steers and heifers to the U.S. beef supply chain.

The percent contributed by the dairy industry has grown since 2002 when beef from dairy cattle contributed 17.9% of the U.S. beef supplies to 22.7% in 2016. While growth in the amount of beef produced from dairy steers and cull cows has not been steady, it is has less variability than beef from native cattle. Over the period of 2002 to 2016, U.S. commercial beef production peaked in 2002 at 27 billion pound, of which 4.8 billion pounds was from dairy cattle. Beef production in 2016 was 25.2 billion, of which 5.7 billion of those pounds was from dairy cattle.

Finished dairy steers contribute more to U.S. beef supplies than culled dairy cows. Finished dairy steers contributed 2.9 billion pounds (10.8%) of total pounds harvested in 2002 and 3.5 billion pounds (13.8%) in 2016. Continued contributions from dairy steers can be expected with the dairy cowherd surpassing 2015 levels and reaching a new high since 2002. Increased cow numbers lead to more calves and in turn more steers reaching harvest. Cull dairy cows contributed 1.6 billion pounds (5.8%) in 2002 and 1.9 billion pounds (7.5%) in 2016. Dairy heifers provided 349 million pounds (1.3%) of beef in 2002 and 356 million pounds (1.41%) of beef in 2016.

Often overlooked is the amount of prime beef contributed by dairy animals, particularly dairy steers. With 85-90% of dairy animals being Holstein, Holstein steers contribute the largest portion of dairy beef. While traditionally discounted, Holsteins, particularly when managed as calf feds, have the potential for quality and yield premiums. Due to more predictability in feeding and genetics, finished Holsteins, when compared to beef breeds, will produce a larger percentage grading prime or choice. Between 2002 and 2016, Holstein steers have contributed between 32 and 60% (depending on the year) of prime beef harvested in the U.S.

Since 2002 the dairy industry has continued to be vital to beef supply and therefore prices. Dairy steers, heifers, and cull cows provide a significant percentage of the U.S. commercial beef production, and as such have an impact on market prices.

BASF launches Zidua SC herbicide as new tool for growers against resistant weeds

Corn, soybean and wheat growers in the U.S. have a new solution against resistant weeds — BASF’s Zidua® SC (Suspension Concentrate) herbicide.

Zidua SC herbicide offers the same long-lasting weed control as Zidua herbicide, but in an improved SC liquid formulation. Labeled for corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, sunflowers and wheat, Zidua SC helps growers improve handling and tank mixability for a better application experience.

In addition, Zidua SC herbicide provides effective control on weeds resistant to not only glyphosate (group 9), but to also triazines (group 5) and ACCase (group 1), ALS (group 2) and PPO (group 14) inhibitors.

“Resistant weeds continue to challenge growers who are requesting new tools to help manage their fields,” said Daniel Waldstein, BASF Technical Marketing Manager. “Waterhemp and Palmer pigweed are especially difficult to control because they continue to emerge throughout the season. Our research trials have shown that Zidua SC herbicide provides up to two weeks longer residual control of these challenging weeds.”

Zidua SC herbicide offers the lowest use rate of any group 15 herbicide, allowing growers to select the best rate for their fields. Increased application flexibility from fall to early pre-plant to early post-emergence in corn and soybeans, gives growers more options throughout the season.

“As weed management becomes increasingly complex, Zidua SC herbicide gives growers a simple solution to combat resistant weeds and help boost yields on their farms,” said Waldstein.

For more information, visit

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Friday October 27 Ag News

LENRD to receive applications for new irrigated acres beginning November 15

Farmers within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “After much debate during their October meeting, the board discussed allowing for the approval of standard variances district-wide, utilizing a map entitled “Classification 4” provided by the Flatwater Group, and only allow consideration for approval of parcels that fall within the top five categories from the Potential for Development map legend.”

The board voted to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process for 2018.

Bruckner added, “The board suggested an annual limit on the amount of groundwater withdrawal from wells associated with approved variances, determined by board policy, which is subject to future modification if conditions warrant.  In addition, a minimum soil score of 90 must be met for any standard variance to be considered for approval.”

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances.  The district will receive applications for standard variances between November 15, 2017 and December 15, 2017.

Standard variance requests will only be considered for approval from areas within the district that fall within the top five Potential for Development categories on the Classification 4 Map, as provided by Flatwater Group.  Standard variances will not be available in the Quantity Subareas already defined.  To view the map, visit

In other action, the district is preparing for a public hearing regarding their Drought Mitigation Plan.  The public hearing will be Tuesday, November 21st from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  The November board meeting will follow at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Husker Beef Nutrition Conference

The 2017 Husker Nutrition Conference will be held on Friday, November 3rd at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead. Topics include distillers grains processes, cost of gain vs. feed conversion, Considerations on distillers grains, energy and economics, factors controlling tenderness in beef, what feedlyard nutritionists should know about cover crops, bunk management, and more.  There will also be a research update presented. 

Please register by October 30th via mail, email or phone. Registration fees are $30 per person if preregistered and may be paid on-site. Cost is $50 if not registered.

Complete registration can be sent to: Galen Erickson, P.O. Box 830908, Lincoln, NE 68583-0908, email, or call 402-472-6402.

Webinar: Management of Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems

People are invited to a webinar that will be held on Nov. 7 at 10 a.m. Ashley Conway, PhD student in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Animal Science department under the direction of Dr. Mary Drewnoski received a SARE Graduate Student Grant. Ashley will discuss "Cattle management and performance in an integrated crop-livestock system" and results of the first year of the study.

Integrated crop-livestock systems offer tremendous potential for backgrounding cattle. Incorporating cereal rye as a winter cover crop and then grazing in the spring is one potential strategy to capture added value to an agricultural system. Year one of a two-year study designed to investigate the impact of cattle and residue management in this type of system specifically looks at the use of ionophore supplementation of cattle grazing cereal rye in the spring.

The link to the webinar is: If you are unable to participate during the live webinar, it will be recorded for future viewing.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Every fall I am asked the question “Is my alfalfa safe to graze?”.  Do you sometimes have that question?

               Is my alfalfa safe to graze?  When I hear that question I can almost imagine the scenarios from which it comes.  Usually corn stalks are ready to be grazed.  It would be convenient and useful to include an adjacent alfalfa field for extra grazing and protein.  Another scenario has grazing ending on summer range but the final growth of alfalfa is still standing in the field.

               Usually the alfalfa is still quite green, despite several nights with low temperatures in the twenties or even teens like last week.  There may be some wilting and yellowing, especially on the top, but most leaves still are attached to the plant stems.

               The real question often being asked is “Can I be sure my cows won’t bloat and die if they graze my alfalfa?”.  To be quite honest, you never can be 100 percent certain that alfalfa won’t cause bloat.  I remember back to my father’s small dairy farm.  Over the years that I helped on his farm, my dad had a couple cows that would bloat even when eating dry alfalfa hay.  Since they were good milkers he didn’t want to cull them.  So those cows were hand fed small amounts of alfalfa hay at a time so their bloat could be minimized.

               Thus, the only true answer to questions about grazing alfalfa safety is ‘probably’.  Bloat risk is much lower a week after a hard freeze that causes wilting.  But always use good animal husbandry methods to reduce the risk further.  Have cows full before turning out to alfalfa.  Wait until mid-day, after frost or dew is gone, before turning out.  Provide other dry, palatable feeds or even bloat retardants.  And keep a close eye on them for the first couple days.

               Alfalfa can be grazed safely.  Just be careful and realistic.

Rural Japanese Entrepreneurs, Leaders To Experience Nebraska Friday & Saturday

To inspire bold, creative thinking and action, rural entrepreneurs and community leaders from Japan are seeking a “rural immersion” in the United States, and to get it they are visiting with experts and innovators in Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 27, and Nebraska City, Neb., and Auburn, Neb., Oct 28.

In partnership with Japan Society and Japan NPO Center, the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska is hosting a free, public forum entitled, “A Thriving Rural Future in Japan and the United States,” at 3 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, 1505 S Street. The forum will be live streamed at

On Oct. 28, RFI will take the visitors to Nebraska City and Auburn where hosts will include: Kimmel Education & Research Center, Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard, Nemaha County Hospital, BCom Solutions and Peru State College.

Guests from Japan include:
-    Atsuhisa Emori, Taberu Journal League in Hanamaki, Iwate
-    Kenji Hayashi, FoundingBase in Tsuwano, Shimane
-    Ryoko Sato, Ehime University in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture
-    Tsuyoshi Sekihara, Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club; Joestu, Niigata Prefecture
-    Junichi Tamura, Next Commons Lab in Tono, Iwate Prefecture

This visit is part of a two-year funded project received by Japan Society, based in New York City, N.Y., and Japan NPO Center, based in Tokyo. Through RFI, the University of Nebraska is the only higher education institution in the United States involved.

Overall, the project seeks to build leadership capacity and consolidate lessons and learning from efforts to revitalize small towns and rural areas in the U.S.-Japan context. Specific topical areas of exploration include:
-    Economic revitalization and rural entrepreneurship
-    Sustainable agriculture
-    Leadership opportunities for younger generations
-    Meeting the needs of the elderly in smaller communities
-    The role of arts and culture in regional revitalization
-    Creating an ecosystem conducive to engaging new community members

Senate Confirms Greg Ibach as USDA Under Secretary

Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

“As I’ve stated before, Greg Ibach is an outstanding choice to serve in the role of USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. I want to publicly thank Greg for all the work that he has done for Nebraska Agriculture over the years. He has been a strong advocate for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and the members of our organization appreciate his efforts.”

“Greg is very much a farmer. He’s worn that hat and brought that voice throughout his service as Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture and that won’t change when he heads to Washington, D.C. We look forward to working with him in his new position and are confident he will be an asset to USDA and to American agriculture.”

Sasse Statement on Ibach

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after Nebraskan Greg Ibach was confirmed by the Senate to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

“Greg Ibach earned this USDA spot utilizing the honesty, determination, and smarts that Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are known for. Whether it’s emphasizing the importance of agriculture or working hard to expand Nebraska’s trading partners, Greg has a proven track record of public service bringing common sense and innovative solutions to his work. Our agriculture communities will be served well.”

Nebraska Cattlemen Congratulates Greg Ibach on U.S. Senate Confirmation

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) is pleased to congratulate Greg Ibach, former Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director, and NC member, on his confirmation for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.  The U.S. Senate confirmed Ibach's nomination today by a unanimous vote.

In his new role, Ibach will supervise the policy development and day-to-day operations of three federal agencies within USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which facilitates the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program; the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which implements livestock mandatory price reporting (LMR); and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which oversees the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products.

"APHIS, AMS and GIPSA all have tremendous impact and importance to Nebraska's livestock producers and Nebraska Cattlemen looks forward to working with Under Secretary Ibach in his new role," said Troy Stowater, NC President.

NC also thanks Ibach for his 18 years of service with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).  After spending 6 years as the Assistant Director, Ibach transitioned into the Director role in June 2005.  Under Ibach's watch at NDA, nearly every sector of Nebraska agriculture experienced growth and expansion, including the state's livestock industry. He has championed the state's Livestock Friendly County program, and the number of counties receiving the designation continues to grow.  He also is a strong supporter of the Nebraska Livestock Siting Assessment Matrix, and has tirelessly promoted the expansion of Nebraska beef into multiple foreign export markets, including Mexico, Canada, Japan, South Korea and China.

Ibach continues to maintain a cow/calf and grain operation near Sumner.  He holds a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Nebraska, with majors in animal science and agricultural economics.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Offer Statement of Congrats to Ibach

Leaders of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association offered their support and congratulations to Greg Ibach, former director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, after he was confirmed this week in Washington, DC as the Undersecretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

Dan Wesely of Morse Bluff, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said, “We offer our congratulations to Greg Ibach following his confirmation as the new Undersecretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and wish him the best in this new endeavor. We thank Greg for his tenure as director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. We’re very pleased to have a Nebraskan leading the marketing and regulatory programs for American agriculture.”

NPPA:  Senate Confirms Ibach For Top USDA Job

The National Pork Producers Council applauded yesterday’s Senate confirmation of Greg Ibach for a key position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was approved by voice vote.

Ibach, who is director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, was picked by President Trump to be undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

“Director Ibach will be a great asset at USDA for American agriculture,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “Farmers and ranchers couldn’t ask for a better person to lead this key USDA department.”

Ibach has been with the Nebraska agriculture agency for the past 12 years. He also operates a cow/calf and row crop farm near Sumner, Neb.

In his job at USDA, Ibach will supervise policy development and oversee day-to-day operations of the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

Registration Open for ISU Women in Ag Leadership Conference

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference will be held Nov. 27-28 at the Iowa State Center – Scheman Building, Ames, Iowa. The cost to participate in the intensive leadership workshops on Monday evening is $20. The cost to participate in the full-day conference on Tuesday is $30 for students with college/university identification and $60 for all others. Online registration is now available.

Three intensive leadership workshops will be offered Monday evening, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Dinner during the workshops is included in the cost of registration. The three-hour interactive sessions will give women practical leadership advice and tools as well as inspire women to lead successfully at all levels of experience.

Additional networking activities are also available on Monday. Conference attendees can sign up to take a free campus tour from 3 – 5 p.m. and enjoy a hospitality room at the Best Western University Park Inn and Suites from 8:30 – 10 p.m.

The full-day conference on Tuesday begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 4:30 p.m. Lunch as well as morning and afternoon refreshments are included in the registration cost. Keynote speaker Roxi Beck, member of the advisory board for Iowa State’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and past president of the National Agri-Marketing Association begins the day with her presentation, “Winning in Complex Conversations.”

Capstone speaker Jeanne Bernick, agricultural consultant and business specialist for the national accounting and finance firm K·Coe Isom, brings her expertise associated with 20 years as a Farm Journal Media editor to her presentation, “How Remarkable Women Lead with Confidence.”

Throughout the day, more than 20 general session and concurrent session speakers will enlighten and energize attendees with a variety of leadership topics ranging from establishing mentorships to starting new businesses to mapping your leadership journey.

Highlighting the conference will be the recognition of seven inspiring women from across Iowa who are being honored as the 2017 "Women Impacting Agriculture."

A full conference agenda and other details is available at the ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag website....

Deadline to Seed Cereal Rye Cover Crop Extended Additional 2 Weeks in Iowa

Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and State Conservationist Kurt Simon with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that farmers participating in state cost-share and most federal financial assistance programs now have an additional two weeks to plant their winter hardy cereal rye cover crop and still qualify for assistance.

The seeding date is extended following the announcement that only 61 percent of Iowa’s soybeans and 23 percent of corn were harvested as of Sunday, Oct. 22. “The crop report indicated both corn and soybean harvests are behind the five-year average,” said Naig. “Extending the deadline an additional two weeks will allow additional farmers to get a cereal rye cover crop planted, benefitting water quality.”

“Late seeded cereal rye provided adequate spring growth for erosion control in the past when allowed to grow to at least eight inches tall before termination,” said Simon.

The revised cover crop seeding dates for cereal rye are:
Zone 1 (Northern Iowa) Nov. 4 – 18
Zone 2 (Central Iowa) Nov. 11 – 25
Zone 3 (Southern Iowa) Nov. 19 – Dec. 3

Guidance from Iowa State University confirmed cover crops planted within these dates still have the potential to provide a substantial reduction in nutrient losses and soil erosion.

The following applies to cover crops planted during the extension period:
·         Seed cereal rye as soon as possible after harvest of the principal crop.
·         The cover crop will be no-till drilled into crop residue.
·         Allow the cover crop to grow until at least 8 inches before spring termination.
·         It is recommended the seeding rate of cereal rye be increased to 75 pounds Pure Live Seed (PLS) per acre to adjust for reduced tillering.
·         The extension does not apply to all federal programs. Contact your local NRCS office if you have questions.

Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops should contact their local NRCS office.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released guidance to assist livestock farmers in reporting air emissions from manure on their farms. The guidance follows a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which rejected the EPA’s petition to maintain the farm exemption for these emission reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

While disappointed with the court’s ruling, the National Pork Producers Council worked with the EPA to develop effective guidance that minimizes the compliance burdens for U.S. pork producers. Under the court’s order, farmers are currently required to report emissions to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and EPA regional offices beginning Nov. 15. NPPC plans to request that the court delay the reporting deadline to provide more time to educate producers on their responsibilities under the law.


National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom attended this week’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System meeting to address a method proposed by the Food and Drug Administration to measure livestock antibiotic use. The FDA’s method uses antibiotic sales figures and estimates for the size of animal populations to approximate use. During the meeting, Dr. Wagstrom noted that antibiotic sales figures are not accurate, making any calculation based on this method inaccurate. Instead, she said, “We need to be looking at data from individual farms. NPPC is very supportive of the projects that FDA has funded to look at individual farm data.”

Under Secretary McKinney to Lead USDA Trade Mission to India

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney will lead an agribusiness trade mission to India Oct. 30-Nov. 3. Making his first international trip as Under Secretary, McKinney will head a delegation of approximately 50 business, trade association and state government leaders who are seeking to grow U.S. agricultural exports to the world’s second-most-populous country.

“U.S. agricultural exports to India have grown nearly 250 percent over the past decade, but the country’s barriers impede exports of many of our products,” McKinney said. “On this trip, I look forward to not only promoting U.S. farm and food products, but also to meeting with my Indian government counterparts to build relationships and address key trade policy issues in an effort to improve American access to this important market.”

Mission participants will travel to New Delhi and Mumbai, connecting with potential customers and learning first-hand about local market conditions. In-country staff from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service will arrange meetings between U.S. delegates and more than 150 Indian companies, as well as with importers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who will travel to India for the mission. Participants will also meet with government and industry officials and visit local processing facilities and retail outlets.

U.S. agricultural exports to India totaled nearly $1.3 billion in 2016, with tree nuts, cotton, pulses, fresh and processed fruits, and prepared foods accounting for more than 80 percent of those exports. India is also a major market for U.S. ethanol exports. The United States is India’s top ethanol supplier, with sales totaling nearly $176 million in 2016.

Farm Bureau Communications Boot Camp Grads Recognized

The American Farm Bureau Federation recognized 15 farm and ranch women leaders as graduates of the organization’s eleventh annual Women’s Communications Boot Camp. The group of agricultural leaders was recognized after completing an intensive three-day course featuring sessions on working with the media, public speaking, testifying and messaging.

“Women’s Communication Boot Camp is the experience of a lifetime,” said Sherry Saylor, an Arizona row crop farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. “Graduates of this program are persuasive and effective advocates for agriculture, with a passion for connecting with influencers at the local, state and national levels.”

This year’s Boot Camp graduates are: Magen Allen, Arkansas; Andrea Brossard, Wisconsin; Danielle Burch, Ohio; Jodi DeHate, Michigan; Gimmie Jo Jansonius, Kansas; Sine Kerr, Arizona; Bonnie LaTourette, Pennsylvania; Renee McPherson, North Carolina; Paula Peterson, Nebraska; Cindy Ramsey, Indiana;  Ruth Scruton, New Hampshire; Cala Tabb, Mississippi; Laura Vaught, Tennessee; Andi Vincent, Washington state; and Sara Wayne, West Virginia.

The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee, in partnership with AFBF staff, hosts and provides training for Women’s Communications Boot Camp. This is the eleventh year of the program, which has more than 165 graduates and is open to all women involved in Farm Bureau. An application process is used to select the participants.

Updated ID Required for U.S. Breeding Cattle to Canada

Effective February 1, 2018, the identification requirements for export of U.S. breeding cattle to Canada will change. After this date, Canada will require an 840 radiofrequency identification (RFID) tag AND a USA tattoo in the right ear.

U.S. regulations require special procedures for applying an 840 RFID tag to an animal already tagged with official identification. Veterinarians/exporters may refer to the IREGS website for further information at the following link:

The USDA metal tag will no longer be accepted as an option for identification of cattle for export to Canada.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has begun issuing import permits for breeding cattle to reflect these new requirements. The protocols and certificates for breeding cattle are updated accordingly on the APHIS IREGS website and Veterinary Export Health Certificate System.

This change will significantly reduce time during inspection at the Canadian border, as well as eliminate the need for U.S. animals to be retagged with Canadian identification upon reaching their destination in Canada.

Environmental and Economic Rewards of Genome Project Still Emerging 20 Years Later

Two decades ago today, the corn plant got a huge boost with the announcement of the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI). The historic research effort to map the corn genome - supported and shepherded by the National Corn Growers Association - has resulted in significant economic and environmental dividends for farmers and society at large.

The gene mapping effort, which ran parallel to the mapping of the human genome, opened up a new frontier for corn that is still being explored today, according to Pam Johnson, a Floyd, Iowa farmer who served as the Chairperson of NCGA’s Research and Business Development Action Team and later as NCGA president.

“The NPGI didn’t just build a bridge between scientific discovery and real-world solutions for corn, it laid the groundwork for a new interstate highway of discovery,” Johnson said. “Corn continues to be one of the most important crops for our nation and this will likely continue given the vision of early NCGA leaders and the large coalition they helped forge.”

NPGI has funded more than $1.5 billion of genomic research to date and the undertaking continues to send ripples through the scientific community and agriculture.

“Corn became the primary focus of the broader plant genomics project because of its economic significance and because of its complexity. The theory is if we could crack the secrets of corn, the knowledge gained could be applied to many other plants,” said Rodney Williamson, director of research and development for Iowa Corn Growers Association. “The idea of sequencing the corn genome was considered an immense and daunting task because it has one of the of the most complex genomes of any known organism. But we continue to see the payoff.”

At 2.5 billion base pairs covering 10 chromosomes, this genome's size is comparable to that of the human genome which explains why the data generated from the gene mapping will keep scientists sorting and exploring for decades to come, says Williamson, who was part of the group in 1997 that threw down the gauntlet challenging the scientific community.

The new, emerging picture of corn helps researchers better understand its evolution and history. The crop was domesticated from a Central American grass called teosinte some 10,000 years ago. Much of the genetic diversity of maize, however, reaches nearly five million years back.

“Today we are still investigating what each of the genes does with a new initiative called Genomes to Fields. It’s a big puzzle that we don’t have a complete map for yet, but the potential benefits and advances are mind-boggling,” Johnson said. “The data we have contains answers like the best way to adapt corn to different climates, develop more efficient corn plants, use less energy growing it, sequester more carbon and increase the supply of food and feed.”

Williamson says the people in the nondescript hotel meeting room in 1997 contended the completion of the maize genome sequence would change agriculture and it has. Things such as increased breeding efficiency, streamlined delivery of new traits, discovering enhancements of properties such as drought tolerance, and a better overall understanding of the crop has enhanced corn's position as the ideal crop for food, feed, fuel and industrial uses.

According to the USDA, corn production in the U.S. has grown from roughly 9 billion bushels in 1997 when NPGI began to more than 15 billion bushels today. At the same time, the value of the U.S. crop has grown from $25 billion to more than $51 billion.

CWT Assists with 91,492 Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted two requests for export assistance from members that have contracts to sell 41,888 pounds (19 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese and 49,604 pounds (23 metric tons) of butter to customers in the Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from November through December 2017.

So far, this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 57.936 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 4.752 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 22 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 641.674 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

China's Ethanol Production to Grow on Demand, Policy

China's total ethanol production will likely grow in 2018 on strong demand and policy support, according to the US Department of Agriculture. China has significant corn stockpiles, much of which is thought no longer suitable for food, and an increase in ethanol production could reduce these, taking away a factor weighing on prices. It adds that state media reports that by 2025, China will shift renewable fuel production to commercial scale cellulosic ethanol. "If realized, this plan, taken with China's ongoing corn sector reform, will fundamentally transform the coarse grains, distillers' dried grains, and ethanol markets in China." 

China Continues to Move Toward Accepting GM Crops

China continues to slowly move towards the commercialization of genetically modified seeds in the country over the next 3-4 years, says BMI. "Because of an entrenched reluctance to use GM crops for food among the population, we believe China will first adopt the commercialization of GM seeds for feed purposes, mainly corn." It adds the proposed acquisition of Syngenta by state-owned China National Chemical is an important step in moving toward GM crops as it gives the country access to the technology. "China has been investing heavily in recent years to develop its own research on GM seeds but results have been limited," BMI notes.

National Farmers addresses farmer concerns for NAFTA negotiators

As news about NAFTA negotiations raises concerns, National Farmers Organization is calling for caution, highlighting the potential fallout on America’s farmers and ranchers if NAFTA was cancelled.

“Canada and Mexico are two of the largest export markets for U.S. agricultural products, quadrupling since NAFTA began in 1994,” said National Farmers President Paul Olson. “Simply revoking the NAFTA agreement would be disastrous for agricultural commodity prices here at home,” Olson emphasized.

Whether it’s corn, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, red meat or dairy, Mexico and Canada constitute a significant share of America’s agricultural sales.

The organization has long been an advocate of supply management in the U.S., but farmers continue to produce more than domestic markets can absorb. “It’s important to be reminded that farmers rely on export markets to absorb additional production not used here at home, and if Canadian or Mexican markets were significantly disrupted, it would depress prices farmers receive,” Olson said.

 “Agriculture is not an isolated industry, either,” he added. “Our American farmers create jobs.” In 2015, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service, the agricultural and food sectors accounted for 21 million full- and part-time jobs. That’s 11.1 percent of total U.S. employment. “That means NAFTA’s agricultural aspects aren’t only about farmers,” Olson said.

The organization supports fair trade as equally as important as free trade, and emphasizes the following issues including:
·        Adequately addressing labor and environmental issues.
·        Allowing for country-of-origin labeling.
·        Providing avenues for dispute resolution.
·        Managing currency fluctuations.
·        Properly reporting agricultural import and export data.
·        Upholding food safety standards.

“We hope the NAFTA renegotiation process recognizes that farmer interests are vital.

Let’s protect and not compromise the overall success of the trading relationships we have, while we work to establish a new agreement,” Olson said.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thursday October 26 Ag News

Ricketts Congratulates Greg Ibach on USDA Confirmation

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts congratulated Greg Ibach as the United States Senate confirmed him as the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Congratulations to Greg on his confirmation as the USDA’s next Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Greg’s experience growing Nebraska will be a great asset to President Trump’s team.  We look forward to partnering with him in his new role as we work to expand access to international markets for Nebraska’s quality agricultural and manufactured products and other goods.”

Ibach is expected to be sworn-in in the coming days.

Fischer Statement on Confirmation of Gregory Ibach

Today, the Senate unanimously confirmed Nebraska Director of Agriculture Gregory Ibach to serve as Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Earlier this month, Fischer introduced Greg Ibach at his nomination hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“I am thrilled to hear my friend and fellow Nebraskan, Greg Ibach, was just confirmed to serve as Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA,” said Senator Fischer. “Greg’s deep knowledge, vast experience, and strong passion for agriculture, will serve America’s farmers and ranchers well. I know he will make Nebraskans proud, and I look forward to working with him to provide more certainty for the producers in this country who feed a hungry world.”

President Trump nominated Ibach to serve as Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the USDA last month. Senator Fischer recommended Greg Ibach to the president.

Ibach has served as the Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture for the past 12 years.

Perdue Statement on Confirmation of Greg Ibach Key USDA Post

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded the Senate’s confirmation of Greg Ibach, who was nominated by President Donald J. Trump to serve as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Perdue issued the following statement:
“Greg Ibach will bring experience and integrity to his new role at USDA, and carries with him the knowledge he’s gained in the dozen years he has served as Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture. His expertise in a wide cross-section of agricultural issues will be invaluable to our customers: the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers of America. I look forward to working with Greg and urge the Senate to continue to act on other nominees who are awaiting confirmation.”

USDA Offers Targeted Farm Loan Funding for Underserved Groups, Beginning Farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director (SED) Mike Eller reminds producers FSA offers specially targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to underserved applicants, as well as beginning farmers and ranchers.

“Each year, a portion of FSA’s loan funds are set aside to lend to targeted underserved and beginning farmers and ranchers,” said Eller. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business, and FSA is committed to helping producers start and maintain their agricultural operations.”

During fiscal year 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017), Nebraska FSA obligated $180.8 million in loans to underserved borrowers and beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA defines underserved applicants as a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of the group without regard to their individual qualities. For farm loan program purposes, underserved groups are women, African Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Hispanics and Asians and Pacific Islanders.

In order to qualify as a beginning farmer, the individual or entity must meet the eligibility requirements outlined for direct or guaranteed loans. Additionally, individuals and all entity members must have operated a farm for less than 10 years. Applicants must materially or substantially participate in the operation. For farm ownership purposes, the applicant must not own a farm greater than 30 percent of the average size farm in the county at the time of application. All direct farm ownership applicants must have participated in the business operations of a farm for at least three years out of the last 10 years prior to the date the application is submitted. If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage and all entity members must be eligible beginning farmers.

Underserved or beginning farmers and ranchers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank can apply for either FSA direct loans or guaranteed loans. Direct loans are made to applicants by FSA. Guaranteed loans are made by lending institutions who arrange for FSA to guarantee the loan. FSA can guarantee up to 95 percent of the loss of principal and interest on a loan. The FSA guarantee allows lenders to make agricultural credit available to producers who do not meet the lender’s normal underwriting criteria.

The direct and guaranteed loan program offers two types of loans: farm ownership loans and farm operating loans.

Farm ownership loan funds may be used to purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, purchase easements or rights of way needed in the farm’s operation, build or improve buildings such as a dwelling or barn, promote soil and water conservation and development and pay closing costs.

Farm operating loan funds may be used to purchase livestock, poultry, farm equipment, fertilizer and other materials necessary to operate a successful farm. Operating loan funds can also be used for family living expenses, refinancing debts under certain conditions, paying salaries for hired farm laborers, installing or improving water systems for home, livestock or irrigation use and other similar improvements.

Repayment terms for direct operating loans depend on the collateral securing the loan and usually run from one to seven years. Financing for direct farm ownership loans cannot exceed 40 years. Interest rates for direct loans are set periodically according to the government’s cost of borrowing. Guaranteed loan terms and interest rates are set by the lender.

For more information on FSA’s farm loan programs and underserved and beginning farmer guidelines, please contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit

EPA Releases Guidance on Reporting Air Emissions of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farms

Today, EPA is releasing guidance to assist farmers in reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms.  EPA is making this information available to provide time for farmers to review and prepare for the reporting deadline, currently set for November 15, 2017

“EPA is working diligently to address undue regulatory burden on American farmers,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “While we continue to examine our options for reporting requirements for emissions from animal waste, EPA’s guidance is designed to help farmers comply with the current requirements.”

On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted farms from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste.  On April 11, 2017, the DC Circuit Court vacated this final rule.  In response to a request from EPA, the DC Circuit Court extended the date by which farms must begin reporting these releases to November 15, 2017.  Unless the court further delays this date, all farms (including those previously exempted) that have releases of hazardous substances to air from animal wastes equal to or greater than the reportable quantities for those hazardous substances within any 24-hour period must provide notification of such releases.

The EPA guidance information includes links to resources that farmers can use to calculate emissions tailored to specific species of livestock.  To view EPA’s guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on reporting air emissions from animal waste:

EPA will revise this guidance, as necessary, to reflect additional information to assist farm owners and operators to meet reporting obligations.  Interested parties may submit comments or suggestions by November 24, 2017.

Complete Your NASS Survey; It Impacts Your Bottom Line

The National Corn Growers Association urges growers to respond to surveys distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Statistics Service. Responses to recent surveys from USDA have reached historical lows, and this can impact farmers' bottom lines.

"There seem to be county-to-county differences that are unaccounted for and, when you look at it, some counties did not have enough information from responses to the National Agricultural Statistics Service for them to publish data," explained NCGA Risk Management Action Team Chair Steve Ebke, who farms in Nebraska. "Farm Service Agency uses that data to calculate ARC payments. So, if NASS does not have the data, they will have to look elsewhere for it.

"This has resulted in a great deal of concern in the countryside. We urge everyone to complete their NASS surveys so that each county has a sufficient amount of data for FSA to calculate the payments based upon what actually happened in that county."

Farmers can either complete the survey manually with the booklet that they receive and mail that back in, or they can complete it online. Most of the information in the survey is information farmers have readily available.

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

Failing to complete the survey puts farmer's personal operations at risk of receiving ARC payments that do not reflect actual production in their county.

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

State Beef Council Staffs Come Together to Gain Checkoff Program Knowledge, Share Ideas

Representatives of 28 state beef councils gathered near Denver Oct. 16-18 to learn more about national 2018 Beef Checkoff Program efforts and share their thoughts on how those programs could be expanded or extended through their states. The Partnerships in Action Conference was held near Denver in the offices of the NCBA, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The checkoff 2018 fiscal year began Oct. 1.

                Among items of discussion was the relaunch of the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” brand and website, with a “Rethink the Ranch” approach and new videos and promotion on social media platforms. The program went live Oct. 9 and showcases the people who raise beef, celebrates the nutritional benefits of beef for active lifestyles, and provides culinary inspiration and recipes.

                “This annual Federation of State Beef Councils event is a collaborative effort to kick off the checkoff program of work with enthusiasm,” according to Todd Johnson, NCBA senior vice president, Federation Services. “Our state team members and their boards of directors have come to appreciate the ways our partnership can enhance the value of the beef checkoff to those who pay into the program.”

                According to George Quackenbush, executive director of the Michigan Beef Industry Commission, the conference helps communicate a seamless, coordinated state and national plan that can most effectively reach consumers with the same message in repeated ways. “The reason we put such value on this meeting as a state council is because this is where we learn what programs will be taking place at the national level, when we can expect those things to roll out and how we can extend those programs in our state,” he says. “We can really be the army that takes these programs to the audience on the local and state levels.”

                Erin Beasley, executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, agrees, saying the timing from their state perspective is perfect. “We’re actually about to get into our planning mode, so this gives us an opportunity to meet with the staff, bring all of those ideas back, then meet with our Checkoff Task Force Committee to start our planning and budgeting for the 2018 year,” she says. “The timing of this meeting, with the content and the involvement of the national staff, is absolutely integral to what we do at the state level.”

                Another benefit of the conference, according to Jean O’Toole, executive director of the New York Beef Council, is the sharing that goes on between states. “You learn so much from other states and what they do,” she says. “We sometimes joke that we rip off and repurpose, but we have no hidden secrets between our councils. It’s share and collaborate based on your budgets and what you can do. It also gives you different insights. We’re all creative and have a variety of talents.”

                Because she is from a state with a higher population and lower cattle numbers, O’Toole values different types of input. “Sometimes you get support financially, sometimes you just get support through information, but either way you can’t beat it,” she says. “I haven’t seen an organization like this in all my years, and it’s phenomenal fun.”

                “It’s great to see that we’re all singing from the same songbook,” says Chris Freland, executive director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “When you’re united you’re so much stronger than if you’re separated and going in your own direction. It also validates that you’re doing the right thing within your state, as well as making sure your state board and farmers and ranchers are represented nationally. In addition, it provides our state staff an opportunity to collaborate with those in other states who are serving in the same roles.”

                According to Ann Wittmann, executive director of the Wyoming Beef Council, states with low populations and small staffs value the kind of teamwork the conference provides. “The state and national coordination is what makes the beef industry so special, and so workable, especially from the perspective of a small staff state,” she says. “We have programs of our own. But what we don’t have is the beautiful imagery, the fantastic story-telling, the video images, the larger-than-life programs, and programs that reach out beyond what we can do as a small state. It’s the best investment that we can make so that we all work together as a team.”

                Wittmann says bonding together through an event like the Partnerships in Action Conference makes the program stronger. “The partnership between the Federation of State Beef Councils, the Federation staff and the individual beef councils is powerful and incredibly efficient,” she says.

Meat Institute Releases MyMeatUp 2.0 App

The North American Meat Institute today unveiled an updated version of its popular MyMeatUp app, the first-of-its-kind free mobile app aimed at helping shoppers, particularly millennials — individuals between ages 18 and 35 — become informed, confident purchasers of meat and poultry.

MyMeatUp 2.0 includes a new “Where does my meat come from?” feature, which allows users to search the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) establishment database for information about where the product was produced.

“People are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from, and that concern is transforming shopping habits and driving purchasing decisions,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “The MyMeatUp app’s new ‘Where does my meat come from?’ feature responds to calls for increased transparency and empowers consumers to choose meat and poultry products that fit their preferences.”

The new feature, which can be accessed from the home screen, provides an explanation about how to find establishment numbers on meat packages and includes a function that allows users to search plant numbers.  Searches can be done using full and partial numbers, or users can choose to view the complete list of establishments.  They are then directed to a page with information from USDA about the establishment.

The updated app also includes several new images and more than 160 recipes.

“The changes released in this version of the app will enhance its value with shoppers, who are already using it in large numbers to navigate the abundance of choices offered in the meat case,” Carpenter added.  “Consumers will now be better equipped to conveniently plan their meat and poultry product selections from the comfort of their home and to confidently make on-the-spot purchasing decisions when shopping in the grocery store.”

New Version Preserves Original App’s Key Features, Capabilities

Meanwhile, the app retained the popular features included in the original version, most notably the unique cuts of meat guide, which visually displays the most common retail beef, veal, pork and lamb cuts.  By selecting a specific part of an animal, consumers can view images of common retail cuts, along with corresponding explanations, creative recipe ideas and proper cooking methods.  Shoppers can also use the app’s search function to quickly find information about cuts with which they are unfamiliar.

Furthermore, people interested in learning more about claims made on meat and poultry product labels can continue to use the app’s searchable glossary of common terms.  The glossary presents definitions for “natural,” “grass-fed,” “antibiotic-free” and “no hormones added,” among others.  In addition, consumers will recognize the app’s industry topics section that addresses antibiotic use in animal agriculture, animal welfare practices, environmental concerns and nutrition facts in succinct list formats.

“This dynamic, interactive app is a must-have resource for anyone who shops for, prepares and cooks meat and poultry products,” said Carpenter.  “The app’s in-depth content and creative recipes can help meat novices and experts alike build a weekly grocery list, select items for a last-minute dinner, or plan the menu for a special occasion.  It has never been easier to incorporate nutritious, high-quality meat and poultry products in your diet.”

The app has been downloaded more than 13,000 times and is available to both iPhone and Android users.  To download the iPhone version, click here.  The Android version is available here. For users who have already downloaded the app, the update will automatically appear in their phone’s app store.

U.S. Corn, DDGS Compete In Canada For Feed Grains Market Share

A short hour north of the Montana border, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is exploring the geographic advantage of unit trains carrying U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to Canadian feedlots around Lethbridge, Alberta.

A trade mission in October criss-crossed the region, visiting with cattle feedlots, feed manufacturers and rail facilities to find the best opportunities to expand inclusion of U.S. feed grains and co-products in local rations. The Canadian livestock feed demand is highly competitive with many alternative energy and protein feed ingredients available for producers, but the United States is well-positioned to meet this need due to close proximity to northern U.S. ethanol plants as well as the efficiency of transportation by unit train.

“There was a great buzz related to corn availability created during the trade mission,” said Neil Campbell, general manager of Gowans Feed Consulting, who works as a USGC consultant in Canada. “The timing is excellent to promote U.S. corn and DDGS in feedlot diets. The more corn that comes in, the more it will help the supply demand balance on feed grain.”

The first unit train of corn sold in the 2017/2018 marketing year was delivered into Lethbridge the week before the recent mission. Thanks to continued market development work by the Council and its Canadian consultants, more U.S. corn and DDGS will head north in the year to come.

Canada imported 670,000 metric tons (26.4 million bushels) of U.S. corn in 2016/2017 as well as 735,000 tons of U.S. DDGS, a 13 percent increase year-over-year. While these sales made Canada the sixth largest market for U.S. DDGS, Canada has the potential to utilize more than four million tons of DDGS annually, which the Council is working to capture.

In the Lethbridge area, U.S. corn can be railed directly into the region on unit trains. Favorable pricing combined with these logistical opportunities promote inclusion into local feed rations. The Council is working with other Alberta feedlots to support the development of additional trans-loading facilities in the region to further provide opportunities for rail shipments from the United States.

The Council and Gowans Feed Consulting also developed a relative value calculator that demonstrates the continued advantages of including corn and DDGS into livestock rations, which will further encourage local feedlots to evaluate the competitiveness of U.S. feed grains and co-products. This effort directly supports sales by increasing awareness of when buying opportunities arise.

Senate FY18 Budget Resolution Passes House; Next Steps Tax Reform

Today, the House took final action on the FY 2018 Budget Resolution. With this action, NAWG CEO Chandler Goule made the following statements about the importance of a strong Farm Bill and effective tax reform.

“While NAWG appreciates that no reconciliation instructions were included for agriculture, the final version does include caps for agriculture that are lower than the baseline,” stated NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “With prices the lowest they have been in decades, we strongly urge Congressional leadership to not only not allow cuts to the Farm Bill but provide more resources. The Ag Committees need sufficient resources to write an effective bill that meets growers needs and that ensures farmers continue to have access to a viable safety net and other important Farm Bill programs.”

The FY18 Budget Resolution enables a tax reform process to move forward by providing reconciliation instructions to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee for $1.5 trillion in revenue reductions for the purpose of comprehensive tax reform.

“Now that Congress has completed action the budget resolution, we need to get a farm bill with sufficient funding to provide a strong safety net as well as tax reform that recognizes the needs of agriculture,” continued Goule. “NAWG will continue to work with Congress to ensure unique needs of agriculture are being met during tax reform.”

Bill Includes Fix for Farmer Bankruptcy Reform

The supplemental appropriations bill passed by the Senate today includes the Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act of 2017, sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Al Franken, D-Minn.

The measure would rectify a 2012 Supreme Court ruling on a previous bankruptcy reform law that ignored Congress' express goal of helping family farmers, Grassley said.

"Family farmers face obstacles that others don't when dealing with bankruptcy. Their assets are largely tied up in farmland, which creates significant challenges for these family operations when reorganizing debt. Years ago, Congress took specific steps to address these disadvantages, but the Supreme Court failed to recognize Congress' intent when evaluating the law," Grassley said. "Thankfully, Congress has now approved a fix for this problem, and family farmers facing hard times can breathe a sigh of relief. I look forward to the president signing this bill into law."

Franken adds that the bill is a commonsense fix to ensure that the law functions as intended and protects family farmers. He hopes the measure becomes law to help ensure farmers going through bankruptcy get a fair shake and are able to repay the debts they owe without sacrificing their families' futures.

Contrary to oil industry claims, RIN values drive fuel prices lower

Following a recent announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would reject petitions to move the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) point of obligation and not allow Renewable Identification Number credits (RINs) for exported ethanol, RINs are trading higher and ethanol opponents have renewed efforts to characterize RINs as driving fuel prices higher. Meanwhile, some ethanol producers and marketers are taking advantage of the higher RIN values to offer denatured ethanol as low as 30 cents per gallon and E85 at 55 cents per gallon (plus tax and freight) this week.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty says, in fact, RINs do exactly the opposite of what critics claim, and the proof is higher ethanol-blended fuels at lower prices at the pump in real-world stations across the U.S. A RIN credit is a reward for RFS compliance. Companies complying with the RFS or blending more ethanol than required are able to use the additional RINs to discount prices of ethanol-blended fuels.

This week, ACE member Glacial Lakes Energy (GLE) announced it was making “RINless” denatured ethanol available to retailers for just 30 cents per gallon, and ACE member Absolute Energy was offering “RINless” E85 for just 55 cents. RINless means the RIN is retained by the seller, and its value is subtracted leaving a low net fuel price.

“There are a growing number of retailers buying RINless ethanol directly from producers like Absolute Energy and GLE,” Lamberty said. “The idea that small, independent station owners can’t benefit from RINs just isn’t true. Owners of single stores and small chains are the primary buyers of this RINless ethanol and E85.”

“After taxes and freight, the wholesale cost of E85 is under a dollar for many Midwest markets,” Lamberty added. “And pricing that reflects the discount earned from the extra RINs in higher ethanol blends is available in other markets, too. We’re constantly looking to match E15 and flex fuel retailers with ethanol suppliers who will sell them competitively priced fuels.”

Study: Consumers See 'Organic' and 'Non-GM' as Synonymous

Consumers are confused between foods labeled as "organic" and "non-genetically modified," according to a new study led by a University of Florida professor. In fact, researchers found that some consumers view the two labels as synonymous.

When Congress approved the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard in June 2016, lawmakers allowed companies two years -- until June 2018 -- to label their genetically modified (GM) food by text, symbol or an electronic digital link such as a QR code. The QR code is a machine-readable optical label that displays information when scanned.

Besides QR codes, companies can label GM foods by adding words like: "contains genetically modified ingredients" in plain text on the packages, said Brandon McFadden, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics, and lead author of the study.

McFadden and Purdue University agricultural economics professor Jayson Lusk conducted their research to find the best ways to communicate whether a food has GM ingredients. This research has implications for which foods consumers will buy, McFadden said.

To gauge consumers' willingness to pay for food labeled as GM vs. non-GM, researchers conducted a national survey of 1,132 respondents.

Specifically, researchers wanted to know how much consumers were willing to spend on food labeled as "USDA Organic" vs. that labeled "Non-GMO Project Verified." Genetically modified material is not allowed in food labeled "USDA Organic," while "Non-GMO Project" means the food has no more than 0.9 percent GM characteristics, according to the study.

Researchers measured respondents' willingness to pay for a box of 12 granola bars and a pound of apples. Granola bars represent a manufactured food commonly differentiated by its absence of GM material, while apples are a fresh fruit that requires companies to tell if they contain GM material, the study said.

In this study, when consumers looked at packages of Granola bars labeled "non-GMO Project," they were willing to spend 35 cents more than for the boxes that had text that read, "contains genetically engineered ingredients." With the "USDA Organic" label, consumers were willing to pay 9 cents more.

With apples, respondents were willing to pay 35 cents more for those labeled "non-GMO Project" and 40 cents more for those labeled "USDA Organic."

Participants' responses led McFadden to conclude that consumers don't distinguish definitions of the two food labels.

"For example, it's possible that a product labeled, 'Non-GMO Project Verified' more clearly communicates the absence of GM ingredients than a product labeled 'USDA Organic,'" said McFadden.

In addition to willingness to pay for GM- and non-GM foods, researchers wanted to know how QR codes impact choices for foods labeled as containing GM ingredients. They also wanted to know how much consumers were willing to pay for food labeled as GM if that information came from a Quick Response -- or QR -- code. Study results showed consumers are willing to pay more for genetically modified food if the information is provided by a QR code.

"This finding indicates that many of the study respondents did not scan the QR code," McFadden said.

That's because if all respondents scanned the QR code, there would not be a significant difference in their willingness to pay, he said. Since there is a significant difference, one can assume that many respondents did not scan the QR code, McFadden said.

"However, it is important to remember that this study is really a snapshot, and it is possible that over time, consumers will become more familiar with QR codes and be more likely to scan them," he said.

The new study is published in the journal Applied Economics: Perspectives and Policy.