Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday October 2 Ag News

Grow Nebraska Dairy Recruits Processors at World Dairy Expo

The Beef State is looking to add more dairy processing to its value-added livestock portfolio.

Representatives of the Grow Nebraska Dairy coalition will attend the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, this week to meet with prospective dairy processors as part of an aggressive and integrated recruitment effort.

Grow Nebraska Dairy is promoting the “First Mover Advantage”—the concept that the next dairy processor to locate in the state will have the pick of the litter in terms of location as well as the first opportunity to establish relationships with the state’s dairy farmers for their supply of milk.

The group will tout Nebraska’s distinct advantages in terms of dairy processing: a good supply of high quality milk, low energy costs, abundant water, an attractive regulatory environment, business incentives, market access and communities already vetted and on record as being ready to welcome a dairy processor.

While Grow Nebraska Dairy is interested in increasing the number of dairy operations in the state, dairy farmers need a local market for the milk they produce.  “Attracting the right processor is the first domino to fall,” said Rod Johnson, executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association.  “Once that happens, our existing dairy producers will quickly expand and new producers will come.”

The group is especially focused in identifying prospective processors who can initially use two to three million pounds of milk annually and then grow as the state’s dairy production grows.  “This is the ideal place for an artisan cheese maker, for example,” Johnson added. “Nebraska has the current capacity to meet that demand with no problem.”

Grow Nebraska Dairy includes representatives of the Nebraska State Dairy Association, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Public Power District, the University of Nebraska, and the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN).

October Ag Law and Farm 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
    Valentine — Wednesday, October 11
    Norfolk — Thursday, October 12
    Fairbury — Thursday, October 26
    Norfolk — Tuesday, October 31

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.

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Help Agricultural Producers and Small Rural Businesses Develop New Products

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett has announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help farmers, ranchers and producer-based businesses nationwide develop new product lines.

The funding is being provided through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. VAPG grants can be used to develop new products from raw agricultural products or promote new markets for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.

The VAPG program contributes to business creation in rural areas, while also enhancing food choices for consumers.  Independent agricultural producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and producer controlled entities are eligible.  VAPG grants may be used for planning activities or working capital expenses related to producing or marketing a value-added product.

Since the inception of the program, Nebraska’s USDA Rural Development has awarded 121 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $13.2 million. 

Two examples of awards from the Value-Added Producer Grant Program in Nebraska are:
·            Schwarz Family Farm, LLC located in Bertrand, Nebraska received a planning grant to complete a feasibility study and marketing plan for developing alternative revenue sources for tomato seconds, such as, salsa and tomato sauces.  Often unsold, the Schwarz Family Farm will identify the best use for these tomatoes in an effort to prevent excessive waste.
·            Volcanic Peppers located in Bellevue, Nebraska received a working capital grant to increase their customer base by improving individual product branding through a new label design and marketing campaign.  This will have a positive impact on their sales and increase customer awareness of their products. The grant will also assist with processing labor cost and will allow them to continue their rapid expansion.

To discuss applicant and project eligibility or for more information on the VAPG program in Nebraska, please contact Business Program Specialist Brant Richardson, or (402) 437-5568. 

Schools celebrate National Farm to School Month with a crunch heard across Nebraska 

The Center for Rural Affairs is promoting National Farm to School Month in October with activities to encourage healthy eating and to connect children with local food.

One highlighted event is the Midwest Great Apple Crunch at noon on Thursday, Oct. 12, in schools across Nebraska. Students and staff will participate by “crunching” into apples at the same time.

“The important thing is that students crunch and learn about local foods,” said Sandra Renner, Center for Rural Affairs project specialist. “The goal is to educate about how apples are grown, harvested, and how the fruit arrives at their school from a local orchard or distributor.”

The “crunch” may also be caused in other ways.

“Additional local food purchasing initiatives may be celebrated by students taking a bite of menu items other than apples, such as carrots, spinach, or meats,” Renner said. “The activity isn’t just for students, either. Farmers, community members, and even police officers have joined us during Apple Crunches in 2015 and 2016.”

In Nebraska, 29 percent of schools report participating in farm to school activities, including sourcing food locally, growing food in a school garden, and learning about food and agriculture in the classroom. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, numbers include 71 districts, 458 schools, and 188,637 students. An additional 13 percent of Nebraska schools plan to start farm to school activities in the future.

National Farm to School Month was designated by Congress in 2010 to demonstrate the importance of farm to school programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies, and educate children about the origins of food.

To get involved or to learn more about the Midwest Great Apple Crunch and National Farm to School Month, visit, or contact Sandra Renner at or 402.320.3444.

Center for Rural Affairs and Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska are supporting partners of Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services who leads farm to school efforts in Nebraska.

U.S. Beef Roadshow a Successful Launch for Market Development Efforts in China

An initial and ambitious step toward developing demand for U.S. beef in China was taken this week as the U.S. Beef China Roadshow, a week-long series of events organized by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), brought exporters and importers together in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. These activities were made possible through support from the Nebraska Beef Council.

The “roadshow” moniker was an appropriate choice, as USMEF staff and 17 member companies began the journey Monday, Sept. 25 with a U.S. beef showcase in Beijing, then traveled to Shanghai for a similar program on Wednesday, Sept 27. By the end of the week, the contingent had moved to Guangzhou, where the roadshow concluded with a U.S. beef overview, trade networking, product sampling and an American-style barbecue reception highlighting alternative cuts. More than 300 Chinese importers – buyers who were selected and screened by USMEF attended each of the three roadshow events.

“We started in the north, moved to central China and finally ended up in the south, allowing U.S. companies to see and experience different regions of the country,” explained Ming Liang, USMEF marketing director in China. “At the same time, Chinese buyers from each stop were able to interact with U.S. exporters. What this roadshow confirmed is that USMEF is in a unique position to facilitate meetings to assist U.S. packers and other exporters, as well as help our partners in the Chinese trade in an effort to get more U.S. beef into the country.”

Each of the three roadshow stops featured member companies exhibiting U.S. beef products. A simple opening ceremony in each location included a brief overview of the current U.S. beef market, along with introductions by company representatives. Each roadshow event was themed with a particular popular local beef dining concept, including hot pot, Korean barbecue and western steakhouse. Cutting demonstrations and tastings were held throughout each event by USMEF’s technical consultant.

“The roadshow idea grew out of the need to introduce American companies to the Chinese market, as well as to provide Chinese distributors, retailers, restaurateurs and chefs an opportunity to handle and taste U.S. beef, with a goal of building on the momentum that started when China reopened to U.S. beef earlier this year,” said Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. “In each of the three cities, there was obvious excitement on both sides, with importers lining up to meet USMEF’s exporter members. We’ve said that developing the China market will take time, but we are very pleased with the reception we received this week. Our members who took part were excited about what they saw and walked away with serious commercial interest.”

“We started U.S. beef sales in August, with the understanding that it will take time to convince our Chinese customers and consumers to move to U.S. beef, and our goal is to let them appreciate the difference between U.S. beef and beef from other countries,” said Peter Cho, purchasing manager for Topping Cuisine International (TCI), a major food importer, distributor, meat processor and restaurant chain operator based in Shanghai. “There is a learning curve, and higher pricing is a challenge. But we feel that as time goes by and people are able to experience U.S. beef’s quality, demand for it will grow.”

Cho added that the success of U.S. beef in China will require a consistent – and persistent – approach.

“I believe as demand expands, the U.S. beef industry will eventually produce more beef for the market. As a result, prices should come down,” Cho said.

U.S. exporters participating in the roadshow varied from well-established players to new companies hoping to capitalize on China’s reopening to U.S. beef.

John Zhong, CEO of Better Protein, Inc., a Des Moines–based operation made up of family farm cooperatives across the Midwest, said his company was able to collect a solid list of contacts at each stop that included not only Chinese importers, but also foodservice and retail professionals.

“Our next step is to go back home to the U.S. and to follow up with our roadshow contacts to learn more about their product needs. “We’ll touch base and start working together to create solutions and strategies for the market and I hope to begin supplying U.S. beef to China soon.”

Other U.S. exporters agreed that learning about the needs of potential customers was extremely valuable.

“We really looked forward to the roadshow because it would allow us to get a practical education on China and learn what we need to do to be successful here,” said Michael Strohecker, CEO of AmeriRanch, a California-based trading company that partners with family cattle ranches in Utah, Wyoming and Montana. “The week went almost exactly as we hoped when it was proposed. We were able to meet with several potential customers and learn what consumers here are interested in. USMEF did a tremendous job of putting both sides together in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. You could see the differences in each city and region, but you could also see the things that are common throughout China.”

Steve Summers, sales manager for One World Beef, also noted that each stop on the roadshow provided a different perspective on the overall market.

“You could feel the energy for U.S. beef, and I was able to meet several top-notch importers at each stop – and each had their own story and own approach to their business,” said Summers. “That’s the real advantage to seeing different parts of China and meeting different kinds of buyers. Our job now is to try to match our U.S. beef products with each of those buyers to help fit their needs.”

Between roadshow events, USMEF led representatives of member companies on visits to Chinese retailers, cold storage facilities and restaurants serving U.S. beef in each city.

Bernard Rigal, managing director of sales for Colorado-based Platte Valley Food Group, called the roadshow an invaluable experience.

“How else, other than through USMEF’s efforts to put this together for members, would we get to accomplish all of these things in one week?” asked Rigal. “It was truly great to see the tremendous opportunity China offers for U.S. beef, with real potential for endless growth. I was able to meet potential customers that were selected by USMEF, so we were able to talk business and discuss future business.”

As the final event in Guangzhou wrapped up, Haggard pointed out that the U.S. Beef China Roadshow is only the starting point for what is certain to be a long road to getting U.S. beef established in the marketplace.

“In reality, this is only the very beginning of a campaign to develop distribution channels for U.S. beef in China,” he said. “The hard work starts now. We have scheduled trainings and seminars to educate importers, distributors, retailers and restaurant operators about U.S. beef, and those will begin almost immediately. We are truly in it for the long run, but the roadshow was a critical initial event that will add momentum to the current growth in purchases and shipments.”

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 542 million bushels in August 2017. Total corn consumption was up 6 percent from July 2017 and up 6 percent from August 2016. August 2017 usage included 90.5 percent for alcohol and 9.5 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.45 million bushels, up 12 percent from July 2017 and up 10 percent from August 2016. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 481 million bushels, was up 6 percent from July 2017 and up 5 percent from August 2016. Corn consumed in August 2017 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.5 percent and 10.5 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 2.06 million tons during August 2017, up 7 percent from July 2017 but down 1 percent from August 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.35 million tons in August 2017, up 1 percent from July 2017 and up 10 percent from August 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 368 thousand tons during August 2017, up 12 percent from July 2017 and up 9 percent from August 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 325 thousand tons in August 2017, up 19 percent from July 2017 and up 5 percent from August 2016.

USDA Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.55 million tons (152 million bushels) in August 2017, compared to 4.67 million tons (156 million bushels) in July 2017 and 4.22 million tons (141 million bushels) in August 2016. Crude oil produced was 1.76 billion pounds down 2 percent from July 2017 but up 7 percent from August 2016. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.52 billion pounds during August 2017 increased 1 percent from July 2017 and increased 6 percent from August 2016.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 152 thousand tons in August 2017, compared to 161 thousand tons in July 2017 and 174 thousand tons in August 2016. Canola crude oil produced was 127 million pounds down 6 percent from July 2017 and down 13 percent from August 2016. Canola once refined oil production at 136 million pounds during August 2017 was up 18 percent from July 2017 and up 19 percent from August 2016. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 50.4 million pounds during August 2017 was up 29 percent from July 2017 and up 31 percent from August 2016.

Edible tallow production was 81.5 million pounds during August 2017, up 29 percent from July 2017 and up 2 percent from August 2016. Inedible tallow production was 315 million pounds during August 2017, up 17 percent from July 2017 and up 4 percent from August 2016. Technical tallow production was 97.4 million pounds during August 2017, up 24 percent from July 2017 but down 17 percent from August 2016. Choice white grease production at 111 million pounds during August 2017 increased 25 percent from July 2017 but decreased 3 percent from August 2016.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for October 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for October 2017.  The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for October is 1.250 percent, unchanged from 1.250 percent in September.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during October is 2.250 percent, unchanged from 2.250 percent in September.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for October are as follows, 1.500 percent with three-year loan terms, unchanged from 1.500 percent in September; 1.750 percent with five-year loan terms, unchanged from 1.750 percent in September; 2.000 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 2.125 percent in September; 2.125 percent with 10-year loan terms, down from 2.250 percent in September and; 2.250 percent with 12-year loan terms, down from 2.375 percent in September.

NPPC Backs Goodlatte Visa Legislation

With the American agriculture community, including the pork industry, facing a labor shortage, the National Pork Producers Council today called on Congress to adopt legislation creating a new category for non-seasonal agriculture workers.

NPPC supports a bill, known as the AG Act, introduced today by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., that would create an H-2C program, allowing non-seasonal agriculture workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for them to return to their home country. Workers would need to return for one month for every year in the United States.

The new program would allow undocumented workers, who can demonstrate agriculture work experience over the previous two-year period, to get an H2-C visa. An initial cap of 500,000 workers would be allowed under the program, with allowances to adjust the number depending on U.S. agriculture labor demand each year.”

“The U.S. pork industry is suffering from a serious labor shortage,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “We commend Congressman Goodlatte for sponsoring this important legislation, which allows undocumented workers already in the United States to continue working in vital agriculture jobs.”

“The U.S. pork industry needs a viable agriculture workforce to remain globally competitive,” Maschhoff said. “The current visa programs are not working for pork producers or for the broader agriculture community. The Goodlatte bill will rectify this.”

NMPF, Dairy Industry Organizations Announce Support for Legislation Creating New Agriculture Guest Worker Program

A coalition of dozens of dairy farm organizations, led by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), is supporting new congressional legislation that would help address one of the most challenging issues affecting America’s milk producers: obtaining a dependable, legal workforce.

A founding member of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, NMPF was joined by 57 dairy cooperatives and state dairy farmer associations today on a letter backing Rep. Robert Goodlatte’s (R-VA) new Agriculture Guestworker (AG) Act. Goodlatte’s House Judiciary Committee is expected to formally mark up the legislation on Wednesday, Oct. 4.  The AG Act would establish an entirely new visa program, dubbed the H-2C visa, which would allow farm employers to bring in foreign workers on a year-round basis. It would replace the existing H-2A temporary visa program, which dairy farmers cannot use because their labor needs are year-round, not seasonal.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said Goodlatte’s bill “is a significant step forward in providing positive, workable solutions for dairy farm employers. It recognizes that we need to move past the status quo and pursue a new approach to matching the supply and demand for workers in U.S. agriculture.”

Mulhern said Goodlatte’s AG Act “reflects many of the key principles that our organization and its members have offered to the Judiciary Committee as the measure was developed.” In addition to establishing the new type of visa for future workers, it would allow current undocumented farm workers to apply for H-2C visas so that they can participate legally in the agricultural workforce. The new H-2C program will be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the Department of Labor.

George Rohrer, a dairy farmer in Dayton, Va., and a member of the NMPF Board of Directors, said that farmers “have waited for years for lawmakers to fix our broken immigration system. The AG Act is evidence that Congressman Goodlatte has listened to many of our concerns, and is willing to try a new approach to the problem. As a farmer, it’s difficult to plan for tomorrow when you don’t know whether you’ll be able to hire qualified people today.”

In addition to legislation addressing the needs of farm employers, the House Judiciary Committee will also consider a measure requiring the use of the E-Verify database program. NMPF has been clear that mandatory E-Verify participation should only be required if farmers first have protections in place for current workers and access to a future labor pool.

Ag Workforce Coalition issues statement on Chairman Goodlatte’s AG Act of 2017

"The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) supports Chairman Goodlatte's AG Act as part of our ongoing effort to work with him in achieving a solution that ensures a secure, legal workforce in agriculture today and in the future.  We call on all members of the Judiciary Committee to support and vote the AG Act out of Committee. We appreciate the Chairman's invitation to continue the dialogue and look forward to working together beyond the committee process to further address agriculture's labor crisis.

"We commend Chairman Goodlatte for the improvements made thus far to secure a balance between the need for a legal workforce in agriculture today and in the future, with the necessity of dealing with illegal immigration. As the process unfolds, we look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats on this legislation, which will lead to enactment of a solution that ensures agriculture producers have access to a legal and stable workforce."

The AWC brings together organizations representing the diverse needs of agricultural employers across the country. The coalition serves as the unified voice of agriculture in the effort to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers and growers have access to a stable and secure workforce now and in the future.

CWT Assists with 220,462 Pounds of Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted one request for export assistance from a member that has a contract to sell 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter to customers in the North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from October through December 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 55.148 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 4.335 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 21 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 606.558 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.

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