Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday October 12 Ag News


Based on October 1 conditions, Nebraska's 2017 corn production is forecast at 1.68 billion bushels, down 1 percent from last year's production, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Area to be harvested for grain, at 9.30 million acres, is down 3 percent from a year ago. Yield is forecast at 181 bushels per acre, up 3 bushels from last year.

Sorghum for grain is forecast at 14.4 million bushels, down 19 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 150,000 acres, is down 14 percent from 2016. Yield is forecast at 96 bushels per acre, down 6 bushels from last year.

Soybean production is forecast at a record 316 million bushels, up 1 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 5.65 million acres, is 10 percent above 2016. Yield is forecast at 56 bushels per acre, down 5 bushels from last year.

Dry Edible Bean production is forecast at 4.11 million hundredweight, up 49 percent from 2016. Area for harvest, at 170,000 acres, is up 39 percent from last year. Record yield is forecast at 2,420 pounds per acre, up 150 pounds per acre from last year.

Sugarbeet production is forecast at 1.43 million tons, up 1 percent from 2016. Area for harvest, at 44,600 acres, is down 6 percent from last year. Record yield is forecast at 32.1 tons per acre, up 2.2 tons per acre from a year ago.

All Sunflower production is forecast at 56.0 million pounds, down 4 percent from last year. Acreage for harvest, at 42,000 acres, is up 3,000 from 2016. Yield is forecast at 1,333 pounds per acre, down 158 pounds per acre from a year ago. Of the acres for harvest, non-oil sunflowers account for 14,000 acres and oil sunflowers account for 28,000 acres.

Alfalfa hay production, at 3.23 million tons, is up 4 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 770,000 acres, is up 3 percent from a year ago. Record yield is forecast at 4.20 tons per acre, up 0.05 ton from 2016. All Other Hay production, at 2.72 million tons, is up 3 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 1.70 million acres, is unchanged from a year ago. Yield is forecast at 1.60 tons per acre, up 0.05 ton from 2016.

Iowa Crop Production Report

Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.46 billion bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Production report. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 191 bushels per acre, up 4 bushels per acre from the September 1 forecast but down 12 bushels per acre from last year. If realized, this will be the third highest yield and production on record behind 2016 and 2015, respectively. Acres to be harvested for grain remain unchanged at 12.9 million acres.

Soybean production is forecast at 557 million bushels. If realized, this will be the second highest production on record behind last year’s 566 million bushels. The yield is forecast at 56.0 bushels per acre, down 1.0 bushel per acre from the September 1 forecast, and down 4.0 bushels per acre from 2016. If realized, this will be the third highest yield on record, behind 2016 and 2015. Area to be harvested remained unchanged at 9.95 million acres.

Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures for hay is forecast at 2.52 million tons, an increase of 9 percent from the previous year. Yield is expected to average 3.40 tons per acre, down 0.80 ton from last year. Production of other hay is forecast at 740,000 tons, down 18 percent from last year. Yield for other hay is expected to average 2.00 tons per acre, down 0.50 ton from last year.

The forecasts in this report are based on October 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time. The next corn and soybean production forecasts, based on conditions as of November 1, will be released on November 9.

NOTE: Following a thorough review of all data, 2016 soybean acreage, yield and production have been revised. Harvested acreage has been revised to 9.44 million acres, down 10,000 acres from the previous estimate. The 2016 yield, at 60.0 bushels per acre, is down 0.5 bushel from the previous estimate. Production has been revised to 566 million bushels, down 5 million bushels from the previous estimate. Updated 2016 district and county estimates will be available in February 2018.

USDA Crop Production Report - October 12

Corn Production Up 1 Percent from September Forecast
Soybean Production Down Slightly
Cotton Production Down 3 Percent

Corn production is forecast at 14.3 billion bushels, down 6 percent from last year but up 1 percent from the September forecast. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 171.8 bushels per acre, up 1.9 bushels from the September forecast but down 2.8 bushels from 2016. If realized, this will be the second highest yield and production on record for the United States. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 83.1 million acres, down less than 1 percent from the previous estimate and down 4 percent from 2016. Acreage updates were made in several States based on a thorough review of all available data.

Soybean production is forecast at a record 4.43 billion bushels, down slightly from September but up 3 percent from last year. Based on October 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 49.5 bushels per acre, down 0.4 bushel from last month and down 2.5 bushels from last year. Area for harvest in the United States is forecast at a record high 89.5 million acres, up 1 percent from September and up 8 percent from 2016.  Acreage updates were made in several States based on a thorough review of all available data.

All cotton production is forecast at 21.1 million 480-pound bales, down 3 percent from September but up 23 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 889 pounds per harvested acre, down 19 pounds from last month but up 22 pounds from last year. If realized, the cotton yield forecast for the Nation will be the second highest yield on record. Upland cotton production is forecast at 20.4 million 480-pound bales, up 23 percent from 2016. Pima cotton production, forecast at 727,000 bales, was carried forward from last month.


Farmers and ranchers interested in preventing erosion, improving soil health, conserving water and wildlife, or making any other natural resource conservation improvements to their property are encouraged to apply now for funding available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Those interested in receiving funding should sign up before Nov. 17, 2017.

According to Myron Taylor, Acting State Conservationist for NRCS in Nebraska, there are several options available to producers.

“NRCS has a whole suite of conservation programs available to farmers and ranchers looking for assistance in improving and protecting the natural resources on their ag land. These programs provide funding on cropland and rangeland, as well as for animal feeding operations and establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat and wetlands. NRCS staff can help landowners and operators identify their options,” Taylor said.

One of the most widely applied conservation programs in Nebraska is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Through this program, conservation practices were installed on over 400,000 acres in Nebraska during 2017 with over 800,000 acres currently under contract statewide.

The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to install conservation practices that protect natural resources, resulting in cleaner air and water, healthy soil and more wildlife habitat.

Individuals interested in entering into an EQIP agreement may apply at any time, but the ranking of applications on hand to receive funding will begin Nov. 17, 2017. The first step is to visit your local NRCS field office and complete an application.

For more information about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and other conservation programs, visit your local NRCS field office or

EPA Appoints Jim Gulliford as Region 7 Administrator

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the appointment of Jim Gulliford of Missouri to become regional administrator for Region 7. Mr. Gulliford will oversee environmental protection efforts in: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. He previously held the position of regional administrator for Region 7 from 2001-2006.

Jim Gulliford most recently held the position of executive director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society where he led the organization from 2009-2016. He was responsible for all operation aspects of the non-profit organization that advocated for conservation professionals and for science-based conservation practices, programs, and policy. The organization’s mission is to foster the science and art of natural resource conservation on working land – land used to produce food, fiber, and other services that improve the quality of life people experience in rural and urban communities.

Prior to joining Soil and Water Conservation Society, Mr. Gulliford spent nearly a decade at EPA. From 2006-2009, he served as EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances where he was responsible for helping protect public health and the environment from potential risks of pesticides and chemicals. Mr. Gulliford also served as director of the Division of Soil Conservation at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for 15 years, where he was responsible for the development and management of soil conservation, water quality, and mine regulation for the state if Iowa.

“Jim Gulliford is unquestionably qualified to lead EPA Region 7,” said EPA Administration Scott Pruitt. “Not only has Jim dedicated his entire career to protecting the environment and ensuring healthier outcomes for Americans, but he has already demonstrated to be a competent leader for Region 7 during the Bush Administration.”

His nomination is receiving high accolades from across the region:

Joel Brinkmeyer, CEO, Agribusiness Association of Iowa: “The selection of Jim Gulliford for EPA’s Region 7 Administrator is a great choice by this administration in their efforts to accelerate environmental advancement while enhancing production agriculture.   Jim will be able to immediately step up to meet the challenges of the office due to his past successful leadership experience in this same position during the Bush Administration, followed by his experience in Washington DC in the office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances at EPA, and as the CEO for the National Soil and Water Conservation Society.  Jim has tremendous understanding of how soil and water resources can best benefit production agriculture, and enhance high quality food production without damaging the environment.   In fact, Jim understands that with the right tools and resources, positive impacts can be made to the environment as agriculture continues to improve the technology of modern food production systems.  Jim’s strong network of midwestern leaders and the scientific community, combined with his positive work ethic, will enhance working relationships with persons of diverse interests to the benefit of urban and rural citizens alike.

“I look forward to working with Administrator Gulliford through the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, and our members, to bring positive solutions to environmental and production challenges.”

Jim Macy, Director, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality: “EPA Region 7 will be well served by the appointment of Jim Gulliford.  Jim is a strong leader in conservation and will bring a voice of reason and cooperation for Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Nebraska DEQ is ready to work with Jim Gulliford to further improve Federal and State relationships in the true spirit of cooperative federalism.”

Rex Martin, Chairman of the Board, Soil and Water Conservation Society: “I have been very fortunate to have worked with Jim for many years including his former roles as EPA Region 7 Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA and as the Executive Director at the Soil and Water Conservation Society.  Jim has been successful at applying practical environmental practices on the ground based on sound science while allowing local stakeholder’s real world input to drive those activities.  Jim’s strong work ethic, integrity and transparency makes him an excellent choice for this leadership role.”

Steve Taylor, President and Executive Director, Missouri Agribusiness Association: “I am extremely pleased that Jim Gulliford is returning as administrator of EPA Region 7.  Over the past three decades, I have worked with Jim on a variety of issues and projects involving water quality and agriculture.  Over these years, Jim has been a valuable partner and he has understood the need to keep agriculture profitable as we protected the environment.  I look forward to once again working with Jim on the environmental issues that face agriculture today.”

Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University: “Jim Gulliford brings a tremendous portfolio of knowledge, experience and highly competent leadership to the position of EPA Region 7 Administrator. His previous service on behalf of EPA allows him to step in and begin the vital responsibilities of the position immediately. Jim understands the complexity of environmental issues and the importance of collaboration and communication with partners and stakeholders. He leads with science to guide and ground his work, and that is a common foundation we share in how progress is made.”

Understand Dairy Management Systems with Video Series

A series of six new videos from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach have been created to help beginning dairy farmers learn about different types of dairy operations and management systems. Each video features a dairy farmer who discusses the different aspects of their operation.

“Given the many different types of dairy operations and management systems, we felt it was important to describe all types and styles of those systems,” said Jennifer Bentley, dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “All six of the farms shown in the videos have worked with an ISU Extension and Outreach specialist in some aspect of their dairy operation and we felt they were good models to showcase to others.”

The videos are available on the ISU Extension and Outreach Dairy Team YouTube page.

Producers shown in the videos discuss the type of system chosen, why that system is used, challenges faced and advice they would give to others thinking of utilizing that specific system.

“We wanted producers to understand that while there is more than one way to manage a dairy operation, they all require some basic key concepts that are highlighted in the videos,” Bentley said. “It’s important for others to know what works well and has been successful, but also the challenges of operating these dairy systems.”

Both beginning and established producers can learn from the videos.

“These videos are meant to help those who are interested in dairying, like beginning farmers, choose a management system that fits their needs,” Bentley said. “It can also help current dairy producers who are looking to make a change to their management system, giving them a better understanding of the key success factors and possible challenges they may face.”

Iowa has new destination for pork tenderloin lovers

The Iowa Pork Producers Association has selected a Webster City restaurant as the winner of its 2017 Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest.

The Grid Iron Grill owned by Burke Risetter was judged by IPPA to have the best tenderloin in the state this year.

"You've put a lot of pride on my sleeve," Risetter said when contacted by IPPA earlier this week. "This is awesome. I can't stop smiling."

The Grid Iron Grill has been in business since 2008 when Risetter and his uncle opened the restaurant. Burke buys 300 to 400 pounds of fresh pork a week and serves about 400 tenderloins each week. Fresh pork loins are cut daily and each tenderloin is seven to eight ounces. They are tenderized twice, tapped out instead of pounded out and given a light egg wash. One fryer is used for all pork items to preserve the true pork flavor.

"A wonderful golden brown, center cut, cooked to perfection breaded pork tenderloin," commented judge Phillip Carey, executive chef and professor at the Des Moines Area Community College Culinary Institute. "The even thickness of the pork loin made this sandwich very enjoyable to eat. A true test of a good breaded pork tenderloin is you can eat it with just a bun. This one was that type of sandwich and I'm ready to go back for another."

Risetter said he was thrilled just to be one of the contest finalists and is proud of his entire 24-member staff.

"I've been in food service my whole life and I always wanted my own business," Risetter said. "I feel like this is a little bit of a reward and I'm thrilled to death."

The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee will make the official presentation at the restaurant next week. Risetter will receive a check for $500, a plaque and a large banner to display. The Grid Iron Grill also will need to brace itself for a substantial increase in traffic.

IPPA judges selected the Northside Café in Winterset as the runner up in this year's contest. IPPA will present the café with a check for $250 and a plaque. The Buffalo Tavern in Burlington, Lake View's Thirsty Carp and the Double Dip in Chariton rounded out the top five finalists. These restaurants will receive a Top Five Plaque to display in their restaurant.

Those who submit restaurant nominations also win in this contest. Everyone who nominated the Grid Iron Grill was entered into a drawing for $100 from IPPA. The lucky winner is Ryan Cushman of Webster City who will now be able to enjoy many of the grill's tenderloins.

IPPA received 3,014 nominations with 271 different establishments named. The committee judged 43 establishments last summer on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.

The Grid Iron Grill is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, when it serves a brunch.

The tenderloin contest is held to celebrate the state's dedicated pig farmers, local restaurants and their hard-working teams and a famous Midwest favorite-the pork tenderloin sandwich.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Flat

The Energy Information Administration released a mixed weekly report Thursday morning showing fuel ethanol inventory unchanged while production fell and blending demand edged higher during the week-ended Oct. 6.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed fuel ethanol stocks held steady at 21.5 million barrels (bbl), with a year-over-year surplus at 2.1 million bbl, or 10.8%.

Domestic plant production fell by 43,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 4.3%, to 967,000 bpd during the week reviewed, while up 5,000 bpd, or 0.52%, year over year.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, increased 7,000 bpd, or 0.75%, to 937,000 bpd during the week reviewed while up 21,000 bpd, or 2.3%, year over year.

USDA’s Anne Dawson to Receive USMEF Distinguished Service Award

Anne Dawson, senior trade advisor for the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has been named the recipient of the U.S. Meat Export Federation's (USMEF) 2017 Distinguished Service Award. The award, which recognizes an individual for his or her leadership and lifetime contributions toward the achievement of USMEF’s export goals, will be presented Nov. 2 at the USMEF Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Arizona.

Dawson is in her 19th year of service with FAS. Before taking her current position in 2007, she served as an international economist focusing on Asia-related agricultural access issues. This included early implementation of Taiwan’s World Trade Organization (WTO) accession terms and conditions and providing support for implementation of China’s agricultural obligations under the WTO.

“I am very surprised and humbled to receive this award from USMEF,” Dawson said. “I have worked on many challenging issues over the years, but there has also been tremendous work done by people above me and people alongside me. So I am truly honored by this selection, but I think it really speaks well of the constructive relationship many people here at USDA have with the meat and livestock industries. Certainly there are stresses and differences of opinion at times on the best way to address difficult issues, but we have a very open dialogue and the industry provides us with a lot of valuable feedback.”

Since 2003, Dawson has worked collaboratively with USDA colleagues and impacted industries to address market closures and market access restrictions resulting from the first detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States. She has been responsible for coordinating negotiations addressing beef access restrictions in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia, as well as access for U.S. lamb in Taiwan. She continues to coordinate similar USDA interagency efforts to regain access for other ruminant products that are still restricted or banned due to BSE. One of the recent highlights of these BSE-related efforts was the reopening of China to U.S. beef after an absence of more than 13 years.

“We hit a huge wall about four or five years ago due to China’s insistence that the United States be able to trace animals back to the birth farm of origin,” she explained. “The industry provided excellent analysis as to why China was requiring this and was able to bring a coordinated plan to the U.S. government as to how this requirement would be met. Once this was accomplished, it opened the door for us to address all the other outstanding issues with China and finally reach an agreement earlier this year.”

Dawson also monitors many sanitary and food safety issues related to red meat trade and assists her USDA colleagues in their efforts to address ongoing prohibitions and restrictions on veterinary drugs. She praised the input received from USMEF as a reliable and valuable resource.

“The work USDA performs overseas just could not be done without this support,” Dawson said. “USMEF’s Denver headquarters is the first point of entry into the industry assessment of the export markets, but USMEF staff members overseas are equally critical to this process. They have contacts on the ground that are absolutely essential if we are going to gather the information we need to have effective negotiations with our trading partners.”

USMEF CEO Philip Seng also highlighted the strong working relationship USMEF has with USDA, and noted that Dawson’s role is one that is often underappreciated.

“USMEF is pleased to recognize Anne with our Distinguished Service Award, but it’s just a small token of appreciation for all of her work on behalf of U.S. animal agriculture,” Seng said. “For every market access breakthrough that is announced and every happy celebration marking the arrival or return of U.S. meat to an international market, there are countless hours of difficult – and often frustrating – work put in by Anne and her colleagues that the public never sees or hears about. Without this type of dedication and persistence, our industry could never enjoy the growth it has achieved internationally.”

A native of Alabama, Dawson was raised on a small family farm in the Gulf Coast region that included cattle and vegetable production. She is a graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and received a Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey, California.

Round Four Of NAFTA Talks Begins In Washington With Industry Emphasis On Deal's Benefits

The fourth round of negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) began in Washington, D.C., this week with a flurry of engagement between government and industry players as tensions on all sides appeared to increase.

Several controversial proposals are expected to be discussed over the course of the round, which is set to conclude on Tuesday with a press event featuring the relevant trade ministers. These proposals include agriculture-specific issues, like a produce provision tabled in the previous round that many groups believe would open the door to damaging trade barriers. Other, broader issues are also expected to be discussed, including an investor dispute settlement proposal, rules of origin, and the potential for sunset rules that would terminate the agreement in five years.

As the uncertainty about the agreement continues, several members of the U.S. Congress spoke out this week on their standards for a new deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also visited Capitol Hill and met with President Donald Trump.

Stakeholders from the Mexican grain industry traveled to Washington to monitor the talks and meet with U.S. industry. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) facilitated a meeting between livestock division members of Mexico's National Agricultural Council (known as CNA) representing approximately 90 percent of the livestock industry and U.S. agriculture groups including the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), focused on the ongoing negotiations.

Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. corn, purchasing 13.9 million metric tons (547.2 million bushels) worth $2.5 billion last marketing year, and the largest market for U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), purchasing 2.06 million tons in that peroid. Mexico is the second largest U.S. sorghum export market, buying 568,254 tons (22.4 million bushels).

Canada is also a dominant buyer of U.S. feed grains and value-added products, importing more than 670,000 tons (26.4 million bushels) of U.S. corn last marketing year. During that time, the country was also the largest export customer for U.S. barley (76,944 tons or 1.6 million bushels) and the second largest export customer for U.S. ethanol (331.7 million gallons).

The Council has strongly supported NAFTA since it first went into effect in 1994. The agreement has spurred significant growth in both the U.S. and Mexican feed and livestock sectors as well as deep integration of the U.S. and Mexican grain production, export and feed milling systems.

As a result, Mexican corn imports have grown by 847 percent and DDGS imports have grown by 945 percent since NAFTA was implemented.

North of the border, Canadian imports of U.S. barley and sorghum have increased 46-fold since NAFTA went into force; imports of DDGS have increased by 17-fold; and imports of ethanol have increased 172-fold.

The Council will continue to engage with negotiators meeting in Washington and work with sister organizations and customer organizations to emphasize the importance of NAFTA to the U.S. grains and biofuels industries.

BASF signs agreement to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses

BASF has signed an agreement to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses. Bayer intends to divest these assets in the context of its planned acquisition of Monsanto. The all-cash purchase price is €5.9 billion, subject to certain adjustments at closing. The assets to be acquired include Bayer’s global glufosinate-ammonium non-selective herbicide business, commercialized under the Liberty®, Basta® and Finale® brands, as well as its seed businesses for key row crops in select markets: canola hybrids in North America under the InVigor® brand using the LibertyLink® trait technology, oilseed rape mainly in European markets, cotton in the Americas and Europe as well as soybean in the Americas. The transaction also includes Bayer’s trait research and breeding capabilities for these crops and the LibertyLink® trait and trademark.

For the full year 2016, sales of the business to be purchased from Bayer amounted to around €1.3 billion and EBITDA to around €385 million. The transaction is subject to the closing of Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto and approval by relevant authorities. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

“With this investment, we are seizing the opportunity to acquire highly attractive assets in key row crops and markets. It will be a strategic complement to BASF’s well-established and successful crop protection business as well as to our own activities in biotechnology,” said Dr. Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. “The acquisition will further enhance our agricultural solutions offer, which is a core pillar of BASF’s portfolio.”

The acquisition complements BASF’s crop protection business, strengthening the company’s herbicide portfolio and marking its entry into the seed business with proprietary assets in key agricultural markets. “Building on the competent new team members and the enhanced portfolio, we will offer farmers a greater choice of solutions addressing their needs for high-quality seeds, chemical and biological crop protection,” explained Saori Dubourg, Member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE and responsible for the Agricultural Solutions segment. “Moreover, this transaction will create new opportunities for future growth and strengthen our global innovation potential.”

More than 1,800 commercial, R&D, breeding and production personnel shall transfer from Bayer to BASF. These employees are primarily located in the United States, Germany, Brazil, Canada and Belgium. Furthermore, BASF will acquire the manufacturing sites for glufosinate-ammonium production and formulation in Germany, the United States, and Canada, seed breeding facilities in the Americas and Europe as well as trait research facilities in the United States and Europe. “We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to BASF. As highly experienced, dedicated and motivated professionals they will enrich our team with their expert knowledge in crop protection, seeds and traits. Together, we will shape the long-term success of BASF, serving the needs of farmers around the globe,” said Markus Heldt, President of BASF’s Crop Protection division.

NGFA testifies on CSX rail service problems; recommends STB require detailed recovery plan

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) on Oct. 11 told the Surface Transportation Board (STB) about continuing shortcomings by CSX Transportation Inc. (CSXT) to provide reliable, consistent and predictable rail service to a significant number of NGFA-member companies that operate on the carrier's lines.

Further, NGFA recommended that the agency require the railroad to submit a detailed service recovery plan containing specific, meaningful service-improvement metrics and timetable for restoring service to acceptable levels.

NGFA was one of 24 organizations and companies testifying at a day-long public listening session conducted by the STB on issues related to CSXT's service performance. Each of the witnesses documented continuing incidents of unpredictable, inconsistent service and a lack of adequate notice and ongoing communications by CSXT with its customers.

NGFA President Randy Gordon told the STB that NGFA-member grain handlers, feed manufacturers, flour millers, corn refiners and grain processors continue to consistently report CSXT service failures, as well as failures of the rail company's personnel to respond to inquiries from rail customers.

"Receiving consistent, predictable rail service and obtaining ongoing, accurate information from a carrier are essential for agricultural rail shippers and receivers to operate efficiently," Gordon said. "Prior to July of this year, CSXT generally met those needs. However, our members report neither is occurring today."

While some NGFA-member companies reported incremental improvement in CSXT's service in recent weeks, Gordon noted that the NGFA continues to receive numerous reports that trains still typically are arriving four, to as many as seven or more, days behind schedule.

"This unpredictability and inconsistency obviously disrupts both logistics and supply chain planning," he said.

NGFA said the net result of these CSXT service disruptions has been additional freight costs for truck movements; lost sales of commodities and ingredients; changes to supply chain and customer relationships; reduced operating efficiency at processing plants, flour and feed mills - some of which now are operating at 70 to 80 percent of capacity because of the lack of inbound supply; and economic losses incurred by rail car lessees and those operating private car fleets.

"Combined, these amount to literally millions of dollars of additional shipping costs and lost earnings to our industry," Gordon said.

The NGFA recommended the Board require CSXT to report several additional and more revealing rail service performance metrics to help narrow the "disconnect" that currently exists between what the railroad is reporting to the Board versus what is being experienced by individual facilities. As an example, NGFA cited CSXT data on dwell time, train speeds and transit times that do not reflect the number of days it takes for CSX to pull a train after it's been loaded and sitting at a facility. Likewise, CSX is not reporting the days that emptied rail cars sit at a destination facility waiting to be pulled.

Gordon said CSXT's service failures in 2017 also have undermined its obligation under federal law to provide service upon reasonable request, and, therefore, the rail company's actions call for more robust oversight by the Board until the harm is alleviated.

"We believe the seriousness of CSXT's service failures warrants the Board requiring CSXT to develop and submit a specific service recovery plan to restore service in a manner that complies with federal law," he said. "Respectfully, the jury is still out on whether CSXT's new operating plan, as currently envisioned, will be sufficient to restore service to acceptable levels that meet its statutory common-carrier obligation, or result in a substantially 'lower bar' for service performance."

Nomination Deadline for ASA Recognition Awards Extended to October 27th at Midnight

Don't wait to recognize an outstanding soy grower for an award--there's only two weeks left to get your nominations in. As part of a re-envisioned Recognition Awards Program, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has an exciting new line-up of award categories for 2018. ASA’s three new awards provide expanded opportunities to recognize state association volunteerism, more current top leadership achievements and those who have made long-term, significant contributions to the soybean industry. The Recognition Awards categories are:

-    ASA Outstanding State Volunteer Award–Recognizes the dedication and contributions of volunteers in any area of the state association operation.

-    ASA Distinguished Leadership Award –Distinguished and visionary leadership of ASA or a state soybean association is recognized with this award to either a soybean grower-leader or association staff leader with a least five-years of leadership service.

-    ASA Pinnacle Award–An industry-wide recognition of those individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and long-term leadership within the soybean family and industry.

For more information about each of the award categories see the 2018 ASA Recognition Awards flyer.

All nomination forms must be submitted online. The deadline for submission is Oct. 27, 2017 at midnight. For more information and to view the nomination forms, click here. Anyone may complete and submit a nomination form. No self-nominations will be accepted.

Recipients will receive their awards at the ASA Awards Banquet on Feb. 28, 2018 in Anaheim, Calif. at Commodity Classic. Winners will be notified in advance and provided with financial assistance to attend.

World Dairy Expo Attendance Strong This Year

It was another good year for attendance at World Dairy Expo. Organizers of the dairy and tradeshow in Madison say over 68,700 people from 97 countries came through the gates during the five day event last week at the Alliant Energy Center. That was about 5,800 less than last year's total count, which brought in a huge crowd for the show's golden anniversary in 2016. Visitors from Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil and Japan represented the top five nations with the most attendees, respectively.

This year, a record 884 companies featured their products and services in the trade show areas.

In the dairy barns, 1,722 exhibitors from 40 states and seven Canadian provinces checked in 2,356 head of dairy cattle this year. The Supreme Champion animal of the competition was a Holstein cow, 'Rosiers Blexy Goldwyn-ET,' exhibited by Budjon, Vail, Abbot, Van Excel and Woodmansee of Lomira.

The dairy breed sales are also being called a success. The highest lot in the World Classic Holstein Sale went for $620,000. Over $2.1 million dollars in cattle were sold in the auction, with prices averaging over $41,400 per head.

And at the 2017 Champion Dairy Product Contest Auction, 26 lots sold for a total of $33,823.

Meanwhile, show coordinators say plans are already underway for next year's event, which is being held October 2-6, 2018. The theme will be 'The Next Frontier!'

NMPF Pokes FDA for Taking Action Against Granola Made with “Love,” But Not “Milks” Made from Plants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent enforcement action against a Massachusetts granola maker for listing “love” as an ingredient in its product is a clear indication that the agency has time and resources to enforce regulations against the use of the term “milk” on the labels of plant-derived dairy imitators, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said today.

In a letter to FDA, NMPF pointed out that many of the same criticisms leveled by the agency against Nashoba Brook Bakery's granola and bread products apply to the manufacturers of plant beverages that are in violation of FDA standards of identity defining milk as the product of a dairy animal.

“While we have no doubt that the folks at Nashoba do indeed put love into the manufacture of their product, we hate to see misleading food labels that don’t comply with legal standards that other companies follow,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

“We hope that the agency’s enforcement action against a small New England baker for misusing food labeling standards, innocuous though this violation might be, is a prelude to FDA taking action against the myriad companies that manufacture hundreds of dairy imitators that also misappropriate federally-defined terms such as ‘milk’ and ‘yogurt,’” NMPF said in its letter to FDA.

In a warning letter sent recently to Nashoba Brook Bakery, FDA cited the company for listing “love” as an ingredient in its granola: “’Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient,” the letter said.

The FDA letter also warned the Concord, Mass., bakery that its whole wheat bread “fails to conform” to the standard of identity for products made from whole wheat flour: “This product contains wheat flour and corn meal. Therefore, it does not meet the standard of identity for whole wheat bread.”

NMPF has been engaged in on-going efforts to highlight similar deficiencies with the misleading use of the term “milk” on products made from nuts, grains, and seeds, yet “no enforcement activity has taken place,” Mulhern said. He noted that NMPF has provided FDA this year with multiple examples of misbranded imitation dairy foods, mostly recently the artificial dairy beverage Blue Magic Cashew Milk.

“FDA’s labeling enforcement must be consistent. The agency needs to enforce the proper labeling of all products that are currently playing fast and loose with federal food standards,” NMPF wrote the agency.  “Any food product that uses a food name established by a standard of identity but does not conform to the essential characteristics established by that standard is by law misbranded (21 U.S.C. §343(g)).”

DuPont Pioneer and CasZyme Collaborating to Advance New CRISPR-Cas Gene-Editing Tools

DuPont Pioneer and recently formed CasZyme, a startup company based in Vilnius, Lithuania, announced today that they have entered into a multiyear collaboration to identify and characterize novel CRISPR-Cas nucleases. The goal of the collaboration is to provide CRISPR researchers with additional tools for gene editing across all applications.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pioneer will provide access to its extensive CRISPR-Cas library and CasZyme will apply its biochemical assays and expertise to characterize the Cas nucleases. Pioneer is part of the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont.™

“This is an important step forward in our efforts to discover, develop and make available unique tools for gene editing to the global scientific community,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, Research & Development for DuPont Pioneer. “Our relationship with CasZyme is consistent with our history of collaboration to advance science-based solutions for farmers and consumers around the world.”

Monika Kavaliauske, CasZyme’s CEO added: “We believe our technologies and skills applied to characterize Cas nucleases will create value for researchers and companies practicing gene-editing worldwide. We are extremely pleased and proud to collaborate with DuPont Pioneer; this collaboration will certainly improve our potential for success.”

With additional Cas nucleases identified and characterized from throughout the microbial world, researchers could have additional tools with which to employ the CRISPR-Cas system, thereby furthering innovation.

Pioneer is applying CRISPR-Cas as an advanced plant breeding tool to develop seed products for greater environmental resiliency, productivity and sustainability. It has defined CRISPR-Cas guiding principles, which include helping enable others wanting to develop agricultural products using CRISPR-Cas by providing access to its intellectual property (IP), technology capabilities, infrastructure and scientific expertise.

Specific financial terms and additional details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Learn more about CRISPR-Cas at

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