Friday, October 20, 2017

Thursday October 19 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Rises for October:  Ten Percent Expect Farm Foreclosures to Pose Greatest Banking Threat

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index rose from September’s reading, but remained below growth neutral, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, like all indices in the survey, ranges between 0 and 100, increased to 45.3 from 39.6 in September. 

“As a result of weak farm income and low agriculture commodity prices, approximately 9.5 percent of bank CEOs  expect farm loan foreclosures to pose the greatest threat to banking operations over the next five years,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business. 

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for October slipped to 39.3 from 39.6 in September. This is the 47th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

Bankers were asked to compare current spot prices for a bushel of corn to break even. Only 2.4 percent of bankers indicated that prices between $3.50 and $3.75 were above break even. Approximately 45.2 percent reported current spot prices were below break even.

The October farm equipment-sales index increased to 29.3 from September’s 27.4. This marks the 50th consecutive month the reading has dropped below growth neutral 50.0.
Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for October expanded to 45.9 from 40.2 in September. The state’s farmland-price index jumped to 39.7 from last month’s 36.4. Nebraska’s new-hiring index stood at a strong 60.0, up from 58.8 in September. According to Jeffrey Gerhart, president and chairman of the Bank of Newman Grove in Newman Grove, “Prices and yields will continue to be a concern for those of us involved in agricultural lending. In the meantime we will continue to work with our borrowers to help them get through these tougher times.”

Iowa: The October RMI for Iowa climbed to 45.6 from 39.9 in September. Iowa’s farmland-price index for October fell to 36.0 from September’s 36.2. Iowa’s new-hiring index for October slipped to 56.9 from September’s 57.5. James Brown, CEO of Hardin County Savings Bank in Eldora, said, “Yields on crops are somewhat better than expected so far. (There is) still a long way to go in harvest however.”

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included. 

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.


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

Producers located within the northeast Nebraska 15-county Initiative area, (see map) may apply for funding until Nov. 17, 2017. Producers should visit one of the NRCS offices located in the Initiative area to apply.

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

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

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


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               How will you know how much protein and energy your cows will get when you start feeding your hay and silage?  Or how much supplement to feed?  Find out by following instructions for sampling and testing.

               Correct sampling techniques, followed by lab tests of forage quality, are necessary for cattle producers who want to get the most value from their forages and profit from their animals.

               Maybe the most important step in sampling hay, and sometimes the most difficult step, is deciding which bales and stacks should be included in each sample.  Ideally, each sample should include only bales that were produced under nearly identical conditions.

               Obviously, the place to start grouping is to separate different types of hay, like alfalfa or CRP or corn stalk or meadow hay.  But each cutting of hay probably is different from the other cuttings also, so there is another separation.  And no two fields or meadows are ever exactly the same, especially if they were cut more than two days apart, so that makes another grouping.  And what if part of the field was rained on before it was baled?  The hay made without rain damage probably will be different from hay with rain damage.

               After you’ve made all these separations, which could result in quite a few groups of similar bales, then and only then are you ready to sample.  From each group gather a dozen or more cores from different bales or stacks and combine them into one sample.  Be sure to use a good hay probe that can core into at least one foot of the bale.

               Finally, send these samples to a certified lab for tests of energy content and protein, maybe nitrates, and any other nutrients of interest to you.

               Then use this information to feed your cattle as profitably as possible.

NIC earns international award as best ‘new’ research campus

Reflecting five years of momentum, Nebraska Innovation Campus was honored with the Emerging Research Park Award from the Association of University Research Parks on Oct. 11.

The award, among several of the association’s Awards of Excellence, is presented annually to a research park that has been in operation fewer than 10 years and excels in bringing technology from the laboratory to economically viable business activities, promoting business growth, jobs and public revenue.

Those considered for the award must also display participation in the university and federal lab community, positive effecting university research funding and recruitment of superior students, faculty and researchers.

Dan Duncan, NIC’s executive director, thanked state lawmakers, private-sector collaborators and others whose early partnership has added critical momentum to the university’s work in attracting talent to the campus and growing the economy.

“We are deeply honored that AURP has selected Nebraska Innovation Campus for this prestigious award,” said Daniel Duncan, NIC’s executive director. “Recognition by our peers is the ultimate compliment. We’re even more excited about what’s ahead for NIC. The opportunities for us to work with our partners to build a competitive economy for the state's future have never been greater.”

NIC is currently home to a group of 30 partners, both private and public entities. Construction of the campus began in 2012 and within three years, 380,000 square feet of office, conference center, lab, pilot plant and greenhouse space was completed. Construction of a new 80,000-square-foot, multi-tenant building is also underway and is expected to be completed in summer 2018.

At full build-out, NIC will be a 2.2-million square-foot campus with uniquely designed buildings and amenities that inspire creative activity and engagement, transforming ideas into global innovation.

AURP is a professional association of university-related research and science parks. The organization’s mission is to foster innovation, commercialization and economic growth through university, industry and government partnerships. NIC officials accepted the award at the association’s annual international conference in Huntsville, Alabama.

Senate Ag Panel Approves USDA Nominees Ibach, Northey

U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced their committee voted to favorably report nominees Gregory Ibach, of Nebraska, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; and William Northey, of Iowa, to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Both Ibach and Northey may now be considered by the full U.S. Senate for confirmation.

"The Senate Agriculture Committee continues to advance USDA nominees as swiftly as possible, and we expect a quick confirmation in the full Senate," said Roberts and Stabenow. "Greg Ibach and Bill Northey are qualified and respected public servants who know agriculture firsthand, and they will serve rural America well at USDA."

Prior to the vote, a joint letter from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee was entered into the record.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the nominees on Oct. 5. Both nominees have the support of more than 60 farm and conservation organizations.

Record Total Red Meat and Pork Production for September

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.40 billion pounds in September, up 2 percent from the 4.33 billion pounds produced in September 2016.

Beef production, at 2.22 billion pounds, was 2 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.70 million head, up 3 percent from September 2016. The average live weight was down 11 pounds from the previous year, at 1,359 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.1 million pounds, 1 percent below September a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 43,600 head, up 3 percent from September 2016. The average live weight was down 10 pounds from last year, at 241 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.16 billion pounds, up 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.3 million head, up 1 percent from September 2016. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 282 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.2 million pounds, was down 7 percent from September 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 175,600 head, 9 percent below last year. The average live weight was 128 pounds, up 3 pounds from September a year ago.

By State (million lbs. - % Sept '16)

Nebraska ...........:         698.8             99      
Iowa ..................:         619.3            102      
Kansas ...............:         499.8            107      

January to September 2017 commercial red meat production was 38.4 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 1 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 5 percent.

Ag Chemical Dealer Updates Provide Timely Crop Pest and Nutrient Information

Updates on the latest crop production products and recommendations are the featured topics at Ag Chemical Dealer Updates sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Iowa City, Nov. 21 and Ames, Dec. 13. These meetings are an opportunity for ag input providers to meet with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists to review current research, discuss new products and learn of new recommendations.

Meetings will feature presentations on weed, insect and crop disease management as well as an update on the past growing season, and are approved for Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) credits. Iowa Commercial Pesticide Applicator recertification in categories 1A, 1B, 1C and 10 for calendar year 2017 is also available. Recertification is included in meeting registration. Attendance at the entire meeting is required for recertification.

Iowa City – Nov. 21
Virgil Schmitt,, 563-263-5701
Meaghan Anderson,, 319-337-2145
Rebecca Vittetoe,, 319-653-4811

Ames – Dec. 13
Mark Johnson,, 515-382-6551
Angie Rieck-Hinz,, 515-532-3453

Early registration is $70 if received by midnight, Nov. 14 (Iowa City) or Dec. 6 (Ames). Late or on-site registration is $85. Visit for program details or to register online.

For additional information contact an ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist hosting the meeting.

Ethanol Summit Of The Americas Enlivens Discussions Of Global Ethanol Use

Industry and government officials from more than 15 countries in the Western Hemisphere are meeting this week at the Ethanol Summit of the Americas to discuss current and future opportunities for ethanol in the region.

The event is underway until Friday in Houston, Texas, sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. These organizations and others in the U.S. agriculture and renewable fuels industries work together to promote the global use of ethanol and U.S. ethanol exports. 

The Summit is bringing together recognized scientists and ethanol experts to engage with policymakers and provide information on the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol-blended fuel. The Summit has also served as a launching point for expanded regional engagement markets in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

“Increasing cooperation between ethanol industries supports economic growth for all countries
 involved,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer. “Collaborative efforts like the meetings this week enable a greater understanding of the policy climate surrounding ethanol and help pave the way for expanded ethanol use throughout the region.”

The Summit is highlighting the use of ethanol in transportation fuels to help meet a number of economic and environmental challenges, including improving air quality, extending the current fuel supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The United States is the world’s top ethanol exporter, providing countries around the globe with an alternative to toxic gasoline additives and helping to reduce air pollution,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.

“Removing unnecessary barriers that impede free trade of ethanol and DDGS will not only benefit consumers in the United States but throughout the world. Growth Energy is committed to creating thriving markets for ethanol beyond our borders and helping other nations adopt biofuels into their fuel supply.”

The two-day conference also includes technical presentations on ethanol-related policies, infrastructure and use in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Paraguay. The Summit has highlighted the release of new research on the environmental benefits of blending ethanol into gasoline as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ethanol roadmap, the economics of octane and how global ethanol shares prosperity through trade.

“This event is well-timed because dialogue and improved relationships among the hemisphere’s ethanol leadership is desperately needed right now to stem the growing scourge of protectionism that will only thwart our united efforts to expand this important industry and address pressing regional energy and environmental priorities,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“If we are ever to develop meaningful world markets capable of helping nations across the globe confront climate change, rural economic opportunity, and energy security, we need to empower free and fair trade amongst biofuel producing nations, not erecting tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. No successful global industry was ever built on protectionism."

The U.S. ethanol industry’s efforts, including conferences like the Ethanol Summit of the Americas, are helping successfully establish the United States as a reliable and affordable source of fuel.

The United States set an all-time high for ethanol exports in the 2016/2017 marketing year at 1.37 billion gallons (488 million bushels in corn equivalent), exceeding the previous record set in 2011/2012.

“Ethanol is a renewable fuel – cleaner-burning, high performing, affordable and homegrown from our corn fields,” said Iowa Corn Exports and The Grain Trade Committee Chair Greg Alber, a farmer from Independence, Iowa. “The best way to enhance farmer profitability is to create new demand for corn through value-added products such as ethanol. Building demand for ethanol creates additional markets both domestically and internationally for our corn.”

Trump Administration Must Right the Ship on Biofuels Through 2018 RFS Obligations

As embattled farm, biofuel, and rural communities and economies look to the Trump Administration to maintain promises to support American biofuel production, National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on the administration to increase Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume obligations when they finalize them this fall. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed lowering these obligations, which would undermine growth of the American-grown and produced biofuel industry.

NFU President Roger Johnson today submitted public comments to that effect, contending the EPA should be working to support the RFS law, and therefore American family farmers, rural communities and the environment.

“EPA’s proposal on advanced biofuels falls seriously short of preserving the integrity of the RFS – which is to drive the biofuels market and grow the industry,” said Johnson. “It fails to advance the intent of Congress and loses many additional benefits that come with increased volumes of biofuels. As such, NFU urges EPA to increase the proposed volumes and reject any calls to further reduce the required volumes.”

Johnson noted that family farmers are currently facing significant economic distress, and the Administration should be doing what they can to support them and rural communities. “Such support would be through higher volumes than what EPA proposed, not lower ones,” he said.

Specific to the EPA’s current proposals for 2018 RFS volume obligations, Johnson expressed NFU’s concern with the agency’s use of the general waiver authority, which is its ability to reduce the amount of renewable fuels obligated to be blended into the transportation supply. He noted the agency’s justification for using this authority mirrors the views of Big Oil.

“EPA has not gone about this right way,” said Johnson. “They cannot use the general waiver authority unless they meet certain requirements. They haven’t met those requirements, and they also haven’t given us good reasons for why they want to lower the volume obligations under the RFS. On top of that, their most recent proposal outlines the views of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). This is a deeply troubling signal that this Administration is not looking out for the biofuels industry, but rather the petroleum industry.”

“The RFS is an important policy with far-reaching direct and indirect consequences, particularly for farmers. As such, NFU’s policy calls for strong support of the RFS and expanding renewable fuels. NFU strongly encourages EPA to increase the advanced biofuel volume requirements for 2018,” he concluded.

NCGA Opposes Further Reductions to the RFS

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today urged EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to pull back on the further reductions to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contemplates in the October 4, 2017 Notice of Data Availability (NODA).

 In the NODA, EPA requested additional comments on potential reductions in volume requirements under the RFS. While EPA proposed no direct changes to the implied 15 billion gallon volume for conventional ethanol, NCGA believes the volume reductions EPA is exploring are inconsistent with the law and with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s July 28, 2017 decision in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA.

 “As one of the petitioners comprising Americans for Clean Energy, NCGA is concerned with EPA’s attempt to incorrectly apply the Agency’s waiver authority in order to justify further reductions in volumes,” NCGA President Kevin Skunes wrote in comments submitted today to the Agency.  “The further volume reductions summarized in the NODA would harm Congress’ energy and economic security objectives that motivated enactment of the RFS.”

 The RFS requires increasing amounts of renewable fuel to be introduced into the nation’s fuel supply, and these additional volume reductions result from incorrect interpretations of EPA’s waiver authorities.

 Skunes urged the EPA to not exercise any of the waiver authorities proposed in the NODA saying, “EPA is once again at risk of erring in its interpretation of domestic supply, despite the Court’s thorough analysis of EPA’s waiver authority.”

 Although not specifically addressed in the NODA, NCGA further recommends EPA pursue no change to the treatment of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) on biofuel exports, a proposal raised in comments on the proposed volume rule and that EPA is reportedly considering.

 “Such a change would result in new barriers to our growing ethanol exports and trade retaliation, significantly harming an export area in which the United States leads the world,” said Skunes.

More than 64,000 Expected in Indianapolis Oct. 25-28 for 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo

Innovators and leaders of tomorrow, FFA members make a difference by sharing their stories of agricultural education and FFA. This year, members will continue the tradition as they attend the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo, held in the Circle City Oct. 25-28, 2017. More than 64,000 FFA members from across the U.S., representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are expected to attend the event.

Today, the 2016-17 National FFA Officers will dye the downtown Indy canal blue, as a precursor to the thousands of blue jackets that will be seen throughout the city of Indianapolis next week. In addition to celebrating the upcoming national convention, FFA also announced its record membership numbers for the year: 653,359 FFA members, 8,568 FFA chapters and more than 344,000 FFA Alumni members and 2,051 FFA Alumni chapters.

Convention and expo events will take place at several venues in downtown Indianapolis and surrounding areas. FFA members and advisors will meet in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where eight of the nine general sessions will be held. At the Indiana Convention Center, members can explore the expo or expand their minds by attending a variety of workshops or participating in education and career success tours.

This year, the theme of the convention and expo is I Can. We Will., and the national officer team is excited to share this with all of those in attendance.

"FFA members know that individually they can make a difference, but together, they are stronger and have a louder voice," says 2016-17 National FFA President David Townsend, a student at the University of Delaware. "The National FFA Convention & Expo gives members an opportunity to learn from one another on how we can continue to grow leaders, strengthen agriculture and build our communities."

The national convention and expo will have an estimated $33 million impact on the city. Attendees will stay in more than 120 hotels throughout the Indianapolis area.

The convention and expo will kick off with the National FFA Band leading a grand march down Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis on Wed., Oct. 25. The march will end at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and usher in the start of the opening session.  On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 28, the eighth general session will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium where American FFA Degrees, the highest degree for an FFA member, will be bestowed upon more than 4,000 members.

Throughout the week, convention and expo attendees will also be lending a helping hand to the greater Indianapolis area as part of the National Days of Service. Areas where students will be giving back to the community include Gleaners Food Bank, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Growing Places Indy, White River State Park, Woodruff Place Civic League and more.

The National FFA Convention & Expo is scheduled to be held in Indianapolis through 2024.

Technicals Suggest Weaker Future Cattle Prices

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

I have been impressed by the strength of feeder cattle and calf markets through the fall.  But what do the technicals say?: Very clearly sell.  The feeder cattle futures have shown weakness early this week after holding fast last week and rallying to fill the gap down in late September the prior two weeks.  In mid-September the market rallied close to resistance formed May and June.  My interpretation of the feeder cattle futures rally through most of late August and early September was that it was driven by a strong cash calf and feeder cattle market pricing in a lot of the cheapening feed market.  It is possible that all of this has run its course and traditional seasonal weaker calve prices are in the works.  Of course, I have been saying that since August.  However, the technicals support my position rather clearly.  Feeder cattle and live cattle contracts have rallied to levels established in the early summer.  The market turned lower in mid-July and it set to repeat that now.  All of these fall contracts that have rallied to resistance planes have been turned back.  Do we have the fundamental support to hold or push higher?

Turning to the fundamentals, boxed beef composition values and fed cattle prices have drifted sharply lower the last half of the year.  But have recently shown strength over the prior two-to-three weeks.  Both packer margins and cattle feeding margins are under pressure in this market.  The surprising bullish news has been exports of course.  But the overall perspective on protein markets is that beef, pork and poultry supplies are likely to be large through the fall and early winter.  Supplies are large and cold storage stocks are increasing.  Thus, feeder cattle and calve are unlikely to hold at the levels seen in this environment.

Further, the cheapening feed may have run its course.  The USDA Crop Production and WASDE reports revealed corn yield forecasts were increased from 169.9 to 171.8 bushels per acre but the forecast of acres harvested was reduced from 83.5 to 83.1 million acres.  Total production was revised up slightly less than 100 million bushels.  Baring harvest surprises, the corn market looks to have bottomed.

All in all, there is little underlying fundamentals based support for prices holding.

AGCO Announces a New Data Connection with The Climate Corporation's Climate FieldView Digital Agriculture Platform

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a world-leading manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, announced today a new digital partnership with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), that will provide AGCO customers the option to connect with The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView™ platform. AGCO’s partnership with The Climate Corporation is a product of Fuse and its open approach to agriculture, which focuses on helping customers optimize their farms through seamless technology integration and connectivity.

“AGCO is excited to work with The Climate Corporation to give our customers yet another choice for Precision Ag solutions,” says Chris Rhodes, director Fuse Business Development. “The Climate FieldView platform is the world’s most broadly connected and adopted farm insight and visualization platform, and AGCO is pleased to be creating a tighter connection to it.”

AGCO customers will be able to seamlessly connect to the Climate FieldView platform through FieldView Drive device, AGCO’s Precision Planting 20/20 SeedSense Display, or through application program interfaces (APIs) beginning late 2017. The connection to the Climate FieldView platform provides AGCO customers with real time visualization of farm data from as-planted maps to yield maps as well as access to a well-established digital agriculture platform where customers can compare data and make agronomic decisions for the next season. Certain AGCO machines will be Climate FieldView ready, direct from the factory later in 2018. Future announcements will provide more detail about availability and how to connect.

Golden Harvest Launches #AcetheAcre Photo #Contest to Capture Harvest Experiences

Golden Harvest is rewarding farmers for their hard work with the launch of their 2017 #AcetheAcre photo #contest. Farmers are encouraged to share harvest photos on Twitter and Instagram, or to the Golden Harvest Facebook page using the hashtags #AcetheAcre and #contest now through Nov. 26. Participants will have the opportunity to win weekly prizes and the grand prize – a $500 donation to a cause of their choice and a Polaris Sportsman 570 ATV.

“At Golden Harvest, we want to celebrate the countless hours farmers put in leading up to harvest,” said Colin Steen, head, Golden Harvest West. “So many factors go into a successful season, including genetics, seed selection, proper placement, strong agronomics and season-long management. This photo contest allows farmers to showcase the results they are getting out of every acre after a season of hard work.”

Through their photos, farmers are encouraged to share performance results, top-performing Golden Harvest® hybrids and varieties, and the actions they took throughout the season that lead to their success.

“We are hearing great yield results coming in for Golden Harvest hybrids and varieties,” said Chad Stone, head, Golden Harvest East. “We are excited to see the results from fields across the Corn Belt and reward our farmers for trusting in us to help them have strong performance.”

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