Thursday, October 5, 2017

Wednesday October 4 Ag News


A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team will investigate how to improve land use efficiency through the integration of livestock and crop production systems.

The project is funded by a $1 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

The team, which includes members of a new Nebraska Beef Systems Research Initiative, expects an integrated system, which overlays cattle grazing with existing crop production systems, to increase output per acre and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with production. The team will also examine if the benefits of using cover crops are retained when they are used for livestock forage.

James MacDonald, associate professor of animal science and ruminant nutrition at Nebraska, will lead the team in its investigation of various outputs including yields, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the economic feasibility of adopting these new practices.

"It's very difficult for new or young farmers to get started," MacDonald said. "You may not own the land or need to work with a family member's existing system to start your own enterprise. Integrating cattle without disturbing crop production with minimal investment can help young producers get started and stay in agriculture."

The availability of perennial forage for livestock production has decreased as farms move to less diversified systems to grow individual crops. Highly specialized systems, such as monoculture, may be less sustainable than diversified approaches in terms of resource efficiency and long-term profitability. 

"Cover crops are a long-term investment to improve soil health and reduce erosion, but they can be difficult for producers to pay for," MacDonald said. "If producers can graze cattle on cover crops, they could increase land efficiency and mitigate costs."

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, who represents Nebraska's 2nd District, said: "As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I know how important it is for producers to maximize livestock production and increase overall productivity. Nebraska is the number one state for beef and veal exports and for commercial red meat production. This grant will allow the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to contribute to the state's cattle production and research effective land use practices to help new farmers.”

The project is supported by FFAR through its Seeding Solutions grant program, which calls for research proposals in the foundation's seven challenge areas. The grant is part of the Protein Challenge, which aims to enhance and improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability production of diverse proteins for a growing global population.

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Office of Research and Economic Development at Nebraska matched FFAR's support, resulting in $2.4 million dedicated to this research. The Platte River High-Plains Aquifer Long-term Agroecosystems Research Network is also a partner.

Other team members include Tala Awanda from Nebraska's Agricultural Research Division; Simanti Banerjee and Jay Parsons from the Department of Agricultural Economics; Humberto Blanco and Daren Redfearn from the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Mary Drewnoski and Galen Erickson from the Department of Animal Science; Jane Okalebo and Andy Suyker from the School of Natural Resources; and George Burba from LI-COR Biosciences.


Harvest isn’t just about cutting stalks, it’s about taking stock.

According to Britt Weiser, state resource conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lincoln, during harvest farmers should study the areas in their fields where erosion is occurring.

“If you notice rough spots in your cropland where the soil has washed away, take stock. Chances are that area is not only losing soil and productivity, but it could potentially cost you your USDA farm program benefits,” Weiser said.

Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers have been required to control erosion on fields that are classified as highly erodible. A non-compliance ruling can impact the benefits farmers receive from USDA agencies, such as access to federal crop insurance premium subsidies and conservation program dollars.

Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been adequately controlled. The two factors measured for conservation compliance are sheet-and-rill erosion, and ephemeral gully erosion.

Sheet and rill erosion is generally controlled through no-till farming. Ephemeral gullies are small ditches in fields that are often smoothed out with a disc. According to Weiser, discing or smoothing gullies does not fix the problem, and it puts farmers at risk of losing USDA farm program benefits.

“Using a disc to smooth out ditches in cropland can make the issue worse, causing soil to be more unstable and susceptible to washing away. If it is necessary to smooth out a ditch, farmers should plant a cover crop or grass, or install another practice to prevent erosion from occurring.” Weiser said, “We’re telling farmers, ‘Fix it. Don’t Disc it.’”

NRCS is available to help “fix it” by providing both technical and financial assistance to install conservation practices like no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways, and terraces to control erosion.

“The conservationists in our field offices are available to help farmers identify ephemeral erosion in their fields or where it may occur in the future, and assist them with applying the conservation practices that best fit their farming operations,” Weiser said.

If you discover ephemeral gully erosion this fall, visit your local NRCS office before discing any areas of highly erodible fields.  For more information, visit your local USDA Service Center.

Free Breakfast and Tailgate Party at Super Saver at Pine Lake, Sponsored by Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

Attention, Husker fans. Be sure to stop by Super Saver at 27th & Pine Lake on Saturday, October 14 from 9am to 11am to enjoy a free tailgate party prior to the game against Ohio State. The party--featuring free breakfast and conversations with Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers-- will be set up at the south end of the Super Saver parking lot.

The official “Game Zone Tailgate with Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers” is presented by Nebraska’s agricultural organizations to show their appreciation to the consumers who enjoy the food that they grow.

In addition to getting a free breakfast, tailgaters will be able to ask farmers and ranchers how our food is produced, how they care for the land and their animals, and any other questions they may have about the food production system. The focus will be on providing consumers the information they need to make informed food choices for their families.

“Nebraska Pork Producers along with the rest of the farmers and ranchers provide a wide range of safe and sustainable food.  This tailgate is a great way to learn about your food from the farmers and ranchers who produce it,” says Al Juhnke, Executive Director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. “We encourage everyone to stop by and enjoy a delicious Nebraska-grown breakfast and visit directly with our farmers and ranchers who represent a wide range of products from pork to wine.” 

Tailgate Party sponsors include  the Nebraska Pork Producers Association; Nebraska Poultry Industries; AFAN; Nebraska Corn Board; Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board; Nebraska Soybean Board; Nebraska Farm Bureau; Nebraska Department of Agriculture; Nebraska Wheat Growers Association; Super Saver; CommonGround Nebraska; Nebraska Cattlewomen; Nebraska Beef Council; Midwest Dairy Association; Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild, Nebraska Hop Growers Association; and the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association.

Safety Professionals Gear Up for Training in Kearney

Safety professionals from across the state will gather in Kearney, Nebraska, for the 13th annual Environment, Health and Safety Summit Friday, Oct. 13.

The daylong summit, which is presented by the Nebraska Ethanol Board, includes speakers from agencies across the country including the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Trihydro Corporation, Fletcher Safety and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“This is a great opportunity to network and learn about the latest government regulations and compliance changes,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “We are proud that the summit has grown to include diverse companies beyond the ethanol industry.”

Originally established to provide compliance, safety, public health and emerging technology information for the rapidly developing ethanol industry, the program has attracted the attention of other professional sectors.

The Nebraska Ethanol Board works with a variety of private partners and ethanol plant personnel, who focus on compliance, worker safety and public health issues, to put on the summit. College students also are invited to attend and may qualify for a scholarship to waive the registration fee.

The event is presented in cooperation with Renewable Fuels Nebraska and is open to professionals who work in environmental compliance, worker safety, and processing and manufacturing. For registration details, contact the Nebraska Ethanol Board at 402-471-2941 or visit

Ricketts Comments on Japanese Beef Tariff Impact

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that Japan’s beef tariff increase resulted in a 26 percent decline in U.S. frozen beef exports to the country.

“As anticipated, Japan’s tariff increase is negatively impacting exports of frozen beef from the U.S. to Japan,” said Governor Ricketts. “Throughout my trade mission to Japan last month, I urged Japanese officials to come to the table to negotiate with the U.S. to lower their tariff, so they could receive more of our quality beef products. This news also underscores the urgency for Congress and the Trump Administration to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with Japan to address the beef tariff rates as well as other agricultural market access issues.  A new deal is critical to growing our number one commodity here in the Beef State.”

In July, Japan raised their tariff to 50 percent on frozen beef from the United States. Rapid growth in U.S. beef exports to Japan triggered a tariff increase that is expected to expire early next year.

Japan is Nebraska’s number one export market for beef products with a value of over $316 million in 2016 alone.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today announced that Dr. Judith LaBounty has been hired as the new Emergency Management Veterinarian for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.  She started with the Department on Monday, October 2, 2017.

The Department received and additional $100,000 appropriation by the Iowa Legislature to support preparations for a foreign animal disease outbreak and a portion of that funding is being used for this position.  In this role, Dr. LaBounty will support the Departments efforts to ensure emergency response plans are up to date, organize disease response exercises and work with industry partners. A portion of her time will also be dedicated to working in the field as a district veterinarian.

“Dr. LaBounty’s background and experience will be a tremendous asset to the Department as she helps coordinate our planning efforts around potential animal health emergencies. Unfortunately, we saw firsthand how devastating an animal disease outbreak can be with avian influenza in 2015, so we are excited to have her join our team and serving in this important role,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

Dr. LaBounty graduated from Oklahoma State Center for Veterinary Health Sciences in 2014 and has worked as a veterinarian for a turkey breeding company based in Iowa. She also has experience working at a small animal emergency clinic in the Des Moines area.

Local FARMS Act feeds rural communities

Today, the Local Food and Regional Market Supply Act (The Local FARMS Act) was introduced in Congress by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

Through investment in programs and policies that spur economic development, the act prioritizes the development of new markets for farmers and expands healthy food access for American families.

The Center for Rural Affairs has long supported local foods as an economic development tool in rural communities, working with community leaders to build healthy, sustainable, local food systems.

“Where our food comes from matters – for our health, for the vitality of our communities, for our wallets, and for the environment,” said Anna Johnson, Center policy associate. “One of our goals is to connect the local people who grow and make food with the local people who eat it.”

Staff members at the Center work to connect farmers and consumers through community food systems and farm to school projects, providing workshops, webinars, and technical support.

“The 2018 farm bill should include programs and resources to support producers who want to diversify their operations by connecting them with growing opportunities in local and regional marketplaces,” Johnson said. “Investment in infrastructure and support for local farmers boosts rural economies.”

Findings from the Agricultural Census in 2007 and 2012 show that farmers who market food directly to consumers have a greater chance of remaining in business than similarly sized farms that market through traditional channels.

In 2015, more than 167,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food locally through food hubs and other intermediaries, direct farmer-to-consumer marketing, or direct farm to retail. Those sales resulted in $8.7 billion in revenue for local producers.

“We stand with the Congressional sponsors of this legislation in calling for this critical investment in our food and farm future,” said Johnson. “The Local FARMS Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill.”

NCBA Responds to Treasury Decision to Withdraw Section 2704 Valuation Regulation

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President-elect Kevin Kester today issued the following statement regarding the announcement from the U.S. Treasury that it is recommending the complete withdrawal of proposed Section 2704 regulations:

"On behalf of NCBA and our nation’s beef producers, I’d like to thank the U.S. Treasury and the IRS for their decision today to entirely withdraw the proposed Section 2704 estate tax valuation regulations.

"Livestock producers have used legitimate valuation discounts for more than two decades as a means of maintaining ownership of the family business from one generation to the next. These regulations threatened to upend succession plans, halt any potential expansion and growth, and would have required a majority of livestock operations to liquidate assets in order to simply survive from one generation to the next.

"We’re grateful the Treasury has made good on their commitment to reduce complexity and lessen the burden of tax regulations, particularly for family farmers and ranchers."

Censky, McKinney Confirmations Good News for U.S. Agriculture

The National Pork Producers Council congratulated Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney on their confirmations for key leadership position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last night, the U.S. Senate confirmed Censky and McKinney as the USDA’s deputy secretary and undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs, respectively. 

“The confirmations of Stephen Censky and Ted McKinney come at a critical time for U.S. agriculture,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff. “They bring strong agriculture leadership experience and a commitment to the expansion of international trade on which our industry depends.”

Censky previously served as the CEO of the American Soybean Association where he made market expansion efforts a top priority. Additionally, he served at the USDA under both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, becoming administrator of the agency’s Foreign Agriculture Service in 1992.

McKinney formerly served as Indiana’s agriculture secretary and brings extensive experience in the private agriculture sector. He serves in a newly established position dedicated to preserving and expanding foreign market access for U.S. agricultural products.

“Secretary Perdue described the trade undersecretary position as one focused on ‘waking up every morning seeking to sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets,’” Maschhoff said. “That’s a worthy and much-needed mission and Ted McKinney is a great champion to fulfill it.

“NPPC looks forward to working with these USDA leaders to develop policies that advance the development of the U.S. pork industry and agriculture sector,” added Maschhoff.

Growth Energy Supports Nomination of William Northey for Key USDA Position

Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will hold a nomination hearing for William “Bill” Northey for the position of Undersecretary of Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Northey currently serves as the Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa. In advance of the hearing, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued a statement in support of the nomination:

“Growth Energy fully supports and endorses the nomination of William Northey as Undersecretary of Farm Production and Conservation at the USDA. Having served as the Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa, Mr. Northey has first-hand knowledge and experience on how the integration of biofuels into both domestic and international fuel markets has positively impacted the farming economy in America.

“As a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer, Mr. Northey has the ability to both understand the issues and policies affecting American agriculture and to utilize his personal experiences to help improve farm production and conservation across the United States.

“Mr. Northey is more than qualified for this position, and he will undoubtedly bring invaluable experience, perspective, and expertise to the USDA. Growth Energy hopes to see a swift confirmation process so that Mr. Northey may begin representing America’s agriculture industry here in the nation’s capital.”

The hearing will be held Thursday, October 5, 2017, in the Russell Senate Office Building at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Most Fertilizers Lower; Anhydrous Drops Below $400

Retail fertilizer prices continued to fall during the fourth week of September 2017, with two exceptions, according to sellers tracked by DTN. For the second straight week, two fertilizers are showing higher prices compared to a month ago.

Six of the eight major fertilizers were lower, compared to last month. Anhydrous is 5% lower than last month with an average price of $396/ton.

The sub $400/ton price for anhydrous is a historically lower range for the DTN retail price data set, which began in November 2008. The last time prices were under $400/ton was the second week of August 2010 -- seven years ago.

The remaining five fertilizers posted lower prices, but their moves were fairly insignificant. DAP had an average price of $432/ton, MAP $453/ton, 10-34-0 $413/ton, UAN8 $208/ton, and UAN32 $243/ton.

Two fertilizers posted higher prices than the previous month. Urea is 6% higher compared to the previous month, with an average price of $321/ton. Potash was just slightly higher and had an average price of $348/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.35/lb.N, anhydrous $0.24/lb.N, UAN28 $0.37/lb.N and UAN32 $0.38/lb.N.

All fertilizers but one have lower retail prices compared to a year earlier. Three of the eight major fertilizer prices are double-digits lower.

Anhydrous is now 19% lower from a year ago, while 10-34-0 is 11% cheaper and UAN32 is 10% lower. UAN28 is 7% less expensive, DAP is down 2%, and both MAP and urea are 1% lower. The one fertilizer priced higher compared to last year is potash, up 10%.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks, Output, Blending Demand  Higher

The Energy Information Administration released a mixed weekly report Wednesday morning, showing total ethanol inventory, plant production, and blending demand all increased during the week ended Sept. 29.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed fuel ethanol stocks surged by 800,000 bbl or 3.9% to a 21.5 million bbl six-week high, with a year-over-year surplus at 1.3 million bbl or 6.4%.

Domestic plant production rose by 14,000 bpd or 1.4% to 1.010 million bpd during the week reviewed, while up 30,000 bpd or 3.1% year-over-year. For the four weeks ended last week, ethanol production averaged 1.021 million bpd, up 33,000 bpd or 3.3%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, increased 13,000 bpd or 1.4% to a 930,000 bpd five-week high while up 11,000 bpd or 1.2% year-over-year. For the four-week period ended Sept. 29, blending demand averaged 912,000 bpd, down 5,000 bpd or 0.5%.

NAWG: State of the Ag Economy and Weather Conditions Show Need for Safety Net

The R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, The Heritage Foundation, and other like-minded groups held a Farm Bill policy reform Summit in Washington today. These groups have proposed policy changes to the Farm Bill that are bad for farmers, the economy, and are misleading.  

In response to the Summit, David Schemm, President of National Association of Wheat Growers and Sharon Springs, Kansas farmer, made the following statement:

“The most misleading argument made by these groups is that crop insurance is a federal subsidy or handout. Quite the opposite. A farmer might go many years paying premiums for a policy and rarely get an indemnity. 

“Earlier this year, within a short span, my crop was impacted by a late season blizzard, disease, and a hail storm. Crop insurance didn’t allow me to make a profit, but rather recover some of my loss and enabled me to farm another year. I can personally say that a farmer would much rather get a return on their crop from the market rather than becoming eligible for an indemnity on insurance because of disaster.

“Furthermore, the risk in the business of agriculture is much different from risk in other industries. These groups fail to consider risks unique to agriculture including lower rates of return and weather-related risks. 

“Farmers also aren’t competing on a level playing field on the international market. Countries like China use trade-distorting support programs that violate their WTO commitments and depress world prices. These are just a few reasons for why the Federal Crop Insurance Program continues to be the most important risk management tool available to farmers.

“Rural America and farming families are experiencing some of the worst economic hardships in decades. Now isn’t the time to implement policies that harm these families and stump economic growth.

“NAWG encourages Congress to ignore the rhetoric made by these groups during the reauthorization of the 2018 Farm Bill and to continue work with farmers during the process.  Farmers across the country need a strong safety net to enable them to farm another year and to continue growing a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply.”

Farmers Union and Cattlemen’s Association Urge USDA to Finalize Farmer Fair Practices Rule

In less than three weeks, a rule to protect family farmers and ranchers from the worst abuses of concentrated markets will go into effect, barring any setbacks from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On the heels of a listening session on regulations hosted by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, National Farmers Union (NFU) and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) are calling on Secretary Perdue to allow the one of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, an interim final rule on “competitive injury,” to be finalized. The two national organizations released the following statement:

“This month, family farmers, ranchers and growers will finally receive the most basic, commonsense protection against abusive practices that occur as a result of extremely consolidated market power in the beef, pork and chicken industries.

“For the past seven years, the USDA has written, solicited comment, and rewritten, this ‘competitive injury’ rule and associated rules several times, only to have industry groups funded by the meatpacking conglomerates stall their progress through backchannel legislative and regulatory means. The rule is a clarification that is required for family farmers to remain protected under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

“NFU and USCA appreciate Secretary Perdue’s willingness to engage with family producers and advocacy groups on this issue through yesterday’s listening session. We urge the Secretary to stand up for American family farmers, ranchers and independent producers by allowing this rule to be finalized.”

Beef in Cold Storage Situation

Josh Maples, Assistant Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

Somewhat hidden under the discussion about the cattle on feed report last week was the release of the most recent report on beef in cold storage. The Cold Storage report indicated that frozen stocks were at 476.3 million pounds on August 31st. This represented a 10.3 percent increase in stocks as compared to July. On a percentage point basis, this was the largest increase for August stocks over July since 2002. It also followed moderate month-over-month increases for the previous three months. Cold storage inventories typically seasonally increase near the end of the year and then decline into the summer grilling-season months.

Cold Storage beef inventory is defined as frozen beef supplies maintained in commercial warehouses for over 30 days. It is reported for two categories: boneless beef and beef cuts. These inventories include a mix of boneless beef trimmings and muscle cuts along with bone-in beef cuts. Boneless beef represented about over 92 percent of the beef in cold storage in August. Each category showed a 10 percent or higher increase over July.

An overwhelming majority of the total beef produced in the U.S. never enters cold storage. However, cold storage behavior can be indicative of overall market conditions and is worth watching when beef production is increasing. Cold storage inventories are primarily driven by the ground beef market and international trade. Stocks may build up due to larger imports or to support larger exports as pointed out in the latest Livestock Monitor by the Livestock Marketing Information Center (available here).

While we have seen increases over the past few months, cold storage inventories have remained below 2016 levels on a monthly basis since February despite increases in beef production. Beef production in July was four percent higher than July 2016. The large increase from July to August still leaves inventories just below the August 2016 total (less than one percent lower). Granted, cold storage inventories were large in 2016. While beef in cold storage is only a small component of the total beef supply picture, year-over-year stocks are not increasing even with larger beef production.

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