Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thursday November 30 Ag News

Nebraska Corn Board to talk ag trade during Twitter town hall meeting

Trade matters to Nebraska’s ag economy. While farmers may recognize the importance of ag trade, there may be some confusion or uncertainty as current trade agreements are renegotiated. To address questions and concerns, the Nebraska Corn Board, in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Grains Council, will host a Twitter town hall discussion focusing on ag trade.

The Twitter town hall will take place December 4, 2017 from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. CST. Farmers can follow the online discussions by visiting www.twitter.com/necornboard. Twitter users are also invited to tweet their own questions relating to ag trade. For questions to be addressed, tweets must include the hashtag #corntrade.

Three content experts will be on hand to answer trade questions. These experts include Jon Doggett, Executive Vice President of the National Corn Growers Association, Tom Sleight, President and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council and Mat Habrock, Interim Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“We’ve never hosted a meeting before through Twitter,” said Debbie Borg, farmer from Allen and member of the Nebraska Corn Board. “By using this popular social media tool, we hope to develop a robust dialogue between farmers from across the Midwest. We know farmers are busy throughout the year, but hopefully a quick online forum will be an easy way to share information.”

Individuals without a Twitter account can still follow along with the discussions at www.twitter.com/necornboard. Questions can also be submitted in advance to NCB.Info@nebraska.gov.



Nebraska Farmers Union 104th Annual Convention Agenda Highlights Announced


“Harnessing the Power of Cooperation Since 1913” is the theme for the 104th annual Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) state convention.  John Hansen, NeFU President said, “We are pleased to be back in Grand Island this year.  Our delegates and members will do the nuts and bolts work of electing our officers, selecting our delegates to the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention, and setting our policy.  Our theme this year is to focus on how we can better partner with other stakeholders to solve problems and represent the interests of family farmers and rural communities.  Agriculture is facing very difficult economic times.  We owe it to our members to work together for the common interests of our rural communities.”

Hansen said, “This year’s convention brings our NFU President Roger Johnson to share our organizational activities on a host of major national issues, including the Farm Bill, trade policy reforms, tax policy, and health care.  We will cover a host of national and state issues, but we will focus on property tax relief, renewable energy issues, harnessing the power of cooperation, and ways to increase the resiliency of our soils.”

In addition to organizational and partner reports, we will hear from Anne Steckel, NFU biofuels advisor and Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator on challenges and opportunities at the national and state level for biofuels utilization and growth. Our Friday noon luncheon keynote speaker is Alan Guebert, nationally syndicated agricultural columnist.

Friday afternoon we are going to hear from experts on state tax policy that NeFU has been working with the past year to adequately fund education while providing real property tax relief.  Speakers include:  Open Sky Policy Director Tiffany Seibert Joekel; Trent Fellers, Executive Director of Reform for Nebraska’s Future; Dr. Mike Lucas, Superintendent of York Public Schools; Bruce Rieker, VP of Government Relations, NE Farm Bureau; and Al Davis, Board of Director, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska & NeFU.

After the break Friday we will hear from several candidates for public office including State Senator Bob Krist, Candidate for Governor and Chuck Hassebrook Candidate for Legislative District (LD) 16.  We will hear from a panel providing a preview of issues facing the 2018 Legislature with Senator Bob Krist, LD10, Senator Dan Quick, LD 35, and Edward Boone, Legislative Aide for Sen. Tom Briese, LD41.

The Friday evening banquet keynote speaker will be author Ted Genoways doing a reading from his new book “This Blessed Earth” that describes the challenges and rewards of being a family farmer, and NFU President Roger Johnson.

Saturday morning highlights will include NFU Historian Tom Giessel’s “The Art of Cooperation” and “Uncovering the Upside Potential and Uses for Cover Crops” with Nate Belcher, Green Acres Cover Crops.  Saturday noon, NFU President Roger Johnson will provide the convention with the NFU legislative report on the dozens of major issues NFU works on behalf of family farm agriculture.

Registration is $35 and begins at 8:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday mornings.  Convention begins at 9:00 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday.  As always, all members and the public are welcome.  More information is available at:  www.nebraskafarmersunion.org or call (402) 476-8815.  Call (800) 548-5542 for room reservations.

The NeFU Convention room rate is $90.95 per night and includes complimentary hot breakfast.



Cattle producers complete Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program


Twenty-seven young Iowa cattle producers from around the state participated in the 2017 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP). The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association program consists of a series of five educational sessions designed to develop leadership qualities in young cattle farmers. The group focused on leadership strategies, policy development, production practices and legislative advocacy.

The YCLP class also helps develop and employ the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association’s Carcass Challenge. We commend this year’s YCLP class for their recruitment efforts. Earlier this fall, 75 head of feeder steers were delivered to Kennedy Cattle Company. The proceeds from the Carcass Challenge will be used to fund educational programming, leadership development, and advocacy training for cattle producers.

The program graduates will be honored at the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit on December 7 and 8 in Ames. All producers are invited to attend and learn more about the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and opportunities for involvement. More information about the event and the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program can be found at www.iacattlemen.org.

2017 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program graduates include:

Darrin Axline, Cedar County
Patrick Bries, Dubuque County
Holly Bries, Dubuque County
Allison Brown, Wayne County
David Bruene, Story County
Molly Bruene, Story County
Wesley Christensen, Clay County
Adam Darrington, Pottawattamie County
Jake Driver, Pottawattamie County
Dawn Edler, Benton County
Ryan Healy, Marion County
Travis Hosteng, Story County
Delaney Howell, Louisa County
Grant Klopfenstein, Henry County
Tyler Krug, Benton County
Matt Lansing, Dubuque County
Clara Lauritsen, Audubon County
Andrew Lauver, Calhoun County
Tanner Lawton, Greene County
Jacob Louth, Jefferson County
Grant Rathje, Douglas County
Peyton River, Jackson County
Leslie Ruby, Clarke County
Patrick Ryherd, Marshall County
Shaniel Smith, Appanoose County
Brian Tuttle, O'Brien County
Drew Weyers, Marion County

The 2018 YCLP class has also been named, and will meet for the first time in January. Participants in 2018 include:

Daweyn Albertsen, Tama County
Paul Anderson, Delaware county
Crystal Blin, Buchanan County
Robert Cumming, Monona County
Eric Franje, Mahaska County
Krista Frazee, Mills County
Ben Halvorson, Adams County
Andee Hammen, Webster/Calhoun Counties
Benjamin Hein, Jones County
Whitney Hein, Jones County
David Scott Herbold, Woodbury County
Emily Kennedy, Cass County
Zak Kennedy, Cass County
Cody Korthaus, Appanoose County
Logan Lafrenz, Cedar County
Blair Lincoln, Clayton County
Jeremy Maass, Ringgold County
Katelyn Maass, Ringgold County
Mindy Meyer, Clayton County
Katie Morey, Palo Alto County
Travis Morey, Palo Alto County
Kyle Musfeldt, Guthrie County
Tim Pansegrau, Marshall County
Kylie Peterson, Monroe County
Austin Sorensen, Taylor County
Brooke Stowater, Cherokee County
Cody Stowater, Cherokee County
Dakota Sullivan, Madison County
Sean Robinson, Sioux County
Adam Ryan, Delaware County
Sydney Weis, Union County
Shayne Wiese, Carroll County
Brent Winter, Winnebago County



FY 2018 Ag Exports Forecast Up $1.0 Billion at $140.0 Billion; Ag Imports at $117.0 Billion
USDA Economic Research Service/Foreign Ag Service


Fiscal Year 2018 agricultural exports are projected at $140.0 billion, up $1.0 billion from the August forecast, largely due to expected increases in corn and distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Higher corn volumes and unit values and strong demand for DDGS are largely responsible for driving grain and feed exports up $1.0 billion to $29.4 billion. Soybean export volumes continue to set records, raising the soybean forecast $200 million to $24.1 billion, which offsets expected declines in soybean meal and oil. Cotton exports are up $300 million on higher volumes and unit values. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are raised $200 million to $29.7 billion, largely due to higher forecasts for beef, poultry, and animal products such as lard and tallow. Horticultural products are unchanged at $34.5 billion.

U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal year 2018 are forecast at $117.0 billion, up $1.5 billion from the August forecast, due largely to expected increases in imports of animal products. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to decline by $500 million to $23.0 billion in fiscal 2018.

Complete details can be found here..... https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/85920/aes-102.pdf?v=43069



Perdue on Continued Strong U.S. Farm Exports in FY 2018


Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) export forecast published today.

“Today’s quarterly trade forecast reflects the fact that U.S. agricultural exports are continuing strong in the 2018 fiscal year. We just closed out FY 2017 with the third-highest export total on record and I’m delighted to see that FY 2018 is shaping up to come close. With a forecast of $140 billion, we’re looking at the fourth-best year in history. And there’s additional positive news in the fact that agriculture’s trade surplus is expected to grow eight percent, from $21.3 billion last year to $23 billion in 2018.

“Much of this expected success can be attributed to robust sales to our East Asian and North American trading partners. China is again shaping up to be our top market, led by continued strong soybean sales, while Canada and Mexico remain our second- and third-largest markets, respectively. We’re expecting exports to grow in the coming year to all of our top three markets.

“The bottom line is that exports continue to be a major driver of the rural economy, generating 20 percent of U.S. farm income and supporting more than a million U.S. jobs. The USDA team continues to work around the clock and around the globe to boost export prospects for American farmers and ranchers not only by expanding existing markets and improving existing trade agreements, but also by aggressively pursuing new markets and new opportunities.”



Fischer Applauds EPA’s Renewable Volume Obligations Rule for 2018


U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the finalized 2018 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) and 2019 biomass-based diesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

“The volumes released today provide greater clarity for Nebraska’s agriculture producers and the innovators focused on the future of biofuels. I appreciate Administrator Pruitt’s continued commitment to rural America. This final rule will spur investment in Americans who feed the world and provide renewable solutions for our nation’s energy needs.”

Under the final rule, the EPA set the total renewable fuel volume mandate at 19.29 billion gallons. This includes 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel and 4.29 billion gallons of advanced biofuel.

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producing state in the nation. The state has 25 ethanol plants that have the capacity to produce more than 2 billion gallons annually. Ethanol contributes $5 billion to Nebraska’s economy each year and provides Nebraskans with more than 1,300 full-time jobs.



 Smith Statement on Final 2018 EPA Renewable Fuel Volumes Rule


 Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final 2018 renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Today’s announcement is good news with room to grow,” Smith said.  “The Trump administration kept its commitment on not reducing volumes, and the numbers announced today uphold congressional intent while providing needed certainty for ethanol producers.  At the same time, while the levels for biodiesel are disappointing and do not capture the potential of the industry, I am optimistic the Trump administration will continue to advance biofuels and domestic energy production moving forward.”

Nebraska is second in the country for ethanol production, and Smith has long supported the development and increased availability of biofuels.  In March, Smith reintroduced his bill to provide retailers the option of selling E15 year-round. 



Ricketts, Commodity Boards Praise Trump Administration’s Final EPA RFS Volumes


Today, Governor Pete Ricketts, chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, and two Nebraska commodity boards issued statements on the EPA’s announcement of the final renewable fuel volumes for 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Thank you to President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for their recognition of the important role of ethanol in meeting the fuel needs of Nebraskans and drivers across the country,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Finalizing the proposed volumes in a timely manner with minimal changes provides much-needed predictability, which helps ethanol producers plan for their businesses and spur growth in the biofuels industry.  As the administration looks to future years, I urge them to maintain and grow a robust commitment to the RFS, so we can continue to develop the industry and our country’s energy security.”

“This year’s corn crop is impressive, which is resulting in the largest carryover supply in three decades,” said Dan Wesely, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Ethanol production has been vital in boosting corn markets and improving rural economies.”

Although the 2018 RVO for cellulosic ethanol was not set higher than the 2017 RVO, the final level is 50 million gallons higher than the EPA’s proposal in July.

“The RFS is an important floor for biofuel demand in the U.S., but producers must also continue efforts to expand domestic and international markets,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator.  “Successfully expanding biofuel demand will generate additional opportunities for investment in new technology and new production capacity.  Next-generation biofuels continue to evolve, but the new processes, productions, technology deployment, and jobs will not be realized if demand for biofuels stagnates.  Biofuels make an increasingly important contribution to public health and the environment by displacing toxic compounds and harmful emissions from traditional fossil fuels.”

“The EPA’s decision to maintain the RFS blending quotas is a win for cleaner air, greater energy independence, corn farmers and rural economies,” said Dave Merrell, Chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.  “With 30 percent, or nearly 600 million bushels, of Nebraska’s corn going towards ethanol production, we applaud the EPA’s decision, which follows Congressional intent, to blend 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol into the fuel supply.  We’ve made great strides with corn-based ethanol, and we look forward to advancing the industry.  With EPA’s latest decision, we’re on track to do this.”



STATEMENT FROM IOWA CORN PRESIDENT MARK RECKER ON EPA’S 2018 RENEWABLE VOLUME OBLIGATIONS


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the final Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for the 2018 conventional biofuels requirement at 15 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). We are pleased to see the EPA hitting the statutory target for corn ethanol. This comes as good news for Iowa corn farmers who now face tough economic times and for consumers who want affordable, homegrown fuel choices. We thank U.S. Senators Grassley and Ernst for their steadfast, unwavering support of maintaining a strong RFS through this rule making process.

The RFS is a federal law that requires domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Congress adopted the RFS in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. The program requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022. RVOs are set annually by EPA to determine the amount of renewable fuel blended into our fuel.

The RFS has been one of America’s most successful energy policies ever. It has made our air cleaner. It has spurred investment in rural communities and created high-tech jobs. It has given drivers more choices at the gas pump. And it has reduced our dependency on foreign oil. It moves America forward as a leader in clean energy.

Iowa Corn will continue to work to grow the renewable fuel market by improving the infrastructure for higher ethanol blends (E15 and E85) and promoting the use of higher blends with automakers, fuel retailers and consumers to gain more demand for corn-based ethanol. For more information, go to www.iowacorn.org.



IA Dept of Ag:  Renewable Volume Obligations set by EPA


Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcing the 2018 renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

“I appreciate the Trump administration maintaining their commitment to the RFS in putting forward these renewable volume obligations.  That said, I am disappointed they did not do more, particularly on biodiesel.  The RFS as passed and signed into law was designed to support the growth of the biofuels industry, and the levels announced are a lost opportunity. We will continue to work with the Governor’s office and renewable fuels industry to support a strong RFS going forward.”



NCGA Statement on EPA’s Final 2018 Renewable Volume Obligation


The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the final 2018 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“NCGA is pleased to see the EPA meet the Administration’s commitment to keep the RFS on track when it comes to conventional ethanol. Not only has EPA hit the mark with the 15 billion-gallon implied target, but EPA has also improved on the proposed rule by correctly growing the total 2018 volume from the 2017 level as intended in the RFS.

“This year’s corn crop is bigger than anyone anticipated, resulting in the largest carryover supply in 30 years. Farmers want to rely on the marketplace for their income, and ethanol has been critical in our effort to increase profitable demand for U.S. corn.

“While we are concerned that the RVO number for cellulosic ethanol is not set higher than the 2017 volume, we are encouraged EPA raised the level by 50 million gallons above its July proposal.  Moving forward, we ask EPA to revisit the growth in cellulosic fuel production, particularly as first-generation ethanol producers expand cellulosic gallons made from feedstocks such as corn kernel fiber.

“The RFS has been a resounding success when it comes to providing cleaner air, greater energy independence and stronger rural communities.

“Moving forward, NCGA remains committed to working with EPA and other partners to achieve the full benefits of the RFS, including continuing efforts with private and public-sector partners to grow our national fuel infrastructure and efforts to remove regulatory barriers to E15 and higher ethanol blends, giving consumers even greater access to cleaner-burning, renewable fuel choices.”



RFS Volumes Again Fail to Capture Biodiesel’s Potential


The American Soybean Association (ASA) calls the final biodiesel and advanced biofuels volumes released today by the Environmental Protection Agency another example of a missed opportunity to capture the full potential and value of biodiesel. In the rule, EPA calls for biomass-based diesel volumes within the Renewable Fuel Standard of 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, the same level established for 2018, while for advanced biofuels volumes, EPA has proposed 4.29 billion gallons for 2018, only slightly above the 4.28 level established for 2017. In a statement, ASA President Ron Moore of Illinois pointed to the increased capacity of the domestic industry to meet demand for renewable fuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

“It’s fair to say that we’re very frustrated yet again by the lack of growth in these volumes by EPA; we can do more, and we’ve shown that year after year. The flat nature of the biomass-based diesel and advanced biodiesel volumes continues to be a missed opportunity to capitalize on a valuable market for soybean oil.

“It has always been our hope that the Administration does what it can to provide farmers and related businesses opportunities to succeed. There is great potential in the biodiesel industry to do that, while creating jobs, diversifying our fuel supply and reducing our dependence on foreign oil at the same time, but not without progressive increases to these volumes in the RFS.

“We’re disappointed today, as we had originally pushed for a level of 2.5 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel in 2019 and 4.75 billion gallons of total advanced biofuels for 2018, but we’ll continue in our work to develop even greater capacity within our industry, and we urge EPA and the Administration to take another look at biodiesel and the value U.S. soybean farmers bring to the domestic energy discussion.”



2018 RVOs Keep Conventional Biofuels on Track


Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today released the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of the final renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2018. The total renewable fuel volume is 19.29 billion gallons, which includes 15 billion gallons for conventional biofuel. Advanced biofuel is set for 4.29 billion gallons, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. The 2019 biodiesel amount is set for 2.1 billion gallons.

“We applaud the administration for standing up against efforts to destabilize the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Skor said.

“The EPA’s on-time announcement upholds the statutory targets for conventional biofuels, which will provide much-needed certainty for hard-pressed rural communities. We would like to have seen a boost to the target blending levels for cellulosic biofuels, and we will continue to work with the administration to advance the RFS goal of further stimulating growth and showing U.S. leadership in 21st century fuels.

“The RFS remains America’s single most successful energy policy and continually works to save consumers money, protect the environment, drive rural growth, and secure U.S. energy independence. To keep this momentum strong, the EPA must take bold steps toward growth, as outlined by President Trump. We urge the agency to act quickly on the administrator’s promise of a long-overdue fix to Reid Vapor Pressure rules that needlessly limit sales of E15 during summer months.”

Leading up to the release of the final 2018 RVOs, Growth Energy filed substantive comments including several studies that provided insight into the potential for cellulosic biofuels production, the role of renewable fuel in achieving the U.S.’s energy policy goals, and the risk of an increase to national greenhouse gas emissions if the EPA were to reduce the conventional fuel volume. Growth Energy Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley also testified during the EPA’s hearing in August on the RVOs.



Biodiesel Industry Disappointed by the Renewable Fuel Standard Volumes


Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the required volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and failed to grow the biomass-based diesel volumes. Since the July proposal was released, NBB has relentlessly called for growth in the volumes of advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel.

“EPA Administrator Pruitt has disappointed the biodiesel industry for failing to respond to our repeated calls for growth. These flat volumes will harm Americans across several job-creating sectors—be they farmers, grease collectors, crushers, biodiesel producers or truckers—as well as consumers. Nevertheless, we can’t thank our members and our biodiesel champions at the state and federal levels enough for their tireless advocacy and education efforts. We’ll continue to work with the administration to right this wrong for future volumes,” said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer of the National Biodiesel Board.

EPA announced requirements of 4.29 billion gallons of advanced biofuels for 2018 and 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel again for 2019. The July proposal recommended only 4.24 billion gallons of advanced biofuels and 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel—a reduction and a flatline, respectively, from last year’s standards. The biodiesel industry has consistently exceeded EPA’s standards—despite the agency underestimating the volumes each year. These volumes are important for setting a baseline—and our industry will again surpass these low expectations—but the failure to increase volumes will inhibit continued growth and investments.

Since the July proposal and the September Notice of Data Availability, the biodiesel industry has engaged in aggressive advocacy for growth in the volumes. In addition to an extensive series of meetings with administration officials, NBB issued robust data sets, a campaign-style video, a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post, a letter to President Trump from NBB’s leadership, and NBB joined a broad coalition letter with other biofuels advocates. The association led several letter-writing and social media campaigns, as well as assisted with governors’, senators’ and NBB members’ efforts to raise the volumes. This week, nearly 100 NBB members were in Washington, D.C., to meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill.



ACE statement on final RFS volumes for 2018


Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). 

The agency set a total renewable fuel blending obligation of 19.29 billion gallons next year of which 4.29 billion gallons shall be advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, resulting in 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel such as corn ethanol.

“ACE members are very pleased that the statutory 15-billion-gallon volume for conventional biofuel will be maintained in 2018 and that EPA is increasing the advanced biofuel volume to 4.29 billion gallons.  This represents a modest step in the right direction for the RFS in 2018.  Beyond sending a generally positive signal to the rural economy, increased blending targets also reassure retailers that it makes sense to offer E15 and flex fuels to their customers.”

“While the 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel EPA is calling for in 2018 is a small increase from the volume proposed earlier this year, it is disappointing the 2018 volume represents a decrease from the 2017 cellulosic biofuel level of 311 million gallons.  We firmly believe the technology exists to increase cellulosic biofuel targets.”

“Finally, more can and should be done to overcome regulatory hurdles which prevent market access to higher ethanol blends and ACE remains committed to working with EPA to address those hurdles.”



 RFS Volume Obligations a “Missed Opportunity,” NFU Says


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced final 2018 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The agency will maintain the corn ethanol requirement at its current levels, and increase cellulosic and advanced biofuel requirements slightly from their July 2017 proposal. It will also stagnate biodiesel requirements at 2.1 billion gallons, well short of the industry’s capacity.

The final RVOs are an improvement over proposed RVOs issued earlier this year, yet they fall short of maintaining Congress’ intent to drive growth in the American biofuels industry, according to National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson.

He released the following statement in response to the announcement:

“While it’s clear EPA made an attempt to reverse some of their flawed proposals from earlier this year, the improvements to the finalized volume obligations are meager and deeply disappointing. The agency missed a significant opportunity to follow through on the administration’s promises to advance the interests of American family farmers, their communities, and the biofuel industry.

“The RFS was written to promote expanded use of homegrown, renewable biofuels. So long as EPA continues to fail to meet that congressional intent, they’ll continue to shortchange our nation’s family farmers, rural communities, consumers and the environment.

“We have the capacity to increase these requirements. We certainly have a need to increase them, as family farmers battle a steep and prolonged decline in the farm economy. And we have a law on the books that was written to incentivize increased American biofuel production. NFU will continue to pursue avenues to ensure the success of the American biofuel industry for our family farmer members.”



25x'25 Statement on EPA's Final RFS RVOs


The 25x'25 Alliance is appreciative of EPA's issuance of the Required Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard within the statutory deadline of Nov. 30. And we are pleased to see the agency's RFS target for conventional ethanol (mostly corn-based) is at the full 15 billion gallons authorized by law. EPA's slight increase of its advanced biofuel numbers - now set at 4.29 billion gallons - over the 4.28 proposed in July is also welcome news.

However, the alliance is disappointed the agency is keeping the 2019 biobased diesel requirements static at 2.1 billion gallons, the same as those already set for next year. And EPA's reduction in cellulosic ethanol requirements - from this year's 311 million gallons down to 288 million gallons next year - is equally frustrating. With requirements that fall far short of the capacity that these industries have to produce them, EPA is discouraging investment and innovation in two low-carbon transportation fuels that can - and should - be the standard for our nation in the years ahead.



Perdue Announces National Pork Board Appointments


Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of five members to serve on the National Pork Board. The producers appointed to serve three year terms include:
-    Brett Kaysen, Nunn, Colo.
-    Steven R. Rommereim, Alcester, S.D.
-    Scott Phillips, Drexel, Mo.
-    Heather Hill, Greenfield, Ind.
-    Deb Balance, Fremont, N.C.

“These appointees represent a cross section of the pork producers and I know they will help us better meet the needs of our American farmers, ranchers, and producers," said Perdue. “Their work is important as pork production is critical to the U.S. farm sector and the American economy as a whole.”

The National Pork Board is composed of 15 pork producers, who are nominated by the National Pork Producers Delegate Body, which is made up of approximately 160 producer and importer members.



National Biodiesel Board Elects Governing Board


While in Washington D.C. to advocate for biodiesel industry jobs across the country, National Biodiesel Board members today selected their trade association leadership.  The board reflects the wide range of member companies in the biodiesel industry from feedstock operations to producers.

“The National Biodiesel Board is the sole organization representing American made biodiesel’s entire value chain and renewable diesel interests. Our strong team of leaders from all sectors of the industry continue to move this American-made fuel forward," said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “We look forward to continuing our efforts to secure strong markets for America’s Advanced Biofuel and the nearly 64,000 jobs we represent.”


NBB members voted to fill eight board member spots for two-year terms:
-    Kent Engelbrecht, ADM
-    Ron Heck, Iowa Soybean Association
-    Steve Nogel, Ag Environmental Products
-    Ryan Pederson, North Dakota Soybean Council
-    Harry Simpson, Crimson Renewable Energy LP
-    Paul Soanes, RBP Port Neches LLC
-    Robert Stobaugh, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board
-    Chad Stone, REG Inc.

Greg Anderson (Newman Grove, NE), Jennifer Case, Mike Cunningham, Tim Keaveney, Bob Morton, and Mike Rath continue to serve on the board. 

The board also re-elected the current slate of officers with Kent Engelbrecht serving as chairman, Mike Cunningham as Vice Chairman, Greg Anderson as Treasurer and Chad Stone as Secretary.

NBB is the leading U.S. trade association representing biodiesel and renewable diesel.



USGC, NCGA Officers And CEOs Reiterate Support For Trade In South Korea, Mexico


The leaders of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) traveled to South Korea and Mexico this week in concurrent missions to engage with customers and government officials during a period of policy uncertainty in the U.S. corn industry's #1 and #3 markets.

"Trade equals huge success for U.S. feed grains in all forms," said Deb Keller, USGC chairman and farmer from Iowa. "The Council has helped build relationships over decades with a large and loyal customer base in both Mexico and South Korea, reflected by increased demand and integrated grain supply systems. These missions helped reinforce those ties and let us hear directly from our customers."

The delegation in South Korea included Keller; Wesley Spurlock, NCGA chairman from Texas; Lynn Chrisp, NCGA first vice president from Nebraska; Darren Armstrong, USGC secretary/treasurer from North Carolina; and Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer.

The joint mission in South Korea met with top level officials and buyers, including the Korean Trade Minister, in addition to visiting with local cooperatives and trade officials as well as a local farm using U.S. grains, a grocery store and a major port. During meetings, team members discussed the importance of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) as well as grain quality and promotion. The delegation also assisted in celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Council's presence in one of the top markets for U.S. feed grains and co-products.

In the 2016/2017 marketing year, exports of feed grains in all forms to South Korea hit a total of 8.32 million metric tons. South Korea jumped to the third largest buyer of U.S. corn in the marketing year, setting a six-year high. South Korea was also the third largest buyer of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), setting a record for a second year.
   
A second group of officers and staff leaders traveled to Mexico, including Jim Stitzlein, USGC vice chairman; Chip Councell, USGC past chairman from Maryland; Kevin Skunes, NCGA president from North Dakota; Chris Novak, NCGA chief executive officer; Kim Atkins, USGC vice president and chief operating officer; and Melissa Kessler, USGC director of communications.

They met with the major grain associations representing the top buyers of U.S. grain products, a large grain processing facility and government officials. While discussions surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took precedence, the team also learned more about the Council's grain and ethanol focused programming in Mexico.

In 2016/2017, Mexico was the largest customer for U.S. corn, DDGS and malt (both roasted and non-roasted). Mexico also ranked as the second largest customer for sorghum and the tenth largest market for U.S. ethanol.

"The U.S. grain supply chain has been built around trade," said Kevin Skunes, NCGA president and farmer from North Dakota. "Basis values, transportation and communities have been constructed around supplying corn to export markets. The loss of market access provided by these two very important trade agreements with South Korea and Mexico would have immediate and far-reaching impacts on farm economics across the United States."



Perdue Encourages Ag Retailers to Get Engaged Collectively, Individually in Legislation, Regulation


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue addressed attendees to conclude at the ARA Conference and Expo earlier today.

His comments covered a broad range of issues including tax reform, de-regulation, trade, food security, infrastructure, school lunches and the farm bill.

The Agricultural Retailers Association broadcast his comments via Facebook Live. Audio from his speech is available, as well.

Perdue, who noted his past experience in the fertilizer business and with ARA's predecessor organization, the National Fertilizer Solutions Association, talked extensively about the tax reform bill currently under debate in the Senate. He encouraged those in the business of agriculture to contact their representatives in Washington, D.C., to communicate their corporate and individual interests.

"Farming is a great lifestyle, but you don't get to do it very long as a lifestlye if you don't make money at it," he said. "You need to speak through your associations, but you also need to speak independently. Talk to your members of Congress and let them know what's on your mind. Weigh in on what you like about (the tax reform bill), what you don't like about it."

Perdue also reiterated his desire to improve the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"My goals is to be the most effective, the most efficient, the best run, the most customer focused agency in the federal government," he said. "I want to be judged by you. We're going to work every day with that goal in mind."

The agency is realigning local offices to better serve farmers, according to Perdue.

"(Customers) shouldn't have to go to different places or fill out different forms," he said. "We're trying to make it easier to serve our customers. We want to them to do business with us. Easier, faster, friendlier."

Perdue also touched on infrastructure, noting investments on roads, rail and waterways, but also stressing the need for development of rural broadband to maximize technological innovations within agriculture. Precision agriculture depends on broadband everywhere, he said.

"Not only at the farmhouse, not only in the farm community, not only in town, but in the fields around America," he said. "In order to use the technology, we've got to have broadband everywhere."

His closing comments focused on the next farm bill, calling it an evolution, not revolution.

"You're going to see a farm bill with a safety net balanced primarily by crop insurance," he said. "We want a safety net that keeps people where they can do it again, but we don't want farmers farming for the program. Your customers would much rather have a good crop at a fair price than any kind of government program."

He asked for the input of ag retailers as the farm bill comes together.



Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. Announces $110 Million Series D Funding


Farmers Business Network, the independent farmer-to-farmer network, announced a $110 million Series D funding round, led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and Temasek. Previous investors Acre Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and DBL Partners also participated in this round.

The latest investment will be used to expand the company’s offerings, including its digital crop marketing, FBN Direct™, and farm analytics services, as well as expand internationally to Canada. With the backing of premier investors and nearly 5,000 member farms, the FBN ℠ Network is poised to help farmers in all regions and crops fundamentally revamp how they do business and maximize their earnings.

“Farmers Business Network fiercely advocates for farmers – democratizing information, providing market transparency, and leveling the playing field through networking,” said Charles Baron, Co-Founder and VP of Product. “We’re bringing growers the transformative power of a digital farm economy. By connecting farmers digitally, farmers are empowered through network-enabled agronomic insights, transparent online input purchasing, and a global crop marketing network to drive profitability even in the toughest markets.”

“The pressure this year is greater than ever to save money. Between the input savings and what I’m realizing on the crop marketing premiums, my FBN membership could be worth $90 per acre,” said Pat Duncanson, a farmer from Minnesota. “I’ve committed almost half my acres this year to the crop marketing program and I’m wondering if that’s not enough. It gives me transparency around the prices I’m paying, and has given the grower more power in the market to get premiums. With the seed intelligence I get through FBN Seed Finder, I am unequivocally able to find and buy seeds with confidence.”

This investment comes on the heels of rapid growth of the FBN Network in just two and half years since its commercial launch. The FBN Network now serves over 16 million acres of farmland (a land area larger than West Virginia) throughout 42 states and Canada.

“Having the buy-in and long-term support of world-class, independent investors is fundamental to our mission of serving family farms. This funding brings massive firepower to the FBN Network. We now have over 200 employees and soon will bring hundreds more high-tech jobs to rural America,” said Amol Deshpande, CEO and Co-Founder.

Creating an Independent Farm Economy to Put Farmers First

The idea for the FBN Network originated from farmers who wanted to create an independent, farmer-driven information and commerce network. In the past, important information such as fair market input prices, real-world seed performance, or optimal grain delivery points were hidden from farmers or difficult to determine. The FBN Network makes all this information transparent in a no frills way – driven by real-time statistics from its millions of acres of member farms. 

With the price transparency and online purchasing through FBN Direct, farms have commonly saved tens of thousands on inputs, even as much as $120,000 in a single year. Yearly FBN membership costs only $600 with no punishing acreage fees, making it easily affordable for farms of all sizes. 

This latest round brings the company’s total equity funding to nearly $200 million. The company’s investors have been inspired by the potential to create a better farm and food economy for farmers and consumers through digital technology. 

For more information, visit farmersbusinessnetwork.com.



Monsanto Shares 2018 Crop Protection Incentive Offerings


Monsanto Company will provide growers with multiple offerings for the 2018 growing season, including tools, resources and products to help them maximize weed control in the field.

This year’s featured offer allows soybean growers to earn an additional $6 more per acre in cash back when they apply XtendiMax® herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology, now a restricted use pesticide, to their Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans along with endorsed herbicides from Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions. Incentives are also available when growers use XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology with endorsed herbicides from Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions on cotton with XtendFlex® Technology.

The incentive was recently announced by Monsanto for the 2018 growing season and is designed to help growers boost profitability while effectively managing their toughest weed challenges.

“The Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System provides farmers the tools, resources and products for effective weed control,” said Ryan Rubischko, product manager and marketing lead. “With the incentive this coming season for using XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, growers also now have a way to better manage difficult-to-control weeds and their bottom line.”

Under the offer, participating farmers who plant Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans can qualify for an additional $6 more per acre in incentives when they incorporate XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology along with endorsed herbicides from Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions. Cotton growers planting varieties containing XtendFlex Technology can qualify for an additional $5.50.

Besides offering the cash back incentive from Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions, Monsanto is also taking steps to support customers who use the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System successfully in 2018, including:
-    Expert Recommendations based on crop and region
-    Education and Training to help growers stay up-to-date on important agronomic issues based on learnings from 2017
-    Cash-Back Incentives when growers use endorsed herbicides with multiple modes of action
-    Free Spray Nozzles that are compliant with product label
-    Technical Support Call Center (1-844-RRXTEND) to help applicators easily access information on best practices and application requirements
-    Spray App for applicators to help them avoid problematic weather conditions to achieve on-target applications
-    Free Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System Flags as a part of grower technology support

“We believe cash-back incentives for using XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology better enable growers to use a management system that represents the next level of weed control, with the added confidence of being backed by Monsanto’s training tools and toll-free help line,” said Rubischko.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wednesday November 29 Ag News

CVA Hosts Annual Meeting

Central Valley Ag Cooperative (CVA) recently hosted their Annual Meeting for member-owners to review the fiscal year. CVA reported $21.7 Million in Total Profit for fiscal year 2017 ending on August 31, 2017.

“We are proud of the way our Cooperative performed this year in a difficult environment,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO/President of Central Valley Ag. “We believe that true success comes from not only serving farmers, but also in returning profits to its owners.”

This year, CVA will disperse $8.0 Million in patronage to member-owners with 25% paid in cash and the balance in Non-Qualified Equity. Over the 2017 fiscal year, $7.9 Million was paid out in cash patronage, equity redemptions, and estates. Not only is the cash received as a benefit for member-owners; $26.4 Million was reinvested in assets to improve speed, space, and efficiency in 2017.

At the meeting CVA also announced the newly elected members of their Board of Directors. CVA relies on its Board of Directors to position CVA for future success and profitability for member-owners. The CVA Board of Directors is made up of local, agricultural producers who are recognized for their industry expertise, as well as economic and community development skills. CVA member-owners elected the following individuals to represent their voice on the board; Alex Brookhouser – Brunswick, NE, Duane Schumacher – Bloomfield, NE, Pat Wemhoff – Humphrey, NE, Jay Uehling – Oakland, NE, Lucas Carlson – York, NE, Larry Naber – Utica, NE, Luke Shamburg – Beloit, KS and Mark Phillips – Akron, IA.

“It is our goal to focus on customer needs and the processes that improve our customers’ experience and to do these things in a cooperative manner to help them achieve maximum profitability,” said Dave Beckman, CVA Board Chairman. “Our Board of Directors plays a large role in helping us achieve that goal. I also want to thank our departing board of director members Gordon Quiring, Gary Resco and Don Nelson for their dedication to CVA over the years.”



PRIZES, GIVEAWAYS & MORE AT THE NEBRASKA POWER FARMING SHOW


The Nebraska Power Farming Show doesn’t just showcase the latest, greatest agricultural products and equipment. It also features several exhibitor giveaways, including a chance to win a 2018 Yamaha Kodiak 450 ATV.

Farmers and ranchers attending the show can enter the drawing for a Kodiak 450 [retail value: $5,999] – the perfect machine for any size rider looking to work, hunt or explore – at the Nebraska Farm Bureau booth [#2210], Superior Outdoor Power booth [#129] and the AuctionTime CafĂ© in Pavilion 3, where the ATV will be displayed. Thanks to Yamaha Motor Corp USA, Superior Outdoor Power, our platinum sponsor Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Farm Bureau Financial Services for donating the Kodiak 450 ATV. The drawing will be held at noon on Thursday.

Farm Bureau members are encouraged to attend the show on Wednesday, December 6th for Nebraska Farm Bureau Day. The first 100 people to the Farm Bureau booth [#2210 in Pavilion 2] will get a FREE Farm Bureau Proud t-shirt and members who stop by the booth will receive a FREE Farm Bureau cup [with FREE drink refills during the show]. In addition, members who stop by the Farm Bureau booth any day of the show will receive a FREE pair of work gloves and can enter to win Milwaukee power tools from Grainger.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots farm organization that works for the benefit of all Nebraskan’s through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy initiatives focused on its mission of helping farm and ranch families prosper and improve their quality of life.   Not a member? Join at booth 2210 or go to nefb.org.

The Nebraska Power Farming Show, presented by Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect, will be held December 5-7 at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. Spread across 9.2 acres, the second largest indoor U.S. farm show is loaded with big iron, precision ag, aerial imaging, livestock production, inputs, data management and more.

Show hours are 9 am to 5 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 am to 3 pm Thursday. Admission and parking at the Lancaster Event Center are FREE! For additional show information, visit nebraskapowershow.com.

The Nebraska Power Farming Show is produced by the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association in conjunction with local Nebraska and Iowa farm equipment dealerships. The show is sponsored by: Diamond Sponsor – Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect; Platinum Sponsors – Bayer CropScience and Nebraska Farm Bureau; Gold Sponsors – Mitas and Stine Seed Company; and Media Sponsors – Midwest Messenger and Rural Radio Network (come see us at booth #1052!).



Farm Sector Profits Expected To Stabilize in 2017

USDA Economic Research Service

After 3 consecutive years of decline, farm sector profits are forecast to be relatively stable in 2017. Net farm income, a broader measure of profits, is forecast to increase $1.7 billion (2.7 percent) from 2016 to $63.2 billion in 2017 and net cash farm income is forecast to increase $3.7 billion (3.9 percent) to $96.9 billion. In inflation-adjusted dollars, net farm income is forecast to be relatively unchanged from 2016 and net cash farm income is forecast to increase 2.1 percent. The stronger forecast growth in net cash farm income is largely due to an additional $2.1 billion (nominal) in cash receipts from the sale of beginning-of-year crop inventories. The net cash farm income measure counts those sales as part of current-year income while the net farm income measure counts the value of those inventories as part of prior-year income. Despite the forecast upturn in these profit measures relative to 2016, 2017 levels would be below all other years since 2009 (net farm income) and since 2010 (net cash farm income).

Cash receipts are forecast to rise $8.6 billion (2.4 percent) in 2017 to $365.1 billion, led by a $12.4-billion (7.6 percent) increase in animal/animal product receipts. Dairy, poultry/egg, hog, and cattle/calf receipts are up, reflecting expected increases in both price and quantity sold. Overall, cash receipts for crops are forecast to fall $3.8 billion (2.0 percent) to $189.9 billion, largely reflecting expected declines in fruit/nut and soybean cash receipts. Direct government farm payments—which include farm program payments paid directly to farmers and ranchers but not insurance indemnity payments made by FCIC or USDA loans—are forecast to decline $1.8 billion (13.8 percent) in 2017 to $11.2 billion as large declines in Agricultural Risk Coverage payments more than offset increases in Price Loss Coverage payments.

The 2017 forecast for farm business average net cash farm income is $102,000, slightly lower than the 2016 forecast of $102,800. Increases in average net cash income are forecast for livestock and cotton farm businesses, while declines are forecast for all other types of crop farm businesses.

After declining for 2 consecutive years, total production expenses are forecast up $5.3 billion (1.5 percent) to $355.8 billion in 2017, led by increases in expenditures on interest, hired labor, and fuels/oil. Partially offsetting these increases are expected drops in feed and fertilizer/lime expenses. In inflation-adjusted dollars, total production expenses are forecast to remain flat in 2016.

Farm asset values are forecast to increase by $81.1 billion (2.7 percent) to $3.0 trillion in 2017, and farm debt is forecast to increase by $11.0 billion (2.9 percent) to $385.2 billion. Farm sector equity, the net measure of assets and debt, is forecast up by $70.1 billion (2.7 percent) to $2.65 trillion in 2017. The increase in assets reflects a 3.3-percent rise in the value of farm real estate. The rise in farm debt is driven by higher real estate debt (up 4.6 percent).


Median Income of Farm Operator Households Expected To Be Relatively Unchanged in 2017

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. The total median income of U.S. farm households increased steadily over 2010-14, reaching an estimated $81,637 in 2014. Median household income, which fell 6 percent in 2015 and remained flat in 2016, is forecast to rise 1.7 percent in 2017 to $77,551 in nominal terms (0.2 percent when adjusted for inflation). Median farm income earned by farm households is estimated at -$940 in 2016 and is forecast at -$1,093 in 2017. In recent years, slightly more than half of farm households have lost money on their farming operations each year. Most of these households earn positive off-farm income—and median off-farm income is forecast to increase 2.3 percent, from $66,468 in 2016 to $67,973 in 2017. (Because farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.)



Webinar to Explore Lessons Learned from Using Cover Crops to Reduce Nitrate Losses


Even with excellent nutrient management, nitrate losses from corn and soybean fields can occur because these cash crops only grow and take up nitrate and water for five months of the year. Cover crops like winter rye can be an effective strategy for reducing nitrate losses to groundwater or tile drainage, because they can take up water and nitrate during the period between harvest and planting of the next year’s crop.

Tom Kaspar will discuss lessons learned from using cover crops to reduce losses of nitrate during the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at noon. Kaspar is a plant physiologist at the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. Kaspar also is one of the leading voices on cover crops across the Midwest and one of the founding members of the Midwest Cover Crops Council. Kaspar’s research has focused on using cover crops and no-till to improve water quality and soil health in corn and soybean production systems.

“Over 15 years, tile drain monitoring on research plots in Iowa has shown that a winter rye cover crop reduced both nitrate loss and concentration in tile drainage by over 55 percent in a corn-soybean rotation,” Kaspar commented. “Farmers have shown that cover crops can be successfully grown in corn-soybean rotations in Iowa to protect and improve both soil and water.”

This month, the Iowa Learning Farms webinar series will take place on the second Wednesday of the month. To log in, go to https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/ at noon and log in through the “guest” option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for viewing at any time at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.



Pork Producers Invited to Advanced Reproductive Management Seminars


Pork producers are invited to attend either of two workshops focusing on advanced swine reproductive management topics scheduled for mid-December in northeast and northwest Iowa. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa Pork Producers Association are sponsoring the seminars in Waverly and Le Mars. The target audience for these conferences includes swine breeding herd managers, veterinarians, sow herd managers and sow farm owners and workers.

Dates and specific locations are Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Waverly Civic Center, 200 1st St. NE and Wednesday, Dec. 13, at the ISU Extension and Outreach Plymouth County Office, 251 12th St. S.E., Le Mars. Registration at both sites begins at 9:30 a.m. with the first session starting at 10 a.m. The event concludes with a question-and-answer session at 3 p.m. Dec. 14 is being held for possible rescheduling in case of weather-related issues.

The keynote speaker is reproductive specialist Kara Stewart of Purdue University. She will present information on several topics, including new farm technologies to improve reproductive performance and new research and findings on colostrum management. She also will lead a post cervical artificial insemination session with hands-on opportunity for participants to work with reproductive tracts, and will demonstrate deep uterine catheter insertion.

Associate professor of animal science Jason Ross and Lloyd Anderson, endowed professor in physiology, will talk about research that can help predict, before first breeding, which gilts most likely will have superior reproductive performance. Ross, who also is IPIC director, will share information from promising research including vulva measurements that may inform new tools for such predictions.

At their respective workshops in Waverly and LeMars, Iowa State swine specialists Mark Storlie and Dave Stender will provide updates on a variety of issues impacting the sow herd, including preparation for welfare audits, animal handling and record keeping.

Cost is $30 per person, which includes lunch and materials. Additional attendees from the same entity can register for $10 each. Preregistration is strongly encouraged to assure an accurate meal count.

For more information or to register for the Le Mars location, contact Stender by phone at 712-225-6196 or by email at dstender@iastate.edu. Those who want to attend the Waverly location should contact Storlie by phone at 563-425-3331 or email at mstorlie@iastate.edu.



Defeating a disease: Research creates way to protect pigs from PRRS during reproduction


In the words of Kansas State University researcher Raymond "Bob" Rowland, his latest work is helping to eradicate a devastating swine disease.

The disease is caused by the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or PRRS, virus. The virus costs the U.S. pork industry more than $600 million in losses every year.

In his latest study, Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has created a way to protect offspring from the PRRS virus during pregnancy. He has found that mothers without the CD163 protein are resistant to the PRRS virus and give birth to healthy, normal piglets. The work appears in Nature's Scientific Reports.

"We have created a protective shell against the PRRS virus during the reproductive phase of production," Rowland said. "The offspring does not become infected during pregnancy and is born a healthy piglet. During this critical phase of production, we have essentially ended a disease."

The PRRS virus causes disease in two forms: a respiratory form that weakens young pigs' ability to breathe and a more severe reproductive form that causes mass deaths in pigs during late pregnancy.

"The reproductive form not only has a tremendous economic impact, but also a psychological impact on people who work with pigs," said Rowland, who has spent more than 20 years studying the PRRS virus. "When we look at ways to control this disease, it really begins with reproduction. We want to keep this disease out of the reproductive process and we have found a way to do that."

To address the devastating reproductive form of the virus, Rowland collaborated with Randall Prather, a professor at the University of Missouri, and a team to develop PRRS-resistant pigs. Using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, the researchers found that pigs without the CD163 protein showed no signs or evidence of being infected with the PRRS virus. CD163 is the receptor for the virus.

The research can save swine producers millions of dollars because pigs are protected from the PRRS virus during the critical reproductive process, Rowland said. But because offspring are born normal, they may still be susceptible to the disease later in life.

"This is one tool that we can use," Rowland said. "It doesn't mean that we can give up on vaccines or diagnostics, but it does create more opportunities for other tools to become more effective. Because this pig is born healthy, it will respond better to a vaccine or a diagnostic test. We are enhancing other aspects of disease control as well."

Rowland will present the research for the first time at the 2017 North American PRRS Symposium from Dec. 1-3 in Chicago.

Other Kansas State University researchers involved in the project include Maureen Kerrigan, laboratory research manager, and Luca Popescu, a doctoral student and research assistant. All the researchers are involved with the diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department.



Prices for Most Fertilizers Higher Fourth Week of November


Average retail prices for most fertilizers were higher the fourth week of November 2017, though prices for a couple of fertilizers continued to buck the trend and push lower, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Six of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to last month, though only one was up a noteworthy amount. UAN28 was 5% higher compared to the previous month and had an average price of $216 per ton.

The remaining five fertilizers were just slightly higher in price. DAP had an average price of $435/ton, MAP $460/ton, urea $338/ton, anhydrous $410/ton and UAN32 $272/ton.

Two fertilizers were lower in price compared to a month earlier, including one that was considerably lower. 10-34-0 was down 13% from last month with an average price of $355/ton.

The remaining fertilizer was lower, but just marginally. Potash had an average price of $342/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.25/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Four fertilizers are now higher compared to last year. Both MAP and urea are 3% more expensive, UAN32 is 6% more expensive and potash is now 8% more expensive.

The remaining four fertilizers are lower compared to a year prior. Both DAP and UAN28 are 1% less expensive while anhydrous is 12% lower and 10-34-0 is 20% less expensive.



NCBA Challenges Members to Boost Beef Industry Wins


The nation’s leading beef producer organization has recently helped secure several beef industry wins in Washington, D.C. – for instance on an oppressive Waters of the United States rule and on President Obama’s BLM Planning 2.0 rule. It has also helped lay a foundation and build excitement for beef’s return to China for the first time in more than a decade. Now the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is upping the ante, asking its members to help fortify its ranks to help maintain the momentum in Washington – as well as recapture ground lost due to previous government overreach.

Through its 2017 “Just Ask” fall membership drive, NCBA is encouraging its members to recruit at least one new member from their community. The charge intends to sustain support for NCBA’s strong and growing advocacy in Washington, D.C.

“NCBA worked diligently in 2017 to secure several major policy victories that ensure U.S. cattlemen and women will be able to continue to operate their businesses successfully,” said NCBA President Craig Uden, a cattleman from Elwood, Neb. “While these victories were important, NCBA is urging more cattle producers to join the fight and engage in the issues that are critical to the future viability of our industry, such as tax reform, modernizing the Endangered Species Act and establishing strong new foreign markets free of unfair restrictions on American beef.

“Now is the time to get involved and become a member,” said Uden. “Your membership will help NCBA to continue the fight on Capitol Hill.”

Thanks to a strong partnership with its state affiliates, NCBA ended the 2017 fiscal year with 25,000 members. Through the fall membership drive, NCBA has successfully engaged with an additional 80,000 U.S. cattlemen and women.

Uden says NCBA members do more than benefit from a stronger beef industry in Washington D.C. Membership also offers great individual benefits, including discounts from RAM, New Holland Agriculture, Roper/Stetson/Tin Haul, John Deere, Cabela’s and Caterpillar. Members receive a subscription to National Cattlemen and regular updates from Washington. New members will also receive a voucher for a one liter bottle of Dectomax® pour-on from Zoetis.

For more information and to join, visit www.ncba.org.



Cattlemen’s College Pre-Registration Deadline Approaches


Cattlemen gathering at the 2018 Cattlemen’s College in Phoenix, Ariz., for the Cattlemen’s College Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 can save money by pre-registering for the event by Jan. 5. Along with an outstanding educational event, participants will have the opportunity to hear from the president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc., who will present the keynote address on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Cattlemen’s College, sponsored by Zoetis, will be held at the start of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Phoenix.

Arby’s President Rob Lynch will speak about “Going BIG with Beef,” to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cattlemen’s College. During his speech, Lynch will offer participants an inside look at Arby’s “We Have the Meats” marketing campaign, a program which he helped launch. During his tenure, he also managed the product innovation team that tests more than 1,000 potential menu items each year, giving him a first-hand understanding of the consumer landscape. That understanding is crucial for today’s cattle producers, as the industry continues its quest to remain the protein of choice for consumers around the globe.

As CEO, Lynch oversees the Arby’s brand that accounts for more than 3,300 owned and franchised restaurants worldwide. He oversees the brand’s marketing, operations, development and digital innovations functions, and he also serves as president of the Arby’s Franchise Association and chairman of the Arby’s Foundation.

“This is an exciting opportunity for cattlemen to hear directly from a marketer who very proudly sells their products to consumers,” said Josh White, NCBA executive director of producer education. “Hearing the perspective of someone who understands marketing trends, as well as the wants and pulse of consumers, will be valuable for those attending this milestone Cattlemen’s College.”

White says Lynch’s comments will kick off an exciting event that features sessions with a wide and impressive collection of the beef industry’s most talented and knowledgeable people. Cattlemen’s College provides a stimulating atmosphere for cattlemen and women to learn ways of generating higher returns for their cattle operations. The thought-provoking sessions also spark discussions that lead to innovation and advancement in what has become a rapidly changing industry.

Among the topics on the schedule for the 2018 event are genetic technologies, calf management, beef cattle production, engaging with federal agencies, antibiotics, live cattle imports/exports, ID management, breeding, bull selection and infectious diseases. Participants can choose from five different curriculum tracks during the college.

The event kicks off with the new Producer’s Choice sessions Tuesday, Jan. 30. For the first time, attendees will vote to determine which sessions will be offered for a “first look.” Participants will select from one of four sessions: Capturing Maximum Value in Beef Cattle Production; The Straight Story: Antibiotic Alternatives and the Future of Treating Diseases; or Calf Management: Clostridial Disease ID, Prevention and Treatment. The “first look” sessions will also feature a cattle handling design demonstration for attendees who are looking to improve their operation. The evening will wrap-up with the Cattlemen’s College reception, sponsored by Zoetis and Certified Angus Beef.

The following morning, participants will convene for additional education sessions, following Lynch’s presentation. The event wraps up with a plated lunch, where moderators will share highlights from each of the day’s sessions.

“Everyone who comes to Cattlemen’s College goes away with something new that will help them improve their farm or ranch,” says White. “It’s the advantage they need to stay ahead of the curve in this constantly changing industry.”

To help share the information provided during Cattlemen’s College, presentations will also be available online following the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Those registered for the event will be able to access the videos by visiting www.ncba.org.

Participants are encouraged to take advantage of early-bird registration prices. Pre-registration for the 2018 Cattlemen’s College event in Phoenix, ends Jan. 5. College students are eligible for additional registration discounts. For more information, or to register for the event, visit http://convention.beefusa.org/.



Current Tax Reform Plan Disadvantages Family Farmers and Ranchers, NFU Says


As the U.S. Senate readies to vote on a major overhaul of the nation’s tax system, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging lawmakers to vote against the current plan because it benefits the nation’s largest corporations and wealthiest citizens at the expense of family farmers, ranchers, and the middle class.

The family farm organization sent a letter to members of the Senate today, highlighting the detrimental impacts of the legislation. NFU is concerned with the massive, $1.4 trillion increase to the federal deficit, potential elimination of farm safety net funding, worsened quality and affordability of health care for rural Americans, and several provisions important to running a family farm operation.

“This tax plan is fiscally irresponsible and regressive in nature, and it has very negative implications for our nation’s farm and ranch families,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “While we support efforts to simplify the tax code, we cannot support this flawed legislation that robs family farmers, our future generations, and our nation’s lower and middle classes to pay for tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and corporate interests. That is exactly what this legislation does, and we are strongly urging the Senate to vote against it.”

Chief among NFU’s concerns is the impact of the $1.44 trillion that will be added to the federal debt if the current proposal is passed. “NFU’s grassroots-passed policy expresses deep concern over our nation’s fiscal well-being,” wrote Johnson. “Past efforts at tax reform have at least begun with the goal of being deficit neutral.  We believe it is a grave mistake to abandon such an important goal.”

If passed, this $1.44 trillion increase to the deficit would jeopardize family farmers’ and ranchers’ safety net, as it could force the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to sequester many farm program payments by 100 percent. Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed the OMB would be required by law to sequester $136 billion in fiscal year 2018 and similar funds each successive year.

“Given the limited number of non-exempt mandatory accounts that can be sequestered, non-exempt programs would need to be sequestered at 100 percent,” explained Johnson. “That sequestration would eliminate important aspects of the farm safety net, including the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. Such a scenario would be devastating to family farmers.”

Johnson also highlighted the impact that the current plan would have on our nation’s healthcare system. CBO projects that the number of people with health coverage would drop by 13 million by 2027.

“Repeal of the individual mandate is particularly troublesome for farmers and ranchers, who are older and more likely to have preexisting conditions than the average person,” said Johnson. “Those that cannot risk going uncovered will face premium costs that are 10 percent higher than current baseline projections. Repealing the mandate will make it even more difficult for the congress to stabilize healthcare costs for all Americans.”

Finally, Johnson cited a number of troublesome changes to provisions that farmers rely on in the current tax code. These include: limiting “carryback” net operating loss provisions that help farmers during tough times; repealing the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (Sec. 199), which has allowed cooperatives to pass an estimated $2 billion directly back to their owners; and changes to expensing provisions.

NFU will score the vote on its federal representative scorecard that is distributed each election cycle to members.



USDA Publishes School Meals Rule, Expands Options, Eases Challenges


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today provided local food service professionals the flexibility they need to serve wholesome, nutritious, and tasty meals in schools across the nation. The new School Meal Flexibility Rule, published today, makes targeted changes to standards for meals provided under USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and asks customers to share their thoughts on those changes with the Department.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the rule reflects USDA’s commitment, made in a May proclamation (PDF, 123 KB), to work with program operators, school nutrition professionals, industry, and other stakeholders to develop forward-thinking strategies to ensure school nutrition standards are both healthful and practical.

“Schools need flexibility in menu planning so they can serve nutritious and appealing meals,” Perdue said. “Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from students, schools, and food service professionals in local schools across America, it’s clear that many still face challenges incorporating some of the meal pattern requirements. Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can. These flexibilities give schools the local control they need to provide nutritious meals that school children find appetizing.”

This action reflects a key initiative of USDA’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, developed in response to the President’s Executive Order to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. Other USDA initiatives of this kind will be reflected in the forthcoming Fall 2017 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.

The interim final rule published today gives schools the option to serve low-fat (1 percent) flavored milk. Currently, schools are permitted to serve low-fat and non-fat unflavored milk as well as non-fat flavored milk. The rule also would provide this milk flexibility to the Special Milk Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program operators serving children ages 6 and older. States will also be allowed to grant exemptions to schools experiencing hardship in obtaining whole grain-rich products acceptable to students during School Year (SY) 2018-2019.

Schools and industry also need more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals, Perdue said. So instead of further restricting sodium levels for SY 2018-2019, schools that meet the current – “Target 1” – limit will be considered compliant with USDA’s sodium requirements. Perdue again lauded the efforts of school food professionals in serving healthful, appealing meals and underscored USDA’s commitment to helping them overcome remaining challenges they face in meeting the nutrition standards.

“We salute the efforts of America’s school food professionals,” Perdue said. “And we will continue to support them as they work to run successful school meals programs and feed our nation’s children.”

This rule will be in effect for SY 2018-2019. USDA will accept public comments on these flexibilities via www.regulations.gov to inform the development of a final rule, which will address the availability of these three flexibilities in the long term.



 Dairy Leaders Commend USDA for Expanding School Milk Options


The nation’s two leading dairy organizations applauded Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday for allowing school districts to offer low-fat (1%) flavored milk as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. An interim final rule implementing the regulatory changes needed to reinstate low-fat flavored milk in schools was announced today on the Federal Register site and goes into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.

The regulation implements changes that Secretary Purdue proposed earlier this year to streamline the process by which schools can serve low-fat flavored milk without first obtaining a special exemption. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in the school meal and a la carte programs, which resulted in a large drop in milk consumption in schools. Students consumed 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015, even though public school enrollment was growing.

"We appreciate the Secretary’s understanding that the regulatory process needed to move quickly so schools may include low-fat favored milk in their menu planning and procurement processes,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). “Today’s action will help reverse declining milk consumption by allowing schools to provide kids with access to a variety of milk options, including the flavored milks they enjoy.”

“Secretary Perdue’s willingness to provide greater flexibility to schools recognizes that a variety of milks and other healthy dairy foods is critically important to improving the nutritional contributions of child nutrition programs in schools,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “The math here is quite simple: More milk consumption equals better nutrition for America’s kids.”

Earlier this year, Congress passed the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill that included provisions to allow schools to offer low-fat flavored milk.  In addition, Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) have introduced legislation, the School Milk Nutrition Act, to expand the ability of schools to offer various milk options.  Their ongoing efforts in Congress have led to a greater awareness of the milk shortfall challenge in schools that today’s USDA action begins to address.

In a joint letter last June, IDFA and NMPF urged Secretary Perdue to quickly finalize plans for low-fat flavored milk’s return to school menus for the 2018-2019 school year.

The publication of the interim final rule will allow school districts to solicit bids for low-fat flavored milk next spring before the 2018-19 school year begins, giving milk processors time to formulate and produce a low-fat flavored milk that meets the specifications of a particular school district. The USDA action now allows schools to offer low-fat flavored milk during the next school year without requiring schools to demonstrate either a reduction in student milk consumption, or an increase in school milk waste.



2017 Census of Agriculture Now Underway


The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service starts mailing the 2017 Census of Agriculture to the nation's producers this week. Conducted once every five years, the census aims to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture. The resulting data are used by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers, and many others to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development, and more.

"The Census of Agriculture is USDA's largest data collection endeavor, providing some of the most widely used statistics in the industry," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840, the census gives every producer the opportunity to be represented so that informed decisions can support their efforts to provide the world with food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Every response matters."

The census will be mailed in several phases through December. Farm operations of all sizes which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017 are included in the census. The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation.

NASS revised the census forms in an attempt to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes include a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices, and questions about on-farm decision-making to help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise.

"Producers can respond to the census online or by mail. We highly recommend the updated online questionnaire. We heard what people wanted and we made responding to the census easier than ever," said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. "The online questionnaire now has timesaving features, such as automatic calculations, and the convenience of being accessible on mobile and desktop devices."

The census response deadline is Feb. 5. Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. NASS will release the results of the census in February 2019.





Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday November 28 Ag News

AFAN unveils new livestock development projects

The unveiling of two special livestock development projects and an address by Governor Pete Ricketts were among the highlights of the joint annual stakeholders meeting of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and We Support Agriculture (WSA).

AFAN Executive Director Kristen Hassebrook introduced a new Producer Empowerment Initiative, which will provide producers with the knowledge and tools to work through the process of starting or expanding a livestock operation.  She says one section of the training is called “Community Conversations”.

“Community Conversations is focused on getting them prepared and giving them the right resources to talk with their neighbors, solicit buy-in from community members, and really get that grassroots support going at the community level for their existing operation or their expanding operation,” Hassebrook said.

The other section of the training is called “Know Before You Build”.  “This part focuses on the things that they need to go through the zoning permit application and to talk about manure management and how they’re going to manage those nutrients on their farm,” she said.

Producer Empowerment workshops will be held in key locations across the state starting in January.
AFAN has also created new livestock improvement videos. Livestock Development Coordinator Emily Skillet said they feature many aspects of modern livestock production.

“Contract feeding, bringing the next generation to the farm, expansion and technology,” Skillet said. “But we didn’t want to stop there. Livestock and industry-related development is only successful when the communities embrace them.  So we set out to highlight the benefits of collaboration with communities.

Skillet says the new videos will be part of a strategic recruitment and grassroots support campaign, which will also feature radio and social media messages on livestock development.

In his remarks, Governor Ricketts said that his administration continues to look for opportunities to expand livestock agriculture in Nebraska.

“By making sure we continue to promote trade and promote our products around the world—and by making sure we have an environment that is livestock friendly and working collaboratively to put infrastructure in place to be able to grow animal agriculture,” Ricketts said. “If we’re going to grow Nebraska, we have to grow agriculture.”

The meeting concluded with the recognition of Kurt and Wayne Kaup, (K&W Farms) of Stuart, Nebraska, winners of the 2017 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. The award is sponsored by the Sand County Foundation.

The annual meeting of AFAN and WSA was sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.



Test Before Feeding Corn Stalk Bales

Larrry Howard, NE Extension - Cuming County


Baled corn stalks are going to provide a lot of feed this winter.   But before you feed those bales, find out what they have to offer nutritionally.   Sample and test your bales as soon as possible so when snow gets deep or other feeds run out you will already know how to best feed your corn stalk bales.

Begin by testing the bales for protein and energy.   Many might be surprised at how variable the protein and energy content can be in corn stalk bales.    Protein can be as low as 3 percent and as high as 7 percent.   Dry pregnant cows need 7 to 8 percent protein in their diet so high protein bales will need only a little protein to adequately care for the cows.   But those 3 percent bales will need quite a bit of supplement to keep cows in good condition.

Use a protein supplement that is nearly all natural and is mostly rumen degradable.   Maintenance-level forage diets need degradable protein for the rumen microbes, but remember that urea and other non-protein nitrogen sources aren’t used as well.

Many bales have pretty good TDN levels, nearly 60 percent.   Cows fed these bales should do well up until calving with just corn stalk bales and adequate protein supplement.   However, stalks rained on before baling can be below 50 percent TDN.   Cows fed these lower quality bales will need some extra energy, too.

If your bales came from stressed stalks, like from drought or hail, also get a nitrate test to be sure they are safe.  Good testing of corn stalk bales can help make them a nutritious and safe feed.



 NEBRASKA SOYBEAN DAY AND MACHINERY EXPO IS DEC. 14 IN WAHOO


The 2017 Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo will assist soybean producers in planning for growing season. The expo is 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Dec. 14 in the pavilion at the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo.

The expo opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths. Speakers start at 9 a.m. and include university researchers and specialists, Nebraska Soybean Checkoff representatives, soybean growers and private-industry representatives.

"We are bringing back Jason Norsworthy due to the popularity of his presentation last year," said Nebraska Extension Educator Keith Glewen, who coordinates the expo. "This year he is going to focus on a topic that has gained widespread attention and is on the mind of most growers – dicamba."

Norsworthy is the chair of weed science at the University of Arkansas. He will discuss issues associated with dicamba use, including likely causes for non-target damage based on field observations of weed scientists across the United States. Norsworthy will highlight research on off-target movement of the new, lower-volatility formulations of dicamba. He will also provide input on ways to minimize the likelihood for damage from off-target dicamba movement.

Also on the agenda is Michael Swanson, a Wells Fargo agricultural economist. Swanson believes growing top-yielding soybeans requires the right inputs. His talk will focus on getting crop metrics right. 

Chris Proctor, weed management educator with Nebraska Extension, is a strong proponent of measuring herbicides accurately for successful weed control in soybeans. He will discuss how accurate measurements are often overlooked in the big picture of herbicide resistance. 

Other expo topics include an update on the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and association information; visits with representatives from seed, herbicide, fertilizer and equipment companies; and viewing of new farm equipment.

A complimentary lunch will be served at noon.

Registration is available at the door the day of the expo. Registration is free, but the Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization requests donations of one or more cans of nonperishable food to the food pantry.

For more information about the program or exhibitor details, call 800-529-8030 or email kglewen1@unl.edu. Information is also available at https://enre.unl.edu/nebraskasoyexpo.

The program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Soybean Board, Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization and private industry.



Hiland Dairy Foods Company Wins High Honors at 2017 World Dairy Expo


Hiland Dairy Foods Company, a leading farmer-owned dairy producer, is pleased to announce that the company recently received awards in 17 product categories during the 2017 World Dairy Expo (WDE) Championship Dairy Product Contest. The WDE contest is the only one of its kind in North America that includes all dairy products.

The prestigious WDE all-dairy national contest allows Hiland Dairy and other winning companies the right to claim their products as "the best of the best" in North America.

"It's an honor to have so many of our products and processing facilities recognized at a national level," said Gary Aggus, president and CEO of Hiland Dairy Foods Company. "Our goal is to provide the freshest products from our local facilities. Winning so many WDE awards corroborates our goal of providing the best-tasting, quality products for our customers."

Competing against dairy industry leaders in North America, Hiland Dairy was awarded top honors in the following categories:
    First Place — White Milk, Hiland Dairy, Fayetteville, Arkansas
    First Place — Lowfat Sour Cream, Hiland Dairy, Omaha, Nebraska

    Second Place — Whole Chocolate Milk, Hiland Dairy, Springfield, Missouri
    Second Place — Drinkable Yogurt Smoothie (Pina Colada), Hiland Dairy, Chandler, Oklahoma
    Second Place — Lowfat Cottage Cheese, Hiland Dairy, Wichita, Kansas
    Second Place — Sour Cream-Based Dips–Onion (Toasted Onion), Hiland Dairy, Omaha, Nebraska

    Second Place — Sour Cream-Based Dips–Southwest (Southwest Ranch Dip), Hiland Dairy, Norman, Oklahoma
    Second Place — Open Sour Cream-Based Dips (Bacon and Cheddar Dip), Hiland Dairy, Omaha, Nebraska

    Third Place — Fat-Free Chocolate Milk, Hiland Dairy, Little Rock, Arkansas
    Third Place — Bulgarian Buttermilk, Hiland Dairy, Fort Smith, Arkansas
    Third Place — Blueberry Yogurt, Hiland Dairy, Wichita, Kansas
    Third Place — Drinkable Yogurt Smoothie (Strawberry), Hiland Dairy, Chandler, Oklahoma
    Third Place — Cottage Cheese, Hiland Dairy, Wichita, Kansas
    Third Place — Natural Sour Cream, Hiland Dairy, Omaha, Nebraska
    Third Place — Sour Cream Based Dips–Southwest (Salsa Dip), Hiland Dairy, Omaha, Nebraska
    Third Place — Open Sour Cream-Based Dips (Ranch w/Dill Dip), Hiland Dairy, Omaha, Nebraska
    Third Place — Vanilla Ice Cream, Hiland Ice Cream, Norfolk, Nebraska
    Third Place — Ice Cream with Peanut Butter, Hiland Ice Cream, Norfolk, Nebraska


This year, the WDE received a record 1,400 entries in 79 product classes, which were evaluated by 50 independent judges. The judges, experienced in product sensory evaluations, used strict criteria and guidelines for taste, texture, appearance and other product factors.



SAVE THE DATE- Feb 22-23, 2018 Women in Agriculture Conference

Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator, Holt County

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

This conference focuses on the five areas of agricultural risk management. Over 30 concurrent workshops will be hosted over the two-day event that focus on:
  - PRODUCTION RISK
  - MARKET RISK
  - FINANCIAL RISK
  - HUMAN RISK
  - LEGAL RISK

Ruth Hambleton, the founder of Annie’s Project, is a keynote speaker who will empower and educate women producers. Ruth counseled hundreds of Farm Families through the 1980’s and brings fresh hope for the current financial crunch.

Ann Finkner, Farm Credit Services of America Senior Vice President Chief Administrative Officer, will be the Capstone Speaker. Ann understands the complexity, stress, and multiple roles women in agriculture face and will share resources to help women recharge themselves. 

The Women in Agriculture Conference will be held on Thursday, February 22 to Friday, February 23, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney, NE. Early bird registration is $125, with registration after Feb 5th at $150.



Animal Agriculture Alliance names 2017 College Aggies Online winners


The Animal Agriculture Alliance announced the winners of the 2017 College Aggies Online (CAO) scholarship competition, which prepares students to become lifelong advocates for agriculture.

Since CAO launched in 2009, nearly 6,000 students have participated. This year’s program kicked off in early September with about 300 students competing in the individual division while 30 student organizations competed in the club division. The participants represented 43 states and 89 different universities.

In the individual competition, the winners were:
    First place, $2,500 scholarship: Erica Ballmer, Purdue University
    Second place, $1,000 scholarship: Allison Burenheide, Oklahoma State University
    Third place, $500 scholarship: Alex Jacks, Mississippi State University

In the club competition, the winners were:
    First place, $2,500 scholarship: Agriculture Club, Western Illinois University
    Second place, $1,000 scholarship: Agriculture Advocacy Class, Northwest Missouri State University
    Third place, $500 scholarship: Les Voyageurs, Louisiana State University

The top three individual winners along with a representative from each winning club will receive an expenses-paid trip to the Alliance’s 2018 Stakeholders Summit set for May 3-4 in Arlington, Va.

The 2017 competitors shared more than 3,000 posts about agriculture on Instagram and Twitter which earned more than 4.4 million impressions and nearly 400 posts were shared on Facebook. More than 16,000 students and faculty members attended the numerous farm tours, guest speaker presentations, booths and other events held on college campuses.

In addition to recognizing the winners, the Alliance is spotlighting the individuals and clubs who successfully finished the program with the CAO Completion Emblem, which demonstrates their commitment to advocating for agriculture.

Individuals who earned the CAO Completion Emblem were:
    Erica Ballmer, Purdue University
    Allison Burenheide, Oklahoma State University
    Alex Jacks, Mississippi State University
    Keely Egelhoff, Western Illinois University
    Madeline McGarry, Iowa State University
    Megan Nelson, North Dakota State University
    Jessica Miller, Oklahoma State University
    Markie Hageman, Fort Hays State University
    Ellen Schutt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Callie Rathjen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Lindsey O'Hara, Western Illinois University
    Ashley Huntsberger, University of Nevada, Reno
    Daiton Tietz, Iowa State University

    Madison Martin, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
    Rebekka Brown, University of Florida
    Emily Solis, University of Maryland-College Park

Clubs who earned the CAO Completion Emblem were:
    Agriculture Club, Western Illinois University
    Agriculture Advocacy Class, Northwest Missouri State University
    Les Voyageurs, Louisiana State University
    Ag Ambassadors, Eastern Oklahoma State University
    Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, Tuskegee University

“Every year we applaud the students for being the most engaged and enthusiastic group to compete, but it seems each group outdoes the last,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “We are thrilled to see so many individuals passionate about agriculture.”

The nine-week program is filled with assignments for individuals such as blog posts, infographics and photo contests while club members receive challenges ranging from hosting farm tours and school visits to guest speakers, food drives and many more. Each assignment and challenge helps the students to boost their confidence when communicating with their peers about agriculture issues.

The Alliance also awarded mini scholarships of $100 throughout the competition to individuals selected by industry mentors for doing the best on the weekly assignments. In the club competition, a mini scholarship of $250 was awarded to the groups who hosted the best events for each challenge.

For more information on College Aggies Online, visit www.animalagalliance.org/connect/#collegeaggies.



Trump Administration Appoints Karl Elmshaeuser to Serve as State Director for USDA Rural Development in Nebraska


The Trump Administration recently appointed Karl Elmshaeuser as the new State Director for USDA Rural Development in Nebraska. Elmshaeuser began his new role on Monday, November 27, 2017.

Karl Elmshaeuser has served as the Executive Director for the West Central Nebraska Development District (WCNDD) working with 18 counties and 58 incorporated communities for the past 11 years.  While he was the Executive Director at WCNDD they received two national awards for community innovation programs.  He served two terms on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, recently served on the Nebraska Regional Officials Council and the National Association of Development Organizations board of directors.  He has a Bachelors degree in Management from the University of Nebraska and served for six years in the United States Marine Corps. Karl is married to Kris Elmshaeuser.  They have been married for 33 years and have four sons and two grandsons.

As State Director, Elmshaeuser will use his leadership experience to oversee Rural Development programs in a customer-focused manner to restore prosperity in rural Nebraska.

Under the direction of Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. Secretary Perdue leads the USDA with four guiding principles: to maximize the ability of American agriculture to create jobs, sell foods and fiber, and feed and clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure; and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we live in a global economy where trade is of top importance, Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; homeownership; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.



Pig Farmers Pay It Forward Ham by Ham

Today, the National Pork Board, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Smithfield Foods, Inc. and PrairieFresh® Premium Pork joined forces to support the second annual #HamsAcrossAmerica campaign in Central Iowa. The organizations hosted a kickoff event, on Giving Tuesday, to serve clients of the Central Iowa Shelter and Services and provided a nearly 70,000-pound pork donation to the Food Bank of Iowa, courtesy of Smithfield Foods, Seaboard Foods, Triumph Foods and U.S. pig farmers.

“As pig farmers, giving back to our community always has been an integral part of who we are,” said Bill Tentinger, a pig farmer from Le Mars, Iowa, who serves on both the National Pork Board and the Iowa Pork Producers Association board of directors. “Hams Across America and this kickoff event allow me and other farmers to live the We CareSM ethical principles and share our love of the product that we produce.”

The annual #HamsAcrossAmerica campaign encourages farmers and those involved in the pork industry to show appreciation for friends, family and neighbors through the gift of ham and other pork products.

“Smithfield is proud to participate in Giving Tuesday with the National Pork Board and support the positive impact it provides for so many of our neighbors in need,” said Dennis Pittman, senior director of hunger relief for Smithfield Foods. “As a global food company with Iowa-based facilities, Hams Across America aligns with Smithfield’s commitment to resolve hunger across the country and to cater to the communities we call home.”

“On behalf of all those in our connected food system at Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods who raise and care for our pigs and produce pork for the PrairieFresh® brand, we understand the importance of supporting our communities whether that be someone next door in Iowa or a world apart,” said Terry Holton, Seaboard Foods president and CEO. “With Hams Across America, we’re honored to share our products so others might enjoy delicious, wholesome meals this holiday season.”

Pig farmers and those involved in the pork industry are encouraged to extend Giving Tuesday through Dec. 23 with Hams Across America. Individuals can participate by purchasing a gift of ham and paying it forward to loved ones and those in need. Participants are encouraged to share their pay-it-forward stories on social media using #RealPigFarming and #HamsAcrossAmerica.



NEXT ROUND OF LETTERS TO BE SENT ENCOURAGING LIVESTOCK FARMERS TO MAKE SURE ALL PREMISES INFORMATION IS UP TO DATE


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today announced that they will continue contacting farmers who have previously registered a livestock premises in an effort to update the Iowa Premises Registration database. Farmers are asked to respond to the letter and either confirm the information is correct or respond with their updated information.

In December, the Department will be sending letters to producers that had previously registered a premises in Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, Davis and Decatur counties.

In January, letters will be sent to producers in Delaware, Des Moines, Dickinson, Dubuque, Emmet, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Fremont and Greene counties.

“We a very appreciative of the positive response we have received from the farmers that have been contacted to this point and just want to encourage those that will be receiving a letter in December and January to do the same,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.  “We understand it is very busy time during the holidays, but do ask producers to make a few minutes to respond.”

All Iowa livestock farmers are encouraged to make sure that all locations where they have livestock have a premises identification number (PIN) and to make sure their information is up-to-date.  All the information in the premises ID database is completely confidential and protected under federal law and can only be used for animal health purposes.

Farmers can complete or renew their premises registration by completing the form found on the Department’s website at http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/animalIndustry/pdf/premiseIDapp2.pdf  and submitting the signed form to the Department.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about premises identification can be found on the Department’s webpage www.IowaAgriculture.gov under “Hot Topics.”  Or, if farmers have questions they can contact the Department’s Animal ID Coordinator toll free at 888-778-7675 or by email at idals_id@iowaAgriculture.gov. More information is also available on the USDA’s Animal Disease Traceability Home Site at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability/.

The Department will continue alphabetically through the remaining counties over the next several months.  Iowa currently has more than 32,500 premises registered.



USDA: Soybeans to Top Corn Acres in 2019

www.fb.org

On Nov. 28, 2017, USDA released several tables previewing the annual long-term Agricultural Projections to 2027 (the complete projections will be released in February 2018). These early-release tables provide USDA estimates on the supply and demand for agricultural commodities through 2017 and take into consideration macroeconomic conditions, GDP growth, population growth and farm policy, among other factors. USDA assumes in the projections normal weather and no significant supply or demand disruptions, i.e. a business-as-usual environment.

One of the most anticipated items from the early-release is USDA’s projections for planted area in 2018. During 2017 the total planted area for the eight principal crops and conservation reserve program was 275.8 million acres. For 2018, USDA projects planted area to increase for all crops except upland cotton and wheat, with a total acreage gain of 1.8 million acres to 277.6 million acres. Then, from 2019 to 2027, USDA projects planted area and CRP land to remain steady between 276 and 278 million acres – slightly lower than the 280-million-acre-average over the last decade.

Of the acreage change projected in 2018, barley is projected to add 519,000 acres to 3 million acres. Sorghum acres are projected to increase by 991,000 acres in 2018 to 6.7 million acres. Rice planted area is projected to increase 413,000 acres to 2.9 million acres. Oat acreage is expected to increase 312,000 acres to 2.9 million acres. CRP acres are projected to increase modestly but will remain below the Congressional cap of 24 million acres. Soybean acres and corn acres are projected to increase by 793,000 acres and 571,000 acres, respectively, to 91 million acres each. If realized, 91 million acres would be a new record-high for soybean acreage. Wheat acres are expected to decline for a fourth year in a row, down 1 million acres to 45 million acres – the lowest level since U.S. first began recording acreage data in 1919. Finally, upland cotton acres are projected to decline 1.2 million acres to 11.2 million acres in 2018.

While in aggregate USDA projects acreage to increase slightly in 2018, the biggest takeaway is that USDA projects soybean acreage to top corn acreage beginning in 2019 and continuing through 2027. 2018 soybean plantings are projected at 91 million acres, up 793,000 acres from 2017 or approximately 1 percent. Corn acres in 2018 are also projected at 91 million acres, up 571,000 acres or approximately 1 percent. By 2019 however, soybean acres are projected at 91 million acres while corn acres are projected at 90 million acres. If realized, this would be the first market-driven acreage shift that resulted in more soybean acres planted than corn, i.e. King Soybeans.

There are a number of reasons for soybean acreage to continue expanding. The primary reason being demand for soybeans, soybean oil and soybean meal from China. A recent Market Intel reviewed China’s Insatiable Demand for Soybeans. For now, the U.S. is the number one producer of soybeans, but Brazil is a close second. Combined, Brazil and Argentina produce approximately 2 billion more bushels than the U.S. Another Market Intel reviewed South American soybean production trends, Is it too Late for U.S. to be Crowned ‘Soybean King’?

Chinese demand for soybeans, from North and South America, has driven the rapid expansion in soybean planted area. U.S. producers responded to these market signals by increasing soybean production by 130 percent since 1990. Brazil and Argentina have been much more aggressive, expanding production by 579 percent and 396 percent, respectively. USDA’s most recent projections confirm U.S. producers will continue to respond to Chinese demand and as a result, soybeans are likely to be the largest field crop planted in the U.S. by 2019.

A lot of uncertainty remains before planting decisions are ultimately made. Improvement in the global economy could increase demand for grains and oilseeds, pushing stocks lower than anticipated and pushing prices higher. Higher prices could result in acreage shifting into crops with a more profitable per acre return.

The black swan events that could roil grain markets and alter planting decisions include withdrawal from existing trade agreements (30 percent of corn exports go to NAFTA countires compared to 7 percent for soybeans), a slower pace of consumption, favorable growing conditions in South America and a strong dollar. This does not include what could happen in 280 characters or less, i.e. blue swan events.

These metrics are important to monitor for evaluating planting decisions in 2018 and marketing the 2017 crop. The next opportunity to review potential acreage decisions will come in the March 2018 Prospective Plantings report.



NBB Members Head to the Hill to Urge Reinstatement of the Biodiesel Tax Incentive


Starting today, nearly 100 members of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) are in Washington, D.C., to participate in their biannual fly-in to the Nation’s Capital. NBB members plan to storm the Hill to encourage reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit, which expired in December 2016.

In meetings with their elected officials, NBB members can share firsthand their experiences of operating in such an unstable business environment where the intermittent nature of the credit stymies investments. Additionally, NBB members will discuss the results of a new survey conducted with 1000 registered voters nationwide. The survey found that 82 percent of registered voters support a federal tax incentive. The same percentage of people polled expressed support for a national Renewable Fuel Standard.

“This fly-in couldn’t come at a better time, given the many federal policy priorities affecting the biodiesel industry. With the RFS volumes expected this week, reinstating the biodiesel tax credit is the next big policy issue we need to tackle to stabilize the business environment in which our industry is forced to operate,” said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer of the National Biodiesel Board.

Since the July proposal was released, NBB has repeatedly called for growth in the volumes. Investors are unwilling to expand capacity if there’s no signal of growth in the program. The July proposal offered up a reduction in advanced biofuels (of which biodiesel fills roughly 90 percent) and a flatline of biomass-based diesel—neither being growth.

In a recent letter to the president, NBB’s governing board members reiterated the association’s ask of at least 4.75 billion gallons for advanced biofuels for 2018 and at least 2.5 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel for 2019. The governing board includes members from a diverse group of states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. But the bottom line is that any growth is better than no growth.



USDA Under Secretary McKinney Travels to Colombia and Panama


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney is traveling to Colombia and Panama this week to highlight the mutual benefits of the United States’ free trade agreements with both countries.

In addition to holding bilateral discussions with his government counterparts in Bogotá and Panama City, McKinney will meet with U.S. agricultural interests and with importers of U.S. food and farm products.



Verdesian Life Sciences and the American Society of Agronomy host December webinar on soil health management


Verdesian Life Sciences, the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America will provide a soil health management systems webinar on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Central, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Eastern.

The live webinar focusing on Soil Health Management Systems and Microbial Soil Health will provide participants:
•         An overview of soil health management practices
•         Changes to expect in the soil organic matter
•         The role of soil enzymes
•         Some of the major microbial groups involved in carbon and nitrogen dynamics
•         How cover crop selection can help manage soil nitrogen.

The educational webinar will be presented by Diane E. Scott, National Soil Health Specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Health Division. Scott has over 40 years of experience with soil health, carbon and nitrogen cycling, and soil metabolic activity.

Certified Crop Advisers (CCA) and Certified Professional Agronomists (CPAg) will receive half a continuing education unit (CEU) for Nutrient Management and half a CEU for Soil and Water Management. Sponsored by Verdesian Life Sciences, the webinar is free to all those who register online.

The ASA is dedicated to providing the best continuing education results in a robust portfolio of online learning opportunities, specifically designed for the agricultural professional with the goal to provide the latest and greatest in the field of agronomy. Verdesian Life Sciences is committed to developing nutrient use efficiency (NUE) technologies that, when implemented, enable sustainable agricultural farming practices.

Registration is through the ASA’s Online Learning Platform. Participants will also receive a recording of the on-demand webinar. For details or to register visit agronomy.org/education/classroom/classes/533.



Corn Research Exposes Mechanism Behind Traits Becoming Silent


For more than a century, plant geneticists have been studying maize as a model system to understand the rules governing the inheritance of traits, and a team of researchers recently unveiled a previously unknown mechanism that triggers gene silencing in corn.

Gene silencing turns off genetic traits, an important consideration for plant breeders who depend on the faithful inheritance of traits from one generation to the next.

Historically, the maize p1 gene has been used as a model by maize geneticists. Previous researchers did not know that two types of overlapping DNA methylation marks could modify, silence or activate this gene. The discovery adds to geneticists' knowledge of different mechanisms of non-Mendelian inheritance, according to lead researcher Surinder Chopra, professor of maize genetics, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State.

In findings reported in PLOS One, Chopra's team showed that silencing the corn pericarp color 1 gene -- regulator of the kernels' outer layer color and the cob color -- can have two "overlapping" epigenetic components -- RNA dependent DNA methylation (RdDM) and non-RNA dependent DNA methylation (non-RdDM).

"DNA methylation, which is the addition of methyl groups to the DNA molecule, can change the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence," he said. "DNA methylation typically acts to repress gene transcription, which is the first step of gene expression."

In plant cells, when and at what level a gene is expressed is under tight control between transcription activation and suppression, Chopra explained. Small RNAs -- molecules essential in regulation and expression of genes -- can mediate methylation of DNA strands and shut down transcription activity, therefore playing a role in silencing inherited genes or transgenes introduced to produce desirable crop traits.

In corn, the pericarp color 1 gene regulates the accumulation of brick-red flavonoid pigments called phlobahpenes. The pattern of pigmentation on the corn kernel pericarp and "glumes" -- membrane covering the cob -- depends upon the expression of the pericarp color 1 gene. Some examples of these patterns are: white kernels, red cob; red kernels, red cob; variegated kernels, variegated cob; red kernels, white cob; and white kernels, white cob.

"Our study on maize pericarp color 1 gene has demonstrated the involvement of both small RNA-dependent and small RNA-independent mechanisms for gene suppression," Chopra said. "This study reveals the additional layer of gene regulation by small RNAs, and improves our understanding of how gene expression is regulated specifically in one tissue but not in the other."

Typically, when plant breeders are creating new types of cultivars, several traits they are breeding for may disappear or their expression gets reduced in the progeny, he said. "And that, we now know, is because of gene silencing."

A better understanding of how gene-silencing mechanisms cause the disappearance of desired traits has long been needed, Chopra believes. It can be disastrous for a farmer to buy seeds that do not behave in the grow-out the way they were promised by the producer.

If one or more genes that are controlling a trait become silent due to overlapping DNA methylation, then that trait basically disappears from the population.

"That is a big setback for anyone trying to breed for traits such as high yield, which is regulated by several genes," said Chopra. "If one or two of those genes that are essential for high yield become silent, then a reduction in the overall yield may result."

Also involved in the research were two doctoral students advised by Chopra in Penn State's Department of Plant Sciences: Po-Hao Wang, who is currently working as a scientist with Dow Agro Sciences, and Kameron Wittmeyer; Blake Meyers, with Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Mo.; and Tzuu-fen Lee, a post-doctoral fellow from Meyers' lab in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Delaware Biotechnology Institute, University of Delaware, who is currently employed by Pioneer Hi Bred International Inc.

The National Science Foundation supported the research.