Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday November 10 Ag News

2017 Census of Agriculture

Nebraska's farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census, recently mailed to farmers and ranchers, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches and those who operate them.

Completed surveys are due Feb. 5, 2018.

"The Census of Agriculture remains the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation," said NASS Northern Plains Regional Director Dean Groskurth. "As such, census results are relied upon heavily by those who serve farmers and rural communities, including federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations, extension educators, researchers, and farmers and ranchers themselves."

The Census of Agriculture highlights land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures, and other topics. NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year (2017).

For more information about the 2017 Census, visit

Beginning farmers and ranchers benefit from act introduced this week in Congress

On Wednesday, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act was introduced in Congress by Reps. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

The bill is to ensure the 2018 farm bill focuses on the future of American agriculture by driving investment toward programs and policies that create opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

The Center for Rural Affairs understands the challenges beginning farmers and ranchers face, and has endorsed the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act.

According to Anna Johnson, Center policy program associate, the average age of today’s farmer is 58 years old. Over the course of the next five years (the duration of the next farm bill), nearly 100 million acres of farmland are predicted to change hands.

“While some retiring farmers and ranchers will pass their land and operations to their children or other relatives, many are heading toward retirement without a succession plan in place,” Johnson said. “And, beginning farmers taking over lack guidance. We need to support policies that ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to be successful.”

The bill expands beginning farmer and rancher access to affordable land; empowers producers with the skills needed to succeed in today's agricultural economy; ensures equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance; and encourages commitment to conservation and land stewardship.

“We stand with the congressional sponsors of this legislation in supporting beginning farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill.”

Lindsay Corp. to Senate Committee: Better Rural Broadband Needed

Tim Hassinger, president and CEO of Nebraska-based Lindsay Corporation, Omaha, offered testimony during a hearing conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The hearing, titled Advancing the Internet of Things in Rural America, focused on the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) in rural communities and the infrastructure needs necessary to advance the IoT market to ensure rural America has access to products and devices that are driving the digital economy.

"Like all business owners, farmers in rural communities need the ability to go online," Hassinger said. "The Internet fuels the innovative, advanced technology that will help America's farmers meet the food, fuel and fiber needs of our rapidly growing global population."

Hassinger's testimony contends that with reliable, high-speed Internet access, farmers can take advantage of tools that deliver hyper-local weather forecasts, real time data on soil moisture conditions and GPS for planting and irrigation management. They can also take advantage of a myriad of emerging technologies available from Lindsay Corporation and other American manufacturers. The testimony further explains that these innovations enable efficiencies through remote data collection, transfer and analysis from connected devices like soil moisture sensors, weather stations and cloud-based tools.

"At Lindsay Corporation, we are developing and deploying technologies to help growers produce more with less. For example, our FieldNET and FieldNET Advisor remote irrigation management and decision support tools help farmers decide precisely when, where and how much to irrigate -- to help them maximize yields while reducing overwatering and related input costs and nutrient losses," Hassinger said. "But we know the technology is only as good as the farmer's ability to access it."

According to the Federal Communications Commission Broadband Access Report, an estimated 39 percent of the rural population (23.4 million Americans) lack access to broadband that meets today's benchmark speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. By contrast, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband.

"While cities and municipalities typically have access to several high-speed Internet service providers, that access often ends at the city limits. Those living in rural communities must depend on radio networks, satellite or cell service -- all of which typically operate at lower speeds, limiting connectivity," Hassinger said. "All farmers are faced with the pressure to increase yields while conserving resources. The lack of reliable broadband hinders their ability to adopt the new technologies that will help them optimize their operations and compete in the global marketplace."

Hassinger's full testimony can viewed at

KC Fed: Farm Economy Seeks Footing

The farm economy in the seven states of the Tenth Federal Reserve District continued to show signs of stabilizing in the third quarter of 2017, even as financial stress continued to build and income continued to decline, according to the Kansas City Fed's quarterly Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions.

Farm income was down from a year ago, but the decrease was smaller than in recent years. Banker expectations of future declines in farm income moderated throughout the District in the third quarter.

Farmland values also continued to weaken, but only marginally. The value of nonirrigated and irrigated cropland declined 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively, from the previous year. Although the magnitudes of recent declines have yet to approach the magnitudes of the 1980s, the duration of the recent downturn in cropland values has approached that of the 1980s.

Agricultural credit conditions tightened alongside lower farm income and farmland values. Farm loan repayment rates declined for the 16th consecutive quarter, indicative of the prolonged downturn in the District's farm economy. Although lenders continued to report increasing financial strain among their agricultural borrowers, bankers indicated that a sharp increase in the sale of farm assets was unlikely.

Superintendent Named at Iowa State University Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm

A superintendent has been appointed for the Iowa State University Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm near Sutherland.

Terry Tuttle joined the farm in 2015 as an agricultural specialist, and had been interim superintendent since March before being named superintendent in September. He will continue to manage the farm and is the primary contact for research projects and the farm.

Tuttle is a Cherokee resident. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and physical education in 1978 from Westmar College and worked for Pioneer Hi-Bred Inc. as a production leader supervisor and packaging foreman before joining the research farm.

Research at the farm includes corn and soybean production, water quality and other agricultural topics. The research results are reported annually and are available online at:

The farm is owned by the Northwest Iowa Experimental Association, which purchased the original tracts in 1954. The association leases the research farm to the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station to operate.

IFBF's 'Take Root' farm transition workshops help bring the next generation to the family farm

Sustainability and transitioning the family farm from one generation to the next is an important goal for farm families, especially as families look to bring the next generation into their operation. Iowa Farm Bureau’s Take Root program provides a valued service to farm families and helps connect them with the necessary resources to start the process and put a plan in place.      

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than 5,000 members have participated in Take Root workshops held throughout the state as they began to navigate the farm succession planning process. 

“Take Root is more than just estate and transition planning,” said Amanda Van Steenwyk, farm business development manager at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).  “Take Root provides customized strategies and resources that will improve family communication, assist in navigating through the emotional obstacles, and identify the business and estate planning tools that correspond with transferring the family business to the next generation.”

The program consists of two three-hour workshops, where attendees will receive information and resources useful in developing a managed, comprehensive approach to family farm succession.

Three new Take Root sessions are scheduled for late 2017 and early 2018.
 -  Nov. 27 and Dec. 11 in Scott County at the Eldridge Community Center, 400 16th Ave. in Eldridge.
 -  Nov. 30 and Dec. 14 in Clayton Co. at the Farmersburg Comm. Cntr, 109 S. Main St. in Farmersburg.
 -  Dec. 18 and Jan. 11 in Cass County at the Cass County Community Center, 805 W. 10th St. in Atlantic. 

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of attorneys, accountants, and other professionals serving key roles in the farm succession process, something Van Steenwyk says has been very valuable for families attending the workshops.     

During the initial workshop, families will learn how to start the conversation about farm transition planning.  “We know it’s an emotional process,” Van Steenwyk says.  “The farm wasn’t created in a day, so we know there are emotional ties that we will work through as well.”

During the second workshop, families will interact with a panel of farm business experts who will provide insight on estate, tax and financial planning, leases and tenant qualities, and beginning farmer opportunities.

“The workshops are designed to answer any questions families have regarding farm business transitions and helping to provide a framework on how to carry on the family’s farming legacy,” Van Steenwyk says.

Participation in the Take Root workshops are a member benefit for Iowa Farm Bureau members.  Non-members are welcome to attend for $55 per family.

For details on how to register for the Take Root workshops, go to

USDA to Measure Final '17 Crop Production, Stocks

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is encouraging producers to respond to two upcoming surveys -- the December Agricultural Survey and the County Agricultural Production Survey -- that are critical to row crop producers around the country. The results of the surveys help determine the structure of the 2017 farm payment and risk management programs administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency.

"We need producers to respond to NASS surveys and respond accurately," says NASS Agricultural Statistics Board Chair Joseph L. Parsons. "Farm programs that are important to row crop producers rely on farmer-reported NASS data. When enough producers do not respond to the surveys, NASS is not able to publish data. Without these data, the Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency may not have all of the information that is needed to base the programs that ultimately serve the row crop producers. Producers can lose out when there is no data to determine accurate rates for loans, disaster payments, crop insurance price elections, and more."

The County Agricultural Production Survey will go to 170,000 row crop producers beginning November 3. Responses are due by January 15, 2018, and NASS will publish county-level results for corn, soybeans, sunflowers, and sorghum on February 22, 2018, in the Quick Stats database. These county-level data are critical for USDA farm payment determinations.

The December Agricultural Survey will go to 84,000 producers beginning November 29. Responses are due by December 21, 2017, and NASS publishes results in the Crop Production 2017 Summary report on January 12, 2018. Information collected in this survey also feeds into the county estimates for row crops. The survey also asks about grain stocks stored on-farm.

When producers receive the surveys, they have the option to respond using the secure online questionnaire or return it by mail. NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified.


Widespread media speculation circulated this week about the possible revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Following reports that a revival of the agreement without the United States was imminent, more recent coverage suggests that the agreement has again stalled based on concerns from Canada.

In the meantime, following remarks by President Trump during his visit this week, Japan balked at the terms of a possible bilateral trade agreement with the United States. Its trade minister said that his country would not enter into an FTA discussion simply to lower the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Japan continues to direct its focus on TPP-11 and an agreement in principle formed with the European Union that could take effect in 2018 or 2019. 


President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae announced this week that the process for amending the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) will be “expedited.” The announcement comes nearly one month after the initial notice that the two countries would work to amend KORUS, easing industry concerns over termination of the trade deal.

KORUS has turned into a very important agreement for pork producers.  Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimates that if KORUS were terminated, live hog prices would fall by 3.8 percent, or $4.71 per animal, and the United States would lose the South Korean pork market to the European Union, Chile and other countries with preferential trade access. 


U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs Ted McKinney last week led an agribusiness trade mission to India in an effort to increase U.S. agricultural export levels there. During his visit, McKinney urged New Delhi to allow U.S. pork imports into the country.

The National Pork Producers Council has been working for many years to get U.S. pork into India by eliminating that country’s non-scientific trade barriers. India benefits from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a U.S. preferential trade program providing duty-free access to countries shipping goods to the United States.

McKinney made some headway. “There is a great deal of interest in providing pork as long as it's allowed. Talks are going on in that regard. The progress report is good,” he said at the conclusion of his trip. India could begin allowing U.S. pork into the country as early as next year.

Discovery Channel Documentary Spotlights Biodiesel

They’ve been following us around for almost two years. Now, finally, the story of biodiesel will be shared with a large, national audience as Discovery’s HOT GREASE makes its on-air debut Thursday, November 16th.

“I don’t know if the film crew fully appreciated the scope of what they were stepping into when biodiesel first piqued their interest,” said Jessica Robinson, Director of Communications at the National Biodiesel Board. “Not surprisingly, biodiesel’s story - the amazing entrepreneurs and dedicated workers who make that story so powerful - pulled them in. HOT GREASE will share a glimpse into that story with Discovery viewers, showcasing what the industry is about and what we’re up against.”

In its broadcast release, Discovery previewed the story of HOT GREASE as: “Set in Houston, Texas in the shadow of the nation's oil industry, HOT GREASE tells the surprising story of how the biodiesel industry is turning an ostensibly worthless raw material—spent kitchen grease—into a renewable energy source capable of fueling cars, buses and fleets of trucks throughout the country. But, powerful forces are working to stop that from happening. Featuring innovators, entrepreneurs, grease collectors and supporters like Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), HOT GREASE follows the battle for biodiesel’s future and its very survival.”

Footage from National Biodiesel Board member meetings and events appears in the film, as well as interviews with several familiar faces in biodiesel, including Robinson; former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Gene Gebolys, founder and CEO of World Energy.

The Discovery Impact documentary HOT GREASE debuts Thursday, November 16 at 9pm ET/PT on Discovery, following its premiere at the prestigious DOC NYC festival. The film will be available on Discovery Go and Discovery On Demand on November 17.

“Biodiesel is a solution to many of our country’s biggest issues—job losses, air pollution and energy insecurity,” said Sen. Dorgan. “This fuel embodies the ingenuity and entrepreneurship that this nation is all about, so I’m glad that there is now a new way to elevate biodiesel awareness with the American people.”  

“Biodiesel is a driving economic force for many rural communities and supports more than 64,000 good-paying, clean energy jobs across the country. This is an outstanding opportunity for Discovery viewers to get a glimpse into that industry and what it represents. For us, this is an exceptional platform to bring biodiesel to the general consumer audience in a whole new way,” said Robinson.

HOT GREASE is directed and produced by Sam Wainwright Douglas, Paul Lovelace and Jessica Wolfson. The crew is set to make an appearance on the Main Stage and the Biodiesel Conference & Expo in January.


Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national dairy cooperative owned by family farmers, recently celebrated the opening of DFA Garden City, a new, state-of-the-art dairy ingredients plant located in Southwest Kansas.

DFA Garden City is a partnership between DFA and 12 of its member farms in Southwest Kansas and will help support the industry’s continued growth in the region, as well as meet rising demand for U.S. dairy both domestically and globally.

“As a Cooperative owned by family farmers, we are always looking for opportunities to help grow the dairy industry and provide value to our dairy farmer-owners,” says Rick Smith, president and chief executive officer at DFA. “This investment not only fills an important need for the region by providing a local home for DFA members’ milk, which was previously being transported to other areas of the country, but it also supports and enhances our global ingredients strategy, which benefits all our farmer members.”

“Dairy is a growing and thriving industry for the state of Kansas,” says Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). “With this new plant, Kansas will play an even bigger role in helping to feed the world.”

Construction started on the Garden City facility in October 2015, and the first load of milk was delivered in late September 2017. The plant, which has brought 66 new jobs to the area, produces whole and skim milk powder, nonfat dry milk powder and cream, and receives approximately 4 million pounds of milk a day from regional farms.

“As a farmer invested in this plant, it’s exciting because we’re connecting our family farms to family tables in a truly sustainable and traceable way,” says Kansas dairy farmer Dan Senestraro, who also serves on the Board of Directors for DFA. “This plant allows us to trace the product from the time it leaves the farm as raw milk to the time it arrives at the store, which is important to many consumers today.”

Beyond the traceable aspects of the product, DFA Garden City also focuses on sustainability, including operating as a water-neutral facility. With this process, all the water utilized at the plant is recycled and ultimately used to water landscaping and parks throughout the city.

During the open house ceremony and ribbon cutting, representatives from DFA were joined by Gov. Sam Brownback and Garden City Mayor Melvin Dale to mark the official opening of the state-of-the-art dairy ingredients facility. Rick Smith and DFA Chairman of the Board Randy Mooney thanked those individuals who have been instrumental in the plant’s development, including the 12 DFA farm family owners and members who invested in the facility.

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