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 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 Questions can also be submitted in advance to

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: 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

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.....

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.”


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

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

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.

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