Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tuesday November 14 Ag News

Using Sodium Bicarbonate to Manage Cows Grazing Downed Corn
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of producers continuing to deal with excess corn in fields that will be grazed by cattle.  There have been questions if feeding sodium bicarbonate either free choice or added in the water can be done and then turn cows out to graze.  Mary Drewnoski, UNL Beef Systems Specialist has just shared the following that is useful.

Most of the work with sodium bicarbonate is adding it to the diet and evaluating how it works to prevent acidosis in grain adapted animals. These animals have a population of bacteria built up that can use lactic acid, which is produced by other bacteria in the rumen when digesting corn. Thus, the sodium bicarbonate will be neutralizing mostly other acids (such as propionate and acetate) that are not as strongly acidic as lactic acid. The improvement (increase) in ruminal pH, even in these situations is inconsistent. Feeding sodium bicarbonate does sometimes increase ruminal pH and other times, it has not. The amounts tested vary. Sometimes it appears to have an effect at 1 to 1.5% of the diet, but then has not worked at that level or even higher levels, like 5% of the diet. From these experiences, using sodium bicarbonate to control even subacute acidosis is unreliable at best.

Additionally, the issue with grazing cows on downed corn is that we are essentially feeding corn to un-adapted animals. In this case, the goal is to have the sodium bicarbonate neutralize a great deal of a very strong acid (lactic acid) that is being produced. Thus, providing even high amounts of sodium bicarbonate (or other buffers) and expecting it to maintain increased ruminal pH is unrealistic.

Lastly, in the situations where we feed sodium bicarbonate, either free choice or in the water, the intake will be inconsistent and not related to the amount of corn consumed. Also, when providing it in the water some animals will be deterred from drinking.

Therefore, Drewnoski would not recommend depending on sodium bicarbonate in the water or providing free choice to prevent acidosis (grain overload) when cattle are grazing downed corn. Instead, the best management practice is to adapt the rumen bacteria to corn to increase the number of lactic acid using bacteria. See an article on the Beef Website titled “Down Corn: Problem or Opportunity for Cattle Producers?” ( ) for information on how to adapt cattle.  This article has a good table as a quick guide for allocating corn residue with excessive ear drop to cows as well as a spreadsheet that can be downloaded to help calculate the acres to allocate based on the number of animals and amount of corn.  Both resources are useful in this situation.

Cattle that become acidotic for even a short time can have reduced performance long term due to damage to the rumen wall. Therefore, taking the time to avoid acidosis is very important.

Beef Checkoff Relaunches Iconic Brand

America’s beef farmers and ranchers are leveraging the strong equity of Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. to reintroduce the brand to a new generation of consumers. Capitalizing on one of the nation’s most iconic taglines, the marketing effort will not only showcase the pleasure that beef brings to meals, but also the people who raise it.

“Consumers love the taste of beef, but they also want to know how their beef is raised,” said Ann Marie Bosshamer, executive director of the Nebraska Beef Council. “They want to know there is a face behind the product that they can trust. This new campaign will provide updated resources that will put all of that information at the consumer’s fingertips.”

The brand relaunch includes a new digital platform at providing an interactive experience on all things beef, from cuts and cookery, to a robust collection of beef recipes and an inside look at the lives of the people who raise beef. “We’re setting out to answer the biggest questions that consumers have about beef and to show the hard work and innovation that goes into modern beef production,” said Bosshamer.

A new series of videos and content will feature only real farmers and ranchers from across the country allowing consumers to learn about each step of the beef production process, from the farms and ranches, to feedlots, processing and retail. The video series will also feature new technology used by farmers and ranchers to raise beef.

Nick Hanson of Hanson Farms near Elsie, NE has incorporated a drone into his family’s operation and thinks consumers will appreciate the industry’s use of cutting edge innovations.

“We use our drone to check windmills on the ranch which saves us time and reduces the amount of driving across the pastures,” said Hanson. “We can be more efficient, reduce our carbon footprint and preserve the grasslands. Sharing how we use technology with consumers will go a long way in earning their trust.”

While drones are still relatively new in agriculture, Hanson sees even more potential for that technology on their farm. “I think in the very near future, we’ll even be able to use thermal imaging with our drone to help us indicate sick cattle. The possibilities are endless.”

The Beef Checkoff’s new campaign messages will be distributed digitally through online assets like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A complete collection of the campaign content can be found at  


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension

     Native, warm-season grass pastures often get overtaken by cool-season grasses like cheatgrass, downy brome, and smooth bromegrass. What can you do to minimize this problem?

     When cheatgrass, bromes, and other cool-season plants invade warm-season grass pastures and rangeland, they shift good grazing away from summer.

     Cool-season grasses take over summer pastures relatively easily because they develop rapidly during fall and spring when native grass provides little competition.  Then they use moisture and nutrients during spring before warm-season plants have a chance to use them.

     Heavy grazing now this fall after warm-season plants have gone dormant after a hard freeze as well as grazing very early next spring will weaken and reduce competition from these cool-season grasses.  This limits further invasion and slowly improves summer production.  A prescribed spring burn also can do wonders for a warm-season pasture if you have enough fuel to carry a fire and can conduct the burn safely and legally.

     An even faster approach is to apply glyphosate herbicides like Roundup after a couple hard freezes in late fall.  Hard freezes turn warm-season plants dormant but the weedy cool-season grasses remain green.  Apply glyphosate when temperatures during the day are above 60 degrees and nighttime temperatures stay above 40 degrees for best results.  This will kill or weaken the green and susceptible cool-season weedy grasses but not affect dormant warm-season plants.  By reducing competition, warm-season plants will grow more vigorously next year and provide better summer pasture.

     Don’t settle for invaded native pasture.  Transform them back to vigorous warm-season grasses for better summer grazing.

Iowa Corn Growers Thank Governor Reynolds for Extending the Harvest Weight Proclamation

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) thanks Governor Reynolds for extending the proclamation until December 1, 2017 granting a temporary weight limit exemption for trucks on Iowa roads. The 2017 Harvest Weight Proclamation specifically increases the weight allowable for shipment of corn, soybeans, hay, straw and stover, by 12.5 percent per axle (up to a maximum of 90,000 pounds) without the need for an oversize/overweight permit only during the duration of the proclamation.

“We extend our gratitude to the Governor for understanding the need to move quickly to finish harvest and this extension will help those who are still bringing in another large corn crop,” said Mark Recker, a farmer from Arlington. “We understand that the harvest weight proclamation is not a right by law, but a petition to the Governor.”

Today’s U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistical Service Crop Progress and Condition Report shows Iowa farmers have now begun to catch up from weather delays they experienced at the start of harvest. Currently, harvest progress stands just one week behind the five-year average with 85 percent of corn and 97 percent of beans harvested.

The 2017 proclamation again applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa, excluding the federal interstate system. Trucks cannot exceed the truck’s regular maximum by more than 12.5 percent per axle and must obey the posted limits on all roads and bridges.

ICGA made the original 60-day proclamation request to Governor Reynolds in August and worked with the Governor’s office to ensure the Proclamation moved forward to benefit Iowa’s farmers. Last week, ICGA submitted an additional request for the extension due to the delayed harvest progress across the state.The proclamation directs the Iowa Department of Transportation to monitor the operation of the proclamation, assure the public’s safety by facilitating the movement of the trucks involved. Farmers who are transporting grain are also required to follow their vehicle safety standards on axle weights.

Agreement to Help Veterinarians Strengthen Avian Flu Response

An Iowa State University center has received a $1 million federal cooperative agreement to enhance preparedness for future outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, such as the 2015 crisis that forced U.S. egg and poultry producers to eliminate millions of birds.

The cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Center for Food Security and Public Health at the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine will allow researchers to analyze the 2015 outbreak and formulate new policies based on lessons learned, said James Roth, Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine.

Roth, director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health, said the center will revise training materials for egg and poultry producers regarding how to take samples and monitor potential outbreaks among their flocks. The center also will update and maintain USDA's disease response plan documents, including procedural and reference guides, in consultation with USDA, state and industry officials.

"An effective response to highly pathogenic avian influenza is essential to Iowa agriculture and the Iowa economy in general," Roth said. "It's imperative that plans and procedures, based on what we learned from the 2015 outbreak, are in place prior to the next outbreak."

Iowa is the No. 1 producer of eggs in the United States and also produces a significant number of turkeys. The 2015 avian influenza outbreak sent shockwaves through the egg and poultry industries, particularly in Iowa and Minnesota. A total of 77 sites in Iowa, most of which were commercial turkey and egg production flocks, tested positive for the virus between April and June of 2015, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Approximately 31.5 million birds were affected in Iowa, while the national number of birds affected reached 48 million.

Roth said the biosecurity procedures in place at the time fell short of what was necessary to contain the spread of the virus. He said the new materials under development by the Center for Food Security and Public Health will emphasize biosecurity. He also said the new guidelines will account for the potential for avian influenza strains to be zoonotic, or transferable from animals to humans. The 2015 strain was not zoonotic, but Roth said there's no guarantee future outbreaks will follow suit.

The Center for Food Security and Public Health has worked on highly pathogenic animal disease preparedness since 2008, Roth said. The center is formulating response plans for potential outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, a highly contagious viral disease affecting swine and cattle that hasn't appeared in the United States since 1929.

U.S. Pig Farmers Continue Focus on Antibiotic Stewardship

America’s 60,000 pig farmers continue to make progress in their quest for superior antibiotic stewardship to help protect people, pigs and the planet. On their behalf, the National Pork Board is pleased again to celebrate U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and World Antibiotic Awareness Week with organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“This week of antibiotic awareness is a good time for those of us in the pork industry to reflect on our long history of accomplishments with antibiotics, such as using these medications responsibly and embracing the updated Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) certification program,” said National Pork Board President Terry O’Neel, a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “As pig farmers, we are aware of issues such as antibiotic resistance, and we are dedicated to working hard to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, both on the farm and in human medicine.”

This year, the CDC changed the name of its educational outreach to Be Antibiotics Aware. The national effort focuses on how everyone can help fight antibiotic resistance and improve antibiotic prescribing and use. The agency says while antibiotics save lives, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. The CDC estimates at least 80 million antibiotic prescriptions each year are unnecessary for human patients, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing and use a national priority.

“Antibiotic resistance is a public health issue with numerous contributors across human, animal and environmental health,” said Heather Fowler, D.V.M., director of producer and public health with the National Pork Board. “Because of this, pig farmers understand the key role they and their herd veterinarians play as part of the overall One Health, multi-disciplinary approach to antibiotic stewardship.”

Fowler believes ongoing collaboration with academia, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations is the best way to move forward in solving the complex global issue of antibiotic resistance. As examples, she points to yet another revision to long-time programs such as PQA Plus to focus even more on antibiotic stewardship. She also noted the Pork Board approving a Checkoff investment of more than $6 million for antibiotic-related studies since 2000, which includes novel work on antibiotic usage standards and metrics.

At the national level, the Pork Checkoff has been very active in its ongoing mission of education and outreach to all audiences about how America’s pig farmers are progressing on antibiotic stewardship. During 2017, the National Pork Board hosted a live webcast that brought together experts in farming, veterinarian medicine and the retail and foodservice industries. This event drew more than 60,000 online viewers, with 400 pork producers in the studio audience. A replay of the broadcast can be viewed online at The Checkoff also participated in a panel discussion at the annual Global Ag Investing conference in New York City to address the shared responsibility of antibiotic use in both animal and human health. Closer to home, the National Pork Board hosted an Iowa farm tour with 20 National Press Foundation journalist fellows.

From a producer perspective, O’Neel said 2017 has been another milestone in antibiotic stewardship, with farmers taking even more proactive steps in pig management and biosecurity. He pointed out that these efforts have helped increase the health of pigs and reduce the need for antibiotics.

“Last January, the implementation of Guidance 209 and 213 that expanded the Veterinary Feed Directive and eliminated the growth-promotion use of medically important antibiotics took effect,” O’Neel said. “While some of our detractors may have been expecting chaos on our farms, we proved them wrong. America’s pig farmers simply did what we always have done. We stepped up and demonstrated our competency to practice good antibiotic stewardship and our ongoing dedication to doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet.”

 U.S. Soy Industry Positive About Chinese Processing Sector

The United States soybean industry is very optimistic about the future relationship with the Chinese soybean processing and utilization industries. This was stated by a business official in an interview with Xinhua.

"We expect China's economy to grow, consumers' income to increase and urbanisation to expand," said Paul Burke, North Asia regional director of the United States Soybean Export Council.

Jim Miller, chairman, USSEC, was a member of the delegation accompanying President Donald Trump on his visit to China.

Burke disclosed that the Council has just inked a letter of intent about a deal to purchase soybean with its Chinese counterpart during the visit in Beijing.

"Through participation in this trade mission, USSEC will highlight to both the Chinese and American governments the importance of bilateral trade in soybean," he said.

Burke pointed out that U.S. soybean exports to China generated $14.5 billion in revenue for the country's soybean producers. China also needs soybeans to meet its growing consumer demand for meat and vegetable oil.

Soybean is a staple product China imports from the United States. In the past 35 years, U.S. soybean farmers invested over $150 million in projects that transferred technology and management expertise to modernize China's soy processing, feed manufacturing and livestock, poultry and aquaculture production.

BQA Launches New Transportation Training and Certification Program

BQA transportationThe checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program has launched a new training and certification program for cattle transportation. The program, known as Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT), provides cattle producers and haulers with comprehensive training based on their roles in the cattle industry. Online training will be made available beginning immediately, and in-person training opportunities will begin soon.

“The BQA Transportation training and certification program has been a long time coming,” said Chase DeCoite, director of Beef Quality Assurance for NCBA, a contractor to the beef checkoff. “By educating cattle haulers and producers on the best practices in cattle transportation, BQA is helping make improvements in cattle care and beef quality. Participating in BQA Transportation will be an indicator that the beef and dairy industries are committed to responsible animal care during transportation and makes both the BQA and dairy FARM animal care programs more complete.”

The BQA program was first funded by the beef checkoff in the early 1990s and developed its first guidance on transportation in 2006. Today, the program offers training and certification programs for all sectors of the industry: cow-calf, stocker and feedyard. This is the first time a nationally recognized certification has been offered for the transportation segment of the industry.

Online training for BQAT will be offered in two different modules: Farmer/Rancher and Professional. Farmer/Rancher modules will focus on the use of stock trailers and smaller loads of cattle that beef and dairy cattle producers might typically haul themselves. The Professional modules focus on the use of tractor-trailers and larger loads that are typically hauled further distances.

“Today the BQA program is taking another step in being the leader when it comes to educating producers and the cattle industry on the right things to do,” said Dan Kniffen, chair of the BQA Advisory Board, Assistant Professor of Animal Science at Pennsylvania State University and a cow-calf producer. “We have known for a long time that transportation plays a critical role in our industry. Now we are fully able to train and show our commitment to beef quality and cattle care from pasture to plate.”

Soybean Producers Respond to Withdrawal of Biotech Rule

 In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's withdrawal of its proposed rule to overhaul federal regulation on biotechnology and plant breeding innovations like gene editing, American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore issued the following statement:

"USDA's withdrawal of the proposed rule is both a positive and a negative for soybean farmers. On the plus side, there were a considerable number of aspects about the rule that would have stifled innovation and created additional regulatory uncertainty and ambiguity. So we're happy that USDA recognized the flaws in portions of the proposed rule and has taken it back to square one so that those may be remedied.

"We appreciate that the proposed rule addressed gene editing techniques and we hope that, however USDA opts to move forward with rulemaking, they will maintain a positive focus on these new technologies. Specifically, we hope that USDA will continue to recognize that new plant breeding innovations are distinct from and do not fall under the same USDA regulatory review process as transgenic biotechnology.

"More generally, there is a benefit to creating smarter and more practical regulatory frameworks with all stakeholders at the table. It is important to foster trust in agricultural technologies on the part of customers abroad and consumers at home. In this regard, we do not want the withdrawal of the rule to lengthen the existing lag between efforts to craft smarter regulations for new technologies and the need to convince consumers of their benefits, both at home and abroad.

"We hope that USDA will move forward to work with stakeholders to develop new science-based regulations that promote agricultural innovation and to foster confidence in new agricultural technologies on the part of all concerned."

Farmers, Ranchers Ask USDA to Scrap Organic Livestock and Poultry Rule

As USDA reviews the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule, farmers and ranchers are urging the department to completely withdraw the regulation, which goes well beyond the original intent of the Organic Production Act by allowing for animal welfare standards and metrics to become part of the organic label, the American Farm Bureau Federation says.

The rule was to be finalized on Nov. 14, but Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced a 180-day extension, making May 14, 2018, the new implementation date.

“The health and well-being of livestock is a top priority for all farmers and ranchers. We work with a host of specialists, from animal scientists to nutritionists, to manage our farms in the best manner possible to ensure wholesome, healthy food. This rule, on the other hand, has been about pushing an agenda rather than advancing food safety or animal welfare,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a statement.

Duvall also warned that rule would jeopardize organic farmers’ and ranchers’ livelihoods.

“Organic farmers and ranchers would be forced out of the organic sector or out of business entirely if this rule goes into effect and forces them to arbitrarily change their production practices,” he said.

This is not the first time Farm Bureau has raised concerns about this rule. In comments sent to USDA in June, Farm Bureau noted that a review of the Organic Foods Production Act's legislative history revealed that animal welfare was never included in remarks by the bill’s sponsors, during debate on the legislation or in report language.

“One of our gravest concerns is the overreach of the organic standards into the animal well-being arena. We do not believe the Organic Foods Production Act intended for animal well-being metrics to be part of the organic standard,” the group said.

Over 180 Groups Call on House to Preserve Section 199, Ensure Farmers Do Not Face Tax Increase

Over 180 agricultural organizations, cooperatives and other agribusinesses on Monday sent a letter to the House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposing repeal of the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, also known as Section 199.  H.R. 1, the House tax reform legislation, would eliminate Section 199.

“Ending the Section 199 deduction for agriculture would result in many individual farmers paying more in taxes, as most do not pay under the corporate code and the current proposal will not overcome the loss of the deduction,” the groups write. “In many cases farmers will see a double-digit increase in their tax bill under the proposed plan.”

Passed as part of the “American Jobs Creation Act of 2004,” Section 199 recognizes the unique challenges presented within the cooperative business model by allowing cooperatives to deduct the proceeds earned from products that are manufactured, produced, grown, or extracted and pass those deductions directly back to their farmer-members.   The support Section 199 provides to rural communities is critical. In fact, farmer cooperatives pass 95 percent of the benefit—nearly $2 billion nationally—directly back to farmers across rural America. Farmers can then deduct their share of the Section 199 benefit from their farms’ tax burden.

The letter emphasizes that with most of agriculture is facing the fourth consecutive year of stagnant prices, now is not the time to raise the tax burden on farmers, ranchers and growers.

“Section 199 should be preserved in order to protect the good paying jobs and the economic return generated by the presence of farmer-owned cooperatives in rural communities. We encourage you to preserve Section 199 for agriculture as part of any tax reform efforts,” the letter concludes. “As a matter of basic fairness, we need you to consider tax reform that will lower rates on businesses broadly but does not raise taxes on farmers.”

A copy of the letter, including the list of all signing organizations, can be found online at

Commodity Classic Registration & Housing - NOW OPEN!

Registration and housing for the 2018 Commodity Classic, February 27-March 1 in Anaheim, California, is now open.

All registration and housing reservations should be made online at  Experient is the official registration and housing provider for Commodity Classic.  In order to stay at an official Commodity Classic hotel, reservations must be made only through Experient to ensure favorable rates, reasonable terms and confirmed hotel rooms.

Full registration covers all three days.  One-day registration is also available.  Details are available on the website.

The 2018 Commodity Classic will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center. The schedule includes a robust line-up of educational sessions on a wide range of current and relevant topics and issues.  Commodity Classic also boasts a huge trade show, the latest in agricultural innovation and technology, inspiring speakers, an evening of entertainment and the opportunity to network with farmers from across the United States.

There are also a number of optional tours available for those who want to explore the culture, history and scenery of southern California.

A detailed schedule of events is available at This year’s Commodity Classic will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—providing an opportunity for families to come in early or stay late to enjoy a weekend in the Anaheim area.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

CLAAS of America Receives Product Innovation Awards

CLAAS of America was recently honored to have three of its products selected for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) 2017 AE50 Product Awards. Products honored for agricultural innovation were the JAGUAR 900 Series Forage Harvester, EASY on board app and the CLAAS Grain Quality Camera.

The AE50 awards program emphasizes the role of new products and systems in bringing advanced technology to the marketplace. These engineering developments help farmers, food processors and equipment manufacturers increase efficiency, enhance quality, improve safety, and increase profits. Each AE50 winner is hand-selected by a panel of engineering experts.

“It is an honor to be recognized for three AE50 awards, and we couldn’t be more proud of our team and appreciative of our dealers and customers,” said Leif Magnusson, President, CLAAS Global Sales Americas. “With all CLAAS innovation, our goal is to ensure a better harvest with premium products designed for maximum throughput, efficiency and reliability.”

The CLAAS products selected for the 2017 AE50 Awards include:

JAGUAR 900 Series Forage Harvester

The CLAAS JAGUAR 900 Series represents the widest range of self-propelled forage harvesters in the world. This series uses the power of multiple features that work together optimally to ensure cost-effective chopping to the highest professional standards under all field conditions. These features include an optional hydraulic header drive allowing operators to adjust header speed from the cab for changing conditions, a heavy-duty axle with optional differential lock which improves traction in hilly and wet conditions, the CLAAS AUTO FILL system and the Rear AUTO FILL system.

CLAAS EASY on board app

The EASY on board app is a symbiosis of two existing technologies: a consumer tablet and ISOBUS technology. Together, they increase the flexibility, efficiency and comfort of machine operation. This technology allows access to all key machine data and comprehensive personal information in the field. In addition, the EASY on board app includes a task management menu that can record jobs like bale count or worked acres.

CLAAS Grain Quality Camera

The CLAAS Grain Quality Camera is a high-definition color camera that monitors the quality of grain in the clean grain elevator and displays those images on the CEBIS MOBILE monitor. The camera takes high-quality photos of the grain flow every second to calculate the real-time amount of foreign matter and broken kernels traveling into the grain tank. The technology not only keeps the operator’s attention forward, it also provides more accurate feedback to optimize combine adjustments.

Companies from around the world submit entries to the annual AE50 competition and up to 50 of the best products are chosen by a panel of international engineering experts. The judges select innovative products that will best advance engineering for the food and agriculture industries.

Winners will be featured in the January/February 2018 special issue of ASABE’s magazine Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World. For more details, visit

U.S. Tractor, Combine Sales Rose During October

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in October 2017, were up 12% compared to the same month last year.

For the first ten months in 2017, a total of 191,986 tractors were sold which compares to 183,814 sold thru October 2016 representing a 5% increase for the year.

Two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 12% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up 2%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 43%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were up 15%.  Meanwhile, combine sales were up 69% for the month.

For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 8% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were even. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 9%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are up 5%. Sales of combines for the year total 3,439 an increase of 3% from 2016.

Tax Reform Bill Moves to House Floor This Week

The House is expected to take up a major tax reform bill in a few days. As passed last week by the House Ways and Means Committee, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) will preserve many critical tax provisions that farmers and ranchers need to manage tight margins and unpredictable income, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are ready for a tax system that recognizes their hard work and the unique challenges they face while reducing the tax burden that threatens their livelihoods. Thanks to the leadership of the House Ways and Means Committee, we are closer to that goal,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a statement.

Among the most important tax tools addressed in the bill are Sec. 179 small business expensing, immediate expensing, cash accounting and like-kind exchanges.

The measure would expand and increase expensing limits for Sec. 179 small business expensing and allow for immediate expensing (bonus depreciation), but it would not make these provisions permanent, as farmers had hoped. The bill also would let farmers and ranchers continue to immediately deduct customary business expenses including, but not limited to, feed, seed and other inputs.

In addition, the measure would continue cash accounting and the like-kind exchange deduction for buildings and land. Like-kind exchanges would end for equipment and livestock.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s self-employment-related provisions would exclude from self-employment taxes the 30 percent of farming and ranching income that is considered a return on investment. Farm rental income and Conservation Reserve Program payments would continue to be excluded from self-employment taxes.

The measure would double the estate tax exemption of $5.49 million to $11 million indexed for inflation starting in 2018 and would permanently repeal estate taxes in 2024. Stepped-up basis is continued as is the transfer of any unused exemption amount to a surviving spouse.  Farmers and ranchers have long been calling for repeal of the estate tax.

The bill would keep capital gain tax rates and thresholds at approximately the same rates and thresholds as exist under present law.

The House Rules Committee meets Wednesday, Nov. 15, to establish a rule governing House floor debate. Because the rule could contain additional changes to the legislation and will also determine which, if any, amendments will be allowed, Farm Bureau will wait until its release to take a position on amendments and on passage of the legislation.

Of the Ways and Means Committee-approved measure, Duvall noted, “Farm Bureau looks forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to improve the bill and ensure reforms reduce the overall tax burden for farmers and ranchers.”

Congressional Tax Plans Jeopardize the Farm Safety Net, CBO Analysis Says

Amidst the steepest drop in farm profitability in a generation, U.S. Congressional leadership is proposing tax reform legislation that would jeopardize all funding for farm bill commodity safety net programs.

The two tax bills being considered in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives would add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit. According to new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bills, that $1.5 trillion deficit increase would need to be offset by eliminating all funding for vital farm programs such as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), among other mandatory federal spending programs.

“If Congress passes legislation that increases the deficit, they will subsequently be forced to cut federal spending. In the case of the tax bill, current law could require 100 percent sequestration of all commodity program payments and other farm bill programs,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “Tax cuts for the highest income brackets should absolutely not come at the expense of programs that protect our nation’s family farmers and ranchers.”

The House and Senate budget resolution that was passed earlier this year paves the way for tax cuts that would increase the U.S. federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years. Statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules require that increases in deficit spending be offset by reduced spending across non-exempt mandatory programs. The government would be required to cut such programs by $150 billion per year in accordance with PAYGO.

The total available pool of funding across all non-exempt mandatory programs amounts to, in CBO’s estimation, “only between $85 billion to $90 billion,” meaning that all impacted mandatory spending programs other than Medicare, including the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), would be entirely stripped of funding.

The CCC is the second largest non-exempt mandatory program, after Medicare. It funds dairy and other farm program payments, including ARC and PLC, both of which are critical for keeping family farmers and ranchers in business during times of economic uncertainty. Discretionary spending and a number of mandatory programs, including Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), federal crop insurance, and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), are exempt from PAYGO.

“Farmers Union has long opposed using budget sequestration to reduce the federal deficit, especially through cuts to agricultural programs,” added Johnson. “This proposal asks farmers and ranchers to trade any possible tax benefits for the elimination of farm safety net payments, like ARC and PLC. That would be a disastrous trade. NFU continues to advocate for a simplified, progressive tax code that does not risk programs vital to the livelihoods and well-being of American family farmers and ranchers.”

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