Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday December 29 Ag News

Editor's Note:   Cheers!  Here's to the last post for 2017.   Happy New Year..... and stay warm this weekend!    -Chad


Training dates are set for Nebraska's commercial and noncommercial pesticide applicators seeking first-time certification, or recertification of their license, to use or purchase restricted use pesticides (RUPs)  in 2018. The statewide training is coordinated through the Nebraska Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP).

Again this year the training is offered at a variety of locations from January through April, said Clyde Ogg, Nebraska Extension pesticide safety educator.

Commercial and noncommercial applicators whose certifications expire in April are to be mailed a schedule booklet showing certification information and dates. The booklet also is available at local extension offices; by phoning PSEP at 800-627-7216 or 402-472-1632; or by visiting

In 2018 approximately 3,060 commercial and noncommercial applicators will need to be recertified. They include fumigators, ornamental and turf applicators, exterminators and others.

Separate training opportunities will be held for dicamba products XtendiMax, FeXapan and Engenia, now classified as RUPs. Information related to that training is to be available in early 2018.

"Commercial applicators are those using restricted use pesticides, and in some cases, general use pesticides, on a contract or for-hire basis," Ogg said. "Noncommercial applicators are those applying these same pesticides to sites owned by an employer or for a governmental agency or political subdivision of the state."

Advance registration is required for all initial commercial and noncommercial applicator training, as well as for most other training sessions. Each applicator pays an $80 fee, regardless of the number of training sessions. Required initial training study materials range from $10 to $30 per manual, depending on category.

Initial certification requires passing a general standards exam, Ogg said, in addition to one or more specific applicator categories. Applicants can study by themselves, although for best results Ogg recommends combining training with study materials.

"Training combined with individual study has the best track record for preparing someone to take the state license exams," Ogg said.

Recertification opportunities are available at extension offices in February and March, and at several annual conferences and trade association meetings early in 2018. The best opportunity for commercial applicators to recertify in the agricultural plant category and demo/research subcategory, other than by examination, will be at Nebraska Extension Crop Production Clinics in January.

Initial certification in several categories is offered at the following locations and dates. Available categories vary at each of the locations; check the schedule booklet or website for details. Those seeking initial certification must pre-register for one of the following training sessions and purchase study materials at least 10 days in advance. Preregistration is required at
-    Beatrice: Gage County Extension Office, Fairgrounds, 1115 W. Scott, March 20.
-    Columbus: Platte County Courthouse, 2610 14th St., Feb. 27.
-    Grand Island: College Park, Hall County Extension Office, 3180 W. Highway 34, Feb. 1 and 27.
-    Lincoln: Lancaster County Extension Office, 444 Cherrycreek Road, Feb. 8 and 27, April 12.
-    Norfolk: Madison County Extension Office, Lifelong Learning Center, 601 E. Benjamin Ave., Feb. 1, March 20.
-    North Platte: Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center, 402 W. State Farm Road, Feb. 8, March 1 and 20, April 12.
-    Omaha: Douglas/Sarpy County Extension Office, 8015 W. Center Road, Feb. 1, March 1, April 12.
-    O’Neill: Holt County Annex, 128 N. Sixth St., Suite 100, April 19.
-    Scottsbluff: Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave. I, Feb. 8 and 27, March 1, April 12.
-    Valentine: Cherry County Extension Office, 365 N. Main St., Suite 3, March 20

Recertification in several applicator categories is offered at the following locations and dates. Available categories vary at each of the locations; check the pesticide applicator education schedule booklet for details. Preregistration is required at :
-    Beatrice: Gage County Extension Office, Fairgrounds, 1115 W. Scott, Feb. 15, March 13 and 22.
-    Columbus: Platte County Courthouse, 2610 14th St., Feb 22.
-    Grand Island: College Park, Hall County Extension Office, 3180 W. Hwy. 34, Feb. 6 and 15.
-    Holdrege: Phelps County Fairgrounds, Ag Center, 1308 2nd St., Feb. 13, March 27.
-    Lincoln: Lancaster County Extension Office, 444 Cherrycreek Rd., Feb. 6 and 22, March 29.
-    Norfolk: Madison County Extension Office, Lifelong Learning Center, 601 E. Benjamin Ave., Feb. 6 and 15, March 13.
-    North Platte: Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center, 402 W. State Farm Rd., Feb. 13, and 15, March 22.
-    O'Neill: Holt County Annex, 128 N. Sixth St., Suite 100, Feb. 13, March 22.
-    Omaha: Douglas/Sarpy County Extension Office, 8015 W. Center Rd., Feb. 13, March 27 and 29.
-    Scottsbluff: UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave. I, Feb. 6 and 22, March 13.
-    Valentine: Cherry County Extension Office, 365 N. Main St., Suite 3, Feb. 22.

Nebraska Extension Crop Production Clinics also are a great way to recertify in the agricultural pest control -- plant category (01). Preregister online for $80 at to attend one of the following:
-    Jan. 10 – Gering, Gering Civic Center, 1050 M St.
-    Jan. 11 – North Platte, Sandhills Convention Center 2102 S. Jeffers St.
-    Jan. 15 OR 16 – Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, 601 E. Benjamin Ave.
-    Jan. 18 – Lincoln, Embassy Suites, 1040 P St.
-    Jan. 24-25 – Nebraska Crop Management Conference, Kearney, Younes Conference Center, 416 Talmadge Rd. (Recertification is available either day, registration is $80 per day. Two-day conference fee is $150.)

Recertification also is available through attending annual trade organization conferences. Conferences offering these opportunities for specific categories include:

    Nebraska Turfgrass Conference: Jan. 9-11, La Vista Conference Center, 12540 Westport Parkway, LaVista, recertification in ornamental and turf pest control category. Preregister at or call the Nebraska Turfgrass Association at 402-472-5351 with questions.

    Nebraska Urban Pest Management Conference: Feb. 13-14, The Cornhusker Hotel, 333 S. 13th St., Lincoln, recertification in structural/health-related pest control and wood-destroying organisms. Preregister at or call the Nebraska State Pest Control Association, 402-476-1528 for copies of the program and registration information.

    Nebraska Aviation Trades Association Convention: Feb. 20-21, The Cornhusker Hotel, 333 S. 13th St., Lincoln, recertification in aerial pest control category. For more information, email or call the Nebraska Aviation Trades Association, 402-475-6282.

Extension conducts the training programs, while the Nebraska Department of Agriculture issues the licenses. NDA testing is offered at initial training locations; in addition is computer-based testing for several categories at various testing centers. For information about this testing, see  Questions about individual applicator license status should be directed to NDA by calling 402-471-2351, or 877-800-4080.

Researchers Study Impact of Cover Crops on Soil Health

Producers are open to innovative ideas that can improve soil health, but need more evidence before adding cover crops to their rotation plans, according to assistant professor Sandeep Kumar of the South Dakota State University Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science.

Kumar, who leads the SDSU project, is one of 26 scientists working on a U.S. Department of Agriculture project to determine how cover crops, such as oats, sorghum, turnips, radishes and millet, planted after harvest for grazing can affect soil health. Postdoctoral research associate Bishal Kasu, who surveyed producers, said, "If agricultural producers perceive the approach can contribute to the long-term farm profitability, then farmers are on board."

Researchers from four other universities--North Dakota State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology--along with USDA offices in Lincoln, Neb.; Mandan, N.D.; and Brookings are involved in the four-year National Institute of Food and Agriculture project.

The researchers are assessing the impact of incorporating grazing crops at seven sites covering three states--North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota. They are gathering data on soils, crop and livestock performance and environmental parameters, such as greenhouse gas emissions.

"The crops and grazing treatments are different in each state because of the variability in precipitation," Kumar noted. In South Dakota, the researchers are using cover crops in a three-year rotation, right after small grains, which are harvested in June and July.

At the Southeast Research Center near Beresford, for instance, the researchers are evaluating three treatments--corn-soybeans-oats, corn-soybeans-oats/cover crop and corn-soybeans-oats/cover crop with grazing. Associate professor Peter Sexton, coinvestigator of the funded project, oversees this part of the research.

Preliminary data from the first year of grazing shows no negative impacts to soil health, according to Kumar. Detailed analysis of last year's results as well as those from this fall will give producers that data regarding cover crops.

"Cover crops can add nutrients and organic matter to the soil," he said. Legumes provide nitrogen and tubers, such as radishes and turnips, create pores as the roots decay that allow the water/rainfall to penetrate deeper into the soil. This can also help reduce runoff into lakes and streams.

The goal is greater sustainability," Kumar noted.

Downward Pressure Expected on 2018 Cash Rents

As commodity prices fell over the past few years, many landowners across the country agreed to lower cash rents. The annual LandOwner/Pro Farmer Cash Rent and Values Survey shows a majority of the respondents expecting cash rents to continue their lower trend in 2018. LandOwner consultant and columnist Mike Walsten says the survey also shows the focus on lowering cash rents in the year ahead will likely lessen when compared to the past few years.

“53 percent of the survey respondents say they expect cash rents to continue their decline in 2018,” Walsten says. “While that’s still a majority, it’s down sharply from 74 percent last year, and 73 percent in 2015.”

The percentage of respondents expecting cash rents to stay the same as last year rose to 45 percent, up from 24 percent last year and 21 percent in 2015. Walsten says, “The boost in respondents expecting no change in their rental rates this coming year might be an indication that the bottom in cash rental rates may be near.”

Arkansas Plant Board to Review New Dicamba Regulations

The Arkansas Plant Board is scheduled to meet on January third, in order to consider possible revisions to previous proposed regulatory changes regarding dicamba application. The Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council requested the meeting. They’ll discuss potential revisions to the proposed changes during a pesticide committee meeting that day and then a full board meeting will start after that.

The state’s Plant Board voted on November 8 to approve changes to the state regulations on dicamba application, including no dicamba application from April 16 through October 31. The subcommittee then met in December and voted to hold the proposed rule and recommended that the Plant Board consider possible revisions based on a number of factors. They want the board to consider possible changes based on scientific-based evidence, a dividing line to create north and south zones, as well as ambient temperature and humidity applicable to temperature inversion during nighttime hours.

The Rules and Regulations Subcommittee will meet on January 16 to consider the outcome of the meeting with the Plant Board.

Agrium and PotashCorp Finalize Merger of Equals

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. announced that they have received clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and have now obtained all regulatory approvals required to close their proposed merger of equals transaction. The transaction is expected to close effective January 1, 2018 and remains subject to customary closing conditions.

"This final clearance marks a significant milestone in bringing two industry leaders together," said Chuck Magro, president and CEO of Agrium. "Given our extensive integration planning work, we expect to move quickly upon closing to begin delivering on the many strategic benefits and synergy potential of this combination."

"We are pleased to have received final regulatory clearance and look forward to the formation of Nutrien," said Jochen Tilk, president and CEO of PotashCorp. "Nutrien will build upon the impressive legacies and best practices of both companies to create long-term value for all our stakeholders."

With the closing of the transaction on January 1, 2018, the common shares of Nutrien are expected to commence trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "NTR" at the opening of market on January 2, 2018. Trading of Agrium common shares and PotashCorp common shares is expected to be suspended at the opening of market on January 2, 2018, and such shares will be delisted at the close of market on the same date. Cash entitlements in lieu of fractional Nutrien common shares will be based on the trading price of the Nutrien common shares on the TSX on the first five days of trading on such exchange. Such entitlements will be delivered as soon as practicable thereafter to former Agrium and PotashCorp shareholders who have submitted their duly completed letters of transmittal and elections forms in accordance with the procedures described in the applicable letter of transmittal and election form.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thursday December 28 Ag News

Struggling Agriculture Economy, Tax Reform, and Trade Top Ag Stories for 2017
Nebraska Farm Bureau Looks Ahead to Leading Issues in 2018

The ongoing struggle in Nebraska’s agriculture economy is among the top agriculture stories of 2017, Nebraska Farm Bureau said Thursday, Dec. 28, in releasing its annual list of the top five agricultural news stories of the year. Also included is a growing call for tax reform and property tax relief, trade and its impact on Nebraska agriculture, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) withdrawal, and new leadership in the state and federal Department of Agriculture.

“A stagnant farm economy has slowed Nebraska's income growth to one of the lowest levels in the nation,” Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau said. “Net farm income is projected to stabilized for 2017 but that’s mostly due to farmers reining in spending, which is negatively affecting related industries and the greater economy,” Nelson said.

Weather also brought significant losses to some farmers. Late planting made for late harvest, then, in October, there were high winds that reduced yields. Low precipitation in part of the state also affected hay production and reduced yields as well.

Making the list is the action on the final federal tax reform bill. “This legislation addresses numerous tax related issues of interest to Nebraska farm and ranch families. Lower rates for pass-through businesses, expansion of Sect. 179 business expensing, as well as unlimited immediate expensing, were needed. Equally important is the fact that farmers and ranchers will continue to be able to fully deduct property taxes on agricultural land as a business expense,” Nelson said.

“While we would have preferred immediate repeal of the estate tax, the legislation doubles the estate tax exemption indexed for inflation, and continues the allowance for spousal transfer. These measures are a positive and immediate step that will ease the estate tax burden on farm and ranch families,” he said.

In addressing state property tax challenges, Nelson pointed to the organization’s ongoing efforts to address high property taxes in 2018.

“We continue to work to find a legislative solution to the property tax problem and I still believe there’s an opportunity to work with Gov. Ricketts and the Nebraska Legislature to deliver tax relief and get us on the right track with property taxes into the future,” said Nelson.

Nelson pointed out the importance of international trade to the bottom line of Nebraska farmers and ranchers, specifically, President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“The TPP reflected a major opportunity for the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise Nebraska’s top commodities. Economic analysis conducted by Nebraska Farm Bureau showed that virtually every county in Nebraska would have been positively impacted by the TPP agreement, with the state as a whole projected to see increased agricultural cash receipts by more than $378 million annually,” Nelson said.

There were several bright spots in 2017. One was stopping implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Waters of the U.S.” rule to expand federal regulatory authority over private land. Forcing the EPA to withdraw or vacate this far reaching federal regulation is welcomed news to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and other landowners.

“The other was the changing landscape in agriculture with President Trump’s appointment of Sonny Perdue as head of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), then Nebraska’s former Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach being selected to serve in the role of USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and the selection of Steve Wellman as the next State Director of Agriculture. These changes are all positive for agriculture across the state and the nation,” Nelson said.

Looking ahead to 2018, Nelson predicted the Top Five Agriculture Stories of the New Year will be property taxes, the future of NAFTA, the next farm bill, regulatory concerns, and health care.
-    The farm bill. “Our members don’t want the government to guarantee a profit, but they want to maintain a strong crop insurance program,” Nelson said.
-    Property taxes. Farm Bureau will continue to work on a variety of ideas to reduce property taxes. “Our preference is to pass a relief bill in the Legislature, but we haven’t ruled out other means like a ballot initiative,” Nelson said.
-    Uncertainty of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA would not only undercut Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, but harm the underlying foundation of Nebraska’s agriculture based economy, according to a new report released by Nebraska Farm Bureau entitled “North American Free Trade Agreement and Nebraska Agriculture”. “The report shows that NAFTA could cost individual farmers and ranchers up to $55,000 annually,” Nelson said.
-    Regulatory concerns specifically ELD and CERCLA. Livestock transportation has been a point of concern in the light of recent U.S. Department of Transportation electronic logging device (ELD) regulations that failed to adequately recognize the uniqueness and challenges of transporting lives animals. Another concern is the mandated Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) emissions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision to stay a mandate that agricultural entities file reports under the CERCLA and the EPCRA until Jan. 22, 2018. This is burdensome and unnecessary regulations on farmers and ranchers.
-    Health care. The majority of livestock and crop producers go to either the open market or health insurance exchanges to purchase health insurance, and they continue to bear the brunt of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) failure to actually make health insurance more affordable. Farm Bureau urges Congress to work on a plan that helps reduce the cost of health insurance and re-establish market fundamentals to the health insurance marketplace.

CVA Receives Top Ten CFA Award

Central Valley Ag (CVA) was recently recognized by The Cooperative Finance Association (CFA) as a leader in using the Input Finance Program for the 2017 crop year within the CFA member base. Chuck Bibb, CFA Customer Relationships Manager, presented the 2017 award to Peggy Hopwood, CVA SVP of Member Services.

For the 2017 Crop Year, over 400 CVA customers took advantage of the Input Finance Program offered by the cooperative and supported by CFA. These customers were approved for secured lines of credit to support their agronomy purchases from CVA and the total loan dollars committed for the 2017 crop year totaled more than 45 million dollars.

The number of customers, as well as total loan dollars committed to the Input Finance Program for the 2017 crop year was an all-time record for CVA. In addition to setting this local record, CVA was also the number one cooperative within CFA’s membership base for the 2017 crop year based on total loan commitments for the second year in a row.

“We are very excited this is the second year in a row CVA has received this award,” said Peggy Hopwood. “Thank you for your continued support as patrons, because without you, achievements like this would not be possible.”

NE Motor Fuels Tax Rate Set for Jan. 1 Through June 30

The Nebraska motor fuels tax rate for January 1 through June 30 will be 28.4 cents per gallon, up from 27.0 cents per gallon. The components of the future and current rates include wholesale, variable, and fixed rates.

The wholesale tax rate is set depending on the wholesale price of fuel. The variable rate is adjusted to comply with legislative appropriations for Transportation. The fixed rate will increase annually through FY 2019 as a result of LB 610.

Questions regarding the calculation of the variable percentage rate may be directed to the Nebraska Department of Transportation at 402-479-4635.

Statistical information regarding motor fuels tax receipts can be found on the Nebraska Department of Revenue's (Department's) website under Motor Fuels, and Statistics.

The Petroleum Release Remedial Action Fee is not included in the state motor fuels tax and remains unchanged at 0.9 cents per gallon on motor vehicle fuels and 0.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuels.

Current and historical motor fuels tax rates per gallon can also be found on the Department's website under Motor Fuels, and Fuel Tax Rates. For questions about the motor fuels tax, please contact Motor Fuels Taxpayer Assistance at 800-554-FUEL (800-554-3835) or 402-471-5730.

Iowa Corn Provides Farmers Insights at Harrison/Crawford County Crop Fair

In the tradition of providing farmers the latest industry insights, the Harrison County Corn Growers along with the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) will host a crop fair in Missouri Valley, Iowa on January 16, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Rand Center.

“The crop fairs give Iowa corn farmers access to information they might not get elsewhere,” explained Larry Buss, an ICPB director and farmer from Logan who chairs the Iowa Corn Grassroots Network, Membership & Checkoff (GNMC) Committee. “Crop fairs are customized to include topics that fit each region of the state, with opportunities for farmer-to-farmer learning and a chance to interact with subject area experts on a variety of topics including legislative policy, water quality, market development and risk management.”

Registration will open at 8:00 a.m. and lunch will be provided at 12:15 a.m. to attendees.

8:30 a.m. - Dicamba Dilemma: Where do we go from here?  Prof. Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri
9:30 a.m. - 2018 Weather Outlook - Elwynn Taylor, ISU Climatologist
10:30 a.m. - When Will Corn Prices Respond to “Lower” Prices - Chip Flory, Host of AgriTalk
11:30 a.m. - Ag in the Trump Administration - U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (invited)
12:15 p.m. - Lunch

R.S.V.P. by January 15 to Janelle Kracht at or by calling (515) 229-9980.

“Through the power of your membership we are able to advocate at both the state and federal level for issues which directly impact your bottom-line. If you aren’t a member, I encourage you to join us today to have your seat at the table and get engaged on issues impacting your farm,” said GNMC committee Vice Chair Roger Wuthrich, an ICGA director and a farmer from Bloomfield.

Crop fair sponsors include MidStates Bank, Performance Ag Service, Missouri Valley Insurance, King Agri Sales, Iowa Corn Growers Association District 4 Committee, the Harrison/Crawford County Corn Growers Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has issued a Special Local Need registration for XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology Herbicide. The registration would require auxin-specific (dicamba) training for farmers and certified applicators using the product.

“This training requirement is specifically for farmers and applicators that will be using dicamba products and is separate and distinct from the pesticide applicator continuing instruction courses that are already in place for private, commercial, public, non-commercial applicators, and handlers,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.  “This past growing season showed how important it is that applicators closely follow all aspects of the product label when using dicamba products and the additional training requirements will hopefully help reduce off-site impact from the product.”

The Department worked with Iowa State University to develop program topics and the Department will approve the training, which will be delivered through a registered provider.  The Department is working with the Agribusiness Association of Iowa to provide a listing of approved training on the website

The expanded training requirement is based on the need to provide Iowa farmers and applicators with training around the risks associated with dicamba and should help reduce problems associated with off-target movement.

The following program topics will be included in approved auxin-specific (dicamba) training in Iowa:
-    New Use Pattern for Dicamba-Tolerant Soybeans
-    Application Requirements to include Wind Speed and Direction, and Use of a Buffer
-    Temperature Inversions
-    Changes in Record-Keeping Requirements
-    Sprayer Tank Clean-Out
-    Off Target Movement

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Pesticide Bureau is responsible for responding to complaints and investigating potential misuse of pesticides.  In addition, education and testing on the safe use of pesticides is administered to all licensed pesticide applicators by the Department in conjunction with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

It is important all applicators read and follow the label directions on any pesticide when using. Product labels give applicators information about safe handling, application rates, personal protective equipment needed, appropriate crops to be treated, tank mixes, avoiding drift and more.  It is a violation of state and federal law to use a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with label directions.

If there is concern about a specific pesticide misuse incident, Iowans can file an “Incident Report” with the Department’s Pesticide Bureau by phoning 515‐281‐8591 or by emailing the information to This report must be filed within 60 days after the alleged date that damages occurred.

More information about activities of the Department’s Pesticide Bureau can be found at

Iowa School Districts Receive $3,000 Grants from CHS, Central Valley Ag for Propane-powered School Bus Program

Most people cannot tell from simply glancing at one as it passes down the road, but propane-powered school buses are becoming increasingly popular in communities across the country, including Hinton and Lawton, Iowa, where each community school district recently received $3,000 for its propane autogas school bus program. The donations were made possible by a partnership between Central Valley Ag cooperative and CHS – America’s largest farmer-owned cooperative.

“We’re honored to be supplying the children of Hinton and Lawton-Bronson schools and the entire district with safe, affordable and environmentally friendly propane autogas,” says Kane Kuehl, energy manager, Central Valley Ag. “It’s a good feeling knowing their fleet is benefiting from the use of propane autogas and providing quieter rides for the kids.”

There are more than 11,000 propane school buses operating in the United States. More communities are switching to propane school busses, which helps save districts money while reducing emissions and providing quicker start-ups during cold winter months. Propane autogas buses can start in temperatures as low as -40 F and require less time to warmup prior to driving. The Hinton community school district currently has two propane powered buses and plans to add more to their fleet in the future.  Lawton-Bronson has 5 propane powered busses, and also plans to expand in the future.

“With a long history of doing business in rural communities, CHS is dedicated to giving back to the communities in which we serve,” says Andy Ernst, manager of propane marketing and business development. “We are committed to developing programs to help make the conversion to propane autogas affordable for our cooperatives and school districts, like the one that will benefit both Hinton and Lawton-Bronson.”

USDA Statement on New Procedures for U.S. Soybean Exports to China

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is making U.S. soybean farmers and exporters aware of a new procedure to comply with China’s phytosanitary import requirements. The new procedure, which applies to both bulk and container shipments of raw, unprocessed soybeans to China, goes into effect January 1, 2018, and is necessary to maintain the uninterrupted flow of U.S. soybeans to the United States’ largest export market.
“Working closely with our Chinese counterparts and U.S. soybean industry representatives, our top priority was to establish a new procedure that would address China’s phytosanitary concerns and keep U.S. soybeans moving without delay through China’s ports of entry,” said Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

In September, Chinese officials notified APHIS of foreign material exceeding Chinese standards as well as weed seeds of quarantine concern in U.S. soybean shipments to that country.  “We worked closely with our partners in China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on a practical solution that addresses their concerns and provides for the uninterrupted flow of U.S. soybeans for our soybean producers and exporters,” said Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine program.

The new procedure involves APHIS notifying China when a soybean shipment exceeds 1 percent foreign material by placing an additional declaration on the phytosanitary certificate that says, “This consignment exceeds 1 percent foreign material.”

Chinese officials have assured the United States that this notification will allow all U.S. soybean exports to China, including those with more than 1 percent foreign material, to continue without interruption until the United States is able to fully implement a series of science-based measures from farm to export terminal, called a systems approach, during the 2018 crop year and reduce the volume of foreign material and weed seeds in soybean shipments to China.

“We look forward to working with APHIS and other stakeholders in the U.S. soybean value chain to develop the components of the systems approach, including weed seed control best practices to be implemented on-farm, starting with the 2018 soybean growing season,” said Randy Gordon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Grain and Feed Association. 

Jim Sutter, Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) added: “Over the coming months and years, USSEC will work together with partner organizations to promote effective implementation of the systems approach throughout the U.S. soybean supply chain, including ongoing efforts by our organization to promote the development of timely, science-based technologies that U.S. farmers need to produce the best quality product possible. We are confident that this agreement will allow U.S. soybean farmers and exporters to continue to service the important Chinese market without interruption.”

Relaunch of National "Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner." Campaign Sparks State Extensions

              A new generation of consumers is getting to know beef through the new beef checkoff-funded Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. campaign, launched in October. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its introduction, the iconic brand has been refreshed, celebrating its reintroduction to a variety of today’s consumers, channel partners and food influencers.

              State beef councils are beginning to extend the campaign’s content and features, educating and exciting their states’ consumers about the many benefits beef provides to their lives.

                Of special interest to state councils has been the campaign’s “Rethink the Ranch” anthem video and related video spots, showcasing real, hard-working farmers and ranchers from around the country. Nationally, the videos have generated more than 765,000 video views to date, and reached more than 3.5 million consumers. State beef councils have downloaded various Rethink the Ranch content for use on their own social media properties and through other consumer and thought leader outreach.

           “Our state and national partnership is particularly valuable to Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., as the campaign showcases the people behind beef as well as beef’s powerful nutrition story,” according to Alisa Harrison, senior vice president for Global Marketing and Research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.  “Our team travelled across the United States to capture and develop the most factual and thoughtful stories about how today’s beef is brought from the cattle raiser to the dinner table. Together with the information about the high-quality beef being delivered, it’s a message that’s compelling to consumers today.”

           Councils in several states, including Kansas and Missouri, will be promoting the Rethink the Ranch anthem video in a YouTube campaign launching mid-January. The Ohio Beef Council is producing its own video series to bring to life local producer stories, and is using the familiar sound of Copland’s Rodeo music and the new Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo in its own state materials.

            Nationally, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. team has reached more than 20 million people in the first quarter of this fiscal year (starting Oct. 1) with positive messaging about beef. Overall, more than 2 million people visited the website from Oct. 3 to Dec. 18, 2017. The team has successfully driven web traffic to the Raising Beef section of the website to encourage visitors to view the Rethink the Ranch videos, with almost 400,000 page views since the launch. Those people stayed on website pages 42 percent longer (compared to 2016), and the Raising Beef section – core content for the relaunch campaign – became the second top viewed section of the site, right after the recipes.

              Retailers, foodservice operators and other beef marketers are also being engaged and encouraged to learn more about beef and feature it more often through one-on-one outreach and through a LinkedIn campaign, which targeted business decision-makers. Major media outreach has resulted in more than 30 million impressions for the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. relaunch, including a major story in the Wall Street Journal online and print editions.

            The effort is also reaching out to food and health influencers, such as registered dietitians, bloggers and doctors, to share the positive information about the brand and website. More than 36,000 health professionals have been reached through outlets such as Nutrition 411, a popular e-newsletter for dietitians.

           “Teamwork has always been an element of pride for the cattle and beef industry,” said Harrison. “With this campaign, we’re able to celebrate and capitalize on our state and national partnership, and make the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand as broad, extensive and cost-effective as possible.”

Prices Higher for All But One Fertilizer

Average retail prices for all but one fertilizer continued to move higher the third week of December 2017, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to a month ago. Anhydrous is 12% more expensive compared to last month and has an average price of $461 per ton. MAP was 6% higher, as well, with an average price of $485/ton.

The remaining five fertilizers were higher compared to the prior month, but none were up by a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $445/ton, potash $344/ton, urea $348/ton, 10-34-0 $405/ton and UAN28 $218/ton.

Just one fertilizer was lower compared to the previous month. UAN32 was 7% lower compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $254/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Five fertilizers are now higher compared to last year. UAN28 is 1% more expensive, DAP is 3% higher, urea is 4% more expensive, potash is 7% higher and MAP is now 11% more expensive.

The remaining three fertilizers are still lower compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 1% lower while anhydrous is 2% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 9% lower.

Ethanol Stocks Ease

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released their Weekly Petroleum Status Report on Thursday, Dec. 28, that showed another draw for U.S. fuel ethanol inventories, while domestic plant production and blending demand climbed during the week-ended Dec. 22.

The EIA reported fuel ethanol stockpiles declined by 300,000 barrels (bbl), or 1.3%, to a 22.0 million bbl, although up 3.3 million bbl, or 17.6%, versus a year ago.

Domestic plant production rebounded after two straight weekly declines, up 13,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.2%, to 1.090 million bpd last week, and 62,000 bpd, or 6.0%, higher year over year. For the four weeks ended-Dec. 22, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.091 million bpd, 59,000 bpd, or 5.4%, higher than a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, rose by 32,000 bpd, or 3.5%, to 914,000 bpd last week, while up 11,000 bpd, or 1.2%, year over year. For the four-week period ended Dec. 22, blending demand averaged 915,000 bpd, up 10,000 bpd, or 1.1%, versus a year ago.

November Prices Received Index Increased 4.2 Percent

The November Prices Received Index (Agricultural Production), at 91.0, increased 4.2 percent from October 2017. At 81.4, the Crop Production Index decreased 1.0 percent. The Livestock Production Index, at 101.7, increased 8.1 percent. Producers received higher prices for market eggs, cattle, hogs, and broilers but lower prices for lettuce, corn, apples, and turkeys. Compared with a year earlier, the Prices Received Index is up 9.1 percent. The Crop Production Index increased 1.1 percent and the Livestock Production Index increased 18 percent. In addition to prices, the indexes are influenced by the volume change of commodities producers market. Increased monthly movement of cattle, corn, milk, and cotton offset the decreased marketing of soybeans, grapes, potatoes, and wheat. The Food Commodities Index, at 99.9, increased 7.7 percent from the previous month and 12 percent from November 2016.

November Prices Received by Farmers

Crop production: The November index, at 81.4, is 1.0 percent lower than October but 1.1 percent higher than November 2016. The Grain & Oilseed Index decrease more than offset the Fruit & Tree Nut Index increase.

Grain and oilseed: The November index, at 61.6, is down 5.8 percent from October and 1.4 percent from November 2016. The Oilseed Index and Feed Grain Index decreases more than offset the higher Food Grain Index.

Feed grain: The November index, at 52.8, decreased 3.5 percent from last month and 2.4 percent from a year ago. The corn price, at $3.15 per bushel, is down 11 cents from last month and 9 cents from November 2016. At $5.43 per cwt, sorghum grain is 8 cents lower than October but 84 cents higher than November a year earlier.

Food grain: At 73.5, the index for November is up 5.6 percent from the previous month and 18 percent from a year ago. The November price for all wheat, at $4.73 per bushel, is 9 cents higher than October and 85 cents higher than November 2016.

Oilseed: At 73.6, the index for November is unchanged from October but decreased 2.1 percent from November 2016. The soybean price, at $9.22 per bushel, 4 cents higher than from October but 25 cents lower than November a year earlier.

Other crop: The November index, at 81.2, is down 3.3 percent from the previous month but up 3.4 percent from November 2016. The all hay price, at $138.00 per ton, is $3.00 lower than from October but $12.00 higher than November 2016. At 67.1 cents per pound, the price for upland cotton is 0.3 cents higher than October but 0.1 cents lower than November 2016.

Livestock production
The index for November, at 101.7, increased 8.1 percent from the previous month and 18 percent from November a year earlier. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, market eggs, hogs, broilers, calves, and milk. The price for turkeys is lower than a year earlier.

Meat animal: At 99.7, the November index increased 7.2 percent from the previous month and 19 percent from a year earlier. At $50.00 per cwt, the November hog price is $2.70 higher than October and $11.00 higher than a year earlier. The November beef cattle price of $119.00 per cwt is $10.00 higher than the previous month and $15.00 higher than November 2016.

Dairy: The index for November, at 90.0, is up 1.0 percent from the previous month and 1.6 percent from November a year ago. The November all milk price of $18.10 per cwt is 20 cents higher than October and 30 cents higher than November 2016.

Poultry and egg: At 114.6, the November index increased 15 percent from October and 26 percent from November 2016. The November market egg price, at $1.23 per dozen, is 55.0 cents higher than October and 92.0 cents higher than November 2016. The November broiler price, at 49.0 cents per pound, is 1.0 cent higher than October and 5.0 cents higher than a year ago. At 57.7 cents per pound, the November turkey price is 5.0 cents lower than the previous month and 23.8 cents lower than November 2016.

November Prices Paid Index Up 0.3 Percent

The November Prices Paid Index for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 107.9, is up 0.3 percent from October 2017 and 4.6 percent from November 2016. Higher prices in November for feeder pigs, nitrogen, feeder cattle, and diesel more than offset lower prices for feed grains, other services, hay and forages, and herbicides.

Deere Recalls Crossover Gator Utility Vehicles

John Deere has recalled more than 68,000 Crossover Gator utility vehicles because the steering shaft can separate from the steering rack assembly and result in a loss of steering control.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission says John Deere has received 9 reports of steering loss. No injuries have been reported.

The recall is for models XUV825, XUV825 S4, XUV855, and XUV855 S4 Crossover Gator utility vehicles equipped with power steering. The serial number begins with 1M0825 or 1M0855 and is located on the passenger side of the frame under the cargo box.  The vehicles have seating for two or four passengers and were sold from March 2012 through November 2017.

Consumers should stop using the recalled utility vehicles and contact a John Deere dealer for a free repair. John Deere is contacting purchasers of the recalled utility vehicles directly.

Wednesday December 27 Ag News

What Farmers and Ranchers Need to Know About the New Tax Bill

The new Tax Reform package offers a number of important changes for those in agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau has been very involved in making sure farmers and ranchers benefit from Congress’s first major tax reform package in more than 30 years. It is truly a “win” for Nebraska farm and ranch families, Steve Nelson, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau said, when President Trump signed the bill Dec. 22.

Nebraska Farm Bureau staff, Jay Rempe, senior economist and Jordan Dux, director of national affairs, conducted an analysis of the Tax Reform package and provides 10 important things farmers and ranchers need to know about the new tax package. It’s important to keep in mind that Nebraska Farm Bureau has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided. As with anything, farmers and ranchers should consult a tax professional in order to fully examine how these new changes affect their individual operations.

    Lower Rates for Pass-Through Businesses, Individuals, and Corporations - The new law continues seven tax brackets for individuals and all pass-through business income (sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations) but expands them and lowers tax rates which are indexed for inflation. The law also doubles the standard deduction. Unfortunately, the new pass-through rates and brackets do expire on December 31, 2025. Pass-throughs will be able to deduct 20 percent of their business income, which includes payments from cooperatives, commodity wages, and farmland rental income.

The following limitations will apply:
-    The deduction is limited for partnerships and S-corporations to 50 percent of W-2 wages paid to employees OR the sum of 25 percent of W-2 wages paid plus 2.5 percent of depreciable business property.
-    The W-2 limitation does not apply to taxpayers when taxable income does not exceed $315,000/$157,000 joint/individual and would be completely phased out when income reaches $415,000/$207,000 joint/individual.
-    The deduction is not available to some service businesses, for example, veterinarians with taxable income over $150,000. The deduction for service businesses starts to phase out at $50,000 of income.

C-Corporation Businesses: The law sets the corporate tax rate at a flat 21 percent instead of the current 15 percent, 25 percent, 34 percent, and 35 percent brackets.

Implications for 2017: Depending on your individual circumstances, farmers and ranchers may want to consider deferring income to next year as the lower rates take effect for the 2018 tax year.

    The Ability to Make Capital Investments Has Improved - The new law permanently increases the amount of expenditures than can be deducted using Sect. 179 small business expensing from $500,000 to $1 million and increases the expenditure level at which the deduction begins to phase out from $2 million to $2.5 million indexed for inflation.

Immediate Expensing (bonus depreciation): Farmers and ranchers generally use bonus depreciation when expenditures exceed the Sect. 179 small business deduction limits. All farm structures qualify for the bonus depreciation deduction. The bill allows businesses to fully and immediately write off business investments through 2022 and expands the deduction to include used as well as new purchases. After 2022, the percentage deduction reduces by 20 percent each year until bonus depreciation is eliminated beginning in 2027.

Depreciation of Farm Machinery: The bills shorten the depreciation period for farm equipment and machinery from seven to five years.

Implications for 2017: Farmers and ranchers might consider making some year-end purchases of new or used equipment. The new law's effective date for the expanded bonus depreciation rules start for property purchased on or after September 28, 2017.

    Farmers and Ranchers Can Still Fully Deduct Their Property Taxes - If you normally expense your property taxes on agricultural land and other business property on a Schedule C, E, or F, you will continue to be able to fully deduct them. The new law does limit an individual's ability to deduct their local property taxes and state income taxes at a combined $10,000, for those who itemize deductions.

    While Not Eliminated, the Estate Tax Exemption is Doubled - The new law doubles the estate tax exemption from $5.49 million to $11 million and indexes the exemption for inflation. Unfortunately, the increased exemption expires on December 31, 2025. The bill does not change current stepped-up basis rules.

    Cash Accounting Expanded - The law expands the number of farm corporations and farm partnerships with a corporate partner that will be able to utilize cash accounting.

    1031 Exchanges are Continued for Real Property - The new law continues like-kind exchanges for buildings and land, however it would end for equipment and livestock.

    Most Farms and Ranches Can Continue to Deduct Business Interest - The new law continues the interest deduction for businesses with less than $25 million of gross receipts indexed for inflation. Carryover rules are available to apply the excess interest expense to future years.

    Obamacare Mandate is Repealed and Health Care Deduction is Maintained - The bill's repeals of the individual mandate by removing the penalty for individuals who do not purchase health insurance. The new law also maintains the deduction for medical expenses for those who itemize deductions.

9.    New Limits on Net Operating Losses (NOL) - The new law allows NOL to be carried forward indefinitely instead of current law 20 years but limits NOL to 80 percent of income. NOL can be carried back for two years instead of the five years as currently allowed for farms and ranches.

Implications for 2017: This should be discussed with your accountant.

    Section 199 is Eliminated, but a Fix was Included. The new law allows farmers to receive a 20 percent deduction on all payments from a farmer cooperative. The deduction cannot exceed the taxpayer's taxable income for the year. The cooperative will then receive a 20 percent deduction on gross income less payments to patrons, limited to the greater of 50 percent of wages, or 25 percent of wages plus 2.5 percent of the cooperative's investment in property.

Carstensens Inducted into Iowa Cattlemen's Association Hall of Fame

Kevin and Terri Carstensen celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in November, and were inducted in to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Hall of Fame in December.

The couple, who raised cattle in Sac County, have served in a variety of leadership roles throughout the years, even earning themselves the title of “First Couple” when he was president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and she was chair of the Iowa Beef Industry Council at the same time.

As a board member, and later, president, of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA), Kevin has long worked to improve the regulations and rules that impact cattle producers in Iowa. “ICA is our voice, so to speak, because they can be there 24-7 during the legislative process. I think that’s huge,” he says. “A lot of people say, ‘They can’t do us any good.’ Well, I don’t know where we’d be if we didn’t have a voice and lobbying.”

Kevin’s dedication to the ICA began in the 1980s when Maynard Jayne, ICA lobbyist, challenged him to become involved. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has nearly 10,000 members across the state of Iowa, and works to grow the Iowa beef business through leadership and education for producers. ICA also represents cattle producers at the state and national level on issues that impact cattlemen. According to Kevin, Jayne helped him realize the importance of the political process and the role that ICA plays in it. Since that time, he’s also realized how the work of politicians in Des Moines or Washington, DC, impacts cattle producers in Iowa. “There’s probably a hundred different ways policy has affected what I do on my farm,” he says, “but one of the biggest happened about 15 years ago, when EPA’s Clean Water Act came into play.”

Throughout his tenure, Kevin has served as ICA membership vice chair and chair, ICA Political Action Committee chair, and district director. He has also been involved with ICA’s Finance Committee, and currently serves as the treasurer for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation. Kevin served as the ICA Northwest Iowa Regional Vice President for four years and president of the association for two years. He was also on two CEO selection committees.

Kevin’s impact on the cattle industry was not limited to Iowa. He served as chair of the Private Lands and Environmental Management Committee for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the feedlot representative for the Environmental Stewardship Awards Program. He has testified before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of cattlemen and was involved in the dust rules review of the Clean Air Act. The couple has also led EPA representatives on a tour of their farm.

Work with environmental committees and policies impacted the way the Carstensens managed their own farm over the years, as well. They raise crops with conservation in mind, using minimum tillage, grid soil sampling, terraces, buffer strips and grassed waterways. Over the years, they have continuously improved their feedlot operation with environmental quality in mind, as well. Six rows of tress in windbreaks surround the farm, and an Iowa State University manure management research and demonstration project helped maximize the nutrients available from the feedlot.

While Kevin was busy leading Iowa’s cattle industry in its political advocacy efforts, Terri led another important organization in the Iowa beef industry: the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC).

IBIC is the Beef Checkoff Program in Iowa. Funded by the $1 per head national checkoff and 50 cent per head Iowa state checkoff, the beef checkoff works to increase demand for beef through education, promotion and research. Advertising, public relations efforts, educational programs and new product development are important ways the checkoff works for the Iowa beef industry.

Last year, Iowa cattle producers voted to reinstate the Iowa State Beef Checkoff, adding the 50 cents to the $1 per head national checkoff, which had been in place for 30 years. Terri firmly believes in the importance of the beef checkoff, and says that the additional funds from the state checkoff offers “tremendous opportunities for the checkoff to reach more consumers with the message.”

The checkoff, Terri says, is vital to Iowa’s beef producers like her and Kevin. “It’s another level of our business. We can’t do everything - and I know that people have heard that many, many times - but it’s true. We can’t be doing all of the promoting and all of the education and all of the research ourselves, so this is another arm of our business. And when you look at the value we receive for our $1.50, it’s phenomenal.”

From advertising campaigns, like the re-launch of the iconic “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign to work with retailers and dieticians to feature the health benefits of beef, the checkoff is reaching consumers in new and innovative ways. While advertising of the past primarily took place on television, more recent beef ads are appearing online, as part of smartphone apps, or on social media. “We need to tell the millennials our story and help them realize the benefits of beef in the diet,” Terri says.

Terri served 14 years on the board of directors for the Iowa Beef Industry Council, fulfilling the roles of treasurer, vice chair and chair during her tenure. She has also been active with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation’s Youth Beef Team.

Nationally, Terri is also a recognized leader. She was NCBA Federation Director for the state of Iowa and was elected Region III Federation Director, representing Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. She was a federation committee member of the NCBA Joint Budget Committee, and served as vice chair and chair of the “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” national advertising campaign. She has also served on the NCBA Nominating Committee, which selects national leadership; two years on the operating committee, which determines how national checkoff dollars are allocated; and was chair of the Consumer Information Committee, which oversees 5 subcommittees. She also took part in the 3 member committee that selected sites for NCBA annual conventions.

Much of Terri’s work at the local, state and national level has focused on increasing the demand for beef in the US and abroad. Terri represented Iowa in trade missions with the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) and United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Mexico and Costa Rica. Kevin also participated in trade missions to Japan and South Korea.

Trade missions like the ones the Carstensens took part in help build relationships, understanding and trust with foreign customers of US beef, and expand beef’s position in the global marketplace. International markets added $277.31 to the value of a fed steer in 2017, significantly helping Iowa cattle producers’ bottoms lines. “If we didn’t have our global markets,” Terri says, “we’d be back to the BSE years and that was devastating to cattle producers.”

Closer to home, the Carstensens have raised three children on the farm. Distie and her husband live in London with their two sons. Daughter Charise and her husband live in Des Moines with their 17 month old daughter. They are expecting a son in the spring. Carstensens’ son, Durel, and his wife have three young sons, and live in Minnesota.

Although Kevin and Terri’s children did not return to the farm, they are very passionate about agriculture and their roots in rural Iowa. Their career paths have led to opportunities for other young Iowans to partner with the Carstensens in their farming operation. Kevin and Terri have worked with three nearby young farmers as partners to help them gain a foothold in the farming business.

More than 40 years of life on the farm combined with leadership positions in our country’s most influential beef organizations has taught the Carstensens many lessons over the years – lessons they’re eager to share with younger producers. Kevin summed up that advice in an article he wrote for the Iowa Cattleman magazine in 2006, and says the advice is still applicable today:
•    Set your goals high
•    Absorb as much knowledge as possible
•    Turn negatives into positives
•    Be yourself
•    Strengthen your faith
•    Take pride in being a cattleman
•    Seize opportunity whenever possible
•    Call a spade a spade
•    Be passionate and honest in everything you do
•    Think and do outside the box
•    Love your country and embrace freedom

He adds one more piece of advice for today, though: Be careful how you manage risk.
And when you make money, put a little away for a rainy day.

Kevin and Terri weathered the storm of the 1980s, and recognize that many of today’s younger producers haven’t experienced that type of economic climate before. So, they caution farmers to be careful with their finances, and involve both spouses in the financial decisions on the farm. Terri has always managed the book work for the farm, but recognizes that many farm wives work off the farm, and it may be harder to stay involved.

The Carstensens’ partnership at home and on the farm is symbolic of the partnership between the Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association today. Just as Kevin and Terri have worked together to maintain their farm over the years, Iowa beef industry organizations work together to protect and grow Iowa’s beef business.

Both Kevin and Terri are still active in the state, local, and national cattle industry organizations. Although they have given a lifetime of service to the beef industry, they show few signs of slowing down now. As Kevin says, “We need to spread our passion for the cattle industry.  We need to involve the young people in our communities.  We need to stand up for what‘s right and we need to love our families, friends, God and this country to ensure this livelihood for years to come.”


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today highlighted some of the top ag issues in Iowa in 2017.

“While the challenging economic conditions on the farm continued in 2017, I was extremely encouraged to continue to see farmers experimenting and investing in water quality efforts on their farm. We continue to see Iowans on the farm and in our communities taking on the challenge of improving water quality. It is encouraging to see growth by farmers in both infield practices, such as cover crops and no-till, but also edge of field practices, like wetlands and bioreactors, as we work to address this important issue,” said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

“In many cases Iowa farmers saw surprisingly good yields this year, but with that strong supply we continue to see low prices. That highlights again how important it is we continue to build demand for our ag products, both domestically and internationally.  As strong livestock industry, expanding use of renewable fuels and promoting international trade are all vitally important,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

Weather Challenges, Surprising Yields

In general, Iowa farmers had pretty good yields despite some weather challenges. Parts of the state were in abnormally dry or drought conditions for significant parts of the growing season, with south central and southeast Iowa being the hardest hit areas.

Despite the weather challenges, Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.54 billion bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production report. This would be second largest Iowa crop on record, only beaten by last year’s record of 2.74 billion bushels. The statewide average yield is expected to be 197 bushels per acre.

Soybean production is forecast at 557 million bushels for Iowa, which would be the second largest crop on record. The statewide yield forecast is 56 bushels per acre.

Low crop prices over the past few years has made it a challenging time on the farm economically as in many cases current prices are below the cost of production for farmers.  Average statewide corn prices continued to fall and the statewide average for November was $2.9985, which is down from $3.008 last November.  Statewide average soybean prices for November were $9.0412, which is down from $9.25 last year.

While still a challenging year economically for Iowa livestock farmers, they have seen some better prices and lower feed costs.  Cattle prices were at $109 per hundred weight in October, up from $101 per hundred weight last year.   Hog prices were at $47.30 in October, up from $41.70 last year.

Iowa egg production in October 2017 was 1.33 billion eggs, up 4 percent from last month, and up 3 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during October 2017 was 55.5 million, up 3 percent from last year.  Egg prices have recovered some from last year and were at $.68 per dozen in October, up from just $.21 per dozen last year.

There were also 12.1 million turkeys raised in Iowa in 2017.  Iowa currently ranks 7th in US turkey production. Tyson Foods in Storm Lake and West Liberty Foods in West Liberty process 15.5 million turkeys annually. Subway and Jimmy John’s both serve Iowa turkey, but you can also find it in your grocery store via Jimmy Dean and private label sliced turkey.

Milk production in Iowa during October 2017 totaled 437 million pounds, up 4 percent from the previous October. Iowa was home to 219,000 milk cows in October, which is 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,995 pounds, up 40 pounds from last October. The October all milk price of $17.90 per cwt is 10 cents higher than September and $1.20 higher than October 2016.

Iowa also continues to see growth in new areas as well, including 242 goat dairies and approximately 60 aquaculture producers.

The farm economy remains challenged by the low prices, but land prices have stabilized and increased by 2 percent over the past year according to Iowa State University’s annual land value survey.

In addition, exports remain strong and critically important to the state’s agriculture industry.  Iowa leads the nation in exports of pork ($1.98 billion), corn ($1.39 billion) and feed grain ($1.50 billion) and second in soybean exports ($2.51 billion) and is second in the nation for overall value of agricultural exports. To help continue to grow exports, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey participated in trade mission to China and Kosovo and Deputy Secretary Naig participated in a trade mission to Mexico.

Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is continuing to expand efforts to work with all Iowans to make water quality improvements.

The Department announced an innovative new program aimed at increasing acres of cover crops in the state. Iowa farmers who plant cover crops this fall (2017) may be eligible for a $5 per acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2018. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) worked with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), who oversees the federal crop insurance program, to establish this three year demonstration project.

The Department also had more than 2,600 farmers signed up to try cover crops, no-till/strip-till or nitrification inhibitors on more than 270,000 acres in 98 counties.  The state will provide nearly $4.8 million in cost share funds to match the $8.7 million investment by Iowa farmers.  This record participation in the program includes more than 1000 first-time participants.

Iowa farmers planted more than 353,000 acres of cover crops with financial assistance from state and federal conservation programs in the fall of 2016 – nearly 18 percent more than the previous year. Based on statewide surveys and aerial imagery completed by conservation groups this spring, it is estimated Iowa farmers planted at least 600,000 cover crop acres last fall.

There are also currently 56 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative. More than 220 organizations are participating in these projects.  These partners will provide $32.3 million dollars to go with over $21.7 million in state funding going to these projects.

More information about the initiative can be found at

Animal Health Emergency Preparations Continue

The Department continues efforts to update response plans for potential animal disease emergency. As part of that effort, the Department hosted a tabletop exercise designed to help test response capabilities and review the Department’s updated Foot-and-Mouth Disease Response Plan that was completed this spring.  More than 60 federal, state and local agency, academic and industry professionals participated in the exercise.

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

Drift Watch

In 2017 the Department partnered with the non-profit company FieldWatch™, Inc., to improve the online registry tools available to promote communication between producers of pesticide-sensitive (i.e. specialty) crops, beekeepers and pesticide applicators. The new registry offers two online platforms that provide state of the art mapping features.  DriftWatch® is a registry site for use by producers of commercial crops sensitive to pesticides and includes the online capacity to map boundaries around production fields.  BeeCheck® is a registry site for beekeepers that designates one-mile radius boundaries around apiaries.

Sensitive crop producers with apiaries may enter hive locations using either the DriftWatch® or BeeCheck® registries.  Pesticide applicators can also register in a separate FieldWatch registry for detailed crop and beehive site location data in their spray areas.  More information for farmers and beekeepers interested in registering sensitive sites can be found at

Pork Demand Remains Steady As Signs Point to Strong Fourth Quarter

Pig farmers and food production companies alike are wrapping up a successful 2017 that continues to show steady consumer demand for pork. The summer grilling season ended strongly, and signs point to a solid year-end opportunity for ham.

According to Nielsen Perishables Group data for the 13 weeks ended Oct. 28, total sausage and rib volumes were up from the same time last year 3.3 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, while sales were up in those categories 4.1 percent and 3.2 percent.

"Summer is always an ideal time for cooking pork outdoors," said Patrick Fleming, National Pork Board director of market intelligence. "Whether it was brats on the grill or a few racks of ribs on the smoker, consumers made room for pork on their picnic plate in 2017."

That momentum carried over into fall, as overall retail spending on pork by U.S. consumers was up by more than 3 percent in dollar sales during the month of October.

The Nielsen data shows that consumer spending for ham was up a slight 1 percent for the 13-week period ending Oct. 28. Fleming acknowledges this demonstrates strong consumer demand for a pork cut that normally shines at year end due to the holidays.

"It's encouraging to see that more consumers are spending more on ham as we head into the holiday season," said Fleming. "We are already hearing anecdotally that some key retailers saw more hams leave the cold case heading into Thanksgiving. The volume of hams currently in storage should create favorable price points for consumers through yearend and into 2018."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service, frozen ham inventories at the end of October were up 2.1 percent, compared to this time last year. With both strong summer and fall sales performance, pork producers are encouraged by signs that point to a strong finish to the year.

Expanding U.S. Commodity Markets Top Priority for AMS

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service announced it has facilitated in the export of more than $3.8 billion of American produced agricultural products in Fiscal Year 2017 through its Export Verification, grading and classing programs.

In a major victory for U.S. beef producers, AMS export certification programs were a key component in the reopening of the market for U.S. beef exports to China for the first time in 13 years. Since mid-June, U.S. beef exports to the world's most populous nation have already totaled more than 3.4 million pounds valued at $17.2 million.

"American agricultural companies compete worldwide, and I am incredibly proud of the role that the Agricultural Marketing Service plays to support the jobs these businesses create across the country," said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. "Every day they provide the agriculture industry valuable services with the integrity and customer focus Secretary Perdue expects of all USDA staff to ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the country."

A new infographic highlights AMS accomplishments in 2017 in support of American farmers, ranchers and businesses.

Other agricultural products inspected or certified by AMS for export last year include 145.3 million metric tons of U.S. grains and 1.6 billion shell eggs. AMS issued over 44,000 export certificates for American dairy farmers, producers and exporters contributing to the $5.3 billion in milk and dairy exports from the United States in 2017. The Pre-Export Check program issued over 13,000 certificates for 583 million pounds of U.S. almonds, worth $1.7 billion, destined for sale in the European Union.

Domestically, AMS staff graded or inspected 20.9 billion pounds of beef, 75.1 million pounds of lamb, 27.5 million pounds of veal/calf, 7.5 billion pounds of poultry, 44.4 billion shell eggs, 1 billion pounds of butter, 12.5 billion pounds of processed fruit and vegetable products, and 52 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. The AMS Cotton Program is on course to classify samples from over 20 million bales by the end of the current season in June 2018.

AMS supported USDA's National School Lunch Program with purchases of over 1.6 billion pounds of food, including fruits, vegetables, meats and grains. Agency staff also inspected over 223 million servings of military combat rations to help ensure the quality of meals prepared for American troops.

In 2017, the agency initiated nearly $1 million in new public/private cooperative research agreements and workshops aimed at improving transportation infrastructure for agricultural exporters. This work will enable transportation planners, providers, and customers at the federal, state, and local levels to improve shipping infrastructure for U.S. exports from rural America to international markets.

Farmers Urge Congress to Extend Lapsed Tax Credits for Biodiesel, Renewable Energy

A recently introduced bill would continue several expired tax provisions important to farmers and ranchers.  Offered by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the Tax Extenders Act of 2017 (S. 2256) would extend several tax credits for biodiesel, renewable energy and for short line railroads.  Most of the credits expired in 2016.

In a recent letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to pass legislation extending these key provisions, the American Farm Bureau Federation and more than 55 other organizations explained that these expired provisions impact sectors vital to the U.S. economy and support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

“Acting to extend these expired tax provisions will allow businesses and individuals to make important planning decisions. Allowing these provisions to remain lapsed creates confusion in the marketplace, and effectively increases taxes on entities that create jobs and economic growth,” the groups wrote.

House and Senate tax writing committees are expected to work on tax extenders in January.

The Tax Extenders Act of 2017 would continue the following Farm Bureau-supported tax provisions, most of which expired in 2016, for 2017 and 2018:
-    The $1.01-per-gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel
-    The $1.00-per-gallon biodiesel and renewable diesel tax credits for biodiesel and blending biodiesel
-     The 10-cents-per-gallon Small Agri-Biodiesel Producer Credit
-     The $1.00-per-gallon biodiesel excise tax credit that can be taken against fuel taxes
-    The 30-percent investment tax credit for installing alternative vehicle refueling property
-    The 2.3 cents-per-kilowatt hour Production Tax Credit for energy from closed-loop biomass and the 1.2 cent-per-kilowatt-hour credit for closed-loop biomass
-    The option of taking an investment tax credit in lieu of Production Tax Credit (Currently, it’s 24 percent for 2017, 18 percent for 2018, 12 percent for 2019 and expires in 2020.)
-    The investment tax credit for installation costs of facilities that produce electricity from wind (Currently, it’s 24 percent for 2017, 18 percent for 2018, 12 percent for 2019 and expires in 2020.)
-    The Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit for electricity production facilities
-    The 50-percent Railroad Track Maintenance Credit for short line railroads

EPA Proposes Grain Sorghum Oil Pathway

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register today on the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with biofuels that are produced from grain sorghum oil extracted at dry-mill ethanol plants.

EPA is seeking comment for 30 days on its proposed assessment that using distillers sorghum oil as a feedstock results in no significant agricultural sector GHG emissions. Through EPA analysis, biodiesel produced from distillers sorghum meets the lifecycle GHG emissions reduction threshold of 50 percent required for advanced biofuels, and biomass-based diesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard program.

“After almost four years of work by National Sorghum Producers industry partners and staff, we are excited to see this proposed rule in the Federal Register, putting us one step closer to sorghum oil filling biodiesel production needs,” said John Duff, NSP Strategic Business Director. “This is significant positive news for sorghum producers and ethanol plants in the Sorghum Belt as it provides more opportunities and better returns producing ethanol from sorghum.”

The proposed rule is a result of a petition filed by NSP and extensive work with the EPA providing data and analysis during the rule making process. A pathway approval will allow the production of biodiesel and heating oil from distillers sorghum oil, and renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, naphtha, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced from distillers sorghum oil.

“This news is much anticipated, and we sincerely appreciate the help of our renewable energy partners, ethanol plants and producer leaders,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “We are also grateful for all the congressional leaders who signed a supporting letter and Senator Jerry Moran, Congressman Roger Marshall and Congressman Jodey Arrington who made calls to the EPA supporting the pathway, as well.”

Farm Bill Payment Calculator Available for 2018 Estimates

A calculator to help producers estimate the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments they may receive in 2018 is available online.

Visit or search for "NDSU farm bill" on Google.

The payments are for the 2017 crop year, but the final determination and issuance of payments are not made until the last three months of 2018.

Producers face a challenging profit environment for 2018, and any source of revenue will be important in projecting cash flow, according to Andy Swenson, NDSU Extension farm and family resource management specialist.

"With current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) price projections, base acres of canola, corn, wheat, barley, sunflower and flax should generate payments if enrolled in the PLC program," Swenson says. "Amounts will vary from farm to farm, but a typical situation in North Dakota would be around $40 per base acre of canola and flax, $30 per acre for the wheat base and $20 per base acre of barley and sunflower."

The PLC safety net is triggered by low prices. Payments will be reduced or eliminated if prices rise, but this loss of revenue could be offset by greater income from the market if producers grow those crops.

The ARC program is more complicated and difficult to project because it is a safety net triggered by the combination of price and yield, Swenson says.

Current USDA price projections indicate that if actual 2017 county yields are the same as the county benchmark yield, wheat and flax base acres would generate a maximum ARC payment, and the corn, barley and oats base would generate about half of a maximum payment.

The maximum possible ARC payment for the 2017 crop year will vary by crop and by county in North Dakota but would range from about $20 to $35 per wheat base acre and between $15 and $25 per flax base acre.

Using the USDA's current price projections and average county yields in 2017, the sunflower base enrolled in the ARC program will generate a slight payment and soybeans are right on the edge. The soybean base would generate an ARC payment if the county yield is one bushel or more below the county average yield.

For more information about ARC-CO and PLC payments, visit

The Cowboy Channel Announces Launch on DIRECTV®

The Cowboy Channel, the first 24-hour television network totally dedicated to western sports and the western lifestyle, announced the launch on DIRECTV channel 603 beginning December 27th, 2017.  With this announcement, The Cowboy Channel is now distributed by all major MSOs including DISH channel 232, AT&T U-Verse channel 566, Suddenlink channel 365, Verizon FIOS channel 246, Charter Spectrum, Cox, Comcast, Mediacom, and many other rural cable systems. In addition, The Cowboy Channel can also be streamed via Sling TV’s Heartland Extra package.

Headquartered in the Fort Worth Stockyards, The Cowboy Channel features content focused on rodeo, bull riding, roping, reining, barrel racing, and other western sports anchor, along with western fashion, music, and movies. The lineup also features a wide variety of “live” coverage from major western events showcasing the world’s toughest and most talented cowboys, cowgirls, and bull riders.

“We are extremely pleased with the traction that The Cowboy Channel is getting both with distributors and viewers less than 6 months after launch” stated Patrick Gottsch, Founder & President of TCC.  “Research showed a demand and void for a channel devoted to western sports.  The Cowboy Channel fits perfectly with RFD-TV, and this 2nd channel gives us the opportunity to really expand content for all that encompasses the western lifestyle.”

-     "Western Sports Round-Up" – News, interviews, and features focused on western sports in this daily, one-hour “live” broadcast. Hosted by Steve Kenyon & Amy Wilson.
-    RFD-TV's The AMERICAN – Live coverage of the world’s richest one-day rodeo from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
-    Cowboy Christmas – A daily three-hour broadcast live from the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas for ten days each December featuring news and interviews recapping the competition.
-    "Debbe Dunning’s Dude Ranch Round-Up" – Travel and experience a different dude ranch each week with the former Tool Time girl, Debbe Dunning, from “Home Improvement.
-    John Wayne Theatre – Classic westerns starring “The Duke” and hosted by the Wayne family.
-    Rodeo Tonight – Live coverage from around the U.S. and Canada and many of the rodeos taking place each weekend throughout the summer.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tuesday December 26 Ag News

Cattle Lice
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Cattle lice are a cold season insect that thrives in very cold conditions. Populations are most noticeable during December, January, February, and decline during March when temperatures warm. Lice are transmitted by contact from one animal to another. Cattle with hair loss, an unthrifty appearance, and leaving hair on fences and other objects from rubbing may be a sign of lice infestation. However other factors can mimic lice infestations such as natural shedding, poor nutrition, mite infestations, mineral deficiency, photosensitivity, and other diseases. To determine if lice is the problem, secure the suspected animal in a chute and perform a two-handed hair parting on the top line, withers, and face. Lice numbers between 1-5 per square inch represent a low population, 6-10 per square inch represent a moderate population, and more than 10 lice per square inch is considered a heavy population.

In Nebraska we can encounter four different cattle lice species. The biting or chewing louse (little red), are reddish brown in color with dark bands running transversally across the body. Typically the chewing louse feeds on hair, skin, skin exudates and debris near the skin surface. This species is initially found on the shoulder, top line, and back, but as populations increase, can be found on the sides and sometimes over the whole animal. This species of louse does not require a male for eggs to be fertilized. The other three species are sucking lice, which feed on blood, and can cause irritation, anemia, impact weight gain, and even death in extreme cases.

University of Nebraska and other studies indicate heavy lice populations may reduce weight gains by as much as 0.21 lb/day. These studies also indicate calves fed at a higher nutrition level had lower lice populations and were affected less severely by lice than calves fed a maintenance ration.

Cattle louse treatment products fall into several categories: animal sprays, non-systemic (contact) pour-on, and endectocides (systemic pour-on, absorbed internally and systemic injectable). Some non-systemic pour-ons require just one application and some require two applications spaced 14 days apart. Systemic injectables work better on the three species of sucking lice than on the little red chewing louse. A systemic pour-on effectively kills both chewing and sucking lice. Use of systemic control products between Nov. 1 and Feb. 1 is not advised as they may cause a host-parasite reaction from killing developing cattle grubs while they are in the esophagus or spinal canal of the animal. A systemic product used during fall weaning will not be a problem. Producers who did not use a systemic during fall weaning, should consider using only non-systemic control products during the November to February time frame. When applying any insecticide control product, please read and follow label instructions.

Successful louse control depends on application timing. Some livestock producers administer an endectocide treatment at weaning time, usually late September or October with intentions of controlling internal parasites, cattle grubs and cattle lice. These fall applications may help reduce lice populations, but may not remove the infestation. A warm extended fall, like the one experienced this year, may slow down developing lice numbers. Livestock producers who use this management strategy should monitor their cattle for signs of lice especially during the months of December, January, and February. If replacement animals are brought into a herd during the winter months they should be examined for lice. If present, the animals should be isolated and treated before introduction into the existing herd.

Fremont Corn Expo, Thursday Jan. 4

Nathan Mueller, NE Extension Educator, Dodge County

Please join me next Thursday, Jan. 4 for the Fremont Corn Expo that will start at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast, presentations at 9:00, and finished up by 3 p.m. Positioning your farm to stay strong despite the current challenges will be the focus of the 2018 Fremont Corn Expo on January 4th.

Since 2004, Nebraska Extension in partnership with local agribusinesses has been organizing the Fremont Corn Expo. The expo features speakers and panelists that provide local corn growers with the knowledge they need to effectively manage locally-relevant issue each year. To accomplish this our speakers will address:
·        Corn Stalk Lodging: What Role did Crown and Stalk Rots Play? with Dr. Tamra Jackson-Ziems, Extension Corn Plant Pathologist from University for Nebraska-Lincoln
·        What’s in Store with Darin Newsom, Senior Analyst from DTN or Data Transmission Network
·        Grain Storage Management and Technology with Dr. Ken Hellevang, Extension Ag Engineer from North Dakota State University
·        How Long Will the Impacts of La Nina Last and What Role Will It Play in the 2018 Crop Production Season? with Al Dutcher, Associate State Climatologist from the Nebraska Climate Office

In addition, a panel of local Ag professionals will look at what it takes to successfully manage a cover crop after seed corn and you will get industry updates from Nebraska Farm Bureau, Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Corn Board, and Colfax-Dodge County Corn Growers.

The Expo is held at Christensen Field Main Arena at 1730 W. 16th St in Fremont. Over 50 agribusinesses will be exhibiting at the expo throughout the day. The Corn Expo is a one-stop shop for you as a corn grower to get the critical information you need to effectively manage locally-relevant corn production issues. This is an event for corn growers by corn growers! The event is free and includes breakfast and lunch. For more information and a full list of sponsors and exhibitors visit our website at or view the attached program.

“Ranching for Profitability” Meetings Held Across Nebraska

What are pillars to beef productivity?  Grazing, reproduction, and cattle health are key to beef profitability and will be covered in half-day workshops across Nebraska by beef specialists and educators. 

“Ranching for Profitability” workshops will be held from 10 am to 2 pm (local time) and 5 pm to 9 pm (local time).  Please note: speakers and topics may vary by location- contact the local extension office for a list of topics and speakers.

Head of the Animal Science Department, Clint Krehbiel, will discuss “Nutrition and Management Practices for Weaned Calves for Improved Health and Well-Being”.  Krehbiel will also give an update on the UNL Animal Science program.  Nebraska Extension beef nutrition specialist, Travis Mulliniks, will cover managing cows’ diets before and after calving to prepare them for the breeding season.  The challenge continues as land managers battle newly introduced and established problem weeds.  Nebraska Extension range and forage specialist, Mitch Stephenson, will discuss control methods for pasture weeds.  Jerry Volesky and Daren Redfearn are experts in the field of irrigated forages and will share their insight in growing forage crops.

Pre-registration required for a meal count (one week prior).  All times are local.
*January 9 - Burwell (Sandstone Grill 10 am–2 pm) 308-346-4200;
*January 9 – Thedford (Sandhills Corral 5-9 pm) 308-645-2267;
*January 10 – O’Neill (Holt County Courthouse Annex 10 am–2 pm), 402-336-2760;
*January 10 – Ainsworth (Lutheran Church 5-9 pm), 402-387-2213;
*January 11 – Gordon (Gordon Community Building 10 am–2 pm) 308-327-2312;
*January 11 – Valentine (Peppermill Restaurant 5–9 pm) 402-376-1850;
*January 16 – Kearney (Buffalo Co Extension Office 10 am- 2 pm) 308-236-1235;
*January 16 - Broken Bow (Country Club 5 pm–9 pm) 308-872-6831;
*January 17 – Brady (Brady Community Center 10 am–2 pm) 308-532-2683;
*January 17 - Kimball (4-H Building 5 pm–9 pm) 308-235-3122;

 Please call the office one week prior if you plan to attend.  Cost is $15/person.  Brought to you by Nebraska Extension, and local sponsors.

Impacts of Nutrient Restriction on Heifer Pregnancy Success

Julie Walker – Extension Beef Specialist South Dakota State University

Understanding the factors impacting reproductive failure within heifers is critical to implementing management strategies that will improve heifers’ chances of remaining within the beef herd and successfully producing calves. Heifers typically have greater pregnancy success if they achieve 65% of their mature body weight and sustain a body condition score of 6 by the beginning of the breeding season (Hall et al., 1995; Patterson et al., 1991). Method of heifer development may also impact heifer pregnancy success, with heifers that have prior grazing experience after weaning having increased conception rates to AI compared to heifers developed in a drylot (Perry et al., 2013). The timing of changes in nutrition in respect to breeding may also impact a heifer’s pregnancy success.

Recent Research

A study was conducted in the spring of 2017 at South Dakota State University (SDSU) to determine how changes in plane of maternal nutrition at the time of AI impact embryo development. Although this study was conducted in a drylot, changes in plane of nutrition occurred at the time of AI to simulate the change in nutrient intake drylot-developed heifers experience when turned out to grass at the beginning of the breeding season.

Nutritional Treatments

Sixty heifers were divided into two nutritional treatments for 36 days prior to AI and fed at either 64% of their maintenance energy requirements or 139% of their maintenance energy requirements. Heifers were synchronized to come into estrus, and at the time of AI, half of the heifers from the low treatment were moved to the high treatment diet while half of the high treatment heifers were moved to the low treatment diet. This resulted in four treatment groups: heifers on the low diet before and after AI (LL), heifers on the low treatment before AI and the high treatment after AI (LH), heifers on the high diet before and after AI (HH), and heifers on the high treatment before AI and the low treatment after AI (HL). Heifers were maintained within their respective treatments for six days after AI and were then flushed for embryo collection and uterine luminal fluid. Blood samples were collected from heifers daily from AI to embryo flush and analyzed for non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), protein, and glucose to determine if these metabolites would reflect changes in heifers’ plane of nutrition in both peripheral concentrations (blood) and the uterus (uterine luminal fluid) during early embryogenesis.

Findings -Embryo Quality

Embryo quality was reduced from heifers restricted energy before and after AI. Peripheral concentrations of NEFA and protein were elevated in nutrient restricted heifers after AI (LL and HL), as these heifers were mobilizing body fat and tissue to meet the body’s demands for energy and amino acids; however, glucose and uterine luminal fluid metabolites did not reflect heifers’ nutritional status, indicating that although embryo development is sensitive to changes in maternal nutrition during the first six days of embryogenesis, these changes are not communicated to the embryo through NEFA, overall protein concentrations, or glucose.

Pregnancy Success

Typically, producers do not restrict intake to 64% of maintenance energy; however, heifers can experience a significant drop in nutrient intake when animals are moved from a drylot to a grazing situation, especially if these animals have limited grazing skills. The research team on this project anticipated that returning these restricted heifers to a balanced ration that met their nutrient needs for growth would result in similar pregnancy rates. Heifers were placed back on full feed and spring pasture after the experiment for 22 days in preparation for breeding. Heifers were synchronized to come into estrus, artificially inseminated, and then moved to pasture for the remainder of the breeding season and exposed to a clean-up bull. Pregnancy success to AI and overall breeding season success determined that heifers that had undergone nutrient restriction in the previous study (LL, LH, and HL) had a greater likelihood of being open after the breeding season (40%, 46.7%, and 40% respectively) compared to heifers that did not undergo nutrient restriction (HH: 20%). Although more animals are needed to support this data, it is evident that small antral follicular growth is sensitive to nutritional insults (GutiƩrrez et al., 1997). As observed by pregnancy rates from heifers in the current study, even short-term nutrient restriction over six days (HL heifers) yields similar pregnancy success compared to heifers restricted energy for 42 days (LL heifers), indicating that negative impacts on follicular development may have the potential to impact future pregnancy success.

Follicular Development

Follicular development from preantral to preovulatory follicles requires approximately 42 days in beef cattle (Aerts and Bols, 2010); therefore, when managing beef nutrition prior to the breeding season, keep in mind that nutrient restriction during this time may have negative impacts on follicular development, which may in turn impact pregnancy success of those animals during the breeding season.

U.S. Soy Processors Build New Capacity at Fastest Rate in 20 Years

Jen Del Carmen, USSEC

As international buyers continue to seek U.S. soybean meal for its composition, the U.S. soy industry strives to satisfy those needs. U.S. soy processors continue to build new crushing plants and U.S. infrastructure to help move the soybean meal to market in a reliable and timely manner.

U.S. agricultural cooperatives are building new soybean crushing plants at the fastest rate in two decades as U.S. farmers, the world’s No. 1 soybean producers, prepare to sow record soy acreage again in 2018.

As global net incomes continues to rise, the demand for meat, especially pork and chicken, has led to a rapid growth in demand for animal feed. Crushing plants produce high-protein soybean meal feed for livestock and soybean oil for food and fuel.

In 2019, U.S. processors are expected to open plants with capacity to process at least 120 million bushels of soybeans, up about 5 percent from existing capacity of an estimated 1.9 billion bushels.

The last time outright capacity grew that much was in 1997-98, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and soy industry data.

Strong demand for feed has boosted crushing margins, the measure of profitability for the plants, which has encouraged processors to build more plants.

Increasing Capabilities

Growth in feed demand means crushing capacity worldwide will need to expand further.

Global soy production would have to increase by 20 percent over the next decade to keep up with feed consumption, according to Tom Hammer, president of industry group National Oilseed Processing Association (NOPA).

U.S. soy plantings totaled a record 90.2 million acres in 2017. The USDA, in a preliminary forecast, has set 2018 plantings at 91.0 million acres. Although industry capacity could reach 2 billion bushels in less than two years, the USDA said crushings likely would not reach that level until 2020-21.

The new plants will increase demand for soybeans, potentially pushing up prices that farmers nearby will receive for their crops and reducing transport costs.

Many of the new facilities are in places outside the central U.S. Midwest soy belt, taking advantage of increased supplies from farmers in those areas that have switched to soybeans from less profitable crops such as wheat.

As these facilities are built, they will help keep U.S. soy products moving quickly and efficiently to meet end-user demand.

Group Files FTC Complaint Against HSUS

The Center for Consumer Freedom filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding the Humane Society of the U.S.

The non-profit CCF says the Humane Society is responsible for a deceptive advertising campaign, and they also passed along 77 donor complaints submitted through its website, Help Pet

The Center for Consumer Freedom says HSUS drove traffic to a web page that contained false information back in November. The web page said only 19 percent of total donations went to fundraising. But, the Form 990 tax return filed in 2016 by HSUS shows that it actually spends 29 percent of its donations on fundraising. The CCF says if joint cost expenditures that are allocated to management or program spending are factored in, the total fundraising number climbs to 52 percent. The Center points out that charities have been known to classify at least some of its fundraising as “educational” expenses in order to seem more efficient with donations.

The CCF also says that, in spite of its name, the Humane Society of the U.S. is not affiliated with many of the pet shelters across the country. CCF points out that HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter, in spite of solicitations suggesting otherwise.

FAA: Farm Equipment Radio Interference Threatens Air Traffic

(AP) -- Radio interference from a farm's massive metal crop-watering structure is causing havoc for air traffic in the sky over Georgia, federal authorities said in a lawsuit filed this week.

The irrigation structure is on a south Georgia farm where the Federal Aviation Administration has a radio transmitter to relay signals that keep aircraft on course, according to the federal lawsuit.

Interference caused by the 1,200-foot-long structure forced the FAA to shut down its transmitter in February, affecting operations of nine airports. The proximity of Robins Air Force Base makes the situation even more serious, the government said in its complaint.