Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wednesday January 31 Ag News


All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2018 totaled 6.80 million head, up 5 percent from January 1, 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.97 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Beef cows totaled 1.91 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Milk cows totaled 60,000 head, unchanged from January 1, 2017.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.91 million head, up 7 percent from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.48 million head, up 8 percent from last year.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 110,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 330,000 head, up 14 percent from January 1, 2017.

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.77 million head, up 12 percent from the previous year.

The 2017 calf crop totaled 1.70 million head, unchanged from 2016.


All cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 1, 2018, totaled 4.00 million head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This was up 100,000 head from January 1, 2017. Beef cows, at 970,000 head, were 1 percent above last year. Milk cow inventory was up 5,000 head to 220,000 head.

All heifers 500 pounds and over were down 3 percent to 830,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were down 11 percent from 2017 to 165,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 135,000 head, were the same as the previous year; and all other heifers were down 2 percent to 530,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were up 6 percent from last year at 1.39 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago at 70,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2018, totaled 520,000 head, up 8 percent from last year.

The 2017 calf crop was estimated at 1.09 million head, the same as the 2016 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2017, totaled 1.26 million head, up 9 percent from one year ago.

January 1 U.S. Cattle Inventory Up 1 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 94.4 million head, 1 percent above the 93.7 million head on January 1, 2017.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 41.1 million head, were 1 percent above the 40.6 million head on January 1, 2017. Beef cows, at 31.7 million head, were up 2 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.40 million head, were up 1 percent from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 20.2 million head, 1 percent above the 20.1 million head on January 1, 2017. Beef replacement heifers, at 6.13 million head, were down 4 percent from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.78 million head, were up 1 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.33 million head, were 4 percent above a year earlier.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 16.4 million head, down slightly from January 1, 2017.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 2.25 million head, up slightly from January 1, 2017.

Calves under 500 pounds, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 14.4 million head, up slightly from January 1, 2017.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 14.0 million head on January 1, 2018. The inventory is up 7 percent from the January 1, 2017 total of 13.1 million head. Cattle on feed, in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head, accounted for 82.0 percent of the total cattle on feed on January 1, 2018, up 1 percent fromthe previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) is 26.1 million head, 2 percent below one year ago. 

Calf Crop Up 2 Percent

The 2017 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.8 million head, up 2 percent from last year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2017 were estimated at 26.0 million head, up 2 percent from the first half of 2016. Calves born during the second half of 2017 were estimated at 9.81 million head, 27 percent of the total 2017 calf crop.


All sheep and lamb inventory in Nebraska on January 1, 2018 totaled 80,000 head, down 3,000 from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Breeding sheep inventory totaled 67,000 head, down 4,000 from last year. Ewes one year and older totaled 55,000 head, down 3,000 from the previous year. Rams one year and older totaled 3,000, unchanged from last year. Total replacement lambs totaled 9,000 head, down 1,000 from last year.

Market sheep and lambs totaled 13,000 head, up 1,000 from last year. A total of 1,000 head were mature sheep (one year and older) while the remaining 12,000 were under one year. Market lamb weight groups were estimated as follows: 3,100 lambs were under 65 pounds; 1,900 were 65-84 pounds; 2,400 were 85-105 pounds; 4,600 were over 105 pounds.

The 2017 lamb crop totaled 70,000 head, up 5,000 from 2016. The 2017 lambing rate was 121 per 100 ewes one year and older, compared with 118 in 2016.

Sheep deaths totaled 3,700 head, up 200 from last year. Lamb deaths totaled 8,000 head, down 500 from last year.

Sheep and lambs slaughtered on farm totaled 700 head, up 200 from last year.

Shorn wool production during 2017 was 440,000 pounds, down 10,000 from 2016. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 62,000 head, down 2,000 from 2016. Weight per fleece was 7.1 pounds, up 0.10 from last year. The average price paid for wool sold in 2017 was $0.79 per pound, compared with $0.94 in 2016. The total value of wool produced in Nebraska was 348,000 dollars in 2017.

Milk goats and kids inventory in Nebraska totaled 3,500 head, down 200 from last year.


All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2018, totaled 165,000 head according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. The sheep and lambs inventory is down 10,000 head from last year. Total breeding stock, at 115,000 head, was 4 percent below one year ago. Market sheep and lambs decreased 9 percent from a year ago and totaled 50,000 head. The lamb crop for 2017 decreased 8 percent to 115,000 head. Wool production for the State was 780,000 pounds, with fleece weights averaging 5.6 pounds.

Milk goat inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2018 was 31,000 head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. Iowa ranked third in total milk goats. The inventory was up 2 percent from January 2017. Total meat and other goat inventory was 35,000 head, an increase of 9 percent from the previous year.

January 1 U.S. Sheep and Lambs Inventory Down Slightly

All sheep and lambs inventory in the United States on January 1, 2018 totaled 5.23 million head, down slightly from 2017. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.83 million head on January 1, 2018, decreased 1 percent from 3.88 million head on January 1, 2017. Ewes one year old and older, at 3.01 million head, were 1 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2018 totaled 1.40 million head, up 2 percent from January 1, 2017. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2017 lamb crop of 3.20 million head was down 2 percent from 2016. The 2017 lambing rate was 105 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2017, unchanged from 2016.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2017 was 24.7 million pounds, down 5 percent from 2016. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.44 million head, down 4 percent from 2016. The average price paid for wool sold in 2017 was $1.47 per pound for a total value of 36.4 million dollars, down 3 percent from 37.7 million dollars in 2016.

Sheep death loss during 2017 totaled 213 thousand head, down 2 percent from 2016. Lamb death loss decreased 2 percent from 373 thousand head to 367 thousand head in 2017.

January 1 All Goats and Kids Inventory Down 1 Percent

All goats and kids inventory in the United States on January 1, 2018 totaled 2.62 million head, down 1 percent from 2017. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.16 million head, down slightly from 2017. Does one year old and older, at 1.60 million head, were 1 percent below last year's number. Market goats and kids totaled 459 thousand head, down 2 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2017 totaled 1.64 million head for all goats, down slightly from 2016.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.10 million head on January 1, 2018, down 1 percent from 2017. Milk goat inventory was 380 thousand head, up 2 percent from January 1, 2017, while Angora goats were down 7 percent, totaling 142 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2017 was 725 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 133 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.5 pounds. Mohair price was $5.00 per pound with a value of 3.62 million dollars.


Twenty-seven Nebraska LEAD 36 fellows recently returned from an international study and travel seminar in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

"The seminar is designed to provide firsthand appreciation and understanding of our international community and the potential for people of all nations to work together," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD program director and group leader.

During the Jan. 6-21 seminar, fellows participated in briefings with Carol Perez, U.S. ambassador, and Marcela Rondon, agricultural attache with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, in Santiago, Chile; as well as Lazaro Sandoval, agricultural attache, and Kenneth Joseph, agricultural specialist, both with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The fellows also visited international businesses, entrepreneurs and several farms. They were able to meet with officials at Massai Agricultural Services, a seed reproduction facility near Rancagua, Chile, where soybean trials are taking place under the direction of George Graef, professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While in Montevideo, Uruguay, they toured the parliament building and received a briefing from Sen. Jose Morin.

"The people-to-people encounters provided the members of Nebraska LEAD Group 36 an opportunity to view characteristics, conditions and trends in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and determine relationships to issues and situations in our country," Hejny said. "Through this experience, participants develop techniques in identifying comparisons and contrasts of the countries we recently studied in areas such as agriculture, politics, economics, energy, religion, culture and history, as well as technology, trade, food, art and philosophy."

Nebraska LEAD 36 fellows who participated in the seminar, listed by hometown, are:
Arthur: Ty Walker
Broken Bow: Nate Bell
Craig: Johnathan Hladik
Deshler: Ellen Schmidt
Fairfield: Thomas Kluver
Fremont: Andy Langemeier
Gibbon: Shane Bendfeldt, Kimberly Wilkens
Gothenburg: Shane Terrell
Gretna: Kelsey Vala
Hay Springs: Joseph Dorshorst
Holdrege: Chris McQuillan
Johnson Lake: David Rowe
Kearney: Dustin Knuth, Ryan Stien
Kennard: Jennifer Arp
Lexington: Adam Smith
Lincoln: Ben Blomendahl, Nate Blum, Nora Turner
Loomis: Justin Trompke
Martell: Alex McKiernan
North Platte: Kyle Shepherd
Plattsmouth: Dustin Smith
Stapleton: Robert Hecox
Trumbull: Scott Bieck
Waverly: Lori Paulsen

The Nebraska LEAD program includes men and women currently active in production agriculture and agribusiness and is a two-year leadership development program under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

For more information, or to request an application for Nebraska LEAD 38, contact the Nebraska LEAD Program, 104 Agricultural Communications Building, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0763; call 402-472-6810 or email The application deadline is June 15.

LENRD Bazile Groundwater Mgt Area Open House

A major push is underway by the four Natural Resources Districts that share in the protection of the Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) to help inform citizens and gain participation with solutions that will address serious health risks associated with excessive levels of nitrate and other chemicals in local aquifers and area soils.

A public open house is scheduled for Wednesday, February 7, at the City Auditorium in Osmond, NE between the hours of 11 AM to 2 PM.  A lunch meal will be provided to participants.

Martha Rhoades, Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will provide a feature presentation that shares the findings of a recent study showing that there are elevated incidents of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and birth defects for people within the BGMA and some other parts of Nebraska, due to excessive levels of commercial fertilizer components such as nitrate and herbicides such as atrazine.

The open house also provides an important opportunity for individuals to sign up for available grant funding to use toward best management practice (BMP) tools and technology to reduce the levels of nitrate in our soil and water.   There is an urgency for people interested in receiving USDA grant funds because of the application deadline is February 16th.  Individuals will be able to apply for these funds at the open house meeting.

This issue affects people on private wells and community water systems alike.  Information on other best management practices will be provided for urban and rural landowners.

Reports provided by agricultural producers in each of the four NRDs is also demonstrating that despite efforts of efficiency, too much fertilizer is still being applied in many fields throughout the Bazile Groundwater Management Area.  This over application is not only costing producers thousands of dollars in wasted fertilizer, it directly impacts soil health and is not correlating to greater yields.   Natural precipitation and over irrigating then causes excessive levels of nitrate to leach into the aquifer.

The Bazile Groundwater Management Area is 756 square miles consisting of portions of Antelope, Knox and Pierce counties along with portions of the Upper Elkhorn, Lower Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark, and Lower Niobrara Natural Resources Districts.

For more information about this meeting and these topics contact:  the Lower Elkhorn NRD at 402-371-7313.

2018 Farm Bill Conferences Set in Kansas and Nebraska

The new 2018 Farm Bill is coming together and experts are beginning to see the form it will take. Starting in February and extending into early March, economists from the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics are partnering with the University of Nebraska extension to bring the latest information on the new farm bill to a conference near you.

Topics include the economic conditions of farmers and Title I programs with K-State Research and Extension's Mykel Taylor; proposed crop insurance changes with K-State's Art Barnaby, and potential impacts to conservation programs with Nebraska's Brad Lubben. The series will allow Kansas and Nebraska producers to engage presenters with their own thoughts on possible changes, and use the dialogue to further understand issues facing the agricultural community within the new farm bill's framework.

"We want to give our clearest vision of what the new farm bill is shaping to be, and give producers information to help with their operational planning," Taylor said.

Over the years, the farm bill has expanded to include many agricultural and food sectors, plus bioenergy and natural resource management. It encompasses everything from federal funding for agriculture research to nutrition assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). It is a piece of legislation that touches most every person in the United States in some shape or form. It is reauthorized approximately every five years, and is viewed as a vital support mechanism by many in the industry.

Barnaby was raised on a diversified farm in Elk County, Kansas. He earned a bachelor's degree at Fort Hays State University, a master's at New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. He came to K-State in 1979 where he is a professor. He conducts national programs on market risk, government commodity programs, crop insurance and public policy. In 2016, Barnaby was named one of Farm Credit's Fresh Perspectives Top 100 Honoree.

Taylor is an associate professor at K-State. Her research and extension programs are focused on farm management. She attended Montana State University majoring in agribusiness management. Her Ph.D. in economics is from North Carolina State University. She has worked in extension positions at both Kansas State University and Washington State University. Some of her current research areas include measuring basis risk for commodity grains, and analyzing trends in Kansas agricultural land values, rental rates, evaluation of commodity programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, and leasing arrangements.

Lubben has more than 20 years' experience as an extension agricultural economist, serving in Illinois and Kansas before returning in 2005 to Nebraska, where he grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Burr, Nebraska. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Ph.D. from Kansas State University.

Dodge City, Kan: Feb. 28, Knights of Columbus Hall, 800 W. Frontview. Andrea Burns: or 620-227-4542

Manhattan, Kan.: March 1, Pottorf Hall, Cico Park, 1710 Avery Ave. Rich Llewelyn: or 785-532-1504

Scottsbluff, Neb.: March 6, Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Brad Lubben: or 402-472-2235

Hastings, Neb.: March 7, Adams County Fairgrounds, 946 S Baltimore. Brad Lubben: or 402-472-2235

Mead, Neb.: March 8, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center. Brad Lubben: or 402-472-2235

The fee to attend a conference is $20 if preregistered five days or more prior to the event, or $30 at the door, and includes lunch. Register online at or contact a local representative:

Upcoming “Healthy Farms Conference” Connects Foodies with Farmers

Plan to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference, Feb., 9-10 at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln.

The Healthy Farms Conference has been hosted by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society for over 40 years. The conference has promoted sustainable agriculture and local foods in Nebraska and the Midwest.

This year’s keynote speaker is Wes Jackson, founder and president emeritus of The Land Institute, which he helped establish in 1976. He is the author of several books, including “New Roots for Agriculture,” “Becoming Native to This Place,” “Consulting the Genius of the Place,” and most recently, “Nature as Measure.” Jackson is widely recognized as a leader in the international movement for sustainable agriculture.

The Healthy Farms Conference features over 20 breakout sessions aimed at equipping farmers, aspiring farmers, foodies, and advocates with skills and knowledge about sustainable agriculture. Breakout session topics range from cover crops to holistic orchards, to pollinators and hops production. This conference encourages the entire family to attend by offering a full youth program including crafts, yoga for kids and growing and preparing your own food. The conference also showcases Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers by hosting an “all-Nebraska evening” featuring food and drink entirely from Nebraska growers and producers.

Participants will have the chance to network with farmers, university faculty, and fellow agricultural colleagues. In addition to providing informative, educational sessions, the conferences has commercial and educational exhibits about local food, holistic health products, sustainability, natural resources, and marketing.

A full conference agenda and on line registration is available on the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s web site:

Summit Ag Group to expand FS Bioenergia, Brazil’s leading producer of corn ethanol

Summit Agricultural Group announced today a $100 million expansion of FS Bioenergia, the leading corn ethanol production facility in Brazil. The expansion of the FS Bioenergia plant in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, is forecasted for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and will more than double annual corn ethanol production from 60 million gallons to 140 million gallons.

With this expansion, FS Bioenergia will annually process over 50 million bushels of corn and produce more than 14,000 tons of corn oil and 400,000 tons of valuable feed rations for Brazil’s growing livestock industry.

“This is a significant step for FS Bioenergia, but it’s even more important for the growth of corn ethanol production in Brazil,” said Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “When we began this project several years ago, we were confident of the opportunities in Brazilian renewables. Today, we’re more convinced than ever of the potential for corn ethanol in Mato Grosso.”

Driving that optimism are two factors – first, increased production of affordable corn through double cropping. In Mato Grosso, corn production over the last decade has increased five-fold.

Second is the RenovaBio program, which is legislation that would double Brazil’s renewable fuels use by 2030.

“Brazil’s long-standing commitment to renewable fuels coupled with an abundance of affordable feedstocks make for an attractive corn ethanol picture in Brazil,” said Justin Kirchhoff managing director and head of private equity for Summit Agricultural Group. ‘’As we look at the expansion of FS Bioenergia over this next year, we’re in a strong position to benefit from these favorable conditions.”

Recognized today as the most modern and efficient corn ethanol production operation in the world, FS Bioenergia is a collaboration between a Mato Grosso agribusiness and U.S.-based Summit Agricultural Group, a leader in international agribusiness development, renewable energy and production agriculture headquartered in Alden, Iowa. Summit and its Brazilian partner broke ground on the corn-only ethanol production facility in early 2016, with the initial phase of production starting in mid-2017.

As with the plant’s original design and development, the FS Bioenergia expansion will utilize process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas. Since 1995, ICM has provided engineering, construction and operational services for more than 100 ethanol plants in North America.

By utilizing the most modern process technology FS Bioenergia is able to produce differentiated high-value co-products such as high-protein and high-fiber dried distillers’ grains (DDG’s) that are targeted towards specific livestock markets. This process technology also improves overall plant yield and efficiency.

FS Bioenergia’s corn ethanol operation is considered a landmark project in Brazil that is already delivering immediate value to the country. Once at full capacity, the plant will offset the country’s increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can’t be met by existing sugarcane ethanol production. The facility will also introduce to Mato Grosso valuable fiber and protein co-products known as dried distillers’ grains (DDGs), which will serve as high-value feed for the expanding Brazilian livestock industry.

Founded in 1990 by entrepreneur and agribusiness pioneer Bruce Rastetter, Summit Agricultural Group is a diverse farming, agricultural investment and farm management company headquartered in Alden, Iowa. Summit’s diverse operations include successful row crop, beef cattle and pork farms in the U.S. and a growing presence in the South American biofuels market. For additional information, go to

Fort Dodge producer is new Iowa Pork Producers president

Gregg Hora of Fort Dodge began his one-year term as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association at the conclusion of IPPA's annual meeting in Des Moines on Jan. 23.

Upon accepting the gavel from outgoing President Curtis Meier of Clarinda, Hora challenged the nearly 100 delegates and other producers to stand up and speak out for the industry.

"Consumers, restaurant and food industry groups, as well as social media platforms, need to hear from you as the pig farmers that they trust and respect for your noble effort of caring for animals," he said. "We as pork producers and industry leaders have numerous challenges and issues to continue the efforts in which many before us have dealt with and now we must continue."

Profitability is always a concern for pig farmers and Hora says that will be one of the challenges he and the IPPA Board of Directors face in 2018.

"For people to remain in the business, they have to be profitable, and to have profitability, you have to move your excess product," said Hora.

Current visa programs are widely used by U.S. pork producers. However, they are not effectively addressing the labor shortage faced by the industry and the farming veteran of 32 years says it's a concern.

"Animal production is very labor intensive and one of the things we deal with in labor issues is where the workers are coming from," Hora said. "We know we have more worker programs with more foreign workers moving into the area. We advocate for legal citizens and legal working status."

Hora is a contract grower with three finishing sites in Webster County. He finishes about 25,000 hogs per year and raises corn and soybeans on nearly 2,000 acres. He is a long-time member of the Webster County Pork Producers and serves as the president.

Hora is excited for the coming year and the opportunity to lead the industry.

"I'm representing producers and allied businesses throughout Iowa," he said. "We have about 4,400 pork producers and 1,400 associate members that are partners with the pork production systems in Iowa."

The third-generation farmer is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in farm operations/agronomy.  He and his wife, Liddy, have three adult children.

Statement on Governor Reynold's signing of Water Quality Funding Bill

Gregg Hora, President, Iowa Pork Producers Association

"IPPA sincerely thanks and congratulates Gov. Reynolds and legislative leadership on their efforts to establish significant, long-term funding for collaborative water quality improvements. Passage of Senate File 512 is an important step forward and continues the strong momentum of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

"This legislation emphasizes collaborative opportunities and efforts among urban and rural partners while enhancing successful programs already well embraced by Iowa farmers. Iowa pig farmers and the Iowa Pork Producers Association remain committed to research and continuous improvement programs to drive water quality solutions."

Register for Industry-Leading Pork Management Conference

The National Pork Board will host its annual Pork Management Conference, April 17-20, in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The annual conference will accommodate a diverse set of experts from across the U.S. The 2018 conference will address current business trends and challenges facing the U.S. pork industry. Through presentations, breakout sessions and networking, attendees will gain important insight on the pork industry, its challenges and financial management practices that improve the performance and efficiency of pig farming.

“This year’s Pork Management Conference schedule is powerful,” said Andrew Reinecker, chair of the Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and a pig farmer from York Springs, Pennsylvania. “It is vital to provide valuable guest presenters and experts for attendees in an effort to increase industry knowledge among all sectors. This conference is growing and so is its value to producers and attendees.”

In addition to the general sessions open to all attendees on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning, two concurrent afternoon sessions are planned on Thursday, April 19. Topics include benchmarking, compensation, on-boarding, food safety, siting, succession planning and tax updates.

The registration fee is $425 per person through March 23 and increases to $475 beginning March 24. No refunds after March 30.  A registration form and a detailed list of events are available at

Cattlemen and Women "Blaze a Trail to Phoenix" for 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show

Thousands of cattlemen and women blazed a trail to Phoenix for the start of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, which started today. The event runs through Feb. 3.

Holding their meetings at this event were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

“Every year the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show hosts members from every segment of the beef industry,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “Not only is the event a great opportunity for attendees to network and learn about the newest technology and science to improve their operations, but it’s also when we set public policy for 2018. We’ll also manage to enjoy some sunshine while we’re in Phoenix. If you’re connected to the cattle industry in any way, it’s not too late to blaze your trail and join us this week.”

Early arrivers to Phoenix had the opportunity to attend a Pre-Convention Agriculture Tour on Tuesday with stops at the Caterpillar Eloy Dealership, T & K Dairy, Caywood Farms and Queen Creek Olive Mill.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cattlemen’s College, which is famous for stimulating and thought-provoking sessions that can help generate high returns for producers’ operations, kicked off by celebrating its 25th anniversary.

SiriusXM The Highway’s host Storme Warren emceed the opening general session on Wednesday afternoon, with Ree Drummond, host of Food Network’s show The Pioneer Woman, sharing her keynote “From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.” Drummond is a writer, photographer and ranch wife, helping run a cow-calf operation outside of Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband, Ladd Drummond.

“The one thing I learned right away is how much cattlemen care about the animals they raise,” said Drummond, who grew up in the city before living on her ranch in Oklahoma. Following the Convention’s opening general session, the NCBA Trade Show opened its doors, with over seven acres of indoor and outdoor floor space, and over 350 exhibitors showcasing the industry’s latest products and technology.

Other highlights this week include the “Phoenix Fiesta” hosted at Corona Ranch with country artist Paul Bogart, a keynote speech from former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott on Friday morning, and the “Cowboy Comedy Club” with comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from Whose Line Is It Anyway, and founding member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour Bill Engvall.

The Convention will wrap up Saturday morning with a meeting of the NCBA’s Board of Directors, where official public policy positions will be set for the coming year.

New Study: Many Factors Impacting Domestic Beef Demand

Beef quality, consumer incomes, attention to beef in health articles in medical journals and the general media, and shifts in race composition of the U.S. population are key determinants affecting beef demand in the long term.

So concludes a newly released study commissioned by the Beef Checkoff Program called “Assessing Beef Demand Determinants.”  The study summarizes the current knowledge of consumer demand for beef and identifies the best opportunities for the industry to influence demand positively.

Authors of the report include Dr. Glynn Tonsor, professor of livestock marketing at Kansas State University, Dr. Jayson Lusk, distinguished professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, and Dr. Ted Schroeder, professor of livestock marketing at Kansas State University.

“The information gathered and analyzed for this comprehensive report is invaluable to the beef industry, in general, and to the Beef Checkoff Program, in particular,” said cow-calf producer Jackie Means, a member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board and chair of the Joint Evaluation Committee that commissioned the research for the checkoff. “Members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and directors of the Federation of State Beef Councils will be asked to use the information in this report in making decisions about how to invest checkoff dollars in Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond.”

Understanding beef demand

While recognizing that understanding beef demand and how to affect it is a daunting task, the report’s authors note that it also is critical to the industry’s long-term viability.

Given the state of the cattle industry’s supply, the understanding of beef demand vs. consumption is particularly critical.

One very important point in developing strategies to grow beef demand will be clarification of the role of per capita consumption in beef demand. Per capita consumption is, in effect, per capita availability of beef, the economists note. Demand, on the other hand, effectively refers to the quantity of beef that consumers will purchase at a given price, with all other factors held constant.

"Beef purchasing decisions have become less sensitive to retail beef prices. While prices will always matter, this reinforces the importance of industry focus on beef quality aspects of taste, appearance, convenience and freshness," said Dr. Tonsor.

“In short, both beef supplies and cattle prices increased in 2017 relative to 2016 – an outcome only possible with demand growth,” the report notes. “A perpetual industry priority is to better understand and monitor beef demand, and to inform stakeholders because demand directly influences overall industry success.”

What is important to beef producers?

It has been a critical need for the industry to understand what beef demand is:  Is it as strong today compared to the past? What has made it strong? Those kinds of basic questions have been of importance to the beef checkoff for a very long time. If beef demand is strong, then higher prices are being paid for beef than would otherwise be the case. That’s because higher prices being paid for beef in turn leads to higher prices for wholesale beef, higher fed cattle and higher feeder cattle prices, and most producers recognize that benefit in the form of higher cattle prices.

One of the things the research did was to update elasticity estimates, or how sensitive purchasing behavior is to prices. If the price goes up by one percent, how many fewer pounds are purchased? This study showed U.S. consumers are less sensitive to beef prices than they used to be. That does not mean price doesn’t matter, but the numbers showed that a one percent increase in price has a smaller impact on beef consumption than it used to.

"What I believe that signals is that beef quality issues such as taste, appearance and freshness have elevated over time,” said Dr. Tonsor.

"The tone and impact of 'hot topics' covered in the media and medical community can change notably over time,” continued Dr. Tonsor. “In past years, discussions around fat were a detriment to beef demand but more recently these discussions have enhanced beef demand. Similarly, this study shows how Atkins Diet discussions remain supportive of beef demand, but less so than a decade earlier."

What can the checkoff do?

Based on research, data, and information examined, the researchers prepared five key recommendations for checkoff leaders to consider in making decisions about how to invest checkoff dollars:
-    Beef quality aspects such as taste, appearance, convenience, and freshness are innate product quality attributes identified as top priorities in past beef demand studies, and they remain key for sustaining and growing beef demand.
-    External coverage of “hot topics” is likely to continue to be dynamic for the beef industry. Researchers made the recommendation for systematic re-assessment of which topics have the largest net impact on beef demand and focus on those.
-    Increase collaborative approaches with the U.S. pork and chicken industries. Given limited cross-price sensitivity and a host of common challenges and opportunities, a more collaborative approach may better utilize the industry’s limited resources given recent increases in competition from plant-based protein sources.
-    Recommend additional targeting of beef product development, messaging and marketing to consumers with particular attention to race, income, age, political ideology and product type considerations.
-    Conduct a systematic evaluation of information sources available to gain beef demand insight. Multiple data sources and methods were used to gain a more complete understanding of beef demand determinants, and the researchers encouraged more focus on leveraging existing industry investments to regularly assess beef demand.

“Assessing Beef Demand Determinants” is available on

 Survey Shows Growing Approval of Beef Checkoff Program

An independent survey of beef producers found 74 percent continue to approve of the Beef Checkoff Program; this finding is 5 percent higher than the survey a year ago. Importantly, the more producers know about the program, the more supportive they are. The survey also found that producers are generally more optimistic about the cattle industry than they were a year ago. The random survey of 804 beef and dairy producers nationwide was conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research from mid-December 2017 until mid-January 2018. The survey found that in addition to stronger support of the checkoff compared to a year ago, a substantial majority of beef and dairy producers continue to say their beef checkoff is a good value:
-    76% say the beef checkoff has contributed to a positive trend in beef demand
-    78% say the checkoff has value even when the economy is weak, 5% higher than last year
-    65% say the checkoff contributes to profitability of their operations
-    71% say the checkoff represents their interests, 4% higher than last year
-    61% believe the checkoff is well-managed

In addition, while fewer producers (43 percent) said they remembered having seen, read or heard anything about the checkoff in the past six months, 86 percent reported the information they remembered was positive, 8 percent higher than a year ago.

“We are encouraged that three out of four producers continue to support the checkoff,” said Jo Stanko, Investor Relations Working Group co-chair. “On the other hand, it is concerning that fewer producers consider themselves ‘informed’ about the checkoff, and only 43 percent say they have seen, read or heard checkoff news in the past six months. Since most producers believe it’s important for the program to communicate to them checkoff results, it’s clear we will need to step up these communications efforts in the months ahead.”

The survey informs checkoff leaders of strengths and weaknesses in producer communications efforts and is used directly in developing an authorization request for the next year. See this year’s survey results as well as results from previous surveys.

For more information about your checkoff investment, visit

Report Release: U.S. Beef Cattle Identification and Traceability Systems

Background: The 2016-2020 Beef Industry Long Range Plan included the following strategic objective:  Adopt Animal I.D. Traceability Systems - Secure the broad adoption of individual animal ID traceability system(s) across the beef community to equip the industry to effectively manage a disease outbreak while enhancing both domestic and global trust in U.S. beef and ensuring greater access to export markets. Critical and immediate: Conduct a feasibility study to understand the economic opportunity of opening new and expanding markets…and the lost opportunity in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

Report: US. Beef Cattle Identification and Traceability Systems: Opportunities, Obstacles and Incentives Across the Value Chain by World Perspectives, Inc.

The report developed by World Perspectives, Inc. (WPI) was based on the following methodologies:
    600-plus respondent quantitative survey.
    90-plus interviews with industry participants (all sectors).
    23 discussions with state cattle and beef associations.
    20 previous academic/government studies reviewed/analyzed.
    15 years of data analyzed for demand modeling and economic projections.
    9 global systems reviewed via direct interviews with foreign industry association and government officials.

The report addresses an issue that the industry acknowledges needs action, and it contains the information necessary to consider animal identification and traceability in a new framework, including the following conclusions and recommendations:
The industry should be proactive in continuing the discussion of animal identification and traceability based on the framework laid out in the report.

Moving forward, the basic tenets of an ID and traceability system(s) should be [that a system(s)]:
    Is industry driven.
    Is managed and overseen by an entity that includes both private and government interests.
    Maintains data privacy.
    Is equitable to all industry sectors.
    Is compatible with common industry practices.
    Operates at the speed of commerce.
    Is credible in domestic and international markets

Trade Shuffle Poses Risk for US Beef Exports

While the U.S. beef industry is well positioned to capitalize on a growing global middle class and an improving economy, trade uncertainty could hamper the U.S.’s ability to capture market share in the coming years, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

The U.S. beef herd is expanding, bolstered by low input costs, and so is the demand for beef around the world. However, approximately 80 percent of beef exports are sold to countries that could be affected by ongoing trade pact negotiations. Trade deals being negotiated or recently approved include the Trans Pacific Partnership, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and are either being renegotiated or the U.S. has dropped out of the agreement altogether.

“Beef production in the U.S. is on the rise, and export outlets have never been more important,” said Trevor Amen, industry analyst with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “However, the U.S. is threatening to retreat from key trade deals and the U.S.’s beef exporting competitors are forging their own deals with major global beef importers.”

What’s at Stake

Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong top the list of countries importing beef from the U.S., representing 83 percent of all U.S. beef exports. Of these trade partners, only Hong Kong will be unaffected by current trade pact negotiations. Competing exporters that are part of TPP will gain preferential access to Japan, exports to Mexico and Canada are at risk with NAFTA, and beef trade with South Korea could decline if KORUS is renegotiated. New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Argentina are all hoping to take of advantage of a trade reshuffle. Meanwhile, U.S. beef exporters eye China as a key long-term opportunity; however, current trade requirements are cost-inhibitive for most U.S. exporters, and recently imposed U.S. tariffs on other Chinese goods could aggravate trade progress in the near-term.

Southern Hemisphere Competitors Rising

While U.S. beef production is increasing, so is production in Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Brazil and Argentina are hampered by higher transportation costs to the major importers of beef, and the U.S. still has an advantage in product quality over all three countries. But, as U.S. trade agreements are at risk, and new ones that exclude the U.S. are forged, Brazil, Argentina and Australia will look to capitalize on improved market access.

A video synopsis of the report, “U.S. Beef Exports Are Growing, but so Are Trade Risks” is available at

USDA Launches MARS, Delivering Market Data to Agricultural Producers Around the Globe Faster and Easier

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced the launch of a new electronic data platform to deliver market price information to the commodities industry. The new web-based platform, Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS), uses state-of-the-art technology to present detailed data sets in a more customer-focused way to better support competitive markets for producers and help stabilize food prices for American families.

“USDA Market News is the most relied upon source of unbiased agricultural market data,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “USDA’s on-site market reporters gather, analyze and publish unbiased data all day long to ensure fair food prices for consumers across the country and around the world. The MARS project applies the best data management practices to make that data available when and where farmers, packers and processors need it.”

As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue promised last summer, USDA staff are using the latest technologies available to deliver the most effective, most efficient, customer-focused service in the federal government. MARS improves the transparency, speed and accuracy of USDA Market News, and facilitates the flow of data from more than 3,600 markets to AMS analysts and ultimately to producers, industry and the public. The new dynamic interface provides data analysts one-stop instant access to agricultural commodity data through a searchable database with the ability to create custom reports, data sets and data visualizations to make large amounts of information more easily understandable in a fraction of the time. Businesses may also utilize the built-in application program interface (API) to use the data to create new uses for the data as customer needs evolve.

On Feb. 2, 2018, Market News information for dairy products will be the first set of data and reports available through MARS followed by Cotton and Tobacco, scheduled for April 2018. Dates for Livestock, Poultry and Grain and Specialty Crops will be announced on the new My Market News website. It is anticipated that all Market News data will be moved to the new system by March 2019. USDA’s existing Market News website will continue to post data until all commodities are available through MARS.

Trump Administration Delays Implementation of Waters of US Rule by Two Years

(AP) -- The Trump administration on Wednesday delayed implementation of an Obama-era clean water rule by another two years to give the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers more time to do away with it.

The move follows a Supreme Court ruling last week that said legal challenges to the Waters of the U.S. rule should be decided in federal district courts. That will result in the lifting of a stay issued by an appeals court blocking the 2015 rule from going into effect.

The rule expanded the definitions for wetlands and small waterways under the Clean Water Act -- prompting opposition from agribusiness, mining and industry groups. The expansion was intended to reduce sources of pollution dumped in the small tributaries of larger lakes and rivers.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order nearly a year ago ordering a review of the WOTUS rule. By moving the effective date to 2020, the Trump administration buys itself more time to issue a replacement.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt routinely cites WOTUS as what he sees as regulatory overreach by the prior administration.

"EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America's farmers and ranchers," Pruitt said Wednesday, according to a statement. "The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation."

NCBA Applauds Two-Year Delay of Waters of the United States Rule

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager today issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to delay implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule for two additional years:

"Today’s action from EPA and the Army Corps ensures the 2015 WOTUS Rule never comes back. We thank Administrator Pruitt and his team for this prompt action which protects agricultural producers across the country and we look forward to the next steps — repeal and replace."

Farm Bureau Applauds Delay of Unlawful WOTUS Rule

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“The American Farm Bureau Federation applauds today’s action by the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to delay implementation of the hopelessly vague 2015 rule that expansively defined ‘waters of the United States.’ That rule would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters. Without today’s action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field.

“Today’s announcement is part of a measured and thoughtful process to provide regulatory certainty to farmers and ranchers while the agencies continue the important work of withdrawing and rewriting the unlawful 2015 WOTUS rule. America’s farmers value clean water as much as anyone, and they work hard every day to protect it. But they deserve clear rules, too.”

ASA Applauds President’s Commitment to Infrastructure Improvements

The American Soybean Association (ASA) today applauded the priority placed on improving the nation’s infrastructure in President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address last night.

ASA President John Heisdorffer, a soybean farmer from Keota, Iowa, stated that “the President’s commitment to work with Congress to fashion an initiative that will generate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments to upgrade roads, bridges, highways, railways, waterways and broadband addresses a priority that is long overdue.”

“America’s transportation network is U.S. agriculture’s competitive advantage for reaching world markets at less cost than other exporting countries,” Heisdorffer said. “Brazil and other soybean exporters have been making significant investments in bolstering their railroads and river systems in recent years, while our aging infrastructure continues to deteriorate, causing delays and higher freight costs.”

Heisdorffer added that “the emphasis the President placed on investing in rural areas, and to reduce the time required to obtain federal permits for new projects, is welcome news for U.S. soybean farmers.”

The U.S. exports an estimated 60 percent of annual soybean production, expected to total four billion bushels in 2018. Together with the Soybean Transportation Council and other industry stakeholders, ASA has been an outspoken supporter for modernizing locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River system for over 20 years. Upgrading the system would improve efficiency and our global competitiveness by significantly reducing freight costs and delivery times.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue Upward Trend

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to trend higher the fourth week of January 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Prices for all but one of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier. Once again leading the way to the high side was anhydrous, which was 5% higher compared to the previous month. The nitrogen had an average price of $490 per ton.

The remaining six fertilizers that were higher saw only slight price gains. DAP had an average price of $458 per ton, MAP $492/ton, urea $353/ton, 10-34-0 $415/ton, UAN28 $226/ton and UAN32 $261/ton.

For the first time in several weeks, one fertilizer was actually slightly lower in price compared to last month. Potash had an average price of $344 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.40/lb.N and UAN32 $0.41/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both urea and anhydrous are now 2% higher, while both DAP and potash are 7% higher and MAP is 11% more expensive.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 3% lower while UAN28 is 4% and 10-34-0 is 5% less expensive looking back a year.

Ethanol Stocks Tumble From Record High

Ethanol supply in the United States tumbled 800,000 barrels (bbl), or 3.4%, from a record high to 23.0 million bbl during the week-ended Jan. 26, with plant production also down substantially, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

The draw comes after four straight weekly stock builds. Compared with the corresponding week in 2017, total ethanol supply is up 1.1 million bbl, or 5.0%.

Domestic plant production declined 22,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2.1%, to 1.04 million bpd last week, while down 21,000 bpd, or 2.0%, year over year. For the four weeks ended Jan. 26, production averaged 1.04 million bpd, down 14,000 bpd, or 1.4%, versus a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, climbed 32,000 bpd, or 3.9%, last week to 858,000 bpd. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was up 21,000 bpd or 2.5%. For the four-week period ended Jan. 26, blending demand averaged 834,000 bpd, up 5,000 bpd, or 0.6%, versus a year ago.

Be Counted! Complete USDA Census of Agriculture Today

With only days remaining, the National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers to complete U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service's 2017 Census of Agriculture before the February 5 deadline.

Conducted once every five years, the census aims to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture. The resulting data are used by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers and many others to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development and more.

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

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

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

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

The census response deadline is February 5, 2018. Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. NASS will release the results of the census in February 2019.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.

CNH Industrial Reports Higher Net Income in 2017

CNH Industrial N.V. announced consolidated revenues of $27,361 million for the full year 2017, up 10% compared to 2016. Net sales of Industrial Activities were $26,168 million for the year, up 11% compared to 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2017, consolidated revenues were $8,102 million, up 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Net sales of Industrial Activities were $7,798 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, up 17% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Net income was $313 million for the full year 2017 and includes a non-cash pre- and after-tax charge of $92 million due to the deconsolidation of CNH Industrial's Venezuelan operations effective December 31, 2017; a non-cash tax charge of $123 million due to the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and tax legislation changes in the UK and certain other countries enacted in the fourth quarter of 2017, as disclosed in our press release of January 25, 2018; as well as a total pre-tax charge of $64 million (total after-tax charge of $55 million) related to the repurchase/early redemption of certain notes in 2017.

Adjusted net income was $669 million for the full year 2017 compared to $482 million in 2016. Adjusted diluted EPS in 2017 was $0.48, up 37% compared to 2016. For the fourth quarter of 2017, net loss was $40 million and, as mentioned above, was affected by the $92 million charge for Venezuelan operations deconsolidation, the $123 million charge due to the U.S. Act and other tax legislation changes, as well as a $8 million charge on early redemption of notes. The adjusted net income was $197 million for the quarter, flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Adjusted diluted EPS in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $0.14, flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Agricultural Equipment's net sales increased 10% for the full year 2017 compared to 2016. The increase was mainly due to higher industry volume, market share gains, a favorable mix of higher horsepower products and net price realization.

Lighten Workloads, Pack on Pounds: Tips for Performance Success at the Feedlot 

You go to work well before sunup, and you don’t hang up your hat until after sundown. But with so much to get done, hours in the feedyard click by in a hot minute. Cattle are constantly moving — feeder cattle coming in, market cattle shipping out. Your list continues, from processing 100-plus head at the chute to moving and checking on cattle that could be miles from the operation where you’re standing now.

It is more important now than ever for feedlot operators to take advantage of every tool and technology available to increase overall gain and to improve labor efficiencies and operational flexibility.

When it comes to evaluating a feedlot’s performance and average daily gain goals, Richard Zinn, PhD, renowned researcher and animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, closely examines four things. “I would first look at the implant program — that’s No. 1. No tool has a greater impact on average daily gain and gain efficiency than the implant, so this is an area that feedlots should pay very close attention to. And then the use of feed additives, feeding management and the effective fiber content of the diet.”

While there are many implant options available to cattlemen, using a long-acting implant can be more sensible than traditional implants, which often require re-implanting to get the same duration.

Long-duration implants can help cattle producers:

Find more time in the day. There’s not enough time in the day to go back and redo anything, especially re‑implanting cattle. Consider 1,000 head. Let’s assume that it takes seven minutes per animal to bring them through the chute to re-implant. This task alone could mean more than 100 hours spent re-implanting cattle, which could add up to $1,222 per employee in hourly wage costs. Could that time have been put to better use?

Improve labor efficiencies. If asked your biggest pain point, “labor” might top the list — high turnover rates, unreliability, finding enough help when you need it most. Imagine if you only had to implant cattle once every 200 days. How would you utilize the extra time and resources?

Reduce risk of injury. One of the major sources of employee injury in the industry can be attributed to handling livestock. Implanting lighter-weight cattle upon arrival at the feedlot is safer than the risk of running a 1,000-pound animal through the chute to re-implant later in the feeding cycle. If you could reduce the risk of injury by not re-implanting and handling cattle less, why wouldn’t you do it?

“The implant program is extremely important,” Zinn said.

Synovex® One Feedlot provides producers a long-duration implant option that is approved for use with both steers and heifers, offering 200 days of uninterrupted performance — nearly twice the duration of conventional implants. Compared with nonimplanted feeder cattle, steers implanted with Synovex One Feedlot saw a 15.4% improvement in average daily gain and 9.8% improvement in feed efficiency. Also when compared with nonimplanted feeder cattle, heifers receiving Synovex One Feedlot demonstrated a 12% increase in average daily gain and a 7% improvement in feed efficiency.

Dr. Zinn recommends that feedlots experiencing decreased feed intake should also look at current feed additive programs to help enhance performance and implement changes if needed.

“When I see a feedlot where the intake is off, then we’re going to look at the feed additive program and try to determine if they’re optimizing the potential of various feed additives to enhance performance,” Zinn said. “The important thing in the feedlot is to maximize average daily gain, and by doing that, they maximize net return.”

Tuesday January 30 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation 2018 Teachers of the Year Announced

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has selected two teachers as their Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom 2018 Teachers of the Year. The Teacher of the Year is awarded to two outstanding teachers that incorporate agriculture into their classroom through innovative ideas and lessons.

Stephanie Wolf, a special education teacher at Brady Public Schools in Brady and Jennifer Johnson, a third-grade teacher at Sutton Public Schools in Sutton were honored.

“Both Stephanie and Jennifer demonstrate how teachers can use agriculture as the context for hands-on teaching in a standards-based curriculum. They are engaging the next generation in critical thinking about where their food, fiber and fuel comes from, and we are happy to recognize and reward their important work,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

Wolf brings agriculture into her classrooms with the Lincoln County Farm Bureau Learning Barn, live animals, and hatching chicks in her classroom. She also brings in her own knowledge of life experiences on the farm to help the students understand and connect to their projects.

“By bringing in the live animals and showing the kids where their food and fiber come from, it gives them real-life experiences that they might not otherwise have,” said Wolf. “Through these real-life interactions, the student learns much more than just from a book.”

Mrs. Wolf enjoys the Eggology unit the most. To keep the lesson interactive and hands-on, students help setup the incubator, build a pen, and watch the chicks hatch from the shells in the springtime. Students stay involved by feeding and watering the chicks while learning of the important job farmers and ranchers have to their livestock every day.

Jennifer Johnson teaches in Sutton, Nebraska a farming community, so she was shocked when her students struggled to answer her question of “What is agriculture?” That is when she knew she needed to do more this year with agriculture.

Johnson incorporated agriculture into her classroom by transforming her classroom into a farm.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I also knew this was a class that needed hands-on learning and would learn from these activities,” she said.

She asked the students to dress up like someone who lives on a farm. When the students came in the next morning, they were in awe. They saw straw bales, a saddle, feed, barns, farm equipment, books, magazines, and animals. The rest of the morning, the students discussed each item and how each was used on the farm. In the afternoon, Johnson invited a rancher to visit the classroom and talk about their jobs and how the animals had to be taken care of every day, even on weekends and holidays and in all kinds of weather.

“This activity brought to life agriculture in Nebraska and how important it is to know where your food is coming from,” Johnson said. “In this day and age, we have many types of learners, and my hope was to reach these students in one way or another to appreciate agriculture and life in Nebraska,” she continued.

Each teacher is being awarded an all-expense paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Portland, ME on June 26-29. The conference brings educators together from all over the United States to collaborate on how to incorporate agriculture into their curriculum and engage students. Teachers will have the opportunity to attend tours of local ag businesses and farms in the area.

ACE encouraged by Pruitt’s ethanol statements

Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), releases the following statement in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today: 

“ACE members are grateful Administrator Pruitt is committed to completing the review of EPA's legal authority to provide RVP relief for E15 and higher blends and that he reiterated the Agency's interest in how high-octane fuels can meet fuel efficiency standards. 

“RVP relief is not only a commonsense step EPA can take to provide regulatory relief to fuel marketers, it is also the quickest way to take pressure off RIN prices. E15 blending nationwide will increase ethanol blending which will increase the supply of RIN credits and help bring down their price.  For those interests seeking lower RIN prices, RVP relief is indeed a "win-win" solution.

“Administrator Pruitt is to be commended for inviting comment on the role high-octane fuels can play in helping meet future vehicle fuel economy and emission standards.  It is well-documented that blends in the range of E25-40 deliver meaningful efficiency and emission benefits at a low pump price.  We continue to work with other stakeholders to make sure high-octane fuel containing ethanol becomes a reality.”

USDA, FDA Announce Formal Agreement to Bolster Coordination and Collaboration

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. announced at the White House today a formal agreement aimed at making the oversight of food more efficient and effective by bolstering coordination between the two agencies. The formal agreement outlines efforts to increase interagency collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness on produce safety and biotechnology activities, while providing clarity to manufacturers.

“Today, Commissioner Gottlieb and I signed a formal agreement to promote coordination and the streamlining of capacities and obligations on shared concerns and jurisdiction,” said Secretary Perdue. “Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act and assigned responsibilities to the USDA and the FDA. The USDA has the knowledge and expertise to support the FDA’s work related to farming. We at the USDA have a motto: Do Right, and Feed Everyone. We believe this joint effort will help us move one step closer to that goal.”

The FDA and the USDA have worked closely over the years to oversee the nation’s food supply. The USDA oversees the safety of most meat, poultry, catfish and certain egg products while the FDA has authority over all other foods such as dairy, seafood, produce and packaged foods. The USDA and the FDA are partnering in many key areas, including the implementation of produce safety measures and biotechnology efforts.

“Secretary Perdue and I share a deep commitment to further strengthening our nation’s food safety system in the most effective and transparent way,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Over the last several months, the Secretary and I have worked closely and identified several areas where we can strengthen our collaboration to make our processes more efficient, predictable, and potentially lower cost to industry; while also strengthening our efforts to ensure food safety. This agreement not only formalizes this ongoing coordination, but presents a great opportunity to expand those efforts through better integration and increased clarity to the agriculture and food processing sectors. Our coordination with these sectors plays an integral role in helping to keep our nation’s food supply safe and secure.”

This agreement is the agencies’ newest initiative to expand those efforts and take new steps to streamline regulatory responsibilities and use government resources more efficiently to protect public health. It aims to increase clarity, efficiency and potentially reduce the number of establishments subject to the dual regulatory requirements of the USDA and the FDA. For example, when a facility, such as a canned soup facility, produces both chicken noodle soup and tomato soup, it is currently subject to regulation by both agencies. The agreement tasks both government organizations with identifying ways to streamline regulation and reduce inspection inefficiencies, while steadfastly upholding safety standards for dual-jurisdiction facilities. This can reduce costs on industry and free government resources to better target efforts to areas of risk.

The agreement also commits the USDA and the FDA to identify ways the agencies can better align and enhance their efforts to develop regulatory approaches to biotechnology, as each agency works to fulfill commitments outlined in the September 2016 National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products and the more recent Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report. These initiatives established a vision for increasing transparency, predictability and efficiency of the regulatory processes for biotechnology products.

The agreement also calls for the FDA and the USDA to enhance their collaboration and cooperation on produce safety activities. The FDA is implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which shifts the food safety paradigm from one of reaction to prevention of foodborne illness. Under FSMA, the FDA coordinates with state and/or territorial government agencies, which will conduct most farm inspections under FSMA’s Produce Safety rule.

Statement of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Regarding President Trump’s State of the Union Address

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement regarding President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union Address:

“President Trump’s unifying address to the nation recounted this administration’s impressive achievements in its first year, which have strengthened the economy for all Americans, including those who do the important work in the agriculture sector.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is already helping workers and will allow agricultural producers to invest more in their operations and their own families. President Trump’s optimistic vision for the nation includes massive investment in infrastructure, which will be a boon to a rural America that sorely needs such improvements. The president's emphasis on fair trade gives me confidence that he will strike deals that benefit all parts of the American economy.  Additionally, his focus on eliminating burdensome regulations is freeing up agricultural producers and removing obstacles to productivity. This is a president who has rural America and agriculture close to his heart, as his words and deeds clearly demonstrate.”   

NAWG CEO Responds to State of the Union Address

Tonight, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address as President. NAWG CEO Chandler Goule provided the following statement in response:

“While the President addressed many issues of importance to the American people, it was unfortunate that he did not focus more of his remarks on agriculture.

“Much like a strong infrastructure plan, agriculture is also essential for helping Rural America move forward. The Farm Bill provides all farmers with access to programs that allow them to produce abundant and quality crops while using fewer inputs, thus facilitating not only rural economic growth but also a safe and affordable food supply for all Americans.

“The President also called on Congress to end sequestration on Defense. Sequestration has had significant effects on domestic programs, including Farm Bill programs, negatively impacting farmers. Removal of sequestration shouldn’t be limited to Defense programs.

"As we consider our place in the world stage, let's make sure that we preserve smart trade deals that keep American wheat producers in a strong position. This includes remaining in NAFTA and moving ahead with bi-lateral trade agreements.

“We appreciate the President continuing to talk about the need to enforce our trade deals and commend the Administration’s work to ensure countries like China are living up to its commitments on wheat trade.

“NAWG looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration on ways to improve the livelihood of the American wheat farmer.”

NFU Urges Follow-Through on President’s Promises Regarding Trade and Infrastructure

In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump continued his promises to turn the page “on decades of unfair trade deals” and to rebuild the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure,” both issues of major concern for American family farmers and ranchers.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the president’s remarks:

    “Family farmers and rural residents are looking to President Trump to deliver on his promises to fix the nation’s failed free trade agreement framework and crumbling rural infrastructure.

    “The President, rightly so, spoke to how our past trade agreements disadvantage the working class, family farmers and their communities. These agreements operate under a failed framework that the president can begin to fix by replacing NAFTA with an agreement that addresses our massive trade deficit and lost sovereignty. Unfortunately, President Trump has gone about this in a fashion that isn’t conducive to positive relations with our trading partners. The administration must produce a better NAFTA and avoid massive market disruption through a NAFTA withdrawal.

    “We also appreciate the President’s attention to current infrastructure woes. There is clearly a growing need for significant federal investment in our nation's roads, rails, broadband, locks and dams. We urge the administration and Congress to move swiftly in developing the promised comprehensive infrastructure package.”

Y-TEX Corporation Launches New TRI-ZAP™ lnsecticide Cattle Ear Tags

Y-TEX Corporation, one of the leading global suppliers of livestock identification and pest control solutions, today announced the launch of its new TRI-ZAP™ Insecticide Ear Tags for beef and dairy cattle.  Featuring three proven active ingredients, new TRI-ZAP tags represent a major advancement in the control of horn flies, face flies, lice and Spinose ear ticks.

“TRI-ZAP combines the repellency of zetacypermethrin and the killing power of abamectin with the synergistic effects of piperonyl butoxide to create the most effective fly control product on the market today for pastured beef and dairy cattle,” stated Dr. Mike Fletcher, Vice President of Research & Development for Y-TEX.  “TRI-ZAP stops both pyrethroid-resistant horn flies and hard-to-control face flies from feeding on your cattle and stealing your profits.  Our data shows the more resistant horn flies are to zetacypermethrin, the more susceptible they are to abamectin, making this combination an ideal part of any rotation strategy to manage horn fly resistance.”

In addition to its new TRI-ZAP tags, Y-TEX markets a full line of insecticide ear tags and strips, including GardStar® Plus, OPtimizer®, PYthon®, PYthon® Magnum™, Warrior™ and XP 820® brands.  The company also offers Brute® Pour-on and GardStar 40% EC Spray insecticides for cattle.

“With the introduction of our new TRI-ZAP tags, along with our new Y-Tags™ one-piece identification ear tag system, Y-TEX offers the broadest, most advanced line of livestock ear tags on the market today,” noted Glenn A. Nielson, President of Y-TEX Corporation.  “Whether a beef or dairy producer is looking for insecticide tags, ID tags or both, we have the products to meet their exact needs.”

Syngenta stresses the importance of a start-clean, stay-clean approach to manage resistant marestail

Marestail, also known as horseweed, is top of mind for many corn and soybean growers preparing for the 2018 growing season. Because of its ongoing threat, Syngenta stresses the importance of a start-clean, stay-clean residual herbicide strategy to help maximize crop yields and manage future resistant marestail.

According to Purdue University, marestail was one of the first glyphosate-resistant weeds identified in U.S. row crops. It’s been reported in more than 10 states since its initial occurrence in 2000. Marestail seeds are highly mobile and can easily spread to new areas. This is especially concerning as each plant can produce up to 200,000 seeds and grow up to 6 feet high.

“Once you have a 4-inch horseweed in your soybeans, it becomes a major limiting factor,” stressed Bryan Young, a weed scientist at Purdue University. “If it’s ALS-resistant, we don’t have those herbicides to use on it. If you’re in a glyphosate system, you don’t have an option unless you go to dicamba- or glufosinate-tolerant soybeans.”

According to the United Soybean Board, marestail populations with evolved resistance to glyphosate and ALS-inhibiting herbicides are widespread, and it is easier to control the weed in the seedling, or rosette, stage. In addition, it has two primary periods of emergence, late March through June and then late summer through late fall.

"If you don’t get marestail early in the spring with spray, you’ll need a tillage tool to uproot them or cut them out of the ground. Otherwise, they are just there for the rest of the season," said Joe Humes, a soybean, corn and wheat grower in Wyaconda, Missouri. "The most important thing to stress to growers is to not cut rates and watch weed height because the bigger it gets, the harder it is to kill. Some guys want to wait and do it all in one pass, and the weeds just get too big. At a certain point, they can’t be controlled."

For corn growers, Syngenta offers Acuron® and Acuron Flexi pre-emergence herbicides, both containing bicyclopyrone, a herbicide technology, which is designed to complement the other active ingredients in the premix to deliver broader, more consistent control of tough weeds other products are missing. A two-pass system works well in areas where marestail has a strong late-season presence and can include a post-emergence application of Halex® GT corn herbicide for an additional mode of action. For the best results, Syngenta recommends applying Halex GT in a tank mix with either atarazine or dicamba.

“A two-pass program is pretty much standard. In my programs, I plan ahead for that,” said Brad Hemeyer, a grower in Gilliam, Missouri. “I try to get out to my fields as early as I can, as far as burndown options. And I’m looking more into fall application, too, especially in our no-till fields with marestail problems.”

For soybean growers, Syngenta offers effective weed control solutions, including Boundary® 6.5 EC herbicide for pre-emergence marestail control and long-lasting residual.

In addition to residual herbicides with multiple non-ALS, non-glyphosate modes of action, growers can adapt to manage the spread of resistant marestail through a variety of other methods.

"There are so many practices that help growers maintain the viability of their herbicide tools," said Dane Bowers, Syngenta herbicide technical product lead. "Crop rotation, cover crops, cultivation and harvest weed seed control are some of the ways to develop a truly diversified program, one that does not depend solely on herbicides. There may be an additional investment up front, but the return on investment is strong over time if we can prevent resistant weeds, like marestail, from developing."

Backed by decades of research and development, Syngenta has been at the forefront of introducing herbicides with multiple, effective modes of action to help fight resistance. The Syngenta Resistance Fighter® program provides education, local recommendations, and a comprehensive herbicide portfolio to help growers and retailers effectively manage resistant weeds in their area.

Farm Dog and John Deere Launch Joint Project to Develop Variable Rate Spray Technology

Farm Dog and John Deere have launched a joint development project to develop variable rate spray technology for pest and disease management.  The project is supported in part by a $900 thousand grant from the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD Foundation) and delivers the next stage in the companies' collaboration to reduce pesticide use, increase yields, and promote environmental sustainability.

"This is a step change for pest and disease management," said Liron Brish, CEO and co-founder of Farm Dog.  "Growers spend more than $60 billion per year on pest and disease management yet still suffer $500 billion worth of crop losses per year.  The combination of Farm Dog insights with John Deere equipment will finally provide growers with the tools needed to make the best in-field decisions for optimizing treatments, increasing yields, and promoting sustainability."

The companies have been working together since 2016.  Building on prior integration of the Farm Dog platform with John Deere Operations Center, this next phase extends data sharing and leverages John Deere's ExactApply spray equipment capabilities.

"The John Deere Operations Center is an open platform that gives producers the opportunity to connect their machine and production data with other software tools and drive deeper insights into their farms," said Lane Arthur, Director of Digital Solutions at John Deere.  "This integration demonstrates our commitment to providing producers with tools to increase the efficiency and profitability of their operations."

In this next phase, both companies will work jointly to design and test variable rate spraying solutions.  Development will occur simultaneously in Israel and Iowa over the next 18 months.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds commended both companies on their relationship.  "I would like to congratulate Farm Dog and John Deere for being awarded the BIRD grant. This collaboration is a perfect synergy between Israeli innovation and Iowa software and manufacturing skills.  Together, these two companies will lead farm production into the future."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday January 29 Ag News

LENRD Board to release the approved applications for new irrigated acres
Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “After much debate last fall, the board voted to take applications for standard variances district-wide.  Applications for nearly 24,000 new irrigated acres were received during the sign-up period, which was open between November 15th and December 15, 2017.”

The board voted at their January meeting to approve up to 2,390 new acres in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to approve up to 2,530 new acres in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.

Bruckner continued, “Staff will now go through the process of contacting the landowners with both approved and non-approved acres.”  After the landowners have been properly notified, the approved list will be available to the public, sometime in February.

In other business, the Board approved an amendment to the LENRD Rules and Regulations for the Management of Groundwater, which will add a new Rule 18 – Transfers of Water Uses.  The addition of this rule will allow the district to consider requests for the transfer of certified acres within the district.  Bruckner said, “Numerous factors will be weighed when evaluating each request, but it will provide both landowners and the district with an additional tool for the management of water resources in the district.”

The board also brought discussion of the Drought Management Plan to a vote at their January meeting and approved adoption of the Drought Management Plan into the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan.  Approval of this Plan will merely provide the district with a mechanism to define and categorize drought conditions within the district, and outlines some general response mechanisms that could be utilized in response to each designation.  At the suggestion of the board, the Plan will also integrate real time monitoring well data and a November 1st date for the establishment of any subsequent groundwater controls (for irrigation purposes for the following growing season) as components of the plan.  Most importantly, future effort will be required to develop implementation mechanisms that could be employed by the district to effectively protect groundwater supplies for all groundwater users, during a prolonged period of drought.  LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This is a working document that will be utilized, if and when a drought situation occurs.  It gives the district a place to start.”

In other action, the board approved the amended Recreation Area Rules and Regulations.  One of the amendments kept the current policy in place which does not allow alcohol at the Recreation Areas owned by the LENRD, which includes Maskenthine Lake, near Stanton; Maple Creek Recreation Area, near Leigh; and the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, near Pierce.

The district is inviting the public to attend the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Winter Open House & Informational Meeting in Osmond on Wednesday, February 7th.  The Open House is from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Various topics of the day will include the role of the NRDs, health and drinking water, best management practices, as well as soil fertility and cover crop programs.  Contact the LENRD for more information.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Smith Advocates for Ag Economy at NAFTA Negotiations in Montreal

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after returning from the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal, where he served on the congressional delegation meeting with negotiators, government officials, and business leaders.

“I’m encouraged after our meetings in Montreal about the progress being made on NAFTA,” Smith said.  “Our delegation had productive discussions with senior government officials from both Canada and Mexico, including Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Mexico’s Undersecretary for Trade, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Canadian American Business Council, Farmers for Free Trade, the U.S. Chamber, and the U.S. Consul General to Montreal.

“Overall, there is optimism about the path forward and bipartisan support for sustaining and modernizing the agreement.  In our meetings, I not only focused on the importance of NAFTA to U.S. agriculture but also to the numerous manufacturing and service jobs required to support ag.  The successes achieved under this agreement make it clear it is in our country’s best economic interest to maintain these trade ties with our neighbors.

“We know we can’t take anything for granted until we get these negotiations across the finish line.  I will keep sharing the priorities of Nebraska producers and manufacturers as this process continues forward.”

Tissue Sampling Data Reveals Trends in Nebraska Corn Health

Farmers in Nebraska who conducted on-farm tissue sampling with WinField United to evaluate crop health last season were better-equipped to make informed fertilization decisions. Tissue sampling is just part of the program, which also includes soil testing, predictive analysis, product recommendations and expertise to help guide production practices for high-yielding crops.

Corn in Nebraska Saw Fewer Nutrient Deficiencies in 2017

Nebraska farmers submitted over 950 corn tissue samples for evaluation by WinField United in 2017, which is far fewer samples taken than in the previous year. Based on sampling data, corn across the state was less likely to be deficient in several key nutrients compared to the previous year. Nitrogen, sulfur, magnesium and manganese trended in the right direction in 2017 versus the previous year. However, the majority of corn samples were still lacking these nutrients that contribute to yield potential. It’s also notable that a greater percentage of samples were deficient in zinc and/or potassium compared to 2016.

Real-Time Data Guides Inputs

Nutrient availability is dynamic and changes based on environmental conditions and management practices. In-season tissue sampling helped farmers adjust fertilizer plans to meet changing plant nutrition needs as plants developed.

For Nebraska growers, availability of key nutrients at these specific growth stages is critical for a healthy corn crop:
  ·    V5–V8: zinc and boron
 ·    V9–V13: nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and zinc
 ·    V14–VT: nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and magnesium

Comparison of 2016 and 2017 nutrient trends indicates that farmers should tissue sample and reevaluate fertilization plans annually and throughout the growing season. While trends can be recognized across the state, each field and season are different so plants should be tested to ensure proper fertilization. Factors that can affect nutrient availability to plants include soil type and pH, crop rotation and planting population.

Tissue sampling can provide valuable, specific and timely insights so farmers can meet individual field yield goals. Work with your local WinField United retailer to evaluate crop health and develop fertility programs specific for your acres.

For complete information about the WinField® United plant nutrition and performance solutions, visit

Conference to Highlight Latest Agricultural Technologies 

Nathan Mueller - NE Extension Educator

The annual Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (NeATA) conference will be Feb. 7-8 in Kearney at the Younes Conference Center, 416 West Talmadge Road.

The first day of the conference will be a symposium on utilizing management zones within production agriculture. The speakers, from both private industry and universities, will discuss management zone data collection, creation of zones, evaluation and economics of management zones. The symposium will wrap-up with round-table discussions of management zones in rainfed fields and irrigated fields. A social hour will follow at 5 p.m.

Day two feature speakers include Josh McGrath, University of Kentucky soil management extension specialist, and Matt Davison, University of Nebraska associate athletic director and voice for Nebraska football and basketball. Attendees will also be able to choose from 16 break-out offerings, covering such topics as nutrient and water management, data management and collection, precision agriculture economics, and future concepts.

The conference is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 7 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 8.

The registration fee is $200 per person for both days or $125 for one day only. Students may register for $75 per person. There is no registration deadline.

The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association is a membership network that provides a venue for members to share agricultural research experiences and knowledge related to current and emerging technologies in agriculture. Membership is not required to attend the conference.

For more information about the conference and to register, visit

Nebraska Cover Crop Conference Feb. 15 for Corn, Soybean Growers 

Keith Glewen - NE Extension Educator

Cover crops offer many benefits, such as improved soil heath and reduced erosion. The challenges lie in the details, including what cover crops to use and how to use them.

The Nebraska Cover Crop Conference will address cover crops for corn/soybean rotations Thursday, February 15 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC) near Mead. The program will be from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Preregister by Feb. 10 to ensure resource materials are available and for meal planning purposes.

“The conference is designed to provide soybean and corn growers who don’t have livestock with information to effectively use cover crops in their operation,” said Keith Glewen, Nebraska extension educator and conference coordinator.

Topics and presenters include:
-    The Banker Won’t like Wheat, but Your Soil Will — Here's Why!, Nathan Mueller, Nebraska extension educator;
-    Will Cover Crops Be a New Home for Insects?, Justin McMechan, Nebraska extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist;
-    Cover Crops for Ephemeral Gully Control, Dan Gillespie, Nebraska NRCS no-till specialist;
-    How Cover Crops Work on My Farm, Bill Nielsen, Minden;
-    Why I Encourage My Customers to Use Cover Crops, Lee Briese, independent crop consultant and recipient of the 2016 International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year Award, Edgely, ND;
-    Why I Use Cover Crops on My Farm, Kelly Tobin, corn/soybean grower, New Castle, Iowa;
-    Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean Producers, Keith Berns, Green Cover Seeds, Bladen; and a
-    Farmer Panel with growers, landowners, and consultants.

Preregister by February 9 by calling 402-624-8030 or emailing  Information is online at:

The conference is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff in partnership with the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

For more information on cover crop management throughout the season, check the articles and newsfeed at

Growers Statewide to Share On-Farm Research Results 

Laura Thompson - NE Extension Educator

Farm operators and agronomists from across the state are invited to attend the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research results update meeting at a location near them.  Producers will obtain valuable crop production-related information from over 80 on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska faculty. These research projects cover products, practices, and new technologies that impact farm productivity and profitability.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

These February programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2017 growing season. Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment.

Feb. 19 — near Mead, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT
Feb. 20 — Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Community College, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT
Feb. 21 — Grand Island, Hall County Extemsion Office, College Park Campus, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT
Feb. 27 — Grant, Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center, 12 noon - 4:30 p.m. MT
Feb. 28 — Alliance, Knight Museum Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone Ave., 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. MT

Research projects to be discussed will include:  cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, multi-hybrid planting, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, multi-hybrid planting uses, seed treatments, and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including drone and sensor based management, variable-rate nitrogen management.  Certified Crop Advisor Credits are applied for and pending upon approval.

These programs are free and include lunch, but preregistration is requested for meal planning purposes.  To preregister call (402) 624-8030 or e-mail Registration check-in begins 30 minutes before the program start time at each site.

To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and how to participate, visit


For the month of January 2018, topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 28 short, 66 adequate, and 2 surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 30 short, 64 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 7 poor, 44 fair, 40 good, and 8 excellent.

The next monthly report (for February) will be issued February 26, 2018. Weekly reports will begin April 2nd for the 2018 season.

2018 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences announced

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is inviting the state's pig farmers to attend one of the Iowa Pork Regional Conferences being held in February.  IPPA, along with the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialists. will host the meetings at four Iowa locations Feb. 19-22.  All sessions are hosted from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Conference dates and locations are as follows:
 ● Monday, Feb. 19 - Nashua, Borlaug Learning Center
● Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Carroll, Carroll County Extension Office
● Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Le Mars, Plymouth Co. Extension Office
● Thursday, Feb. 22 - Washington, Washington Co. Extension Office

The following presentations will be delivered at each location:

Environmental Regulations: What's New
Eldon McAfee - Brick Gentry Law Firm
McAfee grew up on a dairy farm and has over 25 years of experience practicing law. He will discuss practical aspects of compliance with Iowa DNR regulations as well as other environmental compliance and protection. Eldon will discuss updates on the EPA's notice to livestock farms for reporting air emissions as well as current legislation in the statehouse.

Swine Market Outlook
Dr. Lee Schulz, Extension livestock economist - Iowa State University Department of Economics
Exports, domestic demand, expansion, new packing plants, input costs and a multitude of other factors can impact livestock producers' bottom line. Dr. Schulz will dive into these issues and current projections, review forecasts for input costs and market hog value in 2018 and discuss what profit opportunity may be in store for producers and how you can manage your risk going into another year.

Vaccines and Antibiotic Changes in the New Regulatory Environment
Dr. Chris Rademacher, Extension swine veterinarian - Iowa State University
The first year of the new FDA antibiotic usage guidance 209, 213 and VFD has been completed. What have we learned about using medications in the feed with VFDs? What has this meant to how producers are now using antibiotics and vaccines moving forward? What about non-antibiotic alternatives? How can producers truly use antibiotics in the most judicious means possible? What are some keys to using vaccines in the water? What are some of the newer vaccine technologies being used today with more restrictions on antibiotics? These are just a few of the topics that will be covered during Dr. Rademacher's presentation.

More Tools for your Toolbox
ISU Extension Swine Specialists
Are you prepared for the Common Swine Industry Audit? Do you have questions about managing ventilation in your barns? Perhaps you are interested in collaborating in an applied research trial. The Iowa State University Extension swine specialists are here to help. Their mission is to promote and enable efficient pork production through disseminating decision-impacting information to producers. They will discuss some of the tools they can put in your toolbox.

Free PQA Plus® producer certification training sessions will be held prior to each conference. Training will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to noon at each location.

"Iowa Pork strives to deliver timely and impactful information in our education sessions that will provide a return on producers' Pork Checkoff investment," said IPPA Producer Education Director Drew Mogler. "This year's conference will provide valuable take-home messages for anyone involved in the day-to-day activities of the Iowa pork industry."

The regional conferences are free for those who pre-register or $5 at the door. To pre-register for the conference and/or certification training, contact IPPA's Carla Vanderheiden at (800) 372-7675 or or Drew Mogler at

Annual Report Shows How NCGA Lays the Groundwork for Success

The National Corn Growers Association's annual report for the 2017 fiscal year is now available online.  Themed "Groundwork," the 2017 report spotlights efforts made by NCGA throughout the year to reach long-term, strategic goals to improve the future of the industry by increasing demand. A printed copy of the report, which also features current financial information, will also be sent to all active members.

Click here to view the full report....

"It could be applying fertilizer to ensure a healthy crop. Or applying crop protection products to reduce pressure from weeds and insects that steal a crop's potential. Perhaps it's adding a cover crop. Whatever practices you use on your farm, you understand the importance of laying groundwork- taking care of the little things that give you an opportunity for a successful harvest," said NCGA Chairman Wesley Spurlock, a grower from Texas, in a joint letter to readers co-authored by NCGA CEO Chris Novak. 

"Laying the groundwork is just as important for the National Corn Growers Association as it is on your farm. Whether it is building out the infrastructure to carry higher blends of ethanol, working to ensure continued access to international markets or fighting to protect your access to viable risk management tools, we know the importance of laying a solid foundation."

The report also includes perspective from grower leaders, information about the activities of NCGA's action teams and committees and updates on its major image programs. This document provides a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to delve further into what NCGA does on behalf of our nation's farmers.

 Dairy Groups Support USDA Proposal Allowing More Milk Options in Schools

Putting low-fat flavored milk back into schools will bolster the nutrition intake of America’s children, according to comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by the nation’s leading dairy organizations.

In joint comments, both the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) praised a proposed USDA rule for the positive effect it will have on the widely recognized problem of declining school milk consumption. In 2012, USDA eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in the school meal and a la carte programs, which resulted in students consuming 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015.

“Removing low-fat flavored milk causes schools to fail the test of how best to provide optimal nutrition for students,” said Dr. Beth Briczinski, Vice President of Dairy Foods and Nutrition for NMPF. “Fortunately, USDA recognizes the need to be more flexible in providing schools a range of milk options to enhance the dietary intake of the nine essential nutrients milk offers.”

Milk is the No. 1 source of three out of four nutrients of public health concern because they are under consumed: potassium, vitamin D and calcium. The dairy groups called the troubling trend “a threat to public health and to the nutritional intakes of all Americans, notably children and adolescents.”

“We appreciate USDA’s commitment to reverse declining school milk consumption by providing students with access to a variety of milk options, including the flavored milks they enjoy,” said Cary Frye, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for IDFA.

In Summer 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced USDA would reinstate low-fat flavored milk as an option allowed by the department. According to the interim rule published on the Federal Register site in November, school districts can solicit bids for low-fat flavored milk in the spring before the 2018-19 school year, giving milk processors time to formulate and produce a low-fat flavored milk that meets the specifications of a school district. It now allows schools to offer low-fat flavored milk during the next school year without requiring schools to demonstrate either a reduction in student milk consumption or an increase in school milk waste.

This interim rule, the comments noted, is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which does not suggest that flavored milk should be fat-free or that there is any reason to avoid low-fat flavored milk. In fact, the DGA “acknowledges the potentially positive role of moderate amounts of sweeteners in making foods like milk and yogurt more palatable.” Low-fat flavored milk offers the same nutritional benefits as white milk, but with a taste more children prefer. And with recent formulation changes, flavored milk is now available with significantly lower levels of calories and added sugar.

The two groups told USDA that its interim rule also aligns with the recent re-examination of fat – and dairy fat specifically – in the American diet. As more scientific studies find that advice to reduce fat intake was misguided, they also appear to show that full-fat dairy foods play either a neutral or beneficial role regarding the risk of several chronic diseases.

While the two dairy groups acknowledged that the interim rule does not compel schools to offer more milk options, both hope the option to do so will attract more students to school meal programs and increase the average daily consumption of the drink.

Mary Kay Thatcher to join Syngenta Federal Government Relations

Mary Kay Thatcher will join Syngenta in mid-February 2018 as senior lead of Federal Government Relations, based in Washington, D.C. In this role, Thatcher will support the company’s strategic federal government relations activities including outreach and advocacy.

“Mary Kay’s experience in delivering policy results to America’s producers and consumers demonstrates her unmatched capacity for successful coalition building, strategic insight and political savvy,” said Laura Peterson, head of Federal Government Relations, Syngenta. “She will contribute to our sustainable agriculture policy expertise. As one of the foremost experts on farm policy in the United States, with an exceptional background in legislative and administrative issues – from digital technology to the Farm Bill – Mary Kay will help us better serve farmers across the country.”

Thatcher, a 31-year veteran of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), said of her appointment, “I have spent my career advocating in the association and government worlds. I am excited to work in an industry capacity at Syngenta, a strong competitor with great people, a focused strategy, and superior products and services. I admire the guiding principles of The Good Growth Plan – it is truly a model approach for agriculture.”

In her role at AFBF, Thatcher primarily lobbied for farm programs, crop insurance, conservation and credit issues. She is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable farm policy experts in the U.S.

Prior to joining AFBF in 1982, Thatcher served as a legislative assistant for agriculture and trade to Sen. Roger Jepsen of Iowa. Also, she served in President George H. W. Bush’s Administration as director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the Farm Credit Administration.

Thatcher is a graduate of Iowa State University where she earned degrees in animal science and agricultural economics. As a fifth generation Iowa farmer, Thatcher has owned and operated her farm in Iowa for the past 23 years, producing corn, soybeans and livestock.

CWT Assists with 4.4 million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 25 requests for Export Assistance from cooperatives have contracts to sell 4.365 million pounds (1,982 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 9.714 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 729,730 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 10 countries on three continents. These sales are the equivalent of 106.075 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program in the long term helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

USDA Announces National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors Appointments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of three members to serve on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors. The appointed producers and marketing expert who will serve three-year terms are:
    Jeremy Geske, Producer, New Prague, Minn.
    Brenda J. Reau, Producer, Petersburg, Mich.
    Steve W. Lewis, Expert in Marketing, Artesia, N.M.

“The Sheep Center was established to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. sheep industry and these appointees bring experience that will serve this agricultural sector well,” said Perdue.

The board is composed of seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members of the board include four members who are active producers of sheep in the United States, two members that have expertise in finance and management, and one member that has expertise in lamb, wool, or lamb product marketing. Non-voting members of the board include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretaries for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and Research, Education, and Economics. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight of the center.

Additional information can be found on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Website at

USDA Announces Lamb Board Appointments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of five members to serve on the American Lamb Board. The members appointed to serve three-year terms are:
    Sally J. Scholle, Producer, Littlestown, Pa.
    David Quam, Producer, San Angelo, Texas
    Peter J. Camino, Feeder, Buffalo, Wyo.
    Elizabeth A.W. Dressler, First Handler, Parker, Colo.
    Greg Deakin, Seedstock Producer, Cuba, Ill.

“These appointees represent a cross section of the lamb industry with great experience in the industry and I know they will help us better meet the needs of our American farmers, ranchers, and producers,” said Perdue.

The American Lamb Board is composed of 13 members including six U.S. producers, three feeders, three first handlers, and one seedstock producer. The board is authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. Since 1966, Congress has authorized the establishment of 22 industry-funded research and promotion boards. They empower farmers and ranchers to leverage their own resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight, paid for by industry assessments, which ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity for participating stakeholders.