Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday January 8 Ag News

 New Online BQA Transportation Quality Assurance Certification
 Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

A new online Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Transportation Certification is available via the National Beef Quality Assurance program. The BQA Transportation Certification was released online in November 2017.

Transporters are an invaluable member of the beef supply chain. Before beef reaches the dinner plate, a beef animal is hauled several times in its life. Cattlemen and transporters both insure the safety of people and cattle, the quality of beef products, and demonstrate their ethical commitment of caring for animals humanely. When cattle trucks hit the road, they become highly visible to the public’s eye and maintaining the highest level of animal welfare is critical throughout the journey.

Transporting cattle at any age in their life is a stressful experience, so cattlemen and professional drivers should ensure the best care for the animals prior to, during, and after the journey. The BQA Transportation Certification teaches industry best management practices and reviews laws and regulations for transporting cattle.

Two course options focus the content for Farmers and Ranchers or Professional Drivers. Seven lessons make up the courses:
·    Introduction to BQA Transportation
·    Principles of Stockmanship
·    Biosecurity
·    Fitness for Transport
·    Pre-Trip Planning and Loading
·    On the Road, Arrival and Unloading
·    Risk and Emergency Management
·    Final Assessment
The course takes approximately 90 minutes to complete, but it can be completed in multiple sittings.

Upon successful completion, a certificate is provided that can be printed or saved as a training record. Certification is valid for three years.

PVC Membership Meeting is Jan 15th

Bradley J. Christensen, President, Platte Valley Cattlemen

Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 15th, at Wunderlich's Catering in Columbus. The social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meal to follow at 7:00 p.m. Thank you to Columbus Sales Pavilion and Travis Bock for sponsoring the social hour.

January could be one of our most important meetings of the year; our new membership meeting is something that keeps this organization alive and vibrant. No matter what age you are, the Platte Valley Cattlemen are always open to new members who are passionate about the Beef Industry! Mike Drinnin, Vice President of Nebraska Cattlemen and Jessica Herrmann, Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs, will inform us of NC happenings and the important topics in the Nebraska Unicameral Session. Also, Jim Pillen will update us on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. 

Looking ahead - our annual banquet is scheduled for Saturday, February 10, 2018, at the Ramada Hotel and River's Edge Convention Center. Midwest Dueling Pianos will be the entertainment. Tickets will be available for purchase at the meeting.

As in past years, Platte Valley Cattlemen will be offering one or more $1,000.00 college scholarships to qualified students. Application deadline is January 12th and applications have been mailed to all schools in our area.

Clean Fuels Development Coalition Keynote at Nebraska Ethanol Board Meeting

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. The meeting will be held in Lincoln at the downtown Hyatt Place Hotel (600 Q St.).

The board welcomes Doug Durante, executive director of Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC), as the keynote speaker at the meeting. Durante will review 2017, and give an outlook on what the ethanol industry might expect from Capitol Hill in the coming year.

Durante’s national ethanol advocacy efforts and his relationship with the Nebraska ethanol industry span more than 35 years. He frequently consults on international biofuel projects including initiatives that focus on the use of biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CFDC works closely with the Urban Air Initiative (UAI), which has conducted a significant body of research over the past several years showing how toxic compounds known as aromatics, which are added to gasoline to boost octane, are causing a host of respiratory illnesses in urban populations. Durante advocates for a cleaner alternative – ethanol – that is a natural octane enhancer and a clean, low-carbon fuel choice. CFDC and UAI have collaborated with the Nebraska Ethanol Board on fuel testing and analysis as well as public information programs in Nebraska.

Durante, a veteran of biofuel policy and ethanol market development, is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and represents members of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition on Capitol Hill. Previously, he served as an ethanol advisor to members of Congress and as a technical and policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Durante will speak at approximately 9 a.m. The meeting agenda highlights include:
    Keynote Presentation: Doug Durante
    UNL Economic Impact Study Update
    Industrial Training: Dr. Hunter Flodman
    Marketing Programs
    BIP Update
    State and Federal Legislation
    Ethanol Plant Reports

This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.

Grain Marketing Workshop Jan 30 in O'Neill

A free grain marketing workshop will be held on Tuesday, January 30 at the Holt County Courthouse Annex from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. This workshop will assist grain producers minimize losses during this time of low prices.

Workshops are funded by the Nebraska Corn Board. A complimentary lunch will be served. The workshop is limited to 40 participants.  

Nebraska Extension Educators will present strategies for using futures and options to protect farmers from adverse market movements. The workshops feature the Marketing in a New Era simulator and the Grain Marketing Plan smartphone application.

Register by visiting or by calling Amy Timmerman 402-336-2760.

Winter Wheat Works Initiative Workshop – Feb. 1

Positioning your farm to manage manure, control tough weeds, and improve soil health are just some of the advantages to growing winter wheat in Eastern Nebraska.  The winter wheat varieties planted in eastern Nebraska today can yield upward of 140 bu/ac under good management and weather. While the potential for top yields is important, it’s not yield alone that makes winter wheat profitable. Growers can add value through increased revenue, reduced costs, improved pest management, and spreading their workload.

Who is this workshop for: This workshop is for current and future winter wheat growers in Dodge, Washington, and surrounding counties.

What is being covered:
-    6:00 to 6:30 – Managing winter wheat in Eastern Nebraska – Nathan Mueller, Extension Agronomist for Dodge and Washington counties
-    6:30 to 7:00 – Disease Management: Stripe Rust and Fusarium Head Blight – Stephen Wegulo, Extension Plant Pathologist (online presentation from Lincoln)
-    Break for Supper – Pizza and Pop
-    7:15 to 7:35 – What you need to know when selling and delivering winter wheat – ADM and Scoular
-    7:35 to 8:00 – Local Needs Assessment and Discussion

When:  Thursday, February 1 - 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where:   Dodge County Extension Office, 1206 W. 23rd St., Fremont, NE 68025

Preregistration Required for Food: Online at  To preregister by phone, call Nebraska Extension: 402-727-2775. For more information or assistance, please contact Nathan Mueller at 

Nebraska Soybean Board Seeks  Leaders to Represent Nebraska Soybean Farmers

This year, the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will be seeking three soybean farmers to serve on the Board of Directors and to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry.

How does the Election work?

The election is conducted by mail-in ballot in July. Soybean farmers who reside in counties that are up for election in 2018 will receive ballots and candidate information regarding NSB’s election process via direct mail.

What are the 2018 Election Districts and Counties?

   District 1:  Counties of Antelope, Boyd, Cedar, Holt, Knox, Pierce and Madison.
   District 3:  Counties of Butler, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington.
   District 6:  Counties of Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline, Seward and Thayer.

Who Can Be a Candidate for the NSB Seat on the Board?

·        Be a resident of Nebraska
·        Be a resident of the district in which the election is being held
·        Be a soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least the previous five years
·        Be 21 years of age or older
·        Have submitted a NSB candidacy petition

Candidate Must:

·        Obtain a NSB Candidacy Petition by contacting NSB’s Executive Director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at (402) 432-5720
·        Complete the petition and collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district
·        Return such petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2018

Roles and Responsibilities of Soybean Board Member Representative:

·        Attend every NSB Meeting – 8 day per fiscal year commitment
·        Attend/participate in other educational events sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff
·        Receive no salary but are reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out board business
·        Serve a three-year term that would begin October 1, 2018

Candidate Must:

As an elected representative from NSB, you will help guide the Nebraska soybean industry in the areas of research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

If you have any questions regarding the election process, please contact NSB’s Executive Director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at (402) 432-5720. For more information about the Nebraska soybean checkoff, visit

Mineral Supplementation Changes When Feeding Distillers Grains

 Steve Niemeyer – NE Extension Educator

Most producers are very well aware that distillers grains are a very economical, concentrated source of protein and energy. Distillers grains are also a good source of phosphorus and can often times eliminate the need for supplemental phosphorus in the mineral.

While meeting the phosphorus demands of cattle is important, it is also important to make sure the calcium:phosphorus ratio (Ca:P) is correct. The recommended ratio of Ca:P is typically 1.5:1 to 2:1 with no less than a 1:1 ratio. If this ratio becomes inverted, cattle can experience urinary calculi which most cattle producers refer to as “water belly”. A blockage develops in the urinary tract preventing the animal from voiding urine.

When phosphorus is overfed, the risk of cattle developing this condition increases. Therefore, removing additional phosphorus from the mineral package and/or adding calcium may be necessary when distillers grains are fed as a protein or energy source.

Secondary to animal health is that adding phosphorus in the mineral package increases the cost. If the requirement is being met by the distillers grains then the cost margin is being increased unnecessarily.

A late gestation 1200 lb cow requires .26% Ca and .16% P on a dry matter basis in her diet. If this cow is receiving about 26 lb of low quality hay and 1 lb of dried distillers grains supplement on an as fed basis, not only would her protein and energy needs be met but Ca and P would be supplied at .26% and .2% of the diet respectively. This would supply a 1.3:1 ratio of Ca:P so supplemental phosphorus would not be needed in the mineral.

A 600 lb growing steer gaining 1.5-2 lb/d would require .4% Ca and .2% P on a dry matter basis. If the steer was eating 9 lb of poor quality hay, 20 lb of corn silage, and 2.5 lb of dried distillers on an as fed basis, then the calf would have .29% Ca and .36% P in the diet on a dry matter basis. This ratio is not quite 1:1 and so a producer might want to purchase a mineral with no added phosphorus but that did have added calcium.

Distillers grains are also high in sulfur. Sulfur can inhibit copper absorption when fed in high concentrations. Therefore producers feeding distillers as an energy source (for example greater than 30% of the dry matter) should consider feeding a mineral with increased copper to enhance copper availability.

Many mineral companies have mineral packages designed to be fed with distillers grains based diets which have added calcium, low or no added phosphorus, and increased copper availability.

Providing the right type of mineral with diets containing distillers can alleviate potential health problems and often times be more cost effective as well. University of Nebraska extension personnel are happy to help producers evaluate rations.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today reminded farmers of the January 15 deadline to sign up for an innovative new program providing a $5 per acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2018 for farmers who planted cover crops this past fall.

Farmers and landowners can sign up online to certify eligible land for the program at Cover crop acres currently enrolled in state and/or federal programs are not eligible for this program.

“We have been encouraged by the interest in this new program and are encouraging eligible farmers to learn more and consider signing up. This incentive can be a great asset to farmers that are scaling up the number of acres they are using cover crops on beyond what might fit with other state and federal programs,” Naig said.

The Department worked with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), who oversees the federal crop insurance program, to establish the 3 year demonstration project aimed at expanding the usage of cover crops in Iowa.

The new premium reduction will be available for fall-planted cover crops with a spring-planted cash crop. Some policies may be excluded, such as Whole-Farm Revenue Protection or those covered through written agreements. Participating farmers must follow all existing good farming practices required by their policy and work with their insurance agent to maintain eligibility.

Crop insurance is an integral part of the farm safety net that helps farmers manage the risks associated with growing a crop and provides protection for farmers impacted by severe weather and challenging growing seasons. Cover crops can help prevent erosion and improve water quality and soil health, among other benefits.

U.S. Pig Farmers Receive Outstanding 25:1 Return on Pork Checkoff Investments

U.S. pork producers receive a positive return on their Checkoff investment, according to a 2017 study conducted and released by Harry Kaiser, the Gellert Family Professor in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University.

Additionally, 91 percent of pig farmers who took part in the annual producer survey in November acknowledge their overwhelming support of the Pork Checkoff, with a record-low opposition of just 3 percent.
Return on Investment Study Highlights

An economic analysis of Pork Checkoff programs is commissioned every five years by the National Pork Board. The study quantifies the returns generated by Pork Checkoff investments in research, pork promotion and producer education programs. The latest results, published in 2017, cover 2011 to 2016 programs.

“It’s important to producers – those who directly fund the Pork Checkoff – to understand and quantify the value of their investments,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “The results indicate a positive impact of all aspects of the Pork Checkoff, from conducting production-focused research to growing consumer and export demand for pork.”

Specifically, the study documented a growing return on investment through defined benefit-cost ratios across several key program areas from 2011 to 2016:
-    Production Research:  Each dollar invested in production research to benefit on-farm practices yielded $83.30 in producer value.
-    Foreign Market Development: Each dollar invested in developing foreign markets yielded $24.70 in producer benefits.
-    Advertising and Non-advertising Promotion: Other pork promotion resulted in benefits of $14.20 for advertising and $12.40 for non-advertising promotion.
-    Research to Grow Demand: Research on market drivers returned $8.30 for each $1 invested.
-    Net Result: Collectively, the overall return of Checkoff program activities is $25.50 for each dollar invested.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires a return on investment analysis every five years. The 2001 to 2006 study showed an overall return of $13.80 to $1 invested, and the most previous study, released in 2012 for the time period of 2006 to 2011, found a return of $17.40 to $1 invested.

“This analysis provides a comprehensive review of program development, and more importantly, efficiency of our Checkoff program administration,” O’Neel said. “The net return of 25 to 1 on Checkoff investments demonstrates that we are meeting producer needs in the areas that drive sustainable production and grow consumer demand.”

Annual Producer Survey Results

The Pork Checkoff also reports findings from a study that gauges producer support of the Pork Checkoff. Since 2002, the National Pork Board surveys producers annually to gain insight about the condition of the industry, general attitudes on pig farming and their support of the Checkoff. The most recent survey of 550 pork producers, conducted Nov. 6-16, 2017, showed that for the eighth consecutive year, pig farmer support for the Checkoff has improved.

Support for the Checkoff remained at 91 percent, while opposition declined to a record low of 3 percent, which is down from 4 percent in 2016.
Other Highlights:

-    Right direction/wrong track: Producers grew in their industry optimism despite market supply pressure and other issues they face. In 2017, 78 percent of producers said that the industry was heading “in the right direction,” up from 76 percent in 2016. Only 12 percent said that the industry was “on the wrong track,” an improvement from a 2016 score of 19 percent.
-    Support for the Pork Checkoff and general optimism of the industry was strongest among larger producers, or those that marketed more than 80,000 pigs in 2017. Support from this group was 95 percent.
-    The No. 1 challenge facing producers was “managing hog health and disease,” which was a change from 2016’s No. 1 concern of “too many rules/regulations.”

Regarding awareness and support of the strategic plan, the primary Pork Checkoff goals resonated with the random sample of producers surveyed. On a 10-point scale:
-    Build Consumer Trust rated a mean score of 8.95, up from 8.91 in 2016.
-    Grow Export Demand rated a mean score of 8.69. This was a new category this year since “Grow Consumer Demand” was broken into two elements – export and domestic demand.
-    Grow Domestic Demand rated a mean score of 8.64, down from 8.70 in 2016.
-    Drive Sustainable Production rated a mean score of 8.28, up from 8.18 in 2016.

“These are the most positive results we have seen since we began the producer survey 15 years ago,” O’Neel said. “The findings underscore the value that the Pork Checkoff team delivers day-in, day-out to the pig farmers who fund the Checkoff. The results demonstrate that the board’s strategic goals are aligned with producers’ interest.”

November Pork Exports Set New Value Record; Beef Exports Also Strong

U.S. pork exports recorded the highest-ever monthly value in November while U.S. beef export value took another step toward a likely full-year value record, according to export results released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

November pork exports totaled 223,962 metric tons (mt), down slightly from a year ago. But through the first 11 months of 2017, export volume remained on pace for a new record at 2.23 million mt – up 7 percent year-over-year. November export value was a record-high $615.6 million, up 5 percent year-over-year and just the fourth time monthly export value has topped $600 million. Through November, pork export value increased 10 percent to $5.9 billion.

Exports accounted for 27.7 percent of total pork production in November (down slightly from November 2016) and 24.1 percent for muscle cuts only (up about one percentage point). For January through November, these ratios increased about one percentage point from a year ago to 26.5 percent of total production and 22.2 percent for muscle cuts. November pork export value averaged $58.38 per head slaughtered, up 6 percent from a year ago and the highest in six months. Through the first 11 months of the year, per-head export value averaged $53.18, up 7 percent.

Beef exports reached 111,915 mt in November, down 3 percent from the large volume of November 2016 but still the second-highest monthly total of the year. Export value was also the second-largest of 2017 at $666.4 million, up 8 percent year-over-year. January-November export volume totaled 1.15 million mt, up 7 percent, while export value climbed to $6.6 billion – up 15 percent from a year ago and slightly above the record pace established in 2014.

Beef exports accounted for 13.1 percent of total production in November, the highest since July but down from 14.9 percent in November 2016. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 10.9 percent – down from 11.7 percent a year ago. For January through November, beef exports accounted for 12.8 percent of total production (down from 13.5 percent in 2016) and 10.3 percent for muscle cuts (steady with 2016).

November beef export value averaged $306.63 per head of fed slaughter, up 4 percent from a year ago and the highest in nearly three years. January-November export value averaged $282.34 per head, up 9 percent.

Pork variety meat exports top $1 billion, breaking previous full-year record

Although pork variety meat exports slowed in November, the 11-month total of 498,661 mt was still 6 percent higher year-over-year. Export value climbed 19 percent to $1.06 billion, setting a full-year record and exceeding $1 billion for the first time.

“For all livestock producers, variety meat exports make a very important contribution to carcass value,” explained USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “USMEF has made it a priority to help our international customers develop more uses for pork variety meat and to broaden the global market for these products. At a time of record-large pork production, it is especially gratifying to see variety meat export value jump nearly 20 percent, which boosts the bottom line for everyone in the supply chain.”

Other January-November highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

-    In South Korea, where most U.S. pork now enters the market duty-free under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), strong November growth pushed January-November volume up 28 percent year-over-year to 153,569 mt, valued at $420 million – up 30 percent.
-    Pork exports to Mexico moderated slightly in November but remain poised for a sixth consecutive volume record in 2017. Through November, volume was up 12 percent from a year ago to 726,717 mt, while export value increased 15 percent to $1.37 billion. Mexico is a critically important destination for U.S. hams, especially with the current high level of U.S. hog production.
-    In Australia, which is also a leading market for U.S. hams, November exports climbed 29 percent from a year ago in volume (6,393 mt) and 23 percent in value to $18.4 million. Through November, exports totaled 62,675 mt (up 9 percent) valued at $183.8 million (up 14 percent).
-    Exports to leading value market Japan posted a strong November performance, increasing 4 percent in volume (38,979 mt) and 7 percent in value ($164.5 million) from a year ago. This pushed Japan’s 11-month totals up 1 percent (to 361,401 mt) and 4 percent (to $1.49 billion), respectively. Chilled pork export volume to Japan was steady at 200,856 mt, while value increased 4 percent to $949 million.
-    November pork exports to South America edged higher year-over-year in both volume and value, as the region continued to build on the full-year records already achieved in October. January-November exports to South America were up 64 percent from a year ago in both volume (96,763 mt) and value ($248.9 million). Regional growth has been driven by record-large exports to leading market Colombia, while exports to Chile and Peru have also set full-year records.
-    Exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic are also on a record pace in 2017. Led by strong growth in mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala, January-November exports to Central America were up 5 percent year-over-year in volume (65,056 mt) and 8 percent in value ($158.5 million). Export volume to the Dominican Republic climbed 24 percent to 28,836 mt, while value increased 31 percent to $66.2 million.
-    Pork exports to China/Hong Kong trended lower in 2017, reflecting an increase in China’s domestic pork production, though muscle cut shipments regained some momentum beginning in October, ahead of Chinese New Year. Through November, exports to the region dropped 9 percent year-over-year in volume to 454,816 mt, but value dipped just 1 percent to $973.9 million. China/Hong Kong is the leading contributor to the aforementioned pork variety meat value record, as January-November variety meat exports increased 4 percent in volume (293,756) while value soared 17 percent to $667.6 million. Pork variety meat export value to China/Hong Kong equated to $6 for every hog harvested from January through November.

Japan, Hong Kong drive beef export growth; new value records in Korea and Taiwan

Japan continued to be the pacesetter for U.S. beef exports in November, with volume increasing 5 percent year-over-year to 24,819 mt and value up 6 percent to $159.2 million. This pushed Japan’s 11-month totals to 285,336 mt (up 20 percent) valued at $1.75 billion (up 27 percent and a new post-BSE record). Chilled beef exports reached 137,707 mt through November, up 35 percent, valued at a record-high $1.02 billion, up 39 percent.

Approaching Chinese New Year, beef exports to Hong Kong gained momentum in October and climbed again in November, with volume up 20 percent from a year ago to 16,106 mt (the largest since December 2014) and value soaring 43 percent to $119 million. Through November, exports to Hong Kong climbed 13 percent in volume (113,440 mt) and 26 percent in value ($765 million).

November exports to China were 655 mt, the largest since the mid-June market opening, valued at $5.7 million. Through November, exports reached 2,225 mt valued at $22.8 million.

“U.S. beef has only really scratched the surface in China, so exports are still relatively small but the value per pound is among the highest in the world,” Halstrom said. “This makes China an exciting addition to our strong portfolio of Asian markets, where beef exports continue to expand at an impressive rate. 2017 was a tremendous year for U.S. beef in Asia, and the coming year looks very promising as well.”

Other January-November highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

-    Driven by strong retail demand and reduced tariffs under KORUS, beef exports to South Korea have already set a new value record. Through November, exports increased 5 percent year-over-year in volume to 167,532 mt, valued at $1.1 billion – up 19 percent from a year ago and edging past the 2016 record of $1.06 billion. Chilled beef exports to Korea accelerated at an even faster rate, jumping 88 percent in volume to a record 41,086 mt – valued at $368.5 million, up 93 percent.
-    A new value record was also established in Taiwan, where U.S. beef holds more than 70 percent of the chilled beef market. Through November, exports to Taiwan increased 3 percent from a year ago in volume (40,402 mt) while value climbed 16 percent to $369.9 million – breaking the 2016 record of $362.8 million.
-    November beef exports to Mexico dipped 8 percent in volume from a year ago to 20,161 mt, but value increased 2 percent to $80.8 million. Through November, exports to Mexico were steady with the first 11 months of 2016 in both volume (216,765 mt) and value ($894.1 million). Mexico is the second-largest volume market for U.S. beef (behind Japan) and ranks third in value (after Japan and Korea).
-    Strong year-over-year growth in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam pushed January-November exports to the ASEAN region to 38,039 mt (up 46 percent year-over-year), valued at $193.3 million (up 39 percent).
-    Led by Chile, Peru and Colombia, beef exports to South America have already set new annual records. Through November, exports increased 27 percent from a year ago in volume (26,786 mt) and 23 percent in value ($106 million). Since shipments began in April, exports to Brazil have shown solid potential, reaching 1,998 mt valued at $7 million.

November lamb exports struggle, but value still higher year-over-year

U.S. lamb exports were 520 mt in November, down 36 percent from a year ago and the lowest since April, while export value fell 11.5 percent to $1.75 million. For muscle cuts only, November volume was down 12 percent to 284 mt but value increased 2 percent to $1.51 million.

Through November, lamb exports dropped 16 percent from a year ago in volume (6,659 mt) but increased 6 percent in value to $17.8 million. Muscle cuts exports moved higher year-over-year in both volume (2,197 mt, up 10 percent) and value ($12.89 million, up 18 percent). Despite an unusually severe hurricane season, muscle cut exports to the Caribbean increased 12 percent in volume (596 mt) and 37 percent in value ($4.84 million).

2018 Commodity Classic Boasts Impressive Schedule of Educational Sessions

Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic and this year’s schedule is one of the most robust in recent memory.

The 2018 Commodity Classic will be held Feb. 27-March 1 in Anaheim, Calif.  Attendees can register for all three days or register for one day only.

Gerry Hayden, a Kentucky farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic, said that every educational session was selected by farmers, for farmers. “We're continuing to look for new ways to be more efficient, to learn more about our crops, how to sell our crops, how to market our crops,” he said. “Commodity Classic is a means of putting this all together under one roof. It's farmer-led, farmer-focused, so we know what the average person that comes needs to understand and what's on their mind”

The educational line-up for 2018 features a wide range of presentations and topics including:

Early Riser sessions begin at 7 a.m. each morning.  This year’s sessions include a live taping of U.S. Farm Report, a forecast for 2018 commodity prices, and a panel featuring some of the nation’s top-yielding farmers.

Learning Centers are in-depth discussion of current issues and topics that have a direct impact on famers.  Topics of this year’s Learning Centers include soil health, cover crops, pollinators, marketing, farm policy, trade, and various session on improving yields.

What’s New sessions are concurrent 40-minute presentations showcasing innovations and services from leading agribusinesses.

Mini What’s New sessions are like “speed dating,” allowing a number of companies to give back-to-back 5-minute presentations on key innovations and products.  Attendees can discover more by visiting the companies’ booths on the trade show floor.

The Commodity Classic Main Stage is located right on the trade show floor and is presented by Commodity Classic and Successful Farming®. This year’s programming includes information from Ag PhD’s Hefty brothers on fertility and weed control; Learning Center sessions on pesticide resistance and increased yields; a keynote address on the impact of women in agriculture; a cooking demonstration; a panel discussion featuring agribusiness executives; and a number of presentations from Successful Farming® editors ranging from marketing to machinery maintenance to efficient farm shop design.

Since many sessions are concurrent, registration also allows attendees to access videos of key educational sessions they may have missed on the days for which they were registered. Videos are available within a few weeks following Commodity Classic.

“I hope that the show helps you raise questions about the way you do things”, said Paul Taylor, an Illinois farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic. “Are we doing this the best way to survive, to be profitable, to be conscientious to our neighbors, to our environment, and are we going to be profitable and sustainable in the long term? That's what we want the agricultural producers to be.  We want them to survive, we want them to be profitable, and we want them to be well versed in not only the topic but the technology of the day.”

In addition to an impressive schedule of educational sessions, the 2018 Commodity Classic includes inspiring speakers, a huge trade show, entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of famers from across the nation. Review the complete schedule and register online at  Hotel reservations should also be made through that website.

Oklahoma Beef Staffer Sentenced for Embezzling Money

A former accountant for the Oklahoma Beef Council was sentenced Thursday to 57 months in federal prison for using the nonprofit as her "personal cash cow." Melissa Day Morton, 46, of Edmond, embezzled $2.68 million by forging organization checks between 2009 and 2016, according to Oklahoma City federal prosecutors. She also was ordered Thursday to complete restitution.

Morton claimed the stolen funds were used to finance a children's clothing boutique in Edmond, as well as help out family members.

During the sentencing, representatives from the Oklahoma Beef Council told the judge how Morton was a longtime trusted employee that they never thought could do such a thing.

Tom Fanning, who was the council's chairman at the time of the offenses, told the judge Morton "stole from 50,000 farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma."

The current chairman, Angie Meyer, told the judge she thought Morton was fueled by "greed, a desire to live beyond her means."

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