Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday January 18 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Sinks for January:  Rising Farm Loan Defaults Identified as Greatest 2018 Challenge

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index declined slightly in January from December’s weak reading, remaining below growth neutral, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, like all indices in the survey, ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, fell to 46.8 from 47.8 in December. Though the overall index remained below growth neutral, it is significantly higher than the reading for January 2017.

“While the overall Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for January declined and remained below growth neutral, year-over-year indices are trending higher. Clearly, based on our recent surveys, the negatives are getting less negative,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

When asked to name the greatest 2018 economic challenge for their banks, four in 10 bankers reported that loan defaults represented the biggest challenges for the year ahead. This is well ahead of the second ranked challenge of competition from Farm Credit coming in at 15.6 percent.
Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for January rose to 42.2 from 39.8 in December. This is the 50th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

The January farm equipment-sales index slumped to 24.4 from December’s 29.3. This marks the 53rd consecutive month the reading has dropped below growth neutral, 50.0.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for January sank to 46.3 from December’s 48.3. The state’s farmland-price index climbed to 42.1 from last month’s 35.8. Nebraska’s new-hiring index stood at a strong 60.6, up from 59.6 in November.

Iowa: The January RMI for Iowa dipped to 47.3 from 48.0 in December. Iowa’s farmland-price index for January increased to 42.4 from December’s 39.8. Iowa’s new-hiring index for January declined to 52.1 from December’s 60.0.

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included. 

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

Two legislative bills seek to expand broadband access to rural Nebraska

Residents in many areas of rural Nebraska do not have access to high speed internet. Two legislative bills introduced today by Sen. Lynne Walz, of Fremont, seek to close the digital divide.

LB 1113 introduced by Sen. Walz and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, would make it easier for public entities to work with private companies to install fiber optic cable required for broadband internet access. Currently, there are regulations and restrictions that interfere with private companies and political subdivisions from entering into public-private partnerships in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

“The current path to public-private partnerships is cumbersome and inefficient,” said Jordan Rasmussen, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “The city of Lincoln laid conduit and then leased the space for fiber in the conduit. With the passage of this legislation, the municipality could lay and lease the fiber directly if they have a private partner in place to provide the services. This would result in a cost saving to the municipality, the service providers, and ultimately, the customer.”

The second bill, LB 1114, seeks to reinstate requirements for more detailed reporting of broadband service access. Current reporting standards allow for telecommunications services to be reported at the census block level. For many rural areas of Nebraska, the census block is the entire county.

For example, Rasmussen said residents of Taylor may have high speed access, but that doesn’t mean access spans all of Loup County.

“This enhanced reporting will provide service providers and municipalities with a more accurate depiction of where service is and is not available,” Rasmussen said. “Reporting access at the census block level leaves room for error and misallocation of funds to build out broadband services.”

The Center for Rural Affairs recognizes the opportunities of expanded rural broadband service, and has endorsed both LB 1113 and LB 1114.

“Funding opportunities and legislative changes are key to the extension of internet access to all residents,” Rasmussen said. “The ability to expand broadband access in the state’s rural communities expands social and economic opportunities for Nebraskans.”

Pork producers to discuss industry issues in Kansas City

Producer delegates from across the United States will gather in Kansas City Feb. 28 – March 2 for the annual National Pork Industry Forum.

The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board will hear directly from Pork Act Delegates appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Each year the delegates confer, vote on resolutions and advisements and provide valuable direction on the important issues facing pork producers and the industry. Delegates will learn about the aggressive promotions to grow consumer demand and plans to build consumer trust and drive sustainable production.

The theme for this year’s Pork Forum, We Care® - A Decade of Commitment, references the 10-year anniversary of the We Care ethical principles. Adopted in 2008, the ethical principles show pork producers’ commitment to producing safe food, protecting and promoting animal well-being, safeguarding natural resources, promoting public health, promoting a safe work environment and contributing to a better way of life in their communities.

“The We Care ethical principles are at the core of who we are as pig farmers,” said Terry O’Neel, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “They show consumers that we are committed to doing what’s right on the farm for people, pigs and the planet.”

At the meeting, Pork Act Delegates will rank eight candidates for the National Pork Board and submit the list to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for approval. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:
    Gary Asay – Illinois
    Richard Deaton – Ohio
    Patricia Dumoulin – Illinois
    Todd Erickson – North Dakota
    Patrick FitzSimmons – Minnesota
    Bill Kessler – Missouri
    David Newman – Arkansas
    Bill Tentinger – Iowa

Prior to the annual meeting, members of the National Pork Board also will convene their March board of directors meeting. The agenda will include updates on 2018 plans to enhance pork demand, increase market opportunities, improve pork production practices and invest in research priorities.

Included on the 2018 Pork Forum agenda will be opportunities for pork producers to become certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance® Plus program, as well as learn more about other pork industry programs. The full agenda is available at


The 20th Annual Iowa Farmers Market Workshop will be held on Saturday, February 3rd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church at 3010 52nd Street in Des Moines.

Topics to be covered will include the new FDA Produce Safety Rule, wine sampling and sales at markets, insurance needs of vendors and markets, a panel of market managers sharing successes and challenges, updates on the state’s Double Up Food Bucks Program as well as from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey will provide the welcome at the opening of the workshop.

“It’s always an honor to help welcome the market managers, lead personnel and vendors to the workshop.  In many cases these market leaders are the face of Iowa agriculture to market goers. The Department really appreciates the work they do in organizing the state’s farmers markets and supplying locally grown fresh produce, baked goods, and other items to Iowans,” Northey said.

Again this year, the Iowa Farm Bureau will be offering free consumer market bags on a market basis. Attendees will also have the opportunity to receive training to be certified in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

“The Iowa Farmers Market Association is so pleased to have put on these workshops now for 20 years. These events are a great way for our statewide group to reconnect with one another.  Each workshop is unique and we cover so much during the day. We have an exciting agenda lined up for this year’s workshop,” said Iowa Farmers Market Association President Donna Brahms.

More information including the full agenda and registration form can be found on the IFMA website: .

New Coalition Advocates for North American Free Trade Agreement Preservation and Modernization

A broad-based group of over 30 organizations representing growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers announced the formation of Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a coalition that will work to ensure President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders understand the importance of preserving and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to America's agricultural and retail economies.

Since taking effect in 1994, the positive impacts of NAFTA extend beyond America's farming community, and have helped the food and agricultural industries to grow to support more than 43 million jobs.  But it is rural economies and communities that are among the biggest winners under NAFTA, the very same communities that powered President Trump to victory in 2016.

Under NAFTA, food and agriculture exports have more than quadrupled and account for 25 percent of American exports.  One in every 10 acres of American crops is for export to NAFTA partners.  NAFTA has fueled agriculture-related industries' growth, which in turn has been a driver in building American jobs.  Today, American food and agriculture supports more than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce and provides more manufacturing jobs than any other sector. And NAFTA has helped keep grocery prices down for all Americans.

"Farm Belt voters supported President Trump by a three-to-one margin in the last election and they are counting on President Trump to improve NAFTA in the modernization negotiations," said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association and a member of AFF's leadership committee.  "It's not an exaggeration to say many farmers are still farming today because of NAFTA.  We know that President Trump has a lot of experience negotiating good deals.  We support him in updating and improving NAFTA."

NAFTA has opened markets to America's farmers, grown domestic jobs and supported $127 billion in annual economic activity.  Fruit and vegetable exports alone from the United States to Canada and Mexico have more than tripled under NAFTA.  As President Trump's negotiators are debating major changes to the agreement, we will ensure they keep a clear eye on the positive impact NAFTA has had on the American economy, job growth and wages.

"NAFTA has opened new markets to America's farmers and ranchers, and U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under the agreement," said Zippy Duval, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a member of AFF's leadership committee.  "The current negotiations should build upon that success. Farm Bureau is pleased to work with AFF as well as Farmers for Free Trade and other collaborative efforts to engage farmers and leaders at the local, state and national levels and deliver that message to Congress and the President."

As part of this effort, AFF will be launching a robust educational campaign to highlight the positive impact NAFTA achieves for hard-working Americans and lay the groundwork for an updated trade agreement that preserves America's strong economic standing for decades to come.

"We look forward to being active participants in this discussion as we ensure the growers, producers, processors, transporters, retailers and consumers we represent have their voices heard," added Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association and another member of AFF's leadership committee. "This issue is simply too important for us to sit on the sidelines."

"Canada and Mexico represent the second and third largest markets for U.S. agriculture," said AFF leadership committee member Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council.  "A modernized NAFTA is critical to the prosperity of rural America."

For more information on AFF, including an initial membership list, please visit

Soy Growers Join New Initiative to Protect & Modernize NAFTA for the 21st Century

The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports the Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a new coalition of growers, producers, suppliers and consumers dedicated to preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA has greatly benefited the U.S. through strong job growth, higher wages and low consumer prices, and has particularly enabled a booming agricultural and energy export economy that has upheld America’s independence. But its livelihood is at stake.

The mission of AFF is to educate policymakers on the best way to modernize NAFTA to fit America’s evolving needs. Improvements to NAFTA should be pursued by policymakers to ensure fair and balanced trade with our partners that benefits American exporters, consumers and helps create and grow American jobs.

To be an impactful voice in the debate over the future of NAFTA and change perceptions about the trade agreement, the coalition will focus on supporting the negotiations with political grasstops, coalition building and earned media campaigns in Republican-leaning states across the nation. Mobilizing a unique coalition of our industry and supporters of President Donald Trump and Republican governors, senators and members of Congress will be critical to success of the negotiations.


The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Midwest Shippers Association (MSA) announced today that the sixth annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and the 15th annual Midwest Specialty Grain Conference and Trade Show will be jointly held in Kansas City, Missouri from August 29 – 31, 2018, marking the sixth year that the two organizations will co-host this event.

USSEC CEO Jim Sutter said that USSEC’s portion of the conference is expected to draw more than 250 qualified soybean buyers from more than 50 countries.

“Kansas City offers a superb location for our joint international conference, trade show, and the global buyer / U.S. supplier meetings,” said MSA CEO Bruce Abbe. “There is a host of leading agriculture export companies located in the nearby region, and Kansas City is a center for U.S. agriculture transportation, including major intermodal rail operations going to all coasts. There will be much to do and see for our international visitors.”

This year’s event will feature a refined schedule that will spread out the trade team meetings between commodity and food soy and grain buyers and suppliers throughout two days, aimed at maximizing productive exchange meetings. Follow developments at

Missouri ranks sixth in production of U.S. Soy. In 2016, Missouri soybean farmers harvested 271.5 million bushels on more than 5.6 million acres, worth over $2.6 billion. In 2016, Kansas ranked tenth in production of U.S. Soy with the state’s soybean farmers harvesting 192.5 million bushels on just over 4 million acres, worth $1.8  billion.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council aims to maximize the use of U.S. Soy internationally by meeting the needs of global customers that use U.S. Soy in human food and feed for poultry, livestock, and fish. The organization uses a global network of stakeholder partnerships, including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusinesses, agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies, to accomplish that mission.

The Midwest Shippers Association is a trade association consisting of companies and producers devoted to supplying the highest quality oilseeds, grain, and grain ingredients to international and domestic customers. The organization works to find logistics and global shipping transportation solutions for the Upper Midwest region. MSA is a networking organization that brings together its member companies, international and domestic food manufacturers, and an extensive range of supply chain providers that enables the region to deliver high quality products to customers around the world.

AFBF Releases Strategic Action Goals for 2018

The American Farm Bureau Federation today released its 2018 strategic action plan goals. The goals, which identify the organization’s top public policy issues for 2018, were approved last week in Nashville by the AFBF Board of Directors following delegate action during the organization’s 99th annual convention.

The action plan goals will serve as the focus of intensive, cross-functional planning and organizational engagement by AFBF throughout 2018. The four top issues include:
-    Farm Policy: Enact a farm bill in the 115th Congress that benefits farmers and ranchers, rural communities, and food security.
-    Immigration Reform: Enact immigration reform in the 115th Congress that helps meet farmers’ and ranchers’ labor needs.
-    Regulatory Reform: Work for reform to ensure that federal rules are limited to what is necessary, are supported by science, appropriately balance costs and benefits, are clearly authorized by law, are created in a transparent manner, and allow farmers and ranchers to remain productive.
-    Trade: Defend and expand trade opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

Additional watch-list issues will be monitored for developments that warrant increased strategic planning and collaboration. These include:
-    Energy: Ensure policy that enhances the availability and affordability of energy for farmers and ranchers and encourages the growth of renewable energy production.
-    Infrastructure: Work for greater investment in rural and agricultural infrastructure, including broadband Internet access, rural roads and bridges, inland waterway locks and dams, sea ports and agricultural research.
-    Tax Reform: Continue working to eliminate the estate tax and monitor implementation of the 2017 tax reform law.

The list is not inclusive of all the issues the organization will address in 2018, as AFBF will continue to look for opportunities to implement actions compatible with the policies set forth by 353 farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation during last week’s annual convention.

American Drivers Top 3 Billion Miles Driven on E15

Today Growth Energy announces that American drivers have logged yet another billion miles on clean burning E15 in just the past three months. The total number of miles driven on E15 now sits at more than 3 billion.

“E15 is taking off with consumers wherever it’s available and rapidly becoming drivers’ go-to fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “At the forefront of this incredible growth are forward-thinking retailers who have figured out that E15 is smart business, as well as consumers who have come to rely on the better value proposition E15 presents. It’s a win-win on both ends, and that means E15’s growth is only going to continue.”

Growth Energy works hand-in-hand with Prime the Pump, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build the infrastructure and distribution of higher biofuel blends, to give more Americans the choice of E15 at the pump. We are proud to partner with leading retailers including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons to offer E15 to customers at more than 1,300 stations across 29 states.

“Consumers are reaching for E15 because it provides unrivaled value that benefits their engines, the environment, and their wallets. This is how the number of E15 sites has doubled in 2017 for the fourth year in a row,” Skor added.

E15 is cleaner burning and has higher octane, which makes it a smart choice for drivers who want better engine performance and lower emissions for the environment. It is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, as well as in all flex-fuel vehicles, which combined represent more than 87 percent of vehicles on the road.

For more information on biofuels, or to find your nearest E15 or E85 station, visit

Retail Fertilizer Trends

For the second week in a row, average retail prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, according to DTN's survey of retailers. However, only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. As has been the case in recent weeks, anhydrous was up 10% compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price is $479 per ton.

The remaining fertilizers were up by smaller amounts. DAP had an average price of $456/ton, MAP $491/ton, potash $346/ton, urea $352/ton, 10-34-0 $410/ton, UAN28 $220/ton and UAN32 $258/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent weeks. Anhydrous is 3% higher, urea is 4% more expensive, DAP is 5% higher, potash is 8% more expensive and MAP is now 12% higher.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are 1% lower, while 10-34-0 is 6% less expensive looking back a year.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Steady

U.S. ethanol stockpiles held steady at 22.7 million barrels (bbl) during the week-ended Jan. 12 while plant production and blending demand increased following declines the week prior, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday, Jan. 18.  Relative to a year ago, domestic ethanol stockpiles were 1.6 million bbl, or 7.6%, higher.

cDomestic plant production increased 65,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6.5%, to 1.061 million bpd last week. Compared with a year ago, plant output was up 7,000 bpd, or 0.7%. For the four weeks ended Jan. 12, ethanol production averaged 1.045 million bpd, up 1,000 bpd versus a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, climbed 61,000 bpd, or 7.7%, last week to 856,000 bpd, rebounding from a three-year low the week prior. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was up 16,000 bpd, or 1.9%. For the four-week period ended Jan. 12, blending demand averaged 863,000 bpd, up 7,000 bpd, or 0.8%, versus a year ago.

DDGS Exports Set New Record To Southeast Asia

Considerable concern surrounded the export potential for U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) following an adverse trade policy decision by Vietnam, a historic top buyer, in December 2016. Instead, other countries in the region increased DDGS purchasing, the Vietnamese market re-opened and the region set a new record at 2.3 million metric tons in DDGS imports in 2016/2017.

“Offsetting the decline in sales to Vietnam, the market for U.S. DDGS in Southeast Asia diversified significantly,” said Manuel Sanchez, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) regional director for Southeast Asia. “We lost the largest DDGS market in the region for eight months and still reached a record import volume overall.”

Following the detection of quarantine pests, the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department (PPD) issued a decision in October 2016 to temporarily suspend DDGS importation. As a result, Vietnam purchased 50 percent less U.S. DDGS in 2016/2017 at nearly 495,000 tons, compared to almost 986,000 tons the year prior.

The Vietnamese government lifted its suspension of U.S. DDGS imports in September 2017, following an intense effort by the Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Thus far in the 2017/2018 marketing year (September-November 2017), Vietnam has purchased more than 213,000 tons of U.S. DDGS, a steady uptick in the market.

Elsewhere in the region, the Council continued to expand DDGS sales by providing technical expertise and support as well as connecting grain buyers and end-users with U.S. suppliers. Programs in Vietnam are targeting aquaculture and swine programs whereas activities in Indonesia and Malaysia focus on boiler and layer sectors. In the Philippines, the Council is providing information on storing and handling.

This work throughout the region is helping end-users determine how best to incorporate U.S. DDGS into their rations. Combined with one of the lowest per unit of protein cost compared to other feed ingredients in the market, the Council saw notable increases in demand for U.S. DDGS from buyers in Southeast Asia in 2016/2017.

“We saw notable year-over-year growth in both Thailand and Indonesia,” said Sanchez. “New buyers like New Zealand, Cambodia and Myanmar also made a big splash this past marketing year.”

Thailand was the fourth largest buyer of U.S. DDGS in 2016/2017, purchasing 791,000 tons. Already in the new marketing year, Thailand has purchased more than 206,000 tons, bolstered by the Council’s trade servicing and technical assistance to the country’s feed manufacturers for swine, broilers and layers sectors, among the largest in the world.

“Thailand’s growth can be directly attributed to the Council’s programs in country,” Sanchez said. Indonesia has also steadily increased imports of U.S. DDGS over the three marketing years, importing about 512,000 tons in 2016/2017. Indonesia has already purchased more than 251,000 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2017/2018.

Smaller buyers are also substantially increasing their purchases of U.S. DDGS. New Zealand more than quadrupled purchases of U.S. DDGS with 151,000 tons in 2016/2017, compared to 32,600 tons the previous marketing year. New Zealand has already purchased 50,000 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2017/2018.

“Market potential for DDGS exports to the region remains optimistic in 2017/2018,” Sanchez said. “We expect demand for U.S. DDGS strengthen as industries in these countries continue to grow and incorporate more co-products into their rations.”

IGC Raises 2017-18 Forecast

The International Grains Council said on Thursday that it has raised its global forecast for grain-production in 2017-18 to 2,100 million metric tons, due to better-than-expected wheat production in Russia and Argentina.

The new forecast represents an increase of 21 million tons from the forecast given in late November, but a drop from the previous season's record of 2,140 million tons, the IGC said, citing smaller planting areas and poorer average yields. Nevertheless, the IGC said that its latest forecast is the second largest on record.

The revised figure means that global grain output for 2017-18 is expected to fall 1.9% from the record.

The IGC edged up its 2016-17 monthly output forecast to 2,140 million tons in January, an increase of 6 million tons. That represents a 6.2% increase on the 2015-16 season.

Maize-production forecasts for 2017-18 rose by 14 million tons in the latest report.

The grain body increased its wheat production estimate by 8 million tons to 757 million tons.

The IGC raised its forecasts for rice by 2 million tons to 484 million tons and for soybeans by 1 million tons to 349 million tons.

While the adjustment in the IGC's maize expectations are due to a combination of a change in historical figures in China and higher-than-expected production in the European Union, the U.S., China, Nigeria and Ethiopia, a projected fall in global grain production "still represents the first contraction in five years," the body said in its report.

As for 2018-19, "a 2% fall in world wheat production is projected... and given likely firm demand, the first drawdown of stocks is predicted since 2012-13," the IGC said. "Trade is seen at a record, bolstered by growing import needs in Africa and Asia, including in India," the body added.

Wheat was last up 0.53% at $4.24 a bushel, corn was down 0.14% at $3.53 a bushel and soybeans were last up 0.43% at $9.73 a bushel.

Algeria Removes Value-Added Tax On U.S. DDGS, Corn Gluten Feed

The government of Algeria has lifted a value-added tax (VAT) on U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten feed (CGF) for 2018, affording new opportunities this marketing year.

“The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has been demonstrating the clear advantages of using DDGS and CGF in feed rations through activities in Algeria,” said Ramy Hadj Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “This success was made possible thanks to efforts deployed by the Council and our various partners in Algeria.”

Algeria is the second largest corn market in North Africa, second only to Egypt. The poultry and dairy sectors are growing industries where U.S. co-products fit well into rations. However, a complex environment and government influence on the economy complicates market development efforts.

For the last two years, the Algerian government has imposed regulations and made decisions to restrict imports in order to offset the persistent drop in international oil and gas prices. That included a 17 percent VAT on both U.S. DDGS and CGF. Combined with existing import duties of 30 percent, imports of these products were simply uncompetitive with other feed ingredients.

However, thanks to work by the Council and partners in country to push for a reduction in tariffs, the Algerian government released a list of feed ingredients benefiting from an exoneration of a value-added tax until Dec. 31, 2018. The list notably includes corn, barley, DDGS and CGF, a particular success in this economical context.

“The difference of cumulated import and value-added tax tariffs has considerably narrowed, especially when compared to competing feed ingredients,” Taieb said. “This situation offers new and interesting import perspectives for U.S. co-products in Algeria as the Council continues to promote the value of U.S. DDGS and CGF in improving feed conversion rates.”

While the exemption from the value-added tax is a success, U.S. DDGS and CGF are still subject to import duties of 30 percent, compared to 5 percent for both corn and soybean meal. As a result, the Council will continue efforts to bring these import duties in line with other feed ingredients as well as to demonstrate the value of utilizing U.S. DDGS and CGF in poultry and dairy feed rations to Algerian producers.

Recombinetics and DNA Genetics Form Alliance to End Surgical Castrations of Swine by Developing Precision Breeding Technology

Recombinetics, a pioneer in gene editing solutions for animal agriculture and human health, and DNA Genetics, a swine genetics supplier, today announced an alliance to end surgical castrations by developing precision breeding technology that results in male piglets born naturally castrated. This breeding technology focuses on swine health and well-being while ensuring good meat quality.
This partnership will help evaluate, develop and commercialize the castration-free swine trait with the goal to get the technology into the hands of pork producers globally.

Male piglets used for pork production are routinely castrated to improve the quality of meat for consumers. Castration is used to avoid “boar taint”, an unpleasant odor and an unsavory taste, that affects the pork product’s marketability to consumers. Currently, castrations are performed surgically or chemically, impacting animal well-being and adding health risks to animals from potential side effects of these management interventions.

Scientists at Recombinetics developed a precision breeding method resulting in male piglets that remain in a pre-pubertal state. This approach will eliminate the need for castration, either surgical or medicinal. To determine the commercial viability of pigs bred to be castration-free, alliance researchers will evaluate findings to investigate feed efficiency, meat quality and best practices for recovery of puberty and fertility. Research is being led by Principal Investigator Tad Sonstegard, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Acceligen, Recombinetics’ agriculture division.

“We create technology-driven solutions that improve animal health and well-being. From producing naturally hornless cattle to now eliminating the routine castration of swine, we have a proven track record of bringing science-based solutions to benefit animal health. By partnering with industry leader DNA Genetics, we have the combined expertise to bring the castration-free trait to market and provide solutions that can benefit the entire pork industry,” said Recombinetics’ President and CEO, Tammy Lee Stanoch.

“Precision breeding includes a range of technologies that will have a strong impact on genetic improvement programs. We are pleased to be a part of furthering these technologies and increasing our understanding of precision breeding and its application in a breeding system. This specific project is an innovative use of precision breeding techniques that have the potential of improving both animal health and efficiency. We are pleased to be a part of making this technology available to the pork industry,” Tom Rathje, Chief Technical Officer, DNA Genetics.

“To support the needs of the international swine marketplace, we will continue to explore additional opportunities to deploy our technologies with key partners that support the importance of improving animal health and well-being,” said Recombinetics’ Chief Commercial and Scientific Officer, Mitch Abrahamsen, Ph.D.

On December 14, 2017, The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $500,000 grant to Recombinetics to use new techniques to breed swine that will eliminate the need for surgical castration. Additional funding is provided by The Open Philanthropy Project. This partnership supports producers’ ability to adapt to a changing animal production landscape.

Using Antibiotics Responsibly: Stewardship Takes a Collaborative Approach

Preserving the efficacy of antibiotics so they help treat life-threatening bacterial infections in cattle takes the collaboration of you and many other experts in a One Health approach.

A One Health approach brings together leaders in human and veterinary medicine, human health professions, the food industry and public health. Leaders from across these sectors work together to create a common understanding and best set of solutions that help advance the responsible use of antibiotics, protect animal health and well-being and safeguard human health.

“We’re all working together to make sure we’re preserving antibiotics so that the response we achieve today is the same response we’ll get in 10 years in both human and animal medicine,” said Doug Hilbig, DVM, Beef Technical Services at Zoetis. “The responsibility of keeping these important resources available and effective doesn’t, and can’t, just fall to those directly caring for cattle. When animals get sick, we all have an obligation to help them regain health.”

Several organizations share positive messages about proper use of antibiotics to the nonagricultural community. For example, the Food and Drug Administration communicates about their rigorous approval process for animal health products, enforcing proper use according to labeling and imposing penalties for improper use. The U.S. Department of Agriculture shares a consumer-facing message about how they ensure safe food with routine surveillance of meat and milk.

“We’re bringing insights from our team of veterinarians who work daily with producers and veterinarians,” Dr. Hilbig said. “We spend a lot of time and effort training on the appropriate use of antibiotics because proper use according to the product label is key to helping avoid violative residues and controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance. We’re also helping monitor antimicrobial resistance so the industry can be confident the products they are using are effective.”

So, what does a One Health collaborative approach mean for your role as beef cattle producers and veterinarians in the new year and beyond? It means that you just need to keep doing everything you’re already doing right and, as experts in the industry, sharing about your efforts.

As producers, you’re already working closely with a veterinarian to find the right treatment when cattle get sick.  You’re spending time training people on the appropriate use and application of antibiotics, such as Draxxin® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution and Excede® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension. As veterinarians, you’re helping ensure that the right antibiotic is prescribed when medically needed and administered at the right time.

“Regardless of roles, we’re all doing everything possible so you can focus on continuing to do what you do best every day — caring for cattle and keeping them healthy,” Dr. Hilbig said. “We all have the same goals. We want to keep people healthy. We all want our families to have the healthiest food.”

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