Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday January 17 Ag News

Senator Briese Introduces Property Tax Relief Proposal

Senator Tom Briese of Albion announced today that he has introduced a bill that will put Nebraska on a path to reducing over-reliance on property taxes and adequately funding education in the state. Briese said, “This bill represents the culmination of a broad-based, bipartisan effort consisting of education groups and property tax interests including agricultural, residential, and commercial property taxpayers. The bill will provide the property tax relief that all hard-working Nebraskans deserve, while at the same time protecting the ability of our schools to prepare our young folks for the jobs and careers of the 21st century.”

Briese went on to say that his bill would provide immediate property tax relief, would identify the sources of revenue to fund the relief, and would provide soft caps to taxing authority to ensure long term property tax relief while protecting education. Noting Census Bureau data suggesting Nebraska is 49th in the country in the percentage of K-12 education funded with state dollars, Briese said, “For far too long, our state has relied too heavily on property taxes to fund our schools. Its time the state stepped up and funded its share of K-12.”

Finally, Briese stressed the significance of the various stakeholders and senators he anticipates backing his proposal. “Sustainable tax reform which protects education must travel a collaborative, bipartisan path. And I believe that path exists,” he said. He also stated, “Because of the many stakeholders involved, the bill was a product of much negotiation, and most likely adjustments to it will continue.” Finally, Briese noted, “I believe that Nebraskans deserve a fair and balanced tax structure. But I also recognize there is nothing we do that is more important than how we educate our children. This bill affirms both of those principles.”

Nebraska Dairy Princess Candidates Sought

The Midwest Dairy Association Nebraska Division is seeking candidates to participate in the State Dairy Princess contest scheduled for Feb. 24, 2018, location to be announced.

The 2018 Nebraska Dairy Princess will be crowned during the Nebraska Dairy Convention on Tue., Feb. 27, 2018, during the evening banquet and coronation held at the Ramada Inn in Columbus.   

The Nebraska Dairy Princess reigns for one year as the official goodwill ambassador for the state’s dairy industry, making a variety of public appearances to help consumers understand dairy products and the responsible practices used by dairy producers.

Applications need to be received by Mon., Feb. 19, 2018.

Candidates must be at least a high school junior during the current school year, be under 26 years of age, never been married and have parents, a legal guardian or a grandparent who are active within the Nebraska Dairy Industry. Candidates are judged on their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and enthusiasm for dairy promotion.

The 2018 Nebraska Dairy Princess will receive a $750 scholarship from Midwest Dairy. A $250 scholarship will be awarded to the first runner-up.

For complete rules and an application form, visit the or contact Julie A Meier, Dairy Princess coordinator, 4005 Sandalwood Drive, Grand Island, NE 68803 or 308-390-9338, or email

Ricketts Announces Red Willow as Newest Livestock Friendly County

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts named Red Willow County as the newest county in Nebraska, and the first one this year, to be designated a Livestock Friendly County (LFC).  The LFC program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).  With the addition of Red Willow County, located in southwest Nebraska, 44 of the state’s 93 counties are now designated as livestock friendly.

“By requesting and receiving the state’s Livestock Friendly County designation, Red Willow County is showing a true commitment to growing Nebraska and creating more opportunities for the next generation,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Making Nebraska as livestock friendly as possible is a great way to start off the new year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of the $180 million Red Willow County had in agricultural receipts for the year 2012, $98 million, or 54 percent, came from livestock sales, and $82 million, or 46 percent, came from crops.

“As a livestock producer, I know firsthand how important a strong livestock sector is to supporting our grains sector,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “A Livestock Friendly designation means that Red Willow County and the more than 400 farms located there support the livestock industry and are open for business.”

The LFC program was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2003 to recognize counties that support the livestock industry and new livestock developments.  A county wishing to apply for the LFC designation must hold a public hearing, and the county board must pass a resolution to apply for the designation.  Additional information about the LFC program is available on the NDA’s website at or by calling 800-422-6692.

SHIC 2017 Accomplishments Reviewed and Accepted

Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg presented the 2017 Annual Report and the Center’s accomplishments at the National Pork Board meeting on January 9, 2018. The report was accepted and the organization’s efforts to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd by providing return on the investment made in the Center validated.

“Each year by design, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) provides a report to National Pork Board on its progress over the last year,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president from Friend, Nebraska. “The SHIC Report was given unanimous approval. The work that SHIC has performed in 2017 brings the US pork industry closer to being prepared and having a rapid response plan in place in case of a major animal disease outbreak.

“SHIC is working on data warehouses that will provide swine disease monitoring while maintaining confidentiality for producers. Ethically, we have a responsibility to our US swine herd to monitor and protect ourselves from foreign and emerging animal diseases. It is also paramount to the economic survival of our pork industry to avoid a foreign animal disease because of the extreme importance of being able to continue exporting US pork in the global marketplace.”

Operating with transparency, and accountable to the producers who fund SHIC’s activities, the 2017 Annual Report contains detailed information on all the organization’s activities. It is available for review and comment at

Guided by the 2017 Plan of Work, SHIC’s resources were focused on urgent return-on-investment projects to monitor, predict, prepare, and respond to emerging diseases. SHIC compliments programs of other pork industry producer and veterinarian organizations as it acts quickly and urgently regarding swine health by providing its coordinated, valuable deliverables to investors. Among the key accomplishments are:
-    Implementation of near real-time domestic and global swine disease monitoring processes
-    Development of a communications action plan in the event of novel disease discovery
-    Launching a Rapid Response Program with a trained Rapid Response Corps to make site visits on farms with novel disease incidents
-    Funding diagnostic assistance to make sure emerging diseases won’t go undiscovered
-    Providing diagnostic tools for foreign animal diseases posing a threat
-    Maintaining the Swine Disease Matrix that prioritizes disease risks to the U.S. pork industry

Emerging diseases remain the primary concern for SHIC. These include diseases being introduced into the US, an example of which is the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PED) outbreak in 2013, or endemic diseases already present but changed in some manner with significant health and/or profitability impacts, such as Seneca Valley A which emerged in 2015.

Continuing to deliver relevant and useful tools, programs, and resources, SHIC’s 2018 Plan of Work will be set by the organization’s Board of Directors using input from the industry and appropriate follow-up to the 2017 Plan. The 2018 Plan of Work will be posted on the SHIC following the organization’s board meeting in late January.

End of Year Feed Market Information

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag and Resource Econ - Colorado State University

Last Friday saw the release of a plethora of USDA feed related reports.  Specifically relevant to cattle markets were the Crop Production 2017 Summary and the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.  The annual crop production summary releases detailed estimates of corn harvested acres and yields.  These estimates are the result of extensive surveys of producers.  The production estimates are incorporated in the WASDE grain balance sheets.

The most recent corn yield estimate for the 2017/18 crop year is 176.6 bushels per acre.  This is better than a full bushel increase over the December estimate and is record high.  However, harvested acres were reduced 400 thousand acres so production was only increased about 25 million bushels.  Feed use estimates were revised down 25 million bushels and food, seed, and industrial use was revised up 10 million bushels.  The result is that ending stocks were increased 40 million bushels to 2.477 billion bushels and this a stock-to-use ratio of 17.1%.  Production related numbers are often revised going forward but the revisions tend to be modest and the action is now usually on the use or demand side for the remainder of the crop year.  Stocks-to-use are a modest increase on the prior crop year and will likely hold corn costs in the mid-to-low $3 per bushel.

Although, hay production information reveals a tightening market for forage.  All hay production was down 2.6% in 2017 as compared to 2016.  The largest decreases were in states most impacted by dry weather last year, including Montana and the Dakotas, and there were substantial decreases in states with some of the largest production, including California and Texas.  Missouri and Nevada showed substantial increases out of higher production states.  On farm hay stocks as of December 1 showed a 3% decline compared to the prior year and the state related information is similar.  The hard cold weather in the north and east U.S. and the warm dry weather in the southern and western U.S. will likely contribute to further declines and hay stocks and support hay prices through the rest of the winter.

What do the technical indicators for the feeder and fed cattle markets say?  All liquid feeder and live cattle contracts show an oscillating weakness since the peak in early November.  I looks as if downtrends have been established but some are a bit steep for my likings.  There is support for the nearby contracts around $130 for feeder cattle and $110 for live cattle.  But the current market is some distance from those levels.  I anticipate seasonal weakness in feeder and live cattle contracts until March or April.

Webinar Details Dangerous Trust Disconnects in Food and Agriculture

New reseach from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) serves as a warning for several groups that are held responsible for healthy and safe food, but not trusted to ensure it, highlighting a dangerous disconnect. Food companies and government agencies, in particular, have work to do, while others enjoy a high level of trust.

This is the latest in a decade-long exploration of consumer trust in the food system by CFI. The annual research goes deep and wide to understand what’s on the minds of today’s consumers when it comes to food – how it’s produced, who’s producing it, what’s in it, how it impacts health, animals and our planet – and which sources they trust.

Examining more than 50 topics among important influencer groups, the latest results show disturbing shifts in trust in food and agriculture and significant differences in where various consumer segments source food information.

Join CFI CEO Charlie Arnot for “Shifting Food Beliefs and Trends: Insights Into Closing the Trust Gap,” Tues., Jan 23, 10 to 11 a.m. CT.  Arnot will detail disconnects, changing attitudes and trends on important food system issues, and how to engage to earn trust. Register at

FFA Members return from Educational, Cultural Experience in South Africa

During the past two weeks, 74 FFA members visited South Africa for a 12-day educational and cultural experience.

 Members participated in the 2018 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) as an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar allows FFA members to experience a foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable on the global marketplace.

 Seventy-four past and present state FFA officers representing 24 states left the United States on Jan. 4. The group traveled throughout South Africa while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S. and South African trade relations; toured crop and livestock operations; met with business and industry leaders; and explored a private game reserve that is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters, abalone producers and more.

 “We hope that through a structured experience like ILSSO, students will not only see the importance of agriculture on an international level but understand it is essential to feeding the world,” says Eric Nelson, program manager with the National FFA Organization. “This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” Nelson says.

 Prior to departing the United States, the students completed eight weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.

Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram.

Those students who participated in the trip were: Ethan Angel of Glenwood, Ark.; Allison Wheatley of Clayton, Del.; Wolfgang Fry-Eastin of Plant City, Fla.; Kyle Garner of Groveland, Fla.; Kaylin Kleckner of Ocala, Fla.; Taylor Proctor of Deltona, Fla.; Mitchell Singleton of Molina, Fla.; Robert Sistrunk of Williston, Fla.; Cassandra Bond of Earlham, Iowa; Caleb Finnegan of Guthrie Center, Iowa; Carli Grau of Ankeny, Iowa; Peyton Schmitt of Birmingham, Iowa; Antonia Wallin of New Market, Iowa; Rachel Zumbach of Coggon, Iowa; Sydney Anderson of Nampa, Idaho; Randy Clements of Rexburg, Idaho; Skyler Denio of Hoxie, Kan.; John Kennedy of Soldier, Kan.; Eli Ohlde of Clyde, Kan.; Marie Reveles of Hays, Kan.; Riley Sleichter of Abilene, Kan.; Harley-Anne Hamilton of Carver, Mass.; Ashley Abuelhawa of Mt. Airy, Md.; Justin Arnold of Myersville, Md.; Cahlen Cheatham of Frederick, Md.; Autumn Lippy of Union Bridge, Md.; Mikayla Stockman of Jefferson, Md.; Lexis Trickett of Oakland, Md.; Madeline Meyer of Ionia, Mich.; Wendy Bauman of Raymond, Minn.; Katherine Benson of Staples, Minn.; Kylee Kohls of Litchfield, Minn.; Emily Pliscott of Kenyon, Minn.; Madeline Weninger of Buffalo, Minn.; William Cornelius of Nettleton, Miss.; Sheridan Johnson of Conrad, Mont.; Hailey Coufal of Howells, Neb.; Jake Judge of Atkinson, Neb.; Kelli Mashino of Spencer, Neb.; Jessica Rudolph of Gothenburg, Neb.; Isabelle Stewart of Columbus, Neb.; Brock Vetick of Lyons, Neb.; Lydia Vinton of Whitman, Neb.; Sarah Kelly, of Dorothy, N.J.; McKenna Moore of Woodstown, N.J.; Rebekah McCarty of Reserve, N.M.; Laetitia Ray of Alamo, Nev.; Ethan Keller of Sharon Springs, N.Y.; Camille Ledoux of Croghan, N.Y.; Marleigh Kerr of Swanton, Ohio; Ryan Matthews of Leesburg, Ohio; Kolesen McCoy of Springfield, Ohio; Jensen Kemble of Nyssa, Ore.; Kourtney Lehman of Baker City, Ore.; Emma Rooker of Bend, Ore.; Wade Rynearson of Union, Ore.; Gabriela Santa Cruz Enriquez of Parkdale, Ore.; Richard Wesenberg of Sutherlin, Ore.; Jaclynn Knutson of Centerville, S.D.; Andrew Streff of Salem, S.D.; Elizabeth Arwood of Johnson City, Tenn.; Erin Bacon of Dandridge, Tenn.; Kenzie Bastian of Jonesborough, Tenn.; Julia Knaggs of Gallatin, Tenn.; Mary Minatra of Rockvale, Tenn.; Alletress Shankle of Paris, Tenn.; Ahmon Watkins of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Theresa Seibel of Roanoke, Va.; Taylor Enns of Bonney Lake, Wash.; Mollee Gray of Liberty Lake, Wash.; Sydney Klaveano of Pullman, Wash.; Kelci Scharff of Airway Heights, Wash.; Seth Smith of Tonasket, Wash.; and Alaina Smith of Red House, W. Va.

Court Documents Allege Imported Beef Mislabeled as USA Product

In court documents filed Friday, ranch groups R-CALF USA and the Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) reinforced their allegation that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is unlawfully helping multinational meatpackers mislabel hundreds of millions of pounds of imported beef as "Products of the USA."

In their lawsuit filed in June against the USDA and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the groups claim the Tariff Act of 1930 requires imported beef to bear a label denoting the foreign country-of-origin of the beef all the way to the consumer, unless the beef undergoes a substantial transformation in the United States.

The Secretary disagrees, arguing in his earlier-filed court documents that imported beef is to be deemed and treated as domestic beef so long as the importing country's food safety standards are equivalent to U.S. standards. Consequently, the Secretary allows multinational meatpackers to label imported beef as "Products of the USA" even if the imported beef receives only minor processing, such as unwrapping and rewrapping the package.

Evidence submitted by the groups indicate that U.S. cattle producers received higher prices for their cattle when the origins of foreign beef was distinguished in the marketplace. Evidence attached to Friday's filing supports the groups' contention that proper enforcement of the Tariff Act would require hundreds of millions of pounds of foreign beef that can currently be labeled as "Products of the USA" to bear country-of-origin labels. This, the groups argue, would turn market forces "in favor of true domestic producers."

Friday's filing also claims the Secretary's failure to enforce the Tariff Act is flooding the U.S. market with mislabeled foreign beef that decreases the market leverage and income of U.S. cattle producers.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says the Secretary's refusal to enforce the Tariff Act's labeling requirements undermines the President's longstanding "Buy American" campaign and the more recent initiative to increase agriculture output that is "Made in America," as advertised in the Secretary's recently unveiled rural task force report.

"It is disingenuous for the Administration to say it is encouraging consumers to buy American while it simultaneously directs its legal team to defend the multinational meatpackers' fraudulent practice of putting a USA label on imported beef," Bullard said.

Attorneys representing the ranch groups include lead counsel David Muraskin of Public Justice, Beth E. Terrell and Blythe H. Chandler of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC, and J. Dudley Butler of Butler Farm & Ranch Law Group, PLLC.

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