Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday February 16 Ag News


Nebraska's number of farms and ranches declined during 2017, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the State, at 47,400, was down 1,000 farms from 2016. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 700 farms from a year earlier while operations with more than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 300 farms.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 45.2 million acres, unchanged from 2016. The average size of operation, at 954 acres, was up 20 acres from a year earlier.


The total number of farms in Iowa in 2017 was 86,900, down 100 farms compared with a year ago, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farms and Land in Farms 2017 Summary report. The largest decrease in number of farms came in the $500,000- $999,999 range with a decrease of 300 farms from 10,000 in 2016 to 9,700 in 2017.

Total land in farms in Iowa in 2017 was 30.5 million acres, unchanged since 2014, however, total land in farms in the $100,000-$249,999 range rose to 3.00 million acres, while total land in farms in the $1,000,000 and over range fell to 9.50 million acres.

The average farm size in Iowa in 2017 was 351 acres, unchanged from last year. The average farm size in the $500,000-$999,999 range increased 28 acres from 890 in 2016 to 918 acres in 2017.

2017 Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States for 2017 is estimated at 2.05 million, down 12 thousand farms from 2016. Total land in farms, at 910 million acres, decreased 1 million acres from 2016. The average farm size for 2017 is 444 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. Producers were asked during the 2017 mid-year surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2016 calendar year.

Point Farms are farms that did not have the required minimum $1,000 in sales for the year to qualify as a farm, but had sufficient crops and livestock to normally have sales of $1,000 or more. Point Farms are assigned a sales class based on the sum of the agricultural point (dollar) values assigned to the quantity of commodities produced but not sold. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that 428,810 farms or 20.3 percent of the 2.11 million farms were Point Farms. These Point Farms operated 63.0 million acres or 6.9 percent of the 914.5 million acres of farmland.

Number of farms declined by 12 thousand from 2016. The number of farms in Sales Classes $100,000 - $249,999 and $1,000,000 or more increased while all other sales classes declined. Fifty percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales. Eighty percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. Eight percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more.

Changes in the number of farms by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999 at 1.02 million farms, declined by 9 thousand farms.
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 at 618 thousand farms, declined by 3 thousand farms.
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999 at 145 thousand farms, increased by 2 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 at 98 thousand farms, declined by 4 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 at 82 thousand farms, declined by 3 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more at 83 thousand farms, increased by 4 hundred farms.

The percent of all farms by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 49.9%
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 30.2%
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 7.1%
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 4.8%
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 4.0%
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 4.0%

Land in farms, at 910 million acres, was down 1 million acres from 2016. The biggest change for 2017 is that producers in Sales Class $1,000,000 or more operated 1.3 million more acres than in 2016. Similar to the previous year, in 2017 over 30 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with less than $100,000 in sales. Forty-one percent of all farmland was operated by farms with sales of $500,000 or more.

Farmland changes by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999 at 86.0 million acres, declined by 930 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 at 191.3 million acres, declined by 720 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999 at 129.3 million acres, declined by 590 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 at 127.0 million acres, declined by 140 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 at 156.5 million acres, increased by 40 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more at 220.0 million acres, increased by 1.3 million acres.

Percent of all farmland by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 9.5%
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 21.0%
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 14.2%
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 14.0%
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 17.2%
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 24.2%

The average farm size continued to increase in 2017 as the number of farms declined more than land in farms. The overall average size increased by 2 acres to 444 acres per farm. Average farm sizes increased in the $250,000 - $499,999, $500,000 - $999,999, and $1,000,000 or more sales classes and decreased or remained unchanged in the others.

Average farm size by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 84 acres
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 309 acres
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 891 acres
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 1,299 acres
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 1,904 acres
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 2,660 acres

Cover Crop Management workshops to be held in Pierce and West Point

Are you interested in learning more about Cover Crop Management?  There are two educational workshops coming up in Pierce and West Point, sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

The workshop in Pierce will be held at the Lied Public Library, 207 W. Court Street, on Tuesday, February 27th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.  The workshop in West Point will be held at the Cuming County Courthouse, 200 S. Lincoln Street, on Wednesday, February 28th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

The workshops will begin with coffee and rolls at 9:00 a.m., followed by presentations on soil biology, cover crop management, and much more.  Aaron Hird, NRCS State Soil Health Specialist, will visit about why the biology of our soil is so important.  Dan Gillespie, NRCS No-till Specialist, will discuss cover crop management in corn/soybean rotations, what to seed, when to terminate, and what herbicides to use.  Pam Polenske, Stanton County NRCS, will present information on Client Gateway and how to access your NRCS documents online.

Reserve your seat today by calling your local NRCS office or the LENRD in Norfolk.

Ricketts Announces UNL AD Bill Moos as a 2018 Governor’s Ag Conference Speaker

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Bill Moos will address the 2018 Governor’s Ag Conference at the “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception on Wednesday, March 7.  The Governor’s Ag Conference, March 7-8 in Kearney, is a great opportunity for the ag community to discuss important topics like international trade, ag diversification in rural Nebraska, and the importance of state ag leaders advocating at the national level.

After February 21, the conference registration fee increases from $100 to $125.

“The Governor’s Ag Conference has been a long-standing tradition for 30 years,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman.  “It gives producers and agri-business leaders in Nebraska an opportunity to talk with the Governor about the state’s number one industry and provide direct input on how to support future growth in agriculture.  We know it can be hard for farmers and ranchers to rearrange schedules, so we work to make this conference worth the extra effort to attend.”

The conference starts Wednesday, March 7, at 3:30 p.m., with welcomes and remarks from Governor Pete Ricketts and NDA Director Wellman.

A panel presentation will follow featuring Nebraska producers serving in national leadership roles.  Panelists include:
•                     Don Bloss, Chair, National Sorghum Producers;
•                     Lynn Chrisp, First Vice President, National Corn Growers Association;
•                     Jim Miller, Chairman, U.S. Soybean Export Council;
•                     Terry O’Neel, President, National Pork Board; and
•                     Craig Uden, Past President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

The “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception starts at 6 p.m.

“Having Bill Moos speak at the reception is a great addition to the conference,” said Wellman.  “People may not know that Bill was born and raised on a cattle ranch in Washington State.  Even though he has a long career as an athletic director, he was able to step away from sports for a couple of years to run a cattle ranch.”

The conference resumes on Thursday, March 8, at 9 a.m. with a panel presentation on international trade and the benefits gained from companies participating in Nebraska trade missions.  Panelists include:
•                     Jerry Wiggs, Greater Omaha Packing Company, Inc.;
•                     Chris Roth, Reinke Manufacturing Company, Inc.; and
•                     Deb Gangwish, Co-Owner, PG Farms, Inc.

At 10 a.m., a panel representing ag companies that have built businesses and created jobs for small Nebraska communities will discuss the importance of ag diversification in rural Nebraska.  Panelists include:
•                     Norm Krug, owner/founder, Preferred Popcorn;
•                     Troy Becker, co-owner, Unified Pet Products; and
•                     Max and Theresa McFarland, owners, Mac’s Creek Vineyards

Panelists from the last presentation of the day will discuss the growth of the food processing industry in Nebraska.  The panel will include speakers from Costco, Hendrix and Kelley Bean.

The conference ends with lunch and keynote speaker Greg Ibach, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs of the United States Department of Agriculture. Ibach, former director of the NDA, will update conference participants on agricultural activities at the federal level.

The Governor's Ag Conference is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and is co-sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.  It will be held at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.  Registration and additional information is available online at or by calling 800-831-0550.

Free Webinar on Using Data to Benchmark Your Farming Operation

There is still time to register for a free webinar on Using Data to Benchmark Your Farming Operation, presented by Joe Luck, Ph.D., associate professor of biological systems engineering and a precision agriculture engineer at the University of Nebraska. This is the first webinar in a series of three webinars, sponsored by the United Soybean Board (USB) and American Soybean Association, and designed to help soybean farmers understand how new technology and effective data management can help improve the sustainability of their farming operation. This first webinar on Using Data to Benchmark Your Farming Operation is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, at 1 p.m. Central Time.

Data collection, analysis and benchmarking are essential to achieving and sustaining continuous improvement in the production of soybeans. Dr. Luck will discuss the various tools and techniques required to establish a valid data benchmarking program. Using examples of data applications from farm research studies focused on soybeans, he will show how data can be used to gather knowledge to improve production, and build a more sustainable farming operation.

As more customers of U.S. soybeans demand sustainably produced products, it’s important for all soybean farmers to consider practices on their farm that will meet those demands. Effective use of new technology and on-farm data management can play a key role in the sustainable production of U.S. soybeans and demonstrating that sustainability to our customers.

Click here or visit to register for the webinar on Feb. 19. If you are unable to participate in the live version of the webinar, a recording of this presentation will also be available for farmers to watch after the event at

Two additional webinars, sponsored by ASA, the soybean checkoff and USB, will be held in March and early April. Farmers should stay tuned for more announcements from ASA regarding these future technology-focused webinars.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Announces Availability of Youth Scholarships

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) is accepting applications for scholarships from qualified youth in Nebraska who have an interest in the beef industry. These scholarships will be awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year and are provided through contributions received by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Applications are available on the Nebraska Cattlemen website ( or can be obtained by calling the NCF office at (402) 475-2333.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding college junior, senior or graduate-level student. Eligible students must be residents of Nebraska and be enrolled in a Nebraska college or university pursuing a beef industry-related degree. The scholarship will be awarded based on student need, Nebraska beef industry involvement (past achievements and future plans) and academics. Students will be required to complete the written application (due in the NCF office by February 15, 2018) and finalists will be invited to an final interview with the selection committee.

NCF offers numerous other $1,000 minimum scholarships, awarded on the basis of academic achievement, beef industry involvement and goals/quality of application from the following funds.  This application is due into the NCF office by March 15, 2018.  Scholarship recipients must be a high school senior or college student, have a "C" or higher grade point average, and be enrolled or intending to enroll full time in a college or university that offers a bachelor degree, an approved vocation or trade school, or a state accredited junior college.  Refer to the application for complete selection requirements.

Interactive Crop Scout Training Available Online

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has published the Field Crop Scouting book as an online learning tool for crop scouts and other agricultural professionals in Iowa. This interactive textbook allows individuals to acquire knowledge about crop scouting topics such as corn and soybean growth stages, insect identification, crop diseases and weed identification through a self-paced, innovative design.

“This online resource was constructed with information about what a healthy corn and soybean crop looks like, how to assess it, what insects, diseases or weeds are present and the risks associated with these issues to help create stronger crop production systems in Iowa,” said Daren Mueller, assistant professor and extension specialist in plant pathology and microbiology at Iowa State University.

The Field Crop Scouting book was developed for those working in the agriculture industry who wish to learn crop scouting basics. The book allows readers to work at their own pace, using expertly narrated videos, slide shows, interactive graphs and simulations to provide a guided learning experience. Quizzes and self-assessments also provide an opportunity to test knowledge.

A certificate of successful completion is available for crop scouts, agronomists, commodity groups and others working in the agriculture industry. This provides verification to employers that they have been trained in the basic concepts of crop scouting.

The Field Crop Scouting book is $9.99 and may be purchased online at Bleep Blorp Books ( The online book provides high-resolution images, videos, slideshows, interactive graphs and animated figures. Readers will be able to move easily from one topic to another and explore issues based on their interests. The learning tool can be accessed through any online browser or mobile device.

The online book is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, Integrated Pest Management at Iowa State University and the United States Department of Agriculture.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced two agribusinesses and two Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) as recipients of the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for outstanding leadership in improving Iowa’s water quality.  Northey recognized Farmers Cooperative Society from Sioux Center, CF Industries and CCAs Jason Gomes owner of North Iowa Agronomy Partners in Waverly and Joe Lally from Denison.

“Businesses like Farmers Cooperative Society and CF Industries, as well as Certified Crop Advisers like Jason Gomes and Joe Lally have shown real leadership in advancing water quality efforts in our state,” Northey said.  “All of these award winners are examples of how stakeholders across agriculture are taking on the challenge of improving water quality by providing tools and information to help farmers and landowners make improvements on their farm.”

Joe Lally, Certified Crop Adviser – Denison

Joe Lally’s conservation ethic was developed early on as he grew up on a small dairy and hog farm in the Denison area. His father bought the farm in 1956. By the time Joe left for the Army in 1968, they had installed terraces, grassed waterways, a 5 year crop rotation, among other practices, building a successful small farming operation. Joe bought his first farm in the Denison area in 1977. Within 5 years, Joe had installed terraces, grassed waterways, headlands, and minimum tillage farming practices.  This was one of the first farms in the area with tile placed in the sediment control structures (Joe refers to them as doodle-dams).

Joe received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University and his CCA certification in 2008.  He believes that this certification, along with that as a Technical Service Provider in 2003, provides a level of confidence when providing farmers consultation and planning for their farms. Joe is one of two Technical Service Providers that provides conservation and nutrient management plans developed under the guidance of USDA-NRCS and the EPA. He has written over 500 plans since 1990.  Joe’s other roles have included environmental management services at Farmland Foods and as Project Coordinator for the Heartland Water Quality Program. The Heartland four-state initiative provides education and training to land-grant educators, ag agency staff, EPA staff, and NGO's.

Joe refers to himself as an active conservationist, but a selfish one – or at least when it comes to his farm ground –as he is not interested in sharing it's “natural resources” with anyone else.

Northey presented the awards at the Agribusiness Association of Iowa’s Showcase and Conference at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Proposed Steel Tariffs Raise Potential for Retaliation Against U.S. Soybeans

Following reports today from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the department will recommend tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as a result of its ongoing investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, soybean farmers have voiced their concern about the potential for retaliation against U.S. soybean imports by the Chinese. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has repeatedly noted the potential for retaliation by China, which purchases approximately one third of the soybeans grown in the United States at a value of more than $14 billion. ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer issued the following statement today:

“Today’s news from the Commerce Department is very concerning for soybean farmers. China is not only our largest customer, it purchases more than all our other customers combined. Add to that the sobering fact that our capable competitors in Brazil and Argentina are all too happy to pick up whatever slack we leave in supplying the Chinese market, and these potential tariffs have the potential to make life very hard for soybean farmers. In earlier conversations about potential tariffs under Section 232, the Chinese specifically identified U.S. soybeans as a target for retaliation, and the barriers that retaliation would create will add significant further injury to an already-hobbled farm economy. Prices are down 40 percent and farm income is down 50 percent, and we simply can’t afford for those numbers to get worse. Soybean farmers look to the White House to move forward with a China strategy that strengthens the competitiveness of our domestic industries while at the same time growing our export opportunities.”

Judge Dismisses Monsanto Lawsuit Seeking to Block Arkansas Dicamba Ban

(AP) -- Arkansas' ban on the use of a weed killer blamed by farmers in several states for crop damage will remain in place after a state judge dismissed a legal challenge by a maker of the herbicide.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza dismissed the lawsuit by St. Louis-based Monsanto seeking to block the state Plant Board's decision to ban dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. Arkansas has the toughest restriction in place on dicamba, though several states have imposed other restrictions or requirements.

Arkansas enacted the ban after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints last year about the weed killer drifting onto fields and damaging crops not resistant to the herbicide. Arkansas is one of several states where farmers have complained about dicamba drifting. Monsanto was also challenging an earlier rule that specifically targeted its brand of dicamba. BASF and DuPont also make dicamba weed killers.

Piazza cited a state Supreme Court ruling last month that said the state Legislature can't waive Arkansas' immunity from lawsuits. That ruling has prompted lawyers and judges around to the state to say it amounts to a blanket protection for the state from a wide range of legal challenges.

"It's obvious that Arkansas is going to have to come up with a constitutional amendment to change this to make it where we can operate again as a court should," Piazza said. "I really think the (state Supreme Court case) prevents us from hearing this case at this moment."

Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use it to kill invasive weeds in soybean and cotton fields where specially engineered seeds had been planted to resist the herbicide. Because it can easily evaporate after being applied, the chemical sometimes settles on neighboring fields planted with seeds that are not resistant to dicamba.

Piazza issued his ruling after hearing hours of arguments from Monsanto and the state over the company's request for a preliminary injunction blocking the ban, as well as Arkansas' request to dismiss the lawsuit. Monsanto did not say whether it would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

"We are disappointed in the court's decision to dismiss our legal challenge of the plant board's restrictions, and we will consider additional legal steps that might be appropriate," Scott Partridge, the company's vice president of global strategy, said in a statement. "We look forward to the day when Arkansas growers can benefit from the latest weed-control technology on the market."

Among other arguments, Monsanto claimed that the state did not consider the economic impact of the ban. The company also challenged the makeup of the 18-member board, arguing a state law that gives private groups such as the state Seed Growers Association power to appoint members violates Arkansas' constitution. Piazza said he wouldn't going to rule specifically on the request for a preliminary injunction in case his dismissal ruling is appealed and sent back to his court.

During the hearing, Monsanto's attorneys said the state couldn't claim immunity since the company wasn't seeking monetary damages. They argued the state's Claims Commission, which handles economic claims against the state, wasn't the right avenue for the challenge against Arkansas' ban.

Attorneys for the Plant Board argued the company hadn't proven the state acted illegally or unconstitutionally, so the state was immune from the lawsuit.

"They just don't like the decision the Plant Board made," Assistant Attorney General Gary Sullivan said during the hearing.

U.S. Ethanol Industry Making ‘Significant Contribution to the Economy’

The U.S. ethanol industry added nearly $44.4 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and supported 358,779 jobs in 2017, according to a new study conducted by ABF Economics. The study, released by the Renewable Fuels Association, looked at the contribution of the ethanol industry to the economy of the nation and individual states in 2017.

“The ethanol industry continues to make a significant contribution to the economy in terms of job creation, generation of tax revenue, and displacement of crude oil and petroleum products,” the study noted. “The importance of the ethanol industry to agriculture and rural economies is particularly notable. Continued growth and expansion of the ethanol industry through new technologies and feedstocks will enhance the industry’s position as the original creator of green jobs and will enable America to make further strides toward energy independence,” the study added.

According to the analysis, the production and use of 15.8 billion gallons of ethanol last year:
-    supported nearly 72,000 direct jobs and nearly 287,000 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy;
-    added more than $24 billion in income for American households;
-    generated an estimated $5 billion in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury and $5.7 billion in revenue to state and local governments;
-    supported almost 15,000 jobs and nearly $6 billion in GDP through exports alone; and
-    displaced 532 million barrels of imported oil, keeping $26.9 billion in the U.S. economy.

For the first time, the analysis also estimated the impact of the ethanol industry on the economy of each state with operating ethanol plants. The 26 states with producing ethanol plants accounted for more than 75% of the industry’s national GDP contribution and about 73% of national employment and household income. Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois were the top three states in terms of economic impacts, but states like Mississippi, Idaho, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and New York also benefited from the presence of ethanol plants, while all 50 states enjoyed indirect and induced job creation and GDP from ethanol.

“As these figures show, the U.S. ethanol industry is unquestionably a significant contributor to our economy,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Our industry supported nearly 360,000 jobs last year and displaced a substantial amount of imported crude oil, bringing high-paying jobs to rural communities across the nation. The U.S. ethanol industry is an undeniable economic powerhouse, benefitting consumers throughout the country,” he added.

“Unequivocally, the ethanol industry boosts all sectors of our economy,” said Economist John Urbanchuk, the study’s author and a managing partner at ABF Economics. “For example, an ethanol plant in Iowa doesn’t just benefit local and state residents. Its contributions spread throughout our nation, adding to the U.S. gross domestic product and reducing our reliance on imported oil. Now magnify that one ethanol plant’s contributions by more than two-hundred-fold and you have an idea of the benefits that the U.S. ethanol industry provides,” he added.

Leaders of congressional tax-writing committees commit to fixing Section 199A of new tax law

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended the leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees for their statements committing to addressing as soon as possible the unintended consequences of Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act during hearings on Capitol Hill this week.

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Feb. 14, Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, noted that the provision's current language "does not maintain the previous competitive balance between cooperatives, other agricultural businesses, and the farmers who sell their crops to them, which existed prior to enactment of the tax reform bill."

The new Section 199A - included during the waning hours of congressional consideration of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 - is influencing producer marketing decisions. As currently written, Section 199A language could significantly skew producers' decisions on which type of business entity with which to market their commodities. The provision unintentionally created a tax advantage for producers who sell to cooperatives instead of private and independent firms.

Hatch said he is committed to working with fellow leaders on the committee, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and John Thune, R-S.D., and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, "to develop a solution to this issue that does not choose winners and losers and is fair to everyone involved.

"Once a suitable solution is identified, my goal is to work with my colleagues to advance legislation that can be sent to the president for his signature as soon as possible," Hatch noted.

During the same hearing, Grassley also commented on the "necessity for correcting" Section 199A. "It is pretty simple that Congress would not pass a law that would put some segments of our economy out of business and that's why it needs to be changed," he said.

In the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Feb. 15, Chairman Brady echoed those sentiments. "We know that certain parts of this provision have unintended consequences," he said, noting that he's committed to developing "the right solution now - one that's thoughtful, carefully crafted, and effective in restoring balanced competition in the marketplace."

Brady said he is "committed to taking action on a solution as soon as possible."

NGFA President Randy Gordon noted in a media statement that the Association is disappointed that a solution to correct Section 199A has not already been passed by Congress. However, "considerable progress has been made during the last several weeks of intensive effort toward reaching an equitable solution," Gordon said, adding that NGFA is "gratified that the many members of Congress with whom we and other stakeholders are engaged on this issue are equally committed to enacting an equitable solution as part of the next available legislative vehicle."

The NGFA notes that the two fundamental goals of these efforts remain to replicate the tax treatment accorded to cooperatives and their farmer-patrons under previous Section 199 of the tax code, and to do so in a way that restores the competitive landscape of the marketplace that existed prior to the enactment of Section 199A on Dec. 22, 2017.

Deere Reports First-Quarter Loss of $535 Million

Deere & Company reported a net loss of $535.1 million for the first quarter ended January 28, 2018, or $1.66 per share, compared with net income of $199.0 million, or $0.62 per share, for the quarter ended January 29, 2017.

Affecting first-quarter 2018 results were charges to the provision for income taxes due to the enactment of U.S. tax reform legislation on December 22, 2017 (tax reform). The provisional income tax expense includes a write-down of net deferred tax assets of $715.6 million, reflecting a reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning on the enactment date, as well as the cost of a mandatory deemed repatriation of previously untaxed non-U.S. earnings of $261.6 million, partially offset by a favorable reduction in the annual effective tax rate and other adjustments of $12.1 million. Without these adjustments, first-quarter net income would have been $430.0 million, or $1.31 per share. (Information on non-GAAP financial measures is included in the appendix.)

Worldwide net sales and revenues for the first quarter increased 23 percent, to $6.913 billion, compared with $5.625 billion for the same period last year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $5.974 billion for the quarter compared with $4.698 billion a year ago.

"Deere has continued to experience strong increases in demand for its products as conditions in key markets show further improvement," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Sales gains for the quarter, however, were moderated by bottlenecks in the supply chain and logistical delays in shipping products to our dealers. In line with strengthening conditions, we have raised our sales and adjusted-earnings forecasts for 2018 and have confidence we will be able to fulfill the needs of our customers over the course of the year."

Pilgrim's Pride Reports Higher Quarterly Income

Pilgrim's Pride reported fourth quarter income of $0.54, $0.03 better than the analyst estimate of $0.51. Revenue for the quarter came in at $2.74 billion versus the consensus estimate of $2.55 billion.

"We generated strong, well-balanced consolidated performance in 2017. Our U.S. and Mexico operations were solid despite logistical challenges in Q4 due to the after-effects from natural events in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the U.S., while our newly acquired U.K. and continental Europe operations were consistent," stated Bill Lovette, Chief Executive Officer of Pilgrim's. "The performance once again demonstrated the strength and diversity of our portfolio of bird sizes, and is what fundamentally differentiates us from the competition, giving us the potential to reduce volatility and generate higher margins over time. While small-bird and tray-pack have remained strong during Q4, conditions in the commodity markets declined in-line with seasonality but are already recovering well in the new year, indicating the continuation of chicken demand as the protein of choice in domestic and international markets."

Net Sales of $2.74 billion were reported during the quarter. That's more than the $1.91 billion made during the same three months in 2016.

Adjusted Operating Income margins of 7.3% in U.S., 4.0% in Mexico and 5.0% in Europe operations, respectively, adjusted for non-recurring items related to weather events, Moy Park acquisition and Exchange Rate fluctuations.

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