Friday, March 30, 2018

Thursday March 29 USDA Reports + Ag News


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.30 million acres this year, down 3 percent from 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be 5.60 million acres, down 2 percent from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.70 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2017 are estimated at a record low 1.07 million, down 4 percent from last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 200,000 acres, up 11 percent from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 135,000 acres, up 23 percent from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 145,000 acres, down 19 percent from 2017.

All dry edible bean acreage estimate includes chickpea acreage estimates.

All chickpea planted acreage intentions are estimated at 5,000 acres.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 45,600 acres, down 1 percent from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 43,000 acres, down 5 percent from 2017. Oil type varieties account for 33,000 acres, up 10 percent from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 10,000 acres, down 35 percent from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 52,000 acres, down 10 percent from last year.

Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.


Iowa farmers intend to plant 13.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2018 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is unchanged from 2017.

Producers intend to plant 9.80 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is a 200,000 acre decrease from 2017.

Iowa farmers intend to plant 140,000 acres of oats for all purposes, up 25,000 acres from last year. If realized, this would be the largest planted acreage since 2014.

Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.10 million acres of all dry hay for the 2018 crop year. This is 20,000 acres more than harvested in 2017.

Planted acres of winter wheat, at 20,000 acres, is up 4,000 acres from last year.

U.S. Prospective Plantings:  Corn Planted Acreage Down 2 Percent from 2017

Soybean Acreage Down 1 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 3 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 7 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2018 is estimated at 88.0 million acres, down 2 percent or 2.14 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 33 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2018 is estimated at 89.0 million acres, down 1 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are down or unchanged in 20 of the 31 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2018 is estimated at 47.3 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017. This represents the second lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. The 2018 winter wheat planted area, at 32.7 million acres, is up slightly from both last year and the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.2 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.85 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.64 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2018 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, up 15 percent from 2017. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2018 is estimated at 2.00 million acres, down 13 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2018 is estimated at 13.5 million acres, 7 percent above last year. Upland area is estimated at 13.2 million acres, up 7 percent from 2017. American Pima area is estimated at 262,000 acres, up 4 percent from 2017.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 956 million bushels, down 5 percent from 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 540 million bushels are stored on farms, down 8 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 416 million bushels, are up 1 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 166 million bushels, up 18 percent from last year. Onfarm stocks of 51.0 million bushels are up 13 percent from a year ago and off-farm stocks, at 115 million bushels, are up 20 percent from 2017.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 52.7 million bushels, down 15 percent from a year ago. Onfarm stocks of 2.60 million bushels are down 24 percent from 2017 and off-farm stocks of 50.1 million bushels are down 14 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 5.50 million bushels, down 48 percent from 2017. Onfarm stocks of 750 thousand bushels are up 9 percent from a year ago but off-farm holdings of 4.75 million bushels are down 52 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 500 thousand bushels, up 25 percent from 2017.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 1.70 billion bushels, down 1 percent from March 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 59 percent were stored on-farm. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance totaled 685 million bushels, 1 percent below the 690 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 366 million bushels, 18 percent above the 310 million bushels on hand March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks, 41 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December 2017 - February 2018 is 121 million bushels, 18 percent below the 148 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 750 thousand bushels, down 22 percent from March 1, 2017.

U.S. Corn Stocks Up 3 Percent from March 2017

Soybean Stocks Up 21 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 10 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 8.89 billion bushels, up 3 percent from March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks, 5.00 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 2 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.89 billion bushels, are up 5 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance is 3.68 billion bushels, compared with 3.76 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 2.11 billion bushels, up 21 percent from March 1, 2017. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 855 million bushels, up 28 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.25 billion bushels, are up 17 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2017 - February 2018 quarter totaled 1.05 billion bushels, down 9 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 1.49 billion bushels, down 10 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 259 million bushels, down 26 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.24 billion bushels, are down 6 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance is 379 million bushels, 10 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 49.2 million bushels, down 7 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 25.8 million bushels, are down 20 percent from March 1, 2017. Off-farm stocks totaled 23.4 million bushels, up 14 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance of 6.86 million bushels is 66 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 129 million bushels, down 11 percent from March 1, 2017. On-farm stocks are estimated at 48.5 million bushels, 14 percent below a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 80.8 million bushels, are 8 percent below March 2017. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance totaled 29.5 million bushels, 38 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 55.1 million bushels, 13 percent below the stocks on March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks on hand, 17.2 million bushels were stored on farms, down 23 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 37.8 million bushels, down 7 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2017 - February 2018 totaled 11.4 million bushels, 7 percent below the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 138 million bushels, down 23 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 13.3 million bushels, are down 38 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 125 million bushels, are down 22 percent from a year earlier. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance from all positions is 89.2 million bushels, 30 percent below the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 1.24 billion pounds, 8 percent below March 1, 2017. All stocks stored on farms totaled 546 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 692 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 1.05 billion pounds; of this total, 482 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 565 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 191 million pounds, with 64.4 million pounds stored on the farm and 127 million pounds stored off the farm.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2018, was 3.45 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 5 percent from March 1, 2017, but down 4 percent from December 1, 2017.

Breeding hog inventory, at 420,000 head, was up 1 percent from March 1, 2017, but down 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.03 million head, was up 5 percent from last year, but down 4 percent from last quarter.

The December 2017 - February 2018 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.11 million head, was up 4 percent from 2017. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.70 for the December - February period, compared to 11.55 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the March - May 2018 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June - August 2018 are 190,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On March 1, 2018, there were 22.6 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory is up 5 percent from the previous year.

The December 2017-February 2018 quarterly pig crop was 6.16 million head, up 27,000 head from the previous quarter and 12 percent above last year. A total of 560,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.0, down slightly from last quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 550,000 sows and gilts in the March-May quarter and 560,000 head during the June-August quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2018 was 72.9 million head. This was up 3 percent fromMarch 1, 2017, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2017. 

Breeding inventory, at 6.20 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 66.7 million head, was up 3 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December-February 2018 pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 4 percent from 2017. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.06 million head, up 2 percent from 2017. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.58 for the December-February period, compared to 10.43 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.08 million sows farrow during the March-May 2018 quarter, up 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2017, and up 4 percent from 2016. Intended farrowings for June-August 2018, at 3.16 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2017, and up 4 percent from 2016.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down from 48 percent the previous year.

Northeast prepares to host hundreds of college and university students for national ag conference

From outward appearances, it’s classes as scheduled for faculty and the 350 agricultural students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. However, a closer look reveals a flurry of activity behind the scenes as the College and its Agriculture Department ready hundreds of details in preparation for a major agricultural competition.

As of late March, 650 students, representing 38 two and four-year institutions, were registered for the 2018 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference to be conducted from Wednesday, April 18, through Saturday, April 21.

“It’s a huge undertaking, but we’ve (Northeast) been involved in competing at NACTA (since 2000), and it’s our turn to host,” said Mike Roeber, Northeast livestock judging coach and animal science instructor. “We (Northeast) need to put in the time and work to get that accomplished.”

Throughout the conference, he said, “We’ll be showcasing the campus and its facilities and the Norfolk community.”

Roeber said the registered schools hail from 17 states with a soils and crops judging team traveling from Australia.

The list includes Purdue University, Penn State, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Texas A & M, Casper Community College and Murray State University (the host site for the 2019 NACTA conference).

Northeast President Dr. Michael Chipps said, “It’s an exciting opportunity for Northeast Community College to host … this great exposition, if you will.” The event, he said, will especially showcase the College’s agricultural presence that dates to 1973. 

Roeber said Northeast hosted the 2005 NACTA Judging Conference, with three faculty still on staff who were involved in that event.

He is currently finishing his third year as president of the NACTA Coaches Association. His duties include scheduling the host judging conference schools, verifying eligibility of participating schools with the NACTA organization headquarters, and providing information to the educational branch of the NACTA organization.

NACTA, a professional society, focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level, according to its website. Members are two-and four-year public and private colleges and universities.

This year’s 13 contests will primarily be conducted on campus and at Northeast’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, along with some off-campus judging sites as well, Roeber said.        

The schedule includes:

April 19 – dairy judging, horticultural, precision agriculture, agribusiness and agricultural knowledge bowl (preliminaries) contests;

April 20 – livestock judging, soils, agricultural mechanics, computer applications and ag knowledge (finals) contests; and

April 21 – livestock management, crops, agricultural communications/agricultural sales and equine judging contests. The 2018 conference concludes with an awards banquet that night at the DeVent Center.

Roeber said all of the College’s agriculture faculty and staff members, as well as a number of ag students, will be involved in various aspects of the conference. Several of the College’s ag graduates also volunteered to assist, some of whom were involved in past NACTA competitions as students, he added.

Northeast Community College officially decided to host the 2018 NACTA Judging Conference four years ago, Roeber said, with preparations underway since 2015.

The checklist includes:
. Compiling the wording and ordering of 510 plaques, trophies and banners for the top individuals and teams;
. Securing the animals (ewes, beef cattle, and market hogs, lambs and goats) for the 12 livestock judging classes, as well as the dairy cattle and equine judging contests;
. Digging more than one dozen six-foot-deep practice and contest holes for the soils contest; and
. Lining up the official judges for each of the 13 contests.

Bernie Thyen, an agronomy instructor at Northeast, is engaged in a major task: growing more than 120 different species of plants for the crops contest. Thyen, who is coordinating this year’s contest, said he began collecting seeds for the contest two years ago.

He said many seeds were collected from plants growing in the area, some gleaned from ditches, fields and even flower pots. Some rare seeds – such as castor, sesame and tobacco -- were ordered. A corn plant planted last December 3 now towers 10 feet.

Grow lights, operational from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, simulate mid-summer growing conditions and maintain the plants’ normal growing state, he said. Some plants have to be “tricked” so they are headed out or flowering at the time of the contest.

“Can you imagine the challenge to keep plants growing inside this winter?” Thyen asked, noting outside temperatures as low as a minus 28.

Thyen said he has spent “hundreds and hundreds of hours” tending to the more than 300 potted plants under cultivation in a College greenhouse.

The crops judging contest is designed to prepare students for agronomic careers. The two-year college and university contestants vie individually, side by side.

An hour is devoted to each of the sections: math practical, agronomic exam, laboratory practical, and plant and seed identification. The latter requires identification of 75 crop and weed plants and their seeds with more than 150 possible species on the exam.

At the end of this year’s crops contest, Thyen said he wants the contestants to say: “Wow! He had good plants, and it was tough.”

Sarah Sellin, an agronomy and animal science instructor at Northeast, is in charge of the soils competition. The contest, she said, is “very science based” with focuses on such areas as soil slope, type, texture, color, structure and grade.

“We want to find unique soil types that can showcase Nebraska soils,” Sellin said.

Twelve practice pits, as well as four contest pits, will be dug at undisclosed sites shortly before the conference. During the contest, a student will spend an hour each at the four pits, including 10 minutes in the pit gleaning specific information.

Sellin also is coordinating the equine contest and securing the horses for the halter, performance and body conformation classes. Some area 4-H members will be involved as horse owners and riders/handlers, she said.

Over the years, Northeast has annually fielded several first-place NACTA conference teams, Roeber said. 

As the host school this year, Northeast students may compete in some contests but will not be in contention for any awards. The Northeast students will mostly be assisting the faculty and staff in conducting the 13 contests.

Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honors, elects new members

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honored David and Ann Bruntz, and Don Hutchens at a banquet on March 23 at Nebraska East Union in Lincoln.  Formed in 1916, the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement is dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and elects new members.

David Bruntz grew up on a family farm near Friend, and Ann (Ramm) was raised on a family ranch near Stuart. They met while attending while attending the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. After they married they began their farming operation near Friend, Bruntz Farming & Feeding Inc., which consisted of corn, soybeans, milo alfalfa and cattle.

Both have served in several key volunteer and leadership positions. David’s roles have included chairman of the Nebraska Cattlemen Farmer/Stockman Council and president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation, a role that Ann has also held. In addition, Ann has served as chairman of the board for two terms at the Nebraska Beef Council. She has also been president of both the Nebraska Livestock Feeders Auxiliary and the Nebraska Cattlewomen. In 2003, Ann was honored with the Nebraska Cattlewoman of the Year award.

The couple are very involved within the agricultural industry and their community of Friend. They are active in the Nebraska Agribusiness Club, Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, Farmers Union Cooperative, Friend Chamber of Commerce and Friend United Methodist Church.

Hutchens grew up on the family farm southeast of Geneva. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and then returned to the family farming operation for 14 years before beginning his career in agricultural leadership. In 1985, Hutchens was named assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as director in 1986. He was selected as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board in 1987, a role he held until retiring in 2014.

As a graduate of the inaugural class of the Nebraska LEAD Program, Hutchens recognizes the value of giving back to the industry through service and as a mentor. A few of his volunteer involvements have been with the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, Nebraska FFA Foundation and the Agriculture Builders of Nebraska.

Honors Hutchens has received include an honorary American farmer degree from National FFA, outstanding member award from Nebraska Young Farmers and Ranchers, outstanding professional contact from the mayor’s committee for international friendship, the leadership alumni award from the Nebraska LEAD Program, and an award for outstanding leadership and dedicated service to agriculture from KRVN.

NHAA also welcomed new members at the banquet. New members were nominated by a fellow member of the hall for their significant contributions to the state’s agriculture industry.  This year’s new NHAA members, listed by hometown are:
    BROKEN BOW: Bill Adams, chief engineering officer, Adams Land and Cattle; Jerry Adams, chief executive officer, president, Adams Land and Cattle; and R.T. Thomas, owner/operator, Thomas Livestock Inc.
    EDGAR: Dawn Caldwell, head of government affairs, Aurora Cooperative
    FIRTH: Ed Woeppel, education and program director, Nebraska Cooperative Council
    LINCOLN: George Graef, professor of plant breeding and genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
    SCOTTSBLUFF: Arden Wohlers, rancher and retired veterinarian
    ST.PAUL: Fred Meyer, farmer and rancher
    WESTON: Gregg Fujan, owner/operator of soybean and corn production enterprise


The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will present three awards of distinction at their Animal Science Alumni and Friends Roundup on April 13 in Lincoln. The inaugural awards will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of undergraduate and graduate alumni, and the contributions individuals have made to the department through their commitment to the industry.

The recipients will be honored at 6 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive.

Jerry Connealy, BS 1981, of Whitman, will be honored with the undergraduate of distinction award. Over the past 30-plus years, Connealy has developed the leading Angus seedstock herd in Nebraska. Through his visionary leadership and tremendously focused hard work, Connealy Angus has grown from 250 cows to 2500 registered cows, selling over 750 bulls per year. Connealy bulls frequently populate the pages of bull stud catalogs across the country. Nominator Merlyn Nielsen says, Connealy is the epitome of humbleness, not seeking the limelight.

Michael Lewis, Ph.D. 1988, of Blair, will be honored with the graduate of distinction award. While working as a student under Terry Klopfenstein, Lewis developed the NEBRIS data collection system for the university feedlot that is still in use 30 years later. Today, Lewis is vice president and feed segment leader for value-added feed and meal products for Cargill's wet milling facilities. His support of the department has been in the form of feed donations, facility tours and undergraduate training resources. Nominators Galen Erickson and Terry Klopfenstein said the university’s beef and dairy programs are indebted to Cargill and especially, Lewis for the generous financial support.

Alan (Al) Svajgr, BS 1964, MS 1968, of Cozad, will be recognized with a distinguished service award honoring his outstanding contributions to the department. Svajgr’s record of service to the department and the university is quite impressive and shows his commitment to the institution and its land-grant mission. He has been called upon to give guest lectures, provide tours, sit on advisory committees and more. He has served as president of Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, sat on the chancellor's advisory board, and for the last several years, has provided tremendous financial support for graduate student travel to scientific meetings. Svajgr has been selected as a Block & Bridle Honoree and has been inducted into the Nebraska Cattlemen's Hall of Fame. Nominators say he is always looking for ways to support the university’s mission and has been very effective in those endeavors.

Tickets to the Animal Science Alumni and Friends Roundup are $30 and can be purchased at

For more information, contact Jennifer Dush at 402-472-3571 or

The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is made up of internationally-recognized faculty who lead programs in breeding and genetics, meat science, non-ruminant and ruminant nutrition, physiology, animal well-being, production and management. To learn more about the department, visit

Newton restaurant voted IPPA 'Pulled Pork Madness Champion'

A Facebook contest designed to find Iowa's best pulled pork sandwich has produced a winner.

Moo's BBQ in Newton was crowned the winner of the Iowa Pork Producers Association Pulled Pork Madness contest and it was announced on the IPPA Facebook page this morning. The restaurant offers five different pulled pork items and claims to serve "the finest smoked meats that Jasper County has to offer."

The month-long contest was all built around the March Madness college basketball tournament craze and it was held to capitalize on the popularity and success of IPPA's annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest.

IPPA Consumer Outreach Director Kelsey Byrnes initially invited Facebook followers to nominate the Iowa restaurant they feel has the best pulled pork sandwich and 1,200 people responded in the week-long nomination process. Pork fans nominated 125 restaurants and Byrnes then selected the top two vote getters in each of IPPA's eight districts to fill out the "Sweet 16" bracket.

Subsequent voting narrowed the field to the "Elite 8" and then the "Final Four." Voting for the two finalists was conducted from March 23-28 and Moo's edged out Guys with Grills BBQ and Catering in Story City to become the 2018 "Pulled Pork Madness Champion" 3,450 total votes to 3,420.

"We held the social media contest to attract new pork fans and remind people that there are restaurants in all parts of Iowa that offer really great barbeque pork," Byrnes said.

Throughout the contest, 4,200 people participated and 6,100 total votes were cast.

IPPA will present Moo's BBQ with $250 and a handsome "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque for its restaurant in Newton tomorrow.

Soy Growers, Ag Groups Talk Farm Bill Status

The American Soybean Association (ASA) staff met with representatives of other farm organizations this week to discuss the status of preparations to write a new farm bill this year. The groups discussed what they can do to improve chances of completing the process before the Agricultural Act of 2014 expires at the end of September.

Disagreement between Republican and Democrat members of the House Agriculture Committee before the current Easter recess over whether to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp program, have continued and escalated into this week. There is growing concern that both sides are digging in and reducing prospects for progress when Congress returns to Washington on April 9.

The focus of attention is turning to negotiations between Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who both said they are prepared to put forward a bipartisan bill by the end of April that would include few if any changes in the SNAP program.

If the Committee leadership is able to take through both their panel and across the Senate floor on strong bipartisan votes, it will raise pressure on the House to resolve its differences and move forward to mark-up a bill in Committee that can receive a majority vote on the House floor, as opposed to the failed effort in 2013 that resulted in splitting the last farm bill in two.

It is considered likely that Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) will not be able to find 218 votes among fellow Republicans to pass a bill without changing the SNAP provisions, meaning that enough moderate Democrats will need to support a bill with changes that are more acceptable to the anti-hunger community.

In addition to ASA, also attending the meeting this week were representatives of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, National Barley Growers Association and National Association of Wheat Growers.

ASA Submits Comments to the EPA on Neonics

The American Soybean Association (ASA) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the registration reviews of certain neonicotinoids last week. Specifically, the comments discussed the use and benefits of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam for soybean growers.

The comments discussed the important role of neonics as part of integrated pest management (IPM) programs and how they can help manage resistance while also aiding in sound conservation.

“One of the most common uses is to utilize seed treatments that contain imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin to protect vulnerable soybean seedlings from insects in the soil that could destroy the crop before it ever matures,” ASA states in the comments. “Furthermore, these chemicals can aid in sound conservation techniques.”

The public comment period is open until April 21, 2018.

Electronic Logging Device Requirements Delayed

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced another 90 day extension on the deadline for livestock haulers to comply with the electronic logging device (ELD) requirements.

Subsequently, in the Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress last week, a provision was included to prevent DOT from enforcing the ELD mandate through the end of the current fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2018).  The initial extension issued by DOT expired on March 18.

Most farmers are exempt from the ELD mandate under the covered farm vehicle exemption, however, that does not apply to all livestock or other agriculture related haulers. Several livestock groups along with American Farm Bureau have petitioned DOT for a waiver due to concerns about livestock haulers ability to comply with the mandate and the impact it would have on animal welfare.

In the latest extension DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicated it will issue new guidance on the agricultural 150 air-mile exemption and hours of service rules. The additional action by Congress to delay enforcement of the ELD requirements will provide more time for livestock and agriculture groups to analyze the requirements and seek changes, if necessary.

Field to Market and USRSB Announce Partnership to Advance Sustainability for Beef Value Chain

Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) today announced an agreement establishing mutual recognition of the value and importance of each organization’s work and a commitment to foster an increased level of collaboration. In the agreement, USRSB agreed to recognize the role Field to Market plays in defining sustainable production for feed commodities utilized in beef production. In the same way, Field to Market agreed to recognize USRSB’s role in defining sustainable beef production.

“By collaborating with the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, we can offer tangible solutions to the livestock value chain by exploring opportunities to combine our measurement approaches,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. “We are particularly excited to bring greater transparency and continuous improvement in feed production, which in turn will positively impact the overall sustainability of beef.”

Under the agreement, both organizations committed to:
·        Recognize Field to Market’s Indicators, Metrics and Benchmarks within USRSB documents discussing sustainable feed;
·        Recognize USRSB’s Indicators and Metrics within Field to Market documents discussing sustainable beef production;
·        Encourage USRSB and Field to Market members, where applicable, to utilize the resources of both organizations in pilot projects, potential supply chain agreements and appropriate public facing communication;
·        Share scientific learnings where appropriate; and
·        Participate in the other’s meetings and work sessions, providing feedback and expertise where needed.

“We realize the sustainability of the beef industry must include all facets of the what goes in to putting that hamburger or steak on our tables,” said Rickette Collins, Chair of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. “By sharing learnings and expertise, USRSB and Field to Market can lead the beef industry to better solutions to the sustainability challenges we all face throughout the value-chain.”

As the first step in identifying opportunities for increased collaboration, both organizations have formed a joint task force to identify areas of engagement as well as explore potential pilot projects. The task force is comprised of members in Field to Market and/or USRSB, including: Cargill, Corteva Agriscience - the agriculture division of DowDuPont, McDonald’s, National Corn Growers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

Agriculture Coalition Launches ‘Fix Prop 65’ Site in Effort to Halt California’s Unsound Glyphosate Regulation

The Ag Defense Alliance, a national coalition of farmers and agriculture networks, today launched a new website providing resources and information about its case against California’s unjustified Prop 65 listing of glyphosate.

“The new site will be used to communicate the importance of one tool to farmers, glyphosate. Glyphosate is a safe for use and effective crop protectant used by growers to provide an abundant, safe, and affordable supply of food,” stated Chandler Goule, Chief Executive of the National Association of Wheat Growers, the lead plaintiff in the case against California. “Our coalition understands the importance of glyphosate to our nation’s agriculture economy and we are committed to communicating with all interested stakeholders as our case moves forward against California’s unjustified Prop 65 listing of glyphosate.”

The Fix Prop 65 website provides research and background on the case, testimonials from farmers, information about glyphosate, how it is used, and what the scientific community has stated about this safe-for-use, environmental sustainable herbicide. 

Last month, Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting California from implementing its “false and misleading” Prop 65 labeling requirement for glyphosate. The injunction was sought by the agriculture coalition and supported by eleven attorneys general across the U.S. The preliminary injunction halts California’s labeling requirement until a final ruling on the matter is issued by the court.

The National Association of Wheat Growers is the lead plaintiff in the case against California filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Agricultural Retailers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association and United States Durum Growers Association.

For more information, visit  FIXPROP65.COM!

More Accurate Methane Estimates from Dairy Cattle Developed

Leading the worldwide effort to get a better handle on methane emissions from animals, an international consortium of researchers devised more accurate models to estimate the amount of the potent greenhouse gas produced by dairy cattle.

In a large study that involved individual data from more than 5,200 lactating dairy cows, assembled through a collaboration of animal scientists from 15 countries, researchers discovered that methane emissions from dairy cattle can be predicted using simplified models. Because feed dry-matter intake is the key factor for methane production prediction, the new models require readily available feed-related variables.

These more accurate models can be used to develop region-specific enteric --intestinal -- methane inventories, explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. He pointed out that the large scope of the project resulted in previously unreachable conclusions.

"Developing such a large database of individual animal data has never been done before," he said. "When we put this project together four years ago, we contacted researchers around the world with a consortium agreement so we could collect confidential data from their studies, and they provided individual animal data for methane emissions and all related measurements. That gave us the opportunity to develop more robust, more accurate prediction models for enteric methane emissions."

Although complex models that use both feed intake and detailed chemical composition had the best performance in predicting methane production, models requiring only feed dry-matter intake and dietary fiber content had the second-best predictive ability. Those offer an alternative to complex models currently being used by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The EPA inventory is based on a complicated set of equations with high uncertainty," Hristov said.

A major finding of the research, which was published this month in Global Change Biology, is that revised methane emission conversion factors for specific regions are expected to improve emission estimates in national inventories. The concept of applying a methane emission conversion factor was introduced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to indicate the proportion of an animal's energy intake that is converted to energy in methane.

This factor is widely used for national greenhouse gas emission inventories and global research on mitigation strategies. The research by the consortium, Hristov noted, offers opportunities to include region-specific methane conversion factors in national inventories. This is essential to improve the accuracy of carbon footprint assessments of dairy cattle production systems in regions around the world and to help devise mitigation strategies.

"Dairy cows in different regions of the world, depending on their diets, their genetics and their management systems, belch different amounts and intensities of methane," Hristov said.

The team that conducted the study -- part of the Feeding and Nutrition Network of the Livestock Research Group within the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases -- is currently developing similar databases for predicting enteric methane emissions from beef cattle, sheep and goats. "We started with dairy cattle because more research data is available for dairy animals," Hristov said.

Having more robust and accurate models for predicting enteric methane emissions from livestock is important, Hristov pointed out, because these emissions represent a significant portion of global greenhouse gases blamed for causing climate change. And if current and future mitigation efforts are to be measured and analyzed for their effectiveness, regulatory agencies must have accurate data for existing enteric methane levels and resulting decreases.

Thirty-six researchers from the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand were involved in the study.

Dairy Groups Applaud U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today applauded the Trump Administration’s swift and effective negotiation with South Korea regarding the terms and implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade Agreement (KORUS).

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two dairy groups expressed appreciation that trade officials were able to secure a result with South Korea that addressed certain dairy industry concerns while preserving the overall agreement.

South Korea is the fourth-largest U.S. dairy export market. Last year, it accounted for over $230 million in U.S. dairy sales. It is also the second-largest cheese market in the world.

“Preserving free trade agreements (FTAs) like this one is essential to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunities for America’s dairy producers and processors,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

With KORUS, the U.S. dairy industry will remain a competitive dairy exporter to South Korea in a world in which most other major dairy exporters have access to the South Korean market through a trade agreement. This puts U.S. companies, shipping products, manufacturers and American-made milk on the same footing with dairy competitors from other countries.

“KORUS has had a demonstrable impact on the success of U.S. dairy exports,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “A renegotiated KORUS will strengthen our trade relationship with Korea, ensuring that the country continues to receive nutritious U.S. dairy foods. This will benefit both Korean citizens and the U.S. farmers producing these products.”

Leading up to the KORUS negotiations in early October 2017, USDEC and NMPF encouraged an approach that would address specific U.S. concerns, including that of customs procedures, while preserving the agreement. U.S. dairy exporters have repeatedly encountered challenges with South Korea’s overly narrow interpretation of which goods qualify as those originating from the United States. This meant that even goods produced in the United States with American-made ingredients and certified as such by the U.S. Department of Agriculture sometimes faced rejection. The letter thanked USTR for recognizing these types of issues and their impact on trade. “Resolving them can ensure that the agreement operates as it was truly intended to,” the groups said.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday March 28 Ag News

Meet the 10 Farmer Finalists in Power to Do More Contest

Three farmers — to be selected from a field of 10 farmer finalists introduced today — will receive $10,000 for their community and a trip for two to their dream sports field as winners of the Power to Do More contest, sponsored by Resicore® corn herbicide from Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™.

The top 10 finalists were selected by the originality and creativity of their photo and story about the power on their farm. The three farmers who receive the most votes on by Sunday, April 22, will win. Winners will be announced this summer.

“We were thrilled to see the number of entries for the second season of the Power to Do More contest,” said Lyndsie Kaehler, U.S. corn herbicides product manager, Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™. “This year, many farmers shared pictures that embody the power of their farm and shared stories that showcase the passion they have for farming, their families and their communities.” 

The 10 finalists represent a range of farming operations across eight states:
    James Kirch, Nebraska
    Ryan Nickerson, Nebraska
    Ryan Heiniger, Iowa
    Shirley Schroeder, Iowa
    Todd Yackley, South Dakota
    Shana Guttery, Kansas
    Charles Krause, Minnesota
    Val Wagner, North Dakota
    Dean Atkins, Illinois
    Jonathan Lawler, Indiana

Last year, the three winners of the Power to Do More contest were Curt Robbins, Fairfield, Illinois; Chad Hibma, Harris, Iowa; and Lee Stammen, Fort Recovery, Ohio. To learn more about last year’s winners, and to watch short videos showcasing the power on their farms, visit here. Resicore®, the sponsor of this contest, provides trusted residual control and versatility to give farmers power over more than 75 tough weeds and grasses that rob corn yield, profit and time.

To vote for your favorite finalist, visit daily and share the voting website with your family, friends and community until Sunday, April 22.

Foley Announces Platte County as Newest Nebraska Livestock Friendly County

Lt. Governor Mike Foley designated Platte County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County (LFC) at a March 27th ceremony at Ag Park in Columbus, Nebraska.  The LFC program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).  Platte County, located in eastern Nebraska, is the 45th county in the state to receive the livestock friendly designation.

“With more than $652 million dollars in yearly agriculture receipts, agriculture is a driving force for the local communities of Platte County,” said Lt. Governor Foley.  “By requesting and receiving the official Livestock Friendly County designation, Platte County has made a strong commitment to supporting rural economic development.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of the $652 million Platte County had in agricultural receipts for the year 2012, $415 million, or 64 percent, came from livestock sales, and $237 million, or 36 percent, came from crops.

“There are more than 900 farms located in Platte County, making it an ideal Livestock Friendly County,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “The LFC designation shows that the citizens of Platte County can actively support growth and development in the livestock industry and gain the benefits that come with responsible livestock production.”

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 can be found on the NDA’s website at or by calling 800-422-6692.

Economics of Producing Forage on Cropland

Steve Neimeyer – NE Extension Educator

Current corn prices coupled with reduced perennial pasture availability have producers asking questions about the economics of using cropland to produce forage for cow/calf production. This was the subject of a webinar offered by Nebraska Extension on the evening of February 13. Three specific questions were addressed:
  - “Will producing annual forages have greater net returns than growing corn?”
  - “Can growing forages pay the cash rent on good crop ground?”
  - “Is converting a pivot into perennial grasses for pasture going to improve profits?”

The short response to each question is “no” but, like the answers to most economic questions, it comes with a disclaimer. To understand the results of our look at each of these questions, it is necessary to understand differences between “providing an answer” and “finding the best solution” for your operation.

In our analysis of these questions, major assumptions have to be made and they are critical in determining the answer provided. Our approach is cost-based and includes the assumptions that: land costs remain the same whether you grow corn or forage; ownership costs on equipment do not change (i.e. you don’t sell the combine); and, a grazing day is valued according to pasture rental rates.

We also need to qualify that our look at these questions assumed the land in question was productive corn ground (230 bushel average yield). Given this platform, the long response to each of the questions can be summarized as follows.

Growing corn will have greater net returns than converting to annual forages unless corn revenues drop well below $600 per acre. Input costs for growing corn including fuel, labor, machinery repairs, etc. are likely to be comfortably under $500 per acre. Rental value on the annual forage produced is likely going to struggle to exceed the out of pocket expenses in producing it by much more than $100.

Growing forages will not pay the cash rent because cash rent is going to be determined in the short run by the value of growing corn on the land. As noted above, this is likely to be higher than what the forage will produce in net returns.

It is not economical to convert a pivot of good corn ground into perennial grasses for pasture. In the short run, establishment costs could be a challenge to cash flow. In the long run, even a ten year amortization period on establishment costs makes it a struggle for the forage rental value to exceed annual costs by more than $150. While performing a little better economically than annual forages, this scenario still falls well short of current expectations for corn returns.

Annual forages that are double cropped (i.e. cover crops used for forage) and planted after the primary crop can pay off in many cases. This is because the cost of the land is billed to the primary crop.

Producing forage on cropland can obviously turn a profit and can be extremely good for the soil. It can make sense to include it in your rotation. However, it is important to evaluate potential change relative to what you could be doing. Honest assessment of the costs and returns that go away as well as those that come on board is needed to see how the proposed change will affect your bottom line. Our examples are just meant to be that; examples given our assumptions. Your situation may be quite a bit different. We have posted the slides and decision tool files populated with our examples on our website. These can and should be modified to evaluate the options for your situation.

The recorded webinar can be accessed at

It is important to seek the best long-term use of cropland that is both economical and sustainable. For more information about producing and using forage on cropland (including using cover crops and crop residues) see

Congress funds rural programs in 2018 spending bill

Center for Rural Affairs Policy Associate Anna Johnson said today that the 2018 federal spending bill passed last week provides support for rural America. The bill funds the government through Sept. 30, 2018.

“First, Congress provided healthy funding for conservation,” Johnson said. “Not only did Congress refrain from cutting farm bill conservation programs for the first time in several years, they also increased funding for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical assistance.”

NRCS funding for technical assistance increased to $874 million from 2017. This funding supports local NRCS offices, where farmers and ranchers access technical assistance for conservation practices.

In addition, Congress rejected proposed cuts to rural development programs.

The bill funds the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, which allows farmers and ranchers to diversify their income by processing farm and ranch products. This program was funded at the same level as 2017, $15 million.

The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), which provides loan funds and technical assistance to rural entrepreneurs, remains at the funding level provided in the previous farm bill, $2.8 million, without additional support.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program received its highest funding level in 30 years, at $35 million.

“We are very encouraged that Congress has shown this support for publicly funded research in sustainable agriculture,” Johnson said.

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, received $3 million in funding for 2018, which is in addition to the $10 million in funding provided by the farm bill. This program has allowed many farmers and ranchers from around the country, who are new to farm programs, to access U.S. Department of Agriculture support.

“These funding levels show heartening support for rural America,” Johnson said. “We are glad to see legislators are understanding the importance of these programs to rural communities.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               This winter left many of you with more hay and corn stalk bales left over than expected.  Save some of that feed in case of drought, but any extra hay might provide extra value if it is used strategically.

               Get extra value from carryover hay by using that hay in ways that will be valuable especially to you.  Usually that means feeding hay instead of something else that would be more expensive.  Another option, though, is to feed hay so you can make other resources more profitable.

               For example, replace old, thinning alfalfa fields with new seedings this spring.  Then use carryover hay to substitute for lost yield during this seeding year.  Future hay yields from new fields should be more abundant and reliable.

               Or how about adding legumes to cool-season grass pastures or hay meadows.  We usually lose some forage production during the year of legume establishment as you control competition from the existing sod, but your carryover hay can be fed instead as needed.  Better grazing and future meadow production should be the result.

               Another possibility that could be especially useful is to feed hay a little longer this spring before turning cows out to pasture.  Or maybe feed this hay mid-summer to provide extra rest and recovery time for your pastures, increasing their productivity.  Grass that is growing slowly due to dry or cold conditions then will get extra time to recover before experiencing this year’s stress of grazing.

               You also could use less fertilizer on pastures or haylands and make up for the reduced production with your carryover hay.  Or maybe chop less silage and use hay next winter instead.

               If you think about other ways you can use that hay yourself, maybe you, too, can find its extra value.


               Spring is approaching and cool-season grass pastures are starting to green-up.  We should begin thinking about fertilizing.

               Grass growth is stimulated by nitrogen fertilizer just like other crops.  Although nitrogen fertilizer can be costly, it is less expensive this spring and favorable cattle prices greatly increase the potential to profit from the increased grass growth produced from nitrogen.

               Our Nebraska research shows that you get about one pound of additional calf or yearling gain for every pound of nitrogen fertilizer applied.  With grazingland becoming more scarce and expensive, boosting yield with fertilizer should be especially valuable this year.

               However, this fertilization rule-of-thumb assumes that the amount applied is within our general recommendations, which are based on the potential amount of extra grass growth expected.  This is affected mostly by moisture.  More importantly, it also assumes that your grazing management will efficiently harvest this extra growth.

               If your animals graze continuously on one pasture throughout the season, much of the extra growth is wasted.  They trample, manure and foul, bed down on, and simply refuse to eat much of the stemmy grass.  Less than one-third of the extra grass ends up inside your livestock.

               To make fertilizer pay, cross-fence pastures to control when and where your animals graze.  Give animals access to no more than one-fourth of your pasture at a time, letting the rest regrow.  Graze off only about one-half of this growth before moving to another subdivision.  Maybe even save one subdivision for hay.  If your pastures aren’t subdivided, fertilizer dollars might be better spent on cross-fences and watering sites.

               Follow these suggestions and more of your pasture growth will be eaten, and more profits will come from fertilizer and pastures.

USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Contracts

Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to renew their Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contract.

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation.

Participants with existing CSP contracts expiring on Dec. 31, 2018, can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.

NRCS will mail contract renewal notification letters to all participants whose contracts expire in 2018, which will contain instructions on how to apply for renewal.

Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by April 13.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Some of these benefits of CSP include:
-    Improved cattle gains per acre;
-    Increased crop yields;
-    Decreased inputs;
-    Wildlife population improvements; and
-    Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

Fischer on U.S.-South Korea Trade Deal

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today on the administration’s announcement of an important trade deal with South Korea:

“I am pleased to see the administration has made a good trade deal with South Korea. This is a step in the right direction that will expand opportunities for our producers and the state of Nebraska. I have been outspoken about the value of the South Korean market to Nebraska’s high-quality agriculture products. That is why, in September, I began advocating to stay in the KORUS FTA and visited with both U.S. administration officials and South Korea officials to stress the importance of the trade relationship between our two countries.”


-          On September 26, 2017, Senator Fischer met with South Korea’s Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong on the KORUS FTA.
-          On September 5, 2017, Senator Fischer wrote a letter a letter to President Donald Trump urging him not to terminate the KORUS FTA.

Key Nebraska Ag Stats

South Korea was Nebraska agriculture’s fifth-largest customer in 2016. South Korea imported $340 million of Nebraska agricultural products that year. Click here for more information.

Ricketts Applauds President Trump’s New U.S. Trade Deal with South Korea

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed news from the White House that President Donald J. Trump has secured a new trade deal with South Korea.

“South Korea is home to some of Nebraska’s best customers and investors,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Beef exports to South Korea increased by 14 percent in 2017.  That increase helped push our total beef exports up by 12 percent from 2016.  This new trade deal demonstrates a long-term commitment to this partnership with South Korea, which will deepen our ties and encourage even more investment in our future.”

The trade deal extends and expands the United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).  Details of the renegotiated deal can be found here.

“The updated agreement between the U.S. and South Korea is certainly good news for Nebraska,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “The free trade pact will continue to be valuable for Nebraska agricultural exports.  Total exports in 2016 were $499.9 million, making South Korea our fourth largest market.  Value added products of beef and pork total over $327 million with corn, distillers grain, and soybean exports adding to the total.”


Declining tariffs brought about by KORUS helped America become South Korea’s largest beef supplier in 2016.  America exported $1.1 billion in beef exports to South Korea in 2017.

South Korea is Nebraska’s fourth-largest agriculture export market, with $499.9 million worth of exports in 2016.  They are a top-5 customer for Nebraska beef, hides and skins, corn, distillers grains, pork, ethanol, and wheat.
·       Beef:  $221.5 million – 2nd largest market
·       Corn:  $101 million – 3rd largest market
·       Hides and Skins:  $66.4 million – 2nd largest market
·       Pork:  $39.2 million – 4th largest market
·       Distillers Grains:  $23.4 million – 4th largest market
·       Soybeans:  $22.8 million


In January, Governor Ricketts welcomed back a trade delegation made up of trade representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC), Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, and Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage).  The delegation met with companies and industry associations in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 9-10, to promote Nebraska as a destination for foreign direct investment.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Continuation of KORUS Trade Agreement

“We are extremely pleased by today’s announcement that the United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) will continue into the future. For months, Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have dealt with the uncertainty surrounding whether President Trump would withdraw from the KORUS agreement and weaken the relationship with our South Korean trade partners.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau’s own economic analysis* shows the KORUS agreement was worth roughly $340 million to Nebraska agriculture in terms of total exports in 2016. On an individual basis our analysis shows the KORUS agreement is worth $34.35 cents per-head to Nebraska beef producers and $11.52 cents per-head for Nebraska pork producers. The fact this trade agreement will continue is a win for Nebraska agriculture, our farm and ranch families, and Nebraska’s broader economy.”

Perdue Statement on Agreement in Principle on KORUS

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today regarding the agreement in principle reached by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republic of Korea Minister for Trade Hyun Chong Kim regarding modifications to the U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS):

“I applaud President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, and the U.S. trade team for partnering with the Republic of Korea to modernize KORUS and protect the strong agricultural components that were built into the pact. Korea has long been an important trading partner for U.S. agriculture and currently ranks as our 6th-highest value market. U.S. agricultural exports to the country have increased 95 percent over the past decade and we look forward to continued growth. Through this new agreement in principle, progress was also made with regard to Korea’s customs verification procedures, which have been a substantial concern related to exports of U.S. agricultural and industrial goods.”

Lawrence named vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

After a nationwide search, John Lawrence has been appointed vice president of Iowa State University’s extension and outreach programs.

Lawrence, interim vice president since March 2017, previously served as associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of extension and outreach. He will begin the permanent VP role immediately.

“John has a long history of scholarship and administrative service, and is uniquely qualified to lead ISU Extension and Outreach,” said President Wendy Wintersteen. “I feel confident he will work to strengthen important extension programs and partnerships and enhance the connections of our faculty, staff and students to Iowa communities.”

Lawrence holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in economics, both from Iowa State; and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. He joined Iowa State as an assistant professor of economics in 1991, serving as an extension livestock economist. He also has served as assistant director of the Agriculture Experiment Station, and director of the Iowa Beef Center.

Lawrence also led the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, established in 2013 to develop science-based approaches for reducing the level of nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

“I am honored to serve my colleagues, the university, and the entire state of Iowa as the leader of Extension and Outreach,” Lawrence said. “I look forward to working with our talented faculty, staff and partners to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Iowans.”

In making the announcement, Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert praised Lawrence for his performance in the interim role, and thanked members of the search committee for their thoughtful consideration of candidates.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board: Building Demand for Long-Term Iowa Farmer Profitability

The fundamentals of any good business model look for ways to increase demand for your product. In Iowa, there is no greater force driving demand for corn than the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB). ICPB represents thousands of Iowa farmers to create an economic climate in which the Iowa corn industry will be successful through market development, research for new uses and educating the public about corn in all forms. 

“We work to defend our current markets, while simultaneously looking for new market opportunities,” stated Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Duane Aistrope, a farmer from Randolph. “Half of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board budget goes to building export markets, livestock production and offering consumers higher blends of ethanol at the gas pump. These demand building efforts remain key to stopping the red ink and bringing vitality back to Iowa’s rural economy.”

To see how markets work, and to talk face-to-face with customers around the world, Iowa farmers from ICPB, along with U.S. Grains Council (UCGC) and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), have boots on the ground in major export markets. Checkoff funds are matched by government funds, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development, to support international market development programs for both USGC and USMEF.

Iowa Corn board and committee members participate in several USGC trade missions throughout the year, traveling to thriving corn markets around the world. People want to do business with individuals and organizations they know, and trust and these missions do just that helping build relationships with international buyers. These trade missions focus on topics from crop progress and DDGS, to red meat exports. ICPB farmer-leaders also host trade teams who visit Iowa to learn more about the corn and meat produced here.

USGC builds the relationships to increase our exports of corn, ethanol and dried distillers grains (DDGS) with foreign trading partners. This includes everything from putting foreign buyers in touch with U.S. sellers to educate regulators about how to use ethanol fuels in their countries. For example, global markets are responding to the Council’s efforts to expand U.S. ethanol use worldwide by demonstrating it to be a reliable and affordable source of octane. U.S. ethanol exports set a record in 2016/2017 at 1.37 billion gallons (488 million bushels in corn equivalent) a 34 percent increase year-over-year, exported to 76 countries. Brazil was the year’s top buyer, setting a new export record with 499 million gallons (178 million bushels in corn equivalent) in purchases.  They have also worked with livestock farmers in foreign countries to show them the benefits of feeding DDGS to livestock.

“If we want to continue to enhance profitability for farmers, we must continue to work with organizations like the U.S. Grains Council to create new demand for corn through value-added products like ethanol,” explained Aistrope. “Building demand for ethanol creates additional markets both domestically and internationally for our corn crop.”

Domestically, ICPB’s ethanol efforts target consumers, gas retailers, and corn farmers to share the benefits of higher blends of ethanol. Introducing higher ethanol blends, such as E15 and E85, requires customer education to build demand for American-made ethanol. ICPB supports retailer grand openings to educate consumers and drive traffic to new retail locations and has for the last seven years supported the Retailer Outreach Program which has resulted in many new retail locations offering E15 to E85. The program makes fuel station owners aware of state and federal grant programs and encourages retailers to provide higher ethanol blends by presenting the benefits of offering customers more fuel choices and the impact to their bottom line.

ICPB, alongside other corn states, ethanol producers, engine manufacturers and fuel experts, participate in the Ag Auto Ethanol Work Group to design future engine technology that will meet increasingly stringent CAFE standards and result in a more efficient internal combustion engine.

In 2018, ICPB will be expanding its Clean Air Choice™ campaign with the American Lung Association to help drivers understand the correlation between ethanol and lung health. This will include a driver’s education initiative, which will include providing an educational video and information on using higher blends of ethanol to high schoolers and it will include advertorials in major Iowa daily newspapers.

Secretary Perdue Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued a statement providing clarification on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques which include techniques called genome editing.

Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods. The newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.

“With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present,” said Secretary Perdue. “At the same time, I want to be clear to consumers that we will not be stepping away from our regulatory responsibilities. While these crops do not require regulatory oversight, we do have an important role to play in protecting plant health by evaluating products developed using modern biotechnology. This is a role USDA has played for more than 30 years, and one I will continue to take very seriously, as we work to modernize our technology-focused regulations.”

“Plant breeding innovation holds enormous promise for helping protect crops against drought and diseases while increasing nutritional value and eliminating allergens,” Perdue said. “Using this science, farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources. This new innovation will help farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: do right and feed everyone.”

USDA is one of three federal agencies which regulate products of food and agricultural technology. Together, USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology that ensures these products are safe for the environment and human health. USDA’s regulations focus on protecting plant health; FDA oversees food and feed safety; and EPA regulates the sale, distribution, and testing of pesticides in order to protect human health and the environment.

USDA continues to coordinate closely with its EPA and FDA partners to fulfill oversight responsibilities and provide the appropriate regulatory environment. This ensures the safety of products derived from new technologies, while fostering innovation at the same time.

NGFA issues statement on regulation of plant breeding innovation

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) issued the following statement on plant breeding innovation, such as gene editing techniques, following today's announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) "does not regulate or have plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests."

NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon:
"For grain handlers, grain processors and exporters, it is essential that the U.S. government exert strong and effective leadership in interacting with governmental authorities in other countries to urge adoption of science- and risk-based approaches to the regulatory treatment of plant breeding innovation so there is not a recurrence of the significant and costly international trade disruptions that occurred with some transgenic biotech traits," Gordon said.  "Time is of the essence, and we have every reason to believe USDA will do its part within a coordinated and robust U.S. government outreach effort that also needs to involve the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Engagement with these agencies' governmental counterparts in U.S. export markets is critical in bringing about development of a coherent international regulatory environment that preserves the benefits and efficiencies of a commingled, fungible grain and oilseed supply chain, while enabling efficient, cost-effective trade to continue unabated.

"It also is fundamentally important that those developing and commercializing innovative plant breeding techniques accept their rightful responsibility to communicate proactively with consumers about the safety and benefits of these new plant-breeding techniques to foster consumer acceptance," Gordon continued.  "It also is incumbent upon plant breeders and the seed industry to be forthcoming with accurate and timely information about the specific innovative plant breeding techniques being developed for commercial use in food and feed crops - through a proactive, comprehensive advance notification and ongoing consultation process - to enable the grain and food industries to respond to commercial demand and inquiries from domestic and international customers and consumers."

From feed to fever: Kansas State University researcher studies risk of African swine fever in feed

If African swine fever virus reaches the U.S., it could cause more than $16.8 billion in economic losses to swine and other industries. It would devastate trade and international markets, researchers say.

Megan Niederwerder, Kansas State University assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, wants to prevent that.

Her latest research has found that African swine fever could survive in a simulated feed shipment across the ocean, which suggests that feed may be a potential way that pathogens such as African swine fever virus spread.

The research appears in the journal PLOS ONE in the collaborative publication, "Survival of viral pathogens in animal feed ingredients under transboundary shipping models." It is the first publication demonstrating the survival of African swine fever virus in feed ingredients.

"The ultimate goal of our research is to understand what mitigation tools may be utilized to reduce the risk of African swine fever virus being introduced, whether in the country of origin or once feed arrives in the U.S.," Niederwerder said.

Since 2007, African swine fever virus, or ASFV, has spread throughout Eastern Europe and Russia but is not present in the U.S. There is no vaccine or cure for the disease, which causes hemorrhagic fever and high mortality in pigs. It does not infect humans.

Niederwerder is collaborating with Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute to continue studying the risk of African swine fever virus in feed and feed ingredients. She is studying the whole swine feed transport cycle — from the shipment of feed as it is imported to the U.S. to when swine consume their feed on the farm.

"This research is extremely important to the swine industry, not only in Kansas and the U.S. but also around the world," Niederwerder said. "There are many countries, including the U.S., that are currently free of ASFV and it is critical to understand how we prevent this virus from being introduced. Through this research, we seek to understand and further define the risk of ASFV transmission when consumed in feed, a recently identified risk factor for the introduction of swine pathogens."

African swine fever is one of the diseases slated to be researched at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility or NBAF, which is under construction adjacent to Kansas State University's Manhattan campus. Niederwerder's work at the Biosecurity Research Institute will provide the foundational knowledge that can then transition into further studies at the NBAF once it is fully functional.

Niederwerder's research is organized into three parts:
1. Understanding if the virus survives in feed ingredients using a transboundary model that simulates the shipment of feed from other countries into the U.S.
2. Determining the oral dose of African swine fever virus necessary in feed to cause infection.
3. Identifying mitigants that reduce or eliminate the risk of African swine fever virus transmission in feed ingredients, including any additives that may inactivate the virus in swine feed.

Niederwerder and her team are performing the research in a biosafety level-3 laboratory at the Biosecurity Research Institute. They have been studying 5-gram amounts of complete feed and feed ingredients, some of which include soybean meal, lysine, dried distillers grains, choline and vitamin D.

Researchers place the ingredients in 50-milliliter tubes in an environmental chamber and use meteorological data to program the chamber's temperature and humidity, which mimics a cargo ship's journey from Eastern Europe to North America. For example, the trans-Atlantic model that simulates travel from Eastern Europe takes 30 days.

The researchers then study if the virus is still present at a dose infectious to pigs after the simulated shipment and if there are any additives that may stop the virus from spreading through feed.

"Our aim is to understand if we can mitigate this risk and protect the U.S. swine industry from the introduction of African swine fever as well as other foreign animal diseases," Niederwerder said.

To support this research, she has been awarded more than $700,000 from the State of Kansas National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Fund, the National Pork Board and the Swine Health Information Center. Niederwerder recently presented this research at the North American PRRS symposium, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting, and the Midwest Animal Science meeting.

Other Kansas State University collaborators on this work include Raymond "Bob" Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; Cassie Jones, associate professor of animal sciences and industry; Steve Dritz, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; Trevor Hefley, assistant professor of statistics; Jason Woodworth, research associate professor of animal sciences and industry; and Mike Tokach, university distinguished professor of animal sciences and industry. Other collaborators include Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services and Diego Diel of South Dakota State University.

Checkoff Scientists Help McDonald’s USA Create Dairy-Focused Offerings

Dairy checkoff scientists who work onsite at McDonald’s headquarters have helped the chain launch three items that continue its commitment to elevate dairy and provide customers with great-tasting menu choices.

Scientists working for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, collaborated with members of McDonald’s culinary team to create the following items:

 ·    McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches and the Egg White Delight McMuffin will now feature sharp white cheddar cheese slices that are more than 30 percent larger than the pasteurized process version previously used. The cheese will be available in all 14,000 restaurants by April 2. Celebrating this debut, a new Signature Crafted Recipe – Garlic White Cheddar – will be added to the Signature Crafted Recipes lineup.

 ·    McDonald’s launched limited-time-offer McCafe Turtle Coffee Beverages with advertising starting April 2. Consumers can choose Turtle Macchiato Iced, Turtle Macchiato Hot and Turtle Iced Coffee. These beverages join a McCafĂ© lineup that offers dairy in 90 percent of its items.

 ·    McDonald’s in partnership with Coca-Cola recently launched a line of ready-to-drink McCafĂ© Frappes at grocery stores nationwide. Three flavors – caramel, vanilla and mocha – are available, and McDonald’s plans to expand its line-up later this year.

DMI dairy scientists Divya Reddy and Porter Myrick worked with the McDonald’s team to make each project a reality and to ensure real dairy products were used. DMI also provided McDonald’s with insights on dairy and consumer trends and taste preferences.

“We work here every day alongside the McDonald’s culinary staff and we very much feel like one team,” said Myrick, who has been working with the McDonald’s culinary team for five years. “The McDonald’s employees are just as excited as we are to showcase the goodness and versatility of dairy. They understand, as we do, that creating offerings such as these gives consumers what they want, and it’s also good for dairy farmers.”

Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chairman of DMI, said this is another example of how national dairy checkoff partnerships deliver results.

“Projects such as these require the right strategy, consumer insights and testing, as well as marketing know-how, which is the benefit that comes from working with a global leader such as McDonald’s,” Hershey said. “Our teamwork has consistently resulted in quality offerings that bring the dairy experience at McDonald’s to a whole new level.”

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Fall 1.0M Bbl

The latest weekly supply report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows domestic ethanol supply declined for the second straight week, down 1.0 million bbl or 4.2% to a five-week low of 22.8 million bbl during the week ended March 23 and down 500,000 bbl or 2.1% versus a year ago.

Plant production declined 10,000 bpd or 1.0% to 1.039 million bpd last week while up 15,000 bpd or 1.4% compared to a year ago, with a number of plants still in seasonal maintenance programs. For the four weeks to March 23, production averaged 1.043 bpd, up 2,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, dropped 16,000 bpd or 1.7% last week to 900,000 bpd while down 11,000 or 1.2% versus a year ago. For the four-week period ended March 23, ethanol blending demand averaged 905,000 bpd, up 2,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Inch Higher Third Week of March

Average retail fertilizer prices inched higher the third week of March 2018, continuing a trend that has been in place since last fall, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.  One difference was that the price moves higher were smaller than the increases seen the previous three weeks.

DAP had an average price of $469 per ton, MAP $504/ton, potash $349/ton, urea $368/ton, 10-34-0 $422/ton, anhydrous $503/ton, UAN28 $236/ton and UAN32 $269/ton.

MAP, which has been above the $500-per-ton level for the last couple of weeks, is at its higher price level since the fourth week of May 2016. That week, MAP's average price was $501 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Prices for half of the fertilizers DTN tracks are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both potash and urea are 3% higher, DAP is 7% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining half of fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. Anhydrous is 1% less expensive while both UAN32 and 10-34-0 are 4% less. UAN28 is 5% less expensive looking back a year.

NCGA Submits Comments to DOJ on Proposed PES RIN Settlement

This week, the National Corn Growers Association submitted formal comments to the U.S Department of Justice on the proposed Settlement Agreement between Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the outstanding RFS compliance obligations the refiner has included in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. NCGA is opposed to the proposed settlement, as it would undermine the RFS.

"As producers of the primary feedstock used in the production of conventional biofuel, a key component of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), corn farmers maintain a vested interest in the integrity of the RFS and in the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) compliance system for obligated parties," said NCGA President Kevin Skunes. "This proposed settlement agreement would have negative policy implications for the RFS and future compliance with the Clean Air Act. As such, NCGA urges DOJ to withdraw and reconsider the proposed Settlement Agreement because it undermines the RFS and fails to hold all parties liable for violations of the Clean Air Act responsible."

Poor financial decisions and management caused PES to file for bankruptcy protection, not the RFS, yet this proposed settlement agreement would allow the refiner to walk away from more than half of its outstanding RFS obligations and allow its parent companies to avoid liability for these obligations. The RFS has helped the United States become more energy independent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the price of gas at the pump for consumers. If EPA and the bankruptcy court disregard RFS obligations as proposed, this settlement agreement undermines the RFS.

"NCGA urges the DOJ to reject the proposed Settlement Agreement in order to ensure that PES and its ownership group's environmental responsibilities under the Clean Air Act are properly fulfilled," Skunes said.

The bankruptcy court will make a decision on this settlement agreement on April 4. Yesterday, the bankruptcy court did approve the overall Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan for PES.

ICBA White Paper Outlines Farm Policy Recommendations

With Congress planning to write a new farm bill in the coming months, the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today released a white paper with its principles for a new multi-year farm bill. ICBA’s white paper details its community banker-inspired farm policy reforms as lawmakers work to replace the current bill expiring Sept. 30.

“ICBA believes a new farm bill is vitally important to our nation’s farmers and ranchers and the community bankers who work so closely with them,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “A new farm bill provides a multi-year framework for farmers and their community bank lenders to engage in longer-term business planning, and it offers an essential safety net of risk-management tools.”

ICBA’s “Focus on Farm Policy” white paper outlines key agricultural focus areas:
-    Adequately Fund Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance, which are key risk-management tools that enable producers to obtain farm loans.
-    Enhance the USDA’s Farm Loan Programs—which provided more than $7.7 billion in loans for producers in 2017 and supported 42,000 farmers and ranchers—by increasing loan limits, providing greater flexibility for loan approvals, and eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens.
-    Sustain USDA Rural Development Programs by maintaining the USDA’s focus on guaranteed loan programs and preserving funding for programs such as the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program for small businesses.
-    Reform the Farm Credit System, which has experienced dramatic growth while sharply reducing service to family farmers, to ensure this government-sponsored enterprise remains focused on serving farmers and does not venture into broad non-farm lending activities.
-    ICBA’s Five Key Farm Bill Principles, which include ample funding, regulatory relief, fair treatment of all stakeholders, and more.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday March 26 Ag News

When Hail Strikes, Find Answers at Hail Know 
Ashley Mueller - Extension Educator and Disaster Education Coordinator

Hail strikes Nebraska crops each year, creating uncertainty and questions for farmers: “Does the level of damage warrant replanting or will the remaining stand yield better than a replant would? How should I adjust inputs for the remaining season? Would a cover crop be cost effective?”

The Hail Storm: Why Here? Why Now?

The highest chances for hail on any given day in the U.S. are in late spring and early summer in the Great Plains. The higher elevation of the Great Plains allows the freezing level in the atmosphere to be closer to the ground, which helps hailstones grow larger than in other parts of the country. In Nebraska most hail events occur from May to July.

When hail strikes and growers have questions, Nebraska Extension has new resources to answer them at Hail Know. Videos, infographics, and articles by a team of Extension experts in climate science, agronomy, engineering, agricultural technology, economics, and disaster education have been developed to build upon and expand Extension’s hail-related programs.

Annually, hail causes over $1 billion in economic losses. In Nebraska hail-producing storms are all too common, especially during the planting and growing seasons. Though hail can’t be prevented, farmers, crop consultants, and others can use the information at Hail Know to become better prepared for timely decision-making after hail events.

Hail Know focuses on six key topics:
-    hail formation and storms;
-    damage assessment;
-    crop insurance and risk management;
-    replanting considerations;
-    managing a recovering crop; and
-    cover crops.

In the aftermath of a hailstorm visit Hail Know for the answers and certainty you need to make sound, research-based decisions to manage your crop.

Hail Know is also on social media. Follow @HailKnowUNL on Twitter at and like Hail Know on Facebook at for all the latest information and updates.

Hail Know is a section of, Nebraska Extension’s crop production and crop pest management website.

The development of Hail Know was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant with matching funds from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NeGFA Hosts Grain Engulfment & Confined Space Entry Training in West Point

Venue Name: Prinz Grain and Feed
Location: 575 South Main Street, West Point, NE

Organization Name: Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Contact: Maggie Kramer
Phone: 402.476.6174

This one-day hands-on workshop will provide attendees an opportunity to actively participate in live engulfment exercises.  The engulfment training places a strong emphasis on entrapment prevention and safe work practices. There are no prerequisites to participate.

Participants will:
-    Become aware of the hazards of flowing grain and confined spaces, allowing them to work safer and prevent grain entrapment.
-    Meet the OSHA training requirements for OSHA 1910.272 (Grain Handling Standard), qualifying them to work around flowing grain.
-    Be qualified to make bin entries, be a bin entry attendant and be part of a rescue team.
-    Be able to retrieve an incapacitated worker from a confined space without making a confined space entry.
-    Actively participate in a live engulfment / rescue scenario in a controlled environment.
-    Actively participate as part of a grain bin entry team and practice the non-entry rescue of an incapacitated worker.

8:00 am - Group 1: Engulfment Training - Group 2: Confined Space Entry
12:00 pm - Lunch
12:30 pm - Group 1: Confined Space Entry - Group 2: Engulfment Training
5:00 pm - Adjourn

The workshop will be instructed by the Safety & Technical Rescue Association (SATRA).  Cost covers materials, meals and breaks. Limited to the first 40 registered participants.

Center Pivot Handbook a Comprehensive Guide for Growers

Is your center pivot irrigation system performing as efficiently as it should be? Are you getting optimal crop yield for the amount of water applied? What steps can you take to assess your system and improve performance?

Irrigation is one of the largest users of water and energy in the state, emphasizing the importance of having your system designed and operating at top efficiencies. Center pivot irrigation now accounts for approximately 85% of the irrigated land in Nebraska and is the most rapidly expanding form of irrigation in the US.

To help growers, consultants, and pivot industry personnel manage and get the most from their system, Nebraska Extension has published the Center Pivot Irrigation Handbook, a 134-page comprehensive guide.

The handbook covers topics related to center pivot system design, including wells, pumps, and pipelines, optimizing water and energy use efficiency, and managing and operating the equipment. It can help operators determine if an irrigation system is using only the amount of energy it should and, if not, how to tune up the current system or design a better one. Readers can learn why selecting the proper sprinkler package is vital to the efficiency of an irrigation system and how to design a system that applies water uniformly while reducing runoff, evaporation, and drift.

Written by Extension specialists and educators, it is in an easy-to-read format for general farm and layman readers. Color photos, graphs, and charts on almost every page illustrate the text and more than 25 tables create a handy reference for irrigation management.

Chapters cover:
    pivot performance,
    soil water management,
    sprinkler packages,
    pumping plants,
    pipeline systems,
    energy use in irrigation,
    crop water use,
    water resource management,
    limited irrigation, and
    center pivot management.

The handbook is available in print for $12.50 and as a free downloadable file. To order the print version go to

To download a PDF of the handbook, go to

Weather Ready Farms: Irrigation Water Management

Chuck Burr - NE Crops and Water Extension Educator
Daran Rudnick - NE Extension Irrigation Management Specialist

Climate variability is something all farmers need to react to in most years. One of the main weather extremes that impacts irrigation management is extended periods of dry conditions, commonly referred to as drought. Drought can increase daily crop water use due to lower relative humidity and is often accompanied by higher temperatures. When managing under these extreme conditions, irrigators need to understand daily and seasonal crop water use patterns, as well as adopt practices and technology that result in more bushels of grain per inch of water applied.

Adaptation Strategies

     Schedule irrigation based on soil water data. The 2013 Census of Ag Irrigation survey indicated that only 23% of Nebraska irrigators use soil sensing as a basis for irrigation scheduling. This number needs to increase if we are to improve irrigation water use efficiency. With the technology we have available today, we need to help irrigators move away from using the feel of the soil (44%) as a scheduling method. Information on selecting and using soil water sensors is described in two Nebraska Extension publications: Soil Water Sensors for Irrigation Management (EC3002) and Principles and Operational Characteristics of Watermark Granular Matrix Sensor to Measure Soil Water Status and Its Practical Applications for Irrigation Management in Various Soil Textures (EC783).

    Conserve water by decreasing evapotranspiration during vegetative growth stages. Approximately 30% of crop water use is due to evaporation, and evaporative losses are highest early in the growing season prior to canopy closure. Reducing evaporation via no or reduced tillage, narrower row spacing, etc. can lead to more water being available for transpiration, which is the driving force for yield production. Furthermore, research has shown that both corn (Rudnick et al. 2017) and soybeans (Payero et al. 2005) can be stressed during vegetative growth stages without significantly affecting yield. This may leave more water available for grain fill.

    Residue cover/cover crops can increase infiltration of precipitation and irrigation. In addition to infiltration, improving soil structure can lead to higher amounts of precipitation being stored in the profile. This increased storage would be available for crop production, potentially helping meet crop water demands in excess of irrigation capacity during droughts. In addition, increasing infiltration and water-holding capacity can allow for increased irrigation application amounts, as water is less likely to runoff. This decrease in the number of applications is beneficial to reduce canopy evaporation and get more of the applied water into the soil.


For the month of March 2018, topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 19 short, 69 adequate, and 8 surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 26 short, 67 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 42 fair, 41 good, and 10 excellent.

Weekly reports will begin April 2nd for the 2018 season.

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics This April

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island — Thursday, April 5
    Fairbury — Thursday, April 5
    Norfolk — Tuesday, April 10
    North Platte — Thursday, April 12
    Lexington — Thursday, April 19
    Valentine — Wednesday, April 25

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Dicamba Training Available Online

Nebraska Extension has completed its in-person dicamba training programs for spring 2018. If you still need to take dicamba training, Extension offers free online training.

This training fulfills the label requirements for three new RUP dicamba products: Xtendimax, Engenia, and Fexapan. It is illegal to apply these products without first having taken state-authorized training.

Commercial training opportunities, along with dicamba resources, are listed at the Pesticide Safety Education Program website at Information is also available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Dicamba Information website....

Ricketts Unifies Support for Major Tax Relief with Farm, Business Groups

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by pro-growth groups from across Nebraska in support of LB 947, the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act.  Representatives from major agriculture associations and chambers of commerce joined Governor Ricketts to call on State Senators to pass LB 947 this legislative session.

Governor Pete Ricketts: “Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and businesses are hurting from the burden of high taxes.  Today, agricultural and urban interests are uniting to urge Senators to come together and pass LB 947, so Nebraskans can get the tax relief they need this year.  We look forward to working with Senators to pass the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act in the final days of the legislative session.”

Revenue Committee Chair Jim Smith: “Thank you to agriculture and business interests for their leadership and their willingness to work together for the well-being of all Nebraskans.  I continue to believe that the path to success is narrow, but that our hard work and cooperation on LB 947 is critical to the image and to the future of our state.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson: “LB 947 as advanced from the Revenue Committee moves in a direction that addresses many of our organization’s goals for property tax.  Those goals include a property tax solution that is significant, providing between $600 million and $1 billion in property tax relief, one that puts us on a path for long-term relief for all property tax payers, and one that provides relief as soon as possible.  LB 947 meets these objectives.”

Nebraska State Dairy Association Bill Thiele: “Thank you to Governor Ricketts for helping pave the way to tax relief with LB 947.  If passed by the Legislature, these much-needed cuts are coming at a critical moment for Nebraska agriculture.  On behalf of Nebraska’s dairy farmers, we urge Senators to send LB 947 to the Governor’s desk.”

Nebraska Pork Producers Vice President Kevin Peterson: “The farm and ranch families of Nebraska have been asking for tax relief, and LB 947 will help deliver that relief.  We hope that the Legislature does the right thing and pass the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act to keep agriculture strong.”

Nebraska Soybean Association President Robert Johnston: “Governor Ricketts has listened to the call for property tax relief, which LB 947 seeks to deliver.  This bill promises real relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers, and we look forward to working with the Governor to make the case to Senators to pass LB 947.”

Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska State Director Jessica Shelburn: “Senators have a critical opportunity to set aside their differences and work together to provide Nebraskans with some much needed tax relief and growth for our state.  The benefits Nebraskans will see from this bill are above politics, and we shouldn’t delay in sending this tax reform package to Governor Ricketts’ desk.  AFP-Nebraska applauds the Revenue Committee for putting Nebraskans first and advancing the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act. ”

Greater Omaha Chamber President David Brown: “Making ongoing investments in workforce development and business tax relief will make Nebraska a more attractive state for the kinds of businesses we’re working to recruit and retain.  We appreciate Governor Ricketts and Senator Smith’s work on this package, and urge Senators to get tax relief done before session concludes.”

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall: “Our future growth is dependent on Nebraska’s ability to compete on a national and global stage.  LB 947 will help Nebraska maintain our competitive edge and deliver new tools to attract and retain opportunities.  The Lincoln Chamber looks forward to working with Senators in the Legislature to deliver LB 947 to the Governor’s desk by the end of session.”

National Federation of Independent Businesses Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom: “The small business owner members of NFIB favor significant and meaningful property tax relief.  NFIB supports the provisions of LB 947 which would provide property tax relief to residential and agricultural land owners and the proposed reductions in corporate income tax rates which will spur economic growth.”

Nebraska Bankers Association President Richard Baier: “LB 947 is designed to provide true property tax relief for residential and agricultural property owners.  In addition, the proposed reductions in corporate income tax rates will benefit businesses.  We believe that the combined property tax and corporate income tax relief proposed under LB 947 will serve to grow our state’s economy and make Nebraska more competitive with surrounding states.”

Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Barry Kennedy: “LB 947 gives Nebraska businesses and job creators tax certainty and relief that they need to grow into the future.  We look forward to working with legislators to get this proposal to the Governor’s desk before session ends.”

Platte Institute for Economic Research Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox: “If there’s no significant action in this legislative session, Nebraskans could force a property tax ballot initiative.  If it passes, the state would likely be forced to significantly cut spending on services and increase state tax rates at the same time.  LB947 offers a reasonable path to steer the state away from this kind of uncertainty.  It would have the state taking a greater role in property tax relief for Nebraskans in the years ahead, while safeguarding the state budget from unrealistic promises.”

Tax Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Jared Walczak: “Your neighbors are making their tax codes more competitive.  The federal government has changed the rules of the game. Nebraska’s 1967 tax code is out of date, and its rates are out of line with peer states.  Nebraska has an opportunity to make the tax code more competitive, and LB 947 offers a way forward.  Tax reform isn’t easy, but neither is continuing to operate under a tax system that is falling behind other states.  This committee has an opportunity for a robust debate about tax reform.  It is a challenge worth embracing.

Some Ag and Rural Organizations Oppose LB947

They Prefer LB1084 for Immediate Property Tax Relief

Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics, Nebraska Grange, Center for Rural Affairs, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, and Nebraska Farmers Union signed a letter sent to Nebraska State Senators asking them to oppose LB947.

The five organizations signing the letter opposing LB947 have been working together with education and public interest organizations the past year to develop legislation that supports adequate funding for K-12 education paid for in a more fair and balanced fashion, and to immediately reduce the use of property taxes from all classes of property to fund K-12 education.

The letter in part states:
“The state’s reliance upon property taxes to fund K-12 education has placed an unsustainable burden upon on our state’s residential and agricultural land property owners and undue blame upon our school systems. We need to address our state’s school funding dilemma and bring property tax relief to residents. And quite simply, LB947 does not offer the solution.”

“Our farmers and ranchers do not have the luxury of waiting until 2030 for property tax relief, and our state stands to suffer substantially from their loss. A vote in opposition of LB 947 leaves way for the Legislature to work through a real solution to problem at hand.”

“We need a real property tax reform solution that:
- Lessens the state’s dependence upon property taxes to fund K-12 education
- Provides immediate and substantial property tax relief to all property tax payers
- Protects the state’s cash reserves and funding for vital services
- Requires a long-term, sustainable solution to how the state funds education.”

“Nebraskans are in need of property tax relief, but they are not asking to sidestep their responsibility to help fund the schools and services that uphold their communities. They are simply asking for balance in the way the state meets it obligations to pay for education and other critical services. We ask that you vote no on LB 947 and instead take up debate on a real solution to the state’s property tax dilemma.”


The 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference will be held Tuesday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The conference is a two-day event that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from Nebraska and across the country to share the latest information and innovations in wind and solar development.  Over 350 people are expected to attend this year’s conference to hear from and network with wind and solar industry experts and leaders.

In addition to general sessions and workshops, the conference features a tradeshow with 30 to 40 exhibitors showcasing the latest advancements in technology and development.  The tradeshow includes interactive and educational displays from exhibitors that include governmental agencies, nonprofits, and a wide range of professional service and product providers related to wind and solar development. 

The conference programming is guided by a planning committee of volunteers from state agencies, farmer and rancher organizations, public power utilities, the renewable energy industry, and academia working together to present accurate and objective information pertaining to all aspects of wind and solar development. Among others, attendees include private sector developers, public officials, landowners, environmental and wildlife interests, public utilities, and the public at large.

“This unique ‘Nebraska Nice’ conference is able to keep the registration costs much lower than most comparable conferences because of the generous support of our sponsors.  Every year we have new sets of challenges, information, ideas, and solutions to share,” said John Hansen, Conference Co-Chair. “If you are interested in wind and solar energy, this is the one state conference to attend.”

Early bird registration is $125 until September 15. Tickets are $175 after September 15 and $200 the day of the conference. Students are encouraged to attend at a discounted rate of $65.

Rooms at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel are $114 per night until September 15 (conference block rate includes free parking). More information and past presentations are available on the conference website ( 

Iowa Cattlemen at the Capitol

Cowboy hats and polished boots have been a common sight around the grounds of the Iowa State House in 2018. In addition to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association’s lobbyist, who is at the Capitol daily, ICA has also been using a boots-on-the-ground approach through the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program, Cattlemen at the Capitol and Youth Beef Team.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) is Iowa’s only membership organization dedicated to the needs of cattle producers. With more feedlots than any other state in the country, as well as a robust cow/calf and seedstock industry, ICA’s 10,000 members play an important role in Iowa’s economy and communities.

Throughout the year, ICA staff and members work to build relationships with elected and regulatory officials, to protect and improve the opportunities for the cattle production in the state. In addition to events throughout the year with legislators, ICA keeps its members and priorities front and center during the legislative session.

The 2018 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) Class visited the capitol on February 21. The 22-member class met with several elected officials, as well as Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg. YCLP participants emphasized the importance of Iowa’s cattle industry, which contributes almost $7 million to the state’s economy annually.

The class also met with former Secretary Northey, DNR Director Chuck Gipp, DNR Deputy Director Bruce Trautman and Steve Ferguson with the Iowa Finance Authority. These meetings provided the young leaders with a first-hand look at ways ICA works cooperatively with state agencies to protect and grow Iowa’s beef business.

Then, in March, the annual Cattlemen at the Capitol event brought beef industry leaders from around the state to Des Moines. “Though cattlemen’s priorities are represented at the Capitol on a daily basis by staff and lobbyists, meeting constituents from their district really strikes a chord with lawmakers,” says JanLee Rowlett, ICA’s Regulatory and Government Affairs Manager.

After visiting with the governor and legislators, elected officials and cattlemen enjoyed a brisket lunch served by Madison County Youth Beef Team members. In conversations throughout the day, cattlemen shared their support for a new ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab as well as additional funds for the state’s Foreign Animal Disease response program.

“We’ve had great participation by members from around the state,” says President David Trowbridge, Tabor, of ICA’s presence at the Capitol this year. “And we’ve been addressing issues to our legislators that affect not just our membership, but the entire beef industry.”

Finally, a small group of Youth Beef Team students visited the capitol March 21 to continue to foster the relationships ICA members and staff have been building and to learn about their state’s political process. Youth Beef Team is open to students in grades 7-12 who are interested in learning more about the beef industry, and this event gave participants a first-hand look at how issues that impact their opportunity to continue their families’ legacy are addressed through legislation and regulation.

ICA staff and members will continue to lobby for the beef industry throughout the rest of this year’s legislative session before gathering input from producers this summer and fall to determine the 2019 policy priorities. Producers impacted by rules or regulations should contact ICA to share their concerns.

National Pork Board Collaboration Continues to Multiply Checkoff Value for Farm-Level Research

The National Pork Board has announced a new collaboration with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill, to support a competitive research program to improve pig health, productivity and well-being. The end goal is to improve pig survival during all stages of production. The joint venture has $2 million of grant funds available to potential investigators.

As U.S. pork producers strive to produce more pork in a sustainable way, animal care, pig health, well-being and productivity are all critical pieces of production. This grant program is designed to focus research, education and training in these key areas of pork production to help producers achieve their goals in a responsible way. 

“As animal caretakers, America’s pig farmers strive to give their animals the best opportunity to reach marketable weight,” said Dustin Kendall, a swine nutritionist with Prestage Farms in Clinton, North Carolina and chair of the National Pork Board’s Animal Science Committee. “Unfortunately, data from the Pork Checkoff’s Industry Productivity Analysis suggests the trends are negative in this area. Focusing Checkoff funds in this underserved research area will allow us to find solutions that significantly benefit all of our producer stakeholders.”

The grant funding is anticipated to be awarded to one scientifically diverse group of researchers willing to pool talent and resources to make a significant, immediate impact on pig survival. Potential research areas may include health, genetics, nutrition, facility design, management, monitoring, economics and welfare.

“The most meaningful agricultural research is designed in partnership with stakeholders,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to join the National Pork Board to support this important initiative to address swine mortality rates on farms across the United States.”  In addition to research, successful applicants are expected to conduct outreach to industry stakeholders and train graduate and veterinary students involved as assistants on the project. Applicants are required to submit a clearly defined outreach plan with specific objectives for disseminating research results to the scientific community as well as to pork producers and their staff.

“Investing Checkoff funds in production research makes a real difference at the farm level,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science at the National Pork Board. “In fact, every dollar invested in production research returns of $83 in industry-wide benefit according to a third-party audit by Cornell University. This collaboration with FFAR is just one of the ways producer dollars can be leveraged to magnify the return on investment.”

Potential applicants should contact Chris Hostetler at Applications are due May 15, 2018.

Automated Milking Systems Slowing Farm Consolidation

Various forms of robotic milking are helping sustain small- to medium-sized dairy farms amid broader industry consolidation and improving labor efficiency for some larger operations according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

Dairy robots, also referred to as automated milking systems, take a variety of forms. From “box” style units to robotic components on rotary style milking parlors, they all provide an alternative to traditional dairy labor, which has become more expensive and harder to find in many regions of the U.S.

“Labor and finance are two of the most important issues when large farms are considering dairy robotics, but when I spoke to smaller-scale producers, the primary drivers of adopting this technology were around quality of life,” said Ben Laine, senior analyst with CoBank. “However, the future growth of this technology and possible broader adoption will be centered on labor costs, milk production per robot, and proximity to dealers and service technicians.”
A single box style unit can cost around $200,000 without housing, and the target production for one unit is 4,500 pounds of milk per day.

“As the technology improves and labor costs increase, we will see the tradeoffs continue to shift in favor of robotics,” said Laine. “But, there is still plenty of uncertainty around useful life of the units and milk production efficiency that will give many producers pause.”

CWT Assists with 2.6 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 1.911million pounds (867 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 716,502 pounds (325 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 27.146 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 5.613 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 19 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 376.845 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals adjusted for cancellations.

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

NGFA members elect new chairman and industry officers

The NGFA's 122nd Annual Convention attracted more than 650 NGFA members to Scottsdale, Ariz., last week, during which they elected NGFA's industry officers and several NGFA industry leaders to serve on the Board of Directors.

During the Association's annual business meeting, the membership elected Eric Wilkey, president of Arizona Grain Co., Casa Grande, Ariz., as NGFA chairman. They also elected David Baudler, managing director, grain, Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain North America, Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., as first vice chairman and JoAnn Brouillette, president of Demeter LP, Fowler, Ind., as second vice chairman.

In addition, NGFA members elected the following persons to serve three-year terms on the organization's Board of Directors:
Keith Bailey, Chief Operating Officer, Highline Grain Growers, Waterville, Wash.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, Kan.
Greg Beck, Vice President, Grain, CGB Enterprises, Covington, LA
Jean Bratton, Chief Executive Officer, Centerra Co-op, Ashland, OH
Sharon Clark, Senior Vice President, Transportation and Regulatory Affairs, Perdue Agribusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
Chris Faust, Chief Operating Officer and Commercial Manager, Grains and Oilseeds USA, COFCO International, Chicago, IL
Matt Murphy, Senior Location Manager, Lansing Trade Group LLC, Overland Park, KS
Chad Nagel, Manager of Trading, Nagel Farm Services Inc., Wye Mills, Md.
Carl Schwinke, Vice President, Grain Supply, Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, Ill.
Benjamin Smith, Managing Director, Attebury Grain LLC, Amarillo, Texas; and
Will Waters, Principal and Vice President, Harris-Crane, Inc., Clinton, N.C.

Subsequently, the following members of the NGFA Board of Directors were elected by that body to serve on the NGFA Executive Committee for the coming year:
Jim Banachowski, Vice President and General Manager, The Andersons, Maumee, Ohio.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, KS
Chris Boerm, President, Global Transportation, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill.
Sharon Clark,Senior Vice President, Transportation and Regulatory Affairs, Perdue Agribusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
John Fletcher, General Manager, Central Missouri AGRIService LLC, Marshall, Mo.
Roger Fray, Executive Vice President, Landus Cooperative, Ralston, Iowa
Matt Gibson, Vice President and General Manager, Grain Division, Bunge North America, St. Louis, Mo.
David Hoogmoed, Chief Operating Officer, Purina Animal Nutrition; and Executive Vice President, Land O'Lakes Inc., Arden Hills, Minn.
Diana Klemme, Vice President, Grain Service Corp., Atlanta, Ga.
Alan Koenig, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Grain Craft, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Todd Lafferty, Vice President and General Counsel, Wheeler Brothers Grain Co., Watonga, Okla.
Chris Peha, General Manager, Northwest Grain Growers, Walla Walla, Washington
Ryan Pellett, President and Chief Executive Officer, J.D. Heiskell & Co., Elkhorn, Neb.

In addition, the following NGFA officers are members of the Executive Committee by virtue of their office:
    Chairman Eric Wilkey
    First Vice Chairman David Baudler
    Second Vice Chairman JoAnn Brouillette
    Immediate Past Chairman John Heck, Scoular, Omaha, NE

    NGFA President Randy Gordon

Subsequently, the Executive Committee elected John Heck to serve as its chairman.

Easter Eggs for Your Basket Will be a Bit Higher This Year

Higher retail prices for several foods including eggs, orange juice, meat products, bagged salad, shredded cheddar and vegetable oil resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.05, up $1.02 or 2 percent compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price.

“Most of the increase in the marketbasket was due to higher retail egg prices. Easter eggs are going to be a bit more expensive—37 percent higher than a year ago,” said John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence. “U.S. egg exports were up nearly 50 percent in 2017 while egg production remained flat.”

A bird flu outbreak in South Korea contributed to the increase in U.S. export volumes.

“A surge in egg exports combined with relatively flat production led to the strong rise in retail egg prices,” Newton said.

“Orange juice was another significant driver for the increase in the basket, up 24 cents or 7.5 percent. A devastating hurricane late last year that came through parts of Florida, where most orange juice comes from, led to growers harvesting the smallest crop in 70 years,” he added.

Several foods showed modest retail price decreases from a year ago: whole milk, white bread, chicken breasts, toasted oat cereal, apples, potatoes and flour.

Milk decreased in price by 6 percent (20 cents per gallon) due to continued record production volumes in the United States and a very competitive beverage case.

Retail price changes from a year ago:
eggs, up 37 percent to $1.80 per dozen
orange juice, up 8 percent to $3.46 per half-gallon
bagged salad, up 4 percent to $2.42 per pound
deli ham, up 3 percent to $5.59 per pound
vegetable oil, up 2 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
shredded cheddar cheese, up 2 percent to $4.20 per pound
ground chuck, up 2 percent to $4.01 per pound
bacon, up 2 percent to $4.75 per pound
sirloin tip roast, up 2 percent to $5.12 per pound
white bread, down 7 percent to $1.60 per 20-ounce loaf
whole milk, down 6 percent to $3.07 per gallon
chicken breast, down 2 percent to $3.10 per pound
toasted oat cereal, down 2 percent to $2.78 for a 9-ounce box
apples, down 1 percent to $1.53 per pound
flour, down less than 1 percent to $2.34 for a 5-pound bag
potatoes, down less than 1 percent to $2.67 for a 5-pound bag

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: half-gallon whole regular milk, $2.04; half-gallon organic milk, $4.24; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.53.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 14.8 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The current series includes a spring picnic survey, summer cookout survey, fall harvest survey and Thanksgiving dinner cost survey. A total of 93 shoppers in 23 states participated in the latest AFBF survey, conducted in March 2018.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.