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 McCafé 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 McCafé 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.

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