Monday, April 30, 2018

April 30 Crop Progress & Condition - NE - IA - US


For the week ending April 29, 2018, there were 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 22 short, 73 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 28 short, 68 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 17 percent, behind 32 last year and 24 for the five-year average.

Soybeans planted was 6 percent, near 7 last year and 4 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 30 fair, 50 good, and 13 excellent.

Oats planted was 63 percent, well behind 89 last year and 87 average. Emerged was 30 percent, well behind 54 last year and 57 average.


Iowa farmers made the most of the 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending April 29, 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Corn and soybeans were planted in addition to soil preparation and fertilizer application.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 4 percent very short, 15 percent short, 73 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 5 percent very short, 14 percent short, 73 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. South central Iowa remains dry with over one-third of subsoil rated very short on moisture.

Iowa farmers planted 17 percent of the expected corn crop during the past week, 3 days behind last year and 4 days behind the 5-year average. Northern Iowa remains wet from melting snow which has slowed planting progress, however south central and southeast Iowa farmers already have at least 40 percent of their corn planted.

Soybean planting is underway with 2 percent of the expected crop in the ground, 2 days ahead of last year but equal to the average.

Sixty-two percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 8 days behind both last year and the 5-year average. Just 10 percent of the crop has emerged, almost 2 weeks behind last year.

The extended winter season has left hay in short supply for some livestock producers. Pastures in many areas need rain to spur growth.

Corn Planting Speeds Up, But Still Lags Average Pace

Corn planting progress jumped 15 percentage points last week thanks to warmer, drier weather across much of the Midwest, but was still well behind the average pace as of Sunday, April 29, according to USDA National Ag Statistics Service's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

NASS estimated that 17% of corn was planted as of Sunday, up from 3% the previous week but 15 percentage points behind last year's pace of 32% and 10 percentage points behind the five-year average of 27%.  Corn emergence, on the other hand, was running closer to the average pace with 3% of the crop emerged as of Sunday, behind 8% last year and an average pace of 6%.

Soybean planting continued at an average pace of 5% complete as of Sunday.

Winter wheat was 19% headed, well behind last year's 41% and also behind the average of 30%. Winter wheat condition continued to improve slightly last week to 33% good to excellent, up 2 percentage points from the previous week.

Spring wheat was 10% planted, well behind the average pace of 36%. Barley was 26% planted, compared to 11% last week, 31% last year and a 44% average. Seven percent of the crop was emerged as of Sunday, compared to 13% last year and a 17% average.

Cotton was 12% planted as of Sunday, compared to 10% last week, 14% last year and a 14% average. Rice was 55% planted, compared to 49% last week, 72% last year and 57% on average. Twenty-nine percent of the crop was emerged, compared to 21% last week, 56% last year and a 38% average.

Sorghum was 26% planted as of Sunday, compared to 24% last week, 27% last year and a 26% average.

Oats were 39% planted, compared to 31% last week, 66% last year and a 64% average. Twenty-nine percent of the crop was emerged, compared to 26% last week, 46% last year and a 44% average.

Monday April 30 Ag News

Bipartisan Group of Senators Continue Push For Year Round Waiver for E-15 in Letter to Pruitt

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) penned a bipartisan letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt today outlining the benefits of selling E-15 year round. The letter comes after President Donald Trump delivered remarks earlier this month in support of a year-round waiver for E-15.

In their letter, the senators make two specific requests. First, they ask the EPA Administrator to provide an expected timeline for an administrative Reid Vapor Pressure or RVP waiver. Second, they request the agency allow for the sale of E-15 during the upcoming summer driving season in the meantime.

NePPA Announces Participants in the 2018 Pork Leadership Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants in the 2018 Pork Leadership Program. Participants in the 2018 Pork Leadership Program are:

Allissa Troyer of West Point, with Nutrient Advisors works to help producers navigate environmental compliance and create nutrient management plans to promote responsible expansion for the pork industry in Nebraska.

Brad Garrison of DeWitt is Site Leader for DNA Genetics where he and his staff are responsible for collecting and distributing 14,000 doses of fresh boar semen each week.

Chris Wellenstein of La Vista is a Credit Analyst with Farm Credit Services of America.

Hannah Zundel of Nebraska City works to help veterinarians and producers with training related to pig health for Zoetis.

Barbara Redeker of Beaver City is a Farm Manager for the Maschhoff’s in breed to wean at 2,300 head sow barn that has group housing electronic sow feeding stations in gestation.

Ryan Hynek of Fairbury is a Site Manager with Livingston Enterprises, Inc., which is a breed to wean operation.

The 2018 Pork Leadership Program is comprised of six talented professionals. Each participant shares unique experiences that shape their perspective based on their particular career path as well as their personal involvements and interests.

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program will participate in six meetings and activities over the course of a year, where they will learn about various aspects of the pork and agriculture industries.

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program will learn more about:
 ·    Current and diverse pork production methods
 ·    Current research efforts to improve pork production as it relates to overall pig health and well-being
 ·    Current domestic issues and their impacts on the pork industry as it relates to economics and trade
 ·    Current policy and regulations being developed on the local, state, and national levels

Participants in the Pork Leadership Program will:
 ·    Interact with the general public and elected leaders and will serve as positive advocates for the pork industry
 ·    Define their personal leadership style and know how to work with different leadership styles in a group
 ·    Develop a working knowledge of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and other key organizations that agriculture groups can work with to broaden perspectives and build coalitions

The Pork Leadership Program was created to build awareness, interest, and involvement in the pork industry. Members will further develop their skills as leaders and will naturally emerge as the next wave of active and engaged members of committees and board members at the local, state, and national levels.

NePPA Announces Participants in 2018 Pork Mentorship Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants of the 2018 Pork Mentorship Program. This year, six college-age students will participate in the program, which has worked to further develop youth leaders through individual and group based learning experiences since 1999.

Participants in the 2018 Pork Mentorship Program are:

Courtney Nelson of Monroe, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural Engineering. Courtney is the daughter of John and Susan Nelson.

Halle Ramsey of Ord, is a junior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication. Halle is the daughter of Clayton and Jennifer Ramsey.

Hannah Lowe of Murray, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agricultural Education. Hannah is the daughter of Bob and Wendy Lowe.

McCyla Mickelson of Kearney, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agribusiness. McCyla is the daughter of Toby and Carrie Mickelson.

Sophia Lentfer of Firth, is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science. Sophia is the daughter of Jerry and Tess Lentfer.

Tesheena Stewart of Emerson, is a junior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science. Tesheena is the daughter of Randy and LaRita Stewart.

The 2018 Pork Mentorship Program is comprised of six members attending college at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, with academic majors that represent a cross section of interests and disciplines within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Each year, participants in the Pork Mentorship Program participate in activities that encourage personal growth, career readiness, and develop leadership skills, while expanding their knowledge of the pork industry. Participants are also active in projects that encourage giving back to their community. Each of the participants will receive a $500 scholarship upon the successful completion of requirements throughout the year-long program.

Wheat Stem Maggot Adult Monitoring: A Pest of Cover Crop-to-Corn Transitions 

Justin McMechan - NE Extension Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist

Wheat stem maggot (WSM) was documented as a pest of cover crop-to-corn transition systems over a wide area in eastern and central Nebraska during spring 2017. (See June 13, 2017 CropWatch article for more information.) WSM-damaged corn plants were limited to areas where a wheat or rye cover crop was present in the spring. The limited extent of damage outside of these areas within the same field suggests that wheat stem maggot larvae migrated between the cover crop and corn.

Based on the biology of wheat stem maggot, risk for damage to early season corn begins with the presence of adults in cover crop fields during the spring. There has been a lot of discussion about fall infestations, however, no overwintering larvae have been found in cover crops sampled and dissected this spring. (These were planted in late October 2017.) In addition, last year’s survey found corn fields with issues where the cover crop was planted in early November. Such planting dates are likely outside the range of WSM adult activity in the fall . As a result, we’ve been closely monitoring a number of cover crop fields this spring for first emergence of wheat stem maggot adults.

On April 16 we captured one wheat stem maggot adult in 100 sweeps from a wheat cover crop planted in late September at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Ithaca. Adults have been consistently collected at this location since first emergence with one to two found per 100 sweeps. This first occurrence of adults matches closely with data collected in 1933 by Merle Allen from Kansas State University. Our latitude north of Kansas and cold spring suggests this emergence might be earlier than Allen’s data. On April 23 two adults were collected at Clay Center and a single adult was collected near Marquette. Cover crops in these fields were less than 6 inches in height, with the field near Marquette grazed to approximately 3 inches in height. Sweeping these fields is challenging due to the height of the vegetation so adult captures are not likely to represent true numbers in the field. If you are skilled with a sweep net, we encourage you to sweep your wheat, rye, or triticale cover crops for wheat stem maggot adults.

WSM Management

As of now we don’t have any thresholds for treating wheat stem maggot. Historical literature (Allen 1933) suggests that WSM adults are expected to emerge over a period of five weeks, indicating that targeting adults would be cost prohibitive. Check out our March 8, 2018 CropWatch article for recommendations on best management practices for wheat stem maggot.

Our current recommendations are to terminate cover crops at least two weeks prior to planting corn. Several studies are underway this spring to determine how these practices impact risk of wheat stem maggot damage in corn. If you suspect damage in your corn or find wheat stem maggot adults in your cover crops, please contact Justin McMechan at For up to date information on WSM follow Justin on Twitter at @justinmcmechan.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Did you plant rye, triticale, or another cereal last fall with plans to graze this spring before planting row crops?  Did it work?

               Whether you were wet or dry this past month, you certainly were colder than expected.  These cold temperatures caused growth of all plants to be slower than expected, including the cereals you planted last fall.  So you’ve waited and waited for enough growth to graze.

               If you look at those fields now, what do you see?  Are plants still short and stands a little thin, with few tillers on most plants?  This certainly could be the case if your planting last fall was a little late, like October or later.  When winter cereals are planted late, often they don’t have enough time to develop their full potential to tiller.  That is why I encourage early planting and usually suggest a higher seeding rate if planting late and forage production is desired the next spring.

               What should you do now if cereal growth is unsatisfactory?  I know you want to be successful at getting some grazing from this investment, but maybe you should consider just moving on to your next crop.  The stand will not get any thicker.  Yes, plants should start getting taller but is waiting for this late forage worth delaying planting of your next crop?  If your next crop is corn or soybeans, probably not.  All the research and experience shows that early planting of both corn and beans is critical to maximize yield.  It might be okay, though, to continue waiting if a late-planted crop like grain sorghum or a summer annual forage is planned.  Also remember that cover crops need to be terminated according to NRCS guidelines.

               If you’ve been farming very long, you know that things don’t always go as planned.  This spring, cover crops planted last fall for spring forage might be one of them.

2018 Winter Wheat Field Days at 11 Sites 

Winter wheat field days will be held at 11 sites in Nebraska this summer, starting  May 30 in Jefferson County and ending June 22 in Box Butte County.  The field day closest to our listening area is Tuesday, June 12: Wheat and Pulse Field Day at UNL ENREC - Mead Farm near Ithaca, NE.  Directions for wheat plots: From UNL ENREC, go east on Hwy 66 E for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 10 and go 1 mile. Turn right onto County Rd H. Go east for 4 miles and field will be on the south side of the road east of the Agronomy farm buildings.

Each site will feature 25-50 released and experimental wheat varieties from companies selling wheat seed in Nebraska and from public breeding programs such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Kansas State, Colorado State and South Dakota State universities. Participants will see existing varieties under production as well as new commercial varieties and new experimental lines potentially tagged for Nebraska release, allowing them to compare varieties for their next planting. In addition to wheat, some field day sites will feature other crops, including pea, cover crops, forages, and canola. 

Field day locations are diverse and include growing conditions varying in rainfall, soil, tillage, crop input and management, and rotation, to name a few. Speakers and topics will vary by location to address local production constraints and frequently cited producers’ issues, except for two speakers who will speak at most sites. Stephen Baenziger, UNL wheat breeder, and Eugene W. Price Distinguished professor, will talk about wheat yields and attributes of the varieties tested. Stephen Wegulo, Nebraska Extension plant pathologist, will discuss cultivar disease resistance, epidemiology, and suggested wheat disease management with respect to the varieties at the location tested.

All tours are free and participants can register at the tour site, except when pre-registration is requested by the local organizer.

Support for the wheat program is provided, in part, by the Nebraska Wheat Board and University of Nebraska-Lincoln and greatly appreciated. Organizations interested in supporting an individual site or sharing a display advancing crop production and producer profitability should contact the local coordinator.

Winter Wheat Nitrogen Applications 

Cody Creech - NE Extension Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist

Spring is the ideal time to apply nitrogen (N) to winter wheat to ensure top yields. Adequate N levels promote tillering, large head size, and are the primary factor determining the protein level of the grain at harvest. There are a few things to consider to optimize N applied to wheat.

First, scout fields for winter kill, pest pressure, or anything else that might reduce wheat stands and yield. As wheat begins to green up, it will be easy to determine if any underlying issues exist and if the wheat crop has high enough yield potential to warrant an N application. There are online resources that can assist in determining potential wheat yield at different times of the year. Scouting is also an opportune time to take soil samples on each field if it has been more than a year or so since samples have been taken. By judging the yield potential of the wheat and knowing what residual N is available in the soil, you will be able to develop a plan for N.

In order to get the highest return on your N application, N should be topdressed no later than two weeks before jointing. This is during the period when wheat is actively tillering and growing. Head size is determined when wheat reaches Feekes 5 and any N that has been applied needs to have been moved into the root zone with moisture before that critical period. Because weather can be unpredictable, it is recommended to apply N between Feekes 3 and 4 to ensure the N reaches the root zone.

Topdressing is usually done using UAN solution or dry urea. Each can be equally effective if properly applied. The type of N used is usually determined by price and application equipment availability. When UAN is applied in no-till situations with heavy residue from the previous crop, some N may be tied up in the residue. Using streamer nozzles to concentrate the UAN in a few bands helps the N to penetrate through the residue. Similarly, dry urea can fall through much of the residue and avoid being tied up, which is one benefit of using a dry form of N.

If only a small amount of N is needed, applying N at the same time as your spring herbicide application can save time and money. Most herbicides can be tank mixed with UAN without losing efficacy. Check herbicide labels for compatibility. When applied with herbicides, the N will be more uniformly spread over the wheat plants. Although this type of coverage is ideal for herbicide and fungicide applications, it can cause severe leaf burn when applying high rates of UAN. Rates that deliver up to 20 pounds of N using this method will cause only minor leaf burn. UAN rates can be greater (not to exceed 40 pounds) if no surfactant is used or if applied during cool, non-humid weather.

The Economics. Keep in mind that any decision on N applications should consider the price of both wheat and N. Wheat removes approximately 1.2 pounds of N per bushel and not all N applied will be removed at harvest. Some N will remain in the soil and in the residue and will benefit the following crop.


It can be said that you get out what you put into something. Wheat is no different. Nitrogen management is only one piece of the puzzle. Adequate fertility provides the basis for potential grain yield and protein levels. Variety, precipitation, and pest control determine most of the rest. Get your wheat off to the best start by giving it the N it needs to reach its potential.

Bacon-loving Crowd enjoyed a wide variety of bacon treats

The 2018 Star City BaconFest drew its largest crowd on Sunday, April 22nd.  With over 600 people enjoying bacon-inspired treats from leading Lincoln-area restaurants.  The event was hosted by the Cornhusker Marriot Hotel.

The annual event, sponsored by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA) and the Nebraska Restaurant Association (NRA), benefits culinary students in the state and will provide over $5,000 in scholarships through the NRA's Hospitality Education Foundation.   

BaconFest-goers were asked to vote for their favorite treats again this year. First place: Ashland Country Club, for its Sweet & Spicy Bacon Bite.  Second place: Coops Corner for its Bacon Ice Cream and third place went to Venue Restaurant for its Pastrami Cured Bacon Arepas.

Entertainment was provided by Screamers Dining and Cabaret, where several different performers entertained the crowd throughout the evening. 

“Lincoln’s talented chefs outdid themselves this year,” said Brandy Nielson, membership and marketing coordinator with the Nebraska Restaurant Association. “Their bacon creations were definitely outside the box and were enjoyed by everyone. And thanks, too, to Hormel for providing all the bacon used by the chefs.”

Jane Stone, domestic marketing director for the NPPA, agreed. “The Nebraska Pork Producers Assn. is very excited about the enthusiasm for this year’s event and thrilled with the creativity and quality of the chef’s amazing dishes. Everything was delicious! Our industry loves this event because not only do we get to showcase one of our most popular cuts- bacon, but we hope it also creates a farm-to-table connection for our urban consumers.”

Participating vendors include: 9 South Char Grill, Ashland Golf Club, Billy’s Restaurant, Cappy’s Hot Spot Bar and Grill, Coop’s Corner, HiWay Diner, HopCat, Leadbelly, McKinney’s, The Normandy, Smoking Gun Jerky, That Place Steakhouse & Saloon, The Eatery, Screamers Dining & Caberet, Single Barrel, and Venue Restaurant & Lounge.

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics This May 

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, May 3
    Norfolk — Tuesday, May 8
    North Platte — Thursday, May 10
    Lexington — Thursday, May 17
    Fairbury — Thursday, May 24
    Norfolk — Tuesday, May 29
    Valentine — Wednesday, May 30

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.

NEBFARMPAC Endorses Mike Moser for Legislature District 22

Nebraska Farmers Union’s Political Action Committee, NEBFARMPAC, announced its unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of Mike Moser for election to Legislative District 22 in the 2018 Primary.

Vern Jantzen of Plymouth, NEBFARMPAC President said, "Mike Moser is the candidate with the most experience, is a well-respected community leader, has a track record of service, and understands the importance of family farm agriculture and healthy rural communities. We think Mike is someone who knows how to get things done on behalf of his constituents.”

John Hansen, NEBFARMPAC Secretary said, “Mike Moser’s background as mayor of Columbus for 12 years gives him hands-on experience in economic development, problem solving, and government regulation issues.  His experience as a small business owner and as a member of the Nebraska Crime Commission will be very useful when dealing with issues before the Nebraska legislature.  Our NEBFARMPAC board felt Mike Moser’s extensive and varied background put him head and shoulders above the other candidates in his qualifications for the LD22 race.  We think he is extremely well qualified, and a good fit for Legislative District 22.”

Jantzen continued, “Our Nebraska Farmers Union members and officers in LD22 recommended Mike Moser.  They find Mike to be open minded, accessible, and a person with solid values.”

“Mike Moser has the strong sense of independence that our legislature needs more of these days. We can trust him to respect the integrity of our independent non-partisan unique unicameral system. Rural Nebraska needs someone who will stand up for and champion rural communities who are being left behind.  We strongly and enthusiastically encourage the voters of Legislative District 22 to send Mike Moser to Lincoln to represent rural Nebraska, meaningful property tax relief, and adequate funding for education,” Hansen concluded.  

NEBFARMPAC Endorses Timothy Gragert for Legislature District 40

Nebraska Farmers Union’s Political Action Committee, NEBFARMPAC, announced its unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of Timothy Gragert for election to Legislative District 40 in the 2018 Primary.

Vern Jantzen of Plymouth, NEBFARMPAC President said, "The most pressing state issue in the 40th Legislative District, like all of rural Nebraska, is the need for property tax reform and relief.  We believe that Timothy Gragert is the best prepared candidate in the race to effectively accomplish that mission. As a local school board member, he understands first-hand the state funding formula and the need to update it.  In addition, he has an impressive track record of honorable service to his nation, state and community. We urge voters to send Timothy Gragert to Lincoln to represent the 40th Legislative District.”

John Hansen, NEBFARMPAC Secretary said, “Our members in the 40th Legislative District think very highly of Timothy Gragert, and recommend him, including our District 7 Director Martin Kleinschmit of Hartington.”

Martin says “Timothy is a stand up guy.  His values and judgment are solid.  He will do a good job of standing up for rural communities.”

Hansen concluded, “Voters are becoming increasingly troubled by the fact our Governor is recruiting and financing candidates for the Legislature.  They are rightly concerned that his unprecedented involvement undermines the non-partisanship of our state’s unique non-partisan legislature.  As a result, NEBFARMPAC does not endorse candidates tied to the Governor’s recruitment and financial support.  Hyper partisanship does not work in Washington, and it will not work any better in Lincoln.  We believe that Timothy Gragert is the kind of independent citizen servant with solid values that will respect the principles of our non-partisan legislature, and effectively and honestly represent LD40.”

Iowa State University 2018 Animal Industry Report Now Available Online

The 2018 Iowa State University Animal Industry Report is now available online. The annual report, now in its 15th year, features a variety of animal industry-related research done at Iowa State that is supported by the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. The report is coordinated through the animal science department.

Animal Industry Report.This year’s edition has nearly 80 articles organized under eight categories ranging from animal products and environment to poultry and small ruminants. The report includes a table of contents and is available on the Iowa State Digital Repository, This site has links to all years of the AIR beginning with the first issue in 2004.

Don Beermann, chair of the animal science department, said the report combines reports from researchers on campus and out in the state, including research that relates to the beef, dairy, poultry and swine industries in Iowa.

“A variety of professionals conducted the research for this report, including Iowa State faculty, staff and graduate students; visiting scholars; Iowa State Extension field staff; and collaborators from other universities and professors,” Beermann said. “Some research relates to improving production efficiencies while other research relates to improving environmental quality, animal health, animal product food safety, and animal behavior and well-being. All are important aspects of keeping animal agriculture strong and viable, and contributing to the economy and quality of life in Iowa.”

A Nice "Second Spring" Rally is Under Way

David P. Anderson, Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife 

After touching $130 per cwt back in February, the fed cattle market dropped dramatically into the $110s. The early Spring rally appears to be giving us a second act. Cash fed cattle prices ranged from $124 to $126 to end last week. That leaves fed cattle up a good $8 per cwt during April.

Higher cutout values are feeding into higher fed cattle prices. The Choice beef cutout started this week at $224.50, up $13 in the last 7 week days. The Choice cutout is about $5 above this point a year ago, while fed cattle prices are about $12 below this point last year. That has resulted in a live-to-cutout price spread more than $100 per head greater than April 2017. The Choice-Select spread is widening, seasonally, as the Choice cutout has increased faster than the Select cutout.

I think it's worth remembering that winter, in the form of snow storms, and wet, cold weather has lingered on in much of the country throughout April. That has likely delayed beef orders and featuring heading into grilling season. There is some evidence of a rapid spike in beef orders for retail featuring over the next several months. The rib and loin primal cut values are pulling the cutout higher with both primals up over $20 in the last week.

Through April, steer slaughter remained less than half a percent higher than year ago. Increasing fed beef supplies has come largely from heifers. Heifer slaughter has been over 12 percent greater than a year ago. Weights are higher than a year ago for steers and heifers, with federally inspected steer dressed weights up almost 20 pounds and heifer weights up 10 pounds. Both Steer and heifer weights are declining seasonally with some weeks time remaining before their normal low for the year.

While we might be in the midst of a second Spring price rally, the market is doing this in the face of growing supplies. Larger numbers of cattle on feed indicate that even more cattle and beef are to come to market in coming months. Fortunately, slaughter increases have come from heifers and cows rather than relatively heavier steers, but that is likely just a function of timing and more steers are coming.

The same wet, cold weather that may have delayed some beef demand has also delayed some planting. Farmers indicated to USDA that they intended to plant fewer corn acres this year. Fewer acres combined with early weather have led to some higher corn prices both now and in harvest-time futures. While it's early, this will be worth monitoring.

Smithfield to Appeal Verdict in Nuisance Case Against Hog Farm

Murphy-Brown, the hog production subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, will appeal Thursday's court verdict against one of its contract pork producers.

A federal jury found in favor of 10 neighbors of an eastern North Carolina hog farm, awarding them $750,000 in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages over complaints of odor and noise from the farm. (North Carolina law caps punitive damage awards at $25 million, so each plaintiff would receive $250,000 in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory ones.)

In a statement issued after the verdict, Smithfield Foods said it would appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Va. NPPC, which closely monitored the case, called the nuisance lawsuit "frivolous" and an "unwarranted attack on livestock agriculture," pointing out that pork producers have "a strong and long-standing track record of environmental stewardship."

The case was the first of several nuisance lawsuits brought by North Carolina residents against hog operations in the state.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the North Carolina Jury Verdict Sets a Dangerous Precedent.  He says, “The recent jury verdict in a nuisance lawsuit involving a Murphy-Brown contract hog farm is deeply troubling. Before a jury can award millions of dollars in damages for so-called nuisance odors from a farm, that jury should at least be allowed to visit the farm and hear evidence about actual odor measurements at the farm. It is worrisome that a misled jury has set a dangerous precedent that will motivate more greed-driven lawsuits against more farmers. We are hopeful this verdict will be overturned on appeal.”

Biodiesel Ranks First Among Fleets for Alt Fuel Use

North America’s top fleets have spoken, and their #1 choice for greening their fleet operations is the use of biodiesel blends in their diesel vehicles. According to a new 2018 Fleet Purchasing Outlook study conducted by the NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry – 75 percent of fleet respondents planning to acquire trucks in 2018 anticipate maintaining or increasing use of diesel engine powered trucks, indicating that diesel is still the powertrain of choice among the majority of work truck fleets. Additionally, the survey indicated that biodiesel is now the most popular alternative fuel option on the market, followed by E85, CNG and Electric Hybrid. Survey data shows 18 percent of fleet participants use biodiesel now – up from 15 percent in 2017. And in terms of future alternative fuel interest, biodiesel also takes top honors, with more fleets planning to acquire or continue using biodiesel than any other alternative fuel option.

Each year, NTEA conducts a comprehensive Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey to better understand the commercial vehicle landscape, including interest levels for advanced truck technologies and alternative fuels. The new survey results for 2018 were recently published and reflect positive trends for the use of biodiesel blends in the diesel vehicle technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Don Scott, Director of Sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board, commented, “The findings of this survey validate what we have been hearing from fleets. While other technologies get attention from time to time, biodiesel is consistently the best way to store solar energy for transportation use. Nothing beats the power and performance of a new technology diesel engine to get the job done in heavy haul or high mileage operations. And when fleets learn that they can immediately reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by using biodiesel blends in their existing diesel equipment, it is truly a win-win.”

Spanning the United States and Canada, the 2018 NTEA Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey respondents included a diverse pool of fleet professionals representing a broad range of fleet sizes, vehicle weight classes and vocational truck applications. From government and municipal fleets, to construction, delivery and utility sectors, to agriculture and private industry sectors – fleets across the country are relying on the power and performance of biodiesel, America’s Advanced Biofuel, to get the job done.

Steve Latin-Kasper, NTEA director of market data and research, commented, “Nearly 40 percent of respondents indicated they currently operate alternative-fueled trucks in their fleets, up 4 percent from 2017, and interest is at the highest recorded level since 2014.  While interest in alternative fuels may wax and wane a bit due to the inherent volatility of oil prices, it will likely rise steadily across time.  Most fleets are well aware of the need to keep exploring clean energy solutions.”

Customers from coast to coast have used B20 (a blend of 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel) successfully in virtually every make and model diesel engine, and the vast majority of new diesel engines now have full OEM support for B20 meeting today’s ASTM specifications. In the ever-increasing drive to cut carbon and lower CO2 emissions, forward-looking fleets are using biodiesel blends as an easy and cost-effective way to reduce their carbon footprint in their existing diesel vehicle fleet. Compared to fossil fuels like petrodiesel, B20 reduces carbon by 16 percent on average, with B100 reducing carbon by 80 percent. According to the California Air Resources Board, using biodiesel reduces carbon substantially more than an electric vehicle if the electricity used in that vehicle is produced from a natural gas or coal fired power plant.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) will be featuring some of the latest industry advancements this week at the Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, April 30 - May 3 at the Long Beach Convention Center. On display will be a customized 2018 Freightliner Cascadia truck supplied by NBB member company Optimus Technologies®. Optimus designs and builds EPA-compliant biodiesel conversion systems (“Vector Systems”) with integrated telematics to enable medium and heavy-duty diesel engines to operate on up to 100 percent biodiesel in sub-zero temperatures. With its controller and second heated B100 tank system, Optimus is providing fleets using diesel with a trouble-free and proven way to use high quality, EPA registered B100 biodiesel in existing vehicles and reduce carbon by up to 80 percent at a fraction of the cost of conversion to other fuel alternatives that don’t provide as much carbon reduction, like compressed natural gas.

New this year, NTEA added renewable diesel options to its Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey in order to gauge directional movement for this fuel type in coming years. Among survey participants, renewable diesel came in at 3 percent of future alternative fuels interest. To help address this interest, especially in California as part of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, NBB member company Renewable Energy Group (REG) is now offering California customers a patent-pending blend of biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel. 

ACE commends senate leaders for calling on EPA to carry out President’s E15 commitment 

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings commended 18 bipartisan senators for their letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt today to carry out the president’s recent commitment to allow the sale of E15 year-round.

The letter seeks information and a transparent timeline on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) issue which would allow E15 and higher ethanol blends market access all year. The letter also asks for immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed, as the low-RVP season looms only one month away.

“We strongly support the call by nearly 20 U.S. Senators for EPA to allow the use of E15 this summer while the Agency makes good on President Trump’s promise to correct the outdated Reid vapor pressure interpretation,” Jennings said.

“It is unacceptable for EPA to drag its feet to allow E15 and higher ethanol use year-round while it makes time to rubber stamp so-called ‘hardship’ waivers enabling refiners to escape their legal responsibility to blend ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“ACE members applaud the strong bipartisan leadership demonstrated by the senators.”

Growth Energy Issues Statement on EPA Waiver for CVR at Expense of Rural America

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement regarding reports that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has granted an undisclosed waiver to CVR, a refinery owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, allowing the company to bypass its biofuel obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

“Carl Icahn interviewed Scott Pruitt for the job, and now Icahn stands to make millions more from a secret EPA handout. This is just one more example of the EPA taking money out of the pockets of American farmers and undermining President Trump’s promises to rural communities. The EPA is giving refineries everything they want, at the expense of rural families, while refusing to move forward on the President’s pledge to lift barriers against year-round sales of E15.

“Congress and the White House need to rein in EPA and return the agency to serving the president’s promised agenda, including growth in biofuel production and rural job creation.”

Bayer to Sell Further Crop Sciences Businesses to BASF

Bayer has signed an agreement to sell further Crop Science businesses to BASF for up to 1.7 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to move ahead with its proposed acquisition of Monsanto. The businesses to be sold generated total sales of 745 million euros in 2017.

"With this move, we are implementing the corresponding undertakings made to the European Commission and other regulatory authorities to allow the successful closing of the Monsanto transaction," explained Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG. "In BASF, we are pleased that, for these businesses too, we have found a strong buyer that will continue to serve the needs of growers and offer our employees long-term prospects."

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval as well as the successful closing of Bayer's acquisition of Monsanto.

The businesses being divested include in particular the global vegetable seeds business, certain seed treatment products, the research platform for wheat hybrids and certain glyphosate-based herbicides in Europe that are predominantly used in industrial applications. In addition, three research projects in the field of total herbicides and Bayer's digital farming business will also be transferred. In return, Bayer will receive a back license for certain digital farming applications.

The transaction includes the transfer of some 2,500 employees, around 150 of them in Germany. As part of the agreement, BASF has committed to maintain all permanent positions, under similar conditions, for at least three years after closing of the transaction.

Bayer continues to work diligently with the relevant authorities with the aim of closing the proposed acquisition of Monsanto in the second quarter of 2018.

Last October, Bayer and BASF already concluded an agreement for the sale of certain Crop Science businesses for a base purchase price of 5.9 billion euros. The businesses in this first package - including Bayer's global glufosinate-ammonium business and the related LibertyLink technology for herbicide tolerance, together with essentially all of the company's field crop seeds businesses - generated total sales of 1.5 billion euros in 2017.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Friday April 28 Ag News


The Yes to Property Tax Relief Committee announced today that the petition initiative campaign to place a $1.1 billion property tax relief proposal on the November 2018 ballot has ended and petition signature collection efforts will cease.

Committee spokesman Trent Fellers released the following statement:

“We are grateful to the thousands of Nebraskans who have signed the petition, and to those who have dedicated their time and resources to this effort. Unfortunately, we no longer believe their interests are best served by this initiative and we are ending the campaign.”

“Doubts remain that a ballot measure to change state law is the correct means to address this issue. We’ve observed the Legislature closely and are not convinced the Legislature will effectively implement our proposal to reduce property taxes, even if enacted by the people. The decision not to proceed with the initiative petition does not mean we are ending our efforts to reduce the property tax burden, only that we are exploring other options that would set a higher bar to ensure the will of the people is carried out, including a possible Constitutional Amendment that could withstand any challenge from the Legislature.”

“What remains clear through this process and our discussions with Nebraskans is that people across the state are committed to finding permanent solutions to both the property tax burden and the broader issue of education funding in this state.  The voice of the people, already a significant influence on our efforts here, will continue to guide our deliberations as we determine the path forward as we work to address property taxes and education funding.”

Candidates Designated “Friend of Agriculture” by Nebraska Farm Bureau PAC

Doug Oertwich of Pilger has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NEFB-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Oertwich is seeking to represent District 22 in the Nebraska Legislature.

“As a farmer and small business owner, Doug has first-hand experience with how Nebraska agriculture and rural communities are impacted by state policies and regulations. It’s also critical to have people in the legislature that understand the important role agriculture plays in our state’s overall economy,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Oertwich has a breadth of experience that includes serving on the Stanton County Planning Commission and as a Stanton County Public Power District Director. Oertwich has also served as a Nebraska Rural Electric Association Statewide Director and on the Nebraska Rural Electric Association Legislative Committee.

“Doug’s priorities of lowering property taxes, ensuring Nebraska has skilled workers, and expanding affordable housing in rural areas, align well with Farm Bureau’s support for growing and developing rural Nebraska,” said McHargue. “We are pleased to support Doug in his bid to represent District 22.

Myron Dorn of Adams has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NEFB-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Dorn is seeking to represent District 30 in the Nebraska Legislature.

“Myron’s priorities of lowering property taxes, providing quality education for Nebraska students, expanding economic development opportunities, and support for sound transportation infrastructure are shared by our members. We are proud to offer our support for Myron as he seeks the District 30 legislative seat,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Dorn not only understands the issues facing agriculture, but rural communities as well. Dorn is a farmer who has served on the Firth Coop Board, and has also served as Chair of the Gage County Board of Supervisors.

“Myron has first-hand experience in dealing with the challenges rural businesses face, as well as experience in working on the important balance between the needs of taxpayers and funding local government. We need people who understand that balance and can bring that experience to the Legislature,” said McHargue.

Dave Murman of Glenvil has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NEFB-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Murman is seeking to represent District 38 in the Nebraska Legislature.

“We are pleased to offer our support for Dave in his pursuit to represent District 38 in the Legislature. As a third-generation farmer and life-long resident of the district, he knows the people and communities he’s seeking to represent and has a passion for helping the district grow and thrive,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Murman’s priorities of lowering property taxes and supporting fair funding for schools and high-quality education, in addition to focusing on policies to support small businesses and job creation, helped earn Murman the designation.

“Dave shares many of our organization’s priorities. Furthermore, he has a strong track record of involvement in leadership positions to improve agriculture and rural Nebraska that make him a strong candidate. His experiences include, participating in the Nebraska LEAD Program, serving as president of the Nebraska State Dairy Association, service to the Dairy Farmers of America, and being a member of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s State Legislative Policy Committee. All of these experiences will serve him well in the Legislature,” said McHargue.

Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “Friend of Agriculture” designation is given to selected candidates for public office based on their commitment to and positions on agricultural issues, qualifications, previous experience, communication abilities, and their ability to represent the district. 

NC Supports Senator Deb Fischer for the 2018 U.S. Senate Primary Election

The Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Board of Directors voted to continue their support of Senator Deb Fischer in the 2018 U.S. Senate primary election.  Senator Fischer is a long time NC and NCBA member from Cherry County with a strong track record of advocating for Nebraska's livestock industry.

Senator Fischer currently serves on two U.S. Senate committees that oversee many of the policy issues that impact Nebraska's farmers and ranchers: the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

During her time on EPW, Senator Fischer has been instrumental in fighting the misguided 2015 Waters of the United States rule, which would have subjected every puddle, ditch and stream to costly and burdensome federal Clean Water Act permitting.

Sen. Fischer's new role on the Senate Agriculture Committee gives Nebraska's producers a seat at the table as the next farm bill is written.  This comprehensive legislation ensures that farm safety nets are in place to help farmers and ranchers weather a tough agriculture economy and increasingly tight margins. Without critical programs like crop insurance, drought assistance and livestock indemnity, Nebraska's $23 billion agriculture economy would suffer a devastating blow.

Senator Fischer is also the Chair of the Livestock, Marketing and Agriculture Security Subcommittee within the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.  She gives Nebraska's livestock industry an active voice in promoting and defending the key issues for their families and businesses.

Nebraska Cattlemen greatly appreciates Senator Fischer's efforts and is proud to support her in the 2018 primary election.

Seven UNL students are set to begin summer internships sponsored by Nebraska Corn

As the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s spring semester winds down, seven students will soon be starting summer internship programs supported by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association. Although these internships may vary in scope and location, each are designed to provide students with an overview of Nebraska’s corn industry through real-world professional examples and experiences.

“At this point in my college career, I don’t quite know what I want to do after graduation,” said Liz Ruskamp, a UNL animal science major from North Bend. “I am hoping this internship will help me narrow down options and figure out what I am good at and identify areas where I could improve.”

“Nebraska Corn has long been helping students identify their career paths through our internship program,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Each year, we’re encouraged to see a new group of energized interns who are ready to get started in their ag careers.”

Five of the seven summer interns will be based outside of the state and will work for major cooperators of Nebraska Corn. The remaining interns will work in Lincoln in the offices of the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

This year’s Nebraska Corn interns (followed by their internship locations) are:
    Hannah Settje, Raymond, U.S. Meat Export Federation – Denver
    Liz Ruskamp, North Bend, National Corn Growers Association – St. Louis
    Elizabeth Todsen, Ord, National Corn Growers Association – Washington, D.C.
    Halle Ramsey, Ord, U.S. Grains Council – Washington, D.C.
    Alyssa Ehler, Elkhorn, U.S. Grains Council – Mexico City
    Thomas Hoxmeier, Orleans, Nebraska Corn Board – Lincoln
    Heidi Borg, Allen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association – Lincoln

“Internships are important to college students because they’re a gateway to real careers,” said Hannah Settje, a UNL animal science major from Raymond. “My internship will bridge the gap between my education and what I’m looking for in my future career.”

Each intern will document their learning experiences through progress updates and social media posts. To keep up with the students throughout the summer, visit or follow the Nebraska Corn Board on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

Ribbon cutting for new Ankeny stormwater wetland designed to protect water quality

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will join Ankeny city officials and the Fourmile Creek Water Management Authority chair for a ribbon cutting for a new storm water wetland, built to manage and clean urban stormwater prior to entry into Fourmile Creek.  The event will take place on Mon., April 29 at 2 p.m. on the east side of Fourmile Creek (north side of 36th St. in Ankeny).

Reynolds will also sign a proclamation declaring April 29 to May 6, 2018 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation week.  This year’s theme for Soil and Water Conservation week is “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.” More information about the activities that will be held during Soil and Water Conservation Week in Iowa can be found at

USDA Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2017 Summary

Total 2017 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 81.7 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2016. Production increased 4 percent for cattle and calves and 3 percent for hogs and pigs.

Total 2017 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals increased 7 percent to $88.4 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for 76 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for 24 percent.

The 2017 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $88.9 billion, up 7 percent from 2016. Gross income increased 6 percent for cattle and calves and 11 percent for hogs and pigs from previousyear's gross income.

Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves increased 6 percent from $63.7 billion in 2016 to $67.4 billion in 2017. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 57.4 billion pounds in 2017, up 6 percent from 2016.

Cattle and Calves Gross Income by State

NE - $11,179,128,000
IA - $4,081,715,000
KS - $8,281,329,000

Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $21.1 billion during 2017, up 11 percent from 2016. Marketings totaled 38.1 billion pounds in 2017, up 3 percent from 2016.

Hogs & Pigs  Gross Income by State

NE - $804,920,000
IA - $7,121,183,000
KS - $542,318,000

Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2017 Summary

Milk production increased 1.4 percent in 2017 to 215 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 22,941 pounds, was 163 pounds above 2016. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.39 million head, up 67,000 head from 2016.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2017 totaled $37.9 billion, 9.8 percent higher than 2016. Producer returns averaged $17.69 per hundredweight, 8.3 percent above 2016. Marketings totaled 214.5 billion pounds, 1.5 percent above 2016. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

An estimated 979 million pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 1.4 percent less than 2016. Calves were fed 91 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

Value of Milk Production - by State

NE - $262,808,000
IA - $936,132,000
KS - $590,824,000

Poultry - Production and Value 2017 Summary

The combined value of production from broilers, eggs, turkeys, and the value of sales from chickens in 2017 was $42.7 billion, up 10 percent from $38.7 billion in 2016. Of the combined total, 71 percent was from broilers, 18 percent from eggs, 11 percent from turkeys, and less than 1 percent from chickens.

The value of broilers produced during 2017 was $30.2 billion, up 17 percent from 2016. The total number of broilers produced in 2017 was 8.91 billion, up 2 percent from 2016. The total amount of live weight broilers produced in 2017 was 55.6 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2016.

The value of turkeys produced during 2017 was $4.84 billion, down 22 percent from the $6.18 billion the previous year. The total number of turkeys raised in 2017 was 243 million, down 1 percent from 2016. Turkey production in 2017 totaled 7.49 billion pounds, up slightly from the 7.49 billion pounds produced in 2016.

The value of sales from chickens (excluding broilers) in 2017 was $46.7 million, down 47 percent from $87.4 million a year ago. The number of chickens sold in 2017 totaled 188 million, down 10 percent from the total sold during the previous year.

Value of all egg production in 2017 was $7.55 billion, up 16 percent from $6.51 billion in 2016. Egg production totaled 106 billion eggs, up 4 percent from 102 billion eggs produced in 2016.

2017 Nebraska Poultry Production and Value

The value of egg production in Nebraska during 2017 was $131 million, up $31 million from $100 million in 2016, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Egg production in 2017 was estimated at 2.49 billion eggs, down 81.0 million from the previous year. Average number of layers for 2017 at 8.17 million was down 676,000 from 2016.

U.S. Pork Industry Is Focused on Safeguarding Natural Resources

In light of a recent court ruling in North Carolina regarding hog production, the National Pork Board is sharing the strong record the U.S. pork industry has on the environment and sustainability efforts.

“Sustainability on the farm is an ongoing commitment by pig farmers today,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president and a Nebraska pig farmer. “As an industry, farmers are committed, through ongoing environmental sustainability efforts, to safeguard natural resources for future generations.”

Over the last decade, the U.S. has played a leading role in advancing animal agriculture’s environmental and conservation efforts. Respect for the earth and its natural resources is part of the U.S. agricultural heritage and America’s pork producers are dedicated to preserving that legacy. Long-term efforts have helped pig farmers raise more pork using fewer natural resources than ever before.

A key reason is new technology in place on farms across the country which improve sustainability and air quality, preserve soil quality and reduce land, water and energy use. In a 50-year look-back completed by the University of Arkansas in 2012 – and which is currently being updated with data through 2015 – U.S. pig farmers had reduced land use by 78 percent, reduced water use by 41 percent, and had a carbon footprint that was 35 percent smaller. Preliminary data over just the past five years shows continued progress.

Additionally, pig farms throughout the U.S. carefully manage the manure that is produced, and do so according to the requirements of all environmental permits and regulations. Manure is a valuable nutrient resource for the production of all crops, and is applied to fields in accordance with agronomic needs of the crop and according to state and federal regulations.

We Care, which marks a decade of commitment this year, includes steps to:
-    Produce safe food
-    Protect and promote animal well-being
-    Ensure practices to protect public health
-    Safeguard natural resources
-    Provide a safe work environment
-    Contribute to a better quality of life in our communities

“Pig farmers learn from the examples of others and we routinely share best practices,” said O’Neel. “That’s the motivation behind the development in 2008 of our We Care platform and its six ethical principles of production.”

Big Acts Slated to Perform at the 30th Annual World Pork Expo

Music and the aroma of grilled pork will fill the air at the 2018 World Pork Expo during MusicFest on Thursday, June 7. To help celebrate 30 years of Expo, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) will host a free concert featuring Josh Hoyer, a contestant on The Voice, followed by The Big Noise, led by Cactus Moser.

The festivities take place along the Grand Avenue Concourse of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, and run from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. The concert is just one of the many events scheduled for the World Pork Expo, presented by NPPC June 6-8 in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Whether visitors come to Expo to shop the trade show, sit in on a seminar or learn about market developments, the days are always packed," says Jim Heimerl, NPPC president and producer from Johnstown, Ohio. "That's why it's important to carve out time to relax and have some fun and fellowship. And MusicFest provides the perfect setting."

The soulful sounds of Josh Hoyer

Fusing soul with hints of R&B and classic country, Josh Hoyer, a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, was a contestant on season 12 of NBC's The Voice. With his smooth rendition of the Chi-Lites' 1972 hit "Oh Girl," he caught the attention of coaches Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani.

The singer founded the soul-funk band Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal in 2012, where his rich, soulful vocals blend with masterful musicians, producing a remarkable chemistry. Their high-energy live show continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era, with the common goal of getting the crowd on their feet.

Recent recordings include the band's 2016 "Running from Love." In January, Hoyer released "The End of the Night," a three-song EP and solo side project with veteran Nashville songwriters Jay Knowles (Harry Connick Jr, Blake Shelton), and Jon Coleman (Trace Adkins). This spring, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal will record their fourth full-length album.

The Big Noise, with Cactus Moser

Headlining MusicFest is The Big Noise, led by Scott "Cactus" Moser, a talented drummer and music producer. The Big Noise is made up of musicians who've played on numerous records and tours. Over the last five years, the band has recorded and toured with Wynonna Judd, as Wynonna & The Big Noise.

Members of the group also have worked with singers including Ricky Van Shelton, Kevin Welch, Johnny Rivers, Pam Tillis and Richard Marx.

Moser is an original founding member of the country/western band Highway 101. He's also written and produced movie soundtracks, including "Union Bound" in 2016. Judd says Moser is genuinely "in love with music." And that includes all types, from country to rock to blues. "My goal was to try and capture emotions, not perfection," Moser says of his musical philosophy.

All combined, The Big Noise form a musically adventurous group that brings the members' original songs together with classic covers from groups such as the Grateful Dead, Blind Faith and James Gang.

Other sights not to miss

Visitors won't have a hard time finding other events and activities to enjoy while at Expo.

"Expo already features the world's largest pork-specific trade show," Heimerl points out. "But with expanded indoor and outdoor exhibit space, this year's trade show will be bigger than ever. Producers will definitely want to schedule extra time to see it all."

With more than 360,000 square feet of exhibit space, this year's expo expands into the Jacobson Exhibition Center. An estimated 500 companies from throughout the world will display new technologies, products and services specific to pork production. The trade show will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 7, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 8.

Pork professionals can hear the latest production and management strategies in a variety of free Pork Academy and Business Seminars throughout the day on June 6 and June 7. Swine shows are scheduled throughout the week in the Swine Barn, including the World Pork Expo Junior National and the open show. The shows conclude with a breeding swine sale on Saturday morning, June 9. Naturally, there's plenty of tasty pork to enjoy while at Expo, including free pork lunches available daily at the Big Grill.

For all the latest details, including daily event schedules, registration, hotel availability and more, go to the World Pork Expo website. Plan now to attend the 2018 World Pork Expo, June 6-8.

Bill Would Let Farmers Tap into Growing Industrial Hemp Market

The American Farm Bureau Federation is backing a measure that would allow U.S. farmers to tap into the potentially sizeable market for ingredients derived from industrial hemp in foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabric and textiles and much more. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (S. 2667) would remove hemp’s designation as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

For nearly 70 years industrial hemp has been wrongly associated with its cannabis cousin, marijuana. As a result, a great deal of agricultural heritage in hemp seed genetics, crop research and technological innovation has been hindered or lost entirely, according to AFBF.

In addition, the Congressional Research Service has determined the U.S., the only major industrialized country in which farmers are not allowed to legally grow industrial hemp, is the largest importer of hemp materials, with annual sales exceeding $600 million.

“However, the tide is turning, and once again policymakers in Washington, D.C., and state houses across the country recognize the tremendous potential that industrial hemp can offer farmers as an effective rotational crop with promising economic benefits,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the legislation’s lead sponsor.

With the passage of the 2014 farm bill, and under the supervision of research universities or state departments of agriculture, states were authorized to “study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp.” Since then, more than 30 states have passed legislation legalizing this type of research, but its full-fledged production and commercialization is extremely hindered by its current designation as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) has introduced companion legislation (H.R. 5485) in the House.

Proposed Changes to the National List for Organic Livestock and Handling

On April 27, 2018, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to amend the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) based on public input and the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) November 2017 recommendations for livestock and handling.

More information on how and why substances are added or removed from the National List is available on The National List page of the AMS website.

In general, synthetic substances are prohibited for crop and livestock production unless specifically allowed and non-synthetic substances are allowed for crop and livestock production unless specifically prohibited.

This proposed rule would make two changes to the National List:
-    Allow elemental sulfur in organic livestock production for use as a topical pesticide treatment to repel mites, fleas and ticks from livestock and their living spaces.
-    Reclassify potassium acid tartrate from a nonagricultural substance to an agricultural substance. Potassium acid tartrate is currently listed as a nonorganic ingredient allowed in organic products. Reclassifying potassium acid tartrate as an agricultural substance would require handlers to use the organic form when it is commercially available. If it is not commercially available, handlers would be allowed to use the nonorganic form.

The 60-day public comment period closes on June 29, 2018.

NC Residents Win Big Money from Smithfield

A federal jury reached a verdict worth $50 million in the first of 26 lawsuits against North Carolina pork producer Murphy Brown. An Indy Week Dot Com reports says the jury took less than 24 hours to reach the verdict against Murphy Brown, a subsidiary of Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods.

The plaintiffs contended that the company’s waste-management plan makes their lives miserable. The plan consists of storing excess hog waste in open-air cesspools, as well as liquefying and spraying the remains on nearby fields. The plaintiffs say the odors and mist from the spray drift onto their properties, that the hogs attract swarms of insects and buzzards, boxes with dead hogs smell especially bad, and the stench limits their ability to go outside.

The trial involved ten plaintiffs who live near Kinlaw Farm in Bladen County, North Carolina, who contracts with Smithfield to raise 15,000 hogs. Smithfield Foods says in a news release that they will file an immediate appeal of the verdict.

NPPC Statement on North Carolina Verdict

The verdict this week in a frivolous nuisance lawsuit against a North Carolina hog farm represents an unwarranted attack on livestock agriculture. The U.S. pork industry has a strong and long-standing track record of environmental stewardship and plays a critical role in strengthening the rural economy in America.

The misuse of our legal system to attack a farm sector that supports more than 500,000 U.S. jobs must come to an end.

Confined Space: Grain Bin Entry FREE Webinar

When: Thursday, May 10, 2018
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
Presenter: Dan Neenan, Manager, National Education Center for Agricultural Safety

This Grain Safety program is intended for workers and managers in the grain industry including grain elevators, farm operators and workers, grain haulers, and agriculture business owners. The major focus of the program is on safety in confined space work areas including entry, respiratory protection, and prevention of Grain Dust explosions.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will:
-    Be able to identify hazards associated with confined space work in the grain industry
-    Understand the process for confined space entry and lock out procedures
-    Be able to discuss the confined space housekeeping procedures involved in grain handling
-    Know where to look for OSHA references and resources related to confined space entry in the grain industry
-    Identify the OSHA respirator standards that apply to an agricultural setting
-    Understand key components of an effective respiratory protection program
-    Access resources, templates, medical evaluations, and further trainings to effectively implement a respiratory program
-    Describe several recent dust explosions and the dust deflagration process
-    Identify the basic considerations used in a facility hazard analysis for dust
-    Describe the prevention and mitigation techniques used in control of the combustible dust hazard

For more information and to register, please visit:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Thursday April 26 Ag News

Weed Management Free Workshop in Neligh

The Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council in partnership with the Northeast Nebraska Weed Management Area (NNWMA) is hosting an educational workshop and tour on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.   This free event will be held at the Antelope County Courthouse basement meeting room, 501 Main St., from 9 a.m. until noon.  No registration is required.  Questions can be addressed to Bruce Ofe, Antelope County Weed Superintendent at 402-887-4659.

Landowners, County Board members, Natural Resource District Board members, and interested citizens are encouraged to attend this Weed Workshop.  Topics will include the invasive Yellow Flag Iris, efforts with biocontrol agents in controlling noxious weeds, mechanical and chemical control of Salt Cedar, and accomplishments of the NNWMA.  A tour to a site containing Yellow Flag Iris will complete the morning’s event which will then be followed by lunch.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.  The NNWMA covers an eight-county area and 4,610,212 acres of private, public, and tribal land.  NNWMA has technical support from the Northeast Nebraska RC&D, a local non-profit.

 LENRD promotes tree sales on Arbor Day

This Friday is the 146th Anniversary of Arbor Day.  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) will have tree seedlings available for purchase this Friday in celebration of Arbor Day, at the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area, north of Stanton.  From Norfolk, the lake is located 10 miles east on highway 275 and then 2 miles south on Ridge Road.  Signs will direct you to the LENRD Tree Distribution Center (approximately 2 miles north of Stanton).  The Center will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Arbor Day.  Seedlings can be purchased in bundles of 25 for $22.

LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom, said, “Plant a tree to protect your property and the future.  Our parents did it for us, and we should return the favor for future generations.”

Contact Bergstrom at the LENRD office, 402-371-7313, if you have questions about your trees or if you need further assistance.

Five Iowa State University Projects Funded by Iowa Beef Industry Council

In response to its first call for proposals on beef research projects, Iowa Beef Industry Council this week announced the approval of eight of those proposals, five of which are from campus and field-based faculty and staff associated with Iowa State University and Iowa Beef Center. All proposals were vetted through a diverse research committee and funding for the eight selected was approved by the IBIC Board of Directors.

Here are the five Iowa State projects and researchers associated with each.
-    Evaluating the performance and economics of fall grazing cover crops compared to a traditional drylot system of fall-calving cow-calf pairs.  - Erika Lundy and Dan Loy
-    Investigating injectable Vitamin C before or after transit on feedlot performance, inflammation and oxidative stress in beef steers. - Stephanie Hansen and Erin Deters
-    Evaluate feeding high quality beef in feeding strategies related to cattle productions systems and marketing trends. Marbling and genetics will be included in this trial as outcome measures. - Erika Lundy, Dan Loy and Patrick Wall
-    Evaluate precision ag tools as a health prediction of individual animals in confined beef cattle operations through visual sensing and automated behavioral recognition. This evaluates technology and labor discussions related to animal health. - Joshua Peschel, Stephanie Hansen, Anna Johnson and Grant Dewell
-    Study and identify metabolic biomarkers indicative of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) to determine specific individual pathogens.  - Grant Dewell, Terry Engelken, Jacek Koziel, Amanda Kreuder, Vickie Cooper and Annette O’Connor

The remaining three funded projects and researchers are as follows:
-    Evaluating the ability of fixed time resynchronization in beef cattle to decrease costs and increase production efficiency. - South Dakota State University
-    Consider the impact of backgrounding cattle nutrition on feedlot and carcass performance, beef quality, and sensory traits. - University of Minnesota
-    Work to understand improving profitability for integrated farming and feeding operations by using more silage and prevention of liver abscesses. - University of Nebraska—Lincoln

Total approved amount is $342,332 to be expensed over two fiscal years and is funded by the $0.50 per head Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program.

USDA 2017 Dairy Product Production Totals

Total cheese production, excluding cottage cheeses, was 12.7 billion pounds, 3.9 percent above 2016 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 26.6 percent of the production.

Italian varieties, with 5.38 billion pounds was 1.5 percent above 2016 production and accounted for 42.5 percent of total cheese in 2017. Mozzarella accounted for 77.3 percent of the Italian production followed by Parmesan with 8.4 percent and Provolone with 7.4 percent. Wisconsin was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 31.6 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 5.07 billion pounds, 6.4 percent above 2016 and accounted for 40.1 percent of total cheese in 2017. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 20.0 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2017 totaled 1.85 billion pounds, 0.4 percent above 2016. California was the leading state in Butter production with 28.9 percent of the production.

Dry milk powders (2017 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2016)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.84 billion pounds, up 4.7 percent.
Skim milk powders - 530 million pounds, down 5.3 percent.

Whey products (2017 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2016)
Dry whey, total - 1,037 million pounds, up 8.6 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.12 billion pounds, up 2.3 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 484 million pounds, up 3.4 percent.

Frozen products (2017 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2016)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 902 million gallons, down 0.5 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 460 million gallons, up 5.5 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 43.6 million gallons, down 1.5 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 62.5 million gallons, down 6.4 percent.

Modified FMD Virus Allowed for Study

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has authorized the movement of a modified, non-infectious version of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to the U.S. mainland for continued vaccine development and study, according to a news release issued by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Thursday.

While the modified FMD virus is unable to cause disease and presents no risk of transmitting the disease, federal law still requires the secretary of agriculture to approval the virus' movement.

Identifying a vaccine that uses the modified virus will enable USDA to more quickly source and acquire FMD vaccine in the event of an outbreak of the disease, APHIS said in its news release. With this announcement, vaccine companies may now apply for USDA permits to continue their work with this specific modified, non-infectious FMD virus in the U.S. All permits granted would include appropriate biocontainment and use restrictions, and may be revoked if warranted.

The live FMD virus was previously not allowed anywhere in the country except at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, which is located near the northeast coast of Long Island in New York state, where it was held and worked with under strict biocontainment procedures in order to protect the nation's livestock, according to the news release.

With advances in technology, it is now possible to genetically modify the virus so that it is non-infectious. With this added protection, it is now possible to allow vaccine development within the U.S., rather than relying upon overseas sources.

FMD is a highly contagious viral foreign animal disease that affects domestic livestock, including cattle, swine, sheep, goat and domestic cervids (hoofed mammals such as deer and elk). It can cause reduced milk and meat productivity, illness and death.

Jury Hits Pork Giant for $50m

(AP) -- A federal jury in North Carolina is awarding more than $50 million in damages to neighbors of an industrial hog operation responsible for smells, noise and other disturbances so bad they couldn't enjoy their rural homes.

Jurors on Thursday awarded 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head swine operation a total of $750,000 in compensation plus $50 million in damages designed to punish the hog-production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods.

Lawyers didn't sue the farm's owner, instead targeting the Chinese-owned corporation. Smithfield uses strict contracts to dictate how farm operators raise livestock the company owns.

The decision is the first in dozens of nuisance lawsuits filed by more than 500 neighbors against hog operations.

Smithfield says the lawsuits are a serious threat to a major agricultural industry and employer in North Carolina.

Help Reduce Calf Pneumonia Risks and The Hidden Costs

The most common cause of death in calves before weaning is respiratory disease.1 Are your calves protected against respiratory disease challenges?

Once a calf becomes infected with respiratory disease, the damage is done, and the impact from disease will follow the animal into the next stage of production. For producers, it is important to understand the financial impact of young calf respiratory disease.

“When we think about respiratory disease in calves, we often forget about the [financial] impact other than just the antibiotic treatment,” said Mark Alley, DVM, veterinarian with Beef Technical Services at Zoetis.

3 hidden costs of calf respiratory disease:
Ø  Reduced calf weaning weights by up to 35 pounds2
Ø  Lost feed efficiency while nursing, as well as in the next production stage
Ø  Incurred labor costs to treat and re-treat calves

Used concurrently, Inforce 3® and One Shot ® BVD work quickly to combat harmful bovine respiratory disease (BRD) pathogens and give calves a healthy start by providing a rapid and complete immune response.

For Laurie Johnson, a cow/calf producer in northeastern South Dakota, getting ahead of the problem with a successful vaccination program is their key to success.

“We don’t really have a lot of health challenges because we’re upfront and we’re preventing them,” Johnson said. “We’re pretty particular about our vaccine program and we work really hard to make sure we don’t have any health issues we have to treat.”

Work with your veterinarian to develop the best program to help reduce respiratory challenges.

Kansas State University and Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition sign research agreement

Kansas State University and Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition are joining forces to explore innovative plant nutrient products, technologies and opportunities to influence and advance grower practices and grower efficiency.

Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition develops and manufactures a diverse and global portfolio of innovative plant nutrition solutions. The company recently signed a master research agreement with Kansas State University. This agreement lays the groundwork for future collaborations by providing standard contract terms for research projects.

"We are excited to partner with Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition in the development and support of innovative nutrient products that will benefit Kansas agriculture," said Gary Pierzynski, department head and university distinguished professor of agronomy at Kansas State University.

Pierzynski said agronomy researchers are interested in working with the company in two ways. One is to pursue basic research that will lead to the development of new products comprising the next generation of more efficient nutrient products, and the other is to evaluate existing and new products under Kansas conditions and with crops grown in Kansas.

"Our partnership with Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition is another example of K-State working with the industry to help farmers be more efficient, sustainable and profitable," Pierzynski said.

Compass Minerals Plant Nutrition, a division of Compass Minerals, headquartered in Overland Park, finds value in partnering with the university to further its ongoing research and development efforts. The company recently opened a North American Innovation Center in the Midwest Bioscience Research Park in Stilwell, which is dedicated to the development of plant nutrition technologies. The company also has a center in Iracemopolis, Brazil, which opened in 2017.

"Our goal is to directly influence farmer growing practices through science," said Ryan Bartlett, vice president of innovation and product development at Compass Minerals. "In the world of agriculture R&D, the lion's share of funding has consistently gone toward advanced breeding techniques, developing transgenics and crop protection products. With the help of K-State, we're working to compound the gains realized with those innovations by developing similar advances in plant nutrition."

Kansas State University emphasizes industry collaboration and has seen an 80 percent increase in the number of industry-funded projects in the last five years. According to Peter Dorhout, vice president for research, the university strives for a nimble approach to project engagement by creating enduring, strategic alliances through master agreements.

"Our record of negotiating master agreements with industry demonstrates our commitment to making it easier to do research with direct applications to promote economic growth in Kansas and the surrounding region," Dorhout said.

Farmers CARE Act Aims to Upgrade Farm Bill Conservation Program

Today Friends of the Earth endorsed the Farmers CARE (Conserve Agricultural Resources and the Environment) Act introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer financial cost-share and technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices to protect soil, water and other natural resources.

The Farmers CARE Act would improve EQIP by:
-    Prioritizing spending on farm practices that demonstrably improve the quality of the environment;
-    Eliminating payments to Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) for animal waste facilities;
-    Setting aside funding for habitat improvements and higher welfare, pasture-based farming systems;
-    Easing access to the program for organic producers; and
-    Enabling farmers to receive payments for reducing use of antibiotics, adapting to and mitigating climate change and implementing pasture-based livestock production systems to improve soil health, water quality, pollinator habitat and carbon sequestration.

Planting Intentions Set Up Volatility and Higher Corn Prices

As 2018 corn planting is underway in the Northern Hemisphere, key risks are developing that can drive price volatility and potentially sustain elevated grain prices through the 2018/19 season, according to the RaboResearch report, “Don’t Fall Asleep Behind the Risk Management Wheel: Modelling the Price Risk for Corn.”

While demand is staying firm, the projected corn acres and current global corn stocks are declining compared to the past few years. The report notes that this environment provides little room for production deterioration in the 2018 growing season. Any additional loss of production through acreage or yield loss will put pressure on corn prices.

The Rabobank Pricing Probability model forecasts that there is now over a 50 percent probability that CBOT prices will remain near to or exceed $4 per bushel through December, and 2018/19 corn has a 24 percent chance of sustaining greater than $4.70 per bushel.

“The CBOT corn price has not reached $4 since May 2016,” says Sterling Liddell, vice president and senior global analytics specialist for RaboResearch. “For the past two years, the market has not moved significantly to provide corn growers many good selling opportunities. There’s a good chance that we will see more movement this year.”

In the report, corn growers are advised to stay alert for marketing opportunities at key events, such as planting progress, pollination and yield estimates. If the projected U.S. corn acres remain at current levels, there is high risk for market volatility. Should any weather events or conditions occur that could impact yield, markets are expected to substantially react.

Beef and swine producers, Liddell suggests, should take advantage of good opportunities to lock in prices, since the risk has gone up for feed prices to become higher.

Senators introduce bipartisan bill to recruit and train next generation of farmers

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) applauded today’s introduction of the ‘Next Generation in Agriculture Act’ by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The bill would address key barriers to entry for young producers, including access to farmland, training, and federal programs.

"As the majority of our nation’s farmers approach retirement age, we need bold action to ensure that their legacy continues,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition. “Young people across the country are stepping up and looking to be the next generation of growers, but they need our help. We applaud Senators Heitkamp and Collins for recognizing the urgency of this moment and leading the way on behalf of young farmers. The future of farming and the success of our rural communities depend on it."

Senators Heitkamp and Collins introduce the Next Generation in Agriculture Act at a critical time, as Congress writes the next farm bill amidst troubling demographic and economic trends. Farmers in the U.S. over the age of 65 now outnumber farmers under 35 by a margin of six to one, and U.S. farmland is overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of older farmers. Nearly two-thirds of farmland is currently managed by someone over 55, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that over the next five years—the lifespan of the next farm bill—nearly 100 million acres of U.S. farmland are expected to change ownership and will need a new farmer.

The Next Generation in Agriculture Act would address some of the top barriers identified by the 2017 National Young Farmer Survey conducted by NYFC, including challenges accessing farmland, a lack of business training, and difficulty finding and affording skilled labor. Young farmers also cited burdensome paperwork and a lack of familiarity as their top barriers to accessing USDA programs. The bill would make significant progress minimizing those barriers by supporting key portions of NYFC’s Young Farmer Agenda, including:

    Reauthorizing and increasing mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), the only federal program exclusively dedicated to training the next generation of farmers and ranchers. BFRDP provides competitive grants to nonprofits and universities to develop new farmer education, extension, outreach, and training initiatives, including incubator farm programs, business planning resources, and innovative farm and ranch transfer strategies.

    Adding new flexibility for and emphasis on BFRDP projects that address urgent needs, including farmland transition and succession planning for new and retiring farmers and food safety. The bill would also eliminate BFRDP’s matching funds requirement, expanding access for lower-resource organizations that serve high-need populations of farmers.

    Creating new positions at USDA to assist young and beginning farmers with technical assistance, help identify resources and opportunities for training, and help coordinate outreach efforts with local stakeholders and service providers.

As they thanked Senators Heitkamp and Collins for introducing the bill, NYFC called on every Senator to endorse the bill and advocate for its inclusion into the next farm bill.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday April 25 Ag News

Ricketts Once Again Fails to Deliver Property Tax Relief

Nebraska Farmers Union’s Board of Directors evaluated the wins and losses in the recently concluded legislative session during their spring board meeting.  Like most Nebraskans, the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) board was most frustrated over the failure to deliver property tax reform.

The NeFU board gave high marks and thanks to Senator Tom Briese of Albion for having the honesty, courage, and good sense to sponsor LB1084 that would have provided real property tax relief, adequately funded education, provided for a long overdue study of the state’s school aid funding formula, and re-aligned the excessive overuse of property taxes by updating Nebraska’s current income and sales tax exemptions.  The board also thanked the Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education coalition, and Open Sky Policy Institute for their hard work the past year in developing the coalition package that became the basis for Sen. Briese’s LB1084.  The board re-affirmed their organization’s commitment to being a part of this unique and constructive working coalition.

The NeFU Board of Directors put the primary responsibility for the legislature’s failure to address the property tax crisis at the feet of Governor Ricketts and Revenue Committee Chair Jim Smith.  “Governor Ricketts and Chairman Smith failed to lead real reform efforts at a time when farmers are being forced out of business from low commodity prices.   The Revenue Committee failed to put the competing property tax relief packages on the floor early enough in the session for proper discussion and consideration.  Governor Ricketts and Chairman Smith’s focus was on income tax reductions, not property tax reform. It is not fiscally responsible to support income tax rates and revenue reductions when Nebraska’s current revenues are not sufficient to meet the state budget funding obligations.  Kansas tried that, approach. It did not work.  Nebraskans are clamoring for property tax relief, not income tax reductions.”

The NeFU board added:  “When 72% or 178 out of 244 of Nebraska’s school districts do not currently receive any state equalization aid, and are forced to rely solely on property taxes, something is seriously and obviously wrong, and cries out for remedy.  When Nebraska is 49th in the nation in the percentage (32.5%) of income and sales taxes used for total educational funding from the state, it is high time the state increases the amount of income and sales taxes used to fund education.”

The NeFU board concluded, “It is less than honest and certainly not helpful for Governor Ricketts to continue to pass the buck and blame local schools for using too many property taxes to operate their schools when they receive no state funding.  When schools do not receive income and sales tax revenues from the state, they are forced to rely on local property taxes.  High property taxes are the direct result of an unfair, unbalanced, state tax policy that fails to properly fund K-12 education.  High property taxes are primarily a funding problem, not a spending problem.  After four years, Governor Ricketts now owns our state’s unfair, out of balance, out dated, regressive, property tax intensive K-12 funding policy.” 

NE Ag Study Trip to Germany June 25-29th

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture along with stakeholders organizations like Nebraska Cattlemen have worked with the German American Chamber of Commerce to promote understanding and trade possibilities in both countries.

In September of 2017, the collection of Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Soybean Association, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Wheat Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture were part of the Transatlantic Agricultural Dialogue with an event at the Raising Nebraska facility of State Fair Grounds. This collaborative effort has been addressing opportunities since 2014. The program is run by the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest based in Chicago.

This cooperative effort continues with a return trip to Germany in late June with the focus on “Study Trip to Germany on Consumer Engagement”. This will be a terrific opportunity to visit Germany, connect with German farmers and learn of their efforts to meet the challenges of dealing with consumers not familiar with modern agriculture practices.

Please strongly consider attending.

Field Scouting Basics Workshop a One-Day Course for Crop Scouts

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will offer a Field Scouting Basics Workshop on Thursday, May 10, at the Field Extension Education Laboratory near Boone. Designed for beginning-level crop scouts, the course provides hands-on, in-field experience for the 2018 growing season.

“The goal of the workshop is to provide a hands-on learning opportunity in the field lab, and help participants feel confident when they’re scouting fields in 2018,” said Warren Pierson, program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Scouts are the "eyes and ears" in the field and their reports help drive pest management decisions. Crop scouts often discover other problems in the field, such as nutrient deficiencies, implement malfunctions, and other issues that might not otherwise be noticed during the growing season.”

ISU Extension and Outreach specialists and extension field agronomists provide instruction on the principles of integrated pest management with emphasis on weed, insect and crop disease identification in Iowa corn and soybean production. An overview of basic field scouting skills including sample collection, observation and documentation is also offered.

An optional Agricultural Worker Pesticide Safety Training session is included with registration. Recent updates to the Worker Protection Standard require crop scouts who enter fields where pesticides have been applied to receive training before they begin work and every 12 months.

The Field Scouting Basics Workshop presentation topics and instructors include:
-    Crop scouting tips and tools – Angie Rieck-Hinz, extension field agronomist
-    Corn and soybean growth and development – Mark Licht, extension cropping systems agronomist
-    Weed identification – Bob Hartzler, extension weed specialist
-    Disease identification – Ed Zaworsky, Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic
-    Insect identification – Erin Hodgson, extension entomologist
-    Agricultural Worker Pesticide Safety – Betsy Buffington, extension program specialist

Registration check-in opens at 9:30 a.m. The program starts at 10 a.m. and adjourns at 4 p.m. The optional Worker Protection Safety Training session follows until 5 p.m. Pre-registration is required and must be completed before midnight, May 6. Registration is $100. Additional workshop information and online registration is available at

For assistance with registration, receipts, cancellation or questions on the status of your registration contact ANR Program Services at 515-294-6429 or

Dairy Margin Protection Program Changes: Understanding the Changes, Webinar Offered

Tracey Erickson, SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist

The United States Department of Agriculture made changes to the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for dairy producers within the Bipartisan Budget Act which was signed into law on February 9th, 2018.  These changes included a new signup for 2018 which began April 9th, 2018 and will end on June 1st, 2018.

To learn more about the revised Dairy Milk Protection Program (MPP) producers are invited to attend the upcoming webinar on May 2nd at 11:30 a.m., CST featuring Marin Bozic, University of Minnesota Assistant Professor in Dairy Foods Marketing Economics.  To register for the webinar go to .  After you register, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.  This webinar is hosted jointly by Minnesota Milk, Iowa State Dairy Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association, North Dakota Livestock Alliance, and South Dakota Dairy Producers, and the I-29 Moo-University Collaboration.

It is important to note that the new signup allows producers to make new elections for 2018, even if you had previously signed up that are now retro-active back to January 1, 2018.  Producers should also note that if they previously elected coverage for 2018 they must now make a new election they will not have coverage in 2018.

Producers will need to register and complete form CCC-782, along with electing a coverage level if they want coverage for 2018.  Additionally, a $100 administrative fee will be assessed unless a qualified waiver is available. 

Changes to the Milk Protection Program include the following:
·    Revised premium costs for Tier 1 levels
·    Tier 1 volume was increased from 4 to 5 million pounds
·    Indemnities are now determined monthly
·    There is an exemption for the administrative fee for limited resource, beginning, veteran, and disadvantaged producers.  Dairy operators who were enrolled previous to 2018 and paid the administrative fee may request a refund if they qualify for this exemption.

For additional information about the Dairy Milk Protection Program go to USDA’s web information page at or to access the or to access the Margin Protection Program Decision Tool aid go to .

NCGA Endorses Thune-Brown ARC Improvement and Innovation Act

The National Corn Growers Association today endorsed legislation introduced by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage Program.

"The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Improvement and Innovation Act will make needed improvements to the farm safety net, ensuring ARC can continue to be a reliable risk management program for farmers during times of depressed prices. Based on the recommendation of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) grower-led Risk Management Team, NCGA is pleased to endorse this legislation and looks forward to working with the Senate Agriculture Committee on this measure," said NCGA President Kevin Skunes.

The bill incorporates a number of the NCGA Risk Management Action Team's (RMAT) recommendations to enhance the ARC program's effectiveness in a lower price environment.

Soy Growers Applaud Precision Ag Connectivity Act

The American Soybean Association (ASA) today applauded the Commerce Committee for moving forward the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018. ASA President and Iowa soybean grower John Heisdorffer issued the following statement:

“ASA welcomes the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 and thanks Sens. Wicker and Klobuchar and Representatives Lotta and Loebsack for introducing legislation which understands the unique needs of growers in rural America.

“We urge swift passage in the U.S. Senate as wireless broadband connections in the field support on-farm operations and in turn rural communities. This legislation is important to rural America and soy growers everywhere.”

Soy Growers in D.C. to Talk Tariffs, Importance of Trade with China

American Soybean Association (ASA) farmer leaders from across the country took to Capitol Hill today to talk with lawmakers about the potential impact of Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans. ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer issued the following statement:

“China purchases 61 percent of total U.S. soybean exports, and more than 30 percent of overall U.S. soybean production. In short, trade with China matters and is vital not only to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. soybean producers but the rural economies and communities that depend on them.

“Today we’re asking lawmakers to support their communities and constituents by joining ASA in encouraging the Administration to rethink the Section 301 tariffs and instead, empower soybeans to continue to be part of the solution.

“We’ve come to D.C. and left our fields during planting season to educate and convey the importance of trade with China. Our message is clear: a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans into China will have a lasting effect on every soybean farmer in America.”

Retail Fertilizer Trends - Change Coming to Fertilizer Prices?

According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of April 2018, prices continue to be mostly on the higher side. However, there are signs that perhaps this is finally changing.

For the first time in several months, multiple fertilizers were actually lower in price compared to the month before. Both MAP and urea had slightly lower prices with MAP having an average price of $502/ton and urea $368/ton.

The remaining six fertilizers were again higher compared to last month, but these moves were small. DAP had an average price of $484/ton, potash $353/ton, 10-34-0 $431/ton, anhydrous $508/ton, UAN28 $240/ton and UAN32 $275/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 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Half of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year, with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both potash and urea are now 4% more expensive; MAP is 8% more expensive; and DAP is 11% higher compared to last year.

The remaining four fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year ago. Both 10-34-0 and anhydrous are 1% less expensive, while UAN32 is 2% lower and UAN28 is 3% less expensive looking back a year.

EPA Data Shows Small Refiner Waivers Have Lowered 2016, 2017 RFS Blending Obligations by 1.6 Billion Gallons

EPA’s recent actions in exempting small refineries from their Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations for 2016 and 2017 have effectively lowered the volumetric obligations by at least 1.6 billion gallons, according to an analysis of the agency’s own monthly compliance data by the Renewable Fuels Association. The volume of lost blending obligations for these two years is 10 times the collective volume of lost volume from 2013-2015.

In recent weeks, it’s been widely reported that EPA has exempted as many as 25-30 small refineries from their RFS blending obligations in 2017, and as many as 20 refineries from their 2016 obligations. Despite numerous requests from industry stakeholders, including RFA, and lawmakers for additional information, EPA has not disclosed the exact number of exemptions granted or the volume of required renewable fuel blending that was effectively erased.

However, recently updated data found in EPA’s EMTS database provides some clarity on the volume of gasoline and diesel fuel that was exempted from blending requirements in 2016 and 2017. “The EPA data strongly imply that small refiner exemptions have resulted in effectively lowering the 2017 required volume of renewable fuels by 1.11 billion gallons, or 6%. The data also show that small refiner exemptions also effectively reduced the 2016 RFS requirement by 523 million gallons,” according to the analysis.

Based on EPA’s EMTS database, the actual annual consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel in 2013-2015 was very close to the volume of gasoline and diesel fuel obligated for RFS compliance, as reported by obligated parties. “This means RFS blending obligations applied to virtually every gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel produced and consumed in the United States,” the analysis explained. “However, something clearly changed in 2016 and 2017. The EPA data show large discrepancies between actual gasoline and diesel consumption and the volumes obligated for renewable fuel blending as reported by obligated parties. The difference was 5.2 billion gallons in 2016, virtually doubling to 10.3 billion gallons in 2017. The only reasonable explanation for these large discrepancies between actual gasoline/diesel consumption and the volume of gasoline/diesel obligated for renewable fuel blending is the surge in small refiner exemption approvals,” the analysis found.

“This analysis, based by EPA’s own data, confirms our concerns and sheds light on the scope and magnitude of Administrator Pruitt’s campaign to undermine the RFS,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “While EPA refuses to publicly confirm the details surrounding the numerous small refiner waivers it has issued, this data speaks for itself, showing the demand destruction that has resulted from Administrator Pruitt’s secret small refiner bailouts. Combined with the PES bankruptcy settlement and EPA’s failure to enforce the 2016 RVO as remanded by the courts, Administrator Pruitt’s actions have erased demand for more than 2 billion RINs. These moves are hurting America’s biofuel producers, farmers, and ultimately consumers, and they stand in direct opposition to President Trump’s commitment to protect the RFS.”

FDA Commissioner Pledges More Focus on Mislabeled Imitation Dairy Foods

 U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told a Senate panel on Tuesday that federal standards define milk as a product sourced from animals, and said his agency would be “taking a very close and fresh look” at imitation, plant-derived foods labeled with dairy-specific terms.

In response to questions from Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing yesterday, Dr. Gottlieb also admitted that the agency has “exercised enforcement discretion” in not holding food marketers to that standard, as a variety of plant-based foods using dairy-specific terms have proliferated in the marketplace in the past two decades.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said that the FDA “must stop turning a blind eye toward violations of food labeling laws. It needs to use more enforcement, and less discretion, as dozens of brands flagrantly violate government requirements.” NMPF has repeatedly urged federal regulators to enforce U.S. food labeling laws that exclude the ability of plant-derived foods from using the term, as do other nations that also have regulations clearly defining milk.

Mulhern thanked Baldwin “for holding the FDA accountable for its inaction on this matter, and imploring the FDA to do its job.” Last year, Baldwin introduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act, legislation that would compel the FDA to adopt a timetable for taking enforcement action against mislabeled imitation dairy products. More recently, the omnibus spending bill Congress approved last month contains language expressing its concern that dairy labeling standards need to be properly enforced.

Gottlieb told Baldwin that the agency “is committed to taking a fresh look about what we’re doing here” in the area of standards of identity.” He said he “has actively stepped into this issue,” having heard the concerns of Baldwin and NMPF about the lax regulatory environment surrounding misbranded plant products using terms such as “milk,” “yogurt,” “cheese” and “ice cream.”

He added that the agency is requesting more information to inform its next steps. Baldwin told Gottlieb that there is no need “for further review or study.  What we need is the FDA to act, and to issue guidance on enforcement of its existing dairy standards of identity.”

Dairy Industry Commends Congress’ Call for NAFTA Action on Canada’s Dairy Policies

U.S. dairy groups today commended the bipartisan efforts of 68 members of Congress who encouraged the U.S. Trade Representative to eliminate Canada’s tariffs on U.S. dairy exports and its protectionist pricing policies during the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations. The bipartisan coalition of members of Congress, representing states on both coasts and in the Midwest, sent a letter yesterday to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, urging him to demand an end to Canada’s trade-distorting Class 7 pricing program, as well as its dairy tariffs, which have created an unfair playing field and essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products.

In the letter, Reps. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., Ron Kind, R-Wis., Chris Collins, R-N.Y., Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and 64 additional representatives expressed their concerns about Canada’s unfair trade practices on behalf of America’s 40,000 dairy farmers and the nearly 3 million workers whose jobs are tied to dairy product manufacturing. Canada has imposed stiff tariffs of 200 percent to 300 percent on U.S. dairy exports for many years.

“We commend the efforts of these congressmen for tackling Canada’s ever-expanding list of restrictive trade policies, which have had a negative impact on our U.S. dairy industry and the U.S. economy overall,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “Canada’s Class 7 milk pricing policy, implemented 14 months ago, artificially lowers milk ingredient prices and incentivizes the substitution of domestic Canadian dairy ingredients for imported ingredients. It also promotes the dumping of Canadian proteins onto world markets at below-market prices.”

“Our dairy farmers are facing dire economic conditions this year, and the Canadian pricing scheme and tariffs are curtailing much-needed markets for U.S. dairy products. NAFTA should not be concluded without securing provisions that curb Class 7 and any other trade-distorting pricing scheme to ensure that U.S. dairy products can compete fairly in Canada, as well as in other markets,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “It is time to for Canada to eliminate all dairy tariffs so we can have true free trade across North America for all commodities.”

“It is critical that the U.S. pursue an aggressive strategy to stop Canada’s ongoing and intentional disregard of its trade commitments to the harm of U.S. dairy farmers and exporters. Otherwise, Canada’s new policies will chip away not only at the current trade with Canada but also at our trade surpluses to other markets that import milk powder as well,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

With a level playing field in export markets, the U.S. dairy industry will continue to keep and create jobs in states across the country. The industry supports nearly 3 million workers, generates more than $39 billion in direct wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $200 billion, according to IDFA’s economic impact tool, Dairy Delivers.