Monday, April 30, 2018

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.

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