Friday, April 6, 2018

Thursday April 5 Ag News

National Drought Summary for April 3, 2018
With a blocking ridge of high pressure anchored over the Southwest, a series of cold fronts tracked across the eastern two-thirds of the Nation. The fronts, however, slowed their southeastward advance across the South and Southeast, and after picking up Gulf moisture, produced numerous and widespread showers and thunderstorms with heavy precipitation (more than 2 inches) from the southern Great Plains northeastward into the northern Appalachians. This was similar to the weather pattern back in mid- to late February when the lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys were deluged. Lighter precipitation also occurred across the northern halves of the Rockies and Plains, the upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, western New England, the central Gulf Coast States, and along the Pacific Northwest Coast. Little or no precipitation fell on the remainder of the Far West, Southwest, southern halves of the Rockies and High Plains, western Corn Belt, along the eastern Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, and most of Alaska. Weekly temperatures averaged below normal in the northern Rockies, northern and central Plains, Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and Carolinas, and above-normal in the Far West, Southwest, southern Plains, along the Gulf Coast, and in northern New England. In Alaska, readings were much-above normal in western and northern sections and near to below normal in southern and eastern portions. Most of Hawaii and Puerto Rico observed showery weather.


Light to moderate precipitation (0.5-1.5” liquid equivalence) fell across central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and the UP of Michigan, increasing the snow cover in the region and decreasing the short-term deficiencies. With most tools out to 6-months showing near or wet conditions, D0 was removed from central and southeastern Wisconsin and part of the UP of Michigan, but left where the same indices showed D0-D1. The small D0-D1 in northern Minnesota was dry, but is covered under a blanket of snow with frozen ground and will be reassessed once conditions thaw. Elsewhere, southern Iowa and northern and western Missouri had lingering drought, and some of these locations received 0.5-1 inches of precipitation. With moderate to heavy precipitation occurring in mid-February and lighter amounts during March, this week’s additional precipitation was enough to erase deficits at 90-days and create short-term surpluses. Accordingly, D0 was removed from southwestern and along the northern Missouri D0 edge, along with a small area of D1 improved to D0 in northeastern Missouri. Elsewhere in the Midwest, there was no prior dryness or drought, and 2018’s wet pattern continued this week.

High Plains

The persistent fall and winter pattern of above-normal precipitation and subnormal temperatures continued this week across Montana, Wyoming, and the western Dakotas, building up the existing snow cover and gradually providing additional relief from long-term drought. In eastern Montana, SPIs out to 9-months were wet except in the extreme northeastern part of the state (Daniels and Sheridan counties) where D2 lingered. Similarly in extreme western Dakotas and northeastern Wyoming, additional precipitation allowed for a slight nudge of the D0-D2 areas to the east (improvement). However, since this drought goes back to 12-15 months ago, it will take more precipitation to remove these long-term deficits (6-10 inches) and subsoil impacts where D1 and D2 are currently depicted, hopefully during the upcoming wet season (April-July). In central and eastern North Dakota where the drought was short-term, snow totals of 1-2” in the central and 4-6” in the east added to 90-day surpluses. Even though soil moisture conditions are less than desired (ground barely frozen at 4” depth), 90-day percent of normal precipitation has shown significant improvement. Therefore, some D1 was improved to D0 in central parts of the state while D0 was erased from eastern areas. In Nebraska, moderate snows fell across southern sections of the state, but D0 was kept as subsoil dryness lingered due to frozen ground earlier in the year that limited infiltration of melting snow or rain. As conditions thaw and additional storms occur, infiltration should increase. Farther south in Kansas, little or no precipitation meant another week of growing deficits, and based upon indices going out to a year, D3 conditions were common in central and northeastern portions of the state; therefore D3 was expanded northeastward.

Looking Ahead

During April 5-9, 2018, unseasonably heavy precipitation (2-6 inches) is expected in western sections of Washington, Oregon, and the northern half of California, plus the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, with lesser amounts in the remainder of the Northwest and northern and central Rockies. Unfortunately, a sharp cutoff of precipitation (dry) is forecast for southern California, southern Nevada, and much of Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas. Light precipitation (less than half an inch) is predicted across the northern half of the Plains, Midwest, and southern Great Plains, with greater totals (1-3 inches) in the lower Mississippi Valley, Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and New England. Temperatures will average above-normal west of the Rockies, southern Texas, and Florida, and below-normal east of the Rockies except along the Gulf Coast.

For the ensuing 5 days (April 10-14), odds favor above-median precipitation for much of the Far West, northern thirds of the Rockies and Plains, Midwest, lower Mississippi Valley, New England, and southern Florida, with sub-median totals in the Southwest and south-central High Plains, Southeast, and northern Alaska. Chances for sub-median temperatures are likely across the northern half of the Nation, but especially in the upper Midwest and along the Northeast Coast. A tilt toward above-median readings are expected in the Southwest, southern Rockies, southern half of the Plains, southern Florida, and southern Alaska.

Sasse on Trump's Trade War

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, who represents one of the most pro-trade states in the country, issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s new $100 billion of tariffs.

“Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he's even half-serious, this is nuts. China is guilty of many things, but the President has no actual plan to win right now. He’s threatening to light American agriculture on fire. Let’s absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a plan that punishes them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”

Midwest Dairy Elects Leadership

Allen Merrill, a dairy farmer from Parker, South Dakota, was re-elected chairman of Midwest Dairy during the organization’s annual meeting held in conjunction with the Western Dairy Forum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Elections for the Corporate board officer team also were held. Charles Krause, Buffalo, Minnesota, was re-elected first vice chairman; Dan Hotvedt, Decorah, Iowa, was elected second vice chairman; Lowell Mueller, Hooper, Nebraska, was re-elected secretary; and Barb Liebenstein, Dundas, Minnesota, was elected treasurer.

New members elected by their Divisions to the Midwest Dairy Corporate board include:
Kevin Buss, Hutchinson, Minnesota;
Karen Kasper, Owatonna, Minnesota;
Rita Mosset, Linton, North Dakota; and
Annelies Seffrood, Summit, South Dakota.

Division board officers and new members include:

Iowa Division

Chairman – Dan Hotvedt, Decorah;
Vice Chairman – Bruce Brockshus, Ocheyedan;
Secretary – Jonna Schutte, Monona; and
Treasurer – Larry Shover, Delhi.
Kelly Cunningham, Atlantic; Stephanie Dykshorn, Trenton; Madison Roth, Wayland; and Matt Schelling, Orange City; were seated as new members of the Iowa Division board.

Nebraska Division

Chairman – Marry Temme, Wayne;
Vice Chairman – Joyce Racicky, Mason City; and
Secretary/Treasurer – Deb Eschliman, Ericson.
Jodi Cast, Beaver Crossing, was seated as a new member of the Nebraska Division board.

Day 2 NE FFA Convention

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention second general session took place on April 5, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with state officer Lydia Vinton serving as the session chairperson.

The keynote address was presented by Leslie McCuiston, the 2017 Pig Farmer of the Year.  She shared a message of how becoming a leader doesn’t simply begin when we receive a title.  “Look at leadership a little differently.  Sit next to the kid who doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch,” she told the audience.

Nebraska FFA then welcomed state officers from the Illinois, North Carolina, Kansas, and Iowa associations to give remarks. 

Many chapters were recognized for their programming in the areas of growing leaders, building communities, and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are judged by a series of questions on the quality of innovativeness of ideas and accomplishing pre-determined goals.  These awards are sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Association of Natural Resource Districts, and Frank Fleecs.

State officer Isabelle Stewart from the Lakeview FFA Chapter gave her retiring address entitled “Find the Good” during the second general session, sharing her inspiring story about choosing to find joy in challenging situations. She remarked, “How can we be the good? It can be as simple as telling someone the good that we see in them.”

Afternoon session

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention third general session took place on April 5, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with State Officer Hailey Coufal serving as the session chairperson.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Dr. Mark Balschweid on behalf of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to give remarks.  Dr. Balschweid shared information about experiences that the ALEC department provides students preparing for careers in the human side of agriculture.

Ag Champions Recognition
The Nebraska Corn Board sponsors the Ag Champions program, which encourages FFA members to become advocates for agriculture.  This year, FFA members created digital platforms to share an agricultural topic of their choosing.  Each of the six winners will receive a $500 scholarship for their advocacy efforts. Students recognized were:
Kylie Gana, Norris
Tayte Jussel, O’Neill
Justin Henzlik, North Bend

State Officer Kelli Mashino gave her retiring address entitled “Your Sun Will Still Shine” during the third general session. She encouraged all to learn, accept, and own what happens when our perfect vision is ruptured.  “We must own who we are and be proud of it,” Kelli encouraged.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau recognizes two outstanding Teachers and Advisors each year as the Nebraska Farm Bureau Teacher and Advisor of the Year Award recipients. Teachers receiving this award have displayed outstanding leadership in their school and community, influenced students to purposefully begin their SAE programs, and create a learning community through relationships with other teachers, community members, students and industry leaders. The 2018 Nebraska Farm Bureau Teacher and Advisor of the Year Award recipients are Casey Carriker of the Central agricultural education program, and Ashton Bohling of the Auburn agricultural education program.

Evening session

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention fourth general session took place on April 5, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with State Officer Brock Vetick serving as the session chairperson.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Governor Ricketts to give remarks. Governor Ricketts shared information about the importance of agriculture to Nebraska, and the role of FFA members in the future of agriculture. “Agriculture is how we are going to grow our state, and you are part of agriculture,” he shared.

I Believe in the Future of Ag
Corporate sponsors have partnered with the Nebraska FFA Foundation for the 2016-17 I Believe in the Future of Agriculture campaign. In response to their challenge, FFA chapters raised $343,402.72 at the local level. I Believe sponsors have offered up to $35,000 in matching funds. As part of this program, local supporters can donate to their local FFA chapter through the Nebraska FFA Foundation. The designated chapter will receive 100% of the money and a portion of the $35,000 matching fund money. Local chapters are using their money for a variety of innovative projects in their communities and schools. The following chapters were recognized for their outstanding efforts and participation in the “I Believe” campaign.
Oakland Craig
McCool Junction
West Holt
Shelby-Rising City

State Officer Jessica Rudolph gave her retiring address entitled “The World Needs Your Love” during the second general session. She encouraged listeners to take care of themselves in order to serve others.  Jessica encouraged the audience to “Feed yourself and give your love to the world.”

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award was presented to Mr. Dana Anderson of Aurora for his outstanding dedication as an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor. A student commented on Mr. Anderson’s leadership helping students through grief as the chapter tragically lost a member.

The keynote speaker was the 2017-2018 National FFA Southern Region Vice President Gracie Furnish. She encouraged listeners to find the opportunities that come when we are told “no.”

The 2018 NE FFA Convention wraps up Friday in Lincoln.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Small grains planted last fall are greening up and may be ready to graze in a few weeks.  This spring, let’s make sure these pastures are productive and safe.

               Did you look ahead and plant rye or triticale or even wheat last fall to use as early pasture this spring?  If so, you soon will be rewarded.  Before long these fields will be ready to graze.

               These small grain pastures will relieve you from feeding hay, get your animals out onto clean green grass, and produce excellent gains.  They’ll also help you wait longer before turning onto your other pastures, giving them a chance to have good growth before grazing.

               To maximize grazing from small grain pastures, wait until grass is 4 to 8 inches tall before starting to graze.  Then stock heavily enough to maintain plant height between 6 and 12 inches.  To accomplish this, either adjust the number of animals according to grass growth or sub-divide the pasture into smaller paddocks and graze rotationally.  I also like to provide some good grass hay in these lush pastures to help stabilize the animal’s digestive system.  Grass stands, soils, fertility, and moisture all will affect stocking rate, so adjust stock numbers for your conditions.  With careful management and proper stocking, you could graze all the way to mid-June.

               One concern when grazing small grain pasture is grass tetany.  Tetany is more common in lactating cows than in dry cows or young stock.  Reduce tetany risk by starting to feed magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses, or grain at least a couple weeks before starting to graze.  Monitor consumption carefully and adjust the mixture so cattle consume about one-quarter pound of magnesium oxide per cow each week.    

               Small grain pastures can be convenient and profitable.  Just use good management to optimize production and prevent livestock losses.


               Got your herbicides selected for your corn, beans, and other crops?  Better double check if a cover crop, pasture, or hay planting is a possibility during the next year and a half.

               Many of our biggest success stories with forage and pasture crops recently have come from using annual forages.  No matter when you could use something to graze, including winter, an annual forage could be found that would work well if managed properly.

               Many times a small grain like oats or rye fit our needs.  Other times it’s been a brassica like turnips, forage rape, or radishes.  Once in a while we’ve used millets.

               But there have been frustrations.  One of the biggest frustrations has been herbicide limitations.  Many forages are affected by herbicide carryover, such as from atrazine.  Often we identify a cover crop or a forage to plant but the risk of failure is too high due to herbicides.  This problem isn’t limited to annual forages, either.  Perennial grasses and alfalfa also are sensitive to herbicide carryover.

               Legal restrictions on replanting and crop rotations also cause herbicide limitations.  With many herbicides it may be okay to plant a cover crop, but that cover crop cannot be used legally as a forage.

               So, is this important to you?  Do you want to fly rye or turnip seed into your standing corn later this year for extra fall pasture?  How about planting triticale this fall or oats next spring?  Or maybe irrigated pasture or alfalfa?

               These options may not be available if you use many common herbicides.  So keep you options open.  Rethink your herbicide plans.  Maybe you can control weeds and maintain the flexibility to plant any forage just by making a small change in the herbicides you use now.

               Then you, too, can build a success story from annual forages.


Putting the Tools to Use: Buying Your Next Bull webinar

Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7 p.m. CT

The fourth and final webinar in the genetics webinar series puts all of the genetic concepts covered in the first three seminars to work as attendees go to a virtual bull sale and select the best bull from a sale catalog for two distinct production scenarios. Participants will receive a sale catalog via email and must decide which bull to purchase for each scenario, and then compare results with all of the other participants on the webinar. Leading the discussion will be Matt Spangler, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Extension Beef Genetics Specialist at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Bob Weaber, Ph.D., Professor and Beef Extension Specialist, at Kansas State University, and the entire eBEEF team will join in the discussion.

If you missed the last three webinars in this 4-part genetics series which focused on EPDs and Indexes be sure to find the link at WWW.NCBA.ORG



Our state has enjoyed a long-standing and prosperous relationship with China. Iowa corn farmers have worked for decades to support fair and open trade practices because we understand that trade is a two-way street. Yet, we have operated in a tense trade policy environment with China for several years and have worked hard to diversify our customer base to create new demand for U.S. corn in all forms.

The retaliatory actions by China did not come unexpectedly. No one doubted China would punch back with tariffs. The imposition of tariffs on U.S. ag exports will make American farmers less competitive at a time when Iowa farmers already anticipate another year of diminished income.

Our message to President Trump and his administration remains decidedly clear. We cannot lose this market. Iowa’s farm families must not be collateral damage in a trade dispute. The impact of these potential tariffs does not hurt just one agricultural sector or commodity but threatens the whole industry and Iowa stands at the epicenter.

Corn farmers continue to maintain constant engagement with the Administration and our trade partners in China. We remain committed to working long-term in the China marketplace. We do have a window of opportunity to reach a mutually beneficial trade position with China before the deadline for the tariffs nears. We need the administration to understand the implications for agriculture and to come to the negotiating table with China. We need policies that give farmers consistent access to markets and a level global playing field.

Some animal viruses may survive in imported feed ingredients

A journey over land and sea may not keep animal diseases away.

Researchers from South Dakota State University, Pipestone Veterinary Services in Minnesota and Kansas State University found that seven of the 11 animal viruses tested can potentially survive the transglobal journey from Asia or Europe to the United States in at least two commonly imported feed ingredients. The scientists examined virus survivability in 11 imported feed ingredients and products by replicating the environmental conditions in shipping containers.

“The findings of this study show that feed biosecurity should be a major priority for pork producers and ultimately, the livestock industry,” said assistant professor Diego Diel, DVM who led the SDSU team. Scott Dee, DVM, director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services, said, “For the first time, we have data to support that certain feed ingredients are risk factors for moving viruses between farms and around the world. ”Diel and his team at the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory assessed the ability of 10 viruses to survive the 37-day journey from Beijing, China, to Des Moines, Iowa. One postdoctoral researcher, three research associates and a microbiologist worked on the project.

Kansas State University, which has a Level 3 biosecurity laboratory, evaluated the ability of African swine fever virus to survive the 30-day trip from Warsaw, Poland, to Des Moines.

In previous work, Dee and ADRDL researchers discovered that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) can survive the simulated trip from Beijing to Des Moines in five feed ingredients—vitamin D, lysine, choline and organic and conventional soybean meal. That National Pork Board-funded research led to this larger study, which is supported by the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC). The study results are published in the March 20 issue of PLOS ONE at
Paul Sundberg, DVM, SHIC executive director, said, “This is foundational research. Dr. Diel and Dr. Dee identified a new avenue through which we may be transporting pathogens around the country and the world.” The researchers are now looking for cost-effective ways to mitigate this risk through continuing support from SHIC.

Identifying high-risk ingredients
Dee worked with a colleague at the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Sciences to expand the list of ingredients beyond those in the PEDV study. The researchers added soy cake and dried distillers grain solids (DDGS), moist and dry dog food, and moist cat food. The use of feline calici virus and canine distemper as surrogate viruses further supported inclusion of these ingredients, he explained.

Because the U.S.  also imports sausage casings, a product of pork origin, from Asia, the researchers added this product to the most recent study.

 “We’re in a global economy; people and products are moving around the world,” Sundberg said. More than 47,000 tons of imported feed ingredients arrived in San Francisco from China in 2016, according to the International Trade Commission Harmonized Tariff Schedule. 

Six viruses survived in conventional soybean meal, while only two did so in organic soybean meal. Though the researchers don’t know what accounts for this difference, Diel said preliminary analysis showed the organic soybean meal had a higher fat content and lower protein content.

Conventional soybean meal is treated with hexane, while the organic soybean meal was not, Dee explained. Because of the processing method used, the organic meal tested had a high fat content and lower protein level. “Those ingredients with higher protein levels seemed to be more conducive to virus survival,” he said.

Four viruses survived in soy oil cake, which is imported from China in the largest quantities of any of the ingredients evaluated.  Only two viruses survived in DDGS, which ranks second among imported ingredients.

Four viruses survived in sausage casings. The amount of this processed product returning to the United States has quadrupled from 2012 to 2016.

Pinpointing key viruses
Due to the inability to work with certain target pathogens, surrogate viruses were used to study closely related and structurally similar viruses. For foot-and-mouth disease, Senecavirus A was studied. For classical swine fever, bovine virus diarrhea was reviewed. For pseudorabies virus, bovine herpes virus-1 was the surrogate. For nipah virus, canine distemper virus was substituted. For swine vesicular disease, research focused on porcine sapelovirus. And for vesicular exanthema virus, feline calicivirus was the surrogate.

“Certain ingredients seem to provide an ideal matrix for virus survival, and our study identified some of the high risk combinations of viruses and ingredients,” Diel explained. The SDSU team found viable Senecavirus A, the surrogate for foot-and-mouth disease, survived in all the ingredients except organic soybean meal. In addition, porcine sapelovirus, a surrogate for swine vesicular disease, survived in all ingredients except DDGS and choline.

African swine fever survived in eight ingredients. It was the only virus that survived the simulated trip without a feed matrix. Furthermore, when Iowa State researchers analyzed virus half-life, they found that meal African swine fever was most stable of the three viruses in conventional soybean.

The researchers also found that PRRSV can be added to PEDV as a pathogen circulating among swine in the United States that can survive the simulated trip from China and it did so in conventional soybean meal and DDGS.  “That was really surprising because PRSSV is quite unstable,” Dee said.

“Though the original goal was to assess potential for transboundary movement, there are also implications for pathogen transport at the regional or national level,” Diel said.

“This research gives us a model to uncover potential pathways for pathogen transport,” Sundberg said. “Publishing the research in a peer-reviewed journal is extremely important. We want scientists to scrutinize it, repeat it and give constructive criticism. This underscores the importance and the credibility of the results and increases confidence in the outcomes.”

Dee said agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown interest.

“We all need to consider the implications of this research and then to understand if this potential transport could lead to transmission to animals and what we need to do next,” Sundberg said. “We must work together with government agencies and the feed industry to protect U.S. meat protein agriculture.”

Saturated Buffers Topic of Iowa Learning Farms Webinar

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar about the latest research, installation standards and best management practices for saturated buffers on April 18 at 12 p.m.

Saturated buffers are the newest edge-of-field practice for removing nitrate from tile-drained fields. Dan Jaynes, research soil scientist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (USDA-ARS), will share the latest research and installation standards for saturated buffers. The presentation will provide a brief overview of the practice, share research results from several saturated buffers and cover some of the recent changes in the practice standard.

"Saturated buffers are an inexpensive and effective practice for removing nitrate from tile drainage when properly located and designed," said Jaynes. Jaynes has spent the past 20 years researching both in-field and edge-of-field practices for reducing the loss of nitrate from tile drained corn fields while maintaining yields and soil health.

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar series takes place on the third Wednesday of the month. To watch, go to shortly before 12 p.m. on April 18 and log in through the "guest" option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for watching at any time at

CHS reports a net income of $346.7 million for the first half of fiscal 2018

CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP, CHSCO, CHSCN, CHSCM, CHSCL), the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $346.7 million for the first half of its 2018 fiscal year (six-month period ended Feb. 28, 2018), compared to net income of $223.7 million for the same time period a year ago.

Consolidated revenues for the first half of fiscal 2018 were $14.9 billion, down from $15.4 billion for the first half of fiscal 2017. Pretax income was $185.0 million and $249.1 million for the first half of fiscal 2018 and 2017, respectively.

"CHS made meaningful progress in the first half of fiscal year 2018 as we continue to position CHS for higher performance," said CHS President and CEO Jay Debertin. "The global environment for our businesses serving agriculture remains challenged and we continue to drive towards our priorities of better efficiency, strengthening relationships, and a more focused business portfolio.  We have more work to do and we are seeing improvement that will make us a stronger company."

For the second quarter of fiscal 2018 (Dec. 1, 2017 through Feb. 28, 2018), CHS reported net income of $166.7 million compared with earnings of $14.6 million for the same period in fiscal 2017. Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2018 were $6.9 billion, down from $7.3 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2017.

Results for the quarter were attributed to:
    Increased margins at the Company's refineries.
    Decreased volumes and margins within the Ag segment.
    A significant tax benefit recorded during the quarter related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

For the first half of fiscal 2018, reporting segment results include:

    Energy generated pretax income of $122.1 million during the first half compared to $86.6 million during the same period last year.
    The $35.5 million increase reflects improved market conditions in the company's refined fuels business, primarily driven by wider manufacturing margins in our refining operation.

    The Ag segment, which includes domestic and global grain marketing and crop nutrients businesses, renewable fuels, local retail operations and processing and food ingredients, generated pretax income of $43.6 million for the six months ending Feb. 28, 2018. That compares to $99.9 million for the same period the previous fiscal year.
    The $56.3 million decrease was primarily the result of a decline in grain and oilseed volumes in the grain marketing and country operations businesses, and lower prices across the majority of the Ag sub-segments.

Nitrogen Production
    This segment is comprised of the Company's investment in CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC (CF Nitrogen) and generated pretax income of $10.2 million during the first half of fiscal 2018 compared to $32.4 million during the same time in fiscal 2017.
    The $22.3 million decrease in earnings was primarily due to a gain in fiscal 2017 of $29.1 million associated with an embedded derivative asset that did not reoccur in fiscal 2018. This was partially offset by improved prices on urea, produced by CF Nitrogen.

Corporate and Other
    This category is primarily comprised of the company's wheat milling joint venture (Ardent Mills), its investment in Ventura Foods, LLC (Ventura Foods) and its financing, hedging and insurance operations. Corporate and Other generated pretax income of $9.1 million in the first half of 2018 compared to $30.2 million for the same period of fiscal 2017.
    The $21.1 million decrease was due to reduced interest revenue from the company's financing business resulting from the sale of loans receivable and lower earnings from our investment in Ventura Foods.

NCGA Grant Supports State Educational Events for Beef Producers

The National Corn Growers Association is stepping up to support the education of U.S. beef producers in states around the country. The assistance is being provided through a grant program offered to state affiliates of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association that conduct Cattlemen’s Education Series events.

The Cattlemen’s Education Series is a collaborative effort to advance grassroots education on topics that improve cattle production efficiency, profitability and sustainability. The partnership builds on other successful programs currently in NCBA’s Producer Education portfolio, such as Stockmanship & Stewardship, Cattlemen’s College and the Cattlemen’s Webinar Series. The Cattlemen’s Education Series provides grants for state affiliates to host timely and relevant education sessions for their local members.

“Corn plays an important role in the cattle industry, and NCGA is excited about this opportunity to help enhance cattle operations through the Cattlemen’s Education Series,” according to Bruce Peterson, chairman of NCGA’s Feed Fuel and Industrial Action Team. “Partnering with NCBA on this project will not only provide a benefit to cattle producers, it will also provide an opportunity to share research on the value corn and corn based feed ingredients provide within feed rations.  The series demonstrates the importance of collaboration within agriculture, as it allows corn farmers to directly support and interact with their cattle industry peers.”

NCBA state affiliates will be eligible to apply for grants ranging in value from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on a variety of factors, including event participation and membership numbers. Topics eligible for grants will be developed as a partnership between NCBA and NCGA.

US Ethanol Exports Record High in Feb.

 Ethanol exports from the United States reached a record high in February of 218.7 million gallons, up 148% from January, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, with the trade group citing the record after reviewing government statistics. The previous record high was reached in December 2011.

For the fourth consecutive month, Brazil was the top destination market for U.S. ethanol exports, which reached a record high of 103.2 million gallons.

China was the second-largest destination point, importing 33.1 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in February, which is a 22-month high.

Canada took in the third most ethanol exported by the United States at 22.0 million gallons, and Singapore was fourth with 14.8 million gallons.

For the first two months of 2018, U.S. ethanol exports were up 18% from a year ago.

U.S. exports of biodiesel totaled 14,550.8 metric tons in February, up 80% from a year ago. Canada was the top destination in February, taking 49% of U.S. exports while Peru was second with 25%. So far in 2018, U.S. exports of biodiesel are up 104% from a year ago.

U.S. exports of distillers grains totaled 835,707 metric tons in February, down 22% from a year ago. Mexico was the top export destination again in February, accounting for 22% of the total and followed by Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand. The first two months of distillers grains exports were down 14% in 2018 from a year ago.

ASA Welcomes USDA Announcement on Plant Breeding Innovations

The American Soybean Association (ASA) registered strong support of a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it has no plans to regulate plants that could be developed through traditional breeding techniques, including genome editing. ASA President John Heisdorffer, a farmer from Keota, Iowa, issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“ASA commends Secretary Perdue and USDA for their decision to clarify that plant breeding innovations will be treated in a similar manner as plants developed through traditional breeding methods. This science-based approach encourages innovation and economic development. Farmers, small agribusinesses, researchers, and others will have the exciting opportunity to pursue new and advanced ways to grow our food, fight plant pests and disease, reduce reliance of fertilizers and other resources, and respond to consumer demands to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.

“It will also facilitate the development of new and beneficial crop traits by reducing the cost and time required to bring products to the marketplace. This, in turn, will give a boost to continuing efforts to meet the food needs of the world’s growing population, estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

“At the same time, making the regulatory process more predictable for new technologies will require close coordination between APHIS and EPA and FDA, the agencies that share responsibility under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, to prevent any bottlenecks. This decision also will require the federal government to take a lead role in working with other countries to ensure that they adopt science-based regulatory systems that are consistent with that of the U.S. This effort must be a top priority for the administration and pursued without delay to bring about a coherent international regulatory environment in which these gene-edited commodities will not face unnecessary hurdles in the global supply chain.

“We appreciate USDA’s role in the regulation of biotechnology and Secretary Perdue’s confirmation that plant breeding innovations, which can be developed through traditional breeding techniques, are separate and distinct in both the science and risk to plant health. By taking this science- and risk-based approach, it allows USDA to focus its time and resources on those plant varieties that actually could pose a risk to plant health.

“Consumer interest in how their food is produced continues to evolve, and it is important that we evolve similarly to meet those needs, and that our rules and regulations reflect that trend. ASA stands ready to participate in efforts by the administration to move ahead with this initiative in the coming weeks and months.”

USGC Releases Online 2017 Year In Review

The past year included opportunities and challenges for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) staff, membership and partners. The Council has worked to capture a collection of market stories that illustrate how exports in 2017 reflect shifting dynamics in world markets and global policy and is now presenting these online with its annual year in review. 

The new microsite - - includes information on worldwide initiatives as well as specific activities related to corn, sorghum, barley, distiller’s dried grains with solubes (DDGS) and ethanol.

For example, Mexico set a new record for U.S. corn imports as the top buyer, and the story of developing an integrated market between U.S. barley and Mexican beer was one of the year’s most popular. These successes were achieved in spite of significant uncertainty as modernization talks began for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and as Mexico’s buyers began considering alternative grain suppliers.

The Council worked to resolve a major trade disruption in Vietnam, while at the same time focusing on helping end-users around the world determine how to best incorporate U.S. DDGS into their rations. Efforts led to significant sales diversification with a total of 54 countries buying the ethanol co-product.

Additionally, as a result of the Council’s active global engagement and the competitiveness of U.S. ethanol, nearly 1.4 billion gallons were exported worldwide to 76 countries, an all-time record. Through the successful Ethanol Summit of the Americas, the Council connected domestic stakeholders with government and industry representatives, forming connections already yielding results.

These successes, and more described on the microsite, are a result of the Council’s work to support U.S. producers and agribusinesses by identifying short-term market opportunities and building long-term demand for U.S. coarse grains and co-products, aided by an intense focus on trade policy issues. These efforts are supported by the Council’s diverse membership that provides critical support by helping identify issues, provide valuable information and implement solutions.

View the full 2017 year in review at

Smithfield Foods Announces Partnership with Anuvia™ Plant Nutrients to Develop and Market Bio-Based Sustainable Fertilizer Products

Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Anuvia™ Plant Nutrients are pleased to announce a new partnership to create sustainable fertilizer from renewable biological materials collected from manure treatment systems at Smithfield’s hog farms. This project is part of Smithfield Renewables, the company’s new platform dedicated to unifying and accelerating its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts.

The project reuses organic matter found in hog manure to create a commercial-grade fertilizer that is higher in nutrient concentration than the original organic materials. Farmers are able to better manage nutrient ratios while using less fertilizer by applying precisely what they need for optimal plant growth. Because Anuvia’s products contain organic matter, nutrient release is more controlled, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller environmental footprint.

Anuvia will utilize remnant solids from Smithfield that accumulate over time at the bottom of the anaerobic lagoons, basins designed and certified to treat and store the manure on hog farms. Anuvia, which specializes in the transformation of organic materials into enhanced efficiency fertilizer products, will manufacture and sell these commercial-grade fertilizer products to farmers nationwide.

“Through Smithfield Renewables, we are aggressively pursuing opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint while creating value,” said Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables. “Along with projects that transform biogas into renewable natural gas, this is another example of how we are tackling this goal on our hog farms.”

“This is the beginning of a partnership based on a shared vision that will positively impact livestock and crop production,” says Amy Yoder, Anuvia Plant Nutrients CEO. “Our proprietary manufacturing process which converts organic waste into novel bio-based plant nutrients is both environmentally friendly and sustainable. Our products reduce leaching and put organic matter back in the soil. Our process is a prototype for a circular economy as we reclaim organic waste, convert and reuse on cropland. This relationship provides a new sustainable way for Smithfield to return its remnant solids back to the land for use on the crops grown to feed the hogs. The impact of this is extremely significant for hog production and the livestock industry. We look forward to helping achieve both Smithfield’s and Anuvia’s environmental goals.” 

Company-owned and contract hog farms in North Carolina will participate in this project. Smithfield will collect and begin the process by de-watering the waste solids before providing the remnants to Anuvia. Once acquired, Anuvia will pick-up and transport the material to their processing plant to create the fertilizer.

 CWT-Assisted Cheese, Butter Sales Contracts Total 13.5 Million Pounds in March

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) assisted member cooperatives in securing 78 contracts last month to sell 10.64 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 2.92 million pounds of butter to customers in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Middle East. The product will be shipped to customers in 12 countries in five regions of the world during the months of March-June 2018.

These contracts bring the 2018 total of the CWT-assisted product sales contracts to 29.19 million pounds of cheese, up 23% from the first three months of 2017, and 5.61 million pounds of butter, up 293%. These transactions will move the equivalent of 395.46 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis overseas.

Helping CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program in the long-term expands the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. CWT is preparing more detailed education materials for member use as they discuss the future role of the program.

 2018 Enrollment for MPP Dairy Safety Net Program Will Open from April 9-June 1

Following an Agriculture Department announcement that it would re-open the enrollment period for the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), NMPF encouraged producers to review the new coverage options available under the improved program, which will open for sign up on April 9 and close June 1.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on April 3 that it would re-open the sign-up period, and encouraged producers to take a second look at the new program since it had been revised under the Bipartisan Budget Act passed by Congress in February. NMPF thanked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for the agency’s prompt implementation of a re-opened sign-up period and other much-needed changes to the MPP.

According to USDA, dairy producers must select new coverage for 2018, even if they enrolled during the previous sign-up period last fall. Coverage choices made this spring for calendar year 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the eight-week enrollment period. USDA also announced that dairy producers can participate in either MPP or the Livestock Gross Margin program for dairy (LGM-Dairy), but not both.

The changes to the MPP were part of a larger dairy package that was included in the disaster spending bill passed by Congress two months ago. The provisions included increasing the first tier of covered production from four million pounds to the first five million pounds of a farm’s annual milk production history, and reducing the supplemental coverage premium rates on the first tier.  The disaster package also lifted the $20 million annual cap on all livestock insurance, including the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program. This change will enable USDA to develop additional dairy risk management programs that can be provided to producers.

USDA’s web tool allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. NMPF’s Future for Dairy website also offers informative resources and tools to help farmers determine the best insurance options for their operations.

USDA Dairy Products February 2018 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 982 million pounds, 4.2 percent above February 2017 but 10.5 percent below January 2018.  Italian type cheese production totaled 424 million pounds, 4.3 percent above February 2017 but 10.6 percent below January 2018.  American type cheese production totaled 397 million pounds, 6.1 percent above February 2017 but 8.5 percent below January 2018.  Butter production was 169 million pounds, 4.7 percent above February 2017 but 7.4 percent below January 2018.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with February 2017)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 159 million pounds, up 12.1 percent.
Skim milk powder - 36.5 million pounds, down 8.9 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with February 2017)
Dry whey, total - 89.4 million pounds, up 14.6 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 86.8 million pounds, up 2.3 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 39.9 million pounds, up 10.7 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with February 2017)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 55.5 million gallons, down 5.8 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 35.2 million gallons, up 3.5 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.88 million gallons, up 6.4 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.62 million gallons, down 9.8 percent.

NCGA Statement on PES Bankruptcy Settlement

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), on yesterday’s Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Bankruptcy Settlement, granted by a federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

“The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is extremely disappointed in the bankruptcy court’s ruling, allowing PES to waive the majority of its obligation under the RFS. This settlement is not acceptable and completely undermines the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This settlement negotiated is just another example of how the Agency is willing to dismantle the RFS. This settlement rewards corporations, such as the $12 billion Carlyle Group, which should be liable for PES’ RFS obligations, at the expense of farmers. Farmers are entering their fifth year of low prices and net farm losses and can’t afford reducing demand for ethanol, as corn is the primary feedstock used in the production of conventional biofuel. As EPA’s actions continue to chip away at the RFS, farmers continue to ask President Trump to remember his promise to rural America and farmers and to keep the integrity of the RFS.”

NGFA partners with OSHA to launch 'Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week'

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are launching a major safety outreach effort, the "Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week" from April 9-13, to help raise awareness about grain bin engulfment hazards, provide education and training, and convey safety best practices.

Made possible by the NGFA-OSHA Alliance in collaboration with Grain Elevator and Processing Society, the stand-up week will promote grain bin safety on both farms and at commercial grain handling facilities.

Kick-Off Event and Press Conference in Adrian, Mo.:
The week will formally kick off with an event and press conference on Monday, April 9 at 1 p.m. Central at the Scoular grain facility located at 15 Quail Run in Adrian, Mo., near Kansas City.  The event will feature Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt, as well as a reading of the Governor of Missouri's Proclamation on Grain Bin Safety by Anna Hui, director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. NGFA Executive Committee Chairman John Heck, senior vice president of Scoular, Omaha, Neb., will host and moderate the event.

The week continues with a free webinar on April 10 that provides an overview of the material available on OSHA's engulfment prevention website. From April 11-13, NGFA will issue information for safety briefings on such topics as grain bin entry, mechanical hazards and grain engulfment.

Background and more information:
Engulfment in grain is one of the leading types of fatalities inside a grain bin; however, there are numerous OSHA and industry resources available to assist in preventing future incidents. During the Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week, employers and their employees are encouraged to emphasize effective grain-bin safety practices to protect workers and ways to reduce injuries and prevent fatalities resulting from engulfment.

Companies may participate by providing a focused activity or toolbox talk on topics such as lock-out/tag-out, walk down, fall prevention, permitting or other prevention measures. These events are to provide information to workers about hazards, protective methods, and the company's safety policies, goals and expectations, while also serving as an opportunity to receive feedback from employees. During these events, employers may be able to conduct site activities, such as employee training, hazard hunts, audits of prevention measures, corrections of identified hazards, and a review of lock-out/tag-out and engulfment-prevention measures and procedures. Participating companies will be encouraged to fill out information about their safety activities on this website, which provides training materials and a certificate of participation to demonstrate involvement in the engulfment-prevention initiative.

The NGFA has provided several resources, including Safety Tip Sheets, guidance documents and training videos for companies wishing to become involved in the "Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention" campaign on the campaign website. The material also is available on the Safety section of the NGFA website.

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