Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday April 24 Ag News

April Rural Mainstreet Index Positive: Trade Concerns Batter Business Confidence 

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index slipped in April, but remained above growth neutral for a third straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy. This is the first time since the middle of 2015 that the survey has recorded three straight months of overall indices above growth neutral.   

Overall: The overall index dipped slightly to 53.5 from 54.7 in March. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Surveys over the past several months indicate that the Rural Mainstreet economy is trending upward with improving, and positive economic growth. However, weak farm income continues to weigh on the rural economy,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Recent trade tariffs, both implemented and proposed, have reverberated throughout agricultural areas of the region. Some have advanced various federal measures to assist agriculture, including eliminating oil refinery wavers to the renewable fuels standard (RFS). Approximately 21.1 percent of bankers supported the elimination of the waivers, 47.3 percent backed granting no more waivers, while 31.6 percent, supported increasing oil refinery waivers.  

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for April increased to 42.9 from March’s 42.7. This is the 53rd straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0. 

The April farm equipment-sales index climbed to a weak 37.8 from March’s 37.2. This marks the 56th consecutive month the reading has moved below growth neutral, 50.0.

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for April expanded to 54.0 from March’s 52.3. The state’s farmland-price index sank to 39.9 from last month’s 42.6. Nebraska’s new-hiring index climbed to 65.4 from 57.8 in March. Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet job growth over last 12 months: 2.4 percent.

Iowa: The April RMI for Iowa advanced to 54.5 from 52.8 in March. Iowa’s farmland-price index for April rose to 43.3 from March’s 42.7. Iowa’s new-hiring index for April expanded to 67.5 from March’s 58.5. Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet job growth over last 12 months: 0.1 percent.

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.  

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Rain or shine, hot or cold.  No matter what the weather, hay and pasture crops must adapt to current conditions to survive.  And so must we.

Last week as I was cutting red cedar trees out of my pasture fencelines, I found myself thinking that pastures and alfalfa were quite a bit behind recent years.  The start of grazing and probably hay cutting would be later than usual.  It reminded me that it is really important to recognize weather patterns and adjust our hay and pasture practices to take advantage of good weather as well as protect against bad weather.

Fortunately, we have hay and pasture plants that can help us make these adjustments.  So let’s make good use of them.

Annual forages are good examples of this philosophy.  Summer annuals like millets and sudangrass can take advantage of summer rain and reduce drought risk.  Similarly, winter small grains grow during the time of the year when we are most likely to receive precipitation. Oats and turnips planted in August in dryland won’t grow much if it doesn’t rain.  But just a few timely showers pay big dividends while risking little when using less expensive seeds.

Relying on annuals alone is risky, though, because some years the weather is not good for establishment.  Perennials like alfalfa and many pasture grasses relieve us of this worry.  Better still is having both cool-season and warm-season pasture grasses to take advantage of the very different growing conditions we experience in spring, summer, and fall.  Having just brome pasture or just summer native pasture can be risky and it limits opportunities during some seasons of the year.

Staying ahead of our weather variation is challenging, but with a little thought and some different forages you can do it.

Understanding Initial, Delayed and Prevented Planting Decisions

The cool, wet weather conditions experienced across Iowa this spring mean some corn and soybean fields will be planted later than normal. This is a good time to revisit what options are available under multiple peril crop insurance coverage.

This and additional information can be found in the April issue of Ag Decision Maker.

Insured acres that have already been planted but need to be replanted may qualify for a special replanting insurance payment. This assumes that the acreage was planted after Iowa’s beginning planting dates (April 11 for corn and April 21 for soybean). Replant payments are based on the value of eight bushels of corn or three bushels of soybeans per acre, times their respective projected insurance prices determined in the month of February. For 2018, that is about $32 per acre for corn and $30 per acre for soybeans. To qualify for indemnity payment under the replanted or prevented planting provisions, a minimum area of 20 acres or 20 percent of the insured unit must have suffered loss, whichever is smaller.

In Iowa, the crop insurance “late planting period” begins after the final planting date of May 31 for corn and June 15 for soybeans. The new “practical to replant periods” will run from June 1-10 for corn and June 16-25 for soybeans.

“Those who hold this insurance may want to contact their crop insurance agent to make sure they understand the “practical to replant” provisions in their crop insurance policy since the ending dates have changed slightly for 2018,” said Steve Johnson, farm management specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Unplanted corn acres

Beginning June 1, producers in Iowa with unplanted corn acres have three choices:
-    Plant corn as soon as possible with a reduced guarantee,
-    Shift to soybeans with full insurance coverage,
-    Apply for prevented planting. Qualified acres are insured at 55 percent of their original guarantee for corn and 60 percent for soybeans

ISU Extension and Outreach resources

More details on crop insurance can be found through the Ag Decision Maker website, specifically in publication “Delayed and Prevented Planting Provisions” (File A1-57). An electronic decision tool spreadsheet is also available to help analyze alternative actions. Insured producers should communicate with their crop insurance agent before making decisions about replanting or abandoning acres.

Establishing a cover crop is not required on prevented planting acres, but is highly recommended. The rules set by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, which oversees the federal crop insurance program, do not require a cover crop.

“That being said, RMA encourages cover crops and you will receive a full-prevented planting payment – even if you choose not to plant a cover crop,” Johnson said. “The cover crop choices available likely include oats, wheat, barley or millet.”

If planting a cover crop and expecting to receive a crop insurance payment for prevented planting, that cover crop cannot be harvested or grazed until after Nov. 1.

Farm Service Agency Makes Administrative Change to the Livestock Indemnity Program

Starting today, agricultural producers who have lost livestock to disease, resulting from a weather disaster, have an additional way to become eligible for a key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance program. USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced an administrative clarification nationwide to the Livestock Indemnity Program. In the event of disease, this change by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) authorizes local FSA county committees to accept veterinarian certifications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management. The committees may then use this certification to allow eligibility for producers on a case-by-case basis for LIP.

“This change is part of USDA’s broader effort to better serve America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters through flexible and effective programs,” said Northey, who is in Texas today visiting with ranchers impacted by drought and wildfire. “America’s farmers feed our nation and much of the world, and throughout history they have known good years and bad years. But when disaster strikes, USDA is ready to step in and help.”

LIP provides benefits to agricultural producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, disease or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government. Eligible weather events include earthquakes, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, blizzard and flooding.

Producers interested in LIP or other USDA disaster assistance programs should contact their local USDA service center.

Humane Farming Association starts ballot committee to defeat egg industry, HSUS, initiative.

The Humane Farming Association (HFA) is forming a campaign committee to oppose a controversial ballot initiative that would repeal and replace California's current hen housing law.

HFA's campaign committee, Californians Against Cruelty, Cages, and Fraud, is being registered with state election officials and will lead the fight against the egg industry initiative that is expected to qualify for the November 2018 ballot. 

Background: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) long contended that the passage of California's Proposition 2 in 2008 guaranteed that all egg industry cages would be completely "banned" by 2015.   It also contended that Prop 2 required that laying hens be provided with no less than 216" sq. of floor space per bird.

Now HSUS is promoting a contradictory measure that would replace the hen housing provisions of Prop 2 with the permissive "guidelines" of the United Egg Producers.  That's the same egg industry trade association which spent ten million dollars opposing Prop 2 ten years ago.

Referred to by critics as "the rotten egg initiative," the new measure would explicitly legalize egg industry cages throughout California until, at the very least, 2022.   It would also sharply reduce the amount of floor space required by allowing the egg industry to confine hens with as little as one square foot (144" sq.) per bird.

Opposition to the initiative is widespread within the animal protection community with a growing number of the movement's leading voices calling for a "NO" vote come November.

"The Humane Society of the United States is once again deceiving voters, flip-flopping on the issue of cages, and perpetuating the suffering of millions of egg-laying hens throughout California," said HFA National Director Bradley Miller.

"The inescapable reality is that, had Prop 2 actually accomplished what HSUS promised, California would be cage free at this very moment," noted Miller. "Rather than correcting its historic failure, HSUS is now misusing our state's ballot measure process with a whole new set of false promises."

More than 125,000 people have already signed an online petition opposing the initiative.  And HFA's eye-opening animated short, California's Caged Chickens Say No, has already garnered over 12 million views on YouTube and social media.

"This betrayal of voters and farm animals must be soundly defeated," said Miller. "We promise an extremely vigorous campaign."

Webinar to Outline Calf Market Expectations

Where do we go from here? With the magnitude of the breaks and rallies the entire cattle industry has experienced thus far, that question is on everyone’s mind. An upcoming free CattleFax webinar will address the question, as well as provide an outlook for the cow-calf and entire beef industry for the remainder of 2018.

The CattleFax Trends+ Cow-Calf Webinar will be held May 23, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. MT. To participate in the webinar and access program details, producers and industry leaders simply need to register online at https://www.cattlefax.com/#!/about

One of the most aggressive U.S. beef cowherd expansions in the last four decades has increased beef supplies and caused cow-calf profitability to be reduced back toward long-term levels. As profits have narrowed, well-informed producers can maintain healthy margins by adjusting production, marketing and risk management plans with increasing supplies in mind.

CattleFax analysts will discuss a variety of topics in the one-hour session, including:
-    Cattle and feedstuff market projections for the next 12 to 18 months
-    Outlook of the summer and fall calf markets for 2018
-    Review of the recent Cow-Calf Survey
The Trends+ webinar series informs cattle producers about current market conditions and provides providing decision-friendly advice regarding management decisions. The analysis and strategies shared through the webinar series has reached more than 5,000 producers, and sponsorship from Elanco Animal Health is making the seminar free for all attendees.

Applications are Now Being Accepted for the Valent and ASA Ag Voices of the Future Program

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is now accepting applications for the Ag Voices of the Future program, sponsored by Valent USA. This program is for young people interested in improving their understanding of major policy issues that impact soybean farmers, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can impact agricultural policy. The Ag Voices of the Future class will be held in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting and Soy Issues Briefing, July 9-12, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. agriculture industry needs more leaders in Washington, D.C. who understand the needs of farmers and the agriculture industry, especially as it relates to the development of policies and regulations that impact farm productivity. The proportion of rural Congressional districts is at its lowest point in history. More than half of the U.S. population currently resides in 39 of the nation’s largest cities. As a result, positions on Congressional staffs, regulatory agencies and services groups within the Federal government are often filled with individuals who have a very limited understanding of farming and the needs of the agriculture industry.

The Ag Voices of the Future program is designed to expose young people, with a connection to the farm, to an education on major policy issues and advocacy. The program will also encourage these future young leaders to consider careers within agriculture associations and industry, as well as government regulatory and legislative positions.

Application Information

To apply for the Ag Voices of the Future program, students must be at least 18 years old and have an interest in learning more about advocacy and policy issues that impact U.S. soybean farmers and career opportunities in Washington, D.C. and the agriculture industry. This program may be especially appealing to students majoring in agriculture, political science, communications and business. Program sponsors will cover all travel, lodging and meal expenses for the students selected for this program.

Class size for this program is limited. Visit ASA's website and find Ag Voices of the Future under the "learn" tab or click here for more information and to complete an online application.... https://soygrowers.com/learn/ag-voices-of-the-future.   All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 1.

Cellerate® process technology offers opportunity for ethanol producers to access new markets and increase ROI potential for co-products

As ethanol plants seek new ways to be more competitive, advances in corn kernel fiber to ethanol processes have shown significant promise in adding value through the diversification of product streams.

“Over the last decade, existing dry grind ethanol plants have strived to extract value out of the corn kernel through maximizing production and capture of ethanol, carbon dioxide, dried distillers grains (DDG), and oil,” said Dr. Miloud Araba, head, technical services for Enogen at Syngenta. “Cellerate® process technology converts corn kernel fiber into a diversified income stream and has been producing D3 RIN-qualifying cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale at Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) since 2014. QCCP has generated nearly 40 percent of all D3 ethanol RINs produced over the past three and one-half years.”

Performance results achieved at QCCP to date through combining Cellerate with Enogen® corn include: a six percent yield increase plus a 20 percent throughput increase combined for a 26 percent increase in total ethanol production; higher protein feed co-products; and improved oil yield.

Together, Cellerate and Enogen corn can help deliver notable benefits to ethanol plants beyond what can be achieved through either technology alone – including increased throughput and yield and a notable reduction in natural gas, electricity and water usage.

"Cellerate is a diverse process technology which adds value to protein, increases distillers corn oil production, creates cellulosic ethanol and produces low carbon intense ethanol, all while allowing additional throughput from a dry grind ethanol facility," said QCCP CEO Delayne Johnson.

With an approved D3 RINs EPA pathway for over three years, Cellerate process technology enables ethanol producers to leverage their existing infrastructure and significantly increase total production by using pre-existing assets such as: feedstock receiving and storage; product separation; and final product storage.

“Cellerate process technology provides dry grind ethanol producers the opportunity to move away from low value commodity fuels and dried distillers grains (DDG) and into high value D3 RINs and DDG markets,” said Jeff Oestmann, head, bio-fuels operations for Enogen at Syngenta. “To help make the benefits of Cellerate’s diverse value stream more broadly available, Syngenta is working with a number of industry leaders including Purina, QCCP and Fagen Inc., as well as another top engineering firm in the ethanol space.”

Growth Energy Announces Partnership Between American Ethanol and Universal Technical Institute

Today, Growth Energy announced a new partnership initiative between its American Ethanol program and Universal Technical Institute (UTI), the nation's leading provider of technical training for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians.

A critical mission at Growth Energy is to show consumers the myriad benefits of high-octane biofuels like ethanol. As part of that effort, Growth Energy strives to work with automotive thought leaders in the technical space to validate the engine performance capabilities of ethanol so that information is passed on to consumers.

As part of the agreement, Growth Energy will support the student resource center at UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina.

“We are thrilled to join Universal Technical Institute’s Business Alliance,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We know that most Americans look to technicians at their local auto shops and dealerships for advice on how to maintain their vehicles, so working with Universal Technical Institute, the nation’s leader in training highly skilled automotive technicians, will ensure the experts advising consumers have all the facts on American ethanol performance.

“We are fortunate to work with some of the most respected engine performance experts through the American Ethanol racing program,” Skor continued. “We look forward to facilitating a productive, ongoing dialogue between those individuals and UTI students and instructors on the role that biofuels play in engine performance.”

“Growth Energy will be a great addition to the list of partners who support us in educating students on the industry’s most current information and technologies,” said John Dodson, UTI Vice President of Business Alliances & NASCAR. “Today’s cars are sophisticated, high-tech machines and, as vehicle technology continues to evolve, renewable biofuels like ethanol will play an even more important role. Growth Energy has a deep commitment to supporting automotive education and giving back to this industry through its American Ethanol program, and we are pleased and proud to welcome them to the UTI family.”


Monsanto Company announced today that it has collaborated with Adjuvants Unlimited, LLC to develop the first-ever agricultural sprayer system cleaner designed to deactivate dicamba. Adjuvants Unlimited, a well-known developer and manufacturer of technologies for the crop protection industry, will bring this technology to market in 2018 through their industry partners. The new sprayer cleaner technology is unique from other currently commercially-available sprayer equipment cleaners as it is based on a chemical process that deactivates certain pesticide active ingredients, including dicamba. This valuable technology is designed to be used within the rinse and cleanout processes specified on current dicamba product labels and best management practices.

“Monsanto developed this product based on grower interest in new tools to help manage the use of multiple herbicide systems, including the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System,” said Ryan Rubischko, Monsanto dicamba portfolio lead. “This is a new mode of action for sprayer system cleaners and will provide growers an even better experience when utilized as part of the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System with XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology, a restricted use pesticide.”

Monsanto has been working with Adjuvants Unlimited and academics over the past few years to test this technology prior to bringing it to market.

“We have been testing this new technology in university trials and it has proven to be very effective at cleaning sprayer systems that have contained dicamba tank mixed with additional herbicide products,” said Dan Reynolds, Professor of Weed Science and Hartwig Endowed Chair at Mississippi State University. “We have seen a significant reduction in the presence of dicamba when utilizing this technology as part of the labeled sprayer cleanout process.”

Monsanto and Adjuvants Unlimited anticipate that the initial product offering will be announced in the coming weeks and available for the 2018 season, and additional branded products and distributors will be available in the future.

ADM Opens New Enzyme Lab in California for Livestock Feed

Archer Daniels Midland Company announced that it has opened its new enzyme lab in Davis, California. The lab's scientists will work with ADM's other R&D facilities around the globe to develop enzyme products to serve a variety of markets, and will partner with China-based Qingdao Vland Biotech Group Co., Ltd., to develop and commercialize feed enzymes to improve animal health and nutrition.

"We're excited to open this new research facility lab in Davis, expanding our ability to develop and commercialize a wide range of enzymes, and advancing our animal health partnership with Vland," said ADM Chief Technology Officer Todd Werpy. "In addition to an accomplished staff of scientists and researchers and a great partner in Vland, our new lab will benefit from its location near the University of California, Davis, which provides access to world-leading expertise and resources in the areas of food science and nutrition as well as animal health and agriculture."

He says ADM has collaborated with UC Davis in the past, and that the company looks forward to an even closer relationship now.

Earlier this year, ADM and Vland signed a joint development agreement under which the companies will share enzyme-producing strains as a basis for the development of feed enzymes. Products developed under the agreement will be commercialized by both companies.

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