Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wednesday April 11 Ag News

AFAN Announces Two New Staff Hires

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) has announced two new hires at its Lincoln office. 

William Keech, from Hickman, Nebraska, has been named Director of Livestock Development. He will take the lead in building relationships, programming and the creation of tools that will enhance on-going development of livestock agriculture in Nebraska. Ashley Babl, from Albion, Nebraska, has joined the AFAN team as Livestock Programming Coordinator with responsibilities in creating and managing programming events for producers and communities to enhance education about the industry.

Both Keech and Babl are producers themselves and have a solid background working in the agriculture industry.  Keech comes to AFAN from the finance industry, where he created and led an agriculture lending division. He holds a B.S. degree in Agriculture Business from Northwest Missouri State University and has been active in the operation of his family’s business, Keech Farms, in Hickman. Babl has worked with precision farming equipment where she served as a consultant to producers about technology. She holds associate degrees from Northeast Nebraska Community College, Norfolk, in agronomy and agribusiness.

“We are excited to welcome William Keech and Ashley Babl to the AFAN team,” said AFAN Executive Director Kristen Hassebrook. “We look forward to expanding AFAN’s outreach with programming and services for both producers and community leaders with the goal of continuing to grow the livestock industry in Nebraska.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Petitions USDA to Limit the Definition of Beef

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not use the term “meat” when referring to all lab-grown and plant-based meat alternatives. The request to limit the definition of “beef” and “meat” to only products from live animals born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, comes from a strong movement to develop and commercialize alternative protein products, particularly “clean meat,” also called lab-grown or cultured meat, and plant-based proteins.

“The production and processing of livestock is of vital importance to our members and our states economy. Nebraska currently ranks first in commercial red meat production (over 8.1 billion lbs/year), commercial cattle slaughter (over 7.4 million head), and all cattle on feed (over 2.7 million head). All of this translates into tens of billions of dollars of economic activity as well as thousands of jobs,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president said in a letter to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“Consumers depend upon the USDA FSIS to ensure that the products they purchase at the grocery store match their label descriptions,” Nelson said. In a letter he specifically requested FSIS to support the following:
-    Prohibit products derived from alternative sources, e.g. synthetic products from plants, insects, non-animal components, and lab-grown animal cells, from being labeled as “beef” or “meat”;
-    limit the definition of “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner;
-    limit the definition of “beef” to products from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner; and
-    adding the definitions, as identified above, to FSIS’s Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book.

Back in January of 2018, delegates from the American Farm Bureau Federation adopted a policy proposed by delegates from Nebraska which supported the prohibition of the use of “commonly known and industry recognized ‘meat’ terms in the labeling and advertising of all lab-grown and plant-based alternatives.”

“This Nebraska-led effort was originally approved by our voting members, Nebraska farmers and ranchers, at our state annual meeting last December as the production and processing of livestock is of vital importance to our members and our states economy. Nebraska’s farmer and rancher bottom lines and the overall agriculture economy is at risk and we urge FSIS to support this petition,” Nelson said.

Midwest Dairy Unveils New Logo and Brand Identity

Midwest Dairy unveiled a new logo this week as part of the organization’s new vision, mission and strategic plan focused on bringing dairy to life for the consumer and giving them an excellent dairy experience. Serving as a visual connection between farmers and consumers, the new, more simple design is not only intended to convey the goodness of products Midwest dairy farmers so proudly produce but also, for the first time, to represent Midwest Dairy as one entity, no longer including the words Association or Council, to more prominently showcase the values that both organizations bring to consumers.

“Under our new strategic plan, our goal is to sit beside consumers and have conversations that demonstrate our openness, transparency and willingness to listen first and then share the farm to table journey,” says Midwest Dairy CEO Lucas Lentsch. “We also want our new logo to convey the strong traditions of our dairy farmers and their ongoing commitment to producing quality, nutritious dairy products for today’s consumers.”

Midwest Dairy’s new logo, vision and mission are the result of a year-long comprehensive strategic planning process that incorporated input from Midwest Dairy farmers, staff and a variety of partners throughout the dairy community, including retailers, processors and manufacturers, cooperatives and other industry leaders.

The new Midwest Dairy logo conveys the timelessness of dairy farming and reminds consumers that dairy is, and always will be, wholesome and enjoyable. The color blue represents the friendly, trustworthy farmers, and the yellow “smile” or splash makes you think of the richness that would be associated with butter or cream.

“Our new approach and logo will help us work with partners to develop stronger relationships with consumers to better understand what is important to them,” says Lentsch. “We will be working even more collaboratively with our farmers, wellness, manufacturing, retail and co-op partners to provide valuable resources and new product innovations that meet emerging trends and consumer demands.”

Iowa Center Leads Industry-Wide Collaboration on Sow Mortality

Healthy and productive sows help ensure profitable and efficient herds. In turn, maintaining this type of herd assists in providing financial stability to producers and the industry in general. So, when the sow mortality rate due to pelvic organ prolapse started to increase throughout the industry with no apparent defined reasons, that's cause for concern. That's why Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University is leading an industry wide research effort on identifying specific factors leading to pelvic organ prolapses contributing to the higher mortality rate.

IPIC director Dr. Jason Ross said funding for this project came from National Pork Board, which realized the need for a coordinated approach to the problem. The project involves 10 faculty from Iowa State, extension specialists and a large group of industry partners that bring different thoughts and perspectives to tackling an important issue such as this.

"The long-term objective of the project is to identify causes of pelvic organ prolapse so specific mitigation strategies can be developed and used," he said. "At this point, the project includes more than 400,000 sows on more than 100 farms across 16 U.S. states. The farms are of varying sizes, ownership, facility types and genetics."

IPIC is working with large production systems, smaller independent producers, a variety of sow housing designs, and numerous genetics, with a goal of representing the industry as a whole. Enrolled farms may have high, medium or low reported levels of prolapses, Ross said. This will help researchers identify and analyze possible risk factors that appear to be commonly associated with pelvic organ prolapses.

"A major component of our work is to gather consistent mortality data from all farms to create accurate benchmarks," he said. "This data is shared with the participating groups in a confidential manner on a regular basis."

IPIC swine program specialist Amanda Chipman leads the data collection and analysis portion of the project.

"My role includes collecting weekly data on mortalities and prolapses from sow farm managers, and I work with veterinarians, nutritionists and others from production systems to gather historical production, health, nutrition and management information," she said. "We started collecting on-farm data in mid-January and were on 45 farms by the end of March. The opportunity to be on the farms collecting data and meeting the sow farm managers and company representatives has really been a privilege."

Chipman also works with ISU faculty through the entire data collection process, from deciding what to collect and how to collect it, to how to summarize and analyze the findings.

"While the project remains in its relatively early stages, it has been quite successful in underscoring the collaborative nature of pork producers and their commitment to continuous improvement of animal health and well-being," Ross said. "Also, the networks we've established with industry and academic partners are expected to facilitate rapid dissemination of project results as they become available."

More information and weekly reports are available on the IPIC website.

IFU: Bayer-Monsanto Merger will Lead to Less Innovation, Fewer Choices

The following statement was issued by Aaron Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union president regarding the approval of the Bayer-Monsanto merger:

"The approved merger is bad news for Iowa farmers. The decrease in competition will result in fewer innovations in research, fewer choices for farmers to buy our inputs, and to higher costs to grow our crops."

"The timing of this decision couldn't be worse. According to the USDA, Iowa farmers will have lower farm income for the fifth year in a row. Less competition will ultimately lead to higher prices for farmers buying inputs and even less income left on the farm."

"Leaving so much leverage in the hands of just a few multi-national agribusiness giants is just inviting abuses of power."

Lehman is a fifth generation farmer from rural Polk County.

GMO Answers Releases Out Latest Graphic - Countering the Marketing Claims of Non-GMO Vodka

Late last year, one vodka company starting to heavily market their non-GMO vodka online and on social media. The only problem with this line of  marketing? There is no GMO wheat!

Non-GMO vodka is just one of the many products being put out by companies trying to hop on the non-GMO train. From non-GMO water to non-GMO salt (neither of which even have DNA to genetically modify), companies are taking advantage of people's lack of understanding of science and of GMOs to charge a premium for a product that confers no benefits. Just as a reminder, there are only 10 GMOs on the market in the U.S today.

GMO Answers has just released a new graphic that pokes a hole in this marketing, by pointing out that there is currently no GMO wheat on the market today (and even if there was, what would it matter?)  Click here to see the graphic....

Click here to find out more about GMO Answers....

Early Registration Ends This Friday for CUTC Event

Early registration for the 2018 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) ends this Friday April 13, at Midnight. The biennial event will be held June 4-6, 2018 at the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

With a theme of "Increasing Efficiency Across the Supply Chain to Enable New Products," the conference provides a great opportunity to showcase and learn about new technology and track the changes in new corn uses and relate technology made over the last two years.

This year's planning committee, made up of industry experts, has developed a dynamic program with a focus on new uses with strong market expansion potential while continuing to advance long-term goals of improving quality and efficiency.

The hallmark of CUTC since 1987 is the goal of bringing leading innovators in the corn industry together for broad scientific exchange and well as very specific and targeted conversations related to research progress, processor needs and challenges and interaction with peers throughout the supply chain. You can view the entire program here.

Increasingly recognized as an important industry networking event, CUTC offers attendees the chance to meet hundreds of valuable business contacts, identify potential new customers and learn how new technologies will enhance the value of corn. CUTC poster presentations will again provide an ideal showcase for the latest research and present students with a challenging competition.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Creep Higher

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to creep higher the first week of April 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the fourth straight week that prices for most of the eight major fertilizers have been higher compared to last month.

However, for the third consecutive week, no fertilizer price was up a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $478 per ton, MAP $508/ton, potash $352/ton, urea $370/ton, 10-34-0 $425/ton, anhydrous $508/ton, UAN28 $239/ton and UAN32 $274/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Five of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is now 1% higher, potash is 4% more expensive, urea is 5% higher and both DAP and MAP are 9% more expensive than last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 2% less expensive while both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 4% less expensive looking back a year.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Lowest Since Nov.

Domestic ethanol inventories fell for a fourth straight week, reaching a more-than-three-month low, Energy Information Administration data shows.

Data shows ethanol stockpiles fell 579,000 barrels (bbl) to 21.846 million bbl during the week-ended April 6, the lowest level since the week-ended Nov. 10, 2017 when supply held was 21.497 million bbl.  At the current level, domestic ethanol inventory is roughly 5% lower than the same week a year ago.

Plant production fell 4,000 barrels per day (bpd) on the week to 1.034 million bpd during the week-ended April 6, 48,000 bpd, or 4.9%, higher than the same week in 2017. For the four-week period ended April 6, production averaged 1.040 million bpd, up from 1.026 million bpd during the same four-week period in 2017.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, gained 1,000 bpd during the week profiled to 904,000 bpd, down 4,000 bpd versus a year ago. For the four weeks ended April 6, blending demand averaged 906,000 bpd, down 7,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

U.S. March Tractor, Combine Sales Rose Four Percent in March

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in March 2018, were up 4% compared to the same month last year.  Two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 5.4% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up .7%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 4.5%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 5%.  Combine sales were down 20% for the month.

For the three months in 2018, a total of 42,006 tractors were sold which compares to 41,871 sold thru March 2017 representing a .3% increase for the year.  For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 1% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are even. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 4%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are up 4.8%.  Sales of combines for the year total 721 compared to 693 in 2017, a 4% increase.

Small state-level impacts of potential Chinese import tariffs…for now

Tom Jackson, US Regional Economics Manager, IHS Markit

At the end of March, China imposed tariffs on imports from the United States on aluminum scrap, steel pipe, and a variety of agricultural products including pork products, many types of fruits and nuts, ethanol, and wine. The new tariffs cover goods that amounted to roughly $3 billion in US exports to China last year.

Both sides upped the ante during the first week of April, with announcements of broader lists of threatened sanctions on items accounting for around $50 billion worth of annual trade flowing each way. China’s list of threatened tariffs on imports from the United States includes certain commercial aircraft, automobiles, soybeans, and many other items at the top of the list of US exports to China. Those tariffs are not yet in force, but would take effect by late May pending negotiations.

Agriculture Tariffs: Economic Impact

The announced tariffs on agricultural products are not welcome news for US farmers, especially amid a multiyear slump in farm incomes. The economic impact in the United States of the sanctions currently in place, including 25% on pork and 10% on a list of fruits and tree nuts, is likely to be minor. The bigger issue for US farmers will arise if the prospective 25% tariff on soybeans is enacted. US soybean exports to China have grown rapidly in recent years and totaled $12.4 billion in 2017, accounting for over 75% of total US exports of agricultural products to China and nearly 10% of total US merchandise exports to China last year. In recent years China has been the destination for around 60% of total US soybean exports, accounting for around 30% of annual US soybean production. Looked at from the other side, US imports accounted for more than one-third of China’s total soybean usage during the last marketing year.

Agriculture Tariffs: States Affected

Any action that reduces demand for US agricultural products would reduce prices received by farmers for their output, and diminish farm incomes. Not surprisingly, states in the midsection of the country would be hit the hardest. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa have the most exposure, with farm income accounting for at least 3% of total personal income in the state from 2014 to 2016. Some states with very large agricultural industries, such as Illinois, have small shares of farm income as a percent of total personal income because of their large metro areas. Outside of the middle of the country, California and Washington will see tariff impacts as they are major producers of fruits and tree nuts that are on the initial tariffs list.

Other Tariffs: Economic Impact

Trade in aircraft also has been mentioned as a possible future target of trade sanctions by China. US exports of civilian aircraft, engines, and parts to China totaled $16.3 billion in 2017, and made up the single biggest category within the Harmonized Schedule of exports.

Other Tariffs: States Impacted

Washington and South Carolina are major producers of aircraft and are among the states with the most reliance on China as an export market; in fact, aircraft are the top export item from each of those states. Alaska and Louisiana also are among the states most economically reliant upon exports to China, thanks to shipments of petroleum and its products.

Bottom line

As things stand in mid-April, trade actions already taken by the United States and China are causing market unease, but the overall economic impact on states would be relatively low. If the broader set of sanctions on around $50 billion worth of US exports to China goes into effect, however, then the impacts will be more economically significant. In the interim, the policy uncertainty will continue to roil the business plans of manufacturers, farmers, and other capital-intensive industry segments that feature long-term planning horizons.

Organic Valley Posts First Annual Loss in Co-op History

It appears that the struggling dairy industry is also having a negative impact on the organic sector. The Wisconsin-based Organic Valley Cooperative announced it has posted its first-ever financial loss for fiscal year 2017. Company officials say a surplus of dairy products and falling milk prices are to blame for the off year, in which the co-op reported an after-tax loss of about $10 million.

During the group's annual meeting, CEO George Siemon reported gross sales at more than $1.1 billion during the past year. That was four percent more than the previous year, but still short of the company's total expenses on its balance sheet.

"Organic Valley has flourished over the past three decades and exceeded our founders' expectations in nearly every way," Siemon said. "Bumps in the journey, such as market fluctuations are inevitable. But our priorities are, and always have been, our farmer-members, our employees, our animals and our consumers. We're confident that as we continue to work together as a cooperative, we are a force for good in a troubled time."

The co-op paid its dairy patrons an average of $32 per hundredweight for their milk in 2017, which is about double the price conventional producers get from their processors. Siemon says that price may have to go down in order to keep the company from losing too much money.

Organic Valley, which is located in La Farge, is the nation's top organic food supplier of grass-fed dairy and meat products. The group also has a new cheese plant in Cashton and another facility in McMinnville, Oregon. As of this past year, they had over 2,000 farmer-members that farm about a half-million organic acres in 35 states and Canada.

Yara and BASF open world-scale ammonia plant in Freeport, Texas

Yara International ASA and BASF today celebrated the opening of a new world-scale ammonia plant in Freeport, Texas, USA. The $600-million, state-of-the-art facility uses a cost-efficient and sustainable production process, based on by-product hydrogen instead of natural gas.

Yara Freeport LLC is owned 68 percent by Yara and 32 percent by BASF. The plant, located at BASF’s site in Freeport, has a capacity of 750,000 metric tons of ammonia per year. Each party will off-take ammonia according to their ownership share.

“Together with our partners at BASF, we built a world-scale ammonia plant that not only raises the bar in terms of safety, efficiency and quality but also applies the principles of industrial symbiosis by using a by-product as feedstock for ammonia production,” says Yara President and CEO, Svein Tore Holsether. “Yara Freeport strengthens our leading position in the global ammonia market and expands our production footprint in North America.”

“This joint venture with Yara not only strengthens our production Verbund at the Freeport site, it demonstrates BASF’s commitment to investing in North America,” said Wayne T. Smith, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE and Chairman and CEO, BASF Corporation. “The new plant allows us to take advantage of world-scale production economics and attractive raw material costs to strengthen the competitiveness of our customer value chain in the region.”

Conventional ammonia plants use natural gas to produce the hydrogen needed during ammonia production. Yara Freeport’s hydrogen-based technology allows the plant to forego this initial production step, leading to lower capital expenditure and maintenance costs. By using hydrogen, which originates from the production processes of various petrochemical plants nearby, Yara Freeport safeguards resources and mitigates environmental impact.

A long-term supply agreement for hydrogen and nitrogen with industrial gases company Praxair Inc. links feedstock cost to the advantageous natural gas prices on the U.S. Gulf coast.

BASF will use its share of ammonia off-take to produce polyamide 6, which is commonly used in the production of carpet fibers, packaging and casings for the wire and cable markets. Polyamide 6 for injection molding is used in high-performance engineering plastics for automotive applications. Yara will market its share of ammonia to industrial customers and the agricultural sector in North America. To support the new plant, Yara built an ammonia storage facility at Port Freeport. BASF upgraded its existing terminal and pipeline assets.

EFSA issues positive scientific opinion for Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade® trait

Syngenta today announced that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a positive scientific opinion for Syngenta’s event 5307 (Agrisure Duracade®) for food and feed use, allowing event 5307 to progress to the next step in the process of final grain import approval.

“The positive scientific opinion means Agrisure Duracade has successfully completed scientific evaluation in the European Union,” said Scott Huber, Syngenta head of seeds & traits regulatory affairs for North America. “We look forward to the application moving to the Standing Committee of representatives from the EU Member States, and ultimately completing the EU authorization process for final import approval.”

Syngenta will continue a program of grain marketing options for grain containing the Agrisure Duracade trait for 2018 planting. Working with Gavilon Grain, LLC, Syngenta is providing services to help growers identify accepting locations in their local geography with an expanded list of elevators, ethanol plants, feedlots, feed mills and livestock feeders.

“Hybrids with the Agrisure Duracade trait offer growers the latest genetics and trait technology with a simple in-bag E-Z Refuge® seed blend,” said David Hollinrake, president of Syngenta Seeds, LLC. “We are invested in enabling access to these technologies because we believe growers will benefit from their performance and convenience.”

The Agrisure Duracade trait is available in the Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge and Agrisure Duracade 5122 E-Z Refuge trait stacks.

Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge represents the most advanced trait stack on the market, offering premium, broad-spectrum insect control to protect genetic yield potential. Featuring the Agrisure Duracade and Agrisure Viptera® traits, it offers a unique protein and multiple modes of action against corn rootworm and above-ground insects to control 16 yield-limiting pests ― all while providing the convenience and simplicity of E-Z Refuge, a 5 percent in-bag refuge.

Agrisure Duracade 5122 E-Z Refuge includes multiple modes of action against corn rootworm and corn borer. Both Agrisure Duracade trait stacks are also available in water-optimizing Agrisure Artesian® hybrids, helping growers make the most of their available water.

Grain containing the Agrisure Duracade trait already has cultivation approval in the U.S. and Canada, as well as import approval in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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