Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday January 30 Ag News

Platte Valley Cattlemen 2019 Banquet
Lucas Luckey, PVC President
It’s that time of year again and the Platte Valley Cattlemen are anxiously planning our 2019 Banquet which will be held Saturday, February 16th at Ramada Inn River’s Edge Convention Center. We are looking forward to an enjoyable night and another outstanding banquet.  Our entertainment this year will be provided by Gayle Becware.

Our annual Banquet is our major fund raiser for the. In the past, sponsors’ dollars have enabled us to promote “Beef Month” in May, ensure quality speakers for our monthly meetings, offer an educational tour, promote 4-H and FFA programs at the county fairs, and assist in awarding scholarships. In 2017, we were able to award two $1,000.00 college scholarships and with continued support, we hope to offer two (or more) again this year.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, February 16th!

National Biodiesel Foundation Elects New Directors

The National Biodiesel Foundation elected three new directors: Danielle Brannan, New Leaf Biofuels; Mike Devine, World Energy; and Chris Hill, American Soybean Association to the Board last week during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo.

“I believe the Foundation is critical to educating the public about biodiesel and getting it into the marketplace," says Brannan. "Events and education forums, such as the New York City Congressional Tour coming this Spring, help move the industry forward.”

“In 2019, we look forward to continuing to support and fund partnerships working on research and sustainability projects showing the benefits and quality of biodiesel. With support from the industry, we plan to sponsor activities like land use change research, diesel technician training, and student education grants among other things,” added Executive Director Tom Verry.

In addition to the three new directors, biodiesel industry leaders currently serving on the Foundation’s Board include:
    Jeff Lynn, NBF President, Illinois Soybean Association
    Mark Caspers, NBF Vice President, Nebraska Soybean Board
    Lindsay Fitzgerald, NBF Secretary and Treasurer, Renewable Energy Group
    Matt Jaeger, Emergent Green Energy
    Rob Shaffer, American Soybean Association
    David Womack, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board
    Dave Walton, Iowa Soybean Association

The Foundation’s mission is to accomplish outreach, education, research and demonstration activities for the advancement of biodiesel. The Foundation works closely with the National Biodiesel Board.

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is reducing U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, creating jobs and improving the environment. The Foundation works with industry supporting young scientists with grants to attend and participate in research and sustainability projects, showcasing biodiesel and bioheat use in urban communities, and partnering with Universities to conduct research and update modeling (such as the global economic database GTAP).

USDA Reschedules Reports Affected by Lapse in Federal Funding

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) Agricultural Statistics Board has begun rescheduling reports that were affected by the lapse in federal funding. During the lapse, NASS was not able to collect data nor issue reports. The following reports have been rescheduled and others will be announced as soon as they are determined:
    Broiler Hatchery (Jan. 30) is delayed
    Egg Products (Jan. 30) is delayed
    Agricultural Prices (Dec. 27) will be released Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. ET
    Poultry Slaughter (Dec. 26) will be released Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Peanut Stocks and Processing (Dec. 28) will be released Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. ET
    Cotton System (Jan. 2) will be released Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. ET
    Fats & Oils (Jan. 2) will be released Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. ET
    Grain Crushings (Jan. 2) will be released Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. ET
    Dairy Products (Jan. 3) will be released Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. ET
    Egg Products (Dec. 28) will be released Feb. 5 at 3 p.m. ET
    Field Crops Final Estimates (Dec. 28) will be released Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Rice Stocks Final Estimates (Dec. 28) will be released Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Stocks of Grain, Oilseed, and Hay Final Estimates (Dec. 28) will be released Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Crop Prod. (Jan. 11) – estimates will be included in Crop Prod. to be released Feb. 8 at Noon ET
    Crop Production Annual (Jan. 11) will be released Feb. 8 at Noon ET
    Grain Stocks (Jan. 11) will be released Feb. 8 at Noon ET
    Rice Stocks (Jan. 11) will be released Feb. 8 at Noon ET
    Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings (Jan. 11) will be released Feb. 8 at Noon ET
    Peanut Prices (Dec. 28*; Jan. 4*, 11, 18, 25; Feb. 1) combined report on Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. ET
    Broiler Hatchery (Feb. 6) will be released Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. ET
    Milk Production (Jan. 23) will be released Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. ET
    Agricultural Prices (Jan. 31) will be released Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. ET
    Vegetables Final Estimates (Dec. 28) will be released Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Cattle on Feed (Jan. 25) will be released Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. ET
    Cotton System (Feb. 1) will be released Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. ET
    Fats and Oils (Feb. 1) will be released Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. ET
    Grain Crushings (Feb. 1) will be released Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. ET
    Cattle (Jan. 31) will be released Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. ET
    Sheep and Goats (Jan. 31) will be released Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. ET
    Flour Milling (Feb. 1) will be released March 1 at 3 p.m. ET
    Peanut Stocks and Processing (Jan. 29) – estimates will be incl. in the report March 6 at 3 p.m. ET
    Peanut Stocks and Processing (Feb.27) will be released March 6 at 3 p.m. ET
    Cattle on Feed (Feb. 22) will be released March 8 at 3 p.m. ET
    Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes Final Estimates (Jan. 31) will be released March 12 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Milk Production (Feb. 21) will be released March 12 at 3 p.m. ET
    Citrus Final Estimates (Dec. 28) will be released March 12 at 3 p.m. ET*
    Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts Final Estimates (Dec. 28) will be released March 12 at 3 p.m. ET*
    State Stories (Jan. 3) will not be released.
    State Stories (Jan. 29) will not be released.
    Cotton Ginnings (Jan. 11) will not be released.
    Cotton Ginnings (Jan. 23) will not be released.
    2017 Census of Agriculture (Feb. 21) will be delayed. A new date has not yet been determined.

* QuickStats only.

All NASS reports will be available at

USGC, Growth Energy Submit Comments to Province of Ontario on E15 by 2025

This week, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and Growth Energy jointly submitted comments to the Canadian Province of Ontario supporting the expansion of biofuels blending in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. The comments applaud Ontario's commitment to implementing a 15 percent renewable content in gasoline by 2025 and highlight the retail success of 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel, or E15.

"For decades now, North American farmers and ethanol producers have continued to benefit from tariff-free borders," the comments noted. "With an existing North American supply chain, Ontario can rest assured that the increase in demand from a move to 15 percent ethanol will be met by this vibrant marketplace. Collectively, the North American industry is poised to assist Ontario attain its ambitious climate goals and to support this ambitious provincial move."

The comments also thanked Ontario's Ministry of the Environment for taking into consideration our previously submitted comments, from 2017 and 2018, on the environmental benefits of higher level ethanol blends, such as E15, in their plan. Doing so offers environmental and economic benefits to the people of Ontario and will help to achieve Canada's long-term climate goals.

"We appreciate the ministry taking our previous comments of March 2017 and January 2018 into account and strongly support the proposal to increase the ethanol content of gasoline to 15 percent by 2025. As we noted in our earlier comments, increasing ethanol concentrations in fuel presents tremendous benefits to the public in the form of lower GHG emissions, lower levels of other pollutants, improved fuel properties (cleaner and cooler burning), and economic benefits to Canada’s critical agricultural economy."

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/25/2019

Here is the weekly ethanol supply-and-demand data for the week ended 1/25/2019.

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production decreased 1.8% (down 19,000 barrels per day, or b/d) to an average of 1.012 million b/d—or 42.50 million gallons daily. The four-week average for ethanol production remained at 1.023 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.68 billion gallons. Weekly production was 2.7% lower than the level a year ago, while the four-week average was 1.6% lower.

Stocks of ethanol increased 2.1% to a 15-week high of 24.0 million barrels. The stocks build occurred primarily on the Gulf Coast.

There were zero imports recorded for the eleventh week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline supplied to the market vaulted 7.8% to a 20-week high of 9.564 million b/d (401.7 million gallons per day), equivalent to 146.62 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol slid 1.5% to 870,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.34 billion gallons annualized. Still, ethanol blending remains higher on a weekly (1.4%) and 4-week average (2.8%) basis than year ago levels.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 10.58%.

All Fertilizers Higher Last Full Week of January

Retail prices of all eight of the major fertilizers moved higher the last full week of January 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. It was the second week in a row that prices for all fertilizers were higher.

While prices are higher compared to last month, none were up a significant amount, which DTN defines as a price move of 5% or more.

DAP had an average price of $512 per ton, up $5/ton; MAP $535/ton, up $2/ton; potash $383/ton, up $4/ton; urea $409/ton, up $2/ton; 10-34-0 $467/ton, up $10/ton; anhydrous $584/ton, up $16/ton; UAN28 $270/ton, up $4/ton; and UAN32 $313/ton, up $10/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.49/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year. MAP is 9% more expensive, both DAP and potash are 12% higher, 10-34-0 is 13% more expensive, urea is 16% higher, anhydrous is 19% more expensive and both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 20% higher compared to last year.

Geaux Time: Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show Kicks Off in New Orleans

Nearly 8,000 cattlemen and cattlewomen were on-hand in New Orleans for the official start of the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show. The event runs through February 2, 2019, bringing together producers from across the country.

“Every year the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show hosts members from every segment of the beef industry,” said NCBA President Kevin Kester. “Not only is the event a great opportunity for attendees to network and learn about the newest technology and science to improve their operations, but it’s also when we set our policy priorities for the next year.”

Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw delivered the keynote address at the Opening General Session. In addition to his football and broadcasting career, Bradshaw is a gospel/country singer, best-selling author and breeder of championship quarter horses.

Attendees at the Convention will have the chance to visit the 6.5-acre trade show and attend a wide range of engaging events. This includes live cattle handling demonstrations and the popular Cattlemen’s College, a series of educational sessions that cover topics like herd management, cattle health, and improving profitability. Cattlemen’s College is famous for stimulating and thought-provoking sessions that can help generate high returns for producers’ operations.

Other highlights this week include the D.C. public policy issues update, NCBA policy committee meetings, the “Mardi Gras Masquerade” hosted at Mardi Gras World, and the Cowboy Concert Series featuring music stars Big and Rich. 

The Convention will wrap up Saturday morning with a meeting of the NCBA’s Board of Directors, where official public policy positions will be set for the coming year.

Holding their meetings at this event were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

Export Skepticism Not Warranted as Global Market is Key for US Protein in 2019

Per capita animal protein consumption in the U.S. will climb to an all-time high in 2019, surpassing the previous record set in 2006, prior to the 2008 financial crisis and the run-up in feed costs. However, the animal protein sector is entering a period of transition as four consecutive years of significant domestic consumption growth is now beginning to pressure prices and producers’ bottom lines. Export growth will be key for U.S. beef, pork and chicken producers as growing meat supplies and processing capacity outstrip domestic demand, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

“The domestic consumption growth rate animal protein has experienced over the last five years is expected to plateau soon,” said Will Sawyer, animal protein economist with CoBank’s KED. “With the cow herd at multi-year highs and pork and poultry processors expanding capacity, exports will likely underpin further industry expansion for the U.S. in the years ahead.”

With U.S. consumers struggling to increase their appetite for meat and poultry going forward, and with significantly higher economic and consumption growth abroad, the U.S. animal protein sectors will need to increase their focus on international markets for growth.

In 2018, the U.S. exported 12 percent of beef production, 16 percent of chicken production and 23 percent of pork production. While these figures are far higher than where the industry was 20 years ago, further growth in exports will be needed if U.S. producers want to expand production in the coming years.

“While the need for increasing exports is clear, it’s frequently met with concern or skepticism among producers and all links throughout the supply chain,” said Sawyer. “Concerns lie primarily in the fear that the more exports play a role in supply and demand, the more exposure producers and industry participants have to increased market volatility and lower margins.”
Bigger Risk, Bigger Reward

Greater reliance on export markets has resulted in higher prices for the animal protein sectors in other exporting nations, including Australia, Brazil and Canada. However, analysis shows that greater profitability has offset that price volatility for beef, pork and poultry producers in each of those countries, despite declining domestic consumption in both Australia and Canada.

In the comparison of Brazilian poultry to U.S. poultry, Brazilian poultry price volatility over the last fifteen years has averaged approximately 15 percent per year, while in the U.S. it has been slightly less at around 12 percent. Conversely, over that same time period Brazil’s poultry producers have seen an average increase in prices of six percent, while prices for U.S. producers have increased just 2.6 percent.

“In other words, Brazilian producers experience just 2.5 percent of price volatility for every percent increase in prices while U.S. producers endure 4.5 percent of price volatility for the same degree of price change,” said Sawyer.

This superior risk-to-reward level is also true for Canadian pork and Australian beef relative to the U.S. In the case of Australia, fed cattle prices have been slightly less volatile than what U.S. producers have experienced over the last fifteen years, all while having a slightly higher rate of return. This is significant as Australia exported 71 percent of its production in 2018 while the U.S. exported just 12 percent, which were all-time high levels for both markets.

Growth opportunities involving exports can carry significant risks as demonstrated during recent trade disputes between the U.S. and some of the most important international customers for U.S. animal protein. However, those who accept these risks are often rewarded, according to Sawyer.

“Profitable growth has always been at the core of the industry, and has enabled producers and processors to recover from the historic volatility and costs from 2007 through 2012,” added Sawyer. “The groundwork has already been laid from the supply chain to industry representation to let trade drive the industry forward over the next decade. Long-term, exports will be the key driver for further expansion across the animal protein sector.”

With meat supplies back at all-time highs, opportunity for growth lies in international markets, Sawyer concludes. The increased market volatility that comes with greater exposure to export markets is offset by higher prices and improved profitability for producers.

Farmers, Ranchers Need USMCA

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Farmers need the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and the sooner the better. U.S. agriculture needs strong trade agreements to access customers around the world and grow our farm economy. We are grateful for the Administration’s work to move this agreement forward. We urge Congress to finish the job and  approve the USMCA quickly.

“USMCA’s predecessor, NAFTA, has boosted agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada dramatically – we’ve gone from $8.9 billion to $39 billion in the 25 years since NAFTA went into effect. That’s an obvious victory in boosting our industry’s strong trade surplus with the rest of the world.

“Steel and aluminum disputes with our North American neighbors and other trading partners will be a challenge for farmers and ranchers until those disagreements are resolved. We urge the Administration to resolve those outstanding issues as soon as possible. Farmers and ranchers need fair and open markets.”

NMPF, IDFA Support Legislation Allowing Whole Milk in School Meals

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) welcome the introduction of legislation sponsored by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, allowing whole milk in school nutrition programs.

The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019 (H.R. 832) has eight other co-sponsors, including Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee.

Adding whole milk to school menus reflects research showing that such products benefit children and gives school administrators one more tool with which to develop healthy eating habits.

“Whole milk provides yet another way for children to receive dairy’s nutritional benefits as part of a healthy eating pattern,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “This bill encourages the proper nutrition they need to lead healthy lives.”

“We thank Rep. Thompson for his leadership and Chairman Peterson for being an original co-sponsor on this bill to allow schools more flexibility to offer the same types of milk that children and teens enjoy at home. Providing expanded milk options will help ensure that students get the nutrients that milk uniquely provides, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA.

Study Shows Trade Agreements by Competitors will Threaten U.S. Dairy Exports to Japan

A study released today by the U.S. Dairy Export Council projects that new trade agreements between Japan and other countries will put U.S. dairy exports at a competitive disadvantage, resulting in lost U.S. sales of $5.4 billion over 21 years.

The Japanese dairy market, the fourth-largest export destination for U.S. dairy exports, is expected to continue to grow in years to come. With a level playing field, the United States could roughly double its market share, according to the study, which was conducted by Tokyo-based Meros Consulting.

However, without swift and effective action by the United States to secure a strong trade treaty with Japan that exceeds Japan’s agreements with Australia, New Zealand and the European Union, the United States could see its market share drop in half over the next decade.

Australia and New Zealand have the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in place with Japan already, and as of this Friday, Europe’s agreement with Japan will take effect, too. Without a strong U.S.-Japan trade treaty, competitors will seize a cumulative $1.3 billion in dairy sales over the next decade that would otherwise have been supplied from the United States, a toll that climbs to $5.4 billion once the CPTPP and Japan-EU agreements are fully implemented.

“These agreements will give our competition a significant economic advantage that will enable them to increase their market share in Japan, costing the U.S. dairy industry billions of dollars in lost sales,” said Tom Vilsack, USDEC president and CEO. “U.S. dairy farmers and processors strongly support the Administration’s launch of trade talks with Japan. We hope this report provides fresh ammunition to our negotiators about why a strong U.S.-Japan agreement is so important for American agriculture.”

“U.S. dairy farmers are facing economic hardships, and expanding opportunities overseas is the best way to counter that,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). “A trade deal with Japan that significantly expands dairy access would make 2019 a brighter year.” 

Summit panel to explore how to engage influencers about animal agriculture

Early registration rates are available through Friday, February 1 for the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2019 Stakeholders Summit themed, A Seat At The Table. The event will be held May 8-9 at the InterContinental at the Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. To view the agenda and register, visit

The Summit will feature a panel titled, “Conversations Around the Table: Engaging Influencers” with Hana Bieliauskas, digital practice lead at Inspire PR Group, Ruth Woiwode, PhD, manager of livestock audit services at Food Safety Net Services, Lauren Lane, owner and blogger at Lauren Lane Culinarian and Adriane Heins of Heins Family Farms. The panelists will explore how to effectively engage with influencers about animal agriculture and connect with consumers about modern food production. Andy Vance of Feedstuffs will moderate the panel.

“Engaging opinion leaders about animal agriculture can be tricky, but is one of the most effective ways to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of communications. “Our panel of experts will be sharing personal experiences, tips and lessons learned from influencer farm tours and other tactics that can help attendees plan their own influencer engagement.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tuesday January 29 Ag News

NE USDA FSA: Information on Revised Deadlines Due to Impact of Government Shutdown
Bobbie Kriz-Wickham, Public Affairs/Outreach Coordinator

With the end of the partial government shutdown, Nebraska Farm Service Agency offices across the state are now fully open and able to provide service on all programs.

Due to the impact of the shutdown, FSA has extended deadlines for many of its programs. Below are those updated deadlines applicable in Nebraska:
-    Market Facilitation Program - Deadline to apply extended to Feb. 14, 2019
-    Marketing Assistance Loans - If loan matured in December 2018, settlement date extended to Feb. 14, 2019
-    Emergency Conservation Program - Performance reporting due Feb. 14, 2019
-    Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program - Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019
-    Livestock Indemnity Program - Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019
-    Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program -
      * Notice of loss for 72-hour harvest and grazing (as applicable) due Feb. 14, 2019
      * Notice of loss for prevented planting and failed acres due Feb. 14, 2019
      * Applications for payment for 2018 covered losses due Feb. 14, 2019
-    Tree Assistance Program - Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019
-    Acreage Reporting - January reporting deadlines extended to Feb. 14, 2019; in Nebraska for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), this includes honey bees and grapes

For specific inquiries related to these programs or any not listed above, individuals are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Tells House Ways and Means Committee “Necessity” Drove Development of New Association Health Plan

The Nebraska Farm Bureau’s new Association Health Plan (AHP) was driven by the need to serve Nebraska farm and ranch families struggling to find affordable health insurance in the wake of changes in the insurance industry resulting from passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) nearly a decade ago. In providing invited testimony before a full contingency of the House Ways and Means Committee, Nebraska Farm Bureau Chief Administrator Rob Robertson testified that the organization’s first-of-its-kind AHP was borne out of necessity to help those in need.

“Escalating health care and health insurance costs were among the top concerns registered by farmers and ranchers who attended a series of listening sessions held across our state in the summer of 2018. Whether it was reports of health care premiums becoming the first or second highest living expense, stories of spouses having to find off-farm work to secure employer provided health insurance, or families (young and old) dropping health care insurance all together, we heard directly from those struggling with how to deal with increasing health insurance costs,” said Robertson.

Robertson’s testimony was provided as part the Committee’s hearing on “Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.” The Nebraska Farm Bureau AHP is both ACA compliant and covers pre-existing conditions.

“In creating our AHP, we believed it was imperative to cover pre-existing conditions. We wanted to offer great coverage to our farmers and ranchers that was reasonably priced. Allowing farmers and ranchers to pool together to form a large health insurance group through the AHP was the best way we could offer this product at a discounted rate from the high costs of premiums in the individual market. Without the ability to form a bona fide large employer group, farm and ranch members would be stuck with the high costs and limited options in the individual health insurance market, if they could afford them at all,” said Robertson.

In testimony, Robertson provided a real-life example of how the AHP is helping Nebraska Farm Bureau members.

“We had a husband and wife who farm together in Southeast Nebraska sign-up for our AHP. They are self-employed and had seen the cost of their health insurance premiums continue to rise, especially over the last two years. They were going to have to spend more than $26,000 for their health plan in 2019. By enrolling in our AHP and being part of a larger group health plan, they were able to get the same coverage and pay just under $19,000,” said Robertson.

Outside of simply saving money on premiums, Robertson pointed out numerous examples of enrollees who previously went without health insurance, who have now entered the health insurance marketplace because of the more affordable plans offered under the Nebraska Farm Bureau AHP.

“Our organization’s goal in developing the AHP was to help offer a more affordable health insurance option that provided quality coverage, including coverage for pre-existing conditions for our member families. With only one year under our belt and with just under 700 enrollees, we believe we have done that, and are looking forward to offering similar coverage again in future years,” Robertson told the Committee.

Gregg; Naig to participate in Trade Mission to Colombia, Panama

Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will be participating in an international trade mission to South America, led by Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) officials, on Feb. 3-9, 2019. This will be Lt. Governor Gregg’s first trade mission since taking the oath of office on Jan. 18, 2019.

“Trade missions are an important part of strengthening Iowa’s economy.  They help us open and expand manufacturing and agricultural markets, while simultaneously building upon our international relationships,” said Lt. Gov Gregg. “In a new and fast changing economy, Iowans are connected to the global market.  I am honored to represent Iowa in Columbia and Panama on our state’s behalf.”

Iowa is the second largest ag exporting state in the country with more than $13.2 billion in agricultural exports annually. Last year, over $80 million in Iowa goods went to Colombia, with a 247% increase in trade just within the first six months of 2018. Colombia is a top 25 trading partner with the United States overall, and is America’s eleventh largest agricultural export market. Panama is a strategic partner for U.S. exports, serving as a crossroads of international trade located between two oceans and two continents.

“One of my top priorities is to focus on expanding markets for Iowa’s crop farmers, livestock producers, and agribusinesses,” said Secretary Naig. “I look forward to joining Lt. Gov. Gregg and Iowa farmers on this trade mission to market Iowa’s brand and quality agricultural products.

Others participating in the trade mission include: Iowa Pork Producers Association; Iowa Corn Growers; Iowa Soybean Association; Iowa Farm Bureau Federation; and Midwest Premier Foods.

USDA Expected to Release Delayed Reports on Feb. 8

Farmers and industry officials looking for agricultural data will have to wait until February 8 to get access to some of the delayed USDA reports. Chief Economist Dr. Robert Johansson said Monday that the agency will release the major reports delayed by the government shutdown on that date.

Some of the reports expected to be released include the February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate, January crop production reports, the annual crop production report, grain stocks, rice stocks, winter wheat and canola seedings and cotton ginnings.

Some of the other reports that do not USDA a lockup for analysis could be released prior to February 8.

NPPC Urges $3.5 Billion Chinese Pork Purchase

With Chinese officials in Washington to discuss trade relations, the National Pork Producers Council today urged the United States and China to quickly resolve their trade differences and asked the Asian nation to make a minimum $3.5 billion purchase of U.S. pork over the next five years.

China is the largest consumer of pork in the world, making it a top market for U.S. pork exports over the past several years. (The U.S. pork industry in 2017 shipped $1.1 billion of product there, making it the No. 3 export destination for U.S. pork.) Pork is said to represent about 15 percent of the Consumer Price Index in China and could single-handedly make a huge dent in the U.S.-China trade imbalance.

“China has been a tremendous market for U.S. pork and, absent numerous trade barriers, probably would be our No. 1 export market,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Ohio. “But, never mind China’s preexisting barriers on U.S. pork, the 50 percent punitive tariffs on U.S. pork have slowed our exports to a trickle. We call on the Chinese to begin immediate purchases of U.S. pork of at least 350,000 tons each year from the United States for the next five years.”

U.S. pork producers now face tariffs of 62 percent on exports to China, which in early April 2018 imposed a 25 percent tariff in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum and in June added another 25 percent duty in retaliation for the U.S. tariffs levied on a host of Chinese goods because of China’s treatment of U.S. intellectual property and forced transfers of American technology. China already had a 12 percent tariff on U.S. pork, and the country has a 13 percent value-added tax on most agricultural imports. In addition, a collection of other non-tariff barriers has chronically suppressed U.S. pork exports to China over the years.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes calculates that because of the 50 percent punitive tariffs, U.S. pork producers have lost $8 per hog, or more than $1 billion on an annualized basis. (Producers have lost an additional $12 per hog, collectively $1.5 billion in the industry, because of Mexico’s punitive 20 percent tariffs in retaliation for U.S. metals tariffs.) Hayes says that if China purchases at least 350,000 tons of U.S. pork each year for five years, the total deal would be worth approximately $3.5 billion in sales. According to Hayes, that would put a significant dent in the U.S.-China trade imbalance and create 5,250 new jobs in the United States. He notes that the timing for the purchases is good since China needs to import more pork to mitigate the impact of African Swine Fever on the Chinese pig herd.

The news media has reported that in an effort to end the trade dispute, China has offered to buy $1 trillion of U.S. goods over the next six years.

Biodiesel Market in EU Opens for U.S. Soybeans

Conservation practices required for U.S. soybean production meet EU sustainability standards, and biodiesel produced from documented soybeans can now be used in the EU, the European Commission has formally announced.

The EU requires biofuels to meet a set of sustainability criteria outlined in its Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The U.S. soy industry has its own sustainability guideline, the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) that, with this announcement, the EU acknowledges meets its rigorous RED requirements.

Davie Stephens, a soybean grower from Clinton, Ky., and American Soybean Association (ASA) president said, “U.S. farmers have long prided themselves on adopting newer and better methods for producing high-quality soybeans that are grown responsibly and sustainably. The SSAP sets a high standard that demonstrates that commitment, and we are pleased that the EU Commission has recognized our efforts by opening the door for SSAP-certified soybeans to be used in EU biodiesel.”

The United States is the lead supplier of soybeans to the EU, and while this announcement applies only to soybeans exported for biodiesel, ASA sees it as a positive step for enhancing its EU market and validating the quality of the SSAP sustainability initiative. The EU’s decision will remain in place through at least July 1, 2021.

ACE calls on Senators to secure tangible documentation of Wheeler’s intentions before confirmation vote

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings sent a letter to U.S. Senators today encouraging they secure tangible documentation on two critically important ethanol issues from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler before casting their confirmation vote: finalizing a legally-defensible Reid vapor pressure (RVP) rule to allow E15 use year-round before the summer driving season, and reallocating ethanol blending obligations waived for 2016 and 2017 through the Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) provision of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“There is no better way to guarantee the RVP rule and reallocation of refinery waivers are addressed than by insisting Mr. Wheeler provide tangible evidence of his intentions on these issues prior to voting to confirm him,” the letter stated.

The government shutdown is not a credible excuse for a delay in the E15 rulemaking the letter explains, providing the example of how in eight days the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put forward a new food stamp work requirement proposal as a time in recent history that proves the Trump Administration can expedite high priority rulemakings.

“It has been more than 100 days since the President directed EPA to initiate a rulemaking to allow E15 use year-round,” the letter stated. “What is taking EPA so long to act?”

The RVP rule is particularly time-sensitive. Under EPA’s existing regulations, E15 cannot be sold in most areas of the country from June 1 to September 15, leaving just four short months from today to complete the rulemaking process. Unfortunately, EPA needlessly plans to combine the RVP rule with reforms to the way Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) are handled under the RFS. The letter concludes by advising Senators that “Acting Administrator Wheeler should be encouraged to decouple RIN reforms from the RVP rule to ensure E15 can be offered for sale by June 1.”

Lindsay and Nutrien Ag Solutions Collaborate on Ag Water Use

Lindsay Corporation, Omaha, and Nutrien Ag Solutions, the retail division of Nutrien Ltd., the world's largest provider of crop inputs and services, Monday announced a partnership that will enable Nutrien Ag Solutions crop consultants (the company has over 3,500) to leverage Lindsay's remote irrigation management and scheduling platform to supplement Nutrien Ag Solutions' offerings. Through this partnership, Lindsay and Nutrien Ag Solutions will also automate the transfer of as-applied data from Lindsay's FieldNET Advisor to the Nutrien Ag Solutions digital platform to strengthen growers' ability to optimize water application amount and timing at every point throughout their fields.

Nutrien Ag Solutions provides crop input products and services that help growers make informed agronomic decisions. This collaboration means that Nutrien Ag Solutions can now add Lindsay's FieldNET Advisor to its digital and agronomic offerings, enabling growers to better streamline water usage as part of their overall field management plan. The Nutrien Ag Solutions digital platform leverages deep agronomic data science and leading-edge technology to solve real world problems for growers.

"Because growers depend on us to deliver solutions that optimize outcomes in the most sustainable way, we are committed to finding industry partners that share our mission of applying the best science and technology towards complex agricultural issues," said Sol Goldfarb, vice president, digital strategy, at Nutrien Ag Solutions. "Our partnership with Lindsay means growers can augment their knowledge and experience with real-time digital insights from FieldNET Advisor."

FieldNET Advisor, a solution available through Lindsay's FieldNET remote irrigation monitoring and control platform, is the world's first cloud-based irrigation scheduling tool that delivers automated, daily irrigation recommendations, helping growers decide precisely when, where and how much to irrigate.

"We are excited and honored to be partnering with Nutrien Ag Solutions," said Brian Magnusson, vice president of technology and innovation at Lindsay. "This collaboration will demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of FieldNET Advisor not only at the individual grower level, but also for the ag retail business. Due in large part to FieldNET Advisor's versatility, we expect to continue to see meaningful results across the precision ag value chain."

The data connection between the Nutrien Ag Solutions digital platform and Lindsay's FieldNET Advisor will save growers time by streamlining data collection and entry and will further improve the precision of the resulting crop zones, agronomic models and variable rate prescriptions. This data connection is expected to be available later in 2019.

Feed Survey estimates world feed production increased by 3 percent

The 2019 Alltech Global Feed Survey, released today, estimates that international feed tonnage has increased by a strong 3 percent to 1.103 billion metric tons of feed produced in 2018, exceeding 1 billion metric tons for the third consecutive year. The eighth edition of the annual survey includes data from 144 countries and nearly 30,000 feed mills. The feed industry has seen 14.6 percent growth over the past five years, equating to an average of 2.76 percent per annum. As the population grows, so does the middle class, which is well reflected in an increase in overall protein consumption.

The top eight countries are China, the U.S., Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, Spain and Turkey. Together, they produce 55 percent of the world’s feed production and contain 59 percent of the world’s feed mills, and they can be viewed as an indicator of the trends in agriculture. Predominant growth came from the layer, broiler and dairy feed sectors.

“Alltech works together with feed mills, industry and government entities around the world to compile data and insights to provide an assessment of feed production each year,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “We are proud to present the eighth annual Alltech Global Feed Survey and share the results publicly to demonstrate the importance of the animal feed industry as we strive to provide for a planet of plenty.”

The Alltech Global Feed Survey assesses compound feed production and prices through information collected by Alltech’s global sales team and in partnership with local feed associations in the last quarter of 2018. It is an estimate and is intended to serve as an information resource for policymakers, decision-makers and industry stakeholders.

Regional results from the 2019 Alltech Global Feed Survey

·        North America: North America saw steady growth of 2 percent over last year due to an increase in the major species, with beef and broilers leading the growth at 3 percent each. The U.S. remained the second-largest feed-producing country globally, behind China. Feed prices in North America are the lowest globally across all species, and with the availability of land, water and other resources, the region is expected to remain a primary contributor to feed production.

·        Latin America: As a region, Latin America was relatively stagnant this year. Brazil remained the leader in feed production for the region and third overall globally. Brazil, Mexico and Argentina continue to produce the majority of feed in Latin America, with 76 percent of regional feed production. Brazil stayed flat, while Mexico and Argentina saw growth of 1 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Colombia’s feed production grew by approximately 8 percent, primarily due to an increase in pork and egg production. Several countries saw a decline in feed production, such as Venezuela (-27 percent), El Salvador (-16 percent) and Chile (-8 percent).

·        Europe: Europe saw an overall growth of about 4 percent over last year, making it the second-fastest-growing region in the survey, resulting from feed production increases in layer (7 percent), broiler (5 percent), aquaculture (5 percent), dairy (4 percent) and pig (3 percent). Beef was the only primary protein species to decline, though it was less than 1 percent.

Much of the region’s growth can be attributed to smaller countries, such as Turkmenistan, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which all saw increases in overall production estimates of 20 percent or more. Additionally, larger-producing countries like Russia, Spain and Turkey saw strong increases in feed production estimates, which added to the overall production growth.

·        Asia-Pacific: The Asia-Pacific region is home to several of the top 10 feed-producing countries, including China, India and Japan, and accounted for more than 36 percent of the world’s feed tonnage. China maintained status as the top feed-producing country in the world with 187.89 million metric tons, with 10 million metric tons more than the U.S. Increased production for Asia-Pacific came from India with 13 percent due to growth in dairy, layer and broiler feeds. Other countries that demonstrated higher growth variance included Pakistan, Myanmar and Laos. Southeast Asia’s feed production represented over 20 percent of the Asia-Pacific region’s feed production, with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand contributing to 93 percent of Southeast Asia’s feed production.

·        Africa: Africa continued strong growth with a 5 percent increase in overall feed production, and no country in the region saw a decline. Morocco demonstrated strong growth across dairy, beef, layers, broilers and turkeys. The areas that declined for feed production were equine (-4 percent) and pets (-14 percent). These two areas represent a very small proportion of Africa’s overall production, so the impact is very minimal. Most of the major animal production species in ruminant and poultry contributed to the overall growth of the region.

Notable species results from the 2019 Alltech Global Feed Survey

·        In the poultry industry, major growth areas for layer feed included Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. In Europe, Poland and Uzbekistan each saw growth of around 200,000 metric tons. Latin America had increases in Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Mexico. In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea, India and Indonesia all saw growth of several hundred metric tons. North America experienced overall growth of 2 percent, in which both the U.S. and Canada saw increased production. Africa saw a small decrease in layer production due to declines in both Egypt and Seychelles.

Globally, broiler production increased by approximately 3 percent in 2018. There was growth in all regions, except for Latin America, in which a very small decline was observed. Africa showed 9 percent growth, demonstrating an overall trend that as populations grow and become wealthier, interest in protein — particularly in palatable chicken — does as well.

·        Pig feed production saw an increase of nearly 1 percent in 2018. The primary producing region for pig feed is Asia-Pacific, but this was also the only region that saw a decline in pig feed production as Mongolia, Vietnam, China, New Zealand and Japan experienced decreases. From a tonnage standpoint, Europe saw the largest growth at approximately 2.2 million metric tons. Russia and Spain accounted for the majority, while Finland, Denmark, France and Poland also contributed. Latin America saw the greatest growth in pig feed as a percentage at 5 percent, with the largest growth seen in Mexico and Argentina.

·        Global dairy feed production saw growth in North American, Europe and Africa, while Latin America remained flat. Europe, a global leader in dairy production, grew on average by approximately 4 percent. The largest increase was in Turkey with 10 percent, while Ireland, Russia and the U.K. also contributed to the region’s growth. Africa’s growth was primarily due to a significant increase in both Morocco and Nigeria.  

·        North America has always led beef feed production and continues to do so with an increase of 3 percent in 2018. Europe saw a small decline at barely 1 percent and remained in second place. Latin America saw strong growth of approximately 8 percent, with Mexico and Argentina as the primary contributors. As a result, the Latin American region has taken third place in beef feed production, moving ahead of the Asia-Pacific region.  China and Australia both saw growth in the Asia-Pacific region but could not offset the overall decline in countries such as Bangladesh, Mongolia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Pakistan.

·        Overall, aquaculture feeds showed growth of 4 percent over last year. This was primarily attributed to strong increases in the Asia-Pacific and European regions. The traditional Asia-Pacific leaders in aquaculture, Vietnam, India and Indonesia, combined for an additional 1.58 million metric tons of feed in the region. China, the region’s leader, also saw an increase of 1 percent over last year. The primary European leaders either experienced strong growth or remained relatively flat. Those that did grow included Norway and Turkey, both at 7 percent, and Spain at a substantial 31 percent. The other regions remained relatively flat or saw only a 1 percent increase or decrease in feed production, demonstrating the continuity of the industry as a whole.

·        The pet food sector saw growth of approximately 1 percent, primarily attributed to an increase in the Asia-Pacific region, which was offset by a decrease in the Latin American and African regions. North America and the Middle East both remained relatively flat. In previous surveys, Europe had been the top-producing region for pet food production, but after a reassessment of 2017 numbers and despite growth of 2 percent, it ranks just behind North America. Europe is estimated in 2018 to have produced 8.6 million metric tons in total, approximately 200,000 behind North America. Africa saw a small decrease in production, but the actual tonnage is quite small compared to many of the other regions. The Latin American region experienced a decrease of about 5 percent, which was spread across several countries, including Chile, Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia, Argentina and Ecuador.

To access more data and insights from the 2019 Alltech Global Feed Survey, including the results booklet, an interactive global map and a pre-recorded video presentation of the results by Dr. Mark Lyons, visit

NFU Board Urges Significant Strengthening of the Family Farm Safety Net

As the slump in farm commodity prices persists and trade disputes compound these market challenges, family farmers’ and ranchers’ economic security is at significant risk, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors. The NFU Board passed a resolution calling on the administration and Congress to work together to strengthen the farm safety net to help farm families weather the coming years.

“Economic challenges have forced many farmers into significant financial strain, particularly beginning farmers and ranchers who have not had the ability to build up equity,” said the NFU Board. “Despite their best efforts, many farmers are struggling to stay afloat. We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to find solutions that will provide significant, long-term answers to strengthen the farm safety net.”

The NFU Board noted that net farm income in 2018 is estimated to be nearly 50 percent less than 2013 levels, and that median farm income is estimated to be negative $1,548, meaning a majority of farms—farms of all sizes—lost money last year. It said that ongoing disputes with China and other key trading partners caused further damage to U.S. agricultural markets.

“The short-term assistance provided through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program was appreciated but fails to provide long-term relief,” said the NFU Board. “Regardless of when and how existing trade disputes are resolved, it will take decades to overcome the self-inflicted damage to our markets.”

The NFU Board added that the recently passed farm bill provides meaningful but modest relief. “Changes to Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage will improve each program’s effectiveness and will eventually strengthen the levels of support they provide. The Dairy Margin Coverage program is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Margin Protection Program,” it said.

“However, in neither case do the changes reflect the severity of existing market challenges and the immediacy of the financial crisis facing family farmers and ranchers,” it added.

In addition to bolstering the safety net, the NFU Board urged Congress to examine options to meaningfully address chronic oversupply in the marketplace, which has been particularly damaging to U.S. dairy and grains sectors.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday January 28 Ag News


Research findings and industry updates will be the focus of the Nebraska Extension Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 12-14.  Topics were selected to benefit feedlot managers, owners, employees, and those working in the allied industry.

One issue facing all producers is the ability to attract and retain employees. Because this is the biggest issue facing our feedyards, Dr. Scott MacGregor was invited to offer some options for feedyards to enhance employee retention and management succession.

Another topic facing the beef industry is lab-grown proteins. Danielle Beck with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will offer the latest information on where that industry is and how it will be regulated. As is tradition, relevant research findings will be presented on issues such as congestive heart failure, nutrition, and management practices for the area, and there will be an update on activities from the Nebraska Beef Council.

Roundtables are scheduled for
Tuesday, February 12 ― Bridgeport, Prairie Winds Community Center
Wednesday, February 13 ― Lexington, Dawson County Extension Office
Thursday, February 14 ― West Point, Nielsen Community Center

Registration begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by presentations from 1 to 5 p.m. Following the program, Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training and certification or recertification will be available each day.

The meeting is organized by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Beef Council.

Online registration is encouraged and available at Cost is $20 at the door if preregistered and $40 for walk-ins.

For more information or to request a printed registration form, contact Galen Erickson, Nebraska Extension beef feedlot nutrition specialist, at 402-472-6486 or

Legislation Addresses Inequity in K-12 Student Funding, Lowers Property Taxes

State lawmakers have introduced a proposal (LB 497) to ensure the state of Nebraska provides resources to cover basic education costs for all of Nebraska’s K-12 public school students. Today, only 69 of Nebraska’s 244 school districts receive state equalization aid. The limited assistance has led to significant disparities in how Nebraska funds education for some students compared to others across the state.

“Good schools and quality education are important to our kids, our families, and our businesses. Because of its importance, the state has an obligation to support our children’s education, regardless of where they live or the school they attend. However, we have situations today where the state is paying for 100 percent of basic education funding for students in one school district, while covering less than one percent of the basic education costs in another. That level of disparity shouldn’t exist,” said Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, the bill’s sponsor.

Nebraska’s current K-12 funding system has not only led to inequity in education funding among students, but also in sources used to fund schools. While all K-12 schools draw on property taxes for funding, schools receiving little or no state equalization rely much more heavily on local property taxes for funding. The proposal would broaden the sources used to fund Nebraska’s K-12 schools to alleviate pressure on local property taxes.

“The way we’ve been funding schools has put tremendous pressure on property taxes. Roughly 60 percent of all property taxes collected in the state go to K-12 school funding. As a result, Nebraskans now pay some of the highest property tax bills in the country,” said Friesen.

The bill contains several provisions to address both the inequity in school funding and overreliance on property taxes, including:
·         Guaranteeing every public school in Nebraska receives state support equal to 50 percent of basic education funding needs.
·         Adjusting the local resources component of the state aid formula to provide more state equalization aid to individual school districts to replace property taxes.
·         Modifying the aid formula so schools with large amounts of agricultural land would have a better chance of receiving equalization aid.
·         Ensuring additional state aid to schools are used to replace local property taxes.
·         Broadening the sources of state aid funding for use in replacing local property taxes, including elimination of some sales tax exemptions, capturing internet sales tax revenues, increases in cigarette and alcohol taxes, and elimination of the personal property tax exemption.

In addition to replacing property taxes with broadened revenues, the bill also contains a provision making a one-time allocation to help replenish the state’s cash reserve fund.

“This bill provides an overall framework from which we can replace parts of our school funding system that aren’t working for our students and taxpayers. To do that we’re broadening the sources we use to fund education and reducing our overreliance on property taxes. There is a better a way to fund K-12 public education than how we’re doing it today. This bill moves Nebraska in a better direction,” said Friesen.

Several senators have co-sponsored the bill.

"The disparity of basic education funding from the state has created an unfair system that hurts property taxpayers, especially in rural communities. LB 497's restructuring of the school funding equalization formula is an important step in reducing the property tax burden, while still ensuring we provide the best education possible for our children. I look forward to working with Senator Friesen and the Revenue Committee to ensure that we pass legislation that benefits all Nebraskans."
-          Sen. Joni Albrecht, Dist. 17

“Property tax relief is on the mind of nearly all of my constituents. It is my number one concern as a legislator, and it will continue to be until we have real relief. This mess was created over many years and there is no ‘easy fix’ for something this big. LB 497 provides a revenue stream that will help alleviate the immense burden placed upon our homeowners, business owners, and farmers and ranchers.”
-          Sen. Tom Brandt, Dist. 32

“As I campaigned across District 38, the message I consistently got from my constituents is that we need substantially lower property taxes and more fair funding for our schools. I promised that when elected I would do everything in my power to achieve that goal. Now that I am in the Legislature, I am getting the same message from many other senators, both rural and urban. LB 497 will go a long way toward solving the overreliance on property taxes in Nebraska while maintaining the high quality of education in our state.”
-          Sen. Dave Murman, Dist. 38

“Since the majority of property tax revenue is directed to school districts, the school finance formula needs to be part of any plan for property tax relief. LB 497 addresses both the state aid formula and provides property tax relief, giving the Legislature a credible plan to work with.”
-          Sen. Tim Gragert, Dist. 40

"The only responsible path moving forward to providing the meaningful and significant property tax relief we need is raising new revenue. I have always maintained that responsible government spending is a priority, but you cannot slash and burn your way out of trouble. In a state with an ag-based economy, providing our farmers and ranchers with meaningful and substantial property tax relief is truly one of the keys to economic growth for the state. I believe that Sen. Friesen's bill brings a number of thoughtful proposals to the discussion around property tax relief."
-          Sen. Tom Briese, Dist. 41

“I am proud to co-sponsor Sen. Friesen's bill, LB 497. Obviously, the devil is in the details and we will all have to work together to get something that will attract the votes we need to pass property tax relief. I am glad Sen. Friesen is leading on this issue. I think his contribution to this effort is crucial.”
-          Sen. Tom Brewer, Dist. 43

"LB 497 is the result of a great collaborative effort by my colleagues and other interests who want to better balance the way we fund schools and provide property tax relief. I'm very excited about the possibilities of significant property tax reduction becoming a reality for Nebraskans.”
-          Sen. Dan Hughes, Dist. 44

“The Nebraska State Constitution says, ‘The Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state of all persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years.’ When some school districts get less than one percent of their funding from the state, it is safe to say that the Legislature has been negligent in their duty to provide for free instruction in the common schools.  Because only 69 of Nebraska’s 244 school districts receive state equalization aid, the time has come to restore a sense of equity and balance to the way we fund our schools. I co-signed LB 497 because the bill will restore this sense of fairness and balance to our public schools, and it will provide our farmers and ranchers with some much-needed property tax relief.”
-          Sen. Steve Erdman, Dist. 47

Other bill co-sponsors include Sen. Bruce Bostelman, Dist. 23, Sen. Mark Kolterman, Dist. 24, Sen. Myron Dorn, Dist. 30, and Sen. Steve Halloran, Dist. 33.

Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Back Sen. Friesen’s School Funding and Property Tax Relief Bill (LB 497)

The Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Working Group has announced its support for a bill introduced by Sen. Curt Friesen to fix major inequities in how Nebraska funds K-12 schools, while lowering property taxes for all Nebraskans. With numerous legislative proposals dealing with school funding and tax relief having been introduced, the agriculture leaders believe LB 497 is the best bill from which to start.

“We appreciate all of the different ideas that have been brought to the table. We understand that no bill dealing with these critical issues will look the same at the end of the session as it does at the start, but we think this bill is the most comprehensive in addressing the issues. I’m sure there will be things we will find to make it even better,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

The bill’s guarantee that all Nebraska students receive at least 50 percent of their basic education funding from the state is key to the group’s support.

“Education is important for all of us in Nebraska. It’s important to our families, our businesses, and the overall well-being of our state. That’s why the state has a responsibility to help fund the basic education needs of our children, yet it’s failing to meet that obligation for all of Nebraska’s K-12 students,” said Darin Uhlir, Nebraska Pork Producers Association president.

Today, 150 of Nebraska’s 244 school districts receive less than 10 percent of basic education funding from the state. Fifty-five of those districts receive less than one percent.

“When it comes to providing basic education funding, the state shouldn’t look at a student in one school district and say, ‘I’ll cover 100 percent of the costs of your basic education’ and then look at a student in a different district and tell them ‘You’re on your own’. They’re both Nebraska kids. That’s not how our state should treat them, but that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Mike Drinnin, Nebraska Cattlemen president.

In addition to the minimum aid guarantee, the bill also adjusts the local resources component of the state aid formula ensuring all school districts would receive additional state dollars to help replace local property taxes.

“It’s no secret we rely far too heavily on property taxes to fund education. Nebraskans now pay the seventh highest property taxes in the nation. This bill would help fix that,” said Mark Spurgin Nebraska Wheat Growers Association president.

Roughly 60 percent of all property taxes collected in the state are used to fund schools. The bill would help lower property taxes by broadening the sources used to fund K-12 schools and replace property taxes with the new revenues.

“Broadening the sources of revenue used to fund schools so we can replace property taxes as a funding source is key to lowering property taxes for Nebraskans. It must be a part of the discussion. LB 497 reflects a thoughtful way to do that, while making sure that our state’s tax structure remains competitive with those of neighboring states,” said Robert Johnston, Nebraska Soybean Association president.

The bill also contains provisions that adjust the state aid to school formula so school districts that are largely agricultural land based would have a better chance to receive state equalization aid, as the vast majority of these districts receive little or no equalization aid to cover education costs. Today only 69 of the 244 Nebraska school districts receive state equalization aid. This bill would help boost the number of schools that receive assistance.

“LB 497 provides a great framework to begin fixing the inequity in how we fund schools and providing the meaningful and substantive property tax relief Nebraskans want. Our group looks forward to helping Sen. Friesen and others find a path forward to tackling these tough, but critical issues,” said Dan Nerud, Nebraska Corn Growers Association president.

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group includes member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association, and Nebraska Wheat Growers.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Good cow nutrition is crucial following calving to get cows rebred.  Today let's review some guidelines to do the job right.

               Cows need good feed after calving.  Each cow experiences much stress after calving because she is producing milk for her calf and she is preparing her reproductive system to rebreed.  As a result, nutrient demands are high.  Energy requirements increase about 30 percent and protein needs nearly double after calving.  Underfeeding reduces the amount of milk she provides her calf, and it can delay or even prevent rebreeding.  And if it gets cold, wet, or icy again, nutrient demands can sky-rocket.

               Winter grass, corn stalks, and other crop residues are low quality right now because these feeds are weathered and have been pretty well picked over.  So it is critical that the hay or silage you feed will provide the extra nutrients your cows need.

               Not just any hay or silage will do.  Your cow needs 10 to 12 percent crude protein and 60 to 65 percent TDN in her total diet.  If she is grazing poor quality feeds or eating grass hay, your other forages and supplements must make up any deficiencies.

               Make sure your forage has adequate nutrients;  if you haven't done so, get it tested now for protein and energy content.  Compare this to the nutrient requirements of your cows.  Then feed your cows a ration that will meet their requirements.  Use supplements if needed.  But don't overfeed, either.  That is wasteful and expensive.

               In summary, avoid underfeeding after calving;  it can delay rebreeding and slow down calf growth.  Use your best quality forages with any needed supplements to provide adequate nutrition.  Your cows will milk well, rebreed on time, and produce healthy calves year after year.

Perdue Selects Three Senior Leaders at USDA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today selected three highly-qualified individuals for senior leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Perdue named Dr. Mindy Brashears as Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Naomi Earp as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Dr. Scott Hutchins as Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.  These positions do not require Senate confirmation.

Dr. Scott Hutchins

Dr. Hutchins formerly served as the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience and as an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska.  Previously, he served as president of the Entomological Society of America.  Dr. Hutchins earned his B.S. in entomology from Auburn University, M.A. from Mississippi State University, and Ph.D. from Iowa State University.

Dr. Mindy Brashears

Dr. Brashears is a Professor of Food Safety and Public Health and the Director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Dr. Brashears’ research program focuses on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her highly acclaimed work evaluates interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. These efforts have resulted in commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas. She is past-Chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multi-state research group.

Naomi Earp, J.D.

Earp is a retired career civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in federal equal opportunity policy, charge processing, complaint handling, and employment law. She entered federal services as a GS-9 career employee and worked her way to the Senior Executive Service level prior to appointments as Chair and Vice Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush. Throughout her career, Earp has been a strong advocate for labor-management partnership and cooperative business models to raise awareness and address both disparate treatment complaints and allegations of systemic discrimination. Her federal equal opportunity, civil rights compliance, and public policy career includes positions with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. Born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, Earp received a BS in Social Work from Norfolk State University, an MA from Indiana University, and a Juris Doctorate from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

The three previously had been nominated by President Donald Trump for Senate-confirmed positions at USDA. While the Senate Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan basis favorably reported all three nominees, their nominations expired without receiving confirmation votes by the end of the 115th Congress in early January.  The President has resubmitted their nominations to the Senate in the 116th Congress.

“At USDA, we’ve been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game,” Perdue said.  “I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process.  Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people.  Nevertheless, I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place.”

The three have been re-nominated for more senior roles than the ones Perdue today selected them to fill in their respective mission areas at USDA.  Dr. Brashears was nominated for Under Secretary for Food Safety; Earp was nominated for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; and Dr. Hutchins was nominated for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

While in their deputy roles as selected by Perdue, they will not be serving in “acting” capacities for the positions for which they have been nominated.  As a result, they will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions.  As Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, Dr. Hutchins will oversee the Office of the Chief Scientist, with Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young continuing to serve as Acting Chief Scientist.

Brashears, Earp, and Hutchins will begin working at USDA on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.

NeABA Mid-Winter Conference on February 12th and 13th

            The Nebraska Agri-Business Association is proud to present the 2019 Mid-Winter Conference on February 12th & 13th, at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Kearney, NE. This conference has been specifically designed for Certified Crop Advisers to give you the opportunity to earn 20 CEU hours, which is half of the required 40 hours in a two-year cycle! Leading experts from the industry and universities will be presenting the latest up-to-date information.

            The 2019 Mid-Winter Conference has been designed to address all four CCA performance objectives. CCAs who attend this workshop can earn credits in the following categories: Soil and Water Management (4 credits), Nutrient Management (4 Credits), Crop Management (6 Credits) and Pest Management (5 Credits). There will be an additional credit in either Crop Management or Nutrient Management.

            The cost of registration for the conference is $275.00 per person for NeABA Members and $375.00 for Non-Members. Registration includes breakfast buffet on Wednesday, lunch and breaks on both days, and all speaker handouts.  Details at

            Hotel Accommodations: A block of sleeping rooms (specify Nebraska Agri-Business Association) has been reserved at the Holiday Inn, Kearney at a room rate of $99.95. For room reservations, please contact the Holiday Inn at 308-237-5971 to assure room rate and availability.


Women producers looking to increase their business-management skills are encouraged to attend the 2019 Women in Agriculture Conference Feb. 21-22 in Kearney.

Organized by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the conference will be at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, 110 S. Second Ave.

Twenty scholarships will be awarded to producers to cover registration and hotel costs. Scholarship applications are available at

The Women in Agriculture Conference allows women to build relationships with each other, attend workshops and gain valuable knowledge that will help them support their own farms and ranches. The theme for this year’s conference is “Take Charge of Change.”

The conference features more than 30 concurrent workshops on production, market, financial, human and legal risk. In addition to workshops, participants will have the opportunity to hear from Marji Guyler-Alaniz, founder of FarmHer. Guyler-Alaniz will discuss the inspiration for and evolution of FarmHer and the image of women in agriculture. Other general session speakers include Tim Hammerich of Ag Grad; Joan Ruskamp, chair of the National Cattleman’s Beef Board; Jim Robb of the Livestock Marketing Information Center; and Gianella Alvarez of Beanitos.

Registration is available at The cost is $125 through Feb. 11 and $150 after that.  Fees include all workshop materials, registration, meals and breaks.

The conference is hosted by Nebraska Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska. Producer scholarships are made possible by Beanitos and the Kelley Bean Company.

Ricketts Announces Schedule for 31st Annual Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced the agenda for the 31st Governor’s Ag Conference, which brings together ag producers, industry leaders and agri-business managers in Nebraska on an annual basis to talk about the future of agriculture.  The conference is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, March 4-5, 2019, at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney.

“For 31 years, the Governor’s Ag Conference has been a premiere forum for Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and industry leaders to come together to discuss agriculture and how to keep growing our state’s number one industry,” said Governor Ricketts.  “We hope you can join us to talk about the future of agriculture in Nebraska.  It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss.”

“We’ve asked industry experts at the local, state and federal level to lead discussions at this year’s Governor’s Ag Conference and share their knowledge and experience with producers and agribusiness leaders from around the state,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman.  “Conference speakers and attendees can use this opportunity to connect with colleagues and prepare for the future.”

The conference starts Monday, March 4, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. with a panel presentation featuring Nebraska entrepreneurs and recruiters.  The panel includes representatives from three innovative Nebraska companies and three organizations involved heavily in recruiting companies to Nebraska.

On the entrepreneur side, the panelists are Vishal Singh with Quantified Ag; Lukas Fricke with ChorChek; and Mitch Minarick with FARMAFIELD.  These speakers will discuss their companies, goals, visions and why they chose Nebraska communities to start their businesses.

The three people representing recruitment success are: Phil Kozera with Bio Nebraska; Dan Duncan with Innovation Campus; and Bryan Slone with the Nebraska State Chamber.  They will discuss their efforts in recruiting and how to find and attract startups as well as how to connect to established industries.

Governor Ricketts will moderate this panel presentation that will include questions and answers from the audience.

The annual “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception, at 6 p.m. on March 4th will feature an assortment of food and beverages from Nebraska.

The conference resumes on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at 9 a.m. with a presentation from Jim Smith, executive director of Blueprint Nebraska, an organization that is spearheading a statewide, citizen-led economic development initiative.

Governor Ricketts, NDA Director Wellman and Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Dave Rippe will update conference participants on legislative initiatives in agriculture and highlight the work being done between state agencies to grow Nebraska.  This panel presentation will be moderated by NDA Assistant Director Amelia Breinig.

Next on the agenda will be Jim Wiesemeyer, with Pro Farmer, giving participants an update on the national farm bill and how it will impact farmers and ranchers nationwide as well as here in Nebraska.  

The Governor's Ag Conference is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and is co-sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.  A $125 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Monday and Tuesday.  Registration and additional information is available online at, or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

Iowa Pork Schedules Regional Conferences in February

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is inviting the state's pig farmers to attend one of the five Iowa Pork Regional Conferences being held in February. The events are being held at different locations from Feb. 18 through 22.

In addition to the regional conference program that runs from 1-4:30 p.m. each day, a separate morning session from 9 a.m. to noon will provide Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus training free to those who pre-register. The PQA Plus training is sponsored by IPPA and provided by Iowa State University Extension.

"The afternoon conferences include five speakers providing timely and relevant information," says Jamee Eggers, IPPA producer education director. "The farmer members of our producer education committee partnered with the Iowa Pork Information Center to select topics and identify exciting speakers."

The locations of the conferences are:
-    Mon, Feb. 18 - N.W. IA Comm College, Bldg A, Rm 116/119, 603 W Park St., Sheldon, IA 51201
-    Tuesday, Feb. 19 - Audubon Recreation Center, 703 Southside Ave., Audubon, IA 50025
-    Wednesday, Feb. 20 - Hansen Agriculture Learning Center, 2508 Mortensen Rd., Ames, IA 50011
-    Thursday, Feb. 21 - Washington County Extension Office, 2223 250th St., Washington, IA 52353
-    Friday, Feb. 22 - Borlaug Leaning Center, 3327 290th St., Nashua, IA 50658.

 Topics and speakers for the afternoon conferences are:

-    Being Prepared for Foreign Animal Disease; Dr. Andrew Hennenfent, the state's Emergency Management Coordinator, will outline how farmers will be impacted if there is a foreign animal disease outbreak. Find out the differences between stop movements, permitting movements and what other orders would mean to your farm.
-    What China Knows that You May Not about African Swine Fever; Dr. Chris Rademacher of the Iowa Pork Industry Center will provide an overview of ASF, a review of clinical signs of the disease, and a discussion of the feed biosecurity issue.
-    Trade and Tariffs Update; ISU Extension Livestock Economist Dr. Lee Schulz will talk about how current foreign tariffs are impacting the swine market.
-    Using Maintenance to Extend Building Longevity; Brian Blumhagen of New Modern Concepts will talk about proven approaches to slow-down natural degradation. And, if you have experiences that worked for you, you'll be asked to share.
-    A review of decision-making tools that Iowa State University Extension Swine Specialists can provide for you to solve production problems and other issues on your pig farm.

The regional conferences are free for those who pre-register two business days before the meeting at their regional location; otherwise the cost is $5 at the door. Check-in starts 30 minutes before the start of the conference. To pre-register for the conference and/or certification training, contact IPPA's Carla Vanderheiden at (800) 372-7675 or

Registration Now Open for the Pork Management Conference

The National Pork Board will host its annual Pork Management Conference, April 16-19, in Nashville, Tennessee. At the annual conference, a diverse set of experts from across the country will address business trends and challenges facing the U.S. pork industry. Through presentations, breakout sessions and networking, attendees will gain important insight on the pork industry and its challenges along with learning more about financial management practices to improve the performance and efficiency of pig farming.

“The Pork Management Conference continues to be an important event for pork producers,” said Emily Erickson, chair of the Pork Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and a pig farmer from Jackson, Minnesota. “It is exciting to have a great line up of guest presenters and industry experts who will provide valuable knowledge and insight for our producers and other attendees.” 

In addition to the general sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, two concurrent afternoon sessions are planned for Thursday. Topics will include benchmarking, disaster recovery, risk management, research and development, tax credits, finding and keeping talented workers, accounting, and tax updates.

Registration is $425 per person through March 22 and $475 after that. No refunds will be made after March 29. A registration form and a detailed list of events are available at

 ACE leadership to share Mexico ethanol market outlook from work with retailers in the country at IRFA Summit

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President and Market Development Director Ron Lamberty will share ethanol market opportunities and challenges from his travels to Mexico over the past year in a trade roundtable discussion at the 2019 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit taking place tomorrow, January 29.

Lamberty traveled to Mexico six times last year to participate in ethanol technical workshops for Mexican petroleum equipment installers and retailers. The workshops were a joint effort of the U.S. Grains Council and the Mexican Association of Petroleum Equipment Suppliers (AMPES), to inform fuel marketers about opportunities in sourcing, blending, distributing, and retailing ethanol-blended gasoline, as Mexico’s transportation fuel sector continues to evolve.

“The workshops helped Mexican fuel marketers, equipment suppliers, and even some government officials understand offering gasoline with 10 percent ethanol is a safe and economically sensible way to have cleaner air and provide less expensive fuel for drivers in Mexico,” Lamberty said. “I appreciate IRFA for inviting me to join the panel and give an update on Mexico. E10 would open a new market for 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol. That’s not quite another California or Texas, but it’s more than Florida. And it’s 200 million more than nationwide E10 in Canada.”

“Current U.S. ethanol exports to Mexico are primarily for industrial uses like perfumes, solvents, and beverages, but we’re starting to see retailers in border cities buy pre-blended E10 at U.S. terminals for resale in their convenience stores or service stations,” Lamberty added. “While these volumes are tiny right now, just as we saw ethanol spread across the U.S., when retailers see other retailers successfully selling E10, they become more confident they could offer it too, and volumes increase.”

Lamberty’s 2018 travels to Mexico included visits to Mexico City in November, Xalapa in August, Chihuahua in July, and León in June. In the spring of last year, Lamberty spoke at two other workshops in Monterrey and Tijuana. ACE will continue to work with the USGC to provide information to retailers and others who want to sell more ethanol in 2019.

The IRFA trade panel includes Mike Dwyer of the U.S. Grains Council, Kelly Nieuwenhuis of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, and Eamonn Byrne of Plymouth Energy as moderator. For more details on the program, visit Summit attendees can catch up with Lamberty about ACE’s market development work in Mexico and other timely ethanol topics with ACE staff at exhibit booth #26 at the IRFA Summit trade show.

RFA & NCGA Co-Title Sponsorship of 2019 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail Begins This Week

The 2019 season of the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail begins later this week, with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) signed on as co-title sponsors for the third consecutive year. The first of 16 tournaments begins Friday, Feb. 1 in Deland, Fla., between Daytona and Orlando, at St. Johns River.

“Crappie Masters is pleased to again have the Renewable Fuels Association as a 2019 co-title sponsor of the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “We have done significant education outreach to the boating community on the benefits of 10 percent ethanol blends (E10), and have helped push back on misinformation on higher blends like E15. Every Crappie Masters tournament winning team for the past four years has safely used E10 fuel with no reported engine issues. We plan to continue to help dispel the myths propagated by ethanol’s opponents, and support homegrown, environmentally friendly ethanol as the choice for the boating community,” he added.

“We are looking forward to another successful year on the Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “Thanks to our partnership with Crappie Masters, with each passing year, more boaters learn about the benefits of clean, lower priced, higher octane ethanol. The winners of the 2018 season highlighted the numerous environmental and performance-related benefits of using E10 in their boat. For nearly 30 years, E10 has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend is approved for use by all major marine engine manufacturers, helping to clean the air and water,” he added.

“This season, we are excited about continuing to engage with boaters and anglers about the benefits of the renewable corn ethanol they fill up their boats with throughout the tournament trail,” said NCGA Ethanol Action Team Chair and Missouri farmer Jay Schutte. “America’s corn farmers produce an abundant and reliable crop that’s used to produce ethanol. Not only are there a number of environmental benefits to fuel blended with 10 percent ethanol, but as the world’s cleanest and most affordable octane source, ethanol helps maximize engine performance.”

Crappie Masters Television will also highlight each tournament. The weekly show can be found on the Pursuit Channel, which is on DIRECTV 604, Dish Network 393, Verizon, CenturyLink and Roku.

The next Crappie Masters Tournament Trail event is Feb. 8-9 at Lake Talquin in Gadsden County, Fla. The 2019 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail season runs through Sept. 28.

Secretary of Agriculture to Speak at 2019 Cattle Industry Convention

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will speak at the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in New Orleans, La., Feb. 1, 2019. Perdue will give his remarks at the Closing General Session of the event, being held Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2019 at the New Orleans Convention Center. He will address the farm bill, trade and other issues affecting the state of American agriculture.

The convention is the largest gathering of cattle industry professionals in the country, and the NCBA Trade Show will feature more than 350 exhibitors on 7+ acres. The annual meetings of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and National Cattlemen’s Foundation will also be held at this event.

NCBA President and California cattleman Kevin Kester says the industry is honored to host Secretary Perdue at the Convention. “There are many issues facing those who make their livings in the cattle industry, so It’s great that Secretary Perdue will share his thoughts and his agency’s plans with us at the Convention,” Kester said. “We have more than 7,000 people already pre-registered for the event, and we should have a record turnout. Those in attendance at the Closing Session will benefit from hearing what we an industry can expect from government in the coming months and years.” 

Thune Leads Colleagues in Reintroducing Legislation to Permanently Repeal the Death Tax

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and dozens of his Senate colleagues in reintroducing legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, more commonly known as the death tax. Thune’s bill, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019, would finally end this purely punitive tax that has the potential to hit family-run farms, ranches, and businesses as the result of the owner’s death.

Thune led the Senate’s effort to repeal the estate tax while Congress considered the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017. Although the final version of the TCJA did not repeal the death tax, the law doubled the individual estate and gift tax exclusion to $10 million ($11.4 million in 2019 dollars) through 2025, which will prevent more families from being affected by this tax.

“Although we made great progress during the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act negotiations, the death tax still remains an onerous and unfair tax that punishes hard-working families,” said Thune. “Oftentimes, family-owned farms and ranches bear the brunt of this tax, which threatens families’ agricultural legacies and makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations. This way of life is integral to so many South Dakota families, which is why I remain committed to removing roadblocks for these family businesses, and we can start by repealing the death tax once and for all.”

“With Senator Thune’s leadership, I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to finally end the unfair death tax,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s the government’s final insult to force grieving families to visit both the undertaker and the IRS on the same day. Our historic tax reform legislation provided major relief from this burden to many Kentuckians – especially those in farming and rural communities. Now is the time for our Democratic colleagues to join us to take the next step to repeal the death tax once and for all.”

“Congress ought to do everything possible to encourage family enterprises to get next generations involved and keep the doors open for business,” said Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. “It’s getting harder all the time to keep a farm or small business in the family from one generation to the next. The estate tax doesn’t serve any purpose except forcing family farms and family-run businesses to waste precious capital on costly tax planning and in too many cases, paying taxes on income or property that have already been taxed once. Rather than sending even more taxes to Washington, D.C, it would be far better to allow family farms to keep this money so they can invest in the rural communities they are located in to create new opportunities.”

In addition to Thune, McConnell, and Grassley, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas),  Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R- Fla.), and Todd Young (R- Ind.).

Thune’s bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, NFIB, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, Policy and Taxation Group, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others.

Farm Bureau-Backed Senate Bills Would Alleviate HIT Pain

Two recently introduced, Farm Bureau-supported bills would provide farmers and ranchers with relief from the Health Insurance Tax. The Jobs and Premium Protection Act (S. 80) would repeal the HIT, while the Health Insurance Tax Relief Act of 2019 (S. 172) would suspend the tax for 2020 and 2021.

Most farmers, ranchers and other small businesses do not have a large enough pool of employees to self-insure, so they purchase health insurance for themselves, their families and their employees on the fully insured market. The HIT, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, is levied on health insurance companies that operate in the fully insured marketplace and is directly passed on to individuals and small businesses that purchase their own insurance.

There is moratorium on the collection of the HIT during 2019 but in 2020 the HIT will collectively add an estimated $16 billion to the cost of coverage for individuals, small businesses, families and others.  This works out to an average $500 in added health insurance premiums per family.

The Senate bills address one of farmers and ranchers’ major concerns with the tax—its steep cost, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall wrote in letters to Sens. John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), original cosponsors of both bills, and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), also original cosponsors of the measure that would suspend the HIT through 2021.

Duvall said the organization would work with the senators to secure passage of the bills.

CWT Assists with 5.6 million Pounds of Dairy Product Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives accepted 17 offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them capture sales contracts for 4.343 million pounds (1,970 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese; 169,756 pounds (77 metric tons) of butter and 1.124 million pounds (510 metric tons) of whole milk powder. These products are going to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, Oceania and South America. The product will be delivered during the period from February through July 2019.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2019 export sales total 11.729 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 707,684 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 2.249 million pounds of whole milk powder to 16 countries in six regions. These sales are the equivalent of 140.6 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers and all dairy cooperatives by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. It does this by helping member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share for U.S dairy products. As a result, the program has significantly expanded the total demand for U.S. dairy products and the demand for U.S. farm milk that produces those products.

Making a Difference One Student at a Time- Give FFA Day Helps Fund Future Student Leaders

In just a few weeks, the National FFA Organization will celebrate National FFA Week – a time to celebrate FFA members and share with others the exciting story of the organization that provides the next generation of leaders who will change the world.

National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to host a variety of activities to raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of agriculture's future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.

As part of the weeklong celebration, the organization will encourage members, supporters and others to share reasons to give to the organization on Tuesday, Feb. 19 – Give FFA Day!

Give FFA Day is an annual 24-hour campaign encouraging the public to support various needs impacting FFA members. Last year, the National FFA Foundation raised more than $161,000 in one day! This year’s goal is to raise $200,000. Members and supporters are being urged to share why they support FFA on social media, by using #GiveFFADAy and set up their own fundraisers. More information can be found here.

So, just how does FFA influence FFA members? Bella Culotta is just one story of how the organization has a global impact.

As a senior in high school from Ithaca, N.Y., Bella joined the TST BOCES New Visions FFA Chapter and quickly developed a passion for international agriculture. Bella then received an all-expenses-paid trip to the three-day Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. Furthermore, she was selected for an eight-week internship in Nepal where she worked on a solar-powered irrigation pump to improve the quality of life for those who lived in the region. Bella is now attending Cornell University and is considering a double major in applied economics and management with a career ambition of being an agriculture development consultant. Her goal is to educate others on the global food system.

“There are seemingly endless opportunities in FFA. You can do and see so much with the blue jacket, and that is not something to take for granted,” says Bella.

Bella’s story is just one example of how a year in FFA can change a young person’s life. National FFA is committed to offering programs to promote career preparation and leadership development, agricultural literacy, and teacher recruitment and retention.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 669,989 student members who belong to one of 8,630 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

 "Keep It In Your Plants" Campaign Highlights the Benefits of Nutrient Use Efficiency

Verdesian Life Sciences has launched a satirical marketing campaign aimed at educating growers on the importance of Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE™). The campaign encourages farmers to "Keep It In Their Plants", and demonstrates how Verdesian's NUE solutions help them make better use of their fertilizer dollars by increasing plant nutrient uptake.

"Verdesian Life Sciences is dedicated to providing nutrient use efficiency solutions that allow farmers to make the most out of their fertilizer investment," said Paul Beck, Vice President of Global Marketing. "This campaign is an engaging way to help farmers learn more about how nutrient use efficiency can work to make their farms more profitable."

Nutrient loss is a common issue that negatively impacts farmers' profitability and the environment overall by leading to larger input costs and unnecessary use of fertilizer. By making use of NUE solutions, farmers can maximize nutrient uptake, lessen their input costs and minimize their impact on their soil.

The campaign introduces a farmer who is intent on getting the most from his field by trying the latest in "pop-culture" trends. While the methods he tries are satirical, the campaign takes an informative approach to provide insights to growers on how nutrient use efficiency can benefit their farms. Verdesian has also created a microsite containing a video to explain the concept of NUE, and encourages farmers to visit the site to learn more and share its content.  Farmers can share their NUE best practices on their preferred social media platform using the hashtag #keepitinyourplants.

"Verdesian Life Sciences believes that sustainability and profitability go hand in hand," added Beck. "It is our dedication to helping farmers get the most from their investment that makes us the 'nutrient use efficiency people'. Farmers can continue to rely on Verdesian to deliver products that help them keep nutrients in their crops, where they belong."

Farmers are encouraged to visit to learn more about the benefits that nutrient use efficiency can bring to their business.

ANVOL Nitrogen Stabilizer with DUROMIDE Technology is Now Available

Koch Agronomic Services (Koch) announced today that DUROMIDE™, its next-generation active ingredient, has received federal registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Koch-developed and patented DUROMIDE technology is only found in ANVOL™ nitrogen stabilizer, which is now available for purchase in the U.S.

ANVOL stabilizer features dual active ingredients including DUROMIDE and NBPT. DUROMIDE was designed to extend the protection of nitrogen currently offered by NBPT. With optimal amounts of two active ingredients working in tandem, ANVOL gets to work faster and provides a longer duration of protection from nitrogen loss through volatilization. This helps growers maximize nitrogen availability in their fields providing a higher return on investment while minimizing environmental impact.

With its intelligent design, DUROMIDE has proven to deliver protection in a wide range of soil environments. The added longevity that only DUROMIDE provides increases the opportunity for nitrogen to be moved into the soil and not lost to the environment through volatilization.

“ANVOL offers the longest-available protection against volatilization losses. This extra window of time can make a tremendous difference to growers who don’t experience adequate rainfall or aren’t able to mechanically incorporate their fertilizer after application,” says Dr. Greg Schwab, director of agronomy for Koch. “We’re excited ANVOL will be available to help growers throughout the U.S. maintain their yield potential.”

Research Proves Efficacy of ANVOL

When the nitrogen contained in urea and UAN is left unprotected, it can escape the soil through ammonia volatilization. In a Louisiana State University trial, ANVOL reduced cumulative ammonia loss to 12 percent compared to losses of more than 30 percent with untreated urea.1 Additionally, in recent studies across eight site years3conducted between 2016 and 2018, urea treated with ANVOL increased corn yield by an average of 31 bu/acre compared to untreated urea.2

Along with the stability, consistent performance and longevity ANVOL provides, its high active ingredient concentration enables a low application rate. This results in more efficient coating operations, a drier blend and overall reduced labor demands.