Monday, April 29, 2019

April 29 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending April 28, 2019, there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 6 short, 79 adequate, and 15 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 3 short, 83 adequate, and 14 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 16 percent, near 15 last year, but behind 23 for the five-year average.

Soybeans planted was 3 percent, near 5 both last year and average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 28 fair, 65 good, and 3 excellent.

Sorghum planted was 1 percent, equal to average.

Oats planted was 55 percent, behind 61 last year, and well behind 84 average. Emerged was 18 percent, behind 28 last year, and well behind 56 average.


Favorable weather conditions at the beginning of the week ending April 28, 2019, allowed Iowa farmers to make planting progress according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. However, rain and snow over the weekend created some fieldwork delays. Statewide there were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included hauling manure, applying anhydrous, tillage and planting.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 25 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 66 percent adequate and 33 percent surplus.

Iowa farmers have planted 21 percent of the expected corn crop, 2 days ahead of last year but 2 days behind the 5-year average. Central, south central, and southeast Iowa farmers already have at least one-third of their corn planted. Soybean planting has started with 3 percent of the expected crop in the ground, similar to last year and the average. Seventy-seven percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, over one week ahead of last year but equal to the average. Fourteen percent of the crop has emerged, 8 days behind average.

Pasture Condition rated 3 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 46 percent good and 10 percent excellent. Pasture growth has been slow in much of the State. Feedlot conditions have improved.

USDA :Corn Planting Falls Further Behind Average Pace

U.S. corn planting equaled last year's pace as of Sunday, April 28, but fell further behind the five-year average, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.  As of Sunday, 15% of the nation's corn was planted, equal to 15% at the same time last year but 12 percentage points behind the five-year average of 27%. In last week's report, corn planting was 6 percentage points behind the average.  Corn emerged, reported by NASS for the first time this season, was estimated at 3%, also equal to last year but slightly behind the five-year average of 5%.

Soybean planting was estimated at 3% as of April 28, down from last year's 5% and also below the five-year average of 6%. Planting was still mainly taking place in the Southern states.

Like corn, spring wheat planting also fell further behind the five-year average. NASS estimated that 13% of spring wheat was planted as of Sunday, 20 percentage points behind the five-year average of 33%. In last week's report, planting was 17 percentage points below the five-year average. 

Winter wheat progress came in at 19% headed as of Sunday, near last year's 18% but down 10 percentage points from the five-year average of 29%.  Meanwhile, winter wheat condition continued to improve. NASS estimated 64% of winter wheat was in good-to-excellent condition, up 2 percentage points from the previous week.

Sorghum was 20% planted, compared to 26% last year and a 25% five-year average.

Cotton planting was 11% complete, compared to 12% last year and a 13% average.

Rice was 38% planted, compared to 54% last year and a 57% average. Twenty-seven percent of rice was emerged, compared to 28% last year and an average of 37%.

Oats were 43% planted as of April 28, compared to 38% last year and a 61% average. Oats emerged were at 31%, compared to 29% last year and a 41% average.

Monday April 29 Ag News

Property Taxes and Flood Damage
J. David Aiken - NE Extension Water and Agricultural Law Specialist

Under Nebraska law, land and buildings are valued for property tax purposes on January 1 of each year. There are no statutory provisions for changing that property valuation due to property damage, although some county assessors have done so in the past.

Nebraska state senators have approved an amendment that would establish a process for reducing land and building values damaged by natural disaster. Legislative Bill 512 was amended on first reading to include a process where property values would be prorated when the property was damaged by natural disaster before October 1 of any year. The property would be valued in its original undamaged state, in its damaged state, and in its restored/replaced state.

Let’s look at an example of how this would work. Fred Flintstone owns Nebraska farmland valued at $2,000/acre on January 1, 2019. Fred’s land is damaged May 1 and its damaged value is $800/acre. Fred is unable to reclaim or restore his land by the end of the year.

The adjusted property value of Fred’s damaged land for 2019 would be (4/12 x $2000/acre for the first four months) + (8/12 x $800/acre for the last eight months) or $1203/acre. Fred’s 2020 property tax payments would be around 40% below what they would have been if no natural disaster had occurred. Remember that in Nebraska the property taxes we pay in the spring and fall of 2019 are the 2018 property taxes, so 2019 property taxes won’t be paid until spring and fall of 2020.

LB 512 has passed the first reading and has two rounds of legislative debate left. The damaged property assessment provisions may be modified at the next round of legislative debate. I expect LB 512 will be enacted by the Unicameral and signed by the Governor, but time will tell.

Avoiding Injury from Seed Corn Maggot

Justin McMechan - NE Extension Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist

We have seen periodic injury from seed corn maggot that has reduced stands of Nebraska corn and soybeans. The greatest risk for seed corn maggot injury is when a green manure or animal manure is incorporated just before planting. The female flies are attracted to lay eggs on sites with decaying organic matter. The seed corn maggot will also feed on germinating crop seeds and can reduce seedling vigor and, if abundant enough, reduce plant stands.

The following University of Minnesota recommendations can help minimize injury from seed corn maggots.

Cultural Control

-    Delay planting until soil temperatures promote rapid seed germination.
-    Avoid planting for at least two weeks after fresh organic materials have been incorporated into soil.
-    Degree-day models can guide decisions about adjusting planting date to avoid periods with high larval abundance. Seedcorn maggot development is estimated using a base temperature of 39°F (3.9°C) for the degree-day calculation.
-    Avoid planting during peak fly emergence. For the first three generations this occurs when 354, 1080, and 1800 degree days have accumulated, respectively since January 1.

Use of a labelled insecticidal seed treatment on corn or soybeans should provide adequate protection against seed corn maggot, except when there are high densities of these insects. Growers not using insecticidal seed treatments can modify their planting dates to minimize injury from these insects by monitoring growing degree days. There are several generations of seed corn maggots in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Climate Office is providing degree-day data useful for predicting seed corn maggot development. See for this and additional pest prediction maps.

The first generation of fly emergence is past peak in southeastern and south-central Nebraska.

One-on-One Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this May

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Grand Island — Thursday, May 2
    Fairbury — Wednesday, May 8
    North Platte — Thursday, May 9
    Norfolk — Wednesday, May 15
    Lexington — Thursday, May 16
    Norfolk — Wednesday, May 29

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.


Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension, was inducted into the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hall of Fame on April 25 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The hall of fame was established in 2011 to recognize individuals whose exceptional contributions to the institute’s mission at the local, regional, national or international level have made a positive impact on the lives of citizens.

“I am truly humbled to be inducted into the NIFA Hall of Fame,” Hibberd said. “This honor speaks to the strength of the partnership between NIFA and our land-grant universities and our mutual commitment to bring science to action in ways that transform practice and improve the lives and livelihood of Americans.”

Before assuming his current role in 2012, Hibberd was director of extension and associate dean of agriculture at Purdue University. He was also director of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. Most recently, Hibberd was tapped to coordinate the University of Nebraska’s systemwide effort to help Nebraskans recover and rebuild following widespread flooding.

Hibberd received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Nebraska, and a master’s degree in animal science and doctoral degree in animal nutrition from Oklahoma State University.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s mission is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education and extension to solve societal challenges. To learn more, visit

NET Awards Grant for Subsurface Drip Irrigation System with Feedlot 

The Nebraska Environmental Trust has awarded a grant to construct a subsurface drip irrigation system that uses feedlot effluent to irrigate crop fields. The practice will be evaluated as a potential means to better manage the state's limited water resources, an ongoing research priority of the University of Nebraska.

The irrigation system is under construction at the university’s Mitchell Agricultural Laboratory, site of the feedlot and research plots, said Xin Qiao, irrigation and water management specialist and the principal investigator on the project. The Mitchell Lab is five miles north of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff.

Water that runs off the 105-pen feedlot into an effluent holding pond will be pumped through the subsurface drip system to irrigate crop research fields, Qiao said. On some plots, air will be added to water by injecting it into the drip irrigation system to test its effect on water quality and crop yield.

The plots will be divided into two sections, one planted to sugar beets and the other to corn, and 20 zones (10 in each section). Half of the zones will have air injected. Soil samples and water samples will be collected and tested for quality.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust grant provides $287,605 for the two-year project, which begins this spring. The project is a collaboration between the Panhandle Center and work by Matteo D’Alessio and Chittaranjan Ray at the Nebraska Water Center.

Underground emitter tape is being installed in the fields this week, and other equipment, such as controllers and air injectors, is expected to be installed in early May. Mazzei, a California company that manufactures the injectors, is providing the injectors at cost, Qiao said.

Re-use of wastewater is one option for making optimal use of limited water resources. In the North Platte River Basin, a moratorium on irrigation expansion and allocations on irrigation water have been in effect for years, with the goal of reducing streamflow depletions caused by irrigation water pumping. Wastewater could be an alternative source of irrigation water.

The outcome of this study may provide a best-management practice to treat feedlot runoff and increase crop yield for corn and sugar beets in western Nebraska, Qiao said.

Iowa Corn Growers Association® Accomplishes Key 2019 State Legislative Priorities

The 2019 Iowa legislative session ended over the weekend and Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) President Curt Mether, a farmer from Logan, says notable progress occurred on legislative issues positively impacting Iowa agriculture.

“We accomplished key progress in ICGA’s state legislative priorities this year,” said Mether. “We are excited to hear the extension of the biofuels infrastructure program and additional funding for the conservation cost share program that are vital to the successes of Iowa corn farmers.”

2019 ICGA State Legislative Successes include:
-    Ethanol Infrastructure – Iowa's Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP) received a full year of funding at $3 million. The RFIP provides cost-share dollars to retailers that choose to install flex fuel pumps and other E15, E85, and/or biodiesel compatible infrastructure, increasing consumer access to renewable fuels.
-    Beginning Farmer Tax Credit – The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit passed and is awaiting Governor Reynold’s signature.
-    Conservation Cost Share – To the additional funding passed last year with Senate File 512, cost share programs were maintained to previous funding levels including $8.3 million for soil conservation cost share and $2.4 million for the Water Quality Initiative.
-    Ag Appropriations – The legislature included additional funding in the amount of $500,000 for the Ag Extension and Diagnostic Lab as well as money for IDALS to help with fighting foreign animal disease.
-    Ag Trespass Bill- Further protection and security for Iowa livestock producers against special interest groups with ill intentions to exploit the livestock operation.

“ICGA’s highly engaged grassroots members are a big factor in the success of ICGA’s state legislative policy efforts,” state Mether. “Our members guide our policies by discussions at roundtable events, surveys and our grassroot summit. We appreciate the members who have fostered relationships with their elected officials in bringing key issues to the table to support Iowa agriculture.”

USDA Extends Deadline to May 17 for Producers to Certify 2018 Crop Production for Market Facilitation Program Payments

USDA extended the deadline to May 17 from May 1 for agricultural producers to certify 2018 crop production for payments through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which helps producers who have been significantly affected by foreign tariffs, resulting in the loss of traditional exports. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) extended the deadline because heavy rainfall and snowfall have delayed harvests in many parts of the country, preventing producers from certifying acres.

Payments will be issued only if eligible producers certify before the updated May 17 deadline.

The MFP provides payments to producers of corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, wheat, dairy, hogs, fresh sweet cherries and shelled almonds. FSA will issue payments based on the producer’s certified total production of the MFP commodity multiplied by the MFP rate for that specific commodity.

“Trade issues, coupled with low commodity prices and recovery from natural disasters, have definitely impacted the bottom line for many agricultural producers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “The MFP payments provide short-term relief from retaliatory tariffs to supplement the traditional farm safety net, helping agricultural producers through these difficult times. Weather conditions this fall, winter and early spring have blocked many producers from completing harvest of their crops, and we want to make sure producers who want to finalize their MFP application have an opportunity.”

Producers can certify production by contacting their local FSA office or through

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue launched the trade mitigation program to assist farmers suffering from damage because of unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. FSA implemented MFP in September 2018 as a relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. To date, more than $8.3 billion has been paid to nearly 600,000 applicants.

The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and is administered by FSA.

Big Blue River Compact Meeting to Be Held May 15

The 46th annual meeting of the Kansas–Nebraska Big Blue River Compact Administration will be held in room 124 at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, 1320 Research Park Drive in Manhattan, on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. Anyone interested in water-related activities within the Big Blue and Little Blue River Basins in Kansas and Nebraska is encouraged to attend.

The Kansas–Nebraska Big Blue River Compact was entered into in 1971. The purpose of the compact is to promote interstate comity, to achieve equitable apportionment of the waters of the Big Blue River Basin and promote the orderly development thereof, and to encourage an active pollution abatement program in each state.

The Compact Administration is composed of a federally appointed Compact Chairman, currently W. Don Nelson of Lincoln, Nebraska; two state appointed representatives: David Barfield of the Kansas Department of Agriculture–Division of Water Resources and Gordon “Jeff” Fassett of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources; and two citizen representatives: Sharon Schwartz of Washington, Kansas, and Larry Moore of Aurora, Nebraska.

Questions about the meeting can be addressed to Chris Beightel, program manager for water management services at KDA–DWR, at 785-564-6670 or Additional information about the Big Blue River Compact and the annual meeting can be found on the KDA website at

NCGA to EPA: Finalize E15 Parity by June 1

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to allow year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol blends, or E15, by eliminating the outdated barrier that currently requires retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15 during the summer months.

“By allowing E15 to receive the same summer volatility adjustment EPA permits for E10, retailers will be able to offer drivers E15 year-round, providing choice to their customers without an interruption in sales between June and September,” NCGA President Lynn Chrisp wrote in the submitted comments.

“Corn growers have advocated for this change for several years, and we agree with EPA’s assessment that the conditions that led EPA to provide the original volatility adjustment for E10, at a time when 10 percent was the highest ethanol blend available, are ‘equally applicable to E15 today,’” Chrisp added.

In addition to being beneficial for farmers, higher blends of renewable fuels such as E15 also lower fuel prices for drivers and reduce emissions, improving air quality and providing greater greenhouse gas reductions.

While NCGA supports EPA’s proposal to provide parity for E15 with standard 10 percent ethanol blends, NCGA cautioned EPA against finalizing proposed Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market rule changes that would be counterproductive to greater biofuels blending supported by the E15 rule. NCGA urged the EPA to take steps to ensure the complex RIN market proposal does not weigh down the final E15 rule, which is needed by June 1 to avoid an interruption in E15 sales.

NFU Supports E15 Waiver, Pathway for Mid-Level Ethanol Blends

In the midst of significant financial stress in the U.S. farm economy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must deliver on the promises of President Trump and the intent of Congress to expand the use of biofuels and, therefore, demand for U.S. farm products, according to National Farmers Union (NFU).

The family farm organization submitted comments today to EPA on the agency’s proposed rule to allow year-round use of E15 gasoline. While the rule stands to deliver a long-sought win for the biofuels industry and family farmers, NFU President Roger Johnson said a stronger commitment to further expanding biofuel use is needed from EPA.

“The long and short of it is that the EPA under this administration has repeatedly destroyed direct demand for biofuels, metaphorically piling more and more corn on top of our burdensome oversupply,” said Johnson. “What we need from EPA as they finalize the E15 waiver is a major step in the direction of allowing year-round sales of higher level blends of ethanol in gasoline. That’s the way we cut into oversupply. That’s the way we better our environmental impact. And that’s the way we save consumers more money at the pump.”

In its comments, National Farmers Union urged EPA to expeditiously approve E15 for year-round use and to ensure the rule does not amount to a cap on higher level blends of ethanol, like E30.

“Farmers Union is eager for EPA to follow through on its promises to get an E15 waiver out of the door by June 1,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “But we are concerned that certain provisions within EPA’s rulemaking unnecessarily work against expanded use of higher level blends of ethanol.”

Provisions within EPA’s E15 proposed rule are limited in scope to E15 gasoline only, without taking advantage of the benefits of mid-level blends of ethanol and making the prospects of using these blends harder to achieve.

NFU also proposed EPA separate its proposed RIN reforms from the E15 rule until the agency has considered the potential implications of the reforms and made such findings public. The organization highlighted RIN-market volatility introduced by EPA’s actions regarding small refinery exemptions. “Under the Trump Administration, EPA’s exemption handouts to oil refiners have destroyed demand for at least 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol, or nearly one billion bushels of American grown corn,” said Johnson.

“It is EPA’s responsibility to follow through on the President’s promises to family farmers and on Congress’s intent to expand biofuel use in our transportation sector,” said Johnson. “We’re calling on the agency to begin to right their wrongs by finalizing an E15 waiver that includes a pathway for expanded use of higher level blends of ethanol.”

RFA “Strongly Supports” EPA Proposal to Allow Year-Round E15

In detailed comments submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said it “strongly supports” EPA’s proposal allowing 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 during the summer months.

According to RFA, EPA’s proposed regulatory fix would allow year-round sales of E15 in conventional gasoline markets for the first time, finally opening the marketplace more broadly to a fuel that provides consumers higher octane, lower cost, and reduced tailpipe emissions.

“E15 already has a proven track record for saving drivers money and reducing emissions, but the fuel has been unfairly held back by an antiquated and anticompetitive EPA regulatory barrier,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper, noting that last October President Trump promised to eliminate the summertime ban on E15. “President Trump was correct when he called the summertime prohibition on E15 ‘unnecessary’ and ‘ridiculous,’ and we are pleased that EPA’s proposed regulatory amendments would finally allow gasoline retailers across the country to offer E15 to their customers year-round. When finalized, this rule will enhance competition and provide greater consumer access to cleaner, more affordable fuel options.

“However, just 32 days remain before the start of the summer driving season,” Cooper continued. “To honor the President’s commitment, EPA must act quickly to complete this rule and ensure it is finalized in a manner that truly the opens the market to E15.”

RFA notes that American consumers have driven more than 8 billion hassle-free miles on E15 without a single reported problem since it was first commercially introduced in 2012. In addition, E15 typically sells for 3-10 cents per gallon less than E10 gasoline, meaning drivers are saving money with each fill-up. Further, more than 93 percent of the vehicles on the road today are legally approved by EPA to use E15.

RFA’s comments also discouraged EPA from finalizing any of the four proposed Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market reforms. “While RFA is supportive of enhancing transparency in the RIN marketplace, we do not believe any of the four primary RIN reform options in the proposed rule would accomplish that objective,” according to the comments. “In fact, RFA is concerned that some of the major changes proposed by EPA may be counterproductive, undermine the efficient operation of the RIN market mechanism, and greatly expand administrative burdens for all parties affected by the RFS.”

Growth Energy Comments Urge EPA to Finalize E15 Year-Round Rule by June 1

Growth Energy, the nation’s leading association of ethanol producers and supporters, filed comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of a proposed rule allowing year-round sales of E15 – gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol.

“Unless the EPA acts quickly, the summer market for E15 will be lost, which means higher fuel prices for consumers and another devastating blow to America’s rural workforce,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We cannot afford to let anything derail this opportunity to help revitalize growth in the heartland, and urge regulators to get this rule over the finish line by June 1, just as President Trump directed. Our submission today provides clear guidance on how the agency can strengthen the final rule, open new markets for American biofuels, and protect investments that are working to deliver cleaner, more affordable fuel options to consumers.”

In Growth Energy’s formal comments to the agency, Skor emphasized that: “For motorists, the value proposition of E15 is clear. Drivers typically save up to 10 cents per gallon, while E15’s superior octane rating provides better engine performance ...”

Added Skor, “… EPA should finalize and promulgate the final rule providing RVP relief to E15 as expeditiously as possible, but no later than June 1, 2019, in time for the summer driving season in order to minimize disruption of the E15 supply and distribution system and to provide as much clarity to regulated parties as possible.”

ACE strongly supports EPA’s proposal to allow E15 year-round, opposes RIN market reforms

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to extend the 1-psi Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to E15 during the summer months but opposed the Agency’s controversial and unnecessary proposals to reform the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credit market in comments submitted today to EPA’s proposed rule "Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15; Modifications to RFS RIN Market Regulations." 

In its comments, ACE strongly supported EPA’s proposal to extend the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 but urged the Agency to use this rulemaking as a timely opportunity to take steps to deregulate the fuel market for higher ethanol blend use by allowing all mid-level ethanol blends to receive the 1-psi waiver, as well as to discard of its reforms to how RIN credits are handled under the RFS. Below are a few excerpts from ACE CEO Brian Jennings’ written comments:

“ACE strongly supports EPA’s proposal to modify its interpretation of CAA sec. 211(h)(4) so gasoline blends “containing 10 percent ethanol,” including E15, would receive the 1-psi RVP waiver. This interpretation of 211(h)(4) is legally-defensible, is consistent with Congressional intent, and reflects the realities of today’s motor fuel market.

“E15 is a clean, safe, and low-cost fuel which can be used in more than 90 percent of the cars on the road today. Since E15 typically costs 2 to 10 cents per gallon less than E10 and gasoline and has a higher octane rating (88 AKI), allowing its sale year-round would give consumers the option to buy a higher quality fuel and save money at the pump. It would also reduce refiner RIN costs and open market access for surplus corn.”

On EPA’s proposed RIN reforms, ACE believes they “would have the effect of reducing liquidity in the RIN market, consolidate power in the hands of certain oil refiners, and limit fuel wholesalers, blenders and retailers from using RIN value to sell higher blends of ethanol. Taken together, the RIN reforms constitute a poison pill which is incompatible with the goal of making E15 available to consumers year-round.”

“With just over 30 days to go until the start of the 2019 summer driving season, time is of the essence. We encourage EPA to move forward to finalize a rule allowing RVP relief for E15 but to cast aside the unnecessary and harmful proposals to reform the RIN market. If EPA insists on moving forward with the RIN reforms, we urge EPA to separate these issues in a final rulemaking.”

NBB Opposes RIN Reform Proposals, Supports Opening Market to E15

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today filed formal comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15; Modifications to RFS RIN Market Regulations rules. On behalf of members, NBB expressed appreciation for the agency’s effort to enable growth of biofuel use by allowing year-round E15 sales. However, NBB respectfully disagreed with EPA’s proposal to modify RIN market regulations without first showing data-based evidence of problems within the RIN market.

“The proposed RIN market reforms are unnecessary, as EPA has yet to see data-based evidence of RIN market manipulation. Reforming a system that, while certainly not perfect, is working as intended with no evidence of manipulation has the potential to disrupt and even undermine the system that obligated parties use to demonstrate compliance with the RFS,” NBB writes in the comments.

“We ask that the agency use this Proposed Rule as an opportunity to provide transparency to the small refinery exemption process and address the timing of granting these exemptions,” NBB continues.

“Increasing transparency in the small refinery exemption process is what is actually needed to prevent manipulation in the RIN market,” NBB concludes.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, added, “Right now, retroactive small refinery exemptions are having the most negative impact on RIN markets, destroying demand for more than 360 million gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel. Rather than unneeded reforms that could further disrupt the RIN market, EPA should increase transparency around the small refinery exemptions, end its practice of encouraging retroactive petitions, and ensure that annual volumes that it set are met.”

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Friday April 26 Ag News

Ag Property Rights Bill Advance

Nebraska lawmakers gave second round approval to LB 227 this week. The bill was introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, at the request of Nebraska Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups to boost protections for farms and ranches against nuisance law suits.

The amended version of the bill senators will consider for final passage will continue agriculture’s “first in time” protections that prevent an individual or entity from moving next to an agriculture operation and filing a nuisance suit based on the operation’s normal farming practices. The amended version further establishes a statute of limitation whereby a change in farming practices could only be considered a nuisance if the individual or entity files a nuisance lawsuit within a two-year window of claiming a nuisance situation exists.

Passage of LB 227 in one of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s top priorities for the 2019 legislative session.

Corps of Engineers Release Three Week Missouri River Forecast

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers updated its near-term forecast for the Missouri River this week as the basin prepares for mountain snowpack to melt and collect in the system.

The three-week forecast calls for increased water output from the Missouri River water control facilities along the river. Currently, system reservoirs are below their exclusive flood control pool elevations. However, as the mountain snowpack melts, the pool elevations will increase significantly. Storing water in the exclusive flood control pools at reservoirs in the middle of the system limits flexibility for reducing flood risk from upstream or downstream rain events.

Thus, officials say they will maintain release levels higher than inflows. Gavins Point releases are forecast to remain steady at 55,000 cubic feet per second to continue evacuating runoff from the spring plains snowmelt. John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, says fluctuations to river stages downstream from Gavins Point are possible due to rain events occurring downstream from Gavins Point. Some areas downstream are still at flood stage and have been since last month’s bomb cyclone weather event.

Congresswoman Finkenauer Visits ICGA Vice President Jim Greif’s Farm

Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer visited Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) Vice President Jim Greif’s family farm on Wednesday for a tour and discussion about United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Congresswoman represents Iowans in U.S. Congressional District 1.

During her time at the farm, Congresswoman Finkenauer stressed the need for trade agreements that allow farmers to access markets and provide them with stability. “I want a deal figured out, and we need to get it done,” she continued, “If a deal isn’t made come May, I’m going to ask for a weekly call with Lighthizer and deliver him the facts and numbers of total losses in Iowa. We are way past time on a deal for Iowa farmers.”

As Chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade and Entrepreneurship, Congresswoman Finkenauer recently brought corn, pork and soybean producers from the district to testify before members of Congress. “My number one job is to make sure Iowans have a seat at the table when decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods are being made,” said Finkenauer. “It’s important that Congress hear directly from Iowa’s farmers so they understand what’s actually happening and what the stakes are.”

 “Agriculture is a low hanging fruit,” said ICGA Vice President Jim Greif, a farmer from Monticello, “It’s comforting to hear Congresswoman Finkenauer is fighting hard for all farmers.”

 “We all want what’s best for Iowa,” said Congresswoman Finkenauer, “As Iowans, we want to be respectful, but we also aren’t going to be quiet.”

The visit concluded with Greif giving the Congresswoman a tour of his farm.

Nominations Now Open for 67th Annual Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year

Nominations are now being sought to find the 2019 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year, a prestigious honor with a substantial prize; the winner receives use of a new John Deere 6E utility tractor for a year. The statewide award and regional awards, co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), honor the Iowa farmers who have a proven track record of commitment to soil conservation and water quality improvements and is dedicated to continuing efforts that continuously improve the land and water.

“The 2017 Census of Agriculture found Iowa farmers planted 973,000 acres of cover crops, representing a 256 percent increase from the 2012 census,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “It’s great to see Iowa farmers taking on the challenge of protecting their soil and improving water quality. This award is an opportunity to highlight and recognize a farmer that goes above and beyond in those efforts and serves as a model of land stewardship in their community and across the state.”  

The award, which was launched in 1952, is designed to help raise awareness about the importance of caring for Iowa’s fertile lands and vital waterways and to acknowledge those who accept the challenge of continuously working to improve conservation.

“Leading by example is so important, because everyone has a role to play in protecting our soil and water quality. Over the years, we’ve proudly honored remarkable Iowans who have made incredible progress in conservation who also encourage others to step up to the plate,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “Our role as farmers is to do more than grow food; we must all work towards leaving the land and watershed better for the next generation and remain focused on continued improvement.”

The nomination process is simple; a farmer can be nominated for the award by any Iowan sending a brief letter or email, 100 words or less, summarizing the nominee’s conservation efforts.  Nominations are due to the county Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) by June 1. The 99 county SWCDs will choose one nominee from each county to advance for consideration for a regional conservation award, and the nine regional award winners will compete to be named ‘Iowa’s Conservation Farmer of the Year.’

The winner will be announced during the Iowa State Fair and the winner will receive the keys to their tractor during the Conservation Districts of Iowa annual meeting August 18-20 in Ames. The top prize, 12 months or 200 hours of free use of the John Deere 6E Series tractor, valued at more than $12,000, is once again donated by the Farm Bureau partner Van Wall Equipment of Perry and John Deere.

South Dakota to Host BIF Annual Meeting and Research Symposium; Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the 2019 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Annual Meeting and Research Symposium. This year’s event will be June 18-21 at the University Comfort Suites and Convention Center in Brookings, South Dakota.

Early registration deadline is May 15. Attendees can save $100 by pre-registering. Online registration is available at

This year’s BIF symposium features two and a half days of educational programming and a full day of tours. The first morning’s general session — “Applications of Technology” — will feature Mark Allan, Trans Ova Genetics director of genetic technology; Alison Van Eenennaam, U.C. Davis animal biotechnology and genomics extension specialist; and a producer panel including John Moes, Moes Feedlot, Watertown, South Dakota; Trey Patterson, Padlock Ranch, Ranchester, Wyoming; Tylor Braden, King Ranch, Kingsville, Texas; and John Maddux, Maddux Cattle Co., Wauneta, Nebraska.

The second day’s general session, “Utilization of Big Data” will include a presentation by Dr. Mark Trotter, Central Queensland University.

The afternoon breakout sessions both days will focus on a range of beef-production and genetic-improvement topics. The conference also features a Young Producer Symposium on Tuesday afternoon, designed for networking and to equip young cattle producers with essential knowledge as they grow their role in the business. Tuesday evening attendees will also enjoy an opening reception followed by the National Association of Annual Breeders Symposium at 7 p.m.

For more conference details, including registration information, complete schedule and lodging information visit

Each year the BIF symposium draws a large group of leading seedstock and commercial beef producers, academics and allied industry partners. The attendance list is a “who’s who” of the beef value chain, offering great networking opportunities and conversations about the issues of the day. Program topics focus on how the beef industry can enhance value through genetic improvement across a range of attributes that affect the value chain.

Walmart to Source Beef Directly From TX Feeder, Cutting Out Processors

Walmart Inc. is taking control of the supply chain for Angus beef sold in some of its stores, cutting out meat processors as the company looks to offer higher quality products in an intensely competitive grocery industry. According to Reuters, the world's largest retailer said on Wednesday that the move would allow it to ensure supplies of quality Angus beef and meet demands from customers who want to know the origin of their meat.

Normally, Walmart would buy Angus beef from companies like Tyson Foods Inc and Cargill Inc.

Walmart has now arranged to source cattle from Texas rancher Bob McClaren of Prime Pursuits and 44 Farms, who said the retailer will sell no-hormones-added Black Angus beef.

The cattle will be fed at a feedyard that specializes in avoiding hormones, slaughtered in Kansas and packaged in Georgia before the beef hits shelves in about 500 Walmart stores in the southeastern United States.

"Having visibility to the end-to-end process lets us know we are helping our customers bring a consistently great piece of meat to their table every time they buy with us," Scott Neal, Walmart's senior vice president of meat, said in a statement.

Tyson and Cargill said they supported Walmart's project. Tyson shares slipped 0.9 percent, while Walmart shares rose 0.4 percent.

Walmart's efforts to exert more control over its meat supply come after it switched to selling high-grade Angus beef in 2017.

The retailer's latest actions target younger consumers who want more transparency in food production and no growth hormones in their meat, said Cassie Fish, a beef industry expert who formerly worked at Tyson.

"It's a play for the millennials," she said.

Walmart has separately increased its control over its dairy supply by opening a processing plant in Indiana that supplies private-label milk to stores.

Rival Costco Wholesale Corp is meanwhile building a chicken plant in Fremont, Nebraska, that will serve its stores.

"There appears to be an emerging trend of backwards integration into the ag supply chain," said Jeremy Scott, an analyst at Mizuho.

"This is a unique approach by Walmart to pursue a direct link from calf to plate, but it comes with plenty of risk and new variables."

Walmart would struggle to create a supply chain that covers all its beef needs, Vertical Group analyst Heather Jones said, so the retailer will still need to buy some meat from Tyson.

Processors such as Tyson buy cattle from feedlots in broad geographic areas and own multiple plants that slaughter beef for sale by retailers and restaurants.

Tyson also recently announced a program to trace the origins of beef raised without antibiotics or added hormones.


The National Pork Producers Council this week submitted comments in response to EU Regulation 2019/6 of the European Parliament and the Council on veterinary medicinal products and repealing Directive 2001/82/EC. In its comments, NPPC said it had "significant concerns on the precedent Regulation 2019/6 would have on the global trade of meat and meat products." Specifically, while the U.S. pork sector doesn't have robust trade with EU member countries, there is significant concern that countries could impose precautionary requirements on U.S. pork products based on this precedent. "It is essential that the U.S. Department of Agriculture advocates to the European Parliament and the Council to consider international standards set by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission," NPPC wrote.

In its comments, NPPC highlighted how the Food and Drug Administration has addressed public health concerns from the use of antimicrobials to promote growth and urged USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service to highlight the certainty of the robust FDA process in its argument on the unnecessary restrictions posted by Regulation 2019/6. Additionally, while the U.S. has a list of antimicrobials restricted from use in food animals, the country follows Maximum Residue Levels on its imported food products. NPPC urges the EU to adhere to that same principle.

New ‘Ag Mag’ Explores Food Waste in the U.S.

A new food waste “Ag Mag” developed by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is available for purchase in classroom sets of 30.

The Ag Mag, a newspaper-style reader, features information about food waste in the U.S. and how it can be reduced or prevented. It also explores the science of decomposing food and the steps necessary to move food from the farm to consumers’ tables. The Ag Mag is aligned to national learning standards and is written at a third- to fourth-grade reader level. 

“The launch of our Food Waste Ag Mag is especially timely, as 40% of all food grown and produced in the U.S. is never eaten, according to the Agriculture Department,” said Christy Lilja, executive director of the Foundation. “The Food Waste Ag Mag is a great tool for classroom educators and can also be used by families and youth groups interested in learning about this important issue.”

In addition to food waste, the Foundation’s Ag Mag series includes ag innovations, apples, bees, beef, biotechnology, careers, corn, cotton, dairy, energy, pizza, plant breeding, poultry, school gardens, sheep, snacks, soybeans and specialty crops. Spanish language versions of several Ag Mags (apples, bees, beef, pizza, school gardens and specialty crops) are also available. General information about Ag Mags and other educational resources offered by the Foundation is available at

ADM Reports First Quarter Earnings

Archer Daniels Midland Company today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2019 of $0.41/share and net earnings of $233 million.

“The first quarter proved more challenging than initially expected,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano. “Impacts from severe weather in North America were on the high side of our initial estimates, and the ethanol industry environment limited margins and opportunities.

“Despite a challenging start to the year, we continue to make excellent progress on our key imperatives for 2019: improving performance in certain businesses, accelerating our Readiness efforts, and delivering results from our growth investments,” Luciano continued. “We are very encouraged with our new Neovia business and the creation of a global Animal Nutrition platform. Readiness continues to expand our efforts to enhance our competitiveness. And additional actions we are announcing today will help us advance our goals to deliver best-in-class customer service along with long-term growth and shareholder value.

“With three quarters of the year still ahead of us, the continued advancement of our strategy, combined with an anticipated resolution of the U.S.-China trade situation and an expected acceleration of soybean meal demand driven by African Swine Fever, make us optimistic for the second half. Taking all of these factors into account, we remain committed to continuing to pull the levers under our control to deliver our objective of full-year earnings comparable to or higher than 2018.”

As part of that commitment, the company is announcing a series of measures to continue to underpin long-term-value creation:
    First, to meet growing customer demand, ADM plans to repurpose its corn wet mill in Marshall, Minnesota, to produce higher volumes of food and industrial-grade starches as well as liquid feedstocks for food and industrial uses, phasing out production of high-fructose corn syrup at that facility as soon as committed deliveries are complete.
    Second, the company is creating an ethanol subsidiary, which will include ADM’s dry mills in Columbus, Nebraska; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Peoria, Illinois. The ethanol subsidiary will report as an independent segment. The new structure will allow the company to advance strategic alternatives, which may include, but are not limited to, a potential spin-off of the business to existing ADM shareholders.
    Finally, ADM has begun a series of actions to enhance agility, accelerate growth, and strengthen customer service. These actions include organizational changes to centralize and standardize business activities and processes, and enhance productivity and effectiveness; accelerating the capture of planned synergies after a period of acquisitions; and offering early retirement for some colleagues in the U.S. and Canada.
    As a result of Readiness-based improvements in capital prioritization, project evaluation and project execution processes, and in keeping with the company’s commitment to returns, ADM also plans to reduce 2019 capital spending by 10 percent, to the range of $0.8 to $0.9 billion.

April Cattle on Feed

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag and Resource Economics - Colorado State University

Now, that was a Cattle on Feed report. Close to record high inventories with strong placements. One week to think about it and then the futures market reacted hard. Cattle on feed inventories were 11.964 million head as of April 1, 2019. This is the highest on-feed number - since 1996 with this version of the report - for any month except December of 2011. That record level was 12.110 million head. All but the upper Midwestern states in the report had higher inventories than the prior year. Placements were 5% above the prior year and 8% above the prior month. Placements in Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma were 21%, 16%, and 13% above the prior year. All states detailed in the report except Nebraska, Iowa, and Arizona placed animals in excess of the prior year. Understandably, placements in Nebraska were 11% below the prior year. Fed cattle will be abundant through the summer and fall.

In the face of these supplies there are factors relieving the pressure. Slaughter weights remain below the prior year. The cold and wet spring has accelerated the seasonal decline in average carcass weights. Saturday slaughter continues to run strong and marketings in the report are 3% above the prior year and 5% above the prior month. Cold storage of beef is reasonable given available supplies. Finally, boxed beef values and the choice-select spread appear to be will into their normal spring rallies. Thus, the cash fed cattle trade has been strong.

But the inventory of market ready cattle, as proxied by the calculated cattle on feed over 120 days, are nothing short of enormous. Orderly and aggressive marketings through the remainder of April, May, and June are essential. The live cattle futures complex has strong discounts in the more deferred out until December. This seasonal structure certainly appears appropriate. Trade this week and next will reveal where cash fed cattle prices are headed.

Consumers Sue Leading Beef Manufacturers for Massive Antitrust Price-Fixing Scheme

A federal class-action lawsuit has revealed that a nationwide cartel of leading meatpacking manufacturers in the $100 billion beef industry forced consumers to pay high prices for steak, hamburgers and other beef products, according to the law firm bringing the case, Hagens Berman.

According to the lawsuit filed Apr. 26, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the price-fixing scheme has been carried out by the biggest names in the industry who control approximately 75 percent of the beef-packing market.

The defendants – Tyson, Cargill, National Beef and JBS – are responsible for purchasing beef from ranchers, processing the beef and selling it to retail businesses for purchase by consumers, and attorneys say they have been bilking consumers since 2015 by artificially limiting the amount of beef they purchase, process and sell to retail operations.

“Our complaint alleges that families nationwide have been overpaying for years for beef products they buy routinely, unknowingly paying inflated prices fixed by a scheme to limit beef supplies,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney representing consumers in the class-action lawsuit against the meatpacking defendants. “The result: this $100 billion industry reaped billions of dollars in extra profits while consumers paid far more for beef than they should have. We intend to put an end to it.”

The class action seeks to recover losses consumers faced under the price-fixing scheme, as well as injunctive relief from the court to put an end to the anticompetitive behavior. The case brings counts of violations of federal and state antitrust laws and unfair competition, unjust enrichment and consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit alleges that defendants, “entered into a conspiracy to extract maximum profits from the distribution channel of beef – by both extracting all gains from the ranchers who raised the cattle, as well as artificially inflating the price of beef being sold to the consumer.” The suit goes on to say that defendants, “engaged in a concerted scheme to suppress throughput of beef, artificially depressing both the amount of cattle they purchased and the amount of processed beef they sold to retail operations. The purpose of the scheme was to maximize the margins they received from sale of beef – by both underpaying the farmers, and simultaneously ensuring an overcharge to the consumer.”

According to an industry insider quoted in the suit, “meat works like the mafia.”  Executives at companies in the meatpacking industry all know each other, according to the insider, and someone may be a competitor but also a customer. 

The defendants colluded on their purchases of cattle from ranchers by restricting the amount of cattle they purchased and bid rigging practices that depressed the price of cattle that the defendants purchased through auctions, attorneys claims. Defendants’ actions created an artificial shortage of beef, which harmed consumers by elevating the price they paid for beef.

The lawsuit alleges that prior to the anticompetitive conduct, the price of cattle sold to the defendants and the price of beef sold by defendants moved in tandem. Following the anticompetitive conduct, the price of cattle fell while the price of beef remained elevated.

“It’s a matter of common sense that the prices of cattle and beef should move together because beef is simply processed cattle,” said Berman. “But these leading meatpacking manufacturers manipulated the market so this natural economic relationship broke down.”

Key Brazilian Bridge Collapses

US Soybean Export Council

A portion of a bridge over the Moju River in the state of Para, Brazil collapsed in early April when it was hit by a tank barge. Agribusiness consultant Kory Melby says 10 or 20 percent of soybeans grown in Brazil’s center west are delivered by road to those ports and “it will probably take years for that bridge to be rebuilt.” The bridge collapse comes on the heels of Highway BR-163 being closed for two weeks in March. The northern arc of ports were responsible for 28 percent of Brazil’s soybean and corn exports in 2018 according to the National Agency for Water Transport (Antaq).

All the ports on the Amazon are said to be operating normally. The bridge collapse will impact the movement of soybeans from the interior of the state of Para with approximately 300,000 hectares of soybeans. Farmers in the state will have to take a longer route to a port. The bottom line is the extra cost will be borne by the farmer.

U.S. Special 301 Report Criticizes Europe for Wrongly Targeting U.S. Dairy Exports

U.S. dairy officials today lauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office for denouncing Europe’s anti-trade agenda against common-name food products and pursuing avenues to preserve U.S. export access rights.

The U.S. Special 301 Report, issued yesterday by USTR, categorically rejects EU policies that seek to intentionally disadvantage U.S. suppliers in global markets by blocking their ability to use common names such as fontina, gorgonzola, asiago and feta cheeses.

“The EU pressures trading partners to prevent all producers, other than in certain EU regions, from using certain product names,” read the report. “This is despite the fact that these terms are the common names for products and produced in countries around the world.”

Europe’s actions infringe on the rights of U.S. producers and imposes unwarranted market barriers to U.S. goods, according to the USTR.

“Europe has disadvantaged the U.S. dairy industry for too long by abusing geographical indications (GI) policies,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “We face unfair barriers around the world because of Europe. USTR should be commended for recognizing the problem, and we look forward to working with them to rectify it.”

Vilsack urged the USTR to prioritize securing binding commitments from America’s current trading partners to prevent future GI restrictions. The market access preservation commitments secured with Mexico as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, he said, provide a positive precedent to build upon.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, also urged the Administration to take into account the lopsided dairy trade imbalance between the United States and Europe in formulating policies to tackle the EU’s predatory attacks on U.S. dairy exports.

Europe sent $1.8 billion in dairy goods to the U.S. market in 2018 but only imported $145 million of U.S. products, even though America is a major dairy supplier to the rest of the world.

“Trade is supposed to be a two-way street,” Mulhern noted. “America’s struggling U.S. dairy producers deserve a lot better than the current one-way trade relationship with the European Union whereby they sell us a billion dollars of cheese each year while erecting walls to our ability to compete head to head with them overseas.”

USDA Reaffirms Science-Based Decision Making at G20 Agricultural Chief Scientists Meeting

Two of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top scientists today reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to science-based decision-making at the G20 Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) meeting held this week in Tokyo.

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA’s Acting Chief Scientist and Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service and Dr. Scott Hutchins, USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE), led the U.S. delegation. The United States has participated in MACS meetings since 2012.

“The G20 MACS brings together Agricultural Chief Scientists from around the world to deliberate on global agricultural research priorities,” Jacobs-Young said. “The meetings have proven to be essential in advancing the science and technology dialogue on critical issues facing the agricultural sector.”

“I was pleased to see an affirmation of the role for science-based decision making for advancing global food production in the MACS communique,” Hutchins said. “Globally, we are seeing an increase in the use of scientific information in policymaking and it is important that we remain vigilant in our risk assessment processes to ensure that we continue to accelerate innovation in agriculture.”

Hutchins said the USDA was also pleased to see support for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) implementation of electronic phytosanitary certification (ePhyto) in the MACS communique.

“Embracing technological solutions such as ePhyto is critical to supporting efforts to minimize the global spread of transboundary plant pests,” he said.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Thursday April 25 Ag News

Members Approve Unification of Frontier Cooperative & Midwest Farmers CooperativeFollowing a four-week voting period, Frontier Cooperative and Midwest Farmers Cooperative members approved the unification of their cooperatives. The unification of the two cooperatives will be effective September 1, 2019.

Frontier Cooperative passed the unification resolution with 69.30% voting Yes. Midwest Farmers Cooperative passed the unification resolution with 70.45% voting Yes. Each membership base met Nebraska’s state voting requirement for a successful cooperative unification as certified by independent auditing firm of Gardiner Companies.

“Approval of this unification of equals shows a strong commitment on the part of our members to grow the strength of the cooperative system for the future,” said Randy Robeson, General Manager of Frontier Cooperative.

Midwest Farmers Cooperative CEO Jeremy Wilhelm was appreciative of the commitment shown to the unification process as well. “The Boards of Directors and employees spent a great deal of time analyzing this opportunity before presenting it to our members for a vote,” said Wilhelm. “The time taken by our members to understand what we were proposing shows their engagement and commitment to helping us be a better organization.”

The name of the unified cooperative has not yet been chosen. That decision, as well as other work related to the integration of the two companies, will take place over the coming months. Neil Stedman, Board Chair for Midwest Farmers Cooperative, knows there is more work to be done. “We are planning an integration process that will enhance the future success of our operations. Over time, we hope to build on the strong business of each cooperative to continue to provide excellent services, technology and products to our members.”

As a unified company, Frontier and Midwest Farmers will operate approximately 50 grain, agronomy, energy and feed locations across 14 counties in east-central Nebraska.

“We’ve heard our members support the unification over the past couple of months, and it will help position us strategically for the future in the state of Nebraska,” said Frontier Cooperative Board Chair Greg Sabata. “Now we need to continue to grow and support our members as they compete in the marketplace.”

The unified cooperative will be led by current Midwest Farmers Cooperative CEO, Jeremy Wilhelm. The board will be made up of 18 directors, nine from each cooperative. More information regarding the integration process will be made available throughout the summer.

Ag Sack Lunch Program Reaches Record Number of Students

The ninth year of the Nebraska Ag Sack Lunch program has been the biggest one yet. By the time the program wraps up in May, nearly 5,250 fourth-grade students from 108 schools will have participated in this year’s program. 

The Ag Sack Lunch Program provides free sack lunches to Nebraska fourth-graders who visit the State Capitol Building in Lincoln as part of their curriculum. While the students eat their lunch, they listen to a short presentation about agriculture in Nebraska. The sessions are led by “Ag Ambassadors,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln students who are passionate about agricultural education. 

The event is designed to be a fun learning program for the students and, by extension, their parents, to demonstrate the importance of agriculture to the State of Nebraska and show them where their food comes from.

Teachers whose classes have participated continue to give the program positive reviews:

“The presentation gave the students fun ways to remember different aspects of agriculture and how it impacts their daily lives.” --Lacey Hollrah, fourth-grade teacher from George Norris Elementary, Omaha.

“The students were especially impressed that the lunch items were grown in Nebraska. Very nice correlation.” -- Carolyn Timm, from Immanuel Lutheran School, Columbus.

“I appreciate the information that was presented because it caught the attention of the kids. The deck of cards will further inform the kids with interesting agriculture facts.” -- Pam Schrader, Lincoln Christian School, Lincoln.
The Ag Ambassadors inform students that one in four jobs in Nebraska has some connection to agriculture beyond farming itself, such as equipment manufacturing and sales, building construction, transportation and supermarket retailers. They also explain the state ranks first in the country for cattle on feed, sixth in pork production, and that over one-third of Nebraska-produced grain is fed to livestock within the state.

Each student receives a special deck of playing cards, which lists fun facts about agriculture. The deck also includes two special games, “Crazy Soybean” and “Old Corn Maid,” to keep the students entertained while continuing to learn about Nebraska agriculture.

Since its inception in 2010, the program has provided more than 45,200 students with free lunches and an introduction to the state’s number one industry. Sponsors of the Ag Sack Lunch Program include the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Beef Council, and Midwest Dairy.
Thirteen UNL students served as Ag Ambassadors throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Most of them are pursuing ag-related degrees. They are Shelby Wachter, Blair; Hailey Walmsley, Norfolk; Christy Cooper, Waverly; Claire Dressman, Superior; Jordan Bothern, Lincoln; Grace McDonald, Phillips; Abby Durheim, Sunbury, Ohio;  Shelby Riggs, Mitchell, S.D.; Makayla Burg, Papillion; Sage Williams, Eddyville; Jadyn Heckenlively, Orleans; Jessica Rudolph, Gothenburg; and Kelli Mashino, Spencer.

State Department of Environmental Quality and Energy Office Offer Flood-Related Support in Numerous Areas

There are numerous ongoing efforts involving the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the Nebraska Energy Office (NEO) as flood recovery efforts continue.  Among these efforts are:

New 0% Loans for Interim Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects

NDEQ is informing communities that there will be interim 0% loans available from the state to assist in projects to restore their flood-impacted drinking water and wastewater facilities.

Although most of these projects are expected to ultimately be funded through grants from other sources, there can be a multi-year gap between the time a community is approved for disaster reimbursement and the time they may receive this reimbursement.  To assist communities during that multi-year gap, NDEQ can offer them 0% interim loans through the state’s State Revolving Loan Funds.

NDEQ staff can assist communities in determining their best financial options.  In the long term, the vast majority of the money distributed through the 0% Wastewater and Drinking Water Interim Loan Program will be recovered by the state’s State Revolving Funds.  These funds will then be reallocated to other community drinking water and wastewater loan needs.  For more information, call (402) 471-4200.

Dollar and Energy Saving Loans at 1%

On April 5, 2019, the Nebraska Energy Office, in conjunction with Nebraska lending institutions, began providing assistance to those affected by floods, by offering Dollar and Energy Saving Loans at 1% interest (subject to lender approval)*.

On April 16 the Energy Office opened this ultra-low interest loan offering to all Nebraskans to make energy efficient home and farm improvements such as:
·       Heating, cooling, and water heater equipment replacement
·       Irrigation system, grain dryers and other farm efficiency improvements
·       Foundation walls repaired or replaced and insulated

More information can be found in the Loan Factsheet at:

The 1% loan offer will be effective until July 1, 2019 or as funds are available.

Free home weatherization services are available through the Energy Office Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which is administered in conjunction with Local Regional Service Providers. Furnaces and/or air-conditioning systems may qualify for free replacement for individuals with annual household incomes that fall below 200% of the federal poverty level. The program pays for weatherization assistance up to $5,000.

Those interested in applying for free weatherization should contact their Local Regional Service Provider which is listed in the Low Income Weatherization Factsheet at:

Free Well Testing in Multiple Locations

The flooding also compromised many private wells. NDEQ partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in late March and early April to offer free well testing in nine communities. Well owners provided samples of their water, which were tested for total coliform and E. coli.

A total of 786 samples were collected. Overall, 26% of these samples tested positive for coliform. Of that 26%, 33% also tested positive for E. coli.

NDEQ and DHHS provide guidance for those with compromised wells at, which includes a list of licensed water well professionals. More information is also available at

Continued Oversight and Support in Multiple Areas
NDEQ continues to provide oversight and support in multiple areas.  If you have questions regarding these issues, contact our NDEQ hotline at 1-877-253-2603, or visit our website at

Among the areas that continue to have NDEQ involvement:
·       Waste Debris Management – Staff have assisted in identifying and arranging for the removal of livestock carcasses, and the identification, collection and disposal of orphan hazardous containers (see relate news release) and providing the public guidance and outreach for debris removal.
·       Wastewater Treatment Facilities – Staff have worked with wastewater treatment facilities on timelines to resume normal operations.  Most have returned to normal operation as of April 25, but ongoing work continues at three locations – City of Omaha Papillion Creek, Plattsmouth, and Nebraska City.
·       Public Water Supply Systems -- Staff have provided technical assistance to Public Water Supplies compromised by flooding, and are coordinating with PWS owners/operators to develop timelines for restoring service.  Most have returned to normal operation as of April 25, but currently five community PWS and 13 non-community PWS with primary sources are still off-line.
·       Livestock Facilities – Staff have worked with livestock facilities on timelines to resume normal operations.  As of April 25, only two locations continue to have ongoing repair work due to extensive structural damage.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Energy Office have developed a 2019 flood “dashboard” that provides summaries and updates of ongoing flood-related issues.  For more information, go to  Additional environmental guidance can be found at

Ricketts: New Forecast Means Property Tax Relief

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following a decision by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board, which raised the revenue forecast by $45 million for the current fiscal year FY2018-19 and $10 million for fiscal year FY2019-20.  It held FY2020-21 flat.

“Today’s forecast is good news for property tax relief.  The $55 million increase in the forecast allows the Appropriations Committee to deliver the full amount of property tax relief I recommended in my budget for farmers and homeowners.”

The Governor recommended an increase of $51 million each year to the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund.  The Appropriations Committee previously voted to only include $26 million in the budget of the $51 million recommended by the Governor.

Coalition Calls for Legislators to Vote NO on LB227 to Protect Rural Property Rights And Valuable Water Resources

A coalition of Nebraska-based organizations is calling on State Senators to Vote NO on LB227, which would severely weaken rural Nebraskans' property rights, and further risk Nebraska’s slowly degrading water resources.

LB227, an extension of national industrial agriculture efforts currently sweeping across the nation, would weaken Nebraska’s current Right-To-Farm laws by not allowing long-standing family farmers or rural residents to claim nuisance from those that develop large livestock operations next to an existing property owner’s land.  These efforts stemmed from a successful nuisance lawsuit filed by North Carolina residents against Smithfield, a Chinese-owned hog producing and processing company, when odors became so bad it created an unbearable nuisance for local residents.

Therefore, if LB227 is passed, and a company like Smithfield or Costco proposed to build a massive Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) next to a 100+ year old farming business or home in Nebraska, and it produces odors so bad that the existing family can no longer breathe, there would be NO legal recourse for the existing landowner.

Another large concern cited by coalition groups is based around Nebraska’s slowly degrading water resources.  After seeing Iowa’s water quality decrease significantly with the development of thousands of hog and poultry CAFO’s, it is increasingly clear that more CAFO’s lead to increased contaminants in water.  Groups are calling into question if Nebraska water resources can take any more impact from increased placement of industrial-scale CAFO’s, and furthermore if family farmers, and rural residents can protect themselves from increasingly unhealthy drinking water from the increased development of CAFO’s.

“LB227 is an effort to radically change Right-To-Farm protections. The NeFU board took strong opposition to Senator Hughes LB227 that undermines Nebraska's Right-To-Farm traditional protections for agricultural activities and neighbors.  It would provide carte blanche nuisance exemptions for one neighbor who dramatically changes or expands their operation at the expense of their neighbors, most of whom are also farmers. The clear intent of this bill is to proactively provide nuisance exemptions for Costco poultry growers and other mega-CAFO livestock operations. Everyone in rural Nebraska should use good neighbor practices and be responsible for the well-being of their neighbors. LB227 picks one winner at the expense of all their next-door neighbors who will be the losers.”  -John Hansen, President, Nebraska Farmers Union

“As we celebrate Earth Day this week, we are reminded of our moral obligation to protect the Earth that sustains us on behalf of our children and generations to come. LB227 represents a step in the wrong direction, away from the values of the farmers and ranchers who sacrificed to create the Good Life in rural Nebraska. LB 227 would take away an important tool for rural Nebraskans to protect themselves and their property from unreasonable interference by bad actors who move into their area or make huge changes that create major problems for their neighbors. We encourage the members of the Legislature to protect farmers and ranchers and vote against LB 227.”  -Ken Winston, Policy and Outreach Director, Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light

“As an officer in a 150 year-old family farming business that has paid taxes in Burt County, Nebraska for just as long, it is appalling to think that our great state would even consider weakening Nebraskan’s property rights so that we cannot adequately protect ourselves if our health and well-being are put at risk.”  -Graham Christensen, GC Resolve

“The corporate state is in many ways stronger and has more potential to drive and shape our lives than the federal government. For us it has never been clearer than in the destruction of the independent family farm and the small communities that support them. Bills like LB227 send a very clear message that Corporate Agriculture thinks the land and the people are theirs to do with as they please. Nebraska Communities United stands with independent farmers and citizens who want to live their lives unimpeded by corporate agriculture.”  -Randy Ruppert, President, Nebraska Communities United

“Lancaster Hills Alliance represents a growing number of residential property owners and family farmers that oppose the construction of Costco's chicken barns in Lancaster County. Our Constitutional rights to enjoy and use our property will be degraded if 190,000 chickens are housed in a rural residential area. Under common law, people cannot use their property in ways that damage their neighbors’ property, and provides for a remedy in the courts. We believe our water, air, land and property values will be significantly degraded by large commercial animal feeding operations near our homes. We will fight to maintain our Constitutional right to sue when a nuisance occurs from these operations.  -Jane Egan, Chair, Lancaster Hills Alliance

“Factory farms increase the chances of water, soil and air pollution. When conditions degrade it is essential that neighbors who are impacted be afforded all avenues to mitigate any impacts on their health and well-being.”  -David Corbin, President, Nebraska Sierra Club

“Members of Lancaster Hills Alliance have sued Lancaster County and Costco’s contract “chicken grower” to invalidate a permit that the County approved for a 190,000-chicken operation to be built and operated near Crete. The County approved the Special Permit even though it admitted that its existing zoning law needed to be revised to better reflect current conditions. Permit opponents argued that the only recourse they would have to stop nuisance conditions created by the Costco CAFO would be their right to file a nuisance complaint and lawsuit after the fact.  Now that Costco has its permit, it is trying to change state law to deny that important right. With a toothless CAFO zoning law and unreliable agency compliance enforcement in Lancaster County, LB227 would give industrial-scale agricultural interests like Costco the right to operate their CAFOs as nuisances with nearly complete impunity throughout the entire state of Nebraska. This is not acceptable policy.”  -Jonathan Leo, Environmental Lawyer

“We disagree with locating new confined animal feeding operations in high-density population areas, conflicting with the existing land use. We strongly support responsible agriculture that preserves and protects our water, land, and air. We value farmland, the environment, and our rural community. We oppose LB227, which gives nuisance immunity to corporations and takes away property rights of family farmers and rural neighbors.”  -Washington County Citizens Against CAFO's

Recently LB227 advanced from General to Select File.  It is expected to hit the floor for debate again in the next few weeks.  Only a handful of votes are needed to stop this disastrous bill from advancing.

Iowa Learning Farms Has Resources for Emerging Farmers

Iowa Learning Farms recently launched the Emerging Farmers ( series of resources and guides aimed at supporting new and prospective farmers in developing sustainable business plans for their operations. The program includes sustainable business templates and the Talking with Your Landlord series of informational publications.

“We define an emerging farmer as someone with ties to agricultural land who would like to return to the farm as an operator or have a voice in its management,” said Liz Juchems, ILF conservation outreach specialist. “We’ve created tools that will empower these farmers with science- and research-based information to help create a sustainable plan for a new farm or new venture within an existing farm.”

Iowa Learning Farms is a hands-on education and outreach program for Iowa landowners and agricultural producers. Juchems said the goal of this ILF initiative is to help dispel resistance to conservation practices and encourage new farmers to focus on the business of farming with an eye toward maintaining environmental health.

The sustainable business templates provide a framework for farmers to create business plans to use in soliciting financing, engaging with prospective landowners or simply in running a successful farming enterprise. The templates help identify pertinent questions and resources that may be available to support further development of a solid business plan. Specialized template versions for grazing livestock and leveraging CRP are available in addition to the core business model canvas template.

“Each template is simply a starting point, which farmers can modify to their personal needs, yet gives them the foundation to describe how they will capture, create and deliver value with the farm, and ultimately run a profitable business,” said Juchems. “This program is different from others in that it incorporates sustainable conservation-minded approaches to land stewardship, which can give farmers seeking land a competitive advantage when speaking with potential landlords.”

The program also includes the Speaking with Your Landlord series of conversation guides. These targeted publications provide farmers with key facts related to topics ranging from no-till and edge of field conservation practices to financial management of a farm.

“Many landowners prefer to partner with farmers who will preserve and improve their land,” noted Juchems. “This series helps facilitate conversations which will help ensure the farmers and landowners are moving forward together with mutually beneficial practices.”

The Emerging Farmers program is funded in part by grants from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop and deliver tools to help new farmers be successful and operate profitable businesses.

To learn more about Iowa Learning Farms outreach and education programs, please visit us on the web at

Pork Production at Record High for March

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.43 billion pounds in March, down 2 percent from the 4.52 billion pounds produced in March 2018 according to USDA's Livestock Slaughter report released on Thursday.

By State                   (million lbs  -  % March '18)

Nebraska ...........:          623.2             93      
Kansas ...............:          455.1             97      
Iowa ..................:          721.0            109      

Beef production, at 2.12 billion pounds, was 4 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.65 million head, down 2 percent from March 2018. The average live weight was down 19 pounds from the previous year, at 1,339 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.8 million pounds, 5 percent below March a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 45,800 head, up 5 percent from March 2018. The average live weight was down 21 pounds from last year, at 219 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.30 billion pounds, up slightly from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.7 million head, up slightly from March 2018. The average live weight was up 1 pound from the previous year, at 287 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.0 million pounds, was down 8 percent from March 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 190,700 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 137 pounds, down 3 pounds from March a year ago.

January to March 2019 commercial red meat production was 13.3 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was down 1 percent from last year, veal was down slightly, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 5 percent.

Farmer’s Share of the Food Dollar Falls to All-Time Low

For every dollar American consumers spend on food, U.S. farmers and ranchers earn just 14.6 cents, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS). This value marks a 17 percent decline since 2011 and the smallest portion of the American food dollar that farmers have received since the USDA began reporting these data in 1993. The remaining 85.4 cents cover off-farm costs, including processing, wholesaling, distribution, marketing, and retailing.

National Farmers Union (NFU), which has advocated for family food producers’ social and economic welfare for more than a century, uses the annually calculated statistic as a barometer of the state of the farm economy. In response to the updated report, NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“Even though family farmers and ranchers are more productive today than they have ever been, they’re taking home a smaller and smaller portion of the American food dollar. This one data point doesn’t paint the full picture of the farm economy, but when considered in the context of depressed commodity prices, plummeting incomes, rising input costs, and deteriorating credit conditions, it is certainly clear that we are in the midst of an agricultural financial crisis.

“Conditions for farmers have been eroding since 2011, and there’s only so much longer they can hold on. Many have already made the heartbreaking decision to close up shop; in just the past five years, the United States lost upwards of 70,000 farm operations. As a country with a growing population and growing nutritional needs, we can’t afford to lose many more. We sincerely hope this startling report will open policy makers’ eyes to the financial challenges family farmers and ranchers endure on a daily basis and convince them to provide the support they so desperately need.”

USDA Will Not Survey for Volume of Grain Lost to Floods

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's statistical arm will not collect data on the volume of harvested grain lost when farms from the Dakotas to Missouri were hit by flooding in March that burst grain storage bins, a government official said on Tuesday. But according to Reuters, the figures in the USDA's regular quarterly stocks report for June will reflect losses due to flooding as well as from more typical usage by processors, exporters and livestock feeders over the preceding three months.

"As of right now we don't have any intention of collecting anything on grain that was lost," Lance Honig, crops branch chief of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, said at a meeting in Chicago for USDA data users.

The USDA is scheduled to release its next quarterly stocks report on June 28.

"The stocks report will reflect (grain) inventories as of June first, so any losses that occurred will no longer be represented in the stocks at that time," Honig said, adding that surveying for the amount of grain lost to flooding "would be a challenge."

At least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of U.S. farmland were flooded after a "bomb cyclone" storm left wide swaths of nine major grain-producing states under water in March, satellite data analyzed by Gro Intelligence for Reuters showed.

Indigo Ag, an agriculture technology company, identified 832 on-farm storage bins within flooded Midwest areas. The bins hold an estimated 5 million to 10 million bushels of corn and soybeans - worth between $17.3 million to $34.6 million - that could have been damaged in the floods, the company told Reuters.

USMCA Leads to New Market Opportunities

National Corn Growers Assoc. newsletter

We know that ratifying USMCA will secure a $3.2 billion export market for corn farmers and provide some certainty as farmers begin the hard work of planting and harvesting their crop. Passing USMCA will also open the door to other markets and new opportunities for American farmers. Locking in USMCA establishes some important new standards for what can be achieved in future trade agreements and would also build confidence in other nations with whom the United States wants to more closely engage.

Japan is the perfect example of a very important long-time customer for the U.S. corn industry and a nation with which a trade agreement is urgent for U.S. agriculture. Japan was the second largest buyer of U.S. corn in the 2017/2018 marketing year, purchasing nearly 13.2 million metric tons (520 million bushels) of corn for a value of $2.39 billion. Japan also serves as the ninth largest buyer of U.S. DDGS, setting a new record for DDGS imports in 2017/2018, increasing 8.4 percent from 2016/2017 to 463,000 metric tons.

NBB, Biodiesel Companies Highlight Jobs that Depend on the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and several of its member companies released photos of industry workers who are impacted by the uncertainty over the future of the biodiesel tax incentive.

Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with the National Biodiesel Board, stated, “Because the biodiesel tax incentive has been expired for sixteen months, many companies are facing a very uncertain future. With the on-again, off-again nature of the credit, biodiesel companies are forced to build the credit’s value into contracts – and hope that Congress extends the policy at the end of the year. Many companies have essentially priced their products at a loss for more than a year. The economic pressure of these losses while waiting on Congress to act is now threatening the future of the industry, putting jobs at stake. It is urgent that Congress act immediately to provide the biodiesel industry certainty for 2018 and 2019.”

Dr. Robert Morton, chairman of the board of Newport Biodiesel, also said, “The biodiesel sector is responsible for more than 60,000 jobs across the United States and pays $3.8 billion in workers’ wages and benefits. More than half the industry consists of small and medium size production facilities.”

Raf Aviner, President of American GreenFuels, LLC, added, “Biodiesel represents a sustainable and alternative fuel source that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The success of the biodiesel industry, however, is now in peril. Plants cannot survive continued Congressional uncertainty regarding the biodiesel tax credit. Plants will shut down and plant employees, the innocent bystanders, will lose their jobs. Time is running out.”

Chris Peterson, President of Hero BX, said, “Our employees are hardworking and industrious Americans, making a great-working green product. These blue-collar workers have committed to the biodiesel industry, finding jobs in the new green economy. It is unfortunate that members of Congress have not shown the same dedication to the industry by letting the lapsed credit situation continue.”

Jim Galvin, CEO and Director of Lakeview Energy, added, “We urge Congress to ensure that good-paying, blue collar jobs do not disappear and provide the biodiesel sector the certainty it needs for survival by immediately extending the biodiesel tax credit for 2018 and 2019.”

IGC Raises Grain Production Forecasts for 2018-19, 2019-20

The International Grains Council raised its forecast for global grain production in the 2018-19 season and lowered its outlook for consumption, in a monthly report published Thursday.

Evidence that supply is strengthening relative to demand could add to pressure on grain prices, which have fallen this year amid concerns about the world economy and expectations of strong harvests.

The IGC, the London-based inter-governmental organization, expects output of 2,128 million tons, a rise of 3 million from its prediction in March. Higher corn output in Argentina and Brazil was the main reason for that increase, it said.

At the same time the IGC expects total grain consumption of 2,165 million, a decline of 5 million tons from its March report driven by corn use in the U.S.

Combined, these adjustments led the IGC to lift its prediction for carryover grain stocks by 8 million tons to 611 million tons.

That would still represent a fall of 36 million tons from the 2017-18 season. "Amid record demand and only a minor supply expansion, a third successive depletion of global stocks is predicted, to a five-year low," the IGC said.

Still, the IGC said its grains and oilseeds prices index had slumped by 4.6% from March to April, "pressured by mostly favorable outlooks for northern hemisphere winter grains and rowcrops in South America." At 179, the index was down 16.2% from a year ago and plumbed its lowest level in more than three years.

The IGC also boosted its grain production forecast for the 2019-20 season, partly thanks to bigger harvests of wheat, corn and barley. It expects output of 2,178 million tons, up by 2 million tons from March.

The IGC lifted its forecast for soybean output in 2018-19 by 3 million tons to a record 362 million tons, saying this was due to improved prospects in South America. It expects demand to be unchanged, meaning this boost will be channeled into inventories.

Unseen damage from parasites can steal from your bottom line

Despite great progress in controlling parasites, too many operations fail to consider active ingredients for specific parasite challenges — or even deworming at all. Failure to deworm calves in the spring can limit the calf's ability to reach its full genetic potential.

Advancements have made parasite infestations primarily a subclinical issue, so producers assume there is no problem because they don’t see obvious clinical symptoms or death losses, said Dr. Mark Alley, DVM, senior technical service veterinarian, Zoetis. Because the infestations are subclinical, it’s hard to visualize the calves may be 10 pounds lighter, but, as Dr. Alley said, “In the sale check, that makes a difference.”

“Not deworming nursing calves is probably the biggest obstacle that we have to overcome,” he said. “Most just don’t think it’s an issue.

“Part of the reason for these management decisions comes down to the success of macrocyclic lactones in stopping the loss of cattle due to brown stomach worm (Ostertagia) infestations,” Dr. Alley said. For a time, the industrywide urgency of that problem took the focus away from working to control internal parasites like Cooperia, Nematodirus and Haemonchus. And, as time went on, veterinarians discovered benzimidazole dewormers treated those parasites much more effectively than macrocyclic lactones did.

The first step is understanding the limits of current management practices. It is important for cattle producers to work with a veterinarian to do diagnostics and determine what is working in their parasite control program.

As Dr. Alley explains, there are some challenges at the cow/calf level understanding which parasite is present. It is believed older cows develop some resistance to Cooperia. Cooperia, Nematodirus and Haemonchus typically are a greater parasite challenge in younger animals. “But the only real way to determine which parasites are present is to get cultures or PCR [polymerase chain reaction] of the eggs from fecal samples,” Dr. Alley said.

An example Dr. Alley shares is the assumption that winter weather kills a lot of parasites, specifically the larvae and eggs in the environment. “In reality, cold weather doesn’t have a very big impact at all on them,” Dr. Alley said.

As soon as warm weather returns enough to grow grass, the parasite resumes its life cycle on the pastures.

“As a result, we get really short grass that’s just greening up, and with the right-size, right-age calf, they’re going to start nibbling on grass,” Dr. Alley said. “And when they do graze, they may be consuming some parasites with their first forage consumption.”

Dr. Alley recommends cow/calf producers work closely with their veterinarian to develop an effective parasite control program for cows and calves that addresses the parasite challenges in their geographic area.

For more information, visit for solutions from Zoetis.