Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tuesday April 30 Ag News

Labor Shortages Slow Mid-America Growth for April

The April Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, a leading economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from Minnesota to Arkansas, fell to a still solid reading signaling positive growth for the region over the next three to six months.

Overall index: The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, declined to 55.9 from March’s 58.2. This marks the 29th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0.

“The regional economy continues to expand at a positive pace. However, as in recent months, finding and hiring qualified workers remained the chief threat to manufacturing economy for the region. Approximately 44.7 percent identified labor shortages as the greatest threat to company success in the next 12 months,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business.

Employment:  As a result of worker shortages, the April employment index fell to a tepid 51.1 from March’s solid 56.4.

“Until recently, overall manufacturing employment growth in the region has been very healthy and exceeded that of the nation,” said Goss.  “However, overall employment growth for the region over the past 12 months at 0.5 percent is well below national job growth of 1.5 percent,” said Goss.

Wholesale Prices: The wholesale inflation gauge for the month indicated modest inflationary pressures for the month with a wholesale price index of 67.5 from 74.5 in March. “I expect tariffs and flood impacts to boost the inflation index slightly higher in the months ahead,” said Goss. 

Almost one-third, or 29.2 percent, of supply managers indicated that only price exceeded data security in selecting a vendor.

Confidence: Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the April Business Confidence Index, advanced to a healthy 62.2 from March’s 57.2.

“However, I expect business confidence to depend heavily on trade talks with China as well as U.S. economic growth in the weeks and months ahead,” reported Goss.

Inventories: Companies expanded inventories of raw materials and supplies for the month and at a faster pace in April. The April inventory index expanded to 53.5 from 52.2 in March.           

Trade: The regional trade numbers for April were solid, but with both imports and exports expanding for the month. The new export orders index moved higher to 53.9 from March’s 53.4, and the import index fell climbed to 57.0 from to 51.7 in March.

Other survey components: Components of the April Business Conditions Index were new orders at 62.2, up from March’s 58.8; the production or sales index at 58.4, down from 60.9 in March; and speed of deliveries of raw materials and supplies index at 54.4, down from last month’s 62.7.    

Nebraska: After dipping below growth neutral for December, Nebraska’s Business Conditions Index has moved above the threshold of 50.0 each month since, though the state’s overall index fell in April to 53.8 from March’s 57.1. Components of the index from the monthly survey of supply managers were new orders at 60.5, production or sales at 56.7, delivery lead time at 53.8, inventories at 51.5, and employment at 48.6. “Over the last 12 months, the Nebraska overall economy has added jobs at a 0.3 percent pace, while durable and nondurable goods manufacturers have lost jobs at a rate of minus 4.6 percent and minus 0.9 percent, respectively,” said Goss.

Iowa: The April Business Conditions Index for Iowa plummeted to 48.9 from March’s 57.8. Components of the overall index from the monthly survey of supply managers were new orders at 56.4, production or sales at 51.1, delivery lead time at 46.3, employment at 44.4, and inventories at 46.5. “Over the last 12 months, the Iowa overall economy has added jobs at a 0.7 percent pace, while durable and nondurable goods manufacturers have expanded jobs at a rate of 0.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively,” said Goss.

The Creighton Economic Forecasting Group has conducted the monthly survey of supply managers in nine states since 1994 to produce leading economic indicators of the Mid-America economy. States included in the survey are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The forecasting group’s overall index, referred to as the Business Conditions Index, ranges between 0 and 100. An index greater than 50 indicates an expansionary economy over the course of the next three to six months. The Business Conditions Index is a mathematical average of indices for new orders, production or sales, employment, inventories and delivery lead time. This is the same methodology, used since 1931 by the Institute for Supply Management, formerly the National Association of Purchasing Management.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Does anybody like musk thistles in pastures?  If not, let’s do something about them.

This warmer spring weather and recent moisture probably has you anxious to get into the field for planting.  Don’t forget, though, that this also is the best time to control musk thistles.  And I’ll also bet that you can get into your pastures to spray at least one or two days sooner than you can get into row crop fields to plant.

Did you have musk thistles last year?  If so, I’m sure you’ll have them again this spring.  And the current short rosette growth form is the ideal stage for controlling these plants this spring.  That means spray herbicides soon, while your musk thistle plants still are in that rosette form, and very few plants will live to send up flowering stalks for hand digging later.

Several herbicides are effective and recommended for musk thistle control.  My current favorites are called Milestone and GrazonNext, which basically is a mixture of Milestone and 2,4-D.  Both Milestone and GrazonNext also will help control other weeds that usually appear later in the season.

Other herbicides also can control musk thistles in pastures this spring – like Chaparral, Cimarron, Overdrive, and Curtail.  A tank mix of dicamba and 2,4-D also works very well.  No matter which weed killer you use, though, be sure to read and follow label instructions, and be especially sure to spray on time.

All these herbicides will work for you this spring if you spray soon, before musk thistles bolt and send up their flowering stalks.

After flowering, though, the shovel is about the only method remaining to control thistles this year.


Many of us have wetland pastures that contain lots of reed canarygrass.  For many of you, it might be the first perennial grass ready for grazing this spring.

Reed canarygrass produces high yields and grows very well in wetlands.  It also grows well in well-drained soils.  It would be one of our most popular pasture grasses if it wasn’t so hard to graze due to problems it has with low palatability.

Reed canarygrass has two things working against it.  First, it naturally contains some unpalatable compounds called alkaloids that discourage animals from eating it.  Secondly, the plant produces a coarse stem that makes it difficult to eat.

If you have reed canarygrass pasture, the only way I have found to use it effectively is to always graze it before it gets very tall.  Ideally, this means that when the grass gets about eight to ten inches tall, and no taller, immediately graze it down to three or four inches in just a couple of days and then move off to another grazing area.  When it regrows back to eight to ten inches tall, graze it again.  Every time it regrows, graze it again.

As growth speeds up this spring, you might need to graze the same area every two or three weeks.  This takes some dedication, planning, and intensive management.  If the grass gets away from you, animals will just nibble at some leaves, trampling the rest.  Then you might be better off cutting the taller growth for hay, followed by renewing your intensive grazing as regrowth begins.

Reed canarygrass is not as bad a pasture grass as many people think.  But it does take some knowledge about the plant and some dedicated management to get good use from it.

Husker Harvest Days Announces New International Visitors Center

Husker Harvest Days is a key component in Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts and the state of Nebraska’s Dept. of Economic Development and Dept. of Agriculture to expand awareness of the state’s agricultural resources and business opportunities for international businesses and visitors.

As a premier national agricultural event, HHD already attracts exhibitors and visitors from around the world. Its major site upgrades in 2018 that include paved streets, upgraded buildings and many additional visitor and exhibitor comfort features, now position it as the nation’s most modern outdoor ag event facilities. The show is to be used as a central hosting platform to help accelerate the state’s plans for expanding international business investment in the state. HHD is a Farm Progress event.

“We are excited and pleased to work with the State of Nebraska on this international business and visitor program,” said Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress events director. “We had an exceptional show in 2018 to unveil the extensive facility upgrades for HHD and this year we look forward to host farmers and ranchers from across the state, nation and world with the state’s new international business development program. With the new site upgrades, exhibitors and events already planned, 2019 is shaping-up to be an exceptional event.”

The increased international engagement effort at HHD is part of a larger effort outlined by the Governor’s Council for International Relations in Nebraska, which was detailed by the state in last year’s Strategic Plan for International Engagement. This is not only reflected in Farm Progress’ increased participation in trade missions including Agritechnica this fall, but also their support of the Neb. Dept. of Economic Development as it is set to unveil and host the new International Visitors Center at the upcoming September HHD show.

“Husker Harvest Days presents a unique opportunity to showcase the productivity and innovation of Nebraska agriculture to the global ag community,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “We have been successfully growing Nebraska by pursuing new export opportunities for our farmers and ranchers abroad, and this event will bring some of our customers right to our door step. We look forward to welcoming our international guests to Wood River for Husker Harvest Days.”

2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship to be hosted in California

Tulare Sales Yard, Tulare, Calif. will host the 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) on June 7 and 8. The event is free and open to the general public. The 56th annual WLAC will take place in conjunction with the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Convention.

The WLAC competition is composed of two parts: an interview and a live auction. The contest features 31 contestants who qualified from three WLAC Qualifying Events and the reigning International Auctioneer Champion.

During the live sale portion, contestants sell cattle to actual bidders in the seats. The judges score each contestant based on their presentation, chant, execution of sale and how likely they would hire the auctioneer.

“The auctioneer championship showcases the importance of the local livestock markets and the role the auctioneer plays in true-price discovery,” said Kristen Parman, LMA Vice President of Membership Services.

Additionally, because the WLAC semi-finalists are competing for such an important, high-profile role, they must establish their knowledge of the livestock marketing industry and demonstrate ability to express that knowledge with clarity in an interview competition.

Contestants who qualified to compete are Chuck Bradley, Rockford, Ala.; Neil Bouray, Webber, Kan.; Colton Brantley, Modesto, Calif.; Darren Carter, Ninety Six, S.C.; Dakota Davis, Caldwell, Kan.; Eric Drees, Nampa, Idaho; Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alberta; Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa; Brandon Frey, Creston, Iowa; Philip Gilstrap, Pendleton, S.C.; Steve Goedert, Dillion, Mont.; Shane Hatch, Kirtland, N.M.; Jim Hertzog, Butler, Mo.; Brennin Jack, Prince Alberta, Sask; Garrett Jones, Los Banos, Calif.; Ryan Konyenbelt, Ft. Macleod, Alberta; Lynn Langvardt, Chapman, Kan.; Wade Leist, Boyne City, Mich.; Jacob Massey, Petersburg, Tenn.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jeremy Miller, Fairland, Okla.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Christopher Pinard, Swainsboro, Ga.; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, Ky.; Jim Settle, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Russele Sleep, Bedford, Iowa; Dustin Smith, Jay, Okla.; Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.; Tim Yoder, Montezuma, Ga.; Vernon Yoder, Dundee, Ohio and Zack Zumstein, Marsing, Idaho.

The 2019 WLAC host and Tulare Sales Yard owner, David Macedo, said “We are looking forward to hosting the event this year. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of. You’re going to see thirty-one of the most confident men in the world at what they do be a little nervous, and that’s kind of fun.”

Reigning World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Jared Miller, will be in attendance, along with many other past World Livestock Auctioneer Champions. Each will sell cattle during the Parade of Champions, a portion of the WLAC sale between the semi-finalist and finalist rounds.

Nebraska Ethanol Board Urges EPA to Finalize Year-Round E15 Rule

On April 29, 2019, the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) submitted written comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging it to issue a final rule allowing for year-round sales of E15 (gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol) throughout the country by June 1, when summer driving season begins.

“It is crucial for the EPA to get the rule out by June 1, so that our retailers can sell E15 all year, everywhere in the U.S. This change has the potential to create significant new demand for ethanol, which is a key value-added agriculture market for farmers in Nebraska, and so important at this time of an ongoing downturn in agriculture and uncertain global trade,” remarked Jan tenBensel, Chairman of the Board.

NEB Secretary, Randy Gard, stated that “the USDA, state governments, and retailers like Bosselman have made significant investments in the infrastructure needed to sell E15. We want to protect those investments and be able to get a return on them throughout the year, not just nine months out of it. Our customers want to put E15 in their cars. They know it is generally 5 to 6 cents cheaper than regular gasoline and has higher octane, with the engine performance benefits that goes with that. Retailers should be able to sell and customers use E15 year round. There is no good reason why this option should not be available to them, and I hope EPA will issue this rule by June 1.”

Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Sarah Caswell explained that “the NEB has submitted comments to the EPA urging it to release a final rule by June 1 allowing for year-round E15. In our comments, the NEB stressed to EPA some key changes we would like to see in the final rule that would strengthen its impact to help facilitate the further production and use of ethanol and other biofuels, in accordance with the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard. We encouraged the agency to issue a final rule allowing for E15 all year throughout the U.S. that does not include some of their more controversial proposals to alter the RIN market.”

Secretary Naig Voices Support for Year-Round Use of E15

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voicing support for the EPA’s proposed changes to fuel regulations. The new rule would allow year-round sales of E15, gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol, during the summer months.

“The Iowa renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $5 billion (roughly 3 percent) of Iowa’s GDP, generating $2.5 billion of income for Iowa households and supporting almost 50,000 jobs throughout the state,” said Naig. “Year-round access to E15 represents a long-overdue step toward creating a truly competitive fuel market, where cleaner, lower-cost biofuel blends are available to all consumers. This means stronger markets for farm families across Iowa who have been struggling with ongoing low commodity prices and trade tensions.”

Read Secretary Naig’s letter to the EPA here.

In addition to allowing year-round sales of E15, the EPA’s proposed regulatory changes would modify certain elements of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance system to improve the renewable identification number (RIN) market.

Iowa will have close to 1,000 E-15 pumps at 200 stations across the state by the end of 2019.

Planting Season Brings New Round of Farm Stress

Low commodity prices and delayed fieldwork due to precipitation have many Iowa farmers feeling the effects of stress.

While some stress is normal, too much can lead to physical, mental and emotional problems, according to Larry Tranel, dairy specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

In the April edition of the Ag Decision Maker newsletter, Tranel continues the discussion on farm stress, and outlines six key steps that can help farmers across the Midwest identify and respond to stressful events.

In his article called “A ‘PRIMER’ on Farm Stress Resiliency,” Tranel offers farmers the “PRIMER” tool, which stands for perception, reality, identify, manage, extend and resources.

Through this tool, farmers are encouraged to take a closer look at their thoughts, actions, lifestyle and social life.

Tranel said what stresses one farmer may be perceived differently by another. He encourages each farmer to identify the cause of their stress, and separate the facts from emotions so the situation can be managed. His article also encourages farmers to extend themselves to others, and seek resources that will help.

“The goal is to become more intertwined in others’ lives, as stressed people are often helped by family and friends who care,” he said. “When extending to others, we often find new perspectives and mindsets, not to mention better feelings toward stressful situations at hand.”

More information about stress is available via the Iowa Concern Hotline, which offers free, confidential help for Iowans in need. For phone support, call 1-800-447-1985.

The April Ag Decision Maker newsletter also includes the article “Questions frequently asked about prevented planting,” by Steve Johnson, ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialist.

Prevented planting is becoming a growing concern for Iowans, especially those facing severe flooding in the western part of the state.

Johnson provides answers to common questions, including how much a producer will get paid, what defines prevented planting and important deadlines.

Ag Decision Maker is published each month, and is available in print and online...

EPA Takes Next Step in Review Process for Herbicide Glyphosate, Reaffirms No Risk to Public Health

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking an important step in the agency’s review of glyphosate. As part of this action, EPA continues to find that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. The agency’s scientific findings on human health risk are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies. While the agency did not identify public health risks in the 2017 human health risk assessment, the 2017 ecological assessment did identify ecological risks. To address these risks, EPA is proposing management measures to help farmers target pesticide sprays on the intended pest, protect pollinators, and reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate.

“EPA has found no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s proposed action includes new management measures that will help farmers use glyphosate in the most effective and efficient way possible, including pollinator protections. We look forward to input from farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the draft management measures are workable, realistic, and effective.”

“If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use the glyphosate,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “USDA applauds EPA’s proposed registration decision as it is science-based and consistent with the findings of other regulatory authorities that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture and has been studied for decades.  Glyphosate is used on more than 100 food crops, including glyphosate-resistant corn, soybean, cotton, canola and sugar beet. Non-agricultural uses include residential areas, aquatic areas, forests, rights of way, ornamentals and turf.

Once the Federal Register notice publishes, the public will be able to submit comments on EPA’s proposed decision at in docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0361. Public comments will be due 60 days after the date of publication in Federal Register. EPA’s responses to the comments received on the draft ecological and human health risk assessments and the benefits assessment will be in the docket.

For more information about glyphosate, including today’s proposed interim decision and supporting documents, visit:

The glyphosate draft risk assessments and supporting documents can be found at:

USDA Announces New Decision Tool for New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the availability of a new web-based tool – developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin – to help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. It replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up for this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program opens on June 17.

“With sign-up for the DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program,” Secretary Perdue said. “Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry.”

The University of Wisconsin launched the decision support tool in cooperation with FSA and funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. The tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest financial safety net. It allows farmers to simplify their coverage level selection by combining operation data and other key variables to calculate coverage needs based on price projections.

The decision tool assists producers with calculating total premiums costs and administrative fees associated with participation in DMC. It also forecasts payments that will be made during the coverage year.

“The new Dairy Margin Coverage program offers very appealing options for all dairy farmers to reduce their net income risk due to volatility in milk or feed prices,” said Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Higher coverage levels, monthly payments, and more flexible production coverage options are especially helpful for the sizable majority of farms who can cover much of their milk production with the new five million pound maximum for Tier 1 premiums. This program deserves the careful consideration of all dairy farmers.”

For more information, access the tool at For DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit or contact your local USDA Service Center.

NMPF Applauds House Subcommittee for Putting Dairy First; DMC Decision Tool Now Online

As key milestones are being met in offering much-needed financial relief for dairy producers, the National Milk Producers Federation today thanked the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture for choosing dairy as the subject of its first hearing this year.

Lawmakers heard a diverse array of witnesses who provided important perspectives on the state of U.S. dairy, which is in its fifth year of low prices and its second year of trade-related hardships. In their opening statements:
-    Minnesota dairy farmer Sadie Frericks spoke of the importance of the new Dairy Margin Coverage program as a risk management tool as her family weathers economic challenges;
-    California Dairies, Inc. President and CEO Andrei Mikhalevsky provided an overview of dairy’s trade issues, a rising concern as exports are crucial to increasing dairy demand;
-    Pennsylvania dairy farmer Dave Smith, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, discussed additional challenges, including the importance of milk consumption in schools and the need to combat mislabeled fake milks in the marketplace.
-    New York dairy farmer Michael McMahon gave voice to the dairy industry’s unique workforce challenges, including the lack of a viable guest worker program that covers year-round workers
-    and Dr. Scott Brown, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, provided economic insight.

“Dairy’s challenges reverberate through the U.S. economy, and it’s appropriate that lawmakers put dairy first on its 2019 agenda,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We thank all of the farmers and industry leaders who spoke out. We also commend subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and ranking member Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), as well as Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Collin Peterson, (D-MN), who took the time to speak at the hearing, for their attention to dairy’s urgent needs.”

The NMPF continues to encourage farmers to prepare for Dairy Margin Coverage signup, scheduled to begin June 17. The USDA’s decision tool, designed to help farmers determine their appropriate coverage level, is now online here. Later this week, letters will be sent to producers informing them of their premium refunds under the previous Margin Protection Program. 

Chronic Oversupply, Depressed Prices Plague Dairy Industry

In response to sustained depressed milk prices, chronic oversupply, farm-level consolidation, and a wave of farm closures, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture today held a hearing on the state of the dairy economy. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted written testimony highlighting the considerable financial difficulties American dairy producers have withstood for the past several years.

NFU Vice President Patty Edelburg, who co-owns and operates a dairy farm in Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, has witnessed the devastation first-hand. “For more than four years, dairy farmers nationwide have been paid well below the cost of production” she said. “It would take years of profitability for many family dairy farmers to rebuild their equity and get their farms back on stable footing. With mounting piles of debt and no significant price rebound in sight, thousands of family farmers have been left with no choice but to close their doors.”

While short-term support is critical to help farmers survive the immediate economic challenges, Edelburg recommended that legislators also pursue long-term solutions to overproduction, which has plagued the industry for some time. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides improvements that will help stem losses for many family farmers, but this support alone won’t be enough to save the dairy industry. We need to have a meaningful conversation about supply management options that will ensure dairy farmers are paid a fair price from the market.”

As Food Waste Concerns Rise, Biodiesel Plays Active Role in Reduction

It’s no secret: Americans love fried food. But, what happens to the oil after preparing those foods is part of an ever-growing conversation on reducing food waste. Restaurants and consumers alike are working to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills, something biodiesel has been winning at for decades.

The USDA, FDA and EPA recently announced April as “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month” and the National Biodiesel Board sees biodiesel as an active player in reduction.  

“Recycling cooking oil for biodiesel production is a great step for any restaurant looking to reduce their food waste,” says Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board. “The oil is collected and refined into renewable energy instead of being sent to landfills or being poured down the drain.” 

NBB estimates that nearly 2 billion pounds of used cooking oil is diverted from landfills each year. Thanks to robust recycling programs throughout the country, the volume from these programs continues to grow, making recycled cooking oil the second largest oil source for biodiesel.

“When biodiesel first came on the scene, it was common practice for restaurants to pay to have their grease hauled away,” adds Scott. “Today, it’s pretty standard for companies to have the used oil removed at no cost to them due to its value in renewable energy.”

In addition to used cooking oil, biodiesel uses by-products of animal production – animal fats – as a raw material source. In fact, nearly 1.3 billion pounds of animal fats go into biodiesel fuel today.

The rendering process captures that raw material. Without rendering, recycled cooking oil nor animal fats would be available for biodiesel production.

“If you think about it, Renderers are the original recyclers of food waste,” says Nancy Foster, President of the National Renderers Association. “Americans only eat about 50% of an animal, and we’ve been reclaiming those unused proteins, fats and oils for a broad spectrum of uses for a very long time. The rendering industry has an important sustainability story to tell and we are happy to see this focus on reducing food waste continuing to gain traction.”

“Biodiesel’s ability to use these fats and oils and turn them into renewable fuel is what makes biodiesel such an active player in reducing food waste,” adds Scott. “We’ve been reducing food waste for more than two decades and we’ve only just started.”

USDA Amends National List for Organic Livestock and Handling

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today published a final rule in the Federal Register to amend the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances based on public input and the November 2017 National Organic Standards Board recommendations for livestock and handling.

This final rule:
-    Allows elemental sulfur to be used in organic livestock production as a topical treatment to repel mites, fleas and ticks from livestock and their living spaces.
-    Reclassifies potassium acid tartrate from a nonagricultural substance to an agricultural substance, requiring handlers to use the organic form when it is commercially available. Potassium acid tartrate is currently listed as a nonorganic ingredient allowed in organic products.

This final rule is effective May 30, 2019.

ADM Announces Changes in Operations

Archer Daniels Midland Co. is expanding restructuring efforts as the agricultural company works to rebound from challenges due to bad weather and trade tensions. The Chicago-based company said it plans to close aging flour mills, cut production of high-fructose corn syrup and prepare ethanol operations for a potential spinoff. Previously ADM had said it would reduce staff and streamline global operations.

According to Dow Jones, biting cold and damaging floods cut ADM's first-quarter operating profit by $60 million, the company said, disrupting rail traffic, temporarily shutting a Nebraska corn plant and boosting costs for other facilities.

Overall, ADM's quarterly profit fell 41%. Shares fell more than 2% in recent trading.

ADM and other global agricultural companies have faced several years of low crop prices that have slimmed commodity-trading margins. Over the past year, trade disputes have also disrupted agricultural export flows. In February, ADM reported a 60% drop in its prior quarterly earnings, after Chinese tariffs on U.S. crops reduced soybean exports and pushed down ethanol processing margins.

ADM executives said the company plans to reduce capital spending by 10% this year. It is creating an ethanol subsidiary that will report results as an independent business unit, allowing the company to potentially spin off the business to existing shareholders. Profits from the corn-based fuel additive have slumped by about 25 cents a gallon in recent months as inventories climbed and foul weather increased production costs, executives said.

ADM plans to cease high-fructose corn syrup production at its Marshall, Minn., plant, shifting instead to starches and other food and industrial products for which Mr. Luciano said demand is stronger.

ADM also said it would close several century-old wheat mills, sell some grain-storage facilities and overhaul its peanut operations. Overall, ADM aims to save $1.2 billion in annual expenses.

Expand your approach to reduce the risks of BVD

Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) continues to be a vexing problem for cow/calf producers. BVDV is spread in multiple ways and the risk control effort needs to have a multi-pronged approach.

According to Dr. Paul Walz, professor of pathology at Auburn University, there are three steps to controlling BVDV infections:
·        Biosecurity
·        Immunization
·        Testing

Vaccinating is the act of giving the animal a vaccine, explained Dr. Walz, while immunization is when the animal has an immune response to the vaccine. He said ideally producers will give two doses of modified-live virus reproductive vaccine in replacement heifers before they are bred for the first time, with the last dose given approximately 30 days prior to breeding.

Annual revaccination with a modified-live virus vaccine, like Bovi-Shield Gold FP® 5 VL5, gives effective protection against BVDV infections. If a modified-live virus program in the mature cowherd doesn’t work for the operation, a killed BVDV reproductive vaccine, like CattleMaster Gold FP® 5, at pregnancy check time can also provide protection for the herd against BVDV infection.

Once producers have established a strong vaccination protocol for the cow herd, it is time to look beyond immunization to apply additional tools and management to reduce BVDV risks.

A cow persistently infected (PI) with BVDV will always have a calf that is persistently infected with BVDV. Dr. Walz points out the PI calf is a central figure in how BVDV maintains itself within a herd and how BVDV travels from herd to herd. But the risk for spreading BVDV extends throughout an operation, to equipment, visitors to the farm and fence-line contact among animals.

With so many avenues of BVDV transmission, the work to control the risk begins with biosecurity.

“We cannot rely on immunization to 100% prevent PI infections, nor can we look at our diagnostic test to pick up every single PI animal, so biosecurity is a really good way to reduce risk,” Dr. Walz said.

The main path for BVDV introduction to a herd is through new cattle. The “Trojan dam” — a highly immune cow that is a PI carrier in its reproductive tract and uterus — makes detection difficult, explained Dr. Walz. The cow would pass any test for BVDV, but it is, nonetheless, an infected animal. Producers who purchase pregnant animals, or are bringing them back from a heifer raiser, must contain them for biosecurity purposes to reduce BVDV spread.

“If at all possible, test for PI status of the newborn calves on the new cows rather than allowing those cows to calve within the general population of cows,” Dr. Walz said.

Dr. Walz shared some other essential components of effective biosecurity measures:
·        Avoid bringing in new animals unless they’ve been tested.
·        Isolate sick animals from healthy ones.
·        Move dead animals away from the barn.
·        Pay special attention to young animals.
·        Practice general hygiene — soap, water and general disinfection.
·        Monitor visitors and be aware of how they can transmit BVDV from farm to farm.

The importance of taking the time to test
“We have excellent tests available for BVDV,” Dr. Walz said. “We have better tests for BVDV than we have for a lot of our other diseases, including infectious bovine rhinotracheitis.”

Dr. Walz said testing the newborn calf is essentially testing the dam, and knowing those results can set in motion biosecurity measures and other steps. There are numerous ways to test, and working with a diagnostic laboratory can help produce the most useful results.

“Your diagnostic lab is a tremendous resource for testing, but also a tremendous resource for information on how to test and when to test,” Dr. Walz said.

For more information on biosecurity and taking steps to reduce the risk of BVDV, work with your local veterinarian, or visit to learn about vaccine options from Zoetis to help protect the cow and unborn calf.

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