Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Tuesday May 7 Ag News

Tractor Safety Course

The 2019 Tractor Safety Trainings will be offered in Nebraska during May and June. Any youth 14 or 15 years of age who works on a farm or ranch other than his/her parents’ is required to be certified through a tractor safety course.  Extension Educators and field specialists will teach the 2-day courses.  The trainings in this area will be June 20-21 at the Fairgrounds in Wayne.

Cost for the course is $60, which includes all course materials, lunch both days and breaks.  Registration is payable to UNL Extension on or before the first day of training.  For details or to register, contact: Nebraska Extension Office in Wayne, 402-375-3310.

Quarterly webinar series to address land management issues

The second edition of Agricultural Land Management Quarterly will cover 2019 cash rental rates and land values in Nebraska and critical communication issues between landlords and tenants. The webinar will also include a special segment addressing flood related damages on rented properties. The webinar is May 20 at 6:30 p.m. CT and can be viewed online at

Jim Jansen and Allan Vyhnalek of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics lead the webinars. Jansen’s work focuses on agricultural finance and land economics. He directs the annual Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey and Report. Vyhnalek is a farm succession and transition extension educator.

There will also be time for webinar participants to get questions answered during the program. Participants are encouraged to sign up in advance and submit questions before the event at  

The webinars are free and open to the public. Recorded webinars are available online. Future webinar dates include:
  - August 19
  - November 18

For more information, contact Jim Jansen at 402-261-7572 or

Artificial Intelligence Tool Launched to Share Beef's Benefits in Nebraska and Nationwide

Today the beef industry must explore the most contemporary ways of communicating to consumers with information on beef’s nutrition, ease of preparation, taste and convenience – as well as showing consumers who is responsible for delivering this great product to their tables. Furthermore, beef producers in Nebraska and across the country must make sure beef is being marketed and merchandised in a way that engages today’s consumers.

The industry, through its Beef Checkoff Program, has helped keep up with the quickly evolving marketing landscape by introducing a new artificial intelligence tool called Chuck Knows Beef. Powered by Google Artificial Intelligence, Chuck Knows Beef is a guide to all things beef – recipes, cooking tips, cut information, production background – and can help source customized responses from content found on the website. He has the knowledge of a rancher, the skills of a chef and the sense of humor of a Dad.

Chuck Knows Beef was officially introduced in early April. It is now available to help the 70 percent of consumers who say technical support would be beneficial when shopping for beef by texting recipe shopping lists directly to them. Is also providing great company in the kitchen, with great recipes and a fun personality – including delivering a good “dad” joke from time to thyme.  

Chuck’s Foundation

“Chuck is helping empower today’s shoppers and make them more confident in their beef purchases,” according to Adam Wegner, director of marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “It is the perfect way to combine today’s technology and knowledge to enhance beef buying and beef preparation, and ensure we continue to build an even broader population of people who love beef.”

The technology-embracing program called Chuck Knows Beef was built on a solid foundation of cutting-edge beef promotion that started more than 25 years ago with the introduction of an iconic consumer brand: Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. At that time, it featured celebrity voiced and Aaron Copland’s famous “Hoe-Down” from Rodeo, hitting the airwaves with a force that pushed beef to the forefront of consumer advertising and into the center of the dinner plate.

In 2014 the checkoff’s advertising efforts went 100 percent digital to reach more consumers, particularly older millennial parents, who are more digitally connected.

The respected Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand was relaunched in 2017 – an ideal time given that per capita beef consumption was on the rise. Today the brand focuses on promoting beef’s greatest strengths: the unbeatable taste of beef, the people and production process behind beef, the variety and ease of cooking beef, and the nutritional strength that beef provides. These are unique attributes beef has when compared to other protein sources.

Complete with an updated logo, a new digital website answers questions consumers have about beef from pasture to plate. Coupled with the strongest assets from the brand’s 25-year history – the tagline, the Rodeo music and the strong male voice in advertising – the refreshed Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand had more than 160 million consumer touch points last year. Since its relaunch more than 15 million people have visited the new website, which has answers to the questions consumers have about beef.  

Chuck is Born    
Over the past year the NCBA team started exploring emerging trends around smart speakers, such as the Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Today there are more than 50 million smart speaker owners in the United States, an accomplishment that took a mere 2 years. (To put that into context, it took television 13 years to reach 50 million owners.)

Chuck Knows Beef. He brings the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand to life through knowledge and personality, making Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. even more accessible.              

Checkoff strategists saw this as an opportunity to connect beef information from through a tool that could reach even more beef consumers and potential beef users. Consumers just type a question into the site. For example, to see its sense of humor they may type in “Where’s the beef?” Or, to learn more about a popular cut identified by the beef checkoff they may ask, “What is the Flat Iron Steak?” If they want to know what Chuck thinks about other proteins, they can ask, “What do you think of Chicken?”              

Chuck always has an answer. Utilizing smart speakers and the site, consumers can get information on choosing the right cut of beef, a cooking method or a recipe. In addition to the 70 percent of people who said in a survey technical support would be helpful when shopping for beef, another 65 percent agreed that it would influence their purchasing decision.             

Like the website before it, Chuck Knows Beef represents a prime opportunity for the beef industry to help increase consumer demand, giving consumers confidence and tips they need to select and prepare beef. It’s how the Beef Checkoff Program is keeping up with today’s shoppers and giving beef lovers – and potential beef lovers – the help they need in enjoying their favorite meals.

Agriculture Groups Back Bill to Fix School Funding Flaws, Deliver One of the Largest Property Tax Reductions in Nebraska History

A legislative proposal to make fundamental changes in the way Nebraska funds K-12 schools and in the process deliver an estimated $500 million in property tax relief has earned the support of several Nebraska agriculture organizations. The groups announced their support leading into first round legislative debate on LB 289, a bill advanced by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee.

“LB 289 provides much needed fundamental reforms to help break the cycle of overreliance on property taxes for funding K-12 education,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “This is no property tax band-aid. We’re talking about major tax and education funding reform, the likes of which we have not seen from the Legislature in a long, long time.”

The groups’ support for the bill is founded in the fact it addresses two major issues, specifically the state’s overreliance on property taxes for funding K-12 education and the state’s failure to provide funding to help cover education costs for all K-12 students.

“Today the state picks up the majority education funding costs for students in some school districts, while doing little to nothing to help cover the costs of education for others. The state clearly has a responsibility to help all our students no matter where they live, or the school they attend. LB 289 would help achieve that,” said Robert Johnston, Nebraska Soybean Association president.

LB 289 would address student funding inequities by establishing per-student Foundation aid for every school in the state. In addition, the bill would establish a minimum aid guarantee to ensure one-third of an individual school’s needs are covered by the state.

The bill tackles the overreliance on property taxes to fund schools by replacing those dollars with new sources of revenue, including elimination of numerous service-based sales tax exemptions, increasing state’s sales tax rate, increasing cigarette taxes, and eliminating the state’s personal property tax exemption among other items.

“Nebraska’s three-legged tax stool of property, sales, and income taxes has long been out of balance with property taxes being a major contributor to funding state priorities. LB 289 will help better balance our tax system by increase the sales tax contribution, while offsetting reductions in property taxes used for school funding,” said Dan Nerud, Nebraska Corn Growers Association president.

When fully implemented, LB 289 would lower Nebraskans property tax bills anywhere between seven to 20 percent, with Nebraskans seeing reductions in taxes paid for schools in the range of 15 to 40 percent, depending on the school district where their property is located.

“LB 289 puts Nebraska on the right track for funding our schools and in the process delivers significant property tax relief for all Nebraskans. This is not the state’s largest tax increase as the Governor and others have suggested, but rather, this bill reflects one of the largest property tax reductions in our state’s history,” said Tim Chancellor, Nebraska Pork Producers Association president.

To help ensure the new revenues generated under the bill translate into property tax relief, LB 289 contains measures to slow growth in school spending by limiting growth in schools’ budget authority to the Consumer Price Index or between 0 - 2.5 percent. In addition to limiting school spending, there are several other benefits associated with the bill, including the timeframe in which property tax relief is delivered.

“LB 289 would start providing property tax relief in fiscal year 2019-20. This isn’t a drawn-out phase-in of relief. The property tax relief in this bill would start immediately and with the key structural changes, continue to deliver relief every year thereafter,” said Mike Guenther, Nebraska State Dairy Association vice-president.

According to the groups, the bill also provides a solution to the issue of runaway property tax bills when land valuations climb. Much like they did in the recent past on agricultural land valuation increases.

“By the state taking on responsibility for covering one-third of a school districts funding needs, LB 289 is helping prevent jumps in property valuations from instantly translating into massive increases in property taxes on property owners, regardless if it is residential, commercial, or agricultural property,” said Mark Spurgin, Nebraska Wheat Growers Association president.

According the organizations, the choice facing Nebraska lawmakers is very clear.

“This bill will deliver the much-needed school funding reform and tax relief that Nebraskans have been asking for. You’d be hard pressed to find a state senator who hasn’t said property taxes are the number one issue they hear about from constituents. All our groups agree that the time to fix these issues is now and the solution is before the Legislature. From our perspective, a “YES” vote for LB 289 is a vote for property tax relief and a vote in support of Nebraska property taxpayers. A “NO” vote on LB 289 is nothing short of a vote against Nebraska’s property taxpayers,” said Steve Nelson.

Bipartisan Group of Governors Urge Congress to Finalize Disaster Relief

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts joined a bipartisan group of 10 Governors calling on Congress to finalize a supplemental disaster relief proposal.

“We appreciate that preliminary disaster packages have advanced in both chambers,” wrote the Governors in their letter.  “These are indeed encouraging signs, but after months of debate and continuing significant events driving widespread unmet needs for these states and communities even higher, now is the time to bring these efforts together in a final form and to bring national resources to bear where needed.”

 Reps. Axne, Smith Lead Bipartisan Effort to Stop EPA’s Abuse of Small Refinery Exemptions

Today, U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA-03) and Adrian Smith (R-NE-3) led a bipartisan group of 35 colleagues in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop issuing Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) for large or unqualified refiners under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program. In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Members highlighted that the expansion of biofuel waivers hurts farmers who rely on demand for corn-based ethanol and other biofuels and has increased our dependence on foreign oil.

“Our farmers and rural communities rely on a thriving biofuels’ market to support their families and create good-paying jobs. Increasing Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) waivers not only threatens our energy security, but stifles competition in an industry that is an economic driver and job creator across Iowa and the Midwest,” said Rep. Axne. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to meet our RFS goals and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

“Waiving the Renewable Fuels Standard impedes the biofuels’ market and limits consumers’ options at the pump,” Rep. Smith said. “I look forward to working with the Administration to keep our commitments to the biofuels’ industry, which in turn will help foster the development of greater American energy independence.”

The EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program requires a specific, set volume of renewable fuel to replace or reduce the quantity of petroleum based fuels. Under the RFS program, a small refinery can be granted a temporary exemption from RFS requirements if compliance would prevent them from being profitable. However, the EPA has recently loosened the requirements for SREs, enabling refineries owned by major oil companies to receive these waivers. Not only have these waivers reduced the United States’ ability to meet our RFS goals, but it decreases the demand for Midwestern corn and bio products and hurts our farmers.

In addition to Rep. Axne and Adrian Smith, David Scott (D-GA-13), Darin LaHood (R-IL-18), Roger Marshall M.D. (R-KS-1), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1), Steve King (R-IA-4), David Loebsack (D-IA-2), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA-1), Don Bacon (R-NE-2), Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), Angie Craig (D-MN-2), Rodney Davis (R-IL-13), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO-5), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Jim Hagedorn (R-MN-1), Ron Estes (R-KS-4), Collin C. Peterson (D-MN-7), Michael R. Turner (R-OH-10), Steve Watkins (R-KS-2), Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ-1), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-7), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO-3), Mike Bost (R-IL-12), Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Robin Kelly (D-IL-2), Bill Foster (D-IL-11), James R. Baird (R-IN-4).

RFN Thanks Nebraska’s House Delegation for Call to End Small Refinery Exemptions

Today, Renewable Fuels Nebraska Executive Director Troy Bredenkamp thanked the three
Nebraska members of the U.S. House of Representatives for leading a group of lawmakers who
sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting the agency end the practice
of granting small refinery exemptions for large or unqualified refineries and uphold the Renewable
Fuel Standard (RFS). The bipartisan letter, led by U.S. Representatives Cindy Axne (D-IA) and
Adrian Smith (R-NE), cited the "unprecedented rate of granting waivers" as a betrayal to rural
communities that undermines the RFS and has contributed to a loss of more than 2.6 billion gallons
in lost biofuels blending. A total of 35 members of the House, including Reps. Fortenberry and
Bacon (in addition to Smith) signed on to a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

"On behalf of Nebraska’s ethanol producers, we thank our state delegation, and in particular Rep.
Adrian Smith for leading this effort to call on the EPA and the Trump Administration to end the
practice of approving for exemptions for small refiners at a time when the economic conditions
would not remotely warrant their approval” said Troy Bredenkamp. “With on-farm income at a low,
ethanol margins at barely break-even, ethanol wholesale prices 75 cents per gallon lower than the
gasoline the refiners produce and RINs trading between 8-12 cents per gallon, I struggle to see
how any economic hardship exists that would warrant any refiner to receive an exemption.”

The EPA is currently considering over 40 small refinery exemptions from various oil companies
under the RFS for 2018. If granted, these exemptions will further exacerbate the current ethanol
production levels and tight operating margins. "There is no excuse why, under this Administration,
the EPA has quadrupled the number of exemptions to the world's largest oil companies” said

House Lawmakers Call for an End to the Unjust Granting of Small Refinery Exemptions for Big Oil

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor thanked the 35 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting the agency end the practice of granting small refinery exemptions for large or unqualified refineries and uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The bipartisan letter, led by U.S. Representatives Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE), cited the "unprecedented rate of granting waivers" as a betrayal to rural communities that undermines the RFS and has contributed to a loss of more than 2.6 billion gallons in lost biofuels blending.

"At a time when grain markets have reached a 42-year low and there was an $11.8 billion decline in farm income the last quarter, our rural communities are continuing to be punished by the rapid escalation in small refinery exemptions by this administration," said Skor. "There is no legal or rational explanation for why EPA has quadrupled the number of secret exemptions to the world's largest oil companies in the past 17 months. We applaud U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) and their 33 colleagues calling on EPA to halt unjust granting of SREs and to reallocate the gallons lost to ensure the targets set out under the RFS are met, and put an end to the practice of eliminating markets at a time when growers and producers need them most."

Research on Viral Transmission in Feedstuffs Yields New Information

With research confirming that swine viruses can be transmitted through feed and feedstuffs, new studies are looking at how to prevent the spread of foreign animal diseases, such as African swine fever (ASF), via these vehicles. Based on new research, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians have revised the information for feed holding times.

The Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), the public charity of the American Feed Industry Association, helped fund the research that resulted in the updated information that provide the best and most current understanding of viral survivability in feedstuffs and details for mitigating risk to domestic herds.

“The science on viral transmission through feed and feedstuffs is still relatively young, but it has yielded some interesting and potentially useful information on mitigating the spread of costly viruses, such as ASF,” said Paul Sundberg, DVM, Swine Health Information Center executive director. “This includes recognition that not all imported feedstuffs are manufactured and handled in the same way. It’s important to know whether ingredients are produced under biosecure conditions and how they were shipped.”

The new details decrease holding times over the initial estimations, which were calculated in October 2018 based on the available research, and give additional assurances of further viral degradation if the feed ingredients are contaminated.

“Variations of the same feed components might cause disparity in holding time confidence,” said David Pyburn, DVM, National Pork Board senior vice president, science and technology. “For example, according to research using Senecavirus A (Seneca Valley virus), which is suggested to have the longest holding time of studied viruses, increasing holding times by an additional 30% would give an opportunity for 99.999% degradation of contaminating viruses.”

More research would be needed to confirm that the results could be extrapolated to other feed ingredients in like classes to those studied. The updated information shows new holding times details for general informational and educational purposes. They should not be considered as to be recommending or advocating any specific course of action.
Mean Holding Time for 99.99% Degradation    

                  Days at 4° C     Days at 15° C        Days at 30° C

Soybean Meal      143                    52                      26
DDGS                   494                  182                     26
Vitamin D             39                     26                      26
Lysine                   78                     13                      13
“Continued diligence on feedstuffs origin, the manufacturing processes, the shipping methods and ‘born on date’ is essential,” Liz Wagstrom, DVM, National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian, said. “Feedstuffs manufactured, sealed, handled, and shipped under biosecure conditions produces an ingredient free of pathogens and reduces the risk of post-processing contamination, resulting in little to no risk to animal health.”

For example, vitamins and amino acids are typically shipped in sealed or secure containers. Anything produced under unknown conditions or unsealed can pose an animal health risk. Imported soybean meal and DDGS are often transported in non-sealed or non-secure containers. Knowing the origin of ingredients and the disease status of the region or country is essential.

“The feed industry is a committed partner in the effort to prevent foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S. through imported feed ingredients,” said Leah Wilkinson, vice president for public policy and education for the American Feed Industry Association. “This additional information on holding times is helpful. We encourage dialogue with your feed ingredient or feed supplier to discover all of the measures that have been put in place to supply a safe product.”

Complete information on the research leading to the holding time calculation and the document, U.S. Pork Industry Organization Provide ‘Options’ for Handling Imported Feed Ingredients, are available at

Beef Exports to South Korea Reaches New Records

Fifteen years ago, U.S. beef was banned in South Korea after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United States at the end of 2003.

U.S. beef exports gradually reentered the market after the ban was partially lifted in 2006, and then markedly accelerated in the years following implementation of the 2012 United States-South Korea free trade agreement (KORUS), which reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

Recently emerging as an important market for U.S. beef exports, South Korea received more than half of the increase in U.S. total beef-export volume from 2017 to 2018, with 35 percent year-over-year growth.

Further, South Korea received more than 20 percent of total U.S. beef exports in 2018.

Likely drivers of this growth included strong consumer demand; lower tariffs than the next largest competitor, Australia; large exportable supplies of beef in the United States relative to Australia; and a relatively weaker U.S. dollar in the first half of the year.

As a result, U.S. beef exports to South Korea exceeded the pre-BSE peak level of 597 million pounds in 2002, reaching 638 million pounds in 2018, and making the United States the largest supplier of beef to South Korea.

USDA Announces March Income over Feed Cost Margin Triggers Third 2019 Dairy Safety Net Payment

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced this week that the March 2019 income over feed cost margin was $8.85 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the third payment for dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), offers 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.

“I encourage all dairy operations to sign up for DMC when we begin accepting applications in June,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Under certain coverage levels, the amount to be paid to dairy farmers for the months of January, February and March already exceed the cost of the premium.”

The signup period for DMC opens June 17, 2019. Dairy producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $9 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January, February and March 2019.

Industry Leaders Share Forward-Thinking Trends to Drive Dairy Demand

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Midwest Dairy jointly announce the agenda for the second annual Dairy Experience Forum July 16-18 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota. The forum’s unique program will facilitate conversation and learning opportunities among farmers, dairy experts and partners as they discuss useful insights and ideas that can be used in their ongoing work to help ensure a successful future for dairy.

The two-day forum will convene the entire supply chain—including farmers, processors, cooperatives, dietitians, retailers and dairy ambassadors—to learn about disruptive, forward-thinking trends and how the industry can collaborate to build dairy demand nationwide and globally. Consumer trends and behaviors are changing at a rapid, ongoing rate; thus it is imperative dairy farmers and industry stay on top of the latest disruptive, forward-thinking trends to ensure the category maintains and continues to grow market share globally.

“With more than 95 percent of the world’s population outside of the United States, it is more important than ever to understand dairy’s opportunities to reach global consumers,” says Tom Vilsack, President and CEO of US Dairy Export Council who will provide one of the forum’s keynotes.

Building on the success of last year’s live consumer focus group, during which attendees listened to and observed adult consumers discuss their food preferences, the 2019 forum will also feature a similar event, however all panelists will represent Generation Z. With $44 billion in purchasing power and nearly 50 percent of 18 to 21 year olds participating in their household’s grocery shopping, it’s critical for the dairy industry to take a close look at how Generation Z makes purchasing decisions and what drives their eating choices.

“Understanding youth culture provides valuable clues on the food, health and snacking trends that will drive profitable sales growth,” says Jeff Fromm, President of FutureCast, who in addition to serving as the opening speaker, will facilitate the Generation Z live consumer focus group.

Key speaker highlights include:
-    United States Dairy Export Council CEO Tom Vilsack will share how USDEC is addressing ways U.S. dairy products can better meet the needs and preferences of international consumers.
-    Innovation expert and former Google executive Steve Lerch will highlight how the digital transformation is impacting consumer’s food and health decisions.
-    National Pork Board CEO Bill Even will participate in a corporate social responsibility panel with leaders from food and agriculture industries who set a high bar in demonstrating best practices.
-    Generational consultant Jeff Fromm will discuss how generational differences are changing buying habits and put attendees into the consumer mindset.
-    An E-commerce panel will share how companies use creative approaches to capitalize on the fact that online food sales are predicted to grow by 15 to 20 percent of total sales in 2022.

To see the full agenda and register, visit

Trade War Only Getting Worse for Soy Farmers Fearful for their Future

In what could easily be described as “worst case” for America’s soybean growers, the Trump Administration has confirmed what the industry has feared for months: Heavier tariffs on Chinese goods are planned for Friday, May 10.

“This is a predicament for soy growers,” said Davie Stephens, a grower from Clinton, Ky., and president of the American Soybean Association (ASA). “We understand that Mr. Trump and his Administration have broad goals they want to achieve for our country, but farmers are in a desperate situation. We need a positive resolution of this ongoing tariff dispute, not further escalation of tensions.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Monday he plans to move forward with President Trump’s threat on Sunday to increase the tariff rate from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, citing China’s back-pedaling on prior commitments during talks in Beijing last week.

China’s retaliation against U.S. soy farmers has chilled exports to the U.S.’s most important foreign customer. China has purchased only 5 million metric tons (MMT) of its 20 MMT ‘good faith’ promise, and the original March 1 deadline for concluding negotiations has come and gone. The market has fluctuated with each development during the negotiations, including Trump’s social media posts over the weekend.

“After so many threats and missed deadlines for concluding negotiations, this ongoing uncertainly is unacceptable to U.S. farmers,” Stephens continued. “With depressed prices and unsold stocks forecast to double before the 2019 harvest begins in September, we need the China market reopened to U.S. soybean exports within weeks, not months or longer.”

ASA urges the Administration to hold off on additional tariffs and rapidly conclude negotiations with China, including lifting the existing Section 301 tariffs in exchange for China removing its retaliatory 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans.

Stephens concluded, “Soybean farmers have demonstrated great patience as the Administration has sought to negotiate a better trading relationship with China. However, our patience is wearing thin as prices remain low and the tariff dispute drags on. The financial and emotional toll on U.S. soybean farmers cannot be ignored.”

Growers have been reeling for almost a year now, after the President first imposed a 25 percent duty on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods in July 2018, and later, a 10 percent duty on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese products, which resulted in the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. That 10 percent duty was scheduled to jump to 25 percent the end of last year, but President Trump delayed the hike after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in December, with the countries agreeing to hold off for 90 days, and then indefinitely during the ongoing negotiations until this week.

Grain Exports Offer Billions in Benefits Beyond the Farm

A new study shows access to international export markets for U.S. grains supported nearly $38 billion in business sales in the U.S. economy during 2016 beyond the value of the products themselves.

The analysis commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) found a total economic impact of U.S. grains exports of $55 billion that year, supporting 271,000 jobs directly or indirectly. These sales supported U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $19 billion over what would have occurred without such exports.

The analysis dives deep into the benefits to farmers, rural communities and the nation as a whole derived from overseas sales driven by strong trade policy and robust in-country market development for grains and grains products.

“Every sale counts for farmers, especially in this market, and this analysis shows just how much the grain sector is supported by regular and growing purchases from our overseas customers,” said Jim Stitzlein, the Council’s chairman. “These numbers out today take the analysis one step further to look at the whole economy, in our rural and farm communities but also in cities where people have jobs transporting, processing and shipping ag products.”

Informa Agribusiness Consulting conducted the study, which examined the economic contributions to each state and 52 congressional districts from exports of corn, barley, sorghum, ethanol, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten feed and meal as well as the corn equivalent of meat on the U.S. economy. The new study is an update to similar research done with 2014 and 2015 data, showing similar results.

Breaking down the numbers, these results showed every $1 of grain exports supported an additional $2.20 in business sales. Every job directly created by the export of grain and grain products supported an additional 3.9 jobs in the United States.

These indirect and induced business activities extend well beyond the agricultural industry, including the wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas and service sectors.

“While corn growers can see first-hand the value our product provides to our local communities, this study demonstrates the positive economic impact we provide beyond our fields. Breaking the data down into individual states and Congressional districts will help us better inform legislators as we advocate for new market opportunities for U.S. corn,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp.

FDA Must Step in To End Fake-Butter Proliferation, American Butter Institute Says

Plant-based imitations of butter and other dairy products pose an increasing challenge for consumer understanding in the butter sector, which is dealing with proliferating imposters even as butter’s popularity grows. That makes it crucial for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop vegan shenanigans before fake products make federal standards of identity for established terms such as “butter” and “margarine” meaningless, said Tom Balmer, executive director of the American Butter Institute.

Speaking at the organization’s annual gathering in Chicago, Balmer pointed that for generations plant-based butter imitations have been marketed under a federal standard of identity as margarine or under the non-standardized term “vegetable oil spread.” Now, in the face of declining margarine and spread sales, companies are seeking to capitalize on butter’s resurgent popularity by misappropriating the term “butter” and applying it to products that clearly do not meet butter’s federal standard of identity. This gnaws at the integrity of food standards, Balmer said, and misleads consumers who may believe they’re buying an equivalent to butter when, in fact, no such quality standard is being met.

“Just because consumers are rejecting plant-based margarines and spreads, companies can’t turn around and violate federal law by slapping the term ‘butter’ on a product label and pretend it’s worthy of a dairy term,” Balmer said. “A falsely labeled product is a misbranded product, and misbranded products don’t belong on grocery shelves. The proliferation of these products is eroding the integrity of the marketplace, and the FDA needs to stop it before its own rules become meaningless.”

Balmer also noted butter’s many strengths that position itself well to compete with plant-based imposters. Butter is a “cleaner” product than its imitators – salted butter, for example, contains two ingredients (salt and cream), while Wayfare’s “Dairy-Free” product, to cite one example, has at least 10 ingredients. “Butter is popular precisely because it has qualities imitators can’t match,” Balmer said. “Imposters don’t deserve a label that’s destined to disappoint consumers who expect the high quality of the real thing.”

The American Butter Institute filed a lengthy complaint to the FDA in September calling out imitators. It also supports the National Milk Producers Federation’s citizen petition with the agency filed in February, outlining a roadmap toward a constructive resolution of the problem of mislabeled, fake dairy products.

The Andersons Reports a $14 Million Loss

The Andersons reports a net loss of $14.0 million or $0.43 per diluted share and an adjusted net loss of $5.3 million, or $0.16 per diluted share. Adjustments include $8.7 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, of expenses related to the Lansing Trade Group acquisition, which closed in early January. Integration is progressing well.

But the firm's ethanol group remains profitable in a weak margin environment, recording $2.6 million of pretax income on continued improved plant efficiency.

"We closed our acquisition of Lansing Trade Group successfully in early January, and our work to integrate it with our former Grain Group is on schedule," said President and CEO Pat Bowe. "I am very pleased with how well the new Trade Group team is functioning. However, our overall results were hampered by markets that continue to be negatively impacted by trade disruptions and poor weather that are affecting multiple business units significantly."

Bowe said the Ethanol Group's results were encouraging, as that division remained profitable by continuing its plant efficiency and hedging its production well.

Conservis Launches Zone Economics Tool For Farmers

Conservis, the global leader in enterprise farm management software, announces the deployment of Zone Economics which delivers actionable insights to farmers. Enabling growers to compare and evaluate the economic efficiency of their field practices, this tool provides a data lens to understand how their in-field decisions affect their bottom line.

Using Zone Economics, growers can supersede the guessing game of what's economically most effective. Zone economics puts farmers in a position of power by revealing answers to frequently asked questions:
    What part of the field is losing money?
    Which seed rates are most profitable?
    Was that last spray application really required?

In today's world, the measure of farm operation performance is shifting away from yield alone. In reality, a high-output field may not be the most cost-efficient. Volatile commodity prices, ever-increasing costs for inputs, and rising labor rates are squeezing margins like never before. As a result, cost-effective production has become the new measure of success. In order to make the best business decisions about a farm's operation, it's critical to understand how and where money is being spent within a field.

"In recent times, the power has been in the hands of the large equipment manufacturers or seed and input companies," says Conservis VP of Customer Success, David Gehant. "Zone Economics gives leverage and power back to the grower, as the data revealed facilitates a meaningful conversation with farm advisors and stakeholders."

"Zone economics showed me that my premium seed didn't pay off," stated Kyle Musselman, Musselman Farms. "The yield just didn't offset the higher cost."

Zone Economics requires that equipment be connected to Climate FieldView™ and/or John Deere Operations Center through a simple integration. That as-applied and yield data then combines with Conservis costs and activities, bringing growers an in-field economic analysis that paints the full picture. Applying actual activity costs provides growers the cost of production, right down to the square yard.

Growers can evaluate and measure field and activity performance using side-by-side comparisons. Costs and activities function as stackable layers that can be selected to readily view application and yield analysis, allowing growers to see everything that happened on that field in a single view.

Conservis is independent, guarantees total data protection and has no loyalty to anyone except the farmer. Growers own their data and Conservis rigorously adheres to the privacy standards adopted by Ag Data Transparent.

NAWG Member North Dakota Grain Growers Association (NDDGA) Chooses to Leave NAWG

It is with much disappointment to announce that the North Dakota Grain Growers Association (NDGGA) has decided to withdraw their membership from the National Association of Wheat Growers, effective June 30, 2019, the end of NAWG’s current fiscal year. NAWG President Ben Scholz made the following statement in response:

“Despite tremendous effort and NAWG conducting hundreds of meetings with members of Congress and the Administration on behalf of all our states including North Dakota, NDGGA leadership has indicated they will leave NAWG. NAWG leadership and staff did everything possible to address NDGGA’s concerns, from private briefings to ramped up communications to our states to traveling to North Dakota with a third-party facilitator to address issues, and yet they have still decided to resign their membership. As the President of a trade association, it always disappoints me when one of our members isn’t pleased with productivity.

“In this case, NAWG went above and beyond to meet the concerns of NDGGA by giving them a national voice on Capitol Hill. NDGGA chose to put their own priorities ahead of the national organization, which is not how a national association can run effectively. The past two years North Dakota put their interests ahead of all wheat growers across the country by withholding half their dues, making it difficult to carry out the overall mission of the organization.

“It is unfortunate that a major wheat-producing state, who provided unique insight into national policy and influenced others in the industry, won’t be moving forward with NAWG.

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