Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday June 28 Ag News


Nebraska producers planted 10.0 million acres of corn for all purposes, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is up 4 percent from last year. Of the total acres, 96 percent were planted with biotechnology varieties, unchanged from 2018. Area to be harvested for grain is estimated at 9.65 million acres, up 4 percent from a year ago.

Soybean planted acreage is estimated at 5.00 million acres, down 12 percent from last year. Of these, 95 percent were planted with genetically modified, herbicide resistant seed, down 1 percentage point from 2018. Producers expect to harvest 4.95 million acres, down 12 percent from a year ago.

Winter wheat planted in the fall of 2018 is estimated at a record low 1.07 million acres, down 3 percent from last year. Harvested area is expected to total 970,000 acres, down 4 percent from a year ago.

Alfalfa acreage to be harvested for dry hay is estimated at 900,000 acres, up 6 percent from last year. Other hay acreage to be cut for dry hay is estimated at 1.60 million acres, down 14 percent from a year ago.

Sorghum planted for all purposes is estimated at 230,000 acres, unchanged from the previous year. Area to be harvested for grain is estimated at 165,000 acres, down 3 percent from last year.

Oats planted for all purposes is estimated at 85,000 acres, down 32 percent from last year. Area to be harvested for grain is estimated at 19,000 acres, down 14 percent from last year.

Dry edible bean planted acreage is estimated at 120,000 acres. Harvested acres are estimated at 110,000 acres. Beginning in 2019, chickpeas are excluded from the dry edible bean estimates.
Proso millet planted, at 90,000 acres, is down 5 percent from a year ago.

Sugarbeet planted acres, at 44,500 acres, are down 2 percent from last year. Harvested area is forecast at 43,700 acres, down 1 percent from a year ago.

Oil sunflower planted area is estimated at 25,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Harvested area is estimated at 24,000 acres, unchanged from a year ago. Non-oil sunflower planted area is estimated at 10,000 acres, down 17 percent from the previous year. Harvested area is estimated at 9,000 acres, down 5 percent from the previous year.

Dry edible pea planted acres are estimated at 30,000 acres, down 48 percent from last year. Harvested acres are estimated at 28,000 acres, down 43 percent from the previous year.

Potato planted acreage is estimated at 19,500 acres, unchanged from last year. Harvested area is estimated at 19,300, unchanged from a year ago. Percent planted by type totals 50 percent Russet, 47 percent white, 1 percent red, and 2 percent yellow.

The estimates of planted and harvested acreages in this news release are based primarily on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of June.


Corn planted for all purposes in Iowa is estimated at 13.6 million acres, unchanged from the March intentions but up 400,000 acres from last year according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Acreage report. Corn to be harvested for grain is forecast at 13.2 million acres. Producers reported planting biotechnology varieties on 92 percent of their 2019 corn acres. The percent of corn acreage planted to insect resistant (Bt) varieties is estimated at 4 percent, herbicide resistant only varieties were planted on 7 percent of the acres, and stacked gene varieties were planted on 81 percent of the acres.

Soybean acreage planted is estimated at 9.10 million acres, down 300,000 acres from the March intentions and down 900,000 acres from the 2018 planted acreage. Soybean acreage to be harvested is forecast at 9.03 million acres. Based on reports from producers, 94 percent of the soybean acres were planted with herbicide resistant varieties.

Total dry hay expected to be harvested for 2019 is forecast at 1.08 million acres, up 30,000 acres from the March forecast and up 140,000 acres from 2018. Of the total, 700,000 acres of alfalfa and 380,000 acres of other hay are expected to be harvested for dry hay.

Acreage seeded to oats is estimated at 215,000 acres, up 80,000 acres from the March intentions and last year. Oat acreage expected to be harvested for grain is forecast at 80,000 acres, up 47,000 acres from 2018.

Corn Planted Acreage Up 3 Percent from 2018

Soybean Acreage Down 10 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Down 5 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Down 3 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2019 is estimated at 91.7 million acres, up 3 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acres are up or unchanged in 40 of the 48 estimating States. Area harvested for grain, at 83.6 million acres, is up 2 percent from last year.

Soybean planted area for 2019 is estimated at 80.0 million acres, down 10 percent from last year. This represents the lowest soybean planted acreage in the United States since 2013. Compared with last year, planted acreage is down in all 29 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2019 is estimated at 45.6 million acres, down 5 percent from 2018. This represents the lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. The 2019 winter wheat planted area, at 31.8 million acres, is down 2 percent from last year but up 1 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 22.7 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.54 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.55 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2019 is estimated at 12.4 million acres, down 6 percent from 2018. Of this total, about 12.0 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2019 is estimated at 1.40 million acres, down 32 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2019 is estimated at 13.7 million acres, 3 percent below last year. Upland area is estimated at 13.4 million acres, down 3 percent from 2018. American Pima area is estimated at 275,000 acres, up 10 percent from 2018.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2019 totaled 572 million bushels, up 4 percent from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 310 million bushels are stored on farms, up 11 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 262 million bushels, are down 4 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 124 million bushels, up 27 percent from last year. On-farm stocks of 35.5 million bushels are up 51 percent from a year ago, and off-farm stocks, at 88.5 million bushels, are up 19 percent from 2018.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 36.0 million bushels, down 3 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 660,000 bushels are down 53 percent from 2018, and off-farm stocks of 35.4 million bushels are down 1 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 5.63 million bushels, up 73 percent from 2018. On-farm stocks of 570,000 bushels are up 50 percent from a year ago and off-farm holdings of 5.06 million bushels are up 76 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 270,000 bushels, up 8 percent from 2018.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on June 1, 2019, totaled 994 million bushels, down 9 percent from June 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 59 percent were stored on-farm. The March-May 2019 indicated disappearance totaled 572 million bushels, 5 percent below the 600 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on June 1, 2018, totaled 302 million bushels, 37 percent above the 220 million bushels on hand June 1, 2018. This is the highest June 1 total stocks on record, 18 percent above the record set in 2007. Of the total stocks, 46 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for March-May 2019 is 119 million bushels, 19 percent below the 146 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Corn Stocks Down 2 Percent from June 2018

Soybean Stocks Up 47 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 2 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2019 totaled 5.20 billion bushels, down 2 percent from June 1, 2018. Of the total stocks, 2.95 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 7 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 2.25 billion bushels, are down 12 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2019 indicated disappearance is 3.41 billion bushels, compared with 3.59 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2019 totaled 1.79 billion bushels, up 47 percent from June 1, 2018. On-farm stocks totaled 730 million bushels, up 94 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.06 billion bushels, are up 26 percent from a year ago. Indicated disappearance for the March - May 2019 quarter totaled 937 million bushels, up 5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Old crop all wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2019 totaled 1.07 billion bushels, down 2 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 207 million bushels, up 58 percent from last year. Off-farm stocks, at 865 million bushels, are down 11 percent from a year ago. The March - May 2019 indicated disappearance is 521 million bushels, up 31 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Deadline Extended to Apply for Funding to Plant Cover Crops on Flooded Cropland Acres

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering a special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) sign-up for farmers in Nebraska who could not plant their crops because of flooded or wet fields. This sign-up provides technical and financial assistance to help farmers plant cover crops, an alternative to letting fields go fallow and uncovered. The deadline to apply is July 19, 2019. This is an extension of the June 21 sign up deadline announced in April.

Excessive moisture and flooding in 2019 have prevented or delayed planting on many farms across Nebraska. Many producers are unable to plant crops by a final planting date or have experienced significant delays in planting.

Fields that are saturated for an extended period can lose important soil organisms. Cover crop roots add organic matter and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil, which is key to restoring its health.

“Cover crops help farmers manage soil erosion, weeds, and pests and improve soil health,” said Craig Derickson, NRCS state conservationist in Nebraska. “They can also help soil health recover after a flood or a long period of remaining wet.”

Cover crops also improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. Cover crops approved for funding through this sign up can potentially be hayed or grazed.

Work currently being done to maintain conservation structures as well as sediment removal, debris removal or grading and reshaping can be stabilized and protected from further erosion and damage by planting a cover crop.

Derickson said, “For Nebraska’s cropland that suffered significant damage, planting a cover crop can be a great way to help protect fields and restore productivity.”

For more information, or to apply for this special EQIP funding, contact your local NRCS office.

Other USDA Programs

Farmers with prevented planting coverage through USDA-administered crop insurance can hay, graze, or chop a cover crop.  USDA’s Risk Management Agency adjusted the final haying and grazing date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 to help farmers who were prevented from planting or delayed in planting due to flooding and excessive rainfall.

More Information

USDA offers a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. For more information on disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA service center or

USDA Adds Flexibility for Cover Crop Management in Crop Year 2020

The 2018 Farm Bill mandated changes to the treatment of cover crops for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, which add more flexibility to when cover crops must be terminated while remaining eligible for crop insurance. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) developed new guidelines and policy provisions to enact these changes, which will be available beginning with the 2020 crop year. With these changes, NRCS is now recognized as an agricultural expert resource for cover crop management systems.

“USDA is working to quickly implement the 2018 Farm Bill to better serve our customers,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “These new guidelines will provide more flexibility for our customers who want to plant cover crops to meet their production and conservation goals for their farms.”

Producers now know up front that insurance will attach at time of planting the insured crop. Cover crop management practices are covered by Good Farming Practice provisions, and the guidelines are no longer a requirement for insurance to attach.

“Now, cover crop management practices will be treated like all other farming decisions such as fertilizer application, seeding rates, and tillage practices,” Northey said.

U.S. Soy Inside 100 Million Panels of Purebond Plywood

Good news for home owners, workers and U.S. soybean farmers

A nature-inspired solution has achieved a major milestone. U.S. soybean farmers gathered alongside Salina cabinetry workers at Crestwood Inc. to celebrate the use of U.S. soy inside 100 million panels of Columbia Forest Products' (CFP's) Purebond Plywood.

The innovation has benefited thousands of customers, woodworking employees and U.S. farmers. Through the soybean checkoff, the United Soybean Board (USB) has supported soy research on the technology and partnered with CFP to educate architects and other customers about its value.

"U.S. soybean farmers appreciate the demand for soy that Columbia Forest Products and its customers have created for our crop that is grown by about 515,000 farms across the nation," said USB director Lance Rezac, who grows soybeans near Onaga, Kan.. "We are also proud that U.S. soy's sustainability has contributed to the well-being of manufacturing workers, families in their homes, employees at offices and even movie sets where this product is used to avoid exposure to added formaldehyde."

The PureBond story starts with the science of biomimicry, which studies nature then imitates its designs. Oregon State University researcher Kaichang Li looked to the Pacific Ocean for insight on how to develop a practical, scalable and cost-effective way to convert totally away from formaldehyde-based resin systems in the hardwood plywood industry.

Inspiration came from observing that mussels secret proteins to defy pounding waves. The research path led to protein-rich soy flour, which is the essential ingredient to make plywood without any added formaldehyde from standard veneer-core and composite hardwood plywood core panels. The soy-flour product delivered adhesion and water resistance.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored the researchers who developed the soy-based panel assembly approach with the 2007 Presidential Green Chemistry Award. According to EPA, the technology represented the "first cost-competitive, environmentally friendly adhesive that replaced the toxic urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin."

The North Carolina-headquartered company first offered the product to customers in 2005. Importantly, PureBond provides performance benefits yet is cost-competitive with traditional panels made using UF construction.

"Columbia's environmental commitment remains strong. Our market position is about being honest and transparent with the materials we use," said Todd Vogelsinger, CFP's director of marketing. "Our customers want to know what they're buying, how it was made, and what it was made with, so we are proud to say we shrank our environmental footprint with U.S. soy.

"The soy benefit means that, in addition to appreciating the visual and performance qualities of their furniture for decades into the future, our customers can also appreciate the special qualities of the material. The story of what you can't see is as exciting as the story that the furniture tells on its own."

CFP's plywood products are available through a network of wholesale distributors, select Home Depot stores and fabricators like Crestwood that make custom cabinetry, furniture and even caskets. Crestwood's 300,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Salina is one of the nation's most modern woodworking facilities. The multi-generation family business was an early adopter of CFP's decorative plywood that offers environmental benefits thanks to being made with CFP's U.S. soy flour-based resin system.

"We are always looking for ways to better our products to meet customer needs," said Mike Junk, Crestwood's president. "PureBond is a cost-neutral product that also gives air-quality benefits to our customers, as well as employees. We are excited that each piece of furniture we make also uses soybeans like the ones grown here in our state."

Because of their potential to create new markets for soybeans, U.S. soybean farmers have invested millions of dollars to research, test and promote biobased products. Much of that work was done through USB -- 73 U.S. soybean farmers appointed by the U.S. secretary of agriculture to invest soybean-checkoff funds. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the federal Agriculture Department's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for the soybean checkoff.

USDA scientists and researchers reported 320 new inventions in 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released its annual Technology Transfer Report, which highlights innovations from scientists and researchers that are solving problems for farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers; and creating opportunities for American businesses to thrive. Yesterday, Secretary Perdue discussed the release of the Technology Transfer Report at the Forbes AgTech Summit held in Salinas, CA during a fireside chat with Mike Federle, the CEO of Forbes.

USDA’s Technology Transfer Report revealed 320 new inventions from USDA laboratories in fiscal year 2018, along with 471 licenses, 120 patent applications and 67 actual patents. Discoveries include a repellent made from coconut oil to ward off blood-sucking insects that cost the cattle industry more than $2.4 billion annually, technology that keeps almond crops from being lost to heavy rains, and a treatment for peanut allergies.

“Long before anyone ever coined the modern-day phrase of ‘technology transfer,’ it was part of the culture at USDA to deliver solutions to the people of America,” Secretary Perdue said. “Today, USDA is still helping to drive technological innovation – both on the farm and off. Studies show that every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to our economy. Innovations produced by USDA scientists and through public-private partnerships add value to American agriculture and the U.S. economy, create jobs, and help American producers compete in the global marketplace.”

Innovation highlights mentioned in the report include (along with corresponding page numbers in the report for each):                         
-    A new bio-based insect repellent that uses fatty acids derived from coconut oil to ward off blood-sucking insects that cost the cattle industry more than $2.4 billion annually. (p. 117)
-    Energy-saving new technology using sequential infrared heat and hot air to simultaneously dry and decontaminate wet whole almonds, a crop worth $5.33 billion a year in California. (p. 111)
-    A system for removing nitrate from contaminated water and recycling it for re-use as fertilizer. (p. 131)
-    A treatment for peanut allergy. (p. 115)
-    A test strip for major foodborne pathogens that reduces testing time from 24-72 hours to about 30 minutes, allowing food to be tested more often at less expense. (p. 384)
-    A vaccine against Streptococcus suis that may markedly improve the health and welfare of pigs while reducing the use of antibiotics. (p. 123)
-    Using gene editing as a tool to engineer an African swine fever vaccine. (p. 123)
-    The discovery of a hormone – asprosin – that controls the desire to eat, making it a potential tool for the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. (p. 110)
-    A set of time-series maps that can help forest resource managers plan strategically for how changing climate might affect the geographic distribution of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. (p. 288)
-    A technique that detects the dreaded Zika virus in mosquitoes by simply shining a special beam of light on a whole mosquito for less than three seconds – an approach that is 18 times faster and 110 times cheaper than the current alternative. (p. 117)
-    “Adapt-N,” an online tool that provides small- to large-scale corn growers in 26 states with low-cost soil carbon assessment and greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting capabilities. (p. 394)
-    A soy-based resin that can replace traditional anti-fouling boat paint without containing copper that can accumulate in underwater environments. (p. 383)
-    A safe, new insecticide for use on the fruit fly – methyl benzoate – which was found to be 5 to 20 times more toxic to fruit fly larvae. (p. 147)
-    Development of the first U.S. hard-white waxy high-yielding winter wheat, which can be used to develop novel whole grain products and is a more efficient substrate for ethanol production. (p. 141)

USDA issues the report each year on technology-transfer activities for the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Forest Service (FS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD).

Barge Traffic Resumes on Upper Mississippi, Illinois Rivers

Barge traffic has resumed, as river conditions on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers are improving. As of June 27, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lock Status Report shows no lock closures on the Upper Mississippi River or the Illinois River.

The River Industry Action Committee (RIAC), an association of companies and organizations who are stakeholders in the commercial industry on the inland waterways, has established queue guidelines for tows waiting to transit previously closed portions of the river.

RIAC guidelines are helping ease congestion and direct the orderly flow of traffic at locks above St. Louis.

While most of the river system is reported open, some tows are still restricted by high water preventing passage under some bridges.

Capitalizing on carbon panel to highlight opportunities the ethanol industry stands to gain from carbon economy

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) 32nd annual conference will present a discussion on how the ethanol industry can benefit from the emerging carbon economy and the new opportunities on the horizon during the “Capitalizing on Carbon” general session panel on August 15 of its event taking place in Omaha, Nebraska, August 14-16.

As it becomes increasingly important for ethanol producers to calculate the upside potential of investing in processes and technologies to reduce carbon intensity, the ACE conference provides a platform for this timely discussion moderated by ACE CEO Brian Jennings. The panel includes Pam Miller, ACE Board Chair and Director of Industry and Investor Relations for Siouxland Ethanol LLC, sharing how Siouxland Ethanol has financially benefitted from selling low carbon ethanol in the California market; Ron Alverson, ACE Board Chair and Director of Dakota Ethanol, providing a breakdown of what the latest GREET [Greenhouse gases Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation] modeling reveals about corn ethanol; and Brendan Jordan, Vice President of Transportation and Fuels at the Great Plains Institute, discussing the opportunities for a Midwest Clean Fuel Standard.

“The fact that ethanol in general has a low carbon score on a lifecycle analysis of transportation fuels needs to be highlighted and promoted as part of the solution to concerns about our climate, air quality and the environment,” Miller said. “Siouxland Ethanol recognized long ago that promoting ethanol as a clean octane source was important to our industry going forward and we have been on the cutting edge of innovation to reduce our carbon score.”

“The Department of Energy’s GREET model assumptions are under constant review with updates occurring frequently over its nearly 30-year history, and I look forward to sharing what the latest science tells us about corn ethanol production, as well as the importance of accounting for these trends so biofuels are not unfairly penalized in low carbon markets in the U.S. and around the world at this year’s ACE conference,” Alverson said. “Ethanol plants have individual Carbon Intensity scores and are able to capture carbon credits in low carbon markets, why not individual biofuel feedstock producers? I’ll also discuss using the GREET model to calculate upstream corn production GHGs for individual corn producers.”

“Ethanol producers are continuously innovating to reduce energy use and their emissions, and farmers are innovating to improve soil carbon storage, reduce nitrogen emissions, and benefit water quality,” Jordan said. “We will be exploring opportunities for state policy to reward ethanol producers and farmers for providing these environmental benefits to society.”

Land O’Lakes CTO Teddy Bekele to Deliver Keynote Address at the 11th Annual Ag Innovation Showcase

Ag Innovation Showcase and Larta Institute are proud to announce Teddy Bekele, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of Land O’Lakes, Inc., as its opening keynote speaker for its 11th annual conference with the theme, “The Power of Convergence: Food, Health and Energy.” The event will feature novel innovations across the spectrum of food production, health sciences, and sustainability, all with the common goal to provide global wellness through the healing power of nutrition.

Bekele leads the Ag Tech and IT organizations at Land O’Lakes, one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. He is responsible for developing and implementing technology solutions for retail and farmer customers to help them produce more sustainable outputs, leveraging the collective insights and knowledge of Land O’Lakes’ research and innovation capabilities across the nation. Prior to his current role, Bekele served as VP of Ag Technology at WinField United, the crop inputs, agricultural services and agronomic insights business of Land O’Lakes.

Hosted at the Guthrie in downtown Minneapolis, The Ag Innovation Showcase will take place from September 9-11, 2019 and will feature world-class speakers, industry panels, intimate networking receptions, and presentations highlighting select technology and research institutions. The Showcase will be delving into the thriving health-based food and beverage industry of the Twin Cities by inviting local vendors to share their goods and participate in the event.

Founded by Larta Institute and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in 2009, The Ag Innovation Showcase has been a hub for innovation in the food and ag industry for the past decade and famous for its intimate setting, effective network, and community-oriented mission. Previously hosted in St. Louis, the event will be setting new roots in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region to facilitate the growth of consumer and producer awareness about the budding future of agriculture in the confluent fields of food, health, and energy.

Over the past decade, Ag Showcase has hosted over 200 emerging companies, representing 27 unique countries, and has assisted in facilitating over $1.7B in funding for our Showcase Alumni.

Tickets and more information are available at

Thursday June 27 Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2019, was 3.70 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 6 percent from June 1, 2018, and up 3 percent from March 1, 2019.

Breeding hog inventory, at 460,000 head, was up 7 percent from June 1, 2018, and up 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.24 million head, was up 6 percent from last year, and up 3 percent from last quarter.

The March - May 2019 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.24 million head, was up 4 percent from 2018. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 195,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 11.50 for the March - May period, compared to 11.30 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 200,000 sows during the June - August 2019 quarter, up 8 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for September - November 2019 are 200,000 sows, up 5 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


 On June 1, 2019, there were 23.7 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory is up 5 percent from the previous year and is a record high June 1 inventory. It also ties the all-time record set last quarter.

The March-May 2019 quarterly pig crop was 5.95 million head, down 2 percent from the previous quarter and 4 percent below last year. A total of 520,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.45 for the quarter. This is a record high pigs saved per litter for any quarter.

As of June 1, producers planned to farrow 525,000 sows and gilts in the June-August 2019 quarter and 550,000 head during the September-November 2019 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 4 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1, 2019 was 75.5 million head. This was up 4 percent from June 1, 2018, and up 1 percent from March 1, 2019. This is the highest June 1 inventory of all hogs and pigs since estimates began in 1964.

Breeding inventory, at 6.41 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 69.1 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from last quarter. This is the highest June 1 market hog inventory since estimates began in 1964.

The March-May 2019 pig crop, at 34.2 million head, was up 4 percent from 2018. This is the largest March-May pig crop since estimates began in 1970. Sows farrowed during this period totaled 3.11 million head, up slightly from 2018. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 11.00 for the March-May period, compared to 10.63 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.18 million sows farrow during the June-August 2019 quarter, down slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2018, but up 3 percent from 2017. Intended farrowings for September-November 2019, at 3.17 million sows, are up slightly from 2018, and up 2 percent from 2017.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, unchanged from the previous year.

Lyon Named First Female Director of Iowa DNR

On Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds appointed Kayla Lyon as the first female director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Lyon will take over as the eighth director of the agency on July 8 and replace Bruce Trautman who has served as acting director since May 2018.

"As my legislative liaison and lead policy advisor on agriculture and natural resources, Kayla oversaw DNR operations including regulatory permitting, conservation efforts, and wildlife issues," said Gov. Reynolds. "She also played an instrumental role in the 2018 comprehensive water quality funding bill. As DNR Director, Kayla will serve a key role in helping our state continue to grow."

"I am honored to lead the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and appreciate the governor for providing me a new opportunity to serve Iowans," said Lyon. "In this role, I will continue the DNR's mission to protect our natural resources, state parks, landscapes, and improve the quality of life in Iowa for generations to come."

Prior to joining the Governor's office, Kayla spent her career in government affairs working on agriculture, renewable fuels, water quality, and environmental policy while representing farmers and agribusiness.

Lyon is a native of Decorah and currently lives in Ames with her husband and two daughters.

Cattlemen Launch Campaign to Pass USMCA

Today the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) launched a media campaign urging Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The campaign features personal stories from cattle and beef producers across the country who want Congress to ratify the USMCA as quickly as possible.

“The USMCA keeps the highly successful framework for U.S. beef trade in place and preserves access to two of our largest export markets,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “Cattle producers need certainty with Canada and Mexico so that we can continue to build on 25 years of duty-free, unrestricted trade in North America.”

Unrestricted, duty-free trade under USMCA will continue to allow U.S. cattle and beef producers to capitalize on growing demand in lucrative markets in Canada, Mexico, and around the world. USMCA maintains science-based trade standards while rejecting failed policies of the past, like mandatory country-of-origin labeling.  

The NCBA campaign will center around a new USMCA website, Visitors to the site can click on a dynamic map to pull up state data, producer profiles, and news articles related to USMCA. The map will be updated weekly with new content and profiles.

$110 Million In Business Conducted During USGC Regional Conference In Athens

More than 110 of the largest grain and feedstock importers from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South Asia congregated for a U.S. Grains Council (UGSC) Buyers’ Conference in Athens, Greece, this month. Attendees reported more than $110 million worth of business conducted over the five-day period in a survey after the event.

Ten expert speakers and 10 export-capable agribusinesses participated in the program, offering presentations on topics ranging from the economic advantages of importing feed grains to the nutritional benefits of U.S. DDGS and sorghum. As a result, both experienced buyers and newly-targeted companies were able to gain information about the benefit of U.S. origin for their operations.

“We were with people that buy our product on a yearly basis - our buyers are here,” said Wayne Cleveland, executive director of the Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, who participated in the conference. “All those questions we get about grain sorghum - quality, economics - the people asking are here, so we spent a copious amount of time answering their questions.”

Attendees participated in one-on-one consultations on the last day of the conference. Expert nutritional and technical consultants delivered clear, well-researched information and suggestions to end-users, providing the tools necessary to make informed decisions on DDGS and sorghum use in processing feed. Representatives from the growing markets in South Asia, in particular, benefited from these one-on-one consultations.

“We are beginning a heavy engagement with South Asia,” said Alejandra Danielson Castillo, USGC regional director for South Asia. “This was a great opportunity for our buyers to learn more about the nutritional and processing aspects of buying DDGS from the United States.”

The conference allowed time not only to answer an array of questions, but also for networking between U.S. sellers and overseas buyers. These face-to-face interactions are a critical component of the Council’s work to promote U.S. coarse grains and related products.

The Athens conference follows a similar buyers conference in 2017. The regional buyers conferences are part of the Council’s work to maximize the U.S. competitive advantage, develop strong ties to industry and facilitate opportunities to make or negotiate sales.

“At the end of the day, these conferences are put on to facilitate business,” said Reece H. Cannady, USGC manager of global trade. “We see events like these as a great use of our funds; the return on investment speaks for itself.”

BASF’s Revysol fungicide receives EPA registration

BASF received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration for Revysol® fungicide, its newest active ingredient (AI). The first and only isopropanol azole of its kind in the market, the AI provides fast-acting and long-lasting disease control for a broad range of crops and disease combinations.

“Revysol fungicide is the result of years of research and expertise. It was designed to meet the highest level of regulatory standards while helping growers manage their toughest disease challenges, including resistant plant pathogens,” said Paul Rea, Senior Vice President, BASF Agricultural Solutions North America. “Growers now have access to an outstanding new tool for disease management.”

Revysol fungicide has a unique isopropanol link that can flex to control a broad spectrum of fungal diseases and DMI-resistant strains. In recent BASF trials, it has shown exceptional biological performance against several economically significant diseases, including northern corn leaf blight in corn, cercospora leaf spot in sugarbeets, frogeye leaf spot in soybean, and powdery mildew in grapes. For growers challenged with resistance and seeking to maximize their yields, Revysol fungicide offers unique benefits when compared to DMI fungicides, including:
-    Application for a wide variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, grapes, potatoes and sugar beets.
-    Faster fungicide uptake by the plant, leading to immediate and powerful disease-protective action.
-    Quick absorption leading to excellent rainfastness and low water solubility, allowing the AI to move through the plant for longer residual activity.
-    Curative activity, or post-infection applications, made prior to symptoms developing, can help stop the disease from progressing and save yield.

“Revysol fungicide will give growers the confidence to manage disease and resistance effectively while reducing their exposure to weather-related risks,” said Paula Halabicki, BASF Technical Marketing Manager. “The treatment offers longer residual properties than its competitors and protects against many weather conditions like drought, hail, frost and heat.”

The AI will be available in several customized products, including Veltyma™ fungicide in corn; Revytek™ fungicide in soybeans; Provysol™ fungicide in potatoes, sugar beets and peanuts; and Cevya® fungicide in grapes, almonds, pome and stone fruit.

Revysol, and its related product brands, will be available to growers for the 2020 planting season.

Golden Harvest offers more local service with growing Seed Advisor footprint 

Chances are, there’s a new local, independent Golden Harvest® Seed Advisor in your area. Last year, Golden Harvest expanded its footprint with 156 new Seed Advisors, and the momentum continues as Golden Harvest plans to add 175 more Seed Advisors to its network in 2019.

“With all of the changes in the seed industry, it was really important for me and my customers to align with a major seed company moving forward,” said Nick Coleman, who is a new Golden Harvest Seed Advisor. “Golden Harvest has made great strides in terms of the products, technologies and traits they’re bringing to the farm level. Being able to partner with a company that has the innovation and commitment, to me, was a no-brainer.”

Golden Harvest Seed Advisors help farmers with agronomic selection and placement of Golden Harvest corn and soybeans to maximize their yield potential. Seed Advisors span the Midwest and work with farmers in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Golden Harvest Seed Advisors are backed by Syngenta, a global agriculture leader with a robust research and development pipeline.

In addition to sharing local agronomic knowledge, Golden Harvest Seed Advisors offer hybrids that feature proven genetics protected by high-performing Agrisure® traits and technologies. In focused areas, Golden Harvest Seed Advisors can also offer Enogen® corn hybrids to help enhance ethanol production, and Enogen Feed corn, which unlocks the energy potential of feedlot and dairy rations.

“When you are selling seed, it has to perform,” said Golden Harvest Seed Advisor Brian McEwen, who has been with Golden Harvest for five years. “However, you are not only selling a quality product, but you are also selling yourself. People buy from you because they believe in you. As Seed Advisors, we’re with farmers the whole way as part of their management decision team so they can do this again the next year and the next year.”

Golden Harvest Seed Advisors deliver customized service to farmers across the Corn Belt. The premier digital ag seed placement tool, E-Luminate®, helps them do just that by giving farmers personalized field recommendations. This tool provides decision support using agronomic data to determine which Golden Harvest hybrids will perform best on every acre.

In addition to the rollout of the E-Luminate tool, Syngenta announced an incremental $400 million investment in its seeds business last year.

“Our Seed Advisors are critical to deliver Golden Harvest genetics, agronomy and service to farmers,” said Clayton Becker, head of the Golden Harvest West Commercial Unit. “Giving our Seed Advisors the tools to succeed so they can build personal relationships, share local knowledge and provide customized service is a top priority to help ensure our farmers stay profitable year after year.”

Golden Harvest is actively recruiting new Seed Advisors. As a Golden Harvest Seed Advisor, you have access to an extensive network of ag sales representatives, agronomists and customer service specialists as well as state-of-the-art digital tools to support your business.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Wednesday June 26 Ag News

Soybean Gall Midge: Management Window Changing for Nebraska Growers
Justin McMechan - NE Extension Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist

East Central and Southeastern Nebraska Growers
On June 25, larvae suspected to be soybean gall midge were found in soybean plants at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Ithaca. Dissection of the plant showed orange larvae feeding within these damaged areas.

Photos were also submitted by grower Trevor Houghton showing orange larvae feeding within soybean plants near Nehawka in east central Nebraska. The discovery of these larvae already feeding within the plants closes the window on the likelihood that foliar insecticides will control soybean gall midge in this area. We suggest that growers with fields south of the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center not apply an insecticide, as it is unlikely to have any effect on soybean gall midge. Low levels of emergence are still occurring at some trap locations, but numbers have declined significantly in the past few days.

Northeast Nebraska Growers

No soybean midge larvae were found in soybean plants in northeast Nebraska fields near Randolph and Belden. Insect phenological events here (e.g., corn rootworm egg hatch and adult emergence) are typically one week to 10 days behind the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (Ithaca), so it is likely that soybean gall midge adults, and possibly larvae just emerging from eggs, are vulnerable to foliar insecticides.

This is a very new pest, and we have no research-based management recommendations; however, because the midge is most frequently an issue along field edges, we have farmer cooperator studies that employ insecticide treatment around the edges of soybean fields. For example, fields receive one pass, 120-foot deep into the soybean field, with an insecticide with residual activity. The objective of such studies is to protect the field from soybean gall midge by preventing the first generation of midges from establishing along the edge of the field. Soybean fields that are adjacent to or very near fields that had high infestations of soybean gall midge in 2018 may benefit from such a foliar insecticide treatment, if application occurs within the next few days. Once most eggs hatch and larvae enter the plant, insecticide treatment will be unlikely to have an effect.

For more information on soybean gall midge in Nebraska, please see

Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department Seeks Public Comment on Zoning Revisions for Commercial Feedlots

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department invites the public to provide comments on potential zoning revisions for commercial feedlots on Thursday June 27th at Scott Middle School, 2200 Pine Lake Road. The meeting of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Working Group will be held in the school commons room. Parking and entry to the room is on the north side of the building.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a brief presentation, and then comments will be heard until 7:00 p.m.

Currently, Commercial Feedlots are allowed in the AG District in Lancaster County by special permit. The Lancaster County Board of Commissioners established the CAFO working group of 10 members of varied interest to work with County staff to review state and other community regulations in order to advise on potential changes to the existing zoning. The working group has met six times from March through May 2019. The group has drafted proposed zoning revisions for review and comment.

The draft proposal and additional information from the Working Group meetings can be found on the Planning Department website at

Please contact Tom Cajka, planner with the Lincoln/Lancaster County Department at or 402-441- 5662 for further information.

Pillen Family Farms Purchases Nebraska Farms From The Maschhoffs

Pillen Family Farms has agreed to purchase 16,000 sows along with the associated nursery and finishing farms in eastern Nebraska from The Maschhoffs. Also as part of the purchase, Pillen Family Farms acquired a truck wash in Columbus, Neb., and a number of contract finishing farms.

Pillen Family Farms’ multi-generational owners Jim, Sarah and Brock Pillen are investing in the future with this purchase. “We are extremely excited to add these farms to our core footprint in eastern Nebraska,” says Dr. Jim Pillen, CEO of Pillen Family Farms. “We’re also thrilled to have this dedicated team join our family. It’s a win-win situation for us.”

The Maschhoffs acquired this network of sow farms in 2011 when the company purchased them from Nebraska Pork Partners (NPP). Dr. Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs, says the sale to Pillen Family Farms makes sense for both of the family-owned companies.

“The team in northeastern Nebraska is excellent,” says Dr. Wolter. “The Pillen family is perfectly suited to ensure these farms are successful in the long-term. It’s a great example of two farm families working together to create long-term success for the Nebraska pork industry.”

Prepare for Heat Stress Possibilities

After a cold winter and long cool spring, summer is here. Temperatures will be in the mid 90s this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and with all the precipitation we have had, the humidity will be elevated as well. Feedlot cattle may not be acclimated to summer temperatures yet and the fast warm up this weekend may cause some heat stress issues.

Evaluate your cattle in the morning and again in the afternoon to make sure they are coping with the heat. Make sure cattle have access to plenty of fresh water and provide shade or sprinklers if possible. Pay close attention, as the rapid change in temperature may catch some at-risk cattle (cattle at end of feeding period or cattle with previous respiratory disease) dealing with excessive heat stress.

This early heat event is a good opportunity to make sure that your mitigation strategies will be functional for the rest of the summer. The Iowa Beef Center website has information and details on proper heat abatement strategies such as shade and sprinklers.

Financial Impairment on the Farm Webinar Offered July 30

I-29 Moo University and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a Financial Impairment on the Farm webinar from 12-1 p.m. on July 30. The webinar is free and open to all those involved in production agriculture, specifically, producers and agribusiness personnel.

The program will focus on issues producers face during times of financial impairment with emphasis placed on mediation, reorganization options and Chapter 12 Bankruptcy.

Donald Swanson, an attorney with Koley Jessen in Omaha, and Kristine Tidgren, director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation and an adjunct assistant professor at Iowa State University, will facilitate the discussion.

“Don Swanson has devoted his career to helping clients with financial impairment, bankruptcy issues and mediation, and Kristine Tidgren works with these issues every day,” said Fred M. Hall, dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The program will be informational and answer questions for many local ag producers and businesses alike.”

There is no fee to participate in the webinar; however, online pre-registration is required.  After registering, information on accessing the webinar will be provided.

The webinar will also be archived for viewing at a later date. For more information on this and other programs, contact Fred M. Hall at 712-737-4230 or 

Animal Agriculture Alliance urges producers to have vigilance in hiring process

Are the employees working on your farm there to help care for your animals? Do their goals align with your business? Unfortunately, it’s a common strategy for some animal rights activist organizations to have individuals go “undercover” on farms to record videos that can be taken out of context, stage scenes of animal mistreatment or encourage abuse to record it without doing anything to stop it. While the first step to take is always ensuring that your animal care practices are beyond reproach, the Animal Agriculture Alliance also advises farmers and ranchers to be very vigilant in their hiring processes to ensure that everyone hired is there for the right reason – to provide care to livestock – and does not have any ulterior motives that would distract from that.

The Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to bridging the communication gap between farm and fork for more than thirty years, monitors animal rights activists and offers these tips regarding hiring:
-    It is vital to thoroughly screen applicants, verify information and check all references.
-    Be cautious of individuals who try to use a college ID, have out of state license plates or are looking for short-term work.
-    During the interview, look for answers that seem overly rehearsed or include incorrect use of farm terminology.
-    Search for all applicants online to see if they have public social media profiles or websites/blogs. Look for any questionable content or connections to activist organizations.
-    Require all employees to sign your animal care policy. Provide training and updates on proper animal handling training.
-    Require employees to report any mishandling to management immediately.
-    Watch out for red flags, such as coming to work unusually early or staying late and going into areas of the farm not required for their job.

Always trust your gut – if something doesn’t seem right, explore it further. Be vigilant and never cut corners on your hiring process, even if you need to hire someone quickly. Doing your homework on every job applicant may be time-consuming, but it can ultimately save your business’ reputation. As always, it is important to work with local legal counsel to ensure compliance with federal and state laws for your hiring process.

You can find farm security resources and background information on animal rights activist organizations at or reach out to the Alliance at or 703-562-5160. Members of the Animal Ag Alliance have access to more detailed resources on hiring and farm security.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/21/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending June 21, ethanol production averaged 1.072 million barrels per day (b/d), a decrease of 9,000 b/d, or 0.8%. This is equivalent to 45.02 million gallons daily. However, the four-week average ethanol production rate ticked up 0.3% to 1.073 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.45 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks tightened by 0.2% to 21.6 million barrels, a 56-week low. Inventories were 0.5% lower than the same week last year and 1.2% below the level two years ago. Stocks declined in the Midwest (PADD 2) and Rocky Mountain (PADD 4) regions but increased in other PADDs.

There were no imports reported for the second consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of April 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied fell 4.7% from the previous week’s record to 9.466 million b/d (397.6 million gallons per day, or 145.11 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 1.0% to 951,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.58 bg annualized, which was 0.4% above the year-ago level.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.32%.

Perdue Kicks off the 2019 Feds Feed Families Nationwide Food Drive

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today kicked off the 10th annual Feds Feed Families Campaign at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) headquarters in Washington D.C. The food drive is an annual event in which federal employees around the country collect food for distribution by food banks, food pantries, and shelters.

Secretary Perdue was joined off by the Managing Director, Tax, Public Policy, and Government Relations at Feeding America, Geoff Plague, and the Founder and Executive Director of Ample Harvest, Gary Oppenheimer. They teamed up to tout the importance of the campaign and how together all federal employees can make a difference to those less fortunate.

With this being the 10th anniversary of Feds Feed Families, USDA has decided to run the campaign differently. Instead of reporting out the pounds of food donated by agency or department, USDA will report out one metric across the federal government every Friday. Federal employees will no longer focus on competing with one another for the most pounds of food collected, and instead focus on our mission of coming together to help those in most need. We believe with this refocus we can truly make a difference.

As in prior years, donations made in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area go to food banks in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia through a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank. Other donations go to food banks across the country – having a positive impact to help food banks address food insecurity.

This year, the food drive will run through August 9 with federal employees collecting nutritious foods, both canned and fresh when possible. A closing ceremony will be hosted on August 16.

Since 2009, federal employees have raised over 88 million pounds of food for Feds Feed Families. USDA hopes to bring that total up to 100 million this year. USDA encourages all federal agencies to participate in 2 can Tuesdays each Tuesday of the campaign.

For more information, please visit:

USDA Farm Bill Implementation Progress Update

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced an update on the implementation status of the 2018 Farm Bill. President Trump signed this Farm Bill into law on December 20, 2018, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promptly began implementing key programs. In addition, USDA held several listening sessions with stakeholders and the public specific to each agency’s respective mission areas.

“America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers depend on the certainty and availability of USDA’s programs and assistance. That is why we are working diligently to implement the 2018 Farm Bill with efficiency and accuracy,” said Secretary Perdue. “We have listened to our stakeholders and consulted with our customers. As we continue to implement the Farm Bill, USDA is committed to focusing on responsiveness and putting our customers first.”
Implementation Progress:

TITLE I – Commodity Programs
    Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy):
    Dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program in 2018 were able to retroactively participate in the MPP-Dairy for 2018. This enrollment opportunity ended on May 10, with more than $7 million dollars paid out to assist producers through this retroactive coverage as of May 28, 2019.
    Farm Service Agency (FSA) began offering reimbursements to eligible producers for MPP-Dairy premiums paid between 2014-2017 on May 8, 2019. As of May 28, more than $1.7 million in cash refunds have been paid to dairy producers.

    Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC):
    Dairy producers now have access to a new web-based decision tool, developed in a partnership with the University of Wisconsin, to evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels available through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.
    Sign-up began on June 17th with margin payments made to qualifying producers beginning in early July.

    Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC): FSA will open ARC/PLC elections for the 2019 and 2020 crop years beginning in September 2019.

TITLE II – Conservation
    Conservation Reserve Program (CRP):
    FSA began accepting applications on June 3, 2019, for certain practices under the continuous CRP, offering a one-year extension to existing CRP participants who have expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less, and reopening enrollment for existing Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) agreements.
    FSA plans to offer a General CRP sign-up in December 2019.

    Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): On April 26, 2019, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released guidance to State committees to identify RCPP coordinators in each State.

    Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): On May 10, 2019, NRCS posted guidance for state conservationists regarding the handling of participant requests to apply for new contracts, as well as extending unexpired contracts from 2014. Additional guidance was posted regarding changes needed for existing RCPP partnership agreements to enroll in new CSP contracts.

    Technical Changes to NRCS Conservation Programs: On May 6, 2019, NRCS published an interim final rule to make existing regulations consistent with the 2018 Farm Bill. These include:
    Waiving duplicative requirements under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program;
    Expanding the purposes of the Healthy Forests Reserve Program to allow protection of at-risk species and allowing permanent easements on Tribal lands;
    Authorizing that certification of technical service providers be through a qualified non-federal entity; and
    Requiring that $3 million of funds to implement the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program be used to encourage public access for hunting and other recreational activities on wetlands enrolled in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

    Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG):
    On May 15, 2019, NRCS announced that it is investing $25 million per year over the next five years to help support On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, part of the CIG and available to farmers eligible to participate in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS will accept proposals through July 15, 2019 for the new On-Farm Trials.
    On May 30, 2019, NRCS announced the availability of $12.5 million to support CIG on agricultural lands. NRCS will accept proposals through July 30, 2019.

    Borlaug Fellowship Program 2019: On May 6, 2019, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) announced Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Borlaug Fellowship Program. 

    Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement: On May 20, 2019, Secretary Perdue signed the Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement Program report and it was sent to Congress. 

    Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation: on May 28, 2019, FAS announced a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for FY 2020 Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development Program, Emerging Markets Program, and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program funding. Submissions are due on June 28, 2019.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On April 12, 2019, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published the solicitation for the FY 2019 SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grants required by Section 4010 of the Farm Bill. Responses were due by June 10, 2019. 

    The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): On April 15, 2019, FNS issued an information memorandum on TEFAP state plan changes and information on TEFAP food funding. 

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On April 16, 2019, SNAP staff provided key technical assistance to National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the 2019 Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program solicitation. The Request for Funding was updated on May 9, 2019 and applications were due June 10, 2019.  

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On, April 18, 2019, FNS launched the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot. This pilot will be evaluated to help inform the regulations required by Section 4001 of the Farm Bill. 

    Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR): On May 9, 2019, FNS held a monthly FDPIR Farm Bill Implementation Call with Tribal Leaders.  

    Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): On May 5-8, 2019, FNS attended the American Commodity Distribution Association Conference in Niagara Falls and provided updates on the Farm Bill’s CSFP and TEFAP provisions. 

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On May 17, 2019, FNS issued three associated documents to the States: (1) a set of Q&As to follow up on the informational memo; (2) an addendum to the E&T State Plan Handbook to provide instructions on reflecting the new self-enacting Farm Bill requirements in the State plan; and (3) information the new 100% funds reallocation process for 2020 that will be shared with the States. 

TITLE V – Credit
    Loan Limits: On May 17, 2019, FSA issued an amendment to increase the loan limits as authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill – specifically, to $600,000 for direct loans and $1,750,000 for guaranteed loans.

    Farm Ownership Loans: On May 8, 2019, FSA issued an amendment to clarify eligibility requirements for farm ownership loans, including increased loan limits, and waiver authority for the 3-year experience requirement in the case of a qualified beginning farmer or rancher.

TITLE VI – Rural Development
    Cushion of Credit: On June 7, 2019, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published the announcement of new Cushion of Credit Program Provisions affecting RUS borrower participation on the Federal Register. The current 5 percent rate will be paid to borrowers until September 30, 2020. Beginning on October 1, 2020, CoC deposits will earn 4 percent interest until September 30, 2021. Starting on October 1, 2021 and thereafter, account balances will earn the applicable, variable 1-year Treasury rate.

    BioPreferred Program C
    Completed the transfer of the BioPreferred / BioBased Markets program from Department Administration to Rural Business Cooperative Service to ensure the increased development, purchase, and use of biobased products.

    Interagency Task Force on Rural Water Quality: The Rural Utility Service will host the kick-off meeting on July 10, at the USDA Whitten Building.

    Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development: Rural Development is holding the next meeting with support from the Office of Science Technology Policy on July 10, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

    Implementation Outreach
    Presented at the P3 Water Summit and the Council on Infrastructure Financing Authorities (CIFA) in San Diego, California and at the Infrastructure Investment Summit in Washington, DC on the Interagency Task Force on Rural Water Quality that will examine drinking water and surface water contamination in rural communities.
    The Innovation Center hosted a Human Experience (HX) Lab on May 23rd focused on the Lender’s experience and interaction with Rural Development related to the Community Facilities and Water & Waste Disposal Guaranteed Loan Programs.

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters
    Matters on Certain School Designations and Declarations: On May 16, 2019, a Federal Register notice on Matters related to school designations and declarations was published (Section 7102).  

    Carryover of Funds for Extension at 1890 Land-Grant Colleges: On May 24, 2019, guidance was sent to 1890 universities regarding this provision. (Sec. 7114) 

TITLE VIII – Forestry

    On April 12, 2019, Forest Service participants attended a National Consultation on P.L.115-325 (Indian Energy Act/Woody Biomass) hosted by Department of Interior/Bureau of Indian Affairs to capture Tribal input.

    Good Neighbor Authority: On May 15, 2019, the Forest Service presented a virtual 2018 Farm Bill Listening Session, for Tribes; Tribal Forest Management Demonstration Project (also known as “638’ contracts). There was also discussion on tribal woody biomass projects authorized by Public Law 115-325 (amending the Tribal Forest Protection Act). The recording may be viewed here

    Tribal Forest Management Demonstration Project: On May 23, 2019, in Phoenix, AZ, Forest Service made a formal presentation on implementation of Section 8703 to the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. 

    Good Neighbor Authority: On May 31, 2019, Forest Service distributed non-financial templates to field offices for implementation of Good Neighbor Authority dealing with States. 

TITLE IX – Energy
    Definition update for Biorefinery Assistance Program: (9001 & 9003) On April 23, 2019, a Notice in the Federal register was published with a definition update.

    Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels: (Section 9005) The workplan was published in the Spring Regulatory agenda on May 22, 2019. 

    Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants: (Section 9007) The workplan was published in the Spring Regulatory agenda on May 22, 2019. 

TITLE X – Horticulture
    Report on Plant Biostimulants: On April 22, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and representatives from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) and industry met to discuss the biostimulant report. The objective of the meeting was to outline the steps necessary to get the report completed, through clearance and to Congress by the December 21 deadline.

    Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP): On April 18, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the FMLFPP. These programs are part of the Local Agriculture Market Program (Sec. 10102).

    Hemp: On February 27, 2019, AMS issued a Notice to Trade stating that USDA had begun the process of gathering information to initiate rulemaking to implement a program for the commercial production of hemp. AMS also stated that under the 2018 Farm Bill tribes and institutions of higher education could continue operating under authorities of the 2014 until 12 months after USDA establishes the plan and regulations required under the 2018 Farm Bill.

    Hemp: On April 18, 2019, AMS issued a Notice to Trade regarding importation of hemp seeds.

    Hemp: On May 28, 2019, AMS issued two Notices to Trade (NTTs) regarding hemp production. The first of these speaks to questions raised concerning provisions pertaining to the interstate transportation of hemp and who may obtain a license to produce hemp. The second NTT clarifies avenues for Tribal participation under authorities in the 2014 Farm Bill to grow industrial hemp for research purposes during the 2019 growing season.

    Plant Variety Protection Office: On April 24, 2019, AMS announced that the Plant Variety Protection Office will begin accepting applications for seed-propagated hemp for plant variety protection. 

    Organic Agricultural Product Imports Interagency Working Group: On May 14, 2019, AMS established the Organic Agricultural Product Imports Interagency Working Group with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The first meeting will take place in June 2019.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance
    On April 23, the Federal Crop Insurance Board of Directors approved modifications to the annual forage policy to accommodate 2018 Farm Bill changes.

    Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA)
    On April 26, the 2020 SRA changes were distributed to Approved Insurance Providers. The SRA includes new requirements for training loss adjusters and agents, including the submission of Actual Production History to RMA.

TITLE XII – Miscellaneous
    The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program: On April 23, 2019, The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program RFA was issued (Section 4205). 

    Tribal Consultation: On May 1-2, 2019 USDA met with tribal leaders during the OneUSDA Farm Bill Tribal Consultation and discussed the 2018 Farm Bill implementation.  

    Pima Cotton Trust Fund: On April 15, 2019, FAS issued $27.3 million in payments under the Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund. 

    Wool Trust Fund: On April 15, 2019, FAS issued $14.9 million in payments under the Agriculture Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund. 

    Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives: On April 16, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives (Sec. 12513).

    Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program: On April 23, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding for the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program (Sec. 12102). 

    Feasibility Study on Livestock Dealer Statutory Trust: On April 26, 2019, AMS published in the Federal Register a notice soliciting input for the study on a Livestock Dealers Trust (Sec. 12103). 

    Veteran Farmer or Rancher (12306): On April 26, 2019, RMA Implemented the new definition for Veteran Farmer or Rancher that gives the same benefit for Veterans as beginning farmers or ranchers. These benefits include:
    Exemption from paying the administrative fee for catastrophic and additional coverage policies;
    Additional 10 percentage points of premium subsidy for additional coverage policies that have premium subsidy;
    Use of another person’s production history for the specific acreage transferred to you that you were previously involved in the decision making or physical activities to produce the crop; and
    An increase in the substitute Yield Adjustment, which allows you to replace a low yield due to an insured cause of loss, from 60 to 80 percent of the applicable transitional yield (T-Yield).

    Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP): On June 20, 2019, USDA announced $75 million in funding for the eradication and control of feral swine through the FSCP in a joint effort between NRCS and APHIS. Applications are being accepted through August 19, 2019, for partners to carry out activities as part of these pilot projects in select areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

New EPA Paraquat Requirements Impacting AgriBusiness; Agriculture Equipment Leader GoatThroat Pumps to Develop a Solution

In response to several fatalities and other serious injuries, the EPA issued new requirements for handling paraquat (paraquat dichloride) that will significantly impact agribusiness. While the new requirements are intended to help protect those handling the Restricted Use Pesticide, and others who may come into contact with it, it will have a ripple effect for farmers, manufacturers and the agriculture community.

EPA's New Requirements

Many of the accidental paraquat-related deaths and poisoning incidents were a result of people illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers, which was then ingested by victims, some children, when they mistakenly thought it was a drink. There have also been several severe injuries from paraquat touching handlers' skin or eyes.

Focused on additional education and implementing safer handling of the herbicide, the new EPA requirements include special training, special certification, and new and special closed system packaging containers, which also requires new special closed system equipment to be developed and in use by Sept 2020.

Certified applicators are now required to take an EPA approved on-line paraquat-specific training every three years, which emphasizes proper handling, transferring and storage of the chemical. The training also covers paraquat toxicity, new label requirements and restrictions, and consequences of misuse.  On-line certification is available now, and an effort is underway to make face-to-face training available for applicators who do not use computers.

GoatThroat Pumps Develop New Equipment

A global closed-system equipment leader, GoatThroat Pumps is on the front lines with farmers and product manufacturers as these new EPA requirements go into effect. In business for the last two decades, GoatThroat Pumps has established its reputation as an international leader for making quality closed-system equipment that avoid costly chemical spills and help keep employees safe.

GoatThroat Pumps is monitoring the development of the new paraquat packaging designs and plans to create its new closed-system equipment to match, making the transition for farmers and the agriculture community as seamless as possible.  Already the only system made for small containers that keep the package in its full upright during use, GoatThroat Pumps' new equipment will continue to keep paraquat handlers safe from leaks, spills and drips.

GoatThroat will make additional announcements about its new line of equipment, once the new paraquat packaging is finalized.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tuesday June 25 Ag News

NE Cattlemen Sends Three Participants to NCBA’s YCC

Three Nebraska beef leaders participated in 10 days of intensive leadership training and a three-city tour showcasing every facet of the beef industry during NCBA’s 2019 Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC).

Reiss Bruning, Sarah Kabes and Chance McLean were the Nebraska representatives that participated in this year’s NCBA YCC program. They began their journey in Denver Colorado with classroom sessions providing background knowledge about NCBA and the work it conducts on behalf of its members and the entire beef community. Before leaving Colorado, the group toured Five Rivers Cattle Feeding’s Kuner Feedyard, JBS processing plant and a Safeway flagship store where they learned how beef is being marketed to consumers on the retail level.

“I am so thankful for this opportunity to meet so many other people in the industry to bounce ideas off of and to learn more about the industry I love” said Sarah Kabes.

The Nebraska natives along with more than 50 other participants then traveled to Chicago where they made stops at Hillshire Farms, McDonald’s global headquarters, and OSI Inc., one of the largest beef patty manufacturers in the nation.

“NCBA Young Cattlemen’s Conference was an amazing experience, that covered all aspects from – Pasture to Plate. I am thankful for what our local, state, and national affiliates do to support the beef industry. This was an experience I will never forget. Thanks Nebraska Cattlemen for allowing me this opportunity” said Chance McLean.

The 2019 YCC class finished its whirlwind tour in Washington, D.C., where participants learned how NCBA’s policy work impacts their operations and the broader industry. After an in-depth policy issue briefing from NCBA’s lobbyists and staff experts, participants took to Capitol Hill, visiting more than 200 congressional offices to advocate for industry policy priorities.

“I felt very fortunate to be selected to attend the National Conference. Being a part of this powerful group of young leaders from across the US was an incredible learning experience and networking opportunity that created invaluable lifelong relationships. The issues we individually face both politically and day-to-day are diverse and being able to discuss and understand how to solve those problems broadened our intellectual horizons and instilled a deep sense of confidence in everyone. I hope to use the vast amount of institutional knowledge we gained on this trip to build on the great foundation NCBA has established to ensure a bright and prosperous future for generations of cattlemen to come,” said Reiss Bruning.

Not All Cows are Equal – Some Eat More!

Jack Arterburn, Nebraska Extension Educator, Beef Systems

On most farms & ranches, average cow size has increased significantly over the last three decades as a result of genetic selection. These changes do not come without consequences to forage intake. If the per-head counting method has been used to plan and track grazing, stocking rates may have unknowingly increase over time caused by increased forage intake of larger cows. Just as a lineman on a football team will eat more than the punter, larger cows will typically consume more forage than smaller cows. If the increase in forage demand is not accounted for, pastures may be getting overgrazed which results in decreased long-term forage production and reduced plant community resilience to disasters such as drought.

Moving from a method of counting the number of head per acre to calculating Animal Units is a simple process and can help the manager accurately assess forage demand. The Animal Unit (AU) is a standardized unit for calculating forage demand and forage supply. For cattle, the standard animal is a theoretical 1000 lb. beef animal. Animal-Unit-Equivalent (AUE) is used to adjust for cattle weighing more or less than 1000 lbs. by adjusting 0.1 AU for every 100 lbs. of animal. For example, a cow weighing 1200 lbs. would equal 1.2 AUE. A steer weighing 700 lbs. would equal 0.7 AUE.

Cattle consume an estimated 2.6% of their body weight in air-dried forage daily. Therefore, if the 1000 lb. standard animal grazes for 1 day, that animal will consume approximately 26 lbs. of air-dried forage daily. This is equivalent to one Animal Unit Day (AUD).  A 1200 lb. dry cow will likely consume over 31 lbs. of air dried forage per day and a 700 lb. steer will consume around 18 lbs. of air dried forage per day.

Forage supply and demand are often displayed in AUMs (Animal-Unit-Months), which is the amount of forage an animal will consume in one month, equal to 30 AUDs. AUMs are calculated by multiplying the 26 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed daily by 30 days to get 780 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed each month by a 1000 lb. beef animal. To adjust for animals not weighing 1000 lbs., multiply the AUE by 780 lbs. to calculate the animal’s monthly intake.

Using air-dried forage (90% dry matter, 10% moisture) can be helpful to visualize what this amount of forage looks like by visualizing the same amount of hay. It also makes comparing between grazing and feeding hay easier. The bottom line: knowing what cattle weigh and understanding their daily requirement is approximately 2.6% of their body weight in air-dried forage helps the grazing manager accurately calculate how much forage they are consuming.

Forage supply can also be calculated using Animal Units. We know 780 lbs. of air-dried forage is the estimated requirement to feed a 1000 lb. beef animal for one month (1 AUM = 1000 lb. animal grazing for one month = 780 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed per month). If a range site produces 2000 lbs. of air-dried forage annually and a 25% grazing harvested is planned, 500 lbs. of air-dried forage is available per acre. In a 200 acre pasture, there is 100,000 lbs. of air-dried forage available (500 lbs. multiplied by 200 acres) for the entire growing season. If we are planning to graze 1200 lb. cows for 1 month we can calculate how many cows the pasture can carry by dividing the forage supply (100,000 lbs.) by the forage demand of each cow. Cows weighing 1200 lbs. equal 1.2 AU. Multiply 1.2 AU by 780 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed by a standard AU results in 936 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed each month by one 1200 lb. cow. The 100,000 lbs. of forage supply divided by 936 lbs. of forage demand yields grazing for approximately 107 cows for one month.

To simplify calculating and tracking forage supply and demand in each pasture, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed the Grazing and Hay Record Spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is a Microsoft Excel® based template used for entering basic grazing records of individual pastures to calculate available AUM/acre and AUD/acre based on forage supply and forage demand over a given period of time. The user enters the number of acres, the forage supply (AUM/acre) for each pasture, and the forage demand by livestock class, number of head, and their average AUE for the planned grazing period. Do not forget to account for forage demand of bulls and calves once they reach 3 months of age. Summary reports are included with the spreadsheet and allow the grazing manager to track pasture use over time, noting season of pasture use, total forage utilized, as well as hay usage and the stocking rate for the entire ranch.

Accounting for forage demand by cattle is critically important to knowing forage utilization on range and pasture. A 1400 lb. cow with a January born calf is going to consume significantly more forage in a June through October grazing season than an 1100 lb. cow with a May born calf. Head counts and the number of days grazed are important pieces of information, but they are not enough. Truly calculating forage consumed based on animal unit equivalents will help the grazing manager correctly document pasture use and provide accurate information that can help with effective range and pasture management.

NPPC Launches 'Keep America First in Agriculture' Campaign

Today, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) launched "Keep American First in Agriculture," a new campaign to highlight the importance of establishing a proper regulatory framework for gene editing in American livestock.

Gene editing technology, which introduces useful genetic variation into food animal breeding programs, promises significant animal health benefits, including a natural immunity to disease and a reduction in the need for antibiotic use.

"Gene editing is a huge step forward for America's farmers, as it offers a powerful new way to combat animal disease," said Dr. Dan Kovich, NPPC's deputy director of Science & Technology. "With gene editing, livestock breeders can knock out specific genes that make animals vulnerable to viral infections. Healthier animals benefit both farmers and consumers," he said.

While countries like Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly on this advancement to gain competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is running the risk of falling far behind as a result of a regulatory land grab by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and nearly six percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Additionally, the FDA's regulation inaccurately classifies livestock as drugs and farms as drug-manufacturing facilities, creating significant challenges for the international trade in animals and animal products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the only agency prepared to effectively regulate this new technology. It already has a review process in place for genetic editing in plants under its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which can easily be adopted for livestock. The USDA also has the understanding and history of working directly with livestock and agriculture, unlike the FDA, which regulates packaged food, drugs and medical devices.

"Allowing the FDA to regulate gene editing could drive elite animal breeding out of the U.S., long the international leader, and place U.S. producers at a potentially catastrophic competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors," said Dr. Bradley Wolter, a leading pork producer and President of The Maschhoffs, a company that produces over 4 million market hogs per year. "International competitors that commercialize this technology will gain as much as a 15 percent production efficiency advantage over U.S. pork. It's critical that America remains the global leader in agricultural innovation and gives regulatory oversight to the USDA, the agency that is most equipped to do so."

NPPC launched its "Keep America First in Agriculture" campaign with a media teleconference hosted by leading researchers, veterinarians, producers and industry experts, including Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Animal Biotechnology and Genomics Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis; Dr. Kovich; Andrew Bailey, NPPC Lead Counsel for Science and Technology; and Dr. Wolter. For the audio recording of the teleconference, click here.

To learn more about "Keep America First in Agriculture," visit

ACE applauds bipartisan Senators’ letter urging EPA to update ethanol science

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) applauds the letter a group of bipartisan Senators sent today urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publicly announce its intent to review and incorporate the latest “Greenhouse gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET)” modeling into an updated life cycle assessment for corn ethanol. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), both members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, led the effort in advising EPA to update its outdated environmental analysis on ethanol. ACE CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement applauding the Senators for urging EPA to formally adopt these changes without further delay:

“ACE extends our gratitude to Senators Durbin and Grassley for leading this bipartisan effort to hold EPA accountable on this important issue. Unlike the Argonne GREET model, EPA has not reviewed or updated their original 2010 corn ethanol greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments. Current data from the GREET model indicate that corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is almost 50 percent less than petroleum gasoline providing significantly more GHG reduction benefits than when the RFS was enacted a decade ago. Last year, ACE published “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol” recommending, as is stated in the Senators’ letter today, that EPA refer to the latest U.S. Department of Energy GREET model for life cycle analysis of corn ethanol.

“Given the all hands-on deck nature of the climate change problem, agricultural and biofuel stakeholders continue to believe that governmental policies need to properly acknowledge the role that agriculture and biofuel can play in providing near-term solutions to offsetting U.S. GHG emissions. One of the most direct ways to capitalize on agriculture’s ability to mitigate GHG emissions is to properly acknowledge the role U.S. farmers and ethanol producers are playing to dramatically reduce life cycle GHG emissions from corn ethanol by improving efficiencies, investing in technologies, and adopting sustainable agricultural practices.

“U.S. farmers are under tremendous financial stress from collapsing net farm income, rising expenses, ongoing trade tensions, weather-related disasters, and the undermining of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with demand destroying small refinery waivers. Updating EPA’s decade-old modeling would be a step in the right direction to underpin the scientific and economic opportunity for ethanol use to increase via low carbon fuel markets.”

ACE’s White Paper titled “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol” is available online by visiting  

Ways and Means Bill Extends Key Tax Credits, But Prematurely Lowers Estate Tax Exemption

The House Ways and Means Committee on June 20 passed a measure (H.R. 3301) extending expired tax incentives for biodiesel, renewable energy and short line railroads. Though farmers and ranchers support those provisions, they are adamantly opposed to one that would prematurely end the $11 million per person estate tax exemption, sending it back down to $5.5 million per person on Dec. 31, 2022, three years early.

“The premature termination of the temporary $11 million estate tax exemption under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will punish capital-intensive businesses like farms and ranches. Not only will the taxes imposed at death hurt farm and ranch businesses, financial uncertainty will hinder long-term business planning and estate planning costs will drain the resources of ongoing farm and ranch businesses,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to committee members regarding the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019.

Instead, Farm Bureau is calling on Congress to make the estate tax exemption of $11 million per person permanent until, ultimately, the estate tax is fully repealed. To that end, AFBF is supporting the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 218) and the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019 (S. 215).

Also in the letter, Duvall told the committee that tax credits promoting biodiesel and renewable diesel production help farmers by expanding markets for their products, but it’s not only those involved in agriculture who benefit from these provisions.

“All citizens, including farmers who are large fuel consumers, benefit when our nation reduces its dependence on unpredictable international oil markets,” he wrote.

Tax incentives for short line railroads are important to farmers and ranchers because these railroads are the first- and last-mile carriers connecting small towns, farms and factories to the national rail network, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in thousands of rural communities.

“Farmers and ranchers need efficient and cost-effective rail transportation for the delivery of equipment, seed, fertilizer and other inputs, and to move to market the food, fiber and fuel products they produce,” Duvall said.

House leaders have not said when, or even if, they will take up the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019, but it is one of the bills House members are expected to use as they position themselves going into negotiations on tax extenders with their Senate counterparts.

The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 3301) would:
-    Prematurely sunset the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s $11 million per person estate tax exemption by reverting it to the $5.5 million per person exemption on Dec. 31, 2022, three years early.
-    Extend the expired railroad track maintenance credit through the end of 2020, an additional three years.
-    Extend expired biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives through the end of 2020, an additional three years.
-    Extend the expired second-generation biofuel producer credit through the end of 2020, an additional three years. 
-    Extend credits for renewable power facilities through the end of 2020, providing one additional year for wind power facilities and three additional years for biomass facilities.
-    Extend the expired credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property through the end of 2020, three additional years.
-    Extend the reduced excise taxes on craft beer, wine and distilled spirits through the end of 2020, one additional year.


The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) Executive Director, Dr. Shefali Mehta testified today at a House Agriculture, Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing in support of investment in soil health practices.

The SHP, a program of the National Corn Growers Association, is a farmer-led effort that has built a network of over 220 farmers in 15 states and over 100 partner organizations at the federal, state and county levels over the past five years.

 “Our partner farmers work with us over five years to measure the impacts of the practice change. We measure basic soil macro- and micronutrients every year on the field, as well as soil health indicators every other year. Through this process, we are creating an in-depth data set from which to support farmers’ decisions and to understand the long-term changes in soil health over time. We look for impacts on yield, input use, and the farmer’s profitability,” explained Dr. Mehta.

“The farmers we work with are exceptional land managers looking for partnership on their journey to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of their farm operations.”

Dr. Mehta concluded by highlighting the need to work collaboratively, stating, “Collaborations are key to successful outcomes in this arena - no one group can go it alone. Through strong outcome-based collaborations, like ours, we have seen greater awareness and adoption of soil health practices. With stronger data and input across our diverse growing regions, we are learning more about the economic impacts to farmers and ways to improve adoption by mitigating risks and improving the bottom line.”


Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Secretary-Treasurer Ian Cunningham testified before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry about the importance of soil health practices.

Cunningham owns and operates a fifth-generation family farm with his son in southwest Minnesota, producing corn, soybeans and beef cattle.

“Soil health is a top priority across our 800-acre operation,” Cunningham said in written testimony to the subcommittee. “We have come to realize that healthy soil is the key to addressing many natural resource concerns. It is clear that healthy soil is the bedrock and should be the priority of our conservation efforts.”

In his testimony, Cunningham emphasized the role of conservation districts in leading the nation’s producers to implement soil health conservation practices.

“For a more successful uptake of soil health practices, producers need to be informed of the latest data and research, and this must come from a trusted local source,” he said.

Cunningham described NACD’s soil health economics case studies, soil health and weather extremes report, Soil Health Champions Network and the work both local conservation districts and the national association accomplish to build soil health from the roots up.

“If we are to continue to grow the food, fuel and fiber our nation and the world will need in the future, agriculture must continue to innovate and grow more with less, while making sure our natural resources are protected for future generations,” he said.

LaMalfa, Conaway: Voluntary Conservation Practices Improve Soil Health

Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing on the importance of soil health. After the hearing, Subcommittee Ranking Member Doug LaMalfa (CA-1) and Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) made the following remarks:

“Today’s hearing has not only highlighted the environmental benefits of sustained soil health, but also highlighted how these practices can help optimize inputs, increase resiliency and improve yields, regardless of weather patterns. It’s also a reminder that locally-led, voluntary conservation practices work. Through the programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill, our farmers and ranchers are voluntarily reducing soil erosion, helping to improve water quality and preserving farmland for future generations,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member LaMalfa.

“Throughout 2018 Farm Bill deliberations, producers consistently called for resources that would allow them to adopt practices like cover cropping. I am proud of the expanded authorities and increased funding to EQIP— championed by this committee — which will significantly help producers implement more targeted and meaningful conservation practices that address soil health,” said Ranking Member Conaway.

New online database puts sharper focus on U.S. agricultural injuries

A newly updated online tool is providing a clearer picture of injuries in agriculture. enables users to search the largest database of publicly available U.S. agricultural injury and fatality reports, getting a near real-time snapshot of the distribution and nature of trauma incidents, both nationally and locally.

“The innovation here is the combination of capturing, coding, and redistributing publicly available data on agricultural injuries and fatalities, primarily mined from media reports, and coupled with relevant prevention materials,” said project leader Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D., an associate research scientist with the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.

Insurers, lenders, agricultural employers, government statisticians, media professionals, educators, policy-makers and researchers are using to guide research priorities, safety initiatives, and public policy.

Anyone can set up a free account and search thousands of unique incidents, including more than 600 in 2018 alone. To create an account, visit and click “Register.”

The original version of was launched in 2015. New features and design changes include an interactive map display, more data granularity for search and filters, and customizable email alerts.

Weichelt announced the redesigned system June 25 in Des Moines, Iowa, during the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health annual conference.

“Custom email alerts allow users to choose what types of injury reports they want to see and how often they want to receive them,” Weichelt said. “For example, someone might want weekly reports of ATV-related adult injuries, or skid steer-related youth injuries from a particular state or region.”

Farmers and ranchers represent less than 2 percent of the population and are dispersed geographically. Agriculture’s decentralized nature and diversity of work practices contributes to it being one of the most hazardous occupations, and makes injury surveillance difficult. There is no central repository of agricultural injury data, and federal childhood ag injury surveillance has ended.

“ is helping to standardize the collection and analyses of injury occurring on farms and ranches across the United States by adhering to national standards for coding and describing agricultural injury,” said Dennis Murphy, Ph.D., Nationwide Insurance Professor Emeritus, Penn State University.

In the absence of a national surveillance program for agriculture-related injuries among U.S. adults and children, news media and similar reports have become increasingly valuable for ag safety stakeholders.

‘Reports of agricultural injuries appear in the media almost on a daily basis,” said Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D., director of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health. “Many organizations collect and use these ‘press clippings’ but for the first time, Dr. Weichelt and his team have created a publicly accessible website where anyone can search for injury cases of interest to them in a well-designed web interface. This is of great help for those of us interested in agricultural injury prevention.”

Weichelt acknowledges that there are limitations to gleaning injury data from news reports, including the fact that not all agricultural fatalities are reported in the media. Non-fatal injuries are thought to be particularly underreported.

Funding for this project was provided by generous donors as well as by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, the Dr. Dean Emanuel Endowment and the National Farm Medicine Center.

African Swine Fever Discovered in Laos, China Bans Imports

China said on Friday it has banned direct and indirect imports of pigs, wild boars and related products from Laos due to the first African swine fever outbreaks reported by the Southeast Asian nation on June 20.

"Illegally imported pigs, wild boars and their products from Laos intercepted by the frontier defense departments shall be destroyed under the supervision of the customs," China's General Administration of Customs said in a statement.

Reuters reports that China will also increase quarantine inspection of packages and passenger baggage from Laos.

Wild boars and their products from Laos are found coming into China via ships, aircraft, road vehicles and railway trains, the shipments will be sealed and disposed of.

Laos confirmed its first outbreaks of deadly African swine fever - which is fatal to pigs but does not harm humans - in its southern province of Saravane, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health said on Thursday.

China has reported more than 120 outbreaks of the disease in all its mainland provinces and regions, as well as Hainan island and Hong Kong, since it was first detected in the country in early August 2018.