Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thursday July 18 Ag News

July Rural Mainstreet Index Above Growth Neutral: Bankers See Negative Tariff Impacts on Economy

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for July rose above growth neutral for the month. According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the RMI for July indicated positive growth for the region.     

Overall: The overall index fell to 50.2 from 53.2 in June. This is the seventh time in the past eight months that the index has remained above growth neutral. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, and an RMI below the growth neutral threshold. 50.0, indicates negative growth for the month.

“Higher agriculture commodity prices and rebuilding from recent floods supported the Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for the month. Furthermore, almost nine of 10 bankers reported tariffs and trade skirmishes have had, or will have, a negative impact on their local economy. This is up from eight of 10 recorded last September,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for July improved to a still weak 45.6 from June’s 44.8. This is the 68th straight month the index has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

The July farm equipment-sales index increased to 37.9 from June’s 35.7. This marks the 71st straight month the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for July fell to 47.9 from June’s 50.6. The state’s farmland-price index increased to 44.0 from last month’s 44.0. Nebraska’s new-hiring index expanded to 56.3 from June’s 49.5. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Nebraska have lost jobs at a rate of minus 0.5% compared to a stronger 1.1% for urban areas of the state.

Iowa: The July RMI for Iowa sank to 49.9 from June’s 51.1. Iowa’s farmland-price index improved to 45.4 from June’s 44.1. Iowa’s new-hiring index for July soared to 61.6 from 48.9 in June. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Iowa have experienced job losses with growth at minus 1.0% compared to a much stronger 1.4% for urban areas of the state.

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.  

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

Animal Equality Reveals Shocking Scenes of Neglect to Calves at US Dairy Farm that Supplies Laughing Cow and Babybel

Animal Equality Press Release

The undercover footage reveals the prolonged agony of dozens of calves, whose ages range from one up to 150 days old, freezing to death in temperatures that dropped to -12 F overnight. Repeated exposure to extreme temperatures resulted in frozen limbs, and the separation of the hoof from the leg of several calves.

Quotes from Animal Equality’s anonymous undercover investigator include the following statement: “My supervisor asked me to feed the calf with the frozen feet. The hooves are now almost completely severed and you can see the bone. [He] mostly stays on the ground, but once or twice [he] tries to stand which causes the wounds to bleed.”

Additional animal cruelty captured by Animal Equality includes:
-    Workers shoving, jabbing and hitting calves with sorting sticks and hut rods as the manager’s dog lunged and bit the backs of their legs
-    Painful disbudding of calves using hot irons
-    Calves dying of scours and pneumonia after being left outdoors in freezing temperatures
-    Sick cows, left with dead cows, receiving no veterinary care
-    Hernia repair, banding (castration) and other painful procedures without pain medication

“Our investigation into Summit Calf Ranch revealed a shocking lack of meaningful care provided to baby calves. We documented sick newborns surrounded by their already dead pen mates in an area referred to as the 'hospital' where they were left to suffer for days and in many cases finally die.” said Sean Thomas, International Director of Investigations for Animal Equality.

Reaction from Tuls Dairy

Todd Tuls, Owner

“Animal welfare is our highest priority. We at Tuls Dairies & Summit Calf Ranch have a strong commitment to animal care and have established trainings and procedures fully aligned to industry best practices to care for our calves and all of our cattle in a humane and ethical manner.

This past winter presented farmers with some of the most challenging weather conditions faced in decades. The prolonged, extreme cold temperatures presented unprecedented demands for normal operations. In spite of these difficult circumstances, our workers continue handling animals in a way that indicates they were attentive to their needs and following proper guidelines.

Nonetheless, we continue to look for ways to further improve what we believe is already a strong and comprehensive system of treating our calves and all of our cattle in an ethical and humane manner. We are currently undertaking a full review of this facility by outside experts and are committed to providing additional training and improving any protocols as needed to ensure that our staff continues to provide the highest animal care standards in the industry

We are convinced that our farm staff shares this same commitment to following strong animal care practices, and will continue to take necessary steps to further enhance our already strong dedication to continuing to treat our calves and all of our cattle in an ethical manner.”

NCGA Recognizes Senator Fischer with President’s Award

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp today presented NCGA’s 2019 President’s Award to Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer. The President’s Award is given annually at NCGA’s Corn Congress meeting in Washington, D.C. to a leader who has worked to advance issues important to corn growers and agriculture.

“It is my great pleasure to present the NCGA President’s Award to Senator Fischer,” Chrisp said. “Senator Fischer has been an outspoken advocate for corn farmers from our shared home state of Nebraska and across the country, supporting policies that will help create market opportunities for corn.”

In her remarks to corn farmers, Fischer voiced her support for the pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the top legislative priority for corn growers this year. Fisher was a strong advocate for removing the barrier to year-round sales of E15 and continues to stand up for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) practice of providing RFS waivers to big oil companies. Corn Congress delegates approved a “Sense of Corn Congress” Wednesday urging President Trump to uphold the RFS.

“It’s a real honor to receive this recognition from the National Corn Growers Association. From pushing to advance USMCA to securing year-round E-15 sales and working to address small refinery exemptions, I’m proud of the good work we’ve done together. I look forward to continuing to fight for our corn growers in Nebraska and across rural America,” Fischer said.

Fischer sits on the Senate’s Agriculture and Armed Services Committees. She is also a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team, serving as counsel to the Majority Leader. A lifelong Nebraskan, Fischer was first elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2012, the first Nebraska woman elected to a full term. She is now the senior Senator from Nebraska.

Ricketts Announces Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced recent appointments he has made to fill Nebraska’s boards and commissions.  Among the appointments:

Healthy Soils Task Force
Jerry Allemann, Wayne
Richard G. Bartek, Ithaca
Keith D. Berns, Bladen
Robert E. Bettger, Fairmont
Hannah Birge, Ph.D., Omaha
Ronald P. Bolze, Jr., Ph.D., Chadron
Lisa A. Lunz, Wakefield
Michael L. McDonald, Palmyra
Charles A. Shapiro, Ph.D., Wayne
Jeffrey W. Steffen, Crofton
Steven W. Tucker, Venango
Raymond C. Ward, Ph.D., Kearney
Gregory A. Whitmore, Shelby

Thank you to the many Nebraskans that give generously of their time and talent to make a difference in our state.  These appointments will provide crucial insight and expertise to their respective boards, committees, and commissions. 

Ricketts Encourages Participation in Trade Mission to Germany

Governor Pete Ricketts encourages ag producers and businesses across Nebraska to consider joining the November 9-16, 2019 International Trade Mission to Germany.  Officials from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) will accompany Gov. Ricketts and Nebraska businesses on the trade mission.  The delegation will visit Berlin, Lower Saxony, and North-Rhine Westphalia.

“Germany has the European Union’s largest economy and is a valued trade partner for Nebraska,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Since 2010, Nebraska companies have exported over $350 million in goods to the country.  Additionally, German-owned companies in our state employ 1,000 Nebraskans.  This trade mission will deepen our relationship with Germany, and open the door to new partnerships.”

Nebraska trade mission participants will meet with public officials, community leaders, and private companies in a country that is one of Nebraska’s most important international business partners.

The itinerary and agenda for this year’s trade mission has been developed by DED.  The first stop for the trade mission is in Berlin, where delegates will participate in business tours and government meetings.  The delegation will then visit the Agritechnica Agricultural Trade Show in Lower Saxony.  Agritechnica is the world’s leading trade fair for agricultural machinery, with over 2,800 exhibitors from 52 countries.  In addition to the trade show, other promotional events and business meetings will occur in Lower Saxony and in North-Rhine Westphalia, the final stops for the trade mission.

Because space is limited, anyone who is considering taking part in the trade mission should contact Lori Shaal ( immediately to express their interest.

Nebraska Teachers Focus on Agriculture at National Conference

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation hosted two Nebraska elementary teachers at the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, June 19-21 in Little Rock, Ark.

More than 400 educators from around the country came together to learn how to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and more. The teachers participated in workshops and tours of agricultural operations that highlighted how agriculture can be used effectively in formal classroom instruction.

Carolyn Dolezal, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Peter’s Catholic School in Lincoln, and Abbey Spaulding, a second-grade teacher at Fredstrom Elementary School in Lincoln, were awarded the all-expense paid trip to the conference by winning the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s 2019 Teachers of the Year designation for incorporating agriculture into their classrooms through innovative ideas and lessons.

“I was so impressed and inspired by talking to educators from all over the U.S. who integrate agriculture into their daily schedules and curriculum!  In this day and age, with all the assessments and testing we do with our students, it is still important to integrate agriculture into what students are learning,” said Spaulding. “Agriculture can be taught in math, science, social studies, and many other areas of the curriculum!  Agriculture is what Nebraska is built upon, and we need to continue educating our students to pass on that legacy.”

During the tours of nearby agribusinesses and research facilities, the teachers learned about beef, poultry, and rice production; worldwide hunger, and other agricultural issues. A keynote address by Temple Grandin, renowned animal behaviorist and autism spokesperson, was a conference highlight.

“Temple Grandin brought a unique perspective sharing the value of practical experience in the classroom,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education. “She received a huge round of applause when she shared the importance of introducing students to agriculture at an early age so they can find it as an opportunity in life.”

The conference also provided the teachers with ideas and resources on how to use agriculture to teach core subjects in their classrooms.

Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, says supporting teachers is a smart investment. “We are thrilled to partner with teachers who recognize the benefits of incorporating agriculture into their classrooms. The impact of attending this conference will multiply as they share the knowledge and resources gained with their students and fellow teachers,” she said.

United Soybean Board’s 2020 Investments Innovate Beyond the Bushel

This week, the United Soybean Board’s 73 farmer-leaders approved promotion, marketing and research programs strategically aligned to increase the value and preference for U.S. soy to be executed by the soybean checkoff for fiscal year 2020.

That action came shortly after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it will not conduct a referendum due to the results of a soybean request for referendum held May 6-31, 2019. The lack of requests shows overwhelming support for the Soybean Promotion and Research Order, the soy checkoff. Conducted every five years, this news affirms the checkoff’s recognized commitment to drive innovation beyond the bushel and build demand for U.S. soy both domestically and abroad.

Against the backdrop of that news, the USB farmer-leaders today approved 169 checkoff-funded projects for the 2020 fiscal year. The proposals were categorized by target areas (meal, oil and sustainability) and action teams (supply, demand and marketplace).

The proposals were evaluated by farmer-leadership, and the most strategically sound projects moved forward in USB’s value creation framework meetings. Those recommended projects were then voted on at this week’s USB meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. Amid fluctuating markets and challenging weather conditions, these projects will create opportunities to leverage checkoff resources that fulfill USB’s “Better Every Day” motto, according to checkoff directors.

“We have a charge to overcome, and — now more than ever — U.S. soybean farmers need the United Soybean Board and the soy checkoff to rise to the occasion on their behalf,” said USB Chair and Kentucky farmer Keith Tapp. “Our purpose as farmer-leaders is to tackle the task of representing more than 500,000 U.S. soybean farmers by maximizing the value of their checkoff investments, especially during these uncertain times.”

Among the new, fresh and innovative programs prioritized by USB’s farmer-leaders, included below is a preview of some of the soy checkoff’s fiscal year 2020 investments, across the target area and action team verticals.

— Meal Supply: This includes efforts to enhance the soybean nutrition bundle and use supply research, marketing and communication to improve the nutritive value of U.S. soybeans and soybean meal. These approaches include targeting higher protein, amino acid composition, carbohydrate composition and adjustments in antinutritional factors. Desired outcomes include improved U.S. soy product quality that delivers long-term, demand-driven value and opportunities throughout the value chain. USB will invest up to $20.5 million in the Supply Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.

— Oil Marketplace: This includes efforts related to reputation management of U.S. soybean oil, which includes strategies to enhance consumer perceptions, support science and reclaim market share. This effort encompasses the placement of soybean-related scientific findings in accredited and peer-reviewed journals. That information will also be used as key source information for communications efforts across targeted, influential audience segments.USB will invest up to $22.5 million in the Marketplace Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.

— Sustainability Demand: Among other objectives, these projects will promote the overall sustainability of U.S. soy to international buyers and end users. Sustainability is a market differentiator for U.S. soy and creates market opportunities in areas such as the European Union. Through promoting U.S. soy sustainability and the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) to international markets, this sets U.S. soy apart from the competition, making it an integral part of U.S. soy customers achieving their sustainability goals for food, feed and industrial applications. USB will invest up to $32 million in the Demand Action Team across meal, oil and sustainability.

“The soy checkoff’s greatest asset is our farmer-leaders, and their program investments decided at this meeting will write a new chapter in U.S Soy’s legacy,” said Polly Ruhland, USB CEO. “Our work, defined by purpose, passion and pride, pays dividends for all soybean farmers, but our success hinges on collaboration and cooperation to move the entire soybean value chain forward.”

This week, USB also welcomed two new directors to the board including Todd Hanten from Goodwin, South Dakota, and Daniel Rajzer from Decatur, Michigan. In addition to USB, 31 Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs) represent soybean farmers across the country.

United Soybean Board, Take Action Program Focus on Pest Management

With a difficult season in full swing, the last thing farmers need is pests robbing yield. Sponsored by the industry-wide Take Action program and the United Soybean Board, PEST Week (Pest Elimination Strategies and Tactics) marks a crucial time of year for farmers to scout for weeds, diseases and insects to manage pests responsibly.

“The Take Action program provides farmers with the science-backed resources to help us make the best pest management decisions possible for our farms with the future in mind,” said Bubba Simmons III, USB farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Leland, Mississippi. “PEST Week is a reminder for all farmers to keep product stewardship top of mind this season — even among the challenges — to keep these pest management tools available for years to come.”

Weed competition, disease and insect damage have the potential to cause yield loss from day one, and the repercussions of pesticide resistance could be even more costly. The increase and spread of pesticide resistance threatens farmers’ freedom to operate. The consequences include short and long-term economic challenges, decreasing land values, the uncertain regulatory pathway to access crop protection tools, crop losses and other challenges.

“The industry is at a critical juncture in managing resistance to herbicides, as well as other products,” says Larry Steckel, row crop weed management professor at the University of Tennessee. “New pesticides are being developed and registered for use at a much slower pace than in the past. Because of this, it is becoming more and more important to actively delay the development of resistance to herbicides and other pesticides currently in our toolbox.” Steckel continued, “This is why implementing management strategies — like rotating modes of action, using the full labeled rate and incorporating cultural practices — is crucial.”

Farmers can utilize the full resources of the Take Action program through the website and the newly updated Take Action app, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. These resources available from Take Action help farmers:

— MANAGE WEEDS: Keep weeds out of fields and fight herbicide resistance with the Ultimate Weed Management Checklist, covering every best management practice to slow herbicide resistance development. Many popular weed management resources have also been updated for 2019, including the Take Action Herbicide Classification Chart, and 13 weed management fact sheets. 

— KEEP RECORDS: Herbicide labels differ from state to state, as emphasized with dicamba post-emergence application restrictions. Stay on top of the required recordkeeping paperwork with the Take Action Pesticide Application Record. The fillable PDF can save records electronically or print easily as a one-page document.

— CLASSIFY DISEASES: Take Action also offers several resources related to fungicide management, including the popular Fungicide Classification Chart and Know Your Risk soybean disease evaluation tool.

“Taking the time to understand the products you use and apply them responsibly will not only save you money today by ensuring the most efficient balance of product,” said Simmons, “but also, it will help save all farmers money by keeping these tools available.”

 Alfalfa Checkoff Funds Seven Research Projects

Alfalfa researchers from across the country were the beneficiaries of funding generated by the Alfalfa Checkoff as seven new Alfalfa Checkoff research projects were recently funded. The U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative (USAFRI), better known as the Alfalfa Checkoff, recently awarded the fifth round of funding to projects submitted by researchers from across the country.

“NAFA’s Alfalfa Checkoff Review Committee focused funding on research projects which addressed a diverse range of topics within the industry,” said Beth Nelson, NAFA President. “It’s gratifying to see the program bringing new researchers into the alfalfa community.”

NAFA’s Alfalfa Checkoff request for proposals generated 16 research projects from a broad geographic area, stretching from California to New York, demonstrating continued demand among researchers for alfalfa research funding. Proposals addressed a wide range of topics intended to drive innovation and profitability in the alfalfa industry - from testing the value of genomic selection in breeding populations to improving our understanding of Aphanomyces root rot in alfalfa. Research projects in California, Kentucky, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin were funded. They include: (project objectives can be viewed on the NAFA website):
· Maximizing Alfalfa’s Yield Potential
    - Charles Brummer, University of California-Davis
· Forage Production of Alfalfa Established in Silage Corn vs. Conventional Production Systems
    - John Grabber, USDA-ARS, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center
· Developing Practical Phosphorus & Potassium Tissue Test Recommendations & Utilizing Struvite in Modern Alfalfa Systems III
    - Steve Norberg, Washington State University
· Evaluating Approaches to High-Throughput Phenotyping & Genotyping for Genomic Selection in Alfalfa
    - Kelly Robbins, Cornell University
· New Approaches to Improve Alfalfa Round Bale Storage
    - Kevin Shinners, Matthew Digman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
· “Grazing Alfalfa” Publication Update
    - Ray Smith, University of Kentucky
· Improving Our Understanding of Aphanomyces Root Rot of Alfalfa
    - Kiersten Wise, University of Kentucky

The NAFA review committee selected projects that best met established research priorities, including: new and updated NAFA publications; agronomic management; feed value consistency; forage quality improvements; new uses and market development; fertility, soil management, soil health, macro/micro nutrients; and yield improvements. Proposals were scored on methodology/analytical approaches; industry need; cost effectiveness/budget/matching funds; partnerships; and outreach.

The Alfalfa Checkoff call for proposals is released twice a year, in May with proposals due in June, and in November with proposals due in December. Final reports continue to roll in and reveal important data and information. Those reports are available at

First Shipment Of ETBE Made With U.S. Ethanol Arrives In Japan

The first shipment of ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) made with U.S. corn-based ethanol arrived in Japan last week, marking the country’s new demand for U.S. ethanol-based products and a milestone in U.S. ethanol market development efforts.

The sale of ETBE, a gasoline component, was made following a policy change by the Japanese government recognizing the positive greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits. The shift allows for U.S. corn-based ethanol to be eligible for production of ETBE brought into Japan, in addition to sugarcane-based ethanol.

Japan will now allow U.S. ethanol to meet up to 44 percent of a total estimated demand of 217 million gallons of ethanol used to make ETBE, or potentially 95.5 million gallons of U.S.-produced ethanol annually. Japan imports nearly all ETBE from ethanol it uses.

The first ETBE shipment from the United States, purchased by Japan Biofuels Supply LLP, unloaded at Chiba port near Tokyo and then Wakayama port near Osaka. The shipment of 13.5 million gallons represents 2 million bushels of corn demand.

In recent years, the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) have worked closely with corn state associations as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA's FAS) to show the benefits of U.S. ethanol to Japanese officials and members of the Japanese fuel industry.

By providing detailed scientific information about U.S. ethanol’s production processes and the changes to U.S. ethanol’s carbon intensity over time, the U.S. industry helped Japanese officials gain understanding about the benefits of U.S. ethanol, a key goal of ongoing market development programs around the world.

Moving forward, the U.S. industry will continue to demonstrate the value of U.S. ethanol as a component of ETBE and as an oxygenate for fuel blending.

Japan is a historic top market for U.S. agricultural products, led by U.S. feed grains like corn and related products, including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), an ethanol co-product.


Chuck Coffey, chairman, and Jared Brackett, vice chairman, of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) recently traveled to Taiwan and Japan as part of a U.S. contingent exploring opportunities for U.S. beef in those countries. The week-long trip took place May 4-May 11, 2019.

“Taiwan and Japan are in prime position for further market development,” said Coffey, a fifth-generation rancher from Davis, Oklahoma. “While these Asian markets share many similarities, their challenges and opportunities are actually quite different. Taking this trip gave us the chance to immerse ourselves in their culture and gain a better understanding of the many ways we can work to increase U.S. beef consumption in these countries.”’

The Beef Leadership team’s first stop was Taipei, Taiwan where they attended a Taiwanese market briefing with the United States Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff. At that briefing, attendees learned various facts about the Taiwanese market, including the fact that current beef consumption per person in that country of 23.6 million is quote “small” as compared with pork or poultry.

“Although their beef consumption is relatively low as compared to other meats, the Taiwanese can still only produce a tiny percentage of the beef they consume,” said Brackett, a fifth-generation cow-calf stocker from Filer, Idaho. “Obviously, Taiwan needs to import a lot of beef, not just to meet their currently small consumption rate, but to meet growing demand for beef throughout the country.”

The leadership team wrapped up their time in Taiwan by visiting gourmet meat shops, restaurants, warehouse stores, convenience stores, indoor/outdoor markets and steakhouses to see what kinds of beef are being sold to consumers through those channels.

“During our time in Taiwan, we found that there are many ways that we can encourage additional U.S. beef imports,” Coffey said. “We need to encourage the Taiwanese to incorporate beef into cultural food items like dumplings traditionally cooked with pork and poultry. Grass-fed beef also presents an opportunity, and we need to find ways to improve beef marketing overall. We have opportunities to integrate U.S. beef cuts into ready-to-eat options at convenience stores there, too.”

On May 8, the contingent traveled to Tokyo, Japan. There, Coffey, Brackett and others from the group started off their trip with a Japanese market briefing at the local USMEF office where they learned numerous facts about the country’s meat consumption.

“While Japan has always consumed large amounts of seafood, higher prices are causing seafood consumption to decline,” Brackett said. “Beef has an opportunity to fill that void, and we know that the Japanese prefer the taste and leanness of U.S. beef over beef from other countries like Australia and New Zealand. We need to find ways to take advantage of that preference while adding value to those cuts that the Japanese prefer but aren’t as popular stateside.”

Other interesting market facts include a growing preference among younger Japanese for beef over pork and seafood. Furthermore, the Japanese government is recommending that older citizens eat significantly more protein. Currently, the average Japanese person’s diet consists of primarily of rice, vegetables and fruit.

The leadership team also attended an eye-opening consumer event in Japan where the USMEF staff there worked with a local cooking celebrity, Chef Rika Yukimasa, on an American Beef Master program. This program included an American beef-cutting demonstration and integration of certain beef cuts into different dishes, including roast beef salad and roast beef sushi rolls. Yukimasa is one of several cooking instructors with which the USMEF works who have loyal social media followings and will promote beef to more than 3,000 cooking students over the next year.

The rest of the team’s time in Japan also included a visit to the U.S. Embassy to learn more about the current market status of U.S. agricultural products in that country. The group also visited retail stores to view U.S. beef products on display and learn how they’re marketed to Japanese consumers. A trip to the Tokyo Meat Market, a government-owned beef and pork slaughter plant, revealed the plant’s high daily capacity for processing beef cattle and hogs. A food retailer beef promotion event, with a focus on new U.S. beef menu options and ways to promote U.S. beef, was another highlight. U.S. beef producers shared their farming and cattle-raising practices with the group.

“We also attended a consumer direct event at a rooftop grilling park,” Brackett added. “At this event, the USMEF and a local grilling club are elevating grilling as not just a hobby, but a way to incorporate thicker cuts of beef into the Japanese diet. We learned that they are making an impact, as in just one year’s time, the amount of grocery store space dedicated to thicker cuts has exponentially increased.”

Coffey, Brackett and the rest of the leadership team on the Asian trip found their visits to Taiwan and Japan extremely worthwhile, helping them gain valuable, in-person insight into what makes these markets tick. The trip also revealed concerns about tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, as well as the need for improved product traceability.

“The market strategies we use to continue promoting U.S. beef in these two countries will likely be very different,” Coffey said. “Taiwan is 15 years behind Japan in overall market development, which requires beef promoters to spend more time with importers and other businesses. In Japan, there’s more emphasis on consumer and influencer marketing. We’re taking what we learned on this trip back to the U.S. and disseminating it to the producers we serve, as well as others in the beef industry. Armed with this knowledge, we can better tailor our approach to selling U.S. beef in these Asian markets and set ourselves up for even greater success in the years ahead.”

CA Rep. introduces bill to extend environmental liability rules for CAFO contractor farmers to integrator companies

Rep. Khanna Press Release

Today, Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) introduced the Farmer Fairness Act. The bill would extend the environmental liability that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) contract farmers are already subject to under the Clean Water Act to integrator companies.

Massive agribusiness companies contract with farmers to buy livestock and animal products. The companies, commonly referred to as integrators, impose strict contracts on these farmers. The farmer assumes all of the environmental liability for the operation. This legislation is a solution to that problem. It will make regulation fairer for the hard working people in the agriculture industry.

CAFOs are required to obtain permits under the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. However, they are not subject to the environmental liability despite the overwhelming control that an integrator company has over contracted CAFOs. The Farmer Fairness Act would change that.

“Large agribusiness companies like Tyson and Perdue buy livestock and animal products from farmers. The companies control the way livestock is fed, medicated and housed. They dictate what equipment and capital the farmer has to use. Farmers often don’t make enough to live off of because the cost of operations, as mandated by the companies, leave the farmer in red. Through all of this, the farmer takes on the liability (especially environmental liability) of the operation,” said Rep. Khanna “This bill brings necessary change to our farming communities, and I’m proud to have the support of Food and Water Watch and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.”

This bill is supported/endorsed by: Food and Water Watch, National Farmers Union, and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

 “For far too long, industrial agribusiness corporations have escaped the true cost of doing business, instead externalizing their business costs onto farmers trapped in an unfair system and the costs of their pollution onto the tax-paying public,” said Barb Kalbach, a fourth generation family farmer and member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement from Dexter, IA. “That’s why we support Congressman Khanna’s bill. It’s about time to close this loophole, level the playing field, and force those at the top to pay their fair share. The factory farm industry doesn’t stand on its own if you knock out the props.”

“Even though they own the animals that they place on contract operations, big meat and poultry companies push the responsibility for managing their waste onto overburdened contract growers,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Congress should pass the Farmer Fairness Act and make sure that the meat and poultry industry have to take responsibility for the waste their animals create.”

"Contract farmers are subject to a wide range of unfair practices at the hands of integrators," said Roger Johnson, President of the National Famers Union. "While integrators often control how animals are raised, farmers are left solely liable. We applaud Congressman Khanna for introducing this legislation, which is an important step toward ensuring fairness and protection for family farmers."

USDA Has More Than $400 Million Still Available for Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Loan Guarantees

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today encouraged farmers, rural small businesses and agricultural producers to apply for financing in a key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program that provides loan guarantees to help rural small businesses lower their energy costs.  

“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to increasing economic development in rural communities across the country through strong partnerships with rural businesses,” Baxley said. “USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is an important tool to help strengthen and grow the rural economy.”

USDA accepts applications for REAP funding year-round. Potential applicants should contact their state USDA Rural Development office for additional information.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar. It also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit

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