Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Monday August 26 Ag News


For the week ending August 25, 2019, there were 3.7 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 8 short, 76 adequate, and 15 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 8 short, 77 adequate, and 14 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 19 fair, 57 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dough was 80 percent, behind 93 last year and 90 for the five-year average. Dented was 36 percent, well behind 56 last year, and behind 49 average.

Soybean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 21 fair, 61 good, and 12 excellent. Soybeans blooming was 97 percent, near 100 both last year and average. Setting pods was 83 percent, behind 95 last year and 94 average.

Sorghum condition rated 1 percent very poor, 1 poor, 16 fair, 66 good, and 16 excellent. Sorghum headed was 94 percent, behind 99 last year, and near 98 average. Coloring was 21 percent, well behind 59 last year and 48 average.

Oats harvested was 97 percent, near 100 last year and 99 average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 10 percent very poor, 18 poor, 16 fair, 49 good, and 7 excellent. Dry edible beans blooming was 98 percent. Setting pods was 92 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 14 fair, 65 good, and 17 excellent.

Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report

 Rain across most of Iowa improved dry soil conditions during the week ending August 25, 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Reporters throughout the State mentioned the need for warmer weather as cooler than normal temperatures have slowed crop development. Fieldwork activities included spraying fungicides and insecticides on late planted crops and harvesting hay.

Topsoil moisture condition was rated 3 percent very short, 20 percent short, 75 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus. The Northwest District was the only district where topsoil moisture condition became drier this past week. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 4 percent very short, 20 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Seventy-six percent of the corn crop has reached the dough stage, 11 days behind last year and 9 days behind the 5-year average. Twenty-one percent of the crop reached the dented stage, 2 weeks behind last year and 9 days behind average. Corn condition rated 65 percent good to excellent.

Nearly all the soybean crop has started to bloom at 96 percent statewide, 11 days behind average. Eighty-four percent of the crop has started setting pods, 17 days behind last year and 12 days behind average. Soybean condition rated 62 percent good to excellent.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay reached 49 percent, 11 days behind average. Hay condition rated 57 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition improved slightly for the first time in 7 weeks and rated 44 percent good to excellent. There were no reported livestock issues this past week.

Corn, Soybean Condition Ratings Up; Development Still Behind Normal

Corn and soybean conditions improved slightly last week, but remain at a seven-year low, according to the latest USDA NASS Crop Progress report released Monday. Development of both crops also remains well behind normal.

As of Sunday, Aug. 25, the U.S. corn crop was rated 57% in good-to-excellent condition, up 1 percentage point from 56% the previous week.  Corn's current condition rating compares to last year's 68% and is the lowest good-to-excellent rating for this time of year in seven years. 

Corn development continued to lag behind the average pace last week. Nationwide, corn in the dough stage was estimated at 71%, up 16 percentage points from 55% the previous week but 16 percentage points behind the five-year average of 87%. That was an improvement from last Monday's report when corn in the dough stage was running 21 percentage points behind average.

Corn dented was 27%, behind last year's 59% and 19 percentage points behind the five-year average of 46%. That was further behind normal than in last Monday's report, when corn dented was 15 percentage points behind average.

Soybean condition also improved slightly last week. As of Sunday, 55% of the soybean crop was rated good to excellent, up 2 percentage points from 53% the previous week. The current nationwide soybean condition rating remains below last year's good-to-excellent rating of 66% and continues to be the lowest good-to-excellent rating for this time of year since 2012.

The portion of the soybean crop that was blooming was 94%, 5 percentage points behind the five-year average of 96%. That was a slight improvement from last Monday's report when blooming was running 6 percentage points behind average. Soybeans setting pods reached 79% as of Sunday, 12 percentage points behind the average pace of 91%. That was closer to average than in last week's report, when soybeans setting pods was 17 percentage points behind the average pace.

Spring wheat harvest picked up steam last week, moving ahead 22 percentage points from the previous week to reach 38% as of Sunday. That was still well behind last year's 75% and 27 percentage points behind the five-year average of 65%.

Sorghum heading reached 86% as of Sunday, behind the five-year average of 90%. Sorghum coloring was estimated at 41%, behind the average of 52%. Sorghum mature was estimated at 22%, behind the average of 30%. Sorghum harvested was estimated at 20%, equal to the five-year average. Oats were 75% harvested, behind the average of 86%.

Cotton setting bolls was 90%, near the five-year average of 91%. Cotton bolls opening was at 28%, ahead of the average of 19%. Cotton condition was rated 43% good to excellent, down 6 percentage points from 49% the previous week. Rice headed was pegged at 96%, near the average of 97%. Rice harvested was 15%, slightly behind the average of 18%.

Sign-up begins Oct. 1st for new irrigated acres

Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres in some portions of the District this fall.

The LENRD board voted, at their August meeting, to allow up to 450 acre-feet of new depletions, in accordance with their Voluntary Integrated Management Plan for irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.  An approved variance is a requirement for any expansion of irrigated acres in the LENRD, whether from an existing or new irrigation well.

Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances are areas that fall within the top three categories of the classification map.  A map of the eligible locations will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk by no later than August 30th.

Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area located within the LENRD.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board also approved the scoring sheets used by staff when processing applications and reauthorized use of the Conditions for Approval policy, which has accompanied approved variances each of the last two years.  In addition, a minimum soil score of 90 must be met for any standard variance to be considered for approval.”

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances between October 1st, 2019 and October 31st, 2019.  Contact the LENRD for more information or visit:  www.lenrd.org/latest-news/  Application forms will be available online and in the office beginning October 1st.

Farm Bureau Urges USDA to Keep Close Eye on Cattle Markets After Packing Plant Fire

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use the full authorities granted to the agency to monitor and address concerns stemming from the shutdown of a Holcomb, Kansas beef packing facility following a recent fire. The temporary closing of the plant, which accounted for five percent of the daily U.S. cattle slaughter, has led to considerable consternation for both cattle producers and cattle markets alike.

In an Aug. 22 letter to USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson asked USDA to address a pair of specific issues related to the incident. The first being to help address the considerable shift in cattle slaughter to other plants by USDA shifting additional regulatory staff to those facilities.

“We ask USDA to provide all of the needed grading and inspection staff that will be required to address these needs as quickly as possible,” wrote Nelson in the letter.

In addition to keeping beef processing moving forward, Nebraska Farm Bureau also urged USDA to keep a close eye on cattle markets.

“Given the situation in Kansas and the resulting impacts it has had on cattle prices, we hope USDA and the Packers and Stockyards Division will actively investigate the recent movements in cattle markets. We also hope any anti-competitive activities will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” wrote Nelson.

The Packers and Stockyards Act makes it unlawful for any packer to engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practices or devices as they procure livestock.

“While we certainly understand rules and regulations place restrictions on what assistance can be provided, we hope USDA will use all of its authority to ensure operations run smoothly and beef producers are treated fairly,” wrote Nelson. “We thank you and your team for your time and assistance through this difficult situation and for everything you do for Nebraska farm and ranch families.”

LB 344: “Animal Health and Disease Control Act”

Jim Dinklage, President Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska

August 20, 2019 Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) President Jim Dinklage and ICON Natural Resource Chairman Dr. Don Cain, Jr. met at the Nebraska State Capital with a group of concerned personnel. The meeting was organized by Rick Leonard, Legislative Research Analyst at the request of Senator Steve Halloran. Those attending were Senator Halloran; Senator Tom Brandt of the Agriculture Committee; Rick Leonard, Legislative Research Analyst; Amelia Breinig representing the NE Department of Agriculture; Bruce Rieker and Ansley Mick, Farm Bureau; John Hansen, Farmers Union; Kris Bousquet, NE State Dairy Assoc.; Jessica Herrmann and Melody Benjamin, NE Cattlemen; Al Juhnke, NE Pork Producers; Katie Zulkoski, lobbyist for NE Veterinary Medical Assoc.; and Russ Westerhold, lobbyist for NE Pork Producers and NE Egg and Poultry Association.

The meeting was chaired by Senator Halloran of the Agriculture Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the details of to LB 344 and entertain suggestions or amendments to the bill being considered and debated on by the Legislature. After some discussion, it was suggested by Al Juhnke that each section of the bill needed to be discussed in depth. Many questions concerning animal health were brought up.

Section 54 of LB 344 was noted to be of concern by Dinklage from ICON. It deals with complying with Federal animal disease traceability requirements for official identification of animals as set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations Citation section 86.4-official identification. In this section it does not specifically state as to what is an official ear tag. But when it describes an official animal identification, it talks about an “electronic” number. Dr. Cain informed the group that at the annual NE State Veterinarian meeting, the veterinarians were informed that by 2023 the mandatory official identification ear tag for health reasons would be electronic. Dinklage closed this discussion on section 54 of LB 344 by saying that ICON would not support the government using mandatory E-ID tags as the ONLY official animal health identification. That it would probably lead to all cattle being identified with E-ID tag and premise identifications.

The meeting went on to discuss the remaining sections of LB 344.

In closing, it was decided that the NE Department of Agriculture, Legislative Research Analyst Rick Leonard, and any at the meeting would re-review LB 344 and make more corrections or changes to the law. These changes would again be reviewed in a group meeting by those of interest and then sent to the Agriculture Committee.

ICON Resolution #3 for 2019, “Animal Identification”, more specifically spells out the position ICON has regarding mandatory E-ID tags. This resolution will be available at www.IndependentCattlemen.com or contact ICON directly for a copy of the 2019 resolutions. The Independent Cattlemen Of Nebraska are the “Voice of the Mother Cow” and our goal is to make sure that this voice is heard and the burdens of her caretakers are lessened.

 Valley Irrigation to Launch Valley 365 Crop Management Platform in Early 2020

Valley Irrigation, The Leader in Precision Irrigation, is pleased to announce the launch of Valley 365™, a new single-source platform for connected crop management, due for release in early 2020.

Valley 365 combines the best features of existing Valley technology into one easy-to-use interface for single sign-on access to complete connected crop management. With functionality from key solutions like AgSense®, Valley Scheduling™, Valley® Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) and Valley Insights™, it's a true command center that connects growers to their fields.

"The ability to access the tried-and-true Valley technology with one single sign-on is a major benefit in itself," says Andy Carritt, Vice President, Product Development for Valley Irrigation. "And the real value of this end-to-end platform is that it gives growers greater efficiency, helps them make smarter business decisions and is built to support future advancements in precision irrigation."

Valley 365 also offers:
    Greater efficiency – Existing applications will seamlessly integrate, allowing growers to use a single sign-on to access all solutions.
    Accessibility – This end-to-end cloud-based platform offers growers a simpler, more intuitive user experience, anytime and anywhere.
    Intelligence – Growers can leverage equipment, environmental and agronomic data more effectively, in real time.
    Scalability – This innovative software solution will enable our growers to add features effortlessly, and is customizable based on their changing needs.
    Security – Built upon the latest cloud-based technology, it provides unlimited data storage, offers enhanced support capability and is extremely secure.

"At Valley, we invest in technology because we are invested in our growers," Carritt says, "and Valley 365 streamlines the core applications they know and trust, supported by the strength of our industry-best structures and dealer network."

To see more of what Valley 365 has to offer, visit Valley Irrigation at Husker Harvest Days (Sept. 10-12).

Cow Mineral Nutrition: Macro Minerals and Their Importance 

Steve Niemeyer –  NE Extension Educator

Mineral nutrition is vital to overall cow performance. Without appropriate balance of minerals, cows may not perform as desired or could exhibit detrimental effects. There is value in analyzing your mineral program to determine if modifications need to be made to improve cattle health and performance.

Minerals are divided into two groups based on the quantity of the mineral required by the cow: macro minerals and micro minerals (trace minerals). The macro minerals are required as a percent of the diet dry matter, while micro minerals or trace minerals are required in ppm (parts per million). This article will focus on macro minerals.

About Macro Minerals
There are seven macro minerals that need to be analyzed and balanced within a cow’s diet. These are calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), sodium (Na), chlorine (Cl) and potassium (K). Some of these minerals work together, while others work independently.

Calcium and Phosphorus
Calcium and P are two minerals that work hand in hand. These are the main mineral constituents in bone. In addition to their role in bone development, Ca is also important in muscle function and P plays key roles in metabolic functions throughout the body. In general, grazing cattle will have adequate Ca in forages, especially legumes such as alfalfa. On the other hand, P can be deficient in these forages and supplemental P is generally needed in forage-based diets, but how much? The key is to sample and test forages to determine mineral content and select a mineral to meet the cow’s needs. It is relatively easy to meet requirements for Ca and P, but there is also value in ensuring the proper Ca:P ratio. The optimum Ca:P ratio based on extensive research is 1.5:1 to 2:1. The requirements for Ca and P change with animal age and stage of production. The Ca requirement for a 1400 lb lactating cows is 0.30% and P is 0.20% of the diet dry matter. These requirements decrease in non-lactating cows.

Magnesium is required at 0.20% of the diet dry matter for lactating cows and 0.12% for gestating cows. Magnesium plays a role in enzyme and nervous system function, as well as carbohydrate metabolism. It is critical that cows receive sufficient Mg when they are lactating heavily, especially if they are grazing lush, rapidly growing pastures. Oftentimes these pastures have excess K, which inhibits Mg absorption in both the plant and animal. A high Mg mineral (8-13% Mg) should be provided to lactating cows two to four weeks prior to turn out onto rapidly growing grass, to increase Mg intake to 0.25% of diet dry matter and prevent grass tetany.

Sulfur is not typically thought to be necessary in mineral supplements, but conversely how it can cause toxicity. Sulfur is necessary in the diet for the rumen microorganisms to form sulfur-containing amino acids. There are multiple sources of S and some of these can result in toxicity, specifically high sulfate water in western South Dakota. Research conducted at the SDSU Cottonwood Field Station shows that excess sulfates in water can cause polioencephalomalacia (PEM or polio) in cattle. Symptoms include blindness, difficulty walking, muscle tremors, convulsions and ultimately death. Cattle on pasture require 0.15% sulfur, but forages and water should be tested prior to adding sulfur to a mineral supplement. Many forages contain adequate sulfur to meet requirements and there is sulfur in the water, it will have an additive effect. If sulfur levels in the total diet exceed 0.30%, cattle can start to experience negative effects on health and performance.

Sodium and Chlorine
Sodium and chlorine work together to maintain cellular volume, pH and osmolarity of body fluids. Sodium chloride (NaCl, salt) promotes water intake. Sodium plays a role with K for nutrient transport into and out of cells and Cl is involved primarily in the production of hydrochloric acid in the abomasum (stomach) to aid in digestion. Cattle have a taste for salt and a 1400 lb cow will consume between 1 and 2 ounces of salt per day to meet requirements. Various factors affect salt intake and it is key to have plenty of fresh water available at all times.

As mentioned previously, K works with Na in the body to regulate osmotic pressure and transport nutrients in and out of cells. As the K levels increase, the Na levels will need to increase equally. Through forage analysis, K levels are adequate in most of western South Dakota, with the 1400 lb lactating cow having a requirement of 0.70% of diet dry matter and most forages samples having close to 2% K. Potassium will leach out of dormant forages, therefore it may be necessary to provide a mineral supplement that contains 1% K to remedy any deficiencies.

The Bottom Line
Mineral nutrition and balance is key to animal performance and productivity. Take time to evaluate your mineral program and determine if the supplements you are using are meeting the needs of your cattle. It is often stated that a mineral is formulated for a region, but there can be significant variations in minerals from one side of your ranch to the other. There is great value in sampling forages when cattle care grazing them to get a better understanding of what minerals are available in the forage. Water also plays an important role in mineral status, so sampling water is important when determining what needs to be provided in the form of a supplement.

National Pork Board to Host First-Ever Swine Innovation Summit

The National Pork Board will host the inaugural Swine Innovation Summit in Indianapolis on September 17, 2019, as a special event, prior to participating in the Forbes AgTech Summit Indianapolis. National Pork Board leaders will attend the Forbes AgTech Summit, held on September 18 and 19, as part of its ongoing support of AgTech innovation and the THRIVE Midwest Challenge. Forbes and SVG Ventures-THRIVE are founding partners of the AgTech Summit and partner with AgriNovus Indiana, Corteva, Elanco Animal Health, Land O’Lakes and Purdue University to provide networking and showcase opportunities in the Midwest.

Today’s food production systems are undergoing explosive change and the animal agriculture industry needs to prepare in order to keep pace. The Swine Innovation Summit will focus on three key drivers of change including emerging technology, new and dynamic business models and consumer behaviors which impact shopping preferences and food choices.

“Today’s consumers literally carry supercomputers in their pockets and have access to information – both accurate and misleading – that they leverage in making on-the-spot purchase decisions,” said Andy Brudtkuhl, National Pork Board’s director of emerging technology. “In the span of a few short hours, we intend to educate today’s pig farmers on what they need to know and how they must adapt to the changing world in which we live.”

As part of its mandate to support pork research, promotion and education, the National Pork Board is offering the conference free of charge to pig farmers, swine veterinarians, authorized academics and allied industry. Interested attendees can see the agenda of the Swine Innovation Summit and register here.

The National Pork Board became a THRIVE Corporate Innovation Partner with SVG Ventures in 2018 with the intention to connect world-class technology to the swine industry. The first annual Swine Innovation Summit is a collaborative effort between the National Pork Board and SVG Ventures-THRIVE to highlight entrepreneurs as it launches the THRIVE Swine Startup Showcase specifically for pork producers and swine industry partners.

 “Our ultimate goal is to drive innovation and to solve critical challenges facing the agriculture industry in the Midwest today and our expanding partnership with National Pork Board reflects this vision,” said John Hartnett, CEO SVG Ventures.

The five finalists hand-selected to pitch on stage at the Swine Innovation Summit are BinSentry, Hog Wash, ProteoSense, SwineTech and Teichos Labs. The summit is focused on developing strategic solutions to improve swine farming sustainability practices of reducing land and water usage, lowering livestock carbon footprint, improving food safety, and protecting animal welfare.

“Changing food production practices also includes technology that is disrupting not only how food is produced, but how it is transported, presented and sold to unknowing consumers,” Brudtkuhl said. “Understand, this is a trillion-dollar industry and it has never been more important to be ahead of emerging trends.”

U.S. Pork Producers Celebrate Trade Agreement with Japan

The National Pork Producers Council today celebrated a U.S. trade agreement with Japan that, once implemented, will place it back on a level playing field with international competitors in one of its most important export markets. The agreement was announced at the G7 summit in France during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

"We thank the Trump administration for negotiating a trade agreement with Japan, a market that represented 25 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year," said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. and president of the National Pork Producers Council. "We look forward to rapid implementation of the agreement as international competitors are currently taking U.S. pork market share through more favorable access," he said.

"The United States produces the safest, highest-quality and most affordable pork in the world," added Herring. "It is the preference of many Japanese customers and we look forward to competing on a level playing field again."

Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, estimates exports to Japan will grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years as a result of the United States pork industry getting market access in Japan as favorable as its competitors.

U.S. pork is highly dependent on exports, shipping more than 25 percent of total production to foreign markets. Other NPPC trade priorities include ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement, which preserves zero-tariff pork trade in North America, and resolving trade disputes with China that will enable U.S. pork producers to capitalize on an unprecedented sales opportunity with the world's largest pork-consuming nation.

NCBA Hails Announcement of Increased Access to the Japanese Market

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Jennifer Houston today issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s announcement for increased market access to Japan, the top export market for U.S. beef.

“Today is an exciting day for America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen. President Trump and his trade team have delivered another great victory for the U.S. beef industry by expanding market access to Japan, our top export market. Last year, Japanese consumers purchased over $2 billion of U.S. beef, accounting for roughly one-quarter of overall U.S. beef exports. Removing the massive 38.5 percent tariff on U.S. beef will level the playing field in Japan, and we are very thankful to President Trump and his trade team for continuing to fight on behalf of America’s ranching families.”

USMEF Statement on U.S.-Japan Trade Announcement

Today President Trump announced an agreement in principle that will greatly improve access for U.S. red meat in Japan - the largest value destination for U.S. pork and beef exports. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued this statement:

This announcement is tremendous news for U.S. farmers and ranchers, and for everyone in the red meat supply chain, because it will level the playing field for U.S. pork and beef in the world's most competitive red meat import market. It is also a very positive development for our customer base in Japan, which USMEF and our industry partners have spent decades building. These customers have been very loyal to U.S. pork and beef, but our exports to Japan could not reach their full potential under Japan's current tariff structure.

USMEF thanks the Trump administration for prioritizing trade negotiations with Japan, and especially the officials at USTR and USDA who worked tirelessly to secure this agreement. Favorable access to Japan is a major win, not only for the U.S. red meat industry but for all of U.S. agriculture and for our nation's rural economy.

Ricketts: Japan Trade Agreement “Vital” for Beef State Farmers & Ranchers

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe of Japan had reached an initial agreement on key parts of a U.S.-Japan trade deal.

“For Nebraska, our trade relationship with Japan is one of our most important,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Japan is Nebraska’s number four export market, largest direct international investor, and largest international market for beef, pork, and eggs.  Thank you to President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for working with our friends in Japan on crafting a trade deal.  Getting this trade deal done and lowering tariffs for our beef and pork is vital for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers as well as our Japanese customers.”


Japan is Nebraska’s fourth largest export market, with over $1.1 billion worth of exports in 2017.  The country is Nebraska’s largest direct international investor with Japanese companies employing about 9,400 people in Nebraska.  They are Nebraska’s number one international customer for beef, pork, eggs and number two for ag exports overall, corn, and wheat.
·       Beef:  $412.1 million – #1 market
·       Pork:  $262.7 million – #1 market
·       Corn: $242.4 million – #2 market
·       Soybeans and Soybean Products: $78.5 million
·       Eggs: $21.2 million – #1 market
·       Wheat: $17.8 million – #2 market

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Progress on U.S., Japan Trade Deal

“Today’s news that the U.S. and Japan are moving closer to securing a bi-lateral trade deal is great news for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, especially our beef and pork producers. Japan is a critical market for Nebraska and one that we’ve needed to find a way to better tap into since the U.S. opted not to be a part of the larger Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.”

“Since those CPTPP countries have moved forward, the U.S. has been on the outside looking in on a trade deal in which Japan offers lower tariff rates for a variety of agriculture products including beef and pork coming from partnering countries. While we’re anxious to learn more of the specifics of the pending bi-lateral U.S., Japan deal, any agreement that opens the door for greater market access and puts our farmers and ranchers on a more competitive playing field with producers around the globe is major step forward.”

Fischer Statement on Preliminary U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a preliminary trade deal involving agriculture:

“Japan is one of Nebraska’s largest trading partners. This preliminary deal would bring great opportunities to Nebraska farmers and ranchers, and I’m pleased to see President Trump working to fulfill his promises to provide them with more certainty. I look forward to continuing to work with this administration to expand market access for our state’s agricultural products.”

As part of the trade deal, which both leaders expect to sign at next month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, Japan will make substantial purchases of surplus U.S. corn and will also increase imports of beef and pork.


Nebraska Cattlemen Comments on Recent Japan Trade Agreement

Mike Drinnin, Nebraska Cattlemen President

Nebraska Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s recent announcement for increased market access to Japan, the leading export market for Nebraska beef.

“The importance of Japan’s market to Nebraska’s livestock industry is beyond significant. Japan is the leading export destination for Nebraska beef exports with a total value of $412.1 million in 2018. Right now, our leading competitor in the Japanese beef market is Australia, who already has a free trade agreement in place. This gives our top competitor a significant tariff advantage. Levelling the playing field in this key export market would directly benefit Nebraska’s livestock producers

Iowa Cattlemen applaud Japanese Trade Agreement

News that the U.S. and Japan have reached a tentative trade deal is cause for celebration in Iowa’s cattle industry.

“Japan is the largest value export market for U.S. beef, responsible for about a quarter of all exports. That is despite an incredible tariff disadvantage compared to our competitors,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

President Trump announced over the weekend that a tentative agreement has been reached between the two countries, which will lower tariffs on U.S. beef and pork, leveling the playing field for U.S. beef with countries like Australia. The trade agreement is expected to be signed in September.

Earlier this year, Japan eliminated a non-tariff barrier to U.S. beef, as well. Between 2003 and May of 2019, beef from cattle aged 30 months or older was not allowed into Japan.

Japanese customers, like many other international consumers, value variety meats like tongue and offal, which are not in high demand in the United States.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Japan Agreement

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding the new trade agreement between the United States and Japan:

“Japan is a significant market for United States agriculture exports, making today a good day for American agriculture. By removing existing barriers for our products, we will be able to sell more to the Japanese markets. At the same time we will able to close gaps to better allow us to compete on a level playing field with our competitors. I thank President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for their constant support of America’s farmers and ranchers and their hard work negotiating better trade deals around the globe.”

U.S. Grains Council Statement On Japan Agreement In Principle

President and CEO Ryan LeGrand

"The U.S. Grains Council is encouraged by the news of an agreement in principle between the U.S. and Japan on agricultural market access. While there are details yet to be worked out, lowering market access barriers with one of our most valuable and loyal grain buyers is a critical win-win.

"Combined with reductions or eliminations in agricultural tariffs that coincide with those under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-Japan EPA), a new agreement with Japan will allow our farmers a level playing field with our competitors.

"Japan is a deeply valued trading partner for U.S. grain farmers, currently the second largest buyer of U.S. corn and a significant buyer of U.S. sorghum and U.S. barley for food and feed purposes. Japan is also a partner with which we hope to build a growing ethanol market.

"We look forward to reviewing the final provisions announced this weekend and continue to support the completion of a comprehensive agreement that will include the enhanced sanitary and phytosanitary, good regulatory practices and precedent-setting biotechnology provisions strengthened under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA)."

Soy Growers Pleased with Japan Trade Deal News

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased with news over the weekend that the Administration has reached an agreement with Japan, a top 10 export market for soybeans.

In a statement released Sunday, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “By removing existing barriers for our products, we will be able to sell more to the Japanese markets. At the same time, we will be able to close gaps to better allow us to compete on a level playing field with our competitors.”

ASA agrees with the Secretary’s sentiments and appreciates the administration moving forward with this bilateral agreement.

Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association (ASA), spoke on behalf of the association, saying, “We have repeatedly stressed this past year during the trade war with China that we would like the administration to work hard on existing and new free trade agreements (FTAs), so we are definitely pleased to hear that the President and his team have heard ASA and other farm groups by working on this deal. Along with more stability for soybean exports to Japan, this FTA also brings potential to increase pork and beef exports; a value-add opportunity for soybeans and way to create more jobs here in the U.S.”

Soybeans and soy products are America’s leading agricultural export with an export value of more than $28 billion last year. More than 60% of America’s soy crop is exported globally.


The National Corn Growers Association today welcomed the announcement that the United States and Japan have reached an agreement in principle that sets the stage for increased market access for American agriculture products in Japan.

“This is very encouraging news,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “Japan is the second-largest purchaser of U.S. corn and has been an important, longstanding trading partner with America’s corn farmers. We hope the next stage of negotiations are successful in enhancing rules of trade and building on this strong relationship.”

Chrisp said NCGA is continuing conversations with the Trump Administration to learn more details on what specifically Sunday’s announcement will mean for America’s corn farmers.

The U.S.-Japan announcement follows recent Administrative actions that have added to growing economic concerns across rural America. On Friday, the Chinese government announced it would levy an additional ten percent tariff on U.S. products, including corn and ethanol, in response to President Trump’s recent increase in tariffs on Chinese products. And earlier this month President Trump approved ethanol waivers to big oil companies, significantly reducing demand for corn.

“An agreement with Japan is an achievement NCGA has long advocated for and a much-needed breakthrough amid some challenging times,” Chrisp said. “There is more work to do. Moving forward, it’s important the Administration continue efforts to gain market access for U.S. products and work to reaffirm its commitment to renewable fuels.”

Wheat Industry Welcomes U.S. - Japan Trade Deal

Yesterday, President Trump announced a trade agreement in principle between the United States and Japan that will keep exports of U.S. wheat flowing to a very large and crucial market for U.S. farmers.

  “We are very happy that this agreement will end the growing competitive cost advantage that Canadian and Australian wheat imports got under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement,” said U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Chairman and Paulding, Ohio, farmer Doug Goyings. “We want to say thank you to the negotiators at the U.S. Trade Representative office and at the USDA trade and foreign affairs office for working so hard to prevent more export losses for farmers like me.”

  “We applaud the Administration for completing this much needed trade deal with Japan,” stated National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President and Lavon, Tex., farmer Ben Scholz. “This is a huge win for those of us who grow wheat and all U.S. farmers and ranchers.”

  “Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud and USDA Under Secretary Ted McKinney deserve special recognition for their efforts,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “They immediately understood what was at stake for wheat farmers without a trade deal and made this outcome a priority. We also thank government officials and our flour miller customers in Japan for their forward-thinking approach to the situation.”

  U.S. wheat farmers in partnership with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service have helped build a strong demand among Japan’s flour millers for several classes of U.S. wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest to the Northern and Central Plains.

  However, when the CPTPP was implemented Dec. 30, 2018, without the United States, the effective tariffs on imported Canadian and Australian wheat started to decline. Locked out of the agreement, U.S. wheat imports would have become less and less cost competitive to the point that Japan’s flour millers would have no other choice than to buy the lower cost wheat from the CPTPP member countries.

  The new agreement helps protect U.S. exports that represents about 50 percent of the sophisticated and demanding Japanese wheat market, with average annual sales of about 3 million metric tons that are currently worth about $700 million per year.

  USW and NAWG believe that resolving such trade issues can again lift the rural economy by opening new markets for our wheat and other agricultural exports and increasing access in existing markets. The organizations would now welcome new trade negotiations such as with countries in the rapidly growing Southeast Asian and South American regions.

Progress on Japan Negotiations Good News

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“America’s farmers and ranchers are pleased to hear that the U.S. and Japan may be close to a trade deal that includes agriculture. This is much-needed good news on the agricultural trade front.

“Top U.S. agricultural exports to Japan currently include beef, corn, pork, soybeans and wheat. We appreciate the Administration’s work to secure greater access for these farm goods and others.

“We look forward to reviewing the details of the agreement.”    

Growth Energy and Biofuels Producers Call for Action at the White House

Today, Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, called on the Trump Administration to move swiftly to restore biofuel demand lost due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continued abuse of small refinery exemptions. Growth Energy members, representing plants across the heartland, also sent a letter to the White House urging immediate action.

“Our members and farm suppliers need the White House to make this right,” said Skor. “The EPA must immediately repair the damage from abusive refinery exemptions and get lost gallons back into the marketplace before more rural communities lose hope for a comeback."

In their letter to President Trump, ethanol producers reinforced how important this issue is to rural communities where plants are closing each week and millions of bushels of grain are falling in value.

According to the letter, “…special exemptions have destroyed billions of gallons of U.S. biofuel demand. Many plants have idled production or shut their doors, and annual U.S. ethanol consumption fell for the first time in two decades…Each time a plant idles production, farmers are notified that biofuel producers can no longer accept grain deliveries, and the impact has been devastating for communities already on the edge.”

Internal White House Documents: EPA Ignored Trump Administration Recommendations to Redistribute Small Refinery Waived Volumes

Documents obtained by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) show that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored strong recommendations from within the Trump Administration to redistribute Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligations lost to small refinery exemptions in the proposed rule for 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs).

According to the documents, which detail the White House Office of Management and Budget’s interagency review of the 2020 RVO proposal, some reviewers raised serious concerns about EPA’s failure to redistribute exempted biofuel blending volumes to non-exempt parties. Reviewers recommended that EPA include prospective redistribution of waived volumes in the 2020 proposal and also suggested a method for addressing a court order to restore 500 million gallons of blending obligations inappropriately waived in 2016. In the end, EPA ignored these recommendations.

“The revelations in these documents will only exacerbate the outrage and anger in farm country over EPA’s abuse of the small refinery waiver provision,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The documents clearly show that EPA knowingly ignored strong recommendations from within the Administration to redistribute blending volumes that were exempted via small refinery waivers. EPA also disregarded recommendations to address a court order to restore 500 million gallons of lost blending obligations from 2016.”

According to comments from one of the interagency reviewers, “EPA … put a zero (0) in for projected volume of gasoline for exempt small refineries and projected volume of diesel for exempt small refineries, ensuring your projected totals are not met and all actual outcomes or resulting biofuel requirements are biased to one side, lower.…we recommend conducting an analysis based on expected conditions at small refineries and the historic issuance of exemptions. This would provide a more accurate estimate of volumes of gasoline and diesel for exempt small refineries.”

Reviewers suggested EPA include a projection of exempted gasoline and diesel of 12.5 billion gallons in the RVO formula, which would effectively ensure lost blending volumes are redistributed to non-exempt parties. The suggested projection of 2020 exempted volume is very close to the actual average exempted volume of 12.8 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel during the 2016-2018 period.

To ensure the statutory purpose of the RFS is honored and exempted volumes were reallocated, reviewers recommended that “…[RVO] percentages should be adjusted to incorporate projected gasoline and diesel exempted through small refinery waivers to ensure consistency of your analysis throughout the document.”

In response, EPA essentially blew off the reviewers’ recommendations. The Agency curtly responded that “The approach taken in this proposal is consistent with the approach first laid out in 2011 and followed since, and we have not proposed to revisit it. Whether to revisit this issue is a matter already under review at Agency leadership levels and we anticipate discussing it further while this action is under review.”

“The solution to the small refinery waiver problem was right in front of EPA’s face the whole time, yet they chose to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” Cooper said. “The only way to begin calming the anxiety and aggravation in rural America is for EPA to immediately announce that it will resolve these issues in the upcoming 2020 RVO final rule. EPA must adopt the prospective reallocation approach recommended during the interagency review process in the 2020 rule, as well as include the 500-million-gallon remand. Anything short of that will be viewed by farmers and biofuel producers as another sellout to the oil industry and another kick in the teeth to the hardworking families in the Heartland.”

Reviewers also scolded EPA for proposing to ignore a D.C. Circuit Court order to restore 500 million gallons of blending requirements illegally waived by EPA in 2016, stating, “…you reject the ACE court remand because you conclude there is no ‘room’ to incorporate it, knowing that the stated RVO will not be achieved because of the issuance, and lack of incorporation of, small refinery waivers.”

EPA’s response? “This issue and our response to the ACE remand are the subject of ongoing discussions.”

EPA’s brazen disregard for recommendations and advice on SREs from other quarters of the Administration is not new, Cooper added. Only a short time ago, the Renewable Fuels Association and others pointed out how EPA ignored recommendations of the Department of Energy when it came to specific refinery exemptions.

Sorghum Checkoff to Host Over 65 International Buyers at Export Sorghum

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program, in coordination with the U.S. Grains Council, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board, is hosting international grain buyers from eight countries who are currently purchasing or are interested in U.S. grain sorghum. The Export Sorghum event is a one-day, educational conference in Dallas,Texas, where buyers will learn more about sorghum markets, trade opportunities, contract negotiation, logistics and U.S. sorghum production.

"The Sorghum Checkoff is pleased to provide this one-of-a-kind event as exports serve as the largest market for U.S. sorghum," said Florentino Lopez, Sorghum Checkoff executive director. "Export Sorghum serves as our opportunity to share the value of U.S. sorghum in new ways with potential buyers and continue fostering existing relationships."

Following the conference, several teams will tour parts of the U.S. to experience sorghum production and the value chain firsthand while developing relationships with U.S. sorghum farmers and suppliers.

"Bringing members of each part of the sorghum value chain together is key to our mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives,” said U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “The Council is pleased to be working with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program to develop relationships that promise to improve the flow of sorghum globally for U.S farmers."

Export Sorghum is centered around creating networking opportunities while providing buyers with information to help them make sorghum the smart choice for their feed grain solutions.

"We are proud to be a sponsor for Export Sorghum as it is essential for our farmers to have access to markets," said Jesse McCurry, Kansas Sorghum executive director.  "We appreciate all of our buyers from around the world and the increasing opportunities we have to help customers understand the exciting possibilities of sorghum."

The Sorghum Checkoff is dedicated to building strong relationships between buyers and sellers that drive U.S. sorghum sales around the world. Sorghum has proven to be a reliable ingredient across several industries including swine, poultry, beef, dairy and human food, which fulfills the Sorghum Checkoff's mission to reveal the potential and versatility of sorghum through increased shared value between farmers and end-users worldwide.

"Export Sorghum is extremely beneficial for both our growers and the international buyers," said Wayne Cleveland, Texas Sorghum executive director. "We want this to be an educational process, so across the gamut, we've provided those opportunities through the conference featuring sorghum experts and tours in Texas."

To learn more about Export Sorghum, visit SorghumCheckoff.com/export-sorghum.

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