Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tuesday August 20 Ag News

Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour Releases Nebraska Results
Day Two—Jeff Wilson, Pro Farmer Senior Market Analyst

There were few good or bad surprises from Nebraska. Most fields seemed to have adequate moisture with a few needing a drink soon to sustain yield potential. Most corn and soybeans are mature enough that frost risk is limited given normal frost dates. A welcome sight to see for the Nebraska producer has enjoyed reduced crop damage from hail and wind, which have become a normal annual occurrence.  Sure, there are fields with weather damage, but the crops are still headed for about average yields.

Hats off to our 2019 scouts. We took more than 300 samples of both corn and soybean fields in Nebraska the past two days and head for western third of Iowa for crop sampling on Wednesday. The Nebraska Corn yield came in at 172.55 bushels per acre (BPA), down 3.7% from last year’s Tour data. That compared with a 3.1% drop projected by USDA in August to 186 BPA against last year’s government final forecast. Corn yield potential measured the past two days is actually up 2.9% from the prior three-year tour average of 167.7 BPA.

We measured irrigated corn on 41% of the samples this year, close to average. But about 60% of the Nebraska corn crop is under irrigation which raises USDA forecast tally above what we measure each year. The story here is that the Irrigated corn is good but not great which does not pull the tour average higher. Corn on dryland fields is better and that puts a floor under the state yield. Yields measured this week in Nebraska ranged from a low of 62 BPA to 273 BPA. That’s a wide range and the lack of more 250-plus yields caps the upside potential from strong irrigated crops. Part of the reduced topside is the late plantings as farmers struggled to get crops planted in a timely fashion. But summer weather has been ideal for pollination and grain fill. Still the key to reaching full yield potential is more sunshine, warm temperatures and lower humidity and rain. This crop looks susceptible to late, yield robbing diseases that restrict movement of sugars and starch into kernels. 

Soybean yield potential still appears preliminary with weather the next several weeks the key to big beans or small bean.  It is unlikely pods counts move higher from this week’s measurements. Wednesday and Tuesday tour results measured 1,210 pods in a three-foot by three-foot area this week, that that is down 3.7% from what we measured a year ago and down 0.6% from the prior three-year average. USDA is forecasting yields will drop 1.7% from a year ago.  There are signs of disease pressure just starting to increase, offsetting the positive impact of showers in parts of the state the past several weeks. Our tour range for soybean pods is wide at 227 to 3,121 pods in a square area. Soybean need warm temperatures at nigh and during the day, low humidity and more sunshine to reach yield potential.

The late start of Nebraska corn and soybeans planting this year and how that impacts on final corn and soybean yields will not be know until the combines roll this fall. Soybeans have benefitted from “just in time rain.”

Wednesday will focus on collecting data in the western third of Iowa and we will provide updates in Spencer, Iowa


Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

If producers will be chopping corn silage this year, they need to do it right and time the harvest correctly. Corn development and maturity is highly variable this year due to all the problems with spring rains.   If you always chop silage on about the same date, how will that affect your corn silage?

Harvest timing is critical for success.   Timing needs to be based on moisture content of the silage.   Silage chopped too early and wetter than seventy percent moisture can run or seep and it often produces a sour, less palatable fermentation.   We often get this wet silage when we rush to salvage wind or hail damaged corn or when we chop late-planted corn with immature grain.   Live green stalks, leaves, and husks almost always are more than eighty percent moisture, so wait until these tissues start to dry before chopping.

In our region, normal corn is often chopped for silage too dry, below sixty percent moisture.   Dry silage is difficult to pack adequately to force out air.   This silage heats, energy and protein digestibility declines, and spoilage increases.   If your silage usually is warm or steams during winter, it probably was too dry when chopped.

Many corn hybrids are between 60 to 70 percent moisture after corn kernels dent and reach the one-half to three-quarters milk line.   This guide isn’t perfect for all hybrids, though, so check your own fields independently.

Corn kernels in silage between black layer and half milk line are more digestible.   Drier, more mature corn grain tends to pass through the animal more often without digesting unless kernels are well  processed.   Also, older leaves and stalks are less digestible.

Chop silage at the proper moisture level and the outcome will be better feed and better profits.


Following corn silage harvest, the ground can lay bare for seven to nine months.   Instead, consider planting some crops to grow and cover it until next season.

After silage harvest, bare ground has two things working against it.   One is exposure to wind and water erosion.   And two, it isn’t growing anything.   Cover crops might help you overcome both problems.

What should you plant depends primarily on what you want to achieve with your cover crop.   For example, hairy vetch and winter peas are good cover crops if you want to improve your soil by planting a legume that will produce 30 to 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre for next year’s crop.   Or maybe use a deep-rooted radish to breakup some hardpans.

If you still hoping for some feed this fall, then oats, spring triticale and barley, annual ryegrass, and turnips might be better choices because these plants have the greatest forage yield potential yet this fall.   Spring oats, triticale, and barleys also will die over winter so they won’t interfere with next year’s crop.   But, dead residue from these spring cereals is not very durable, so it provides less effective soil protection and for a shorter duration.

For better soil protection, winter rye is the best choice among the cereals.   And cereal rye can provide abundant grazable growth early next spring to get cows off of hay sooner.   Wheat and triticale also can be good cover crops.   Of course, wheat then can be harvested later for grain while triticale makes very good late spring forage.

What is becoming especially popular is planting a mixture of several types of plants to reap some of the benefits of each one.  Cover crops can preserve or even improve your soil, and can be useful forages as well.   Consider them following your early harvests.

Following Tyson Holcomb Plant Fire, Fischer Calls for Commodity Market Oversight and Flexibility for Livestock Haulers

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, wrote letters to Chairman Heath Tarbert of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and Administrator Raymond P. Martinez of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration seeking to mitigate the effects of a fire at a Tyson beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, on Nebraska agriculture. Specifically, Senator Fischer called for commodity market oversight and flexibility for livestock haulers:

“With already high margins and heavy supplies, the Tyson fire could not have come at a worse time for cattlemen and the beef industry. This is in addition to an already difficult year that has brought extreme weather events and looming trade uncertainty… Accordingly, I ask that the CFTC remain vigilant in their oversight of this market to ensure that market participants do not use uncertainty to price gouge, manipulate, or take advantage of the burdensome obstacles our producers are currently facing,” wrote Senator Fischer to Chairman Tarbert.

“Due to this situation, drivers will need to haul live cattle to different facilities hundreds of miles away and cross state lines to continue processing. It is imperative that cattle processing continues and other plants can absorb the lost processing capacity. Cattle are scheduled to be processed months in advance and the cattle currently scheduled to be processed in the Holcomb plant cannot wait in feedyards indefinitely – they must be transported to different facilities,” wrote Senator Fischer to Administrator Martinez.

The fire at the Kansas plant, which operated at approximately 6,000 head/day or 375 head/hour, occurred on Friday, August 9th. This incident has the potential to cause disruption and volatility in the beef market.

Improved transmission needed to reap benefits of renewable energy, according to white paper

Clean power commitments have increased at the county and city levels, with 11 counties and 104 cities nationwide pledging to 100 percent clean energy goals at the end of 2018. As more renewable energy is developed across the nation, regulators and policymakers must prepare for the changing electric power landscape, according to a white paper released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Capacity for Change: The Role of Transmission Infrastructure in Energy Transition” takes a look at the growing renewable energy industry and an electric transmission system that is evolving to take advantage of wind and solar energy resources.

“While transmission improvements have allowed for additional development of renewable energy resources, much of the new grid capacity has already been occupied,” said Lu Nelsen, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the report. “Subsequent upgrades are likely necessary for the electric grid to adapt to the changing landscape.”

For more than a decade, regional transmission planners have worked to address shortfalls in the electric transmission system, and to create a network that can connect additional generation to the grid. Estimates point to 70 to 220 gigawatts of new electric generation required as early as 2030, according to the report. The author examines efforts that improve reliability across the transmission network and reduce potential bottlenecks on the system.

“A robust transmission system will be essential to reap the benefits of renewable energy resources,” Nelsen said. “To address the challenges of a changing electric power sector, regulators and policymakers must plan for an improved electric transmission network that will ensure renewable generation can continue to provide benefits to rural communities while offering opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and meet demands for clean energy.”

For more information and to view “Capacity for Change: The Role of Transmission Infrastructure in Energy Transition,” visit

Cherokee Pasture Restoration and Monarch Habitat Field Day Sept. 10

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will host a pasture restoration and monarch habitat field day Sept. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Nathan Anderson’s farm near Cherokee. The event is free, open to the whole family and includes a complimentary meal.

The field day will begin on the Anderson Farm where host farmer, Anderson, will lead the group on a walking tour to the pasture being restored to native species of grasses and forbs to help improve the pasture performance and livestock health. Anderson will share information on how he began the restoration process and the resources he used, as well as the benefits and challenges he has faced during the process. Adam Janke, ISU Extension and Outreach wildlife specialist, will discuss opportunities for wildlife habitat around the farm including establishing monarch habitat and the impacts of pasture restoration on bird, mammal and other wildlife in the area. The field day will conclude with a complimentary meal back at the farm site.

The field day will be held at Nathan Anderson’s farm, 1950 520th St., Cherokee. From Cherokee, head east on IA 3/530th St. for three miles. Turn north on T Ave./M10 for 1 mile. Turn left on 520th St. for 1/2 mile and the farm will be located on the south side of the road. The event is free and open to the whole family, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Please RSVP to Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or

For mobility accommodations to the pasture, please contact Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or by Thursday, Sept. 5.

Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops are supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit

RFA Statement on EPA and Demand Destruction from Refinery Exemptions

Today, an EPA spokesperson said there was "zero evidence" of demand destruction for ethanol due to the numerous refinery exemptions allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The following is a statement from RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

“To suggest that there is ‘zero evidence’ of ethanol and corn demand destruction from small refinery waivers is as insulting as it is absurd. On the same day that EPA made this asinine assertion, two more ethanol plants announced they are idling production. At least 15 ethanol plants have now shut down or idled since EPA began its refiner bailout bonanza last year, and more than 2,500 jobs have already been affected. Ethanol production and demand continue to slide, prices continue to sink, and margins continue to bleed red. Meanwhile, the waivers are eroding corn demand, with USDA cutting its estimate of corn use for ethanol by 225 million bushels—equivalent to erasing demand for the entire Michigan corn crop. Farm bankruptcies and debt are on the rise, and farm income is plunging. Yet, EPA pretends nothing is wrong. Rome is burning, while EPA plays Nero’s fiddle.”

Growth Energy Responds to EPA Claim of Zero Demand Destruction

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) claim that the recent trend of issuing small refinery exemptions has had no impact on ethanol producers:

“The latest reports say President Trump ‘felt misled’ about the EPA’s most recent batch of small refinery exemptions. That’s hardly a surprise. The EPA spent months trying to paper over the devastating impact these refinery handouts have had on farm communities and rural workers in America’s biofuel sector. They can’t hide the simple fact that dozens of biofuel plants have cut production, and ethanol consumption fell for the first time in 20 years in the wake of these exemptions. Closures in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska are only the beginning.

“Just today, the world’s largest ethanol producer closed a major plant in Indiana and cut production across seven states. Hundreds of millions of gallons of production are offline, and hundreds of millions of bushels of grain are falling in value, just as farmers face the worst economic conditions in a generation.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard creates an incentive that opens the market to biofuel blends, including the E15 that President Trump personally embraced. These exemptions destroy that incentive, pure and simple. You cannot carve billions of gallons from America’s biofuel targets and still keep this administration’s promises to farm families. EPA needs to account for these lost gallons immediately and start repairing the damage before more rural communities lose hope for a comeback.”

Oil Bailouts Force POET to Lower Production

POET announced today it will idle production at its bioprocessing facility in Cloverdale, IN due to recent decisions by the Administration regarding SREs. The process to idle the plant will take several weeks, after which the plant will cease processing of over 30 million bushels of corn annually and hundreds of local jobs will be impacted.

POET has reduced production at half of its biorefineries, with the largest drops taking place in Iowa and Ohio. As a result, numerous jobs will be consolidated across POET’s 28 biorefineries and corn processing will drop by an additional 100 million bushels across Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard was designed to increase the use of clean, renewable biofuels and generate grain demand for farmers. Our industry invested billions of dollars based on the belief that oil could not restrict access to the market and EPA would stand behind the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Unfortunately, the oil industry is manipulating the EPA and is now using the RFS to destroy demand for biofuels, reducing the price of commodities and gutting rural economies in the process,” said POET Chairman and CEO, Jeff Broin.

The RFS authorizes small refinery exemptions for refiners that (1) process less than 75,000 barrels of petroleum a day and (2) demonstrate “disproportionate economic hardship.” Over the past two years, the EPA has issued waivers to refineries owned by ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other large oil companies—none of which are small and none of which have economic hardship.

EPA’s mismanagement of SREs has created an artificial cap on domestic demand for ethanol and driven RIN values to near-zero, which weakens the incentive for retailers to offer higher blends. Oil is making billions of dollars, yet still using EPA to stop biofuels growth by handing out hardship waivers to some of the wealthiest companies in the world, in contradiction with President Trump’s public comments. So far, the EPA has cut biofuels demand by 4 billion gallons and reduced demand for corn by 1.4 billion bushels, causing severe damage in rural America.

“POET made strategic decisions to support President Trump’s goal of boosting the farm economy. However, these goals are contradicted by bailouts to oil companies. The result is pain for Midwest farmers and the reduction of hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity across Indiana.” said POET President and COO, Jeff Lautt

The recent announcement of 31 new waivers comes in steep contrast to the President’s roll out of year-round E15 earlier this summer. The SREs are wiping out any near-term growth potential for year-round E15 and challenging the President’s promises made to family farmers and rural communities. The President now has the opportunity to show his leadership on this issue and turnaround the rural economy.

“My long term fear isn’t for the biofuels industry, it’s for rural America. POET can continue to produce ethanol with cheap grain, but we don’t want to lose our family farmers. The EPA has robbed rural America, and it’s time for farmers across the Heartland to fight for their future” said POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin.

Farm Service Agency Expands Payment Options

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is expanding its payment options to now accept debit cards and Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit. These paperless payment options enable FSA customers to pay farm loan payments, measurement service fees, farm program debt repayments and administrative service fees, as well as to purchase aerial maps.

“Our customers have spoken, and we’ve listened,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “Finding ways to improve customer service and efficiency is important for our farmers, ranchers, producers, and forest landowners who work hard for our nation every day. Now, our customers can make electronic payments instantly by stopping in our offices or calling over the phone.”

Previously, only cash, check, money orders and wires were accepted. By using debit cards and ACH debit, transactions are securely processed from the customer’s financial institution through, the U.S. Treasury’s online payment hub. 

While traditional collection methods like cash and paper checks will continue, offering the new alternatives will improve effectiveness and convenience to customers while being more cost effective. In 2017, the average cost to manually process checks, a process that included navigating multiple systems, cost USDA more than $4.6 million. The expanded payment options will cut the time employees take processing payments by 75 percent. 

“At USDA, we’re focused on modernization to improve customer service,” said Northey. “If half of our customers use these new payment options, we’ll see a $1 million savings in one year. These new payment methods are one part of a much larger effort to expand options for our customers, as well as to make our services more effective and efficient.”

Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a multi-phased roll-out of new payment options for USDA customers. Ultimately, payment option flexibility will be extended to allow farmers and producers to use debit cards and ACH debit payments to make payments for all FSA programs, including farm storage facility loan repayments, farm loan facility fees, marketing assistance loan repayments, Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) administrative fees and premiums and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) fees. 

NMPF Urges Farmers to Sign Up for Dairy Margin Coverage as Deadline Approaches

With one month left until the 2019 sign-up for the Dairy Margin Coverage program closes, the National Milk Producers Federation urged all dairy farmers to enroll in the program, which guarantees a payout for cash-strapped producers in 2019.

The DMC, a retooling of dairy programs included in the 2018 farm bill, is guaranteed to pay all producers enrolled at the maximum $9.50/cwt. coverage level for every month of production through June, with another payment predicted for July, according to USDA data and forecasts.  Enrollment numbers released yesterday indicate that 63% of dairy operations with an established DMC production history have enrolled so far for this year. This represents nearly 17,000 producers nationwide.

“Dairy farmers prefer to get their income from the market, but much-needed payments for the first half of this year provide welcome certainty for farmers,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO. “DMC offers better support for dairy farmers than its predecessor, the Margin Protection Program. It’s worthwhile for every farmer.”

The DMC, created in the 2018 Farm Bill, is a much more robust safety net for dairy producers of all sizes than the Margin Protection Program, which has been discontinued. DMC improvements include:
-    Affordable higher coverage levels that permit all dairy producers to insure margins up to $9.50/cwt. on their Tier 1 (first five million pounds) production history, a higher level than previous programs.
-    A new option for producers to receive a 25 percent discount on their premiums if they agree to lock in their coverage for the five-year period of this Farm Bill.  However, producers will be allowed to pay their premiums annually even if they elect the five-year discount.
-    The feed-cost formula has been improved to include dairy quality hay values, which better reflects the true cost of feeding dairy cows.
-    Affordable $5.00 coverage that lowers premium costs by roughly 88 percent. This creates more meaningful catastrophic-type coverage at a reasonable cost for larger producers without distorting the market signals needed to balance supply with demand.

Tyson and White Castle Weigh in on Alternative Proteins Sept. 13

Representatives of Tyson Foods, White Castle restaurants and MotivBase ethnography research firm will join The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), Fri. Sept. 13, from 1 to 2 p.m. CDT, for CFI Live “The Protein Play: Emerging Trends and Consumer Appetites for Protein Alternatives.”

The free webcam event will address the rapid evolution of protein alternatives, the profile of interested consumers, cultural forces at play and what’s next for both consumers and those in the protein complex.

Moderated by CFI CEO Charlie Arnot, the panel features David Ervin, vice president of alternative proteins, Tyson Foods; Shannon Tolliver, social responsibility and environmental sustainability manager, White Castle; Jamie Richardson, vice president of corporate relations, White Castle; and Ujwal Arkalgud, co-founder and CEO of MotivBase, cultural anthropologist and author.

To register, click on the CFI Live link at

First-Ever Report of Antimicrobial Use across U.S. Broiler Chickens and Turkeys

U.S. Poultry & Egg Association announces the release of the U.S. poultry industry’s first-ever report quantifying antimicrobial use on broiler chicken and turkey farms. The new report shows dramatic reductions of turkey and broiler chicken antimicrobial use over a five-year timeframe. As part of its commitment to the transparency and sustainability of a safe food supply, the poultry industry aims to strike a balance between keeping poultry flocks healthy and the responsible use of antimicrobials, especially those medically important to human health.

Under the research direction of Dr. Randall Singer, DVM, PhD, of Mindwalk Consulting Group, LLC, this report represents a five-year set of data collected from 2013 to 2017 regarding the use of antimicrobials in U.S. broiler chickens and turkeys throughout their lifetime, from hatchery to day of harvest. It was prepared through a systematic collection of on-farm antimicrobial use data to capture the disease indications and routes of administration through which antimicrobials were given to the poultry.

Given several key differences among broiler chickens and turkeys – namely differences in weight, life span, susceptibility to lifetime illness and the number of effective medical therapies available – the data from broiler chickens and turkeys should neither be combined nor compared.

Key changes among broiler chickens over the five-year period show:
• Broiler chickens receiving antimicrobials in the hatchery decreased from 93% to 17%
• Hatchery gentamicin use decreased approximately 74%
• Medically important in-feed antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 95%. For example: tetracycline 95%, virginiamycin 60%
• Medically important water-soluble antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 72%. For example: penicillin 21%, tetracycline 47%, sulfonamide 72%
• There was a documented shift to the use of antimicrobial drugs that are not considered medically important to humans (e.g., avilamycin and bacitracin BMD)

Key changes among turkeys over the five-year period show:
• Turkeys receiving antimicrobials in the hatchery decreased from 96% to 41%
• Hatchery gentamicin use decreased approximately 42%
• Medically important in-feed antimicrobial use in turkeys decreased: tetracycline 67%
• Medically important water-soluble antimicrobial use decreased substantially. For example: penicillin 42%, tetracycline 28%, lincomycin 46%, neomycin 49%, erythromycin 65%

Antimicrobial use among broiler chickens and turkeys decreased dramatically between 2013 and 2017, and there are a couple of key explanations for this:
• Changes in FDA regulations, which were fully implemented in January 2017, effectively eliminated the use of medically important antimicrobials for production purposes and placed all medically important antimicrobials administered in the feed or water of poultry under veterinary supervision
• A continued focus by poultry companies on disease prevention, thereby reducing the need for antimicrobials
• Improved record-keeping of all antimicrobial administrations, which is a key component of antimicrobial stewardship

Furthermore, the broiler chicken and turkey industries have increased the production of animals raised without antimicrobials.

Participation in this effort was entirely voluntary. The poultry industry recognized the importance of this work and responded. The 2017 data in this report represent more than 7.5 billion chickens (about 90% of annual U.S. chicken production by the major companies on the WATT PoultryUSA list) and 160 million turkeys (about 80% of annual U.S. turkey production by the major companies on the WATT PoultryUSA list).

USPOULTRY Vice President of Research, Dr. John Glisson, DVM, MAM, PhD, affirms, “This research is the first step in determining how antimicrobials are used in the entire poultry production system of the U.S., and to succeed, we need participation from the majority of companies. We couldn’t be more pleased with the response of the poultry industry.”

Glisson cautions, though, that there are still serious bird illnesses (e.g., necrotic enteritis, gangrenous dermatitis and colibacillosis) for which the poultry industry has few effective interventions. And when birds get sick from these diseases, they must receive therapy. He confirms that “driving good antimicrobial stewardship in poultry, as opposed to simple documentation of reduced use, is our end goal for the best outcomes for both the people and the poultry.”

Moving forward in 2019, Dr. Singer will continue the annual collection of data from the broiler chicken and turkey industries and will begin collecting data from the U.S. table egg industry. Glisson anticipates this new data will provide greater clarity about antimicrobial use in individual flocks, stating, “We expect even more detailed data on flock antimicrobial usage and record-keeping in the years ahead, which thoroughly supports USPOULTRY efforts to ensure proper stewardship of medications.”

Bayer and National 4-H Council “Science Matters” Partnership Encourages Interest in Agri-science Education in Classrooms

Education and skills gaps have long been a challenge for the agriculture industry, as the demand for qualified candidates in agricultural science careers has significantly outpaced the pool of applicants with adequate training and education. Bayer, in collaboration with National 4-H Council, today released the results of the second annual Science Matters survey, which explores the opinions of parents, teachers and - new this year - students on the importance of agri-science in high school curriculum.

The 2019 survey confirmed that low awareness of career options in agriculture is a primary factor leading to the limited pool of skilled applicants. In fact, the survey found that although nearly 80 percent of surveyed high school students believe that agricultural science education is important to future success, only 19 percent reported that they are likely to consider a career in agriculture.

One explanation for this disconnect could be a lack of awareness of the diverse opportunities available within the agriculture industry. Only 36 percent of surveyed students reported being familiar with agriculture career choices beyond working on a farm, despite alternative and thriving occupations such as veterinary science, biotechnology, raising and training animals and forestry.

“The 2019 Science Matters study shows a disconnect between students’ perceived value of agricultural science and their awareness of tangible, fulfilling and diverse career opportunities, which presents an enormous opportunity for the agricultural community,” said Lisa Safarian, President, North America Commercial, at the Crop Science Division of Bayer. “These survey results are a call to action for the industry to come together and invest in our youth, educating them and developing their skills in areas where it has been traditionally challenging to identify and recruit a qualified workforce, and highlight the success and impact they can have in a multitude of diverse careers.”

The agriculture industry isn’t alone in recognizing the value in driving awareness and enthusiasm in agricultural careers among students. In fact, the survey found that 92 percent of teachers feel it is important to expose students to agri-science education, up 14 percent from 2018, and teachers feel more prepared than ever to play a role in educating students. More than three-in-five high school science teachers say that they feel qualified to teach agri-science content, a 35 percent increase over 2018 when fewer than half of teachers reported feeling qualified.

Although, like students, parents (90 percent) agree agricultural science education is important, both groups are less likely to believe more of an emphasis should be placed on STEM education in the classroom. While 55 percent of teachers would like to focus more on STEM subjects, only 43 percent of parents and 30 percent of students agree.

“As a teacher with four years of experience educating students and striving to bring complex fields of study like agri-science to life in the classroom, I’ve learned that they absorb information and develop passions around subjects where they understand the real-life implications of the concepts they are learning on paper,” said Kamal Bell, former teacher for Durham Public Schools and current student at North Carolina State University seeking a Doctorate in Agricultural Extension Education. “It is more important than ever for students to have access to hands-on activities that broaden their perspectives about science and agriculture and make tangible their future opportunities for development and impact.”

It is with this enormous opportunity in mind that Bayer and National 4-H Council created Science Matters, an educational outreach program that leverages a variety of strategic and creative programming to pique students’ curiosity about agri-science and STEM education. Fortunately, more than half (52 percent) believe that agri-science is an exciting, creative and interesting subject according to the study, but there is still more to be done to translate this interest into action.

“4-H has totally shaped who I am,” said Addy Battel, winner of the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for Agriculture. “Through initiatives like Science Matters, more students like me will be exposed to STEM education, passion areas and career choices. Sometimes all it takes to inspire people to act is opportunity.”

By launching Science Matters in August 2017, Bayer and National 4-H Council have committed to equip at least 25,000 students from rural, urban and suburban communities with the tools and support they need to deepen their understanding of science. The program contributes to youth development through curricula provided by 4-H to its network of local club leaders; creative initiatives to heighten young people's awareness of the role science plays in their everyday lives; scholarships to attend the 4-H National Youth Summit on Agri-Science; and, engaging with 4-H clubs across the U.S. through community grants and local volunteerism to enhance the STEM education experience.

For more information on Science Matters, visit

Washing Raw Poultry: Our Science, Your Choice

A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that individuals are putting themselves at risk of illness when they wash or rinse raw poultry.

“Cooking and mealtime is a special occasion for all of us as we come together with our families and friends,” said Dr. Mindy Brashears, the USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “However, the public health implications of these findings should be of concern to everyone. Even when consumers think they are effectively cleaning after washing poultry, this study shows that bacteria can easily spread to other surfaces and foods. The best practice is not to wash poultry.”

The results of the observational study showed how easy bacteria can be spread when surfaces are not effectively cleaned and sanitized. The USDA is recommending three easy options to help prevent illness when preparing poultry, or meat, in your home.

1. Significantly decrease your risk by preparing foods that will not be cooked, such as vegetables and salads, BEFORE handling and preparing raw meat and poultry.
-    Of the participants who washed their raw poultry, 60 percent had bacteria in their sink after washing or rinsing the poultry. Even more concerning is that 14 percent still had bacteria in their sinks after they attempted to clean the sink.
-    26 percent of participants that washed raw poultry transferred bacteria from that raw poultry to their ready to eat salad lettuce.

2. Thoroughly clean and sanitize ANY surface that has potentially touched or been contaminated from raw meat and poultry, or their juices.
-    Of the participants that did not wash their raw poultry, 31 percent still managed to get bacteria from the raw poultry onto their salad lettuce.
-    This high rate of cross-contamination was likely due to a lack of effective handwashing and contamination of the sink and utensils.
-    Clean sinks and countertops with hot soapy water and then apply a sanitizer.
-    Wash hands immediately after handling raw meat and poultry. Wet your hands with water, lather with soap and then scrub your hands for 20 seconds.

3. Destroy any illness causing bacteria by cooking meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer.
-    Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts and chops) are safe to eat at 145°F.
-    Ground meats (burgers) are safe to eat at 160°F.
-    Poultry (whole or ground) are safe to eat at 165°F.
-    Washing, rinsing, or brining meat and poultry in salt water, vinegar or lemon juice does not destroy bacteria. If there is anything on your raw poultry that you want to remove, pat the area with a damp paper towel and immediately wash your hands.

“Everyone has a role to play in preventing illness from food,” said Administrator Carmen Rottenberg of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). “Please keep in mind that children, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk. Washing or rinsing raw meat and poultry can increase your risk as bacteria spreads around your kitchen, but not washing your hands for 20 seconds immediately after handling those raw foods is just as dangerous.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that millions of Americans are sickened with foodborne illnesses each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

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