Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday September 30 Ag News


For the week ending September 29, 2019, there were 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 13 short, 79 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 9 short, 83 adequate, and 7 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 56 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dented was 95 percent, near 99 last year and 98 for the five-year average. Mature was 52 percent, well behind 82 last year and 72 average. Harvested was 8 percent, behind 16 last year, and near 11 average.

Soybean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 20 fair, 62 good, and 13 excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 75 percent, behind 91 last year and 84 average. Harvested was 6 percent, behind 25 last year and 17 average.

Winter wheat planted was 71 percent, near 69 last year and 73 average. Emerged was 23 percent, behind 28 last year and 38 average.

Sorghum condition rated 1 percent very poor, 2 poor, 14 fair, 70 good, and 13 excellent. Sorghum coloring was 98 percent, near 97 last year, and equal to average. Mature was 38 percent, well behind 68 last year and 66 average. Harvested was 2 percent, behind 15 last year and 11 average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 8 poor, 27 fair, 57 good, and 7 excellent. Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 95 percent. Harvested was 71 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 14 fair, 62 good, and 20 excellent.


Iowa farmers experienced wet field conditions as rain continued to fall throughout the State, limiting farmers to 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 29, 2019 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field work activities included seeding cover crops; chopping silage; and harvesting hay, seed corn, soybeans and corn for grain.

Topsoil moisture condition was rated 0 percent very short, 4 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 22 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 1 percent very short, 5 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus.

Ninety percent of the corn crop has reached the dented stage or beyond, 17 days behind last year and nearly 2 weeks behind the 5-year average. Thirty-six percent of the crop reached maturity, 18 days behind last year and 2 weeks behind average. Two percent of corn has been harvested for grain, 11 days behind average. Corn condition rated 65 percent good to excellent.

Eighty-three percent of the soybean crop has begun coloring or beyond, nearly 2 weeks behind last year and 9 days behind average. Forty-nine percent of the crop has begun dropping leaves, 2 weeks behind last year and 9 days behind average. Three percent of soybeans have been harvested, 8 days behind average. Soybean condition rated 63 percent good to excellent.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay reached 89 percent, nearly 2 weeks behind average. Pasture condition rated 45 percent good to excellent. Feedlots remain muddy.

Less Than Half of US Corn Crop Mature at End of September

With average freeze dates for much of the U.S. just weeks away, less than half of the corn crop and just over half of soybeans had reached maturity as of Sunday, Sept. 29, according to USDA NASS' latest Crop Progress report released Monday.

As of Sunday, corn dented was estimated at 88%, 10 percentage points behind the five-year average of 98%. Forty-three percent of corn was estimated as mature, still far behind 84% at the same time last year and 30 percentage points behind the five-year average of 73%. The percentage of the crop that has reached maturity slipped further behind average than the previous week, when maturity was running 28 percentage points behind average.

Nationwide, corn harvest progressed 4 percentage points to reach 11% as of Sunday, behind last year's 25% and 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 19%.

The condition of corn still in fields was estimated at 57% good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week, and still the lowest good-to-excellent rating for the crop at this time of year since 2013. The poor-to-very-poor category moved up 1 percentage point to 14%.

Soybeans dropping leaves reached 55% as of Sunday, 21 percentage points behind the five-year average of 76% -- a slight improvement from the previous week when the percent of soybeans dropping leaves was running 25 percentage points behind average.

In its first soybean harvest report of the season, NASS estimated that 7% of the crop was harvested, 13 percentage points behind the five-year average of 20%.

Soybean condition improved 1 percentage point from the previous week to reach 55% good to excellent as of Sunday. As with corn, that remains the lowest good-to-excellent rating in six years.

Spring wheat harvest inched ahead another 3 percentage points to reach 90% as of Sunday, 9 percentage points behind the five-year average of 99%.

Winter wheat planting progress pulled slightly ahead of the average pace, reaching 39% as of Sunday compared to 38% for the five-year average. Winter wheat emerged was estimated at 11%, also near last year's 12% and the five-year average of 13%.

Sorghum coloring was estimated at 95%, equal to the five-year average. Sorghum mature was estimated at 54%, behind the average of 63%. Sorghum harvested reached 30%, behind the five-year average of 35%. Barley harvested reached 96%, behind the average of 100%.

Cotton bolls opening was estimated at 77%, ahead of the average of 67%. Cotton harvested was estimated at 16%, slightly ahead of the five-year average of 16%. Rice harvested was 68%, slightly behind the average of 71%.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on September 1, 2019 totaled 233 million bushels, up 11 percent from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 79.0 million bushels are stored on farms, up 30 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 154 million bushels, are up 3 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 64.1 million bushels, up 57 percent from last year. On-farm stocks of 10.5 million bushels are up 91 percent from a year ago, and off-farm stocks, at 53.6 million bushels, are up 51 percent from 2018.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 71.5 million bushels, down 1 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 8.60 million bushels are up 48 percent from 2018 but off-farm stocks of 62.9 million bushels are down 5 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 2.92 million bushels, up 66 percent from 2018. On-farm stocks of 170,000 bushels are up 17 percent from a year ago, and off-farm holdings, at 2.75 million bushels, are up 70 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 1.00 million bushels, up 67 percent from 2018.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on September 1, 2019, totaled 396 million bushels, down 17 percent from September 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 33 percent were stored on-farm. The June-August 2019 indicated disappearance totaled 598 million bushels, 4 percent below the 623 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on September 1, 2019, totaled 159 million bushels, 81 percent above the 87.9 million bushels on hand September 1, 2018. This is the highest September 1 total stocks on record, 856 thousand above the previous record of 158 million bushels set in 1986. Of the total stocks, 28 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for June-August 2019 is 142 million bushels, 8 percent above the 132 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on September 1, 2019, totaled 2.80 million bushels, up 33 percent from September 1, 2018.

Corn Stocks Down 1 Percent from September 2018

Soybean Stocks Up 108 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down Slightly

Old crop corn stocks in all positions on September 1, 2019 totaled 2.11 billion bushels, down 1 percent from September 1, 2018. Of the total stocks, 753 million bushels are stored on farms, up 22 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 1.36 billion bushels, are down 10 percent from a year ago. The June - August 2019 indicated disappearance is 3.09 billion bushels, compared with 3.16 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Old crop soybeans stored in all positions on September 1, 2019 totaled 913 million bushels, up 108 percent from September 1, 2018. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 265 million bushels, up 162 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 648 million bushels, are up 92 percent from last September. Indicated disappearance for June - August 2019 totaled 870 million bushels, up 11 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Based on an analysis of end-of-marketing year stock estimates, disappearance data for exports and crushings, and farm program administrative data, the 2018 soybean production is revised down 116 million bushels from the previous estimate. Planted area is revised to 89.2 million acres, and harvested area is revised to 87.6 million acres. The 2018 yield, at 50.6 bushels per acre, is down 1.0 bushel from the previous estimate. A table with 2018 acreage, yield, and production estimates by States is included on page 17 of this report.

All wheat stored in all positions on September 1, 2019 totaled 2.38 billion bushels, down slightly from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 776 million bushels, up 23 percent from last September. Off-farm stocks, at 1.61 billion bushels, are down 8 percent from a year ago. The June - August 2019 indicated disappearance is 657 million bushels, up 11 percent from the same period a year earlier.


Winter wheat production is estimated at 55.3 million bushels, up 12 percent from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The area harvested for grain totaled 970,000 acres, down 4 percent from 2018. Planted acreage totaled a record low 1.07 million, down 3 percent from a year earlier. The yield is a record high 57.0 bushels per acre, up 8 bushels from last year.

Oat production is estimated at 1.13 million bushels, down 25 percent from 2018. Area harvested for grain, at 18,000 acres, is down 18 percent from last year. Planted acreage totaled 120,000, down 4 percent from a year earlier. Average yield is 63.0 bushels per acre, down 6 bushels from 2018.


Oat production is estimated at 4.00 million bushels, up 92 percent from last year, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Small Grains 2019 Summary. Oats planted, at 215,000 acres, is up 59 percent from last year. Harvested area for grain is 69,000 acres, more than double the number of harvested acres in 2018. Oat yield, at 58.0 bushels per acre, is down 5.0 bushels from last year.

U.S. Small Grains 2019 Summary

All wheat production totaled 1.96 billion bushels in 2019, up 4 percent from the revised 2018 total of 1.89 billion bushels. Area harvested for grain totaled 38.1 million acres, down 4 percent from the previous year. The United States yield was estimated at 51.6 bushels per acre, up 4.0 bushels from the previous year. The levels of production and changes from 2018 by type were: winter wheat, 1.30 billion bushels, up 10 percent; other spring wheat, 600 million bushels, down 4 percent; and Durum wheat, 57.7 million bushels, down 26 percent.

Oat production was estimated at 54.2 million bushels, up 1 percent from 2018 for comparable States. Yield was estimated at 64.4 bushels per acre, down 0.9 bushel from the previous year for comparable States. Harvested area, at 842,000 acres, was 2 percent above last year for comparable States.

Barley production was estimated at 171 million bushels, up 12 percent from the revised 2018 total of 154 million bushels. The average yield per acre, at 77.4 bushels, was down 0.1 bushel from the previous year. Producers seeded 2.72 million acres in 2019, up 7 percent from last year. Harvested area, at 2.21 million acres, was up 12 percent from 2018.


Stalk Quality Concerns Widespread in Areas of Nebraska

Tamra Jackson-Ziems, NE Extension Plant Pathologist

Extremely stressful growing conditions occurred during much of 2019 in Nebraska, including wet conditions early that delayed planting, record rainfall during July and August, and continued wet conditions into September. Stressful growing conditions anytime during the season can lead to poor plant health and subsequent impacts on late season stalk quality. Corn plants in many areas are showing poor stalk quality that may indicate a need to scout fields to determine which may need to be harvested first or earlier than planned to avoid losses due to lodged corn.

Stalk rot and lodging was evident as early as August in some York, Seward, Clay, and Nuckolls county cornfields, particularly in those along waterways that experienced flooding earlier in the season. In Boone, Nance, and Platte counties, weak stalks and stalk rot was confirmed to some extent in 90% of cornfields surveyed recently. This number indicates the presence of weak stalks/stalk rot, but does not indicate the severity within the field. This would need to be categorized by completing the push test.

Flooding and wet conditions in the spring delayed planting for many producers across the state. Late planting generally reduces corn yield, but, it can also impact plant height, leaf number, ear height, stem diameter, and other plant characteristics.

The effects of late planting potentially causing thinner stalks with ears set higher on plants puts them at greater risk for lodging. In addition, corn diseases, such as those in recent samples submitted to the UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic from across Nebraska, will contribute to stalk problems. Many of the diseases developing in Nebraska cornfields are stalk rot diseases, caused by common fungal pathogens decaying the internal pith tissue inside the stalks.

Stalk rot diseases occur every year in cornfields. Stalk rot disease can prematurely kill plants causing direct impacts to yield. Greater incidence and severity of stalk rot diseases can also have a serious impact at harvest as plants may lodge, falling to the ground out of reach of combine heads during harvest.

The risk of stalk rot diseases is increased in some fields, especially when:
    Leaf diseases, such as gray leaf spot, southern rust, Physoderma brown spot, and others, are severe. Loss of leaf area can lead to stalk cannibalization as the plant fills grain.
    Plants were in standing water.
    Stalks were wounded due to hail and/or insect damage, allowing for infection by some pathogens.
    Susceptible hybrids were planted.
    Soil fertility challenges – too much or (especially) too little nitrogen that may have leached away during  wet conditions.
    Higher than recommended plant populations.
    Fields have a history of stalk diseases, especially in continuous corn with carryover fungal inoculum from the previous season(s).


Today, Senator Bruce Bostelman of Brainard announced he will seek reelection to the Nebraska Legislature in District 23. District 23 includes Butler and Saunders Counties as well as most of Colfax County.

“Over the past three years, I have been fighting for you in the Legislature,” said Sen. Bostelman. “From Second Amendment issues to helping protect unborn life, I have been putting my conservative principles to work. It would be an honor to continue to serve District 23. In my second term, I will continue to fight for meaningful property tax relief and to bring consistent conservative leadership to the Nebraska Unicameral.”

During his first term in office, Sen. Bostelman has built a conservative voting record:
    Property Tax Relief: Successfully worked to increase the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund by 23% for $275 million in relief annually, and voted to deliver meaningful property tax relief for ag producers.
    Pro-Life: Championed efforts to end taxpayer funding of abortion in Nebraska, and voted to help pass three other pro-life bills, including the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.
    Second Amendment: Successfully led efforts to pass the only pro-Second Amendment bill in the Legislature in the last three years with LB 902, a bill to protect the private information of gun owners when it is held by a public agency.
    Veterans: Worked with the American Legion and VFW to pass multiple pro-veteran and pro-military bills, including legislation that cut red tape and unified two state agencies under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
    Death Penalty: Voted to stop a new attempt to repeal the death penalty this year, which would have effectively overturned the will of the people of Nebraska, who voted to keep the death penalty in 2016.
    Human Trafficking: Supported measures to strengthen state laws against human trafficking, including LB 519, which eliminated the statute of limitations for sex trafficking of a minor and labor trafficking of a minor.

The Bostelmans live on their family farm near Brainard. Sen. Bostelman has been active in serving his country and community. He enlisted in the United States Air Force after high school in 1980 and retired from the USAF in 2000. In 2002, Bostelman received his bachelor's degree in Business Management from Bellevue University. He has since partnered in research with the University of Nebraska in several areas of agriculture.

Growing up in rural Nebraska, Bostelman has deep roots in agriculture and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska's LEAD XXVII class. He has been active in helping others in their small business ventures as an Advisory Board Member to the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, Board Member Nebraska Woody Florals Nonstock Cooperative and Heartland Nuts’N More as well as a member of the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association. Bostelman is a member of Rejda Post 273 of the American Legion and has served one year as the Post Adjutant. He also served as a youth coach for the Oak Creek 4H Trap team and youth baseball.

Sen. Bostelman has the endorsement of Governor Pete Ricketts and Lt. Governor Mike Foley as well as former Governors Dave Heineman and Kay Orr. He also has the endorsement of many State Senators including Senator Joni Albrecht, Senator John Arch, Senator Tom Brewer, Senator Tom Briese, Senator Rob Clements, Senator Steve Erdman, Senator Curt Friesen, Senator Suzanne Geist, Senator Tim Gragert, Senator Mike Groene, Senator Steve Halloran, Senator Ben Hansen, Senator Mike Hilgers, Senator Dan Hughes, Senator Mark Kolterman, Senator Andrew La Grone, Senator Lou Ann Linehan, Senator John Lowe, Senator Mike Moser, Senator Dave Murman, Speaker Jim Scheer, Senator Julie Slama, and Senator John Stinner. Sen. Bostelman has received the sole endorsement of the Nebraska Republican Party.

In the Legislature, Senator Bostelman serves as Vice Chairman on the Natural Resources Committee and serves on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. He is also a member of State of Nebraska Broadband Task Force that is working to connect schools, libraries, and communities.

Bruce has been married to his wife, Jan, for 27 years. They are the proud parents of a son, daughter, and three grandchildren.

Choose American Ethanol to Fuel the Cure for Breast Cancer

Throughout October, drivers can help Fuel the Cure for breast cancer by choosing American Ethanol at the pump. More than 30 Nebraska gas stations will donate 3 cents for every gallon of higher ethanol blends – E15 to flex fuel E85 – sold between October 1­‑­October 31. All donations will support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha.

Why support this important cause?

Chemicals in gasoline are known to cause cancer. Higher blends of biofuels dilute the toxicity and helps reduce cancer-causing emissions. Last year’s campaign raised more than $6,000.

”Cancer touches the lives of nearly everyone in some way,” said Ashley Christensen, Director of Development, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer. “We appreciate that Nebraska fuel retailers are joining forces to empower drivers to support cancer research at the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, which provides life-saving care to people throughout our state. With donors like yourself, we are able to fund researchers working on new treatments each and every day.”

For a complete list of participating fuel retailers, please visit Drivers will be able to identify which retailers are supporting this important cause by looking for pink signage at the pump, on the windows, and at the counter.

E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline), also called Unleaded 88, is approved for use in all passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. Ethanol blends higher than 15 percent are approved for use in flex fuel vehicles. One in seven Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). Drivers can check their owner’s manual to see if they’re driving a flex fuel vehicle. The vehicle might also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or a yellow gas cap.

“The Fuel the Cure program has been a tremendous partnership between Nebraska’s ethanol industry and the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “Ethanol blends already help clean up our air from toxic, cancer-causing chemicals emitted from burning traditional gasoline, but throughout the month, you can make an even bigger impact by using higher ethanol blends to support breast cancer research. Ethanol benefits our health, our environment, our engines and our wallets.”

The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Ethanol Board, along with Renewable Fuels Nebraska, sponsor Fuel the Cure in conjunction with retail stations.

Preparing Grain Bins and Equipment for Harvest

Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

With harvest approaching, it’s time to prepare grain bins and harvesting equipment to help ensure that grain going into storage will remain in good condition. Don't wait until the middle of harvest to discover that a bin foundation is severely cracked, or find even later that insects from grain that was left in the combine last fall have severely infested a bin of new grain. Proper bin and equipment preparation is a key to preserving stored grain quality.

Cleaning and treating grain bins, as well as the surrounding area, can reduce pest and rodent problems in stored grain.

The key to good grain storage is to put the highest quality grain into the bin, or bring it to the proper moisture condition as quickly as possible. Overall quality of stored grain always deteriorates, it is just a matter of how fast. Having a good marketing plan and selling as much as possible before the grain heats up next spring is the best way to have quality stored grain. It is never as good as the day it is put into the bin. Storing the grain longer than next spring requires much more vigilance in management.

Harvesting Equipment

Remove all traces of old grain from combines, truck beds, grain carts, augers, and any other equipment used for harvesting, transporting, and handling grain. Even small amounts of moldy or insect-infested grain left in equipment can contaminate a bin of new grain.

Adjust combines according to the manufacturer's specifications to minimize grain damage and to maximize removal of fines and other foreign material.

Proper cleaning and bin preparation will help assure that grain going into storage will remain in good condition.

Bins and Other System Components

Check the bin site, and remove any items or debris that would interfere with safe, unobstructed movement around the bin. Remove any spilled grain and mow the site to reduce the chances of insect or rodent infestation. If necessary, re-grade the site so that water readily drains away from bin foundations.

Inspect bins and foundations for structural problems. Uneven settlement of foundations can cause gaps between the foundation and bottom edge of the bin. This can result in grain spills and provide entry points for water, insects, and rodents. If perforated floors are used, a gap between the foundation and bin will allow air that would normally be forced through the grain to escape from the bin. Small gaps can usually be filled with a high quality caulking compound. If deterioration is extensive, the mastic seal may need to be replaced. Be sure all anchor bolts are tight and not damaged.

Inspect the bin roof and sides, inside and out, for leaks, loose or sheared bolts, rust or other corrosion, etc. Check the roof vents and access hatch, and caulk any cracks at the roofline. Be sure the access ladder is complete and securely fastened to the bin. Repair or replace any deteriorated components.

Wiring for fans and other electrical components should be inspected for corrosion and cracked, frayed, or broken insulation. Exposed wiring should be run through waterproof, dust-tight conduit. Avoid kinking the conduit, and make sure all connections are secure.

Check fans, heaters, transitions, and ducts for corrosion and damage. Remove any accumulated dust and dirt that will reduce the operating efficiency. Be sure that all connections are tight.

Ensure Bins Are Clean

Remove any old grain with brooms and vacuum cleaners. Never put new grain on top of old. Also, clean bins not being used for storage this year to keep insects from migrating to other bins.

Apply Insecticides

If you think there is any chance you might hold grain in the bin into May or later, it would be prudent to apply residual insecticides to the empty bin after thoroughly cleaning it. You may also apply certain insecticides onto the grain as it is being augered into the bin. A surface application is often recommended to prevent Indian meal moths from infesting the top surface of the grain.

If the bin has a raised drying floor and was known to be infested with grain storage insects last season, consider hiring a professional pest control operator to fumigate the empty bin prior to filling with new grain.


National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Deb Gangwish, who farms in Shelton, Nebraska, brought her experiences and insights as a farmer to a group of 850 industry professionals during the Women in Agribusiness Summit this morning. During a panel discussion, Gangwish, CommonGround Minnesota volunteer Katie Brenny and poultry producer Amy Syester shared their ideas, concerns and perspectives with the rest of the supply chain.

Moderated by Successful Farming Agronomy and Technology Editor Megan Vollstedt, the farmers delved into topics such as the adoption of technology, sustainability and the importance of markets. The discussion emphasized the importance of working as a team to make change possible and farming profitable.

Gangwish highlighted the need to focus on the many goals shared by all in the industry.

“I respect every farmer every acre no matter their production method,” she said. “There aren’t enough of us to focus on our differences or work against one another.”

The perspectives shared played a unique role in the Summit, which focuses largely on the issues facing the industry from a corporate point of view. Strong attendance and engaged participation from the audience demonstrated a strong desire to find new or improved ways to work with farmers for mutually beneficial outcomes.

Midwest Dairy Names Molly Pelzer as Next CEO

Midwest Dairy, the organization representing 7,000 dairy families across the Midwest, announced that the Corporate Board of Directors has chosen Molly Pelzer as the organization’s next chief executive officer. Pelzer, who currently serves as Midwest Dairy’s chief experience officer, succeeds outgoing CEO Lucas Lentsch and will assume the role October 1.

“Given her leadership experience and longstanding commitment to dairy farmers and the dairy checkoff program, Molly embodies everything we want in Midwest Dairy’s next leader,” said Allen Merrill, chairman of Midwest Dairy’s board of directors. “We’re excited to see how she leads our organization as we fulfill our vision and mission to bring dairy to life and give consumers an excellent dairy experience.”

Pelzer joined Midwest Dairy in 1984 and has held various executive leadership roles. In her most recent position as chief experience officer, Pelzer led the development of the organization’s strategic priorities. Prior to Midwest Dairy, she worked with the Midland Dairy Association, as well as Dairy Council, Inc., both former checkoff organizations that are now part of the Midwest Dairy region. A registered dietitian, Pelzer graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Pelzer is the organization’s third CEO in its 19 years of dairy history. Her proven experience in developing programs and resources comes at an exciting time as the organization continues its focus on consumer-centric goals to drive sales and enhance consumer trust for dairy.

“I am proud and humbled to represent dairy farmers and Midwest Dairy staff as we continue to work with our partners to increase sales and trust in dairy and reinforce the importance of dairy foods and dairy farming to our communities” said Pelzer. “I am eager to continue to build strong relationships with dairy farmers, industry leaders and partners as we continue to maximize the investment dairy farmers make in their checkoff organization.”

Pelzer succeeds Lucas Lentsch, who is leaving Midwest Dairy for a leadership role with Dairy Management, Inc.

ICGA Announces 60-Day Harvest Weight Proclamation Starting Tomorrow, October 1

During harvest to support the haul of this year’s crop, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed today a proclamation granting a temporary 60-day weight limit exemption for trucks operating on Iowa roads. The proclamation will be effective as of Tuesday, October 1. The 2019 Harvest Weight Proclamation specifically increases the weight allowable for shipment of corn, soybeans, hay, straw, and stover, by 12.5 percent per axle (up to a maximum of 90,000 pounds) without the need for an oversize/overweight permit.

The 2019 proclamation again applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa, excluding the federal interstate system. Trucks cannot exceed the truck’s regular maximum by more than 12.5 percent per axle and must obey the posted limits on all roads and bridges.

“On behalf of Iowa’s farmers, we extend a big thanks to Governor Reynolds for approval of this proclamation as it provides tremendous help to us as we work to efficiently transport this year’s crop,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Jim Greif, a farmer from Monticello. “Governor Reynolds made the decision to grant the petition as requested by Iowa Corn, it is not a right by law.”

ICGA made the request to Governor Reynolds in August and worked with the Governor’s office to ensure the proclamation moved forward to benefit Iowa’s farmers in time for harvest. The proclamation directs the Iowa Department of Transportation to monitor the operation of the proclamation and assure the public’s safety by facilitating the movement of the trucks involved. Farmers who are transporting grain are also required to follow their vehicle safety standards on axle weights.

The exemption will be granted for 60 days beginning October 1, 2019.

Crop Insurance Discounts Available for Farmers Who Plant Cover Crops

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that farmers who plant cover crops this fall may be eligible for a $5 per acre reduction on their spring 2020 cash crop insurance premiums. To qualify, the cover crop acres cannot be enrolled in other state or federal cover crop cost share programs. Farmers who received prevent plant payments in 2019 are still eligible for the discounted insurance premiums. 

“All Iowans have a role to play in improving water quality in our state and downstream,” said Secretary Naig. “Cover crops are proven to reduce nutrient loads and improve soil health. As part of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, our goal is to have at least 14 million acres of cover crops planted in the state of Iowa. This program represents just one of many funding sources available to help farmers add conservation practices to their fields.”

Planting rye or oat cover crops helps improve the health of the soil and prevents erosion, especially during high-intensity rainfalls. Cover crops are also proven to reduce nitrogen loads by 28-31 percent and phosphorous loads by 29 percent, which helps improve water quality.
Program Details

This is a joint, three-year demonstration project administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA). It is intended to increase the use of cover crops in Iowa. More than 1,200 farmers have applied for this program and planted 300,000 acres of cover crops in the past two years.

Farmers can sign up for the cover crop – crop insurance premium reduction program at beginning on Oct. 1, 2019. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 15, 2020.

Some insurance policies may be excluded, like Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, or those covered through written agreements. Participants must follow all existing farming practices required by their policy and work with their insurance agency to maintain eligibility.

Farmers are encouraged to visit their local USDA service center offices to learn more about other cost share funding available to support the implementation of conservation practices.

Crawford Livestock Market LLC to host World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifier October 11

Crawford Livestock Market, LLC, 100 W Beech St., will host the first of three regional qualifying events for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC). The western regional qualifying event will be October 11. Opening ceremonies will commence at 10:00 a.m. (MDT) with the awards ceremony to follow. A total of 36 contestants will compete for a top 10 placing, granting them a spot in the semi-finals for the 2020 WLAC at Dickson Regional Livestock Center, LLC, in Dickson, Tenn.

Each qualifying event is a live sale where each contestant auctions 8 drafts of livestock (traditionally cattle) to actual bidders. Contestants are judged on the clarity of their auction chant, professionalism and their ability to conduct the sale while catching bids.

Contestants competing are Jared Anstine, Holden, Mo.; Zach Ballard, Mitchell, S.D.; Ted Baum, Elgin, Neb.; Andy Baumeister, Mullin, Texas; Neil Bouray, Webber, Kan.; Chuck Bradley, Rockford, Ala.; Spencer Cline, Kingston, Ark.; Eric Drees, Caldwell, Idaho; Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alb.; Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa; Brandon Frey, Ft. Collins, Colo.; Collin Gibbs, Miles City, Mont.; Steven Goedert, Dillon, Mont.; Brandon Hamel, Damar, Kan.; Jacob Hills, Ridgeway, Wis.; Travis Holck, Ruthton, Minn.; Jake Hopwood, Valentine, Neb.; Jase Hubert, Olpe, Kan.; Lynn Langvardt, Chapman, Kan.; Josh Larson, Haxtun, Colo.; Kyle Layman, North Platte, Neb.; Curt Littau, Carter, S.D.; Jalen Mathis, Hutton, Texas; Gregg Matney, Lusk, Wyo.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jeremy Miller, Fairland, Okla.; Terry Moe, Watford City, N.D; Drake Morrow, Opp, Ala.; Lander Nicodemus, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Larry Nisly, Quaker City, Ohio; Mark Oberholtzer, Loyal, Wis.; Kirk Otte, Rushville, Neb.; Sixto Paiz, Portales, N.M.; Ethan Schuette, Washington, Kan.; Dustin Smith, Jay, Okla.; and Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.

The public may attend the livestock auction and competition free of charge. It will also be streamed live on

The remaining qualifying events are balanced regionally across the LMA Membership. The eastern regional will be held at Farmers Livestock Exchange, Inc. Winchester, Va. on November 18. The midwestern regional will be held at Stockmen’s Livestock, Inc. Yankton, S.D. on January 8, 2020.

NBB, ASA Ask Commerce Secretary Ross for Meeting Before Final Decision on Argentine Biodiesel Duty Rates

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and American Soybean Association (ASA) sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, requesting he meet with the groups before the U.S. Department of Commerce finalizes its review of countervailing duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina. The letter notes that Ross met with the Government of Argentina after issuing a preliminary decision in the review but has not yet met directly with U.S. biodiesel producers.

"Since Commerce issued the preliminary results in the review on July 9, our multiple requests to schedule a meeting with you have gone unanswered," the groups write. "We still hope that you can provide us the same courtesy that you provided to representatives of the government of Argentina and meet with us."

Commerce finalized countervailing duty rates on Argentine biodiesel imports in January 2018, following a lengthy investigation that found U.S. biodiesel producers were harmed by Argentina's unfair trade practices. Then in November 2018, Commerce granted Argentina's unprecedented request for a "changed circumstances" review, based on the Argentine government's claims that it had changed its tax structure. In July 2019, Commerce issued a preliminary decision that would virtually eliminate countervailing duties for Argentina's biodiesel producers.

"It remains unclear why Commerce is rushing to issue final results when recent developments in Argentina suggest a likely change in leadership and tax policy," the letter continues. "It seems clear that Argentina's tax policies are likely to continue to change, as they have on numerous occasions in recent years. It is far more important for Commerce to make the right decision in this review, rather than a quick decision."

Argentina is holding the first round of a presidential election on October 27. A runoff, if necessary, would occur on November 24.

Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with NBB, added, "The administration's rush to provide a boost to Argentina's farmers and biodiesel producers is difficult to understand. This year, U.S. farmers are earning half what they did five years ago because of trade disputes. And nine U.S. biodiesel producers have been forced to cut production, close facilities, and lay off workers because of the administration's favors to the oil industry. Opening the door to a resumption of unfairly priced biodiesel imports will only do more harm to the U.S. biodiesel industry and U.S. farmers."

NIHC & Farm Bureau Submit Comment to EPA

Last week, the National Industrial Hemp Council (NIHC) was joined by the American Farm Bureau Federation, in submitting a comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding adding hemp to the labeling of currently registered pesticide products. EPA requested comments regarding the ten applications that it received seeking to add hemp to the labels of products registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). We thank EPA for providing an opportunity to submit comments on this important first set of applications following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

The letter calls for EPA to approve these and additional applications in order to expand the range of approved pesticides and provide our members with lawful options for pest control. It goes on to state that "in order for hemp to reach its full potential, it is essential that EPA take a leadership role in consistent review of applications for use on hemp, to facilitate a consistent and equal playing field to the degree possible across state jurisdictions."

The NIHC and Farm Bureau joint letter urges the EPA to promptly approve these ten applications to provide for use during the 2020 growing season and beyond.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday September 27 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2019, was 3.75 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 9 percent from September 1, 2018, and up 1 percent from June 1, 2019.

Breeding hog inventory, at 450,000 head, was up 5 percent from September 1, 2018, but down 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.30 million head, was up 9 percent from last year, and up 2 percent from last quarter.

The June - August 2019 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.21 million head, was up 6 percent from 2018. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 190,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.65 for the June - August period, compared to 11.30 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 205,000 sows during the September - November 2019 quarter, up 8 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for December 2019 - February 2020 are 200,000 sows, up 8 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.

Iowa Hogs & Pigs Report

On September 1, 2019, there were 24.9 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. This is the highest inventory on record, up 6 percent from the previous year.

The June-August 2019 quarterly pig crop was 6.13 million head, up 3 percent from the previous quarter but 6 percent below last year. A total of 540,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.35 for the June-August quarter, down 0.10 head from last quarter.

As of September 1, producers planned to farrow 530,000 sows and gilts in the September-November quarter and 520,000 head during the December 2019-February 2020 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2019 was 77.7 million head. This was up 3 percent from September 1, 2018, and up 3 percent from June 1, 2019. This is the highest September 1 inventory of all hogs and pigs since the estimates began in 1988. 

Breeding inventory, at 6.43 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 71.2 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up 3 percent from last quarter. This is the highest September 1 market hog inventory since the estimates began in 1988.

By State                (1,000 hd  -  % Sept 1 '18)

Iowa .................:        24,900     106 
North Carolina ..:         9,500     102 
Minnesota ........:          9,000     105 
Illinois ..............:         5,300       97 
Indiana .............:         4,300      102 
Nebraska ..........:         3,750      109 
Missouri ...........:         3,600       96 
Kansas ..............:         2,080     102 
South Dakota ....:         2,000     116 

The June-August 2019 pig crop, at 35.3 million head, was up 3 percent from 2018. This is the largest June-August pig crop since estimates began in 1970. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.18 million head, down 1 percent from 2018. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.11 for the June-August period, compared to 10.72 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.16 million sows farrow during the September-November 2019 quarter, down 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2018, but up 2 percent from 2017. Intended farrowings for December 2019-February 2020, at 3.11 million sows, are down slightly from 2019, but up 2 percent from 2018.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, unchanged from the previous year.

Nebraska Corn thanks Hastings farmer Lynn Chrisp for his national service to the industry

The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association extend their appreciation to Lynn Chrisp for serving as the president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). Chrisp, a corn farmer from Hastings, spent the last year in the leadership role, which concludes Sept. 30.

“It’s always great to see a farmer from Nebraska at the helm of a national organization,” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and farmer from Dorchester. “Lynn not only served our state’s farmers well during his year as president, but he also was a powerful advocate for all American corn growers.”

Throughout his term, Chrisp dealt with many difficult issues including trade tariffs, challenges with the Renewable Fuel Standard, small refinery waivers and misleading corn syrup advertisements from Anheuser-Busch. He traveled through corn country, Washington, D.C. and around the world advocating for American corn farmers.

“From leading us through the Super Bowl response to visiting the White House on two different occasions, Lynn had the reins during one of the most interesting years in my time at NCGA,” said Jon Doggett, CEO of NCGA. “We’re grateful for his leadership and thankful for the difference he made for corn farmers through it all. Congratulations, on a job well done.”

“While serving in leadership roles often go without recognition, Lynn deserves so much more,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “Serving as the NCGA president meant Lynn was often away from his family, friends and from the farm, but he served to improve the corn industry for all farmers. We need more farmers like Lynn willing to engage in key leadership roles. Hats off to Lynn for a job well-done!”

On Oct. 1, Chrisp will advance to NCGA’s chairman position. Kevin Ross, farmer from Underwood, Iowa, will replace Chrisp as president at that time.

State Corn Grower Leaders to Trump: Uphold Commitment to Farmers and RFS

State leaders of corn grower organizations in 23 states today sent a letter to President Trump, calling on him to follow the law and keep the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) whole. The letter to the President comes on the heels of the Trump Administration’s most recent approval of 31 new RFS waivers to big oil companies. The 85 total waivers approved under the Trump Administration amount to 4.04 billion gallons, resulting in reduced corn demand due to lower ethanol blending and consumption and a rising number of ethanol producers slowing or idling production.

The state corn grower leaders urge the President to stop the harm caused by waivers and restore integrity to the RFS by directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule.

Full text of the letter is below.

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

We are writing on behalf of the more than 300,000 corn farmers across the country who are being negatively impacted by a perfect storm of challenges in rural America. The 31 new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers to big oil companies, recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and bringing total waivers issued under your Administration to 85, could not have come at a worse time for agriculture.

Ethanol plants in several states, including Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Mississippi have closed or idled. These closures have cost 2,700 rural jobs and impacted demand for more than 300 million bushels of corn. Corn farmers are beginning harvest and continuing to lose markets to deliver their corn. Frustration in the countryside is growing.

Corn farmers are not asking for a special deal. We are simply asking, as we have been for the past two years, that your EPA uphold the law.

To effectively stop the harm caused by RFS waivers, EPA needs to account for projected waivers beginning with the pending 2020 RFS volume rule. Accounting for waivers in the annual RFS volume process restores integrity to the RFS. It also allows your Administration to continue granting waivers, as allowed by the law, while keeping the RFS whole.

While adding gallons and improving market access for higher blends of ethanol are all policies farmers appreciate and support, future waivers will continue to minimize the RFS, unless your Administration acts to account for waivers beginning this coming year first.

We were pleased to see press reports indicating that, following a meeting with farm-state lawmakers, an agreement had been reached to address the harm caused by waivers. With more than 4 billion gallons waived out of the RFS, we appreciate you listening to our elected representatives about what is needed to restore meaning to the RFS. Farmers across the country are anxiously awaiting the release of more details about this agreement. Ethanol plants will continue to close if you don’t act soon, creating a rippling effect throughout the rural economy.

Corn farmers are appreciative of your past support for agriculture and ethanol. We especially appreciate your efforts to remove the barrier to year-round sales of E15, but EPA’s current use of waivers undermines growth potential for higher blends of ethanol, reduces demand, lowers the value of our crop, and puts the outlook for the rural economy in jeopardy.

Mr. President, we firmly ask that you uphold your commitment to America’s farmers and the RFS.

Dan Nerud, President, Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Jim Greif, President, Iowa Corn Growers Association

Steve Rome, President, Kansas Corn Growers Association
Doug Noem, President, South Dakota Corn Growers Association
Brian Thalmann, President, Minnesota Corn Growers Association
Jeremy Wilson, President, Alabama Soybean and Corn Association
Dave Eckhardt, President, Colorado Corn Growers Association
Rodney Harrell, President, Georgia Corn Growers Association
Ted Mottaz, President, Illinois Corn Growers Association
Sarah Delbecq, President, Indiana Corn Growers Association
Mark Roberts, President, Kentucky Corn Growers Association
Jason Condrey, President, Louisiana Cotton and Grain Association
Lenny Evan Miles, Jr., President, Maryland Grain Producers Association
Matt Frostic, President, Michigan Corn Growers Association
Mike Pannell, President, Mississippi Corn Growers Association
Mark Scott, President, Missouri Corn Growers Association
Jason Swede, President, New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association
Alex Jordan, President, Corn Growers Association of North Carolina
Randy Melvin, President, North Dakota Corn Growers Association
Jon Miller, President, Ohio Corn and Wheat
Elizabeth Hinkel, President, Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association
Wesley Spurlock, President, Texas Corn Producers Association
Doug Rebout, President, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association

ELD Mandate Update

NE Cattlemen Newsletter

Previously, livestock haulers were exempt from ELDs through September 30, 2019 (our ELD delay “policy rider” is contained within the government funding bill). Congress has now officially passed a short term spending bill to keep the government open until November 21, 2019. As such, the ELD delay for livestock haulers now runs until November 21, 2019. This delay will buy some needed time as we continue to work on our ultimate Hours of Service fix. The plan going forward is to keep the pressure on Congress to continue delaying the ELD mandate until HOS finally works for hauling livestock.


On Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Vincente Gonsalez (D-Texas), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) introduced the Protecting America's Food & Agricultural Act (H.R. 4482), which would authorize U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire more agriculture inspectors in order to prevent an outbreak of African swine fever in the U.S. The bill is a companion to Senate legislation introduced in July by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Western Iowa Energy’s Brad Wilson elected to lead Iowa Biodiesel Board

Brad Wilson, president and general manager of Western Iowa Energy, has been elected by his peers to serve as the new chair of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

The board of directors elected Wilson during the Iowa Biodiesel Board and National Biodiesel Board Regional Annual Meeting, September 18 – 19 in Des Moines.

“I look forward to playing an active role in leading the Iowa Biodiesel Board for many reasons, but the most important is the organization’s focus on bringing additional value up and down the entire supply chain, from the farmers and feedstock suppliers through the end user,” he said.

“Iowa is not only the top biodiesel producing state, but a strong leader in driving critical federal policy like the Renewable Fuel Standard and biodiesel tax credit,” Wilson said. “I look forward to stepping up to the challenge this position brings.” 

Wilson, who previously served as IBB’s vice chair, replaces Tom Brooks, general manager of biodiesel producer Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa. He stepped down after serving as chair for three years.

The full slate of officers for the organization is now as follows:
    Chair: Brad Wilson, Western Iowa Energy
    Vice Chair: Doug Lenhart, REG
    Secretary: Reed Herzig, Bayer
    Treasurer: Courtney Lawrenson, AGP

Wilson became president and general manager of WIE in 2016. The multi-feedstock plant recently grew its capacity from 30 to 45 million gallons per year. It employs about 30 people, many with young families in Wall Lake, Iowa, a town of about 800 residents.

Iowa's First Biodiesel Plant Shuttered

The unknown future of the biodiesel tax credit and the endless granting of small refinery waivers has forced one Iowa biodiesel plant to close. W2 Fuel announced earlier this week that it would be shuttering two of its biodiesel plants in Crawfordsville, Iowa and in Adrian, Michigan.

Nearly 50 employees have lost their jobs and demand for millions of bushels of soybeans has been destroyed.

"This is one more example of how the federal policies have an impact on real peoples' lives," said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association.

At full capacity, the Crawfordsville plant produced nearly 10 million gallons of biodiesel. The Adrian plant produced about 15 million gallons per year. That's now a lost market for roughly 16.67 million bushels of soybeans.

"And there's no end in sight until these issues are resolved," Kimberley said.

W2 Fuel CEO Roy Strom testified before the EPA in March, warning the agency and the Trump administration of the harm caused by granting small refinery exemptions.

"To succeed, the biodiesel industry needs signals that allow us to forecast market demand. While the RVO (renewable volume obligation) should be the forecast, the current practice of granting retroactive small refinery exemptions undermines that signal," he said on the record.

Now, almost six months after his testimony, Strom is directing cleanup crews before turning the lights off for good.

"I think if the biodiesel tax credit came back, I would need to see it include 2020 to make a go of it again," Strom said.

The ultimate fix would be a reallocation of lost gallons as a result of the small refinery exemptions and an extension of the federal $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit to producers which blend biodiesel with petroleum.

Only the White House and the EPA can change the demand at this point. And it's up to Congress to pass the biodiesel tax credit extension.

"When the tax credit is up in the air, you're just gambling. Do I want to bet on the tax credit or not? It makes it very difficult to run a business," Strom said.

The biodiesel industry is now running 21 months without the biodiesel tax credit. It's clearly hurting the industry, said Brad Wilson, president and general manager of Western Iowa Energy and the newly-elected chair of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.

Iowa Participates in USDA’s Multi-State Foreign Animal Disease Functional Exercises

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship participated in a four-day simulation led by USDA APHIS to test current foreign animal disease response plans. The Department was joined by USDA representatives, state organizations and industry leaders to walk through plans that would be put into action in the event of a real foreign animal disease outbreak.

This four-day workshop focused on an African Swine Fever outbreak, which affects feral, production and pet pigs. The top 14 swine producing states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Texas) participated in a series of exercises and drills specific to African Swine Fever.

“An African Swine Fever outbreak does not represent a human health or food safety threat but it could be devastating to Iowa’s farmers and economy,” said Secretary Mike Naig. “Our first goal is to prevent a foreign animal disease from entering the U.S. and this workshop is one of many steps the Department has taken to prepare. Over the last four days, we’ve worked with USDA, state agencies, legislators, pork industry representatives and 14 other states to test our plans. I want to thank everyone who participated in the exercise. I am pleased with the outcome, we’ve discovered what works well and identified a few scenarios we still need to talk through so we can respond quickly if a real outbreak occurs.”

Each day of the exercise focused on different tactics deployed during an outbreak — detection, containment, eradication and cleaning and disinfection. This allowed the USDA, the Iowa Department of Agriculture, state agencies, industry representatives and producers to put response plans into action to make sure they could be executed quickly and effectively.

African Swine Fever is a highly infectious disease that causes high mortality rates in pig populations. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine available for pigs. The virus has been detected in countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. The disease has not been found in North America at this time.

The disease is not a threat to human health and is not a food safety issue. The pork industry provides over 140,000 jobs and contributes $36.7 billion to Iowa’s economy.

To learn more about African Swine Fever visit

Corteva Agriscience Sponsors SDSU Precision Ag Facility Expansion

South Dakota State University is the first land-grant university to offer a precision agriculture major, a precision agriculture minor and an engineering for precision agriculture minor, as part of their curriculum. Corteva Agriscience is donating $600,000 to help expand facilities for student learning and engagement with precision ag tools.

“The launch of a precision ag-focused major is a big opportunity for the future of agriculture and can help make a difference in the lives of farmers everywhere,” said Jamie Williamson, Corteva Agriscience Area Leader – Northern Plains. “Precision agriculture is just one in a long list of innovations that help us find the solutions needed to solve the problems of today and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges. Corteva Agriscience is focused on providing farmers with complete solutions, and digital agriculture is a key component to meet the needs of farmers.”

Corteva will receive the naming rights to the Student Atrium of the new Raven Precision Agricultural Building. The hallway will have two naming plates, one at each end, a Corteva logo, as well as a Corteva branded digital display with events and calendars for students.

The Raven Precision Agricultural Building is funded by internal university funds, private support, state appropriations and an approved bond. The effort is part of a $46.1 million precision ag facility expansion designed to support the educational needs of agriculture-related majors.

“This facility will help us continue to create the high-quality workforce that will enable South Dakota State University and Corteva Agriscience to continue leading with a tradition of excellence in agriculture, food and environmental sciences,” said John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Utilization Council Endowed Dean – College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

“We understand there are increasing needs of precision ag education,” Williamson said. “As a champion of responsible agriculture and an industry-leader in digital technology, we look forward to what these capable students and this historic university can accomplish going forward.”

USDA Seeking Comments on Conservation Reserve Program Environmental Assessment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the availability of a Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The 2018 Farm Bill made changes to CRP, and the assessment evaluates those changes as they relate to the National Environmental Policy Act. The assessment only covers programmatic changes that have not been evaluated previously.

The environmental assessment is available to the public for review, and FSA is requesting comments on the proposed alternatives and their potential impacts on the human environment. FSA will incorporate the feedback into the final assessment, as appropriate, prior to a decision.

The assessment can be accessed at: FSA will consider comments received by October 27, 2019 . Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible.

Comments may be submitted:
-    By mail at Conservation Reserve Program PEA Comments, c/o Cardno-GS, 2496 Old Ivy Road, Suite 300, Charlottesville, VA, 22903
-    Electronically at

McDonalds Testing Beyond Meat in Canada

McDonald's Corp. is getting on the plant-based bandwagon.

The world's biggest fast-food company by revenue said Thursday it is testing Beyond Meat Inc. patties at restaurants in Canada for 12 weeks. Dubbed the "P.L.T." for plant, lettuce and tomato, the sandwich will be on sale at 28 restaurants in southwestern Ontario starting Monday.

Many of McDonald's rivals have already introduced meat substitutes made by Beyond Meat or rival Impossible Foods Inc. Sales of plant-based burgers and other meats from those companies have surged this year.

A few months ago, McDonald's executives said they were watching whether the trend would last and those companies could maintain supply before deciding to add meatless products to the chain's menu.

The small 12-week test in Canada will allow McDonald's to better understand customer demand and the impact on restaurant operations, said Ann Wahlgren, McDonald's vice president of global menu strategy. Beyond Meat honed a patty recipe specifically for the chain, McDonald's said.

Tim Hortons, the coffee-and-doughnut chain owned by Restaurant Brands Inc., introduced Beyond Meat sausage breakfast patties and burgers in Canada this summer. The chain cut back the plant-based burger offering earlier this month, saying demand was better for real beef.

McDonald's has served vegetarian offerings for some time in other markets, including the McAloo Tikki, made of potatoes and peas, in India. It tested a vegetarian burger made by Nestle SA earlier this year in Germany.

In Canada, the P.L.T. will be priced at 6.49 Canadian dollars (US$4.90), McDonald's said. That compares with a retail price at Tim Hortons of C$5.69 (US$4.36).

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday September 26 Ag News

U.S. Drought Monitor celebrates its 20th year
Cory Matteson, National Drought Mitigation Center at the School of Natural Resources

In the late 1990s, National Drought Mitigation Center founding director Don Wilhite assigned Mark Svoboda to find every drought-related index, indicator and tool that existed, and request access to the data that was used to create them. Unfortunately, Google didn't debut until after he began his search.

“There wasn’t a whole lot out there, and I remember the response to my request for operational data was getting a hard copy map in the mail of the Palmer Drought Severity Index from the National Climatic Data Center,” Svoboda said. “That wasn’t even delivered digitally at the time.”

With scarcity of information in mind, Svoboda presented on drought mapping at the 1998 American Meteorological Society annual meeting. Another presenter at the session, Douglas Le Comte of the Climate Prediction Center, was interested in combining various drought indices into one map. The two talked after the meeting about joining forces.

“That’s where the idea was born to make a higher resolution map made from combining several indicators together that shows where drought is and how severe it is,” said Svoboda, who is now the NDMC director.

Their collaboration spearheaded the creation of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Every week since the Drought Monitor was unveiled at a White House press conference on Aug. 11, 1999, the NDMC, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have teamed up to release an update of the USDM.

An extensive network from an array of agencies has contributed data and on-the-ground observations to produce more than 1,000 maps, and the USDM has grown to include all U.S. states and territories, including the additions of the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2019. It has triggered billions of dollars in federal aid and low interest loans. Federal, state, tribal, local and basin-level decision makers use it to detect emerging droughts.

And it all started as a map made with CorelDRAW 8.

“I think I have a curled-up map that actually shows one of the original drafts of the Drought Monitor,” Le Comte, now retired from the CPC, recently said from his Arlington, Virginia, home. A few minutes later, he found the map.

Dated July 13, 1999, the prototype features some classifications familiar to those who have used the USDM over its 20-year existence. Yellow blobs indicating abnormally dry areas covered much of the Southwest and Northeast. Encircled in red were portions of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic, including all of Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. These were the only two colors on the draft, though, with red being an all-encompassing indicator of drought. (Each level of drought now has its own designated color.) Arrows specified the class and types of drought in those locales, with one pointed directly at our nation’s capital. That drought, the USDM’s early authors believe, helped provide the project with a big green light.

“Serendipity is the word,” Le Comte said.

Not long after creating that mid-July map, a secretarial briefing regarding the USDM was held at the White House. The USDM’s proponents told officials that it could help heighten awareness of drought as an environmental hazard, provide the public and decision-makers vital information about the creeping disaster and decrease response lags to drought, like the rare one building in the Northeast in the summer of ‘99.

“The Palmer wasn’t showing that drought evolving nearly fast enough,” said Svoboda, who was a USDM author for 17 years. “Our new prototype showed potential to pick up the signal earlier given we weren’t solely relying on any one drought indicator in particular. So they informed us that this new prototype drought indicator was going to go operational this summer. After production of the first operational map in early August, the very next week, the experimental label was off the map. So I think that might be the shortest experimental product in government history. That drought is really what made it all happen, in a way. So we quickly ramped up from two authors to six authors in the span of just a few months.”

The first six USDM authors were Svoboda and Michael Hayes from the NDMC, Le Comte and Rich Tinker from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and Brad Rippey and David Miskus, who was on assignment from the CPC at the USDA, where he joined Rippey. Nearly 30 authors have taken two-week shifts creating the map over its 20-year history. Since late 2000, once the map is released each Thursday at, the author’s name has been included alongside it. Tinker (135 shifts), Miskus (122) and Rippey (96) have authored the most so far.

The map is now created with GIS software, and authors consider data from more than 50 sources, including precipitation, temperature, evapotranspiration, the Palmer Drought Severity Index, the Standardized Precipitation Index, soil moisture indicators, hydrologic data, snowpack data, satellite-based assessments of vegetation health, land-data assimilation models and many more. Some of those sources have been vital to the map’s creation since its early stages, when the final drought report was essentially hand-drawn onto the maps utilizing late-’90s graphic design software.

“Maps all over my desk,” Svoboda recalled. “Maps on the floor. And you’re trying to piece them together in your head. That’s hard to do for 50 states in just over two days. Once you get into GIS, everything’s digital. You can overlay those together and make a much quicker assessment of the situation. You really start to see the patterns and determine where they agree or disagree. And the subject matter expertise is vitally important when those areas diverge to determine which indicators are going to be the best ones telling the story.”

Le Comte said he realized early on that the map was going to be a vital tool when he saw versions of it broadcast on the Weather Channel and reprinted in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and elsewhere.

“It is really something I enjoyed doing,” Le Comte said. “I felt like a little bit of a pioneer doing this, because it was a feeling that this is something important, and that probably would be widely used if done correctly.”

Rippey saw the first sign that the weekly publication could be a vital aid trigger in late 2002, when then-USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins invited him to his office in the midst of a drought in the High Plains.

“They said we’ve got this drought going on, and we’ve got some nonfat dry milk to give away to these drought-ravaged producers,” Rippey recalled. Rather than base the program eligibility on state-level pasture condition reports, as had happened previously, Collins authorized the USDM to trigger aid for livestock producers with the 2003 Surplus Non-fat Dry Milk Sales for Feed Program.

“And that was the first time that anybody in a position to make high-level decisions had come to me as an author and asked if we should use the Drought Monitor (as a trigger), and I said yes,” Rippey said.

In the summer of 2006, with nearly half of the U.S. experiencing drought, attention once again turned to the USDM’s drought designations as a trigger for aid in the form of $50 million in state block grants for livestock producers. The USDM has been written into the Farm Bill since 2008 as a trigger for drought relief under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, and after widespread drought in 2012, it became a trigger for fast-track Secretarial Disaster Designations. As of 2019, the USDM had been used to distribute approximately $7.2 billion in aid to livestock producers. The USDM helps producers receive aid faster, said Brian Fuchs, NDMC Monitoring Coordinator and USDM author since 2006.

“Back in the early days when USDA would try to have these different aid programs, a lot of times it was tied to the Palmer Drought Severity Index, and that’s a monthly tool at that,” Fuchs said. “With the Drought Monitor being this consolidation of evidence, you’re getting that signal and the information is coming through more rapidly because of all the different tools that we’re using, and you’re getting the best of all the indicators and not relying on a single indicator.”

Along with multiple datasets, USDM authors have come to rely on the team of local, state and regional experts on the Drought Monitor network listserv, where climatologists and evaluators provide updates from their locations and also respond to drafts of the map as publication dates near. They often also share news stories about experiences of drought, like a village in Alaska that recently ran out of stored water as the state grappled with persistent drought throughout 2019.

“I think if the Alaska drought that is going on now had happened 20 years ago, we might have missed it,” Rippey said. “There's no drought that's going to happen anymore without somebody knowing about it. And that’s a good thing.”

Svoboda said that as computing evolves and allows for further combination of drought indicators using deep learning, that will add to the Drought Monitor process, but not override it.

“I think we have a process called the Drought Monitor,” he said. “It also involves ownership of people on the ground, those 420 or so evaluators that are now part of the Drought Monitor network. Once they felt that they have a voice, and they have ownership, then we had the buy-in and credibility on the ground, and no single indicator or model integrated validation on the ground better than the USDM.”

Added Fuchs: “It’s this process of data and people coming together, and the end result is the map.”

Producers to Receive Automatic Prevented Planting ‘Top-Up’ Payments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that producers currently participating in federal crop insurance who had in 2019 a payable prevented planting indemnity related to flooding, excess moisture or causes other than drought will automatically receive a “top-up” payment. Producers will receive the payment from their Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) starting in mid-October.

Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a 10 percent top-up payment, while producers with Revenue Protection will receive 15 percent. They do not need to sign up to receive payments; all producers with a 2019 prevented planting indemnity will receive the top-up.

“It was a challenging planting season for many of our farmers,” said Bill Northey, USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “We are doing everything we can to ensure producers receive the help they need.

“USDA is working with AIPs so that producers can receive additional payments as soon as possible,” Northey added, “and we appreciate the AIPs for helping us help America’s farmers.”

The crop insurance industry will deliver the payments as part of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. After the initial payment, additional payments will be made in the middle of each month as more prevented planting claims are processed.

“Crop insurance is an important program for many producers to help them manage their production and price risks,” said Martin Barbre, Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). “We’re leveraging that system to efficiently and effectively deliver much needed support to our farmers.”

RMA received commitments from all 14 AIPs to deliver the top-up payments:
    ACE Property and Casualty (Rain and Hail) Insurance Company
    American Agri-Business Insurance Company
    American Agricultural Insurance Company
    CGB Insurance Company
    Church Mutual Insurance Company
    Country Mutual Insurance Company
    Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company
    Great American Insurance Company
    Hudson Insurance Company
    NAU Country Insurance Company
    Producers Agricultural Insurance Company
    Rural Community Insurance Company
    Stratford Insurance Company
    XL Reinsurance America Inc.

The prevented planting top-up payments are different from the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) payments. (For more information on WHIP+, visit

Starting Mid-October, Nebraska Producers Will Receive Automatic ‘Top-Up’ Payments for Prevented Planting Due to Flooding

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that producers participating in federal crop insurance who had a payable prevented planting indemnity related to flooding in 2019 will automatically receive a “top-up” payment from their Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) starting mid-October:

“With wet fields from the severe flooding, many of our farmers lost planting acreage this year. Because of our work to include Nebraska in the disaster relief bill, our state’s producers who are enrolled in crop insurance can access these ‘top-up’ payments through their insurance provider. These additional resources will be of assistance as families and businesses recover from a rough year.”

More information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

The crop insurance industry will deliver the payments as part of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. After the initial payment, additional payments will be made in the middle of each month as more prevented planting claims are processed.

Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a 10 percent top-up payment, while producers with Revenue Protection will receive 15 percent.

Chairman Peterson Statement on Delivery of Prevented Planting Assistance

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota issued a statement Thursday in response to news out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the delivery of additional prevented planting assistance, as authorized by the Disaster Relief Act of 2019.

“As weather continues to throw wrenches into farmers’ plans, both in Western Minnesota and across the country, I appreciate USDA and crop insurance providers moving forward in delivering the prevented planting plus-up that Congress provided,” said Peterson. “This will provide direct help to farmers without additional paperwork, and allow them to focus on the range of other challenges they face.”

According to a corrected announcement from USDA, “producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a 10 percent top-up payment, while producers with Revenue Protection will receive 15 percent.”

Iowa State University Enrollment Reflects Land-Grant Mission

Iowa State University's fall enrollment of 33,391 reflects the state's largest freshman class and more Iowa undergraduate students than any other university.

"We have one of the most beautiful campuses in the world located in the nation's best college town," said Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen. "At ISU we have a 95 percent post-graduation placement rate, which speaks to how we empower students to reach their full potential through exceptional teaching and research programs and a growing culture of innovation and entrepreneurship."

The largest freshman class in the state (5,597) is part of 28,294 undergraduates on campus. The number of first-year students from Iowa high schools is up slightly from last year, 3,380 compared to 3,362. Nearly 60 percent of undergraduate students -- 16,865 -- are from Iowa. With both undergraduate and graduate levels, there are 18,341 students from Iowa.

A record 6,892 undergraduates earned degrees in 2019, surpassing an all-time high set the previous year. The four-year graduation rate is also a record, with the average time to degree for all students at 4.4 years. Laura Doering, associate vice president for enrollment management and student success, says record graduating classes are a factor in Iowa State's changing enrollment.

Demographic shifts in the number of students going to college, fewer international students attending U.S. universities and more prospective students entering the workforce directly out of high school also have affected enrollment. Fall enrollment is down 1,601 or around 4.5 percent from 2018.

Iowa State's freshman class set a record for average high school rank (77.68), average GPA (3.68) and percentage in the top 10 percent of their high school class (28.4 percent). The student body represents all 99 Iowa counties and all 50 U.S. states (plus Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico; the Virgin Islands and Mariana Islands), as well as 115 countries. It's also more diverse -- 15.3 percent of undergrads are multicultural students. There are fewer international students on campus this fall -- 3,189 compared to 3,671 in 2018.

Doering says ISU students are actively engaged. In fact, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 2020 College Rankings recently ranked Iowa State in the top 50 for student engagement. More than 41 percent of undergraduates participate in two or more high-impact experiences during their time on campus including 6,176 in learning communities, 440 in the first-year Honors program and 400 in undergraduate research, annually. An additional 1,800 students study abroad each year and 10,528 compete in intramural sports.

Fall 2019 enrollment by college
- Agriculture and Life Sciences 4,821
- Business 4,820
- Design 1,905
- Engineering 8,778
- Human Sciences 4,124
- Liberal Arts & Sciences 7,876
- Veterinary Medicine 599 professional, 149 graduate
- Interdepartmental units and graduate undeclared 319

"Our students have so many opportunities in the classroom as well as learning that happens outside of the classroom," Doering said. "They have an amazing experience here at Iowa State and then go on to have great success with the next steps in their lives."

U.S. Pork Producers Seeking Expanded Export Opportunities

The U.S. pork industry ships more product to the 20 countries covered by free-trade agreements than we do the rest of the world combined. Therefore, expanding export opportunities through trade agreements remains a top priority for U.S. pork producers, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Director of International Affairs Maria Zieba said today at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.

NPPC was very pleased this week when the U.S. and Japan signed a trade agreement, returning U.S. pork to a level playing field in one of its most important export markets. With a trade deal in place with Japan, NPPC is focusing on trade agreements with numerous other countries, Zieba said at the event, sponsored by NPPC and held at the National Press Club.

One of NPPC's most pressing priorities is rapid congressional ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement, securing long-term zero-duty access to two of its largest export markets, Zieba explained. Last year, more than 40 percent of U.S. pork exported went to Canada and Mexico. USMCA will strengthen the strong economic ties with our North American neighbors and ensure tariff-free trade with the two countries, Zieba explained.

Unfortunately, the trade situation with China remains frustrating, Zieba said. The trade dispute with China has cost U.S. pork producers $8 per animal, or $1 billion on an annualized basis. "While recent Chinese media reports have suggested tariff relief for U.S. pork, we need to remove market access uncertainty and gain permanent, competitive access to China," she said.

U.S. pork producers are seeking the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers in a variety of other export markets promising significant growth opportunities, said Zieba. For instance, a trade deal with India, the second-most populous nation in the world, would provide a tremendous opportunity for U.S. producers to provide safe, wholesome, and nutritious pork products to consumers in that country.

NPPC is also working to expand other export markets as well, including Jamaica, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

"Pork is one of our country's most competitive export products and we will continue to fight for the chance to meet the rising global demand for the world's most popular protein," Zieba concluded.

NCBA Grants Itself $27 Million of Your Beef Checkoff Funds

Organization for Competative Markets press release

Last week the Beef Checkoff Program budget for 2020 was released, outlining how cattle producers’ $40,900,000 in research and promotion funds will be spent in the coming year. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) named seven organizations as contractors that will be granted the beef checkoff funds. Once again, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) won the top award, of $27,383,347 beef checkoff dollars.

More than half of NCBA’s annual budget is made up of checkoff dollars, and the trade and lobbying group uses those funds to build their influence to push pro-packer policies. NCBA has used its ill-gotten influence to end mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and to hinder Packers and Stockyards Act rules that would stop predatory market practices against cattle producers. NCBA does this while claiming to be the voice of U.S. cattle producers, while only 4% of U.S. cattle producers are actually NCBA members. Since the NCBA has been administering the lion’s share of the beef checkoff funds, the U.S. has lost nearly half of its cattle producers, beef consumption has declined by 30%, and the four largest meatpacking corporations control 82% of the market.

How does NCBA come out every year as the number one contractor receiving the bulk of the annual budget? They maintain this top spot through a rigged system where one of their own divisions selects half of the members of the BPOC, which then chooses the beef checkoff contractors.

Here is how the beef checkoff contracting process works:
The federal Beef Promotion and Research Act, established in 1985, requires a “federation” be formed with membership consisting of representatives from the USDA-designated Qualified State Beef Councils (QSBC). QSBCs are the state-based organizations that are authorized by USDA to collect the mandatory $1.00 per head beef checkoff assessments from the cattle producers. The purpose of this federation of QSBCs is to give cattle producers from across the country a voice in how their mandatory checkoff dollars are being administered and spent at the national level.

The Beef Promotion and Research Act grants the “federation” the authority to pick 10 members of the BPOC, while the CBB picks the other 10. The 20-member BPOC has the sole authority to choose which organizations receive beef checkoff funding. By having the power to select half of the members of the committee, the “federation” is a critical and powerful organization within the beef checkoff contracting process. Following the passage of the Beef Promotion and Research Act, USDA named the Beef Industry Council as the “federation” and everything worked as planned.

Here’s where it went wrong: In 1996, in order to seize control of the beef checkoff funds, NCBA acquired the Beef Industry Council. NCBA then organized the “federation” as a division within its own organizational structure and not as a separate entity organized to be the voice of all U.S. cattle producers.

What does that mean? NCBA’s Federation Division is operating with the authority to select 50% of the members of the BPOC. Since only BPOC-selected contractors can be considered to receive funding, this means NCBA controls who receives beef checkoff contracts and funds. And guess what? NCBA chooses NCBA every time to get the lion’s share of the beef checkoff funds. What a surprise.

What adds fuel to the fire of this scandal is the fact that NCBA has set up a pay-to-play scheme for federation membership. The Beef Promotion and Research Act states the federation is to be made up of the SQBCs. NCBA’s “federation” is made up of SQBCs, but NCBA requires a SQBC to pay for each board seat on the federation, and they can buy as many seats as they want. It is a pure pay-to-play scheme: the more you want to play the more you pay. Who is the biggest buyer of these seats? NCBA state affiliates like the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), who in 2018 bought nine seats. In 2016, KLA paid over $2,000,000 for its nine seats. So much for giving cattle producers from across the country a say in how their checkoff dollars are being administered and spent at the national level.

Where do the NCBA affiliates get their money to buy the seats? Well of course, from another scam. They keep fifty cents of every beef checkoff dollar they collect from the sale of cattle in their state, even though the law doesn’t allow for it. This scheme guarantees NCBA control of the CBB beef checkoff contracting process while funneling an additional $10,000,000 a year of beef checkoff funds into NCBA’s coffers.

But it is time to stop the charade. Farm organizations, journalists and cattle producers need to stop referring to “The Federation of State Beef Councils” as if it is some independent group of cattle producers, as this article does. The federation is a division of NCBA. NCBA says so on their website. So call it for what it is: NCBA’s Federation.

Here is what we should say: “Once again, NCBA is the big winner because the whole system is rigged from the state level all the way to the top. The fact is, NCBA’s Federation Division chose NCBA as the 2020 primary contractor for beef checkoff funding. Under the law, the CBB does not have the authority to pick any organization that the NCBA Federation doesn’t recommend. It is all rigged.”

It is time to clean this mess up and restore the U.S. cattle producers’ voice within the beef checkoff program by stripping NCBA of the federation. The NCBA’s gravy train should be derailed.

Response:  Smear Campaigns

Colin Woodall, CEO, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

The activist-funded Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) has again resorted to half-truths and smear tactics to pit beef producers against one another. It’s clear that their allies at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have taught the staff some new tricks to help tear the beef industry apart from the inside. It should come as no surprise that they’ve chosen a time when the industry is struggling with market-related challenges and producer unrest to fire their latest shot.

OCM/HSUS would like you to think our industry is weak, when in fact, beef demand is strong and has been climbing for many years both in the United States and overseas. Much of that strength is a result of programs funded by the Beef Checkoff. The folks at HSUS know and understand this, and because they oppose the consumption of animals, they have partnered with OCM to organize and fund this ongoing smear campaign.

Discrediting the Beef Checkoff and the work being done by contracting organizations allows OCM, HSUS and their bedfellows at R-CALF to build their own membership ranks. These organizations also depend on members, and they’re loudest when conditions are at their worst. By accepting the help of activists (OCM has widely acknowledged their close ties with HSUS and it’s well known that R-CALF is working closely with attorneys at Public Justice, a group that works closely with PETA and organizations such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund to attack and divide the beef industry) these groups are able to capitalize on the unrest in our industry and divide beef producers. Ultimately, twin campaigns by OCM/HSUS and R-CALF will tear the industry apart and cause irreparable harm unless producers speak up.

That’s the point of my response. I’ve had enough and it’s time to set the record straight. Let’s begin with the OCM/HSUS claims about funding for NCBA’s Beef Checkoff authorization requests. About the only information that’s correct is the dollar figure. NCBA was awarded $27.3 million in contracts for work related to promotion, research, consumer information and industry information. NCBA was one of eight contractors who received funding for proposals brought forward for consideration.

The groups which had proposals funded include:
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (five proposals for $27,383,347)
    U.S. Meat Export Federation, a subcontractor to NCBA (one proposal for $8,279,846)
    North American Meat Institute (four proposals for $1,953,345)
    Cattlemen’s Beef Board (one proposal for $1,645,993)
    American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (one proposal for $698,300)
    Meat Import Council of America (one proposal for $498,786)
    United States Cattlemen’s Association (one proposal for $359,126)
    National Livestock Producers Association (one proposal for $99,757)

It’s important to note that United States Cattlemen’s Association is a new contractor to the process and is an outstanding example of the fact that many industry organizations can bring forward proposals and receive funding for work that falls within the scope of the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. NCBA’s critics would like you to believe that the association has the ability, or even the desire, to control the Beef Checkoff and its funding mechanism.

Contrary to the headline of the OCM/HSUS release, NCBA did not “grant” itself any funding. NCBA submitted authorization requests into the same competitive process to which each of the eight contractors were subjected. Submitted authorization requests were evaluated, scored and then reviewed by the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC). The 20 members of the BPOC then made funding decisions based on the merits of those proposals. It should be noted that there are 14 votes required to pass a budget, so even though 10 members of the BPOC are cattlemen and cattlewomen appointed by the Federation of State Beef Councils, NCBA does not, and cannot, control the process or the funding decisions made by the BPOC.

OCM/HSUS has gone out of its way to smear the Federation of State Beef Councils. The men and women who make up the Federation are volunteer cattle producers. They offer up their time freely because they believe it’s important to represent the industry, to build beef demand and combat lies about the products we produce. The more than 700 cattlemen and cattlewomen who serve on state beef council boards are working on your behalf. These volunteers are your voice and they help determine how investments in the checkoff are directed. These volunteers deserve a nod of thanks for their service and time spent away from their operations. They don’t deserve to be attacked by activists disguised as cattle producers.

Now that we’ve discussed the funding process, and how it actually works, rather than the OCM/HSUS version, let’s turn to some of the other smears, lies and half-truths contained in the piece.

NCBA is a membership organization. Yes, we lobby every day on the issues our members identify as priorities, to ensure their voices are heard in Washington, D.C., and we’re damn good at it. No, we won’t apologize for doing the job our members pay us to do. But on this point, let me be crystal clear: WE DO NOT USE CHECKOFF FUNDS FOR ANY POLICY OR LOBBYING WORK. First, using checkoff funds for lobbying and policy work is illegal. Secondly, our members believe in the work we’re doing on their behalf and they willingly fund that work with their membership dues. We’ve had some big wins to benefit our members this year and we’re proud of that work. We had two victories in September alone, including the announcement of a trade agreement with Japan that lowers tariffs on U.S. beef and a rollback of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulations that would have cost producers dearly. Our members feel that kind of work is worth the investment.

Ultimately, this division in the industry will drive beef producers to a breaking point, serving no one but our adversaries. It’s discouraging that the animal rights activists have partnered with a small band of vocal producers to give them a foothold in the industry. If we stand silently and allow the attacks and smears to continue, the only winners will be the activists who pit cattlemen and cattlewomen against each other in the first place.

Ag Deputy Secretary Censky To Keynote Global Ethanol Summit In Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed late Wednesday that Deputy Secretary Steve Censky will speak at the Global Ethanol Summit (GES) in Washington, D.C., scheduled for Oct. 14-15.

The Summit, sponsored jointly by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Growth Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), is planned to engage a broad array of global ethanol leaders about the benefits of expanding ethanol use. Censky’s comments will focus on delivering U.S. ethanol potential through collaboration and trade.

“We are very pleased Deputy Secretary Censky has agreed to be with us during this important event,” said Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and CEO. “We are encouraged that ethanol means as much to the administration as it does to us and to American corn farmers dedicated to making our country and many others around the world environmentally safer for generations to come.”

More than 300 ministerial-level officials and senior-level industry leaders, ethanol producers and refiners from more than 60 countries have been invited to attend.

With informative general sessions, networking and dedicated business-to-business meetings, the GES will provide attendees direct access to thought leaders on the future of global ethanol use and the opportunity to build partnerships with industry leaders.

First-day conference highlights include discussions about ethanol trade policy, global decarbonization of fuel and the environmental benefits of ethanol, air quality and human health implications of ethanol, opportunities for ethanol expansion in the bio-economy and industrial uses of the product.

“We look forward to welcoming Deputy Secretary Censky to the event, which will feature presentations from the industry’s foremost experts, insightful discussions and unparalleled networking opportunities,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “U.S. ethanol isn’t just an important part of the economy in America’s rural communities, it is driving economic development and environmental benefits around the world. Bringing together so many leaders and decision-makers from so many places is an important part of our work in raising awareness about the benefits of U.S. ethanol, so we all can breathe easier with a high-octane, low-carbon, affordable fuel solution.”

The second day of the meeting will focus on delivering on ethanol’s potential through collaboration, trade and global use. Sessions planned include discussions about octane economics, vehicle compatibility with ethanol and handling and logistics of ethanol use.

“The Global Ethanol Summit will bring together some of the biggest players in the industry, and we are fortunate to have one of the U.S.’ most invaluable biofuel supporters, USDA Deputy Secretary Censky, be part of this conversation,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We look forward to a robust discussion on building the global market, as well as the opportunity to hear from industry experts on how critical fostering stable trade relationships will continue to be for future growth. We look forward to joining our partners and USDA Deputy Secretary Censky at this one-of-a-kind event in October.”

The meeting will end by looking at future opportunities for ethanol, its expanded use potential and the outlook for developing and cultivating new markets around the world.

The GES follows two previous regional ethanol summits – the Ethanol Summit of the Americas held in October 2017 and the Ethanol Summit of the Asia-Pacific held in May 2018. Additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program and other sponsors will support the expanded focus of the GES.

The GES will also feature a U.S. sales component that builds on current ethanol trade. For the last 10 years, ethanol has been the fastest-growing U.S. agricultural export, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA’s FAS).

Following the Summit, the Council and its members will organize specialized tours of U.S. ethanol production facilities and terminals for international Summit attendees.

Interested domestic ethanol industry leaders and other members of the ethanol value chain can register for the event at

RFA Corrects EPA Misstatements About Ethanol Demand and SREs in House Testimony

In a letter sent today to the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Renewable Fuels Association noted several misstatements in testimony offered recently to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and provided background information to help the Agency better understand the real impacts of small refinery exemptions (SREs).

Today’s note follows a letter sent to EPA in August after the Agency asserted there was “zero evidence” that SREs are negatively impacting ethanol producers.

“In light of our August letter and the further deterioration of ethanol market conditions that has subsequently occurred, we were disappointed to hear you repeat similar claims about the impact of SREs on ethanol producers during your testimony,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper in the letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Several statements made during the hearing about ethanol supply and demand are inconsistent with government data and market intelligence. I write today to challenge several of your statements and provide additional information regarding the very real impact of SREs on the ethanol industry.”

Specifically, RFA questioned the accuracy of EPA statements regarding recent trends in ethanol production and use. Specifically, Administrator Wheeler told the Committee that ethanol production and consumption is on the rise, when data from the Department of Energy and EPA itself indicate otherwise.

“We encourage you and your staff to more carefully and more thoroughly analyze the actual marketplace implications of retroactive SREs,” Cooper concluded. “EPA statements suggesting there has been no negative economic impact from SREs are an insult to the thousands of biofuel industry workers and farmers who are experiencing very real pain today because of EPA decisions.”

FARM Animal Care Program Announces Version 4.0 Changes for 2020

The National Milk Producers Federation, with support from Dairy Management Inc., today announced updates to animal care standards under the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, or FARM, Animal Care program after a rigorous 16-month stakeholder review.

The fourth iteration of the FARM Animal Care Program’s standards supports closer farmer-veterinarian relationships, requires continuing education for all employees and adds a new standard for pain management when disbudding animals. As with previous versions of FARM Animal Care, a robust suite of materials that include templates, FAQs, continuing education videos and other resource tools will be made available to help producers meet the outlined standards. These resources are available to producers through their cooperative or processor and can be found on the FARM Resources web page. Hard copy resources are also available upon request.

“FARM’s Animal Care Program 4.0 underscores the dairy community’s commitment to continually improving animal care and incorporating the latest animal-welfare research, demonstrating to consumers that dairy is a leader in the humane and ethical care of our animals,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We are committed to ensuring that farms are prepared to meet the updated standards and that the supply chain – from farm to fork -- has full transparency as well as high-quality dairy products.”

FARM Animal Care is updated once every three years to ensure relevance to current industry best management practices and scientific research related to on-farm animal care. Farmers nationwide, dairy veterinarians and animal-welfare experts and dairy-industry leaders are all represented in drafting and approving new standards received 370 submissions that guided final decisions made on Version 4.0.

Significant changes going into effect beginning Jan. 1 include:
-    If tail docking is found to have continued to occur, immediate action must be taken to cease the practice.
-    Standards that generate a Mandatory Corrective Action Plan -- ranging from veterinarian engagement (Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship and herd health plan review), calf care, non-ambulatory, euthanasia and fitness to transport management practices, and disbudding prior to 8 weeks of age -- will need to be addressed within nine months of the evaluation. For additional specifics around the standards updates, please visit this site.

FARM staff will be attending and exhibiting at the World Dairy Expo from Oct. 1-5 at booth EH4508. FARM is also hosting a lunch at Expo on Thursday, Oct. 3rd at noon CT to more broadly discuss current initiatives within FARM. RSVP is required and can be completed by emailing the FARM Inbox at

IGC Raises Grain Stockpile Forecast

The world will carry over more grain into next season than previously expected, the International Grains Council said on Thursday, a factor that could put pressure on food prices in the coming months.

In a monthly report, the IGC revised up its forecast for global grain inventories at the end of the 2019-20 season by 3 million tons, to 601 million tons.

The change stems from a tweak to the IGC's estimate of grain stores at the start of the season, rather than revisions to its production and consumption forecasts.

The IGC cut its forecast for grain production in Australia by 3 million tons, to 31 million tons, as a result of hot and dry weather.

The European Union's recently completed harvest was the largest in four years, the IGC said, producing 326.2 million tons of grain.

President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. Beth Ford joins FFAR Board of Directors

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is thrilled to announce that Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. is joining the Board of Directors.

Ford leads one of the country’s largest food and agricultural cooperatives. Since joining Land O’Lakes in 2011, she has led record performance and growth at the company as Chief Operating Officer of Land O’Lakes business, in addition to holding other executive positions at the Fortune 500 Company. Ford brings more than 20 years’ experience in technology and R&D in executive operations management and supply chain roles at International Flavors and Fragrances, Mobil Corporation, PepsiCo and Pepsi Bottling Company and Scholastic.

“Beth Ford brings corporate leadership and a deep understanding of research and development to the table, making her a perfect fit for FFAR’s Board of Directors,” noted FFAR Chairman of the Board and President of Mississippi State University Dr. Mark Keenum. “Ford’s experience and leadership will be much valued as we guide FFAR towards even greater success in generating actionable science to solve food and agriculture’s most pressing challenges.”

Ford is changing the face of agricultural leadership. She is only one of 33 women leading Fortune 500 company and Land O’ Lakes’ first female CEO, a position to which she was promoted by an all-male board. FFAR similarly takes an audacious, collaborative approach to fill research gaps and seeks to energize the agricultural research field. The Foundation is excited to add Ford’s pioneering spirit to the FFAR Board of Directors.

“We are honored to have one of our country’s most dynamic business leaders join our Board of Directors,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “Our Board has been instrumental in helping us become the innovative organization we are today. We look forward to working with Ford to continue achieving FFAR’s goals.”

Rep. Kind Introduces the 'CURD Act' to Protects Quality of Cheese

Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind introduced the bipartisan Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions, or CURD Act, which would create a formal definition of 'natural cheese to ensure consumers are fully informed when purchasing cheese.

The La Crosse Democrat says the term natural cheese is historically used to identify cheeses made directly from milk and distinguish those products from process cheeses.

"Folks here in Wisconsin are proud of the high quality, international award-winning, delicious cheese made in the state," Kind said. "Ensuring Wisconsin cheese can continue to be labeled as 'natural cheese' will give customers the information they need to continue buying the quality Wisconsin cheese their families have used for generations."