Monday, September 9, 2019

Monday September 9 Ag News


For the week ending September 8, 2019, there were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 8 short, 80 adequate, and 10 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 9 short, 80 adequate, and 9 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 58 good, and 15 excellent. Corn dough was 94 percent, behind 100 last year, and near 98 for the five-year average. Dented was 70 percent, behind 84 last year and 81 average. Mature was 9 percent, behind 20 last year and 18 average.

Soybean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 20 fair, 61 good, and 14 excellent. Soybeans setting pods was 94 percent, behind 100 both last year and average. Dropping leaves was 7 percent, well behind 29 last year, and behind 22 average.

Winter wheat planted was 4 percent, equal to last year, and near 8 average.

Sorghum condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 15 fair, 67 good, and 17 excellent. Sorghum coloring was 59 percent, well behind 82 both last year and average. Mature was 1 percent, behind 12 last year and 10 average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 3 percent very poor, 18 poor, 27 fair, 45 good, and 7 excellent. Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 30 percent. Harvested was 2 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 15 fair, 64 good, and 17 excellent.


Most of Iowa experienced cooler than normal temperatures and below normal precipitation during the week ending September 8, 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Fieldwork activities included harvesting hay and seed corn, chopping corn silage, seeding cover crops and preparing machinery for corn for grain and soybean harvest.

Topsoil moisture condition was rated 5 percent very short, 26 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Areas in 28 counties were rated as D1 moderate drought according to the September 3, 2019, U.S. Drought Monitor due to the persistent lack of rain in parts of Iowa. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 5 percent very short, 24 percent short, 70 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

Ninety-one percent of the corn crop was in or beyond the dough stage, 2 weeks behind last year and 12 days behind the 5-year average. Sixty percent of the crop reached the dented stage, 2 weeks behind last year and 9 days behind average. Four percent of corn had reached maturity, 11 days behind average. Corn condition rated 63 percent good to excellent.

Ninety-four percent of the soybean crop has started setting pods, 18 days behind last year and nearly 2 weeks behind average. Fifteen percent of the crop has begun coloring, 12 days behind last year and 9 days behind average. Soybean condition rated 61 percent good to excellent.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay reached 76 percent, nearly 1 week behind average. Pasture condition declined from the previous week to 42 percent good to excellent. There were no livestock issues to report from this past week.

Corn Condition Drops 3 Percentage Points

Corn condition, which is already at a six-year low, dropped last week, according to USDA NASS' latest Crop Progress report released Monday. NASS estimated that, as of Sunday, Sept. 8, the U.S. corn crop was 55% in good-to-excellent condition, down 3 percentage points from 58% the previous week. That's 13 percentage points below last year's good-to-excellent rating at this time of year of 68% and is the lowest rating since 2013.  Corn's poor-to-very-poor condition rating category gained 1 percentage last week to reach 14% as of Sunday. That compares to a poor-to-very-poor rating of 12% at the same time last year.

Corn development remained behind the average pace last week. Nationwide, corn in the dough stage was estimated at 89%, 8 percentage points behind the five-year average of 97%. Corn dented was 55%, 22 percentage points behind the five-year average of 77%. That was further behind normal than in last week's report, when corn dented was running 19 percentage points behind average. Corn mature increased only 5 percentage points last week to reach 11% as of Sunday, 13 percentage points behind the five-year average of 24%.

While corn condition declined last week, the condition of the nation's soybean crop remained unchanged for the second week in a row with a good-to-excellent rating of 55%. But, as with corn, that is still the lowest good-to-excellent rating since 2013. 

Soybeans setting pods reached 92% as of Sunday, 7 percentage points behind the average of 99%. That was slightly closer to average than in last Monday's report when soybeans setting pods was 10 percentage points behind the average pace.

Spring wheat harvest continued its stead pace last week, moving ahead another 16 percentage points from the previous week to reach 71% as of Sunday. However, that's still 16 points behind the five-year average of 87% at this time of year.

Sorghum heading reached 97% as of Sunday, near the five-year average of 98%. Sorghum coloring was estimated at 65%, behind the average of 74%. Sorghum mature was estimated at 27%, behind the average of 37%. Sorghum harvested was estimated at 22%, slightly behind the five-year average of 24%. Barley harvested reached 82%, behind the average of 92%. Oats were 89% harvested, also behind the average of 95%.

Cotton bolls opening was estimated at 43%, ahead of the average of 37%. Cotton harvested was estimated at 7%, near the five-year average of 6%. Cotton condition -- for the portion of the crop still in fields -- was rated 43% good to excellent, down 5 percentage points from last week's 48% good-to-excellent rating. Rice harvested was 30%, 7 percentage points behind the average of 37%.

Citizens, Groups Call for a Moratorium on Chicken Barns

A coalition of citizen and state organizations held a media event Monday afternoon expressing their opposition to Lincoln Premium Poultry and efforts by farmers to place chicken bars in Eastern Nebraska.

The coalition launched a state-wide petition calling for a moratorium on the barns.  The event was held at Pine Crest Farms Bed & Breakfast, 2550 County Road A, Valparaiso, NE. 

The groups that are were part of this effort today include Nebraska Communities United, Community Advocates for Responsible Agriculture , RC Communities United, Elmwood First, Lancaster Hills Alliance, Dodge County Farmers Union, GC Resolve, Nebraskans for Peace, Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, Nebraska Sierra Club

Andrew Tonnies is a Member of the Dodge County Farmers Union and lives near North Bend.  In a press packet sent to KTIC, he said....

My wife and I first joined the fight against the vertical integration of livestock production in October of last year when we discovered that Costco intended to build 24 broiler houses near our home and farm.

We learned through a "good neighbor" letter that Costco had recruited a "small" poultry grower from Arkansas to build a facility housing over a million chickens at a time. Then, through the investigative skill of friends in Oklahoma, we learned that this particular "small" farmer was actually one of the largest owners of poultry barns in the state of Oklahoma.

Costco was intentionally misleading people. Costco’s talking point has been “bringing young people back to the farm” and “providing an opportunity to diversify farm income.” Those are good talking points. Those are things I want for my community. We need young people to stay on the farm, and farms need to be diversified in order to stay afloat when crop prices or yields are low, but this model of integrated agriculture is not the answer.

Most Nebraskan’s didn’t take the bait, which is why Costco has now recruited an out-of-state investment fund to build one quarter of the broiler houses that it needs to service its processing facility in Fremont. There were no “good neighbor” letters alerting neighbors this time. Rather, Costco attempted to deceive the public by using Nebraska farmers as a front on permit applications when the farmer won’t even be involved in the operation.

An investment fund will not be a responsible neighbor, and I doubt we ever see the man whose name is attached to 132 chicken houses in 3 Nebraska counties. I won’t see him at the coffee shop, the gas station, or in church. He and his investment fund are not interested in bringing young people back or being a part of our community. Just like Costco, he is only here to use our resources to make money for shareholders and executives.

Costco and Jody Murphey are here for the economics of extraction. We are here to oppose them. We are here to promote a vibrant local economy. We are here to encourage a vibrant community that values accountability.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Statement Regarding Call for Moratorium on Nebraska Livestock Farms
Craig Head, spokesman, Nebraska Farm Bureau

“Livestock farming is part of the heritage and fabric of Nebraska and a critical part of Nebraska agriculture. Enacting a statewide moratorium to stop new livestock farms would be the equivalent of halting the growth of rural Nebraska. Livestock farms support our rural communities, strengthen our state’s economy, and keep Nebraska strong.”

“The notion that a moratorium is needed ignores the realities of what farmers must do to build and operate a new livestock farm. Nebraska farmers go through an extensive process and must adhere to numerous local, state, and federal regulations, governing everything from where barns can be located, to how they operate for the protection of natural resources and the environment. A moratorium on Nebraska livestock farms, as has been proposed by some environmental and activist groups, would be nothing short of a disservice to Nebraska farmers, our rural communities, and our state.”

Moratorium Wrong Step for Nebraska Livestock Sector

Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska’s economy and adding value to commodities creates opportunities for all Nebraskans.  Whether it is creative partnerships, contract production of seed corn, or niche markets, all of these business options provide opportunity for growth in agriculture.

“Growing the livestock industry in Nebraska is critically important to our state,” said Steve Martin, Executive Director of AFAN. “Organizations opposed to livestock on the local, state and national level are undercutting the very fabric of Nebraska’s economic foundation.  Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska’s economy and adding value to commodities by growing the livestock industry creates opportunities for all Nebraskans.”

Livestock operations are regulated and permitted by local and state regulations.  The local regulations address where a livestock operation can build in the county and the state regulations through the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) ensure that the operation does not impact waters of the state.  Operations must report annually to NDEE to stay in compliance.

“Livestock production creates opportunities to use local grain to feed local livestock,” said Lori Luebbe, Executive Director of the Nebraska Soybean Association and chair of the AFAN board.  “By using our grain in the state, we improve demand and price for the local farmer.”

Nebraska has great natural resources of climate, soil, water and people to continue to grow the livestock and agriculture industry.  Governed by good regulations the state has many opportunities to continue growing our ag industry which provides jobs and taxes that pay for schools, roads and services that all Nebraskans can enjoy.

Ricketts: Let’s Stand Up for Nebraska’s Family Farmers

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman issued statements following news that radical anti-agriculture groups had called for a moratorium on livestock production in Nebraska.

“Let’s be clear: The out-of-state environmental lobbying groups rallying opposition against our family farmers in Nebraska are anti-agriculture,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Left unchecked, they would destroy our way of life.  This attempt to stop livestock development in Nebraska is a part of the ‘meat is murder’ movement led by radical groups who want to end livestock production around the globe.  I urge Nebraskans in our local communities to rise up and protect family farms and stand with our livestock producers across our state.”

“Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska’s economy, and it is extremely disheartening to learn that there are groups of citizens in our own state that are working to essentially eliminate the livestock industry,” said NDA Director Wellman.  “As the director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, I strongly support all aspects of Nebraska agriculture and the farmers and ranchers that work tirelessly contributing to Nebraska’s economic well-being through livestock production.  CAFO’s are well thought out and planned operations across Nebraska with plans that work to address environmental impacts, nutrient management and animal health to efficiently deliver a high quality, safe food supply.”

National Farm Safety and Health Week on Sept. 15-21 to focus on women in agriculture

More women than ever are actively engaged in farming operations across the United States.

In celebration of National Farm Safety and Health Week on Sept. 15-21, several organizations – such as the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the AgriSafe Network – are using the week to raise awareness of their expanding training resources focused on reducing the risk of injury and illness in women working in agriculture.

While noting that women have always played a role in working on the farm, Knesha Rose-Davison, health communications director for the AgriSafe Network, said the role of women in farming is growing. The 2017 U.S. Census estimates that 36% of all producers are female and 56% of all farms have at least one female decision maker.

“The numbers went from about 970,000 women actively working in farming operations in 2012 to around 1.2 million in 2017,” Rose-Davison said. “With this 27% spike in the numbers, we have a concern about the unique safety issues women face when they’re working on the farm.”

In 2017, AgriSafe Network began collaborating with CS-CASH to collect personal accounts of injury from women working in farm situations. Analyzing the data allowed them to identify specific types of injuries and high-risk activities that women are typically exposed to on the farm.

“Ergonomic issues are especially prominent for women,” Rose-Davison said. “Men experience ergonomic injuries, too. But due to their size and physical strength, women handling livestock or working at activities involving repetitive movements are prone to ergonomic injuries.”

Ergonomics is a science that helps improve products, processes and tools to help people work and live better and to prevent injury.

Injuries and strained muscles in the neck, shoulders and back are common in women. Ergonomic injuries can occur more readily as women age and bone density, chronic diseases, natural decline in strength and other physical changes occur.

“One of the training areas we’ve developed is a focus on ergonomics and having materials that focus on building core strength,” Rose-Davison said. “Most of us aren’t familiar with the muscles in our core that we often use in doing physical work. We’ve developed yoga and Pilates posters and will soon offer videos that explain what muscle groups we use for certain types of work. Understanding this will help women avoid straining those muscles, which can lead to injury.”

Women on the farm also are highly prone to injuries related to assisting with birthing animals.

“This is an especially high-risk activity if the woman herself is pregnant,” Rose-Davison said. “Assisting with a birthing of animals can result in exposure of pregnant women and their fetuses to disease and physical injury. It’s important for women to be aware of the risks they face in these scenarios and knowing how to protect themselves.”

Heavy lifting during any stage of pregnancy can affect an unborn fetus. Exposure to farm chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides also may put women at increased risk when they are pregnant.

Rose-Davidson said, “It’s common on the farm to jump in and get a job done without fully considering the safety risks you encounter in doing that job.”

Traditionally, women in leading roles on the farm have not had access to safety training resources customized to suit their unique needs, she said.

Because agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations with multiple health threats, including threats to reproduction and ergonomics, AgriSafe will share training programs, which will be featured during National Farm Safety and Health Week.

Individual and group training also is available through the AgriSafe Network website and can be scheduled for an on-site session. Focus topics include:
·         Hazard communication standards for identification of and safe usage of chemicals and pesticides, along with proper use of respiratory protection;
·         Ergonomic safety to help avoid musculoskeletal injuries; and
·         Reducing the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and perinatal illness.

“All these training modules are free and available to the public,” Rose-Davison said. “Trainings are available through federal funding offered by the Department of Labor through their Susan G. Harwood training grant.”

Typically, each training module lasts for 60 minutes. In an on-site setting, a portion of that time is used for interacting with training participants. Depending on the topic, some safety practices are practiced during the training session.

“Part of our effort includes raising awareness of hazards and staying up to date on training,” Rose-Davison said. “We may know about some of these practices but have forgotten about them or need a refresher course about implementing them.

“On the farm, the biggest asset is the worker. You can never hear too many safety messages. We know farmers enjoy the work they do. We want to help them be mindful of their personal safety while they do it, so they’re working in a safe environment and doing all they can to protect their health.”

More details on these various training opportunities are available at the  website and going to the “Training Catalog” link.

Free Breakfast Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Official “Game Day Approved Tailgate Party”

Nebraska agriculture organizations and the state’s farmers and ranchers are hosting a free breakfast tailgate party Saturday, Sept. 21. The place: Russ’s Market at 33rd and Highway 2. The time: 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Football fans–and breakfast fans–are invited to the official “Game Day Approved Tailgate Party with Nebraska Farmers & Ranchers” for free breakfast and the opportunity to visit with our farmers and ranchers about how they produce our food in a safe, sustainable and tasty way. The purpose of the event is to provide consumers with information about how our farmers and ranchers grow our food and care for the land and their animals.

Farm organizations will be staffing booths that tailgaters can visit to learn more about Nebraska agriculture. Each attendee will receive a “Farm Land” card they can get stamped at each booth they visit. Those who get their cards stamped at every booth can return their cards to the AFAN booth to receive a Russ’s Market $5 OFF $50 coupon for use at the store. Completed cards also register the attendee for the grand prize–the Nebraska Agriculture gift basket.

“In our state, football and tailgating go hand-in-hand,” says Steve Martin, executive director of AFAN. “So this party is the perfect opportunity for consumers to talk football and food production with Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Consumers will enjoy a free Nebraska-grown breakfast while they talk with our food producers about the ins and outs of producing nutritious, healthy food for our tables, information that they need to make informed food choices for their families.”

“Game Day Approved Tailgate Party” sponsors include the Nebraska Pork Producers Association; Nebraska Poultry Industries; AFAN; Nebraska Corn Board; Nebraska Soybean Board; Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation; Nebraska Wheat Growers Association; Russ’s Market; CommonGround Nebraska; Nebraska Cattlemen; Midwest Dairy; Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board; and the Nebraska Hop Growers Association.

ICA seeking young cattle producers for leadership program

In an on-going effort to build future leadership for both the Iowa cattle industry and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, ICA is taking applications for the 2020 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program. The application deadline is November 1, 2019 and can be downloaded from the ICA website,

“With all of the issues facing agriculture today, it’s more important than ever that we equip young cattlemen and women with the knowledge and skills needed to lead our industry into the future,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “The Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program will help participants better understand the industry and work towards solutions to the problems their generation will face.”

Those selected for the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) will meet six times in the coming year on January 8-9, 2020, February 18-19, 2020, May 28-29, 2020, August 6-7, 2020, November 5-6, 2020 and December 3-4, 2020. They will tour beef production facilities, learn about trending cattle issues, enhance their leadership and communication skills, and play an active role in the legislative process. The program is free to all participants.

The application for YCLP asks potential participants to explain why they are interested in participating in the program, as well as explaining their goals and giving their vision for the future of the cattle industry. Preference will be given to current ICA members. If you have questions about the program, or would like an application mailed to you, contact Adair Lents at, or call 515-296-2266.

YCLP is sponsored by ICA with funding provided by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation and members of the ICA President’s Council.

CFTC Orders Registrant to Pay $1.25 Million for Fraud, Unauthorized Trading, and Violating Speculative Position Limits in Live Cattle Futures

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission today issued an order filing and simultaneously settling charges against Nathan Harris, a CFTC registrant, of Akron, Iowa, for fraud, unauthorized trading, and violating speculative position limits in live cattle futures contracts.  The order imposes a civil monetary penalty of $1,250,000 and permanent restrictions on Harris’s registration with the CFTC.

CFTC Chairman Heath P. Tarbert stated: “This case shows the CFTC’s unwavering commitment to protect America’s farmers and ranchers from fraud and other misconduct in connection with the agricultural derivatives markets.  The Commission will continue to work to ensure all Americans who use these markets can have confidence in their integrity.” 

As noted in the order, between January 2012 and August 2014, Harris engaged in fraud and unauthorized trading by exceeding certain customers’ instructions concerning the size and risk of positions, failing to obtain specific authorization from certain customers for particular trades, and failing to obtain signed powers of attorney from certain customers.  Harris’s unauthorized trading resulted in approximately $10.3 million in customer losses. Through Harris’s unauthorized trading in one customer’s account, he also exceeded CME’s live cattle spot-month limit.

Harris engaged in this conduct while registered as an associated person of his former employer (1), which was a registered Introducing Broker.  In a previous order (Press Release 7803-18), the CFTC ordered Harris’s former employer and its principals to pay restitution to customers for Harris’s unauthorized trading.  Because that restitution order has been satisfied, the CFTC did not order Harris to pay restitution.   

The order imposes restrictions on Harris’s registration as an associated person, which include certain permanent restrictions such as Harris’s business-related telephone calls must be recorded and his sponsoring firm must conduct quarterly on-site compliance reviews of Harris’s conduct.  Harris is also subject to a two-year restriction, during which Harris’s sponsoring firm must implement procedures to verify that Harris received specific authorization from customers for any trades.

Today, CME issued a Notice of Disciplinary Action in which Harris agreed to pay a fine of $1.25 million arising out of the conduct that is the subject of the CFTC’s order.  In imposing its civil monetary penalty, the CFTC took into account the fine imposed by the CME in its related action.  The CFTC acknowledges and appreciates the assistance of the CME.

(1) Background: CFTC Release from September, 2018
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an Order filing and simultaneously settling charges against Kooima & Kaemingk Commodities, Inc. (K&K), Lauren Kaemingk (Kaemingk), and Bradley Kooima (Kooima), all of Iowa, for Kaemingk’s fraud, unauthorized trading, and making false or misleading statements to CME Group Inc. (CME), for a former employee’s fraud, unauthorized trading, and violation of CME position limits in live cattle futures contracts, and for K&K’s, Kaemingk’s, and Kooima’s supervision failures.  The CFTC Order requires K&K, Kaemingk, and Kooima to pay $11,920,857.05 in restitution to their customers, which are almost entirely comprised of individual farmers and large-scale farming operations.  The Order also requires K&K, Kaemingk, and Kooima to pay a civil monetary penalty of $1,250,000 and orders that they cease and desist from further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, as charged.

New study shows Iowa agriculture even stronger driver of state economy, contributing $121.1 billion

Iowa’s 86,104 family farms continue to be a key driver of Iowa’s economy, contributing 10 percent more to the state economy than in 2012, according to a new study commissioned by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF). The study shows that more than 31 percent of Iowa’s total economic output came from Iowa agriculture in 2017.

The study analyzed data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2017 Census of Agriculture and the IMPLAN system to determine the contributions of Iowa agriculture.

The agriculture industry goes beyond just impacting the total economic output of the state. One in every five Iowans are employed in agriculture and ag-related industries, accounting for nearly 400,000 jobs.

“This study underscores how productive and innovative farmers have been since 2012,” said Spencer Parkinson, of Decision Innovation Solutions who conducted the study. “Despite major weather events such as drought and flooding over the past several years, farmers have increased total output to $121.1 billion, benefitting not just agriculture, but all Iowans.”

Even with this growth, Iowa’s farmers maintain their roots. More than 90 percent of farms in Iowa are family owned and operated with farm size averaging 355 acres.

“The agriculture industry remains a vital part of Iowa communities,” said Brian Waddingham, CSIF Executive Director. “We see this every time we host an open house with livestock farmers. It’s common to see hundreds of community members attend to celebrate what a new barn means to their community: jobs, kids in school and a boon to local businesses.”

Waddingham noted that livestock farming and related industries account for $15.8 billion in value-added contributions for the state. It also accounts for nearly 186,000 jobs across Iowa, up from 123,000 jobs in 2012.

“It’s a testament to the tenacity of livestock farmers, in particular, who have persevered through ongoing low commodity prices, tariffs and Mother Nature to actually see an increase in jobs related to livestock in the state.  There’s no question that the livestock industry is a critical piece to Iowa’s overall economy, said Waddingham.  “It’s also key to keeping farm families living and working on the land.”

“In the 15 years since the Coalition was formed, we’ve assisted more than 4,500 farm families wanting to responsibly grow their farms and bring young people back to rural Iowa.  Diversification seems to be a key component to Iowa’s thriving livestock industry, from established livestock farmers to crop farmers adding livestock for the first time.  Calls to CSIF for assistance remain high as farmers want to discuss which options are best for their farms.  Whether it’s a new and beginning farmer or an existing and well-established farmer calling us, there is a great deal of optimism about adding livestock to the farm,” he added.

Waddingham noted that the calls for assistance include concerns over DNR and EPA inspections, neighbor relations, siting new livestock and poultry barns as well as raising fish.  There are many opportunities in Iowa’s livestock industry today which will continue to evolve to provide farmers additional opportunities in the future.  “As agriculture evolves so will CSIF and the services we provide to ensure the success of livestock agriculture in our state,” he said.

The study also noted that crop farming and processing account for 112,000 jobs, and $11.1 billion in value-added contributions to Iowa.

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock successfully and responsibly. It’s a partnership involving the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy.

Tips to ID Ear Molds

All corn ear molds are not created equal. Some produce dangerous mycotoxins; others don't. Growers should identify and manage ear molds before harvest.  The presence of visible molds is only an indicator. Growers must identify and quantify ear molds to determine potential negative impacts. Here are some tips:
-    If 10 percent of the ears have mold on more than 25 percent of the ear, send a sample for identification.
-    If molds are present, you may need to contact the crop insurance agent - especially if the degree of infection may affect grain quality.
-    If the mold is identified as Aspergillus, Fusarium, Gibberella or Penicillium strains - and the levels are greater than 10,000 cfu/gram (colony forming units per gram) - the grower should schedule a mycotoxin screening.

Once a mycotoxin threat is detected, you need to consider harvesting and storage strategies.

A good practice is to harvest and dry moldy grain in a "continuous-flow" dryer to a moisture level of 14 percent. Cool the grain to ambient air temperature as quickly as possible.  The cool-down process should begin as soon as grain goes into storage. Ultimately, the grain should cool to 30 to 35 degrees for safe storage.  Once cooled down in storage, monitor grain regularly - at least weekly until it's sold or used.

A crop containing mycotoxins may be fine for some markets; however, you must be careful about selling it to someone who'll use it as livestock feed. In many cases, contaminated grain can be mixed with "clean" grain to bring mycotoxin concentrations down to safe levels. Check with local university extension sources for thresholds on feeding various species.

Masters of Beef Advocacy Program Reaches Major Milestones in 2019

Just 10 years after its inception, the Beef Checkoff-funded Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program celebrated its 15,000th graduate in August. The program was created to equip and engage beef industry advocates to communicate about beef and beef production. It is one of the strongest beef advocacy efforts in the industry.

A self-directed online training program managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, MBA requires students to complete five lessons in beef advocacy, including The Beef Community; Raising Cattle on Grass; Life in the Feedyard; From Cattle to Beef; and Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. MBA has also been made available via digital download to allow agriculture educators, state beef organization representatives and other beef industry and youth leaders to incorporate the modules into their curriculums.

Once the MBA course has been completed, graduates gain access to resources on the MBA Classroom site, as well as tools to advance their advocacy efforts, including talking points, fact sheets and continuing education opportunities. Graduates are also invited to join the Masters of Beef Advocacy Alumni Facebook group, a virtual community for MBA graduates to share success stories and to receive the latest research and information on the beef industry.

MBA graduates interested in taking their advocacy skills to the next level can participate in state training workshops. These workshops offer more in-depth training on tactical communication skills and provide greater confidence to successfully engage with consumers, both in person and online. More than 70 such workshops and presentations, reaching more than 3,000 beef advocates, were completed in 2018. In addition, a “Top of the Class” program provides more in-depth instruction and training to leading advocates each year who express an interest in advancing their advocacy efforts. Started in 2014, there are now 50 Top of the Class national advocates. Each year, advocates reach tens of millions of consumers as a result of their advocacy efforts.

“As the percentage of consumers with interest in beef production continues to increase, our engagement with them, as well as with food professionals, dietitians, nutritionists and other thought leaders, has become increasingly important,” says Ryan Goodman, director of grassroots advocacy and spokesperson development for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. “MBA has evolved during the last decade to become a key tool and support system for those who want to advocate for beef and beef producers.”

“We all benefit when consumers better understand our product and how we produce it,” says Laurie Munns, a cattle producer from Hansel Valley, Utah, and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils, a division of NCBA. “The MBA program from NCBA is a great Beef Checkoff-funded initiative for increasing beef demand by enhancing what is known about beef and how it comes to market.”

The MBA program is open to everyone, and there is no cost to participate. To enroll or find out more about this checkoff-funded program, go to

Organic farmers to harvest record acres in 2019

Organic commodity farmers will harvest a record number of acres across the U.S. this year despite the weather and trade challenges plaguing agriculture in 2019.

According to the Annual Acreage Report, released today by Mercaris, farmers will harvest 3.1 million acres of U.S. land certified for organic field crop production, an increase of 7 percent over 2018. The increase is driven in large part by a surge in new certified organic field crop operations across the nation. The West and High Plains regions saw the largest jump in organic harvested field crop acres this year.

Mercaris – based in Silver Spring, MD – is the nation’s leading market data and trading platform for organic and non-GMO markets.

“Organic field crop production has faced some challenges this year, with problematic weather cutting into this year’s organic corn and soybean harvest,” said Ryan Koory, Director of Economics at Mercaris. “However, the industry overall remains on a robust growth trend, and with better weather in 2020, the industry will likely see even more growth in the year to come.”

Mercaris shows certified organic acres in Nebraska this year totalled 129,478, and a total of 135,402  certified acres in Iowa. 

Overall total organic acres – which includes pasture, rangeland, and organic crop area – will reach 8.3 million acres this year. In addition, 18,155 U.S. farm operation are now certified compliant with the USDA National Organic Program standards, a 3 percent increase from 2018.

“With the addition of 517 certified organic operations this year, it is clear that the U.S. organic sector remains promising, despite the unsteady state of the U.S. agricultural industry overall,” Koory said.

U.S. Corn Exports Likely to Fall Short of Target

U.S. corn exports finished off the recently concluded U.S. marketing year at the slowest pace in seven years, while soybean exports hit a record high in the fourth quarter owing to anomalously large shipments to China. Analysis of the latest data suggests that U.S. corn exports in 2018-19, which ended on Aug. 31, will fall short of the current full-year government forecast but soybeans likely topped its target.

Reuters reports that the United States shipped 2.88 million tonnes (113 million bushels) of corn in July, according to data published on Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That was the lowest monthly total since November 2017 and the smallest July volume since 2013.

Weekly export inspection data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture implies August exports may have been up to 4% lighter than in July, which would also be the smallest for that month since 2013.

Using the assumptions about August, corn shipments in the fourth quarter of 2018-19 fell about 56% from a year ago and 34% from two years ago, which featured more modest exports between June and August.

But the world has not been missing out on corn. Combined August corn exports out of the United States and Brazil likely exceeded 10 million tonnes, which is record-high for any month, according to Reuters.

Brazil, the No. 2 corn exporter, shipped an all-time monthly record of 7.65 million tonnes of the yellow grain in August. July’s volume of 6.3 million had briefly held that title.

A record-large harvest, competitive pricing against the U.S. product, and much-improved exporting logistics in recent years have allowed Brazil to supply such massive volumes.

Argentina and Ukraine have also shipped record volumes this year, denting U.S. business as domestic prices soared during the excessively wet planting season. Logistical problems stemming from the weather also plagued U.S. grain shipments earlier this year.

USDA Resources Available for Farmers Hurt by 2018, 2019 Disasters

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019, including Hurricane Dorian, can apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). Signup for this U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will begin Sept. 11, 2019.

“U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow by extreme weather over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” Perdue said. “The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing. President Trump has the backs of our farmers, and we are working to support America’s great patriot farmers.”

More than $3 billion is available through the disaster relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in early June. WHIP+ builds on the successes of its predecessor program the 2017 Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) that was authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. In addition, the relief package included new programs to cover losses for milk dumped or removed from the commercial market and losses of eligible farm stored commodities due to eligible disaster events in 2018 and 2019. Also, prevented planting supplemental disaster payments will provide support to producers who were prevented from planting eligible crops for the 2019 crop year.


WHIP+ will be available for eligible producers who have suffered eligible losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only). Disaster losses must have been a result of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms or wildfires that occurred in 2018 or 2019. Also, producers in counties that did not received a disaster declaration or designation may still apply for WHIP+ but must provide supporting documentation to establish that the crops were directly affected by a qualifying disaster loss.

A list of counties that received qualifying disaster declarations and designations is available at Because grazing and livestock losses, other than milk losses, are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), those losses are not eligible for WHIP+.

General Eligibility and Payment Limitations

WHIP+ is only designed to provide assistance for production losses, however, if quality was taken into consideration under federal crop insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy, where production was further adjusted, the adjusted production will be used in calculating assistance under this program.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or NAP coverage is available, excluding crops intended for grazing. A list of crops covered by crop insurance is available through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Actuarial Information Browser at

Eligibility will be determined for each producer based on the size of the loss and the level of insurance coverage elected by the producer. A WHIP+ factor will be determined for each crop based on a producer’s coverage level. Producers who elected higher coverage levels will receive a higher WHIP+ factor.

The WHIP+ payment factor ranges from 75 percent to 95 percent, depending on the level of crop insurance coverage or NAP coverage that a producer obtained for the crop. Producers who did not insure their crops in 2018 or 2019 will receive 70 percent of the expected value of the crop. Insured crops (either crop insurance or NAP coverage) will receive between 75 percent and 95 percent of expected value; those who purchased the highest levels of coverage will receive 95-percent of the expected value.

Once signup begins, a producer will be asked to provide verifiable and reliable production records. If a producer is unable to provide production records, WHIP+ payments will be determined based on the lower of either the actual loss certified by the producer and determined acceptable by FSA or the county expected yield and county disaster yield. The county disaster yield is the production that a producer would have been expected to make based on the eligible disaster conditions in the county.

WHIP+ payments for 2018 disasters will be eligible for 100 percent of their calculated value. WHIP+ payments for 2019 disasters will be limited to an initial 50 percent of their calculated value, with an opportunity to receive up to the remaining 50 percent after January 1, 2020, if sufficient funding remains.

WHIP+ benefits will be subject to a payment limitation of either $125,000 or $250,000 per crop year, depending upon their verified average adjusted gross income. As under 2017 WHIP, the payment limitation for WHIP+ factors in the person’s or legal entity’s income from activities related to farming, ranching, or forestry. Specifically, a person or legal entity, other than a joint venture or general partnership, cannot receive more than $125,000 in payments under WHIP+, if their average adjusted gross farm income is less than 75 percent of their average adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2015, 2016, and 2017. The $125,000 payment limitation is single total combined limitation for payments for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crop years. However, if at least 75 percent of the person or legal entity’s average AGI is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities and the participant provides the required certification and documentation, the person or legal entity, other than a joint venture or general partnership, is eligible to receive, directly or indirectly, up to $250,000 per crop year in WHIP+ payments, with a total combined limitation for payments for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crop years of $500,000. The relevant tax years for establishing a producer’s AGI and percentage derived from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities for WHIP+ are 2015, 2016, and 2017. For information regarding the payment limitation that applies to WHIP+, please contact your local USDA service center or visit

Future Insurance Coverage Requirements

Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP+. But all producers receiving WHIP+ payments will be required to purchase crop insurance or NAP, at the 60 percent coverage level or higher, for the next two available, consecutive crop years after the crop year for which WHIP+ payments were paid. Producers who fail to purchase crop insurance for the next two applicable, consecutive years will be required to pay back the WHIP+ payment.

Additional Loss Coverage

The Milk Loss Program will provide payments to eligible dairy operations for milk that was dumped or removed without compensation from the commercial milk market because of a qualifying 2018 and 2019 natural disaster. Producers who suffered losses of harvested commodities, including hay, stored in on-farm structures in 2018 and 2019 will receive assistance through the On-Farm Storage Loss Program.

Additionally, the disaster relief measure expanded coverage of the 2017 WHIP to include losses from Tropical Storm Cindy, and peach and blueberry crop losses that resulted from extreme cold.

Enhanced Assistance Through Tree Assistance Program (TAP)

TAP traditionally provides cost-share for replanting and rehabilitating eligible trees. WHIP+ will provide payments based on the loss of value of the tree, bush or vine itself. Therefore, eligible producers may receive both a TAP and a 2017 WHIP or WHIP+ payment for the same acreage.

In addition, TAP policy has been updated to assist eligible orchardists or nursery tree growers of pecan trees with a tree mortality rate that exceeds 7.5 percent (adjusted for normal mortality) but is less than 15 percent (adjusted for normal mortality) for losses incurred during 2018.

Prevented Planting

Agricultural producers faced significant challenges planting crops in 2019 in many parts of the country. All producers with flooding or excess moisture-related prevented planting insurance claims in calendar year 2019 will receive a prevented planting supplemental disaster (“bonus”) payment equal to 10 percent of their prevented planting indemnity, plus an additional 5 percent will be provided to those who purchased harvest price option coverage.

As under 2017 WHIP, WHIP+ will provide prevented planting assistance to uninsured producers, NAP producers and producers who may have been prevented from planting an insured crop in the 2018 crop year and those 2019 crops that had a final planting date prior to January 1, 2019.

Other USDA Disaster Recovery Assistance

When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.

Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths because of specific weather events, as well as from disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program. Producers who suffer losses to or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities not covered by federal crop insurance may be eligible for assistance under USDA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were from natural disasters.

USDA’s Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides payments to producers of these commodities to help compensate for losses because of diseases (including cattle tick fever) and adverse weather or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, that are not covered by other disaster programs.

USDA also provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program for immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Additionally, the Emergency Watershed Protection Program helps local communities immediately begin relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods. In addition, the Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought.

For more information on FSA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA service center or visit

New Holland celebrates 45 years of Twin Rotor technology by rolling out new combine updates

Celebrating 45 years of New Holland-pioneered Twin Rotor technology, 2020 will mark an exciting year for the agriculture equipment leader in combines. The CR Series 2020 models will feature a significant power upgrade, the revolutionary proactive IntelliSense system, and significant cab and capacity improvements.

2020 models include the CR8.90 with a Cursor 13 engine and 571 peak horsepower (up 54 horsepower from 2019) and the CR7.90 with a Cursor 9 engine and 460 peak horsepower. The CR8.90 is now the most powerful Class 8 combine on the market, delivering outstanding capacity per hour with the same remarkable grain quality and low losses as the previous series. The 2020 models, built in Zedelgem, Belgium, feature increased horsepower and Stage V emission certified engines as part of New Holland’s clean energy leadership position in the market.

“This is truly our best combine yet for the row crop farmer,” says Luiz Miotto, combine product marketing manager for New Holland, North America. “Our focus is that the operator gets the highest yield possible from their fields with maximized power, capacity, grain quality and uptime.”

The benefits of the New Holland CR combine are confirmed by an independent third-party, PAMI, and as reported

One of the CR Series’ most revolutionary features is the full-line integration of IntelliSense technology. New Holland’s IntelliSense is a proactive, automatic combine setting system capable of selecting the best settings out of 280 million possibilities. The information from various sensors is analyzed by the computer and adjustments can be made every 20 seconds, following the strategy set by the farmer, such as Maximum Capacity or Best Grain Quality. By constantly adjusting the combine settings, the system can increase daily productivity by up to 20 percent. For 2020 models, IntelliSense can manage barley crops and receives an advanced mode to further enhance its capabilities.

“The Twin Rotor combines have showcased the ultimate in harvesting performance since their introduction,” Miotto says. “Since then, we have taken significant steps forward in the technology to continue to stay at the forefront. The 2020 models will continue that legacy with our highest-performing models to date.”

Other updates for the 2020 models include improved exterior visibility with a darker cab interior, the addition of two USB ports and a modern cab climate control panel, and 10 percent more flow capacity through the clean grain elevator. These models will also feature an optional Dynamic Feed Roll (DFR) Reverser, enabling the operator to clear DFR blockages from the cab, reducing downtime in the field.

The 2020 CR Series models are on display throughout the summer, appearing next at the New Holland booth (#846) at Husker Harvest Days, and will be available to purchase in Q4 2019.

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