Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday October 11 Ag News

Saturday, October 12th is National Farmers Day

National Farmer's Day is observed every year on October 12. It's a day for everyone to acknowledge the hard work that goes into feeding and supplying the world.

The day generally encourages people to thank the farmers and ranchers in their lives and to pay tribute in some way to the individuals who plow, sow, raise, feed and harvest to provide the food and materials that our country needs to succeed.

We thank all farmers for all they do!


Based on October 1 conditions, Nebraska's 2019 corn production is a record forecast at 1.81 billion bushels, up 1 percent from last year's production, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Area to be harvested for grain, at 9.75 million acres, is up 5 percent from a year ago. Yield is forecast at 186 bushels per acre, down 6 bushels from last year.

Sorghum for grain is forecast at 13.0 million bushels, down 19 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 140,000 acres, is down 18 percent from 2018. Yield is forecast at 93 bushels per acre, down 1 bushel from last year.

Soybean production is forecast at 277 million bushels, down 15 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 4.95 million acres, is 11 percent below 2018. Yield is forecast at 56 bushels per acre, down 2 bushels from last year.

Dry edible bean production is forecast at 2.22 million cwt, down 32 percent from 2018. Area for harvest, at 110,000 acres, is down 16 percent from last year. Yield is estimated at 2,020 pounds per acre, down 460 pounds per acre from last year. Beginning in 2019, chickpeas were excluded from the dry edible bean program.

Sugarbeet production is forecast at 1.20 million tons, down 14 percent from 2018. Area for harvest, at 43,600 acres, is down 1 percent from last year. Yield is estimated at 27.6 tons per acre, down 4.3 tons per acre from a year ago.

All sunflower production is forecast at 51.8 million pounds, up 9 percent from last year. Acreage for harvest, at 36,000 acres, is up 2,500 acres from 2018. Yield is forecast at 1,438 pounds per acre, up 24 pounds per acre from a year ago. Of the acres for harvest, non-oil sunflowers account for 9,000 acres and oil sunflowers account for 27,000 acres.

Alfalfa hay production, at 3.51 million tons, is down 4 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 900,000 acres, is up 6 percent from a year ago. Yield of 3.9 tons per acre, is down 0.4 ton from 2018. All other hay production, at 2.72 million tons, is down 18 percent from last year. Area for harvest, at 1.60 million acres, is down 14 percent from a year ago. Yield of 1.7 tons per acre, is down 0.1 ton from 2018.


Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.52 billion bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Production report. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 192 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from the September 1 forecast, but down 4 bushels per acre from last year. Corn planted acreage is estimated at 13.5 million acres. An estimated 13.1 million of the acres planted will be harvested for grain.

Soybean production is forecast at 484 million bushels. The yield is forecast at 53.0 bushels per acre, down 1.0 bushel per acre from the September 1 forecast, and 3.0 bushels per acre lower than 2018. Soybean planted acreage is estimated at 9.20 million acres with 9.13 million acres to be harvested.

Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures for hay is forecast at 2.24 million tons, a decrease of 2 percent from the previous year. Yield is expected to average 3.20 tons per acre, down 0.50 ton from last year. Production of other hay is forecast at 988,000 tons, up 40 percent from last year. Yield for other hay is expected to average 2.60 tons per acre, up 0.40 ton from last year.

The forecasts in this report are based on October 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time. The next corn and soybean production forecasts, based on conditions as of November 1, will be released on November 8.

U.S. Corn Production Down Less Than 1 Percent from September Forecast

Soybean Production Down 2 Percent

Corn production for grain is forecast at 13.8 billion bushels, down less than 1 percent from the previous forecast and down 4 percent from last year. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 168.4 bushels per harvested acre, up 0.2 bushel from the previous forecast but down 8.0 bushels from 2018. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 81.8 million acres, down less than 1 percent from the previous forecast but up slightly from 2018. Acreage updates were made in several States based on a thorough review of all available data.

Soybean production for beans is forecast at 3.55 billion bushels, down 2 percent from the previous forecast and down 20 percent from last year. Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 46.9 bushels per acre, down 1.0 bushel from the previous forecast and down 3.7 bushels from 2018. Area harvested for beans in the United States is forecast at 75.6 million acres, down less than 1 percent from the previous forecast and down 14 percent from 2018. Acreage updates were made in several States based on a thorough review of all available data.

Cattle Production Risk Management Workshops Offered in November and December 2019

Jim Jansen, UNL Agricultural Economist

Nebraska Extension will be hosting risk management workshops for cattle producers at five locations throughout the state during November and December 2019. Join specialists and educators from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as they present vital information on strategies designed to reduce risk exposure associated with cattle marketing and forage production to achieve a profitable outcome in uncertain times. Topics covered during the workshop include marketing tools available to protect against unfavorable price declines, programs for protecting against weather related forage losses, and current issues facing the cattle industry.

Specific marketing tools covered during the workshop include futures and options as well as Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) Insurance. Programs covered to guard against weather related losses for grazing land and annual forages include Pasture, Range, and Forage (PRF) Insurance, Annual Forage Insurance, and FSA disaster programs. Current issues and opportunities facing the cattle industry will also be discussed as part of the meeting.


Dates and times for these programs include:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm MT
Country Kitchen Restaurant
1250 W 10th St, Chadron, NE 69337
Contact: Jack Arterburn at 308-327-2312

Wednesday, November 6, 2016 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm MT
Buffalo Point Restaurant
638 Cabela Dr, Sidney, NE 69162
Contact: Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122

Thursday, November 7, 2019 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm MT
Bunkhouse Bar & Grill
306 Fir St, Arthur, NE 69121
Contact: Randy Saner at 308-532-2683

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm CT
** Dairy focused livestock and forage meeting. **
Ramada Hotel & Conference Center
265 33rd Ave, Columbus, NE 68601
Contact: Kimberly Clark at 402-472-6065

Monday, December 9, 2019 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm CT
Tumbleweed Café
850 East S East St, Broken Bow, NE 68822
Contact: Troy Walz at 308-872-6831

To register for the meetings please either call the contact listed above or go to the link:

These workshops do not have a cost for attending and a complementary meal will be provided, but registration is required 3 days prior to the day of the workshop to ensure an accurate meal count.


From dry beans to honey, specialty crops are an important part of Nebraska agriculture. Several organizations in Nebraska recently received nearly $675,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) to fund projects designed to strengthen the specialty crop industry in the state.

The funding comes from the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) which provides grant monies to the departments of agriculture in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. NDA administers the state’s SCBG program that funds research, agricultural extension activities and marketing to increase demand for specialty crops in Nebraska.

“Specialty crops add value and variety to Nebraska’s agricultural industry which helps grow our economy,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “The SCBGP projects receiving funding will benefit Nebraska specialty crop producers for years to come.”

USDA defines specialty crops as fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey and some turf and ornamental crops. A full list of specialty crops is available on USDA’s website at

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) received grants for 10 of the 13 projects that were approved for funding this year. Below is a brief description of each of the 10 projects that will allow UNL to:
  - improve pea seed protein quantity and quality in western Nebraska by evaluating fertilizer management strategies;
  - study the genetics of bacterial wilt resistance in dry beans;
  - develop unique hop flavor profiles as hops are influenced by their growing environment;
  - distribute hybrid hazelnuts in Nebraska and other states for testing;
  - develop a dry bean gene editing system to improve the productivity and availability of dry beans;
  - provide resources to help Nebraska farmers improve yields and performance to grow broccoli, bell peppers and cucumbers;
  - create a pest management program to more effectively control Western Bean Cutworm;
  - teach youth about specialty crops and expand the availability of the crops;
  - provide information to producers about crop and water management practices to enhance productivity and increase economic return; and
  - study vineyard production in order to produce the best quality wine at the most profitable crop load.

In another funded specialty crop project, Southeast Community College will increase awareness, access and use of certain Nebraska specialty crops by creating and incorporating specialty crop curriculum for students in SCC’s Culinary Program.

The Nebraska Center for Rural Affairs will receive grant funding to test the effectiveness and production of alternative hive structure for honey production and honey bee health, in another specialty crop project.

In the last specialty crop project approved for funding this year, the Papio Valley Nursery will use their greenhouses to create year-round production of fresh strawberries.

All of the projects receiving SCBGP funding this year must be completed by Sept. 29, 2022. For more information about this year’s grant awards, go to USDA’s website at and click on “FY2019 pdf.” NDA uses a portion of the USDA-awarded funding to monitor and administer Nebraska’s SCBG program.

NDA administered a two-phase competitive grant application process for these SCBGP funds. Phase I involved the submission of concept proposals, which allowed applicants to explain the main points of their project. The concept proposals were independently and competitively scored by a field review panel. Projects with the highest combined scores were asked to complete Phase II of the application process and include a more in-depth description of the project.

Cattle Marketing Listening Sessions Scheduled

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has been dedicated to improving market conditions for Iowa’s independent cattle producers since long before the Holcomb, Kansas Tyson plant fire. However, recent market conditions have added more urgency to the situation, and ICA’s volunteer leaders are actively searching for new solutions to the market problems faced in the upper midwest.

The ICA Feedlot Council has been working on specific policy proposals and invites cattle producers to attend one of the upcoming cattle marketing listening sessions.

Each meeting will include a history of ICA's policy initiatives related to cattle marketing and an open forum to discuss new ideas with staff, Feedlot Council members and board members.

Meeting dates and locations:
Oct. 15, 7 pm, Ames; Iowa Cattlemen's Association
Oct. 17, 7 pm, Atlantic; Cass County Community Center
Oct. 23, 10 am, Maquoketa; Johnson Family Farms, 101 300th Ave
Oct. 23, 7 pm, Osage; Knights of Columbus Hall
Oct. 28, 7 pm, Sioux Center; Kooima, Kooima and Varilek office

Members who are unable to attend one of the five meetings will be given an opportunity to voice their opinion through other avenues.

Valley Irrigation Advanced Technology Uses AI to Detect Crop Health and Irrigation Concerns Before It's Too Late

Valley® Irrigation, The Leader in Precision Irrigation®, is gaining traction with the initial launch of Valley InsightsTM service. Through the partnership between Valley Irrigation and Prospera Technologies announced in February 2019, the Valley Insights limited release has demonstrated successful results this growing season, turning data into useful, actionable information for growers in Washington and Nebraska. The service has exceeded expectations by already reaching its targeted goal of one million acres by 2020.

Valley Insights ( is designed to move growers closer to autonomous crop management, generating greater returns while using fewer inputs and resources. Using computer vision, the service scouts to identify areas of over- or under-irrigation and related plant stress. It goes beyond typical aerial imaging, using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the visual data, detect issues and alert the grower so proper actions can be taken.

"Our initial release has been focused in the Northwest, where a late winter created a challenging season for growers," says Troy Long, Senior Director of Product Management for Valley Irrigation. "They would have been hard pressed for time to sift through stacks of aerial images provided by other services, searching for potential irrigation-related issues. Valley Insights analyzes the images and alerts growers to possible crop threats before they become big problems. It has saved our users a lot of valuable time they can now dedicate elsewhere."

Henry Boersma, who grows diversified row crops outside of Moses Lake, WA, began piloting Valley Insights this season. He says his crops are already benefitting from the technology.

"When Valley Insights identifies under-watering in certain sectors and alerts us that sprinklers appear to be plugged on certain spans, that's exactly what's happening," he says. "We have another eye in the field, so we can identify issues and make corrections long before we could see stress on our crops with the naked eye. We can fix minor issues before they become major problems, which saves us both time and money."

More and more, growers are also contending with increased resource restriction. In a changing climate, water restriction represents the new normal for growers across the country, and AI-enabled technologies like Valley Insights are helping them maintain yields while using fewer resources.

Thad Taylor, Sales Manager of Lad Irrigation South, says his customers used Valley Insights to do everything from programming a variable rate irrigation (VRI) table to improving water application.

"One of my customers has very little water allocated to his operation," he says. "By using Valley Insights, he makes sure his crops get an even application. He's able to fix issues with his irrigation equipment promptly so he's not wasting his limited supply of water."

Valley has integrated user feedback from the limited release of Valley Insights, prioritizing product development without sacrificing its commitment to simplicity and ease-of-use – all with the goal of enhancing the service prior to additional expansion in 2020.

"Valley and Prospera each bring unique expertise to the partnership, and together we're bringing greater value to growers that undoubtedly will make a difference in overall crop health," stated Darren Siekman, Valley Irrigation Vice President of Water Management & Business Development.

Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship Available

College students enrolled as full-time undergraduate or graduate students at a fully accredited Nebraska college, university or technical college in an agriculture related degree program are encouraged to apply for the Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship.

The deadline to apply is November 10. Applications will be reviewed, and selection notifications will be sent by December 1. Students may apply for the scholarship online by visiting

The Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship that will be awarded to one deserving applicant each year.

The scholarship is named for Larry E. Sitzman, who retired in 2016 as Executive Director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. Sitzman learned  patriotism, service to our country, and respect for our leaders  from his parents. While  in  high school, he heard John F. Kennedy’s inaugural  address, in which he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you,  ask what you can do for your country.” This address increased his desire to serve.

Agriculture has always been his passion. Throughout his life he has provided service in various forms and from different positions of leadership. Sitzman is known for sharing his voice defending perspectives and asking challenging questions. He served on many state and national agricultural boards before being named the Director of Agriculture for Nebraska in 1991.  Today, Sitzman serves as an active volunteer leader  at the Veterans Administration in Lincoln.

Academics, agriculture, military, and other forms of public service  have all improved in some measure due to the leadership, service, and voice of Larry E. Sitzman. Upon his retirement, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association established this scholarship in his honor.

Eligibility Requirements:

  - Must be currently enrolled as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at a fully accredited
  - Nebraska college, university or technical college in an agriculture related degree program
  - Must have at least one full year of study remaining toward a degree
  - Must have plans to work in the agriculture industry upon graduation

Selection will be based on qualities of leadership and participation in collegiate or extracurricular activities related to the agriculture industry.

Remember, the deadline for applications is November 10. Go to to apply online.
For more information, contact Kyla Habrock:

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Announcement of Preliminary U.S., China Trade Deal

“President Trump’s announcement that he has reached a partial trade deal with China is welcomed news. For more than a year, we’ve been hopeful that the administration would be able to make progress on an agreement that would lessen the impacts of the trade war between the U.S. and China on Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. While we are anxious to learn more of the details of this agreement, reports that the deal could include significant increases in purchases of U.S. agriculture commodities beyond previous levels certainly have our attention. It’s our hope that this is the first step in resolving the ongoing trade dispute with one of the largest consumers of Nebraska agriculture products.” 

Sasse Statement on Possible China Trade Deal

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for trade and a China hawk, issued the following statement regarding the President's announcement that the United States and China are close to a "phase one" trade deal.

"Everyone in Nebraska hopes that the President is able to get a good trade deal across the finish line in the next few weeks of negotiation. Trade is a win-win for our farmers and ranchers. I'm also pleased that Trade Representative Lighthizer has said that Huawei, the crown jewel of China's espionage network, has not been taken off the United States' blacklist. Americans want trade and we want to win the war between Chinese techno-authoritarianism and American democracy."

Ricketts Comments on “Phase One” China Trade Agreement

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that President Donald J. Trump had achieved a “phase one” agreement on trade with China during a meeting with trade officials in Washington, D.C. 

“From forced tech transfer to non-tariff trade barriers, President Trump has rightly spotlighted a host of challenges in America’s trade relationship with China,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Since 2012, exports from Nebraska to China have fallen, and the country has been an uncertain trade partner for our state.  Our farmers and ranchers would like to see more predictable trade that grows over time.  Today’s agreement is a positive step forward in a long process of achieving this goal and right-sizing America’s trade relationship with China.”

NCF Accepting Applications for CME Beef Industry Scholarships

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for 2020-2021 beef industry scholarships sponsored by CME Group. Ten scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded to outstanding students pursuing careers in the beef industry.

“CME Group is pleased to support the next generation of cattlemen and women, while promoting participation in an industry that is critical to feeding the world,” said Tim Andriesen, CME Group Agricultural Products Managing Director. “During the nearly three decades of partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and NCBA, we’ve worked together to strengthen the education of tomorrow’s industry leaders on risk management in the beef industry.”

The CME Beef Industry Scholarship was first introduced 30 years ago in 1989. Today, the scholarship recognizes and encourages talented students who will each play an important role in the future of food production in America. Students studying education, communication, production, research or other areas related to the beef industry should consider applying for the scholarship.

Applicants for the 2020-2021 scholarship must submit a one-page letter expressing their career goals related to the beef industry. Students must also write a 750-word essay describing an issue in the beef industry and offering solutions to this problem. Applicants must be a graduating high school senior or full-time undergraduate student enrolled at a two- or four-year college.

Online applications should be submitted by Nov. 8, 2019 at midnight Central Time. To apply, or learn more about the scholarship, click here. Scholarship winners will be announced in January and recognition will be given in San Antonio during the 2020 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show.

For more information visit


The Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) recently held a workshop on Leveraging First Generation Bioethanol Production Facilities. The National Corn Growers Association participated in the event, which was held in Ames, Iowa at the Ames Laboratory, a national laboratory operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by Iowa State University.

The workshop focused on how to leverage existing infrastructure and available feedstocks to create biobased materials and chemicals. Suggestions and proposals from the workshop may be used to inform future DOE Bioenergy Technology Office funding announcements. NCGA’s Director of Market Development, Sarah McKay, presented a Rapid-Fire Talk during the workshop. McKay discussed NCGA’s priorities and approach for increasing corn demand and driving the bioeconomy.

“NCGA has a three-pillar approach toward increasing corn demand and driving the bio-economy,” said McKay. “This approach creates new opportunities, improves efficiency and seeks to build trust with consumers. The first pillar is encouraging and creating new demand, where NCGA seeks to stimulate innovation. Second, NCGA seeks to position corn as a clear feedstock choice, using resources such as the ’Corn as an Industrial Feedstock’ booklet found at Third, NCGA aims to help our customers sell their products to their customers, because if they are successful, so are corn growers.”

NCGA highlighted that efficiencies in production and conversion would make corn and corn-based ethanol increasingly attractive feedstocks for new chemicals, materials and fuels.  The Department of Energy, specifically the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technology Office, is a major supporter of the development of renewable fuels, chemicals and materials. With these developments and adoption of front and back-end corn fractionation technologies, NCGA recognizes there are tremendous opportunities to utilize the starch and fiber component of the kernel for biobased products and chemicals while meeting current and future food, fuel and feed demands.

NPPC Honors Duroc Breeding Legend with Commemorative Painting

The National Pork Producers Council today unveiled a commemorative painting in honor of Kay Christian, a highly respected pork producer who contributed to the industry in countless ways before her passing on Nov. 4, 2018.

The painting is the second in a series commissioned by NPPC from Iowa artist Valerie Miller, who specializes in livestock-themed art. Entitled "Kay," the artwork depicts a Duroc gilt, the breed for which Christian was so well known for raising, and will be showcased at pork industry events over the next year.

Christian was recognized throughout the industry for raising quality, purebred Duroc hogs and for investing in the development of the next generation of pork industry leaders. Christian is the only woman honored to date with an Iowa Master Seedstock Producer Award, a recognition she earned twice.

"It's appropriate that we honor Kay during Pork Month," said Iowa Pork Producers Association Chief Executive Officer Pat McGonegle. "Kay was an exemplary industry leader known not only for her Duroc breeding expertise but also for her commitment to mentoring aspiring producers, including many 4-Hers, and serving as a judge at many pig shows."

Canvas, paper prints and other representations of the "Kay" painting are available from Steel Cow, the artists retail operation, at

USDA Opens 2020 Enrollment for Dairy Margin Coverage Program

Dairy producers can now enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for calendar year 2020. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened signup this week for the program that helps producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities.

“We know it’s tough out there for American farmers, including our dairy producers,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “As Secretary Perdue said, farmers are pretty good at managing through tough times, and we know that more dairy farmers will be able to survive with this 2018 Farm Bill and its risk mitigation measures, like the Dairy Margin Coverage program.”

The DMC program offers reasonably priced protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. The deadline to enroll in DMC for 2020 is Dec. 13, 2019.

Dairy farmers earned more than $300 million from the program in 2019 so far. Producers are encouraged to take advantage of this very important risk management tool for 2020.

All producers who want 2020 coverage, even those who took advantage of the 25 percent premium discount by locking in the coverage level for five years of margin protection coverage, are required to visit the office during this signup period to pay the annual administrative fee.

“Dairy producers should definitely consider coverage for 2020 as even the slightest drop in the margin can trigger payments,” said Northey. “Dairy producers should consider enrolling in DMC to guard against what has been, for several years, an extremely unforgiving market.”

Certified Angus Beef brand marks 15th consecutive year of growth

Miranda Reiman

Economic incentive is a powerful thing.

It directs ranch-level decisions and points an industry in a specific direction.

Financial reward kept cattlemen on the path toward higher quality, and led them to produce record amounts of Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand product in the 2019 fiscal year that ended September 30.

For the 13th year in a row, the brand reported record sales, settling at 1.25 billion. It’s also the 15th consecutive year of sales growth.

A global network of nearly 19,000 licensed processor, foodservice and retail partners marketed an additional 38 million pounds—or a 3.1% increase—over the previous year.

CAB president John Stika credits “an entire community of Angus farmers, ranchers and feeders being extremely intentional over several years in the way they breed, raise and care for their cattle with a focus on quality.”

As a result, the CAB acceptance rate, or percentage of Angus-type cattle meeting the brand’s 10 carcass specifications, rose to a record 35% this year. That 5.65 million certified carcasses came to 471,000 more than last year’s tally.

“We basically had a thirteenth month of supply this year. That was really a big part of what allowed this brand to grow its sales,” Stika says. “You can’t turn a ship that big on a dime. It was several years of focus. That increase is significant because it doesn’t happen by random chance.”

Without the sales to move that product, it becomes too much a good thing.

“It takes a great number of people filling different yet connected roles for this growth,” Stika says. “Fortunately, there is a lot of room at the brand’s table.”

Monthly sales records and category growth

CAB set sales records in all but 3 months of fiscal 2019; 6 months ranked among the top 10 sales months in the brand’s 41-year history. Propelled by strong consumer demand and relatively steady market prices, sales records spanned product categories.

Backed by traditionally strong demand, sales of middle meats grew by 3.8%. Sales of roasts and other end meats increased 3.4%, and ground beef sales, boosted by the better burger movement, grew by 2 million pounds.

Sales of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime product extension grew by 36.6%—an achievement made possible by historically high availability of the most highly marbled product.

“We used to think of this almost exclusively as a product for elite steakhouses, but this year retailers from coast to coast saw the opportunity to add to the offerings in their meat case,” he says. The brand provided encouragement in the way of business analysis and marketing support.

Divisional success

Global sales reached an all-time high of 207.5 million pounds, demonstrating the universal appeal of highly marbled, grain-fed beef among diverse cultures and markets. Japan led the way for growth, followed by Taiwan, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

Representing 43% of the brand’s sales, the retail division’s 8.8% gain was its fourth consecutive year of growth to achieve an all-time record of 537.5 million pounds.

In addition to Prime product driving sales, retailers increasingly chose to feature CAB over lower-priced protein options on the front page of their circulars.

The foodservice division achieved a 4.6% increase. Largely driven by the efforts of licensed distributors, restaurants that actively promoted the brand on their menus more than doubled that benchmark and increased sales 10% over the previous year.

Also, for the 10th consecutive year, sales of branded value-added products set a record, exceeding 33 million pounds. Processors offered more high-quality convenience meals in both retail and foodservice.

All of this growth is possible, because of the new dollars that flow into the business from customers who want more of the best.

In 1998, beef demand was at an all-time low, Stika says. Since then, the entire beef industry has benefitted from a $60 billion increase in annual consumer spending.

“Quality improved, and demand followed suit,” he says. “Producers didn’t just do it because it was the right thing to do. It was, but the improvement is also a result of the economic signals that say produce more quality and we’ll reward you for it.”

Today, 18% of all fed cattle qualify for the brand—that’s more than the number that grade Select.

“Our partners have been a meaningful part of that success,” Stika says. “Through their commitment to quality, they’ve helped direct the entire industry, drawing it closer to the consumer. As they do so, they’re providing a more sustainable future for all.”

Brazil Forecasts Record Soybean Crop of 120.4 MMT for 2019-2020 Season

Brazilian crop agency expects the country's farmers to produce a record amount of soybeans in the 2019-20 season as producers increase the area planted and better weather is expected for the end of this year.

Brazilian farmers will grow 120.4 million metric tons of soybeans this season, for which planting has already started, an increase of 4.7% from the 2018-2019 season, when 115 million tons were produced. The area planted is forecast to rise 1.9% to 36.6 million hectares.

Unusually hot and dry weather in some soybean-producing states at the end of last year and the start of this year reduced yields for the 2018-2019 season in areas, leading to a smaller crop in the season than the record 119.3 million tons grown in 2017-2018.

The relatively small increase in the area planted is due to uncertainty about international demand in the face of the continuing trade dispute between the US, normally the world's biggest soybean producer, and China, the world's biggest consumer, Conab said.

Lower prices and the increasing cost of opening up new areas for planting also contributed to the slower increase in area planted, according to the agency.

Brazilian farmers will produce a smaller total corn crop in 2019-2020, of 98.4 million metric tons, down 1.7% from the record 100 million tons produced in 2018-2019, Conab said.

Climate FieldView Teams Up with Tillable to Improve Farm Data Transparency

Bayer’s digital agriculture division, The Climate Corporation (Climate), announced today a partnership between its industry-leading FieldView™ digital farming platform and Tillable, a first-of-its-kind digital marketplace connecting farmers and landowners.

Approximately 40 percent of U.S. farmland is rented or leased, according to USDA estimates. Despite the sizeable $32 billion farmland rental market in the U.S., Tillable is the first and only digital platform to optimize returns for landowners. The platform also helps farmers access land to expand operations. Now, FieldView farmer customers using Tillable can more easily share farm operation details, such as planting and yield data, that they’re already collecting through the FieldView platform.

“Farmers rely on many different relationships and technologies to ensure a successful season,” said Mike Stern, CEO at The Climate Corporation and Head of Digital Farming for Bayer Crop Science. “We are always interested in collaborating with other innovators to support farmers in the many decisions they make to simplify and improve their operations. Integrating Tillable’s marketplace with FieldView offers easy-to-use digital tools that will improve farm efficiency.”

Digital platforms that provide a marketplace to easily connect consumers to service providers are common across nearly all industries. From booking accommodations to scheduling a ride to the airport, digital platforms are playing a prominent role in how people secure services today.

“This partnership reaffirms our commitment to protecting farmland’s long-term value,” said Corbett Kull, co-founder and CEO of Tillable. “With FieldView integration, farmers using Tillable can more easily share data about their operation to continue building their reputation, and landowners can rest assured that their property is being properly cared for and will remain a protected investment.”

First launched in the United States in 2015, FieldView gives farmers a deeper understanding of their fields so they can make more informed operating decisions to optimize yields, maximize efficiency and reduce risk. FieldView is currently on more than 60 million paid acres across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Europe and Argentina and on track to achieve more than 90 million paid acres globally in 2019. It has quickly become the most broadly connected platform in the industry and will continue to expand into other global regions over the next few years.

R.J. O'Brien Announces Expanded Commitment to AutoHedge Agri-Tech Offering, Rebranded as Hrvyst, for Commercial Agriculture Industry

Chicago-based R.J. O'Brien & Associates (RJO), the oldest and largest independent futures brokerage and clearing firm in the United States, announced today that the firm has expanded its commitment to its agri-tech offering for the commercial grain industry, originally known as AutoHedge and now rebranded as Hrvyst. Spearheading the strategic initiative full time will be long-time RJO executive Kirk Bonniwell, who had been in charge of the Commercial Grains and OTC Markets divisions.

RJO Chairman and CEO Gerald Corcoran said: "We believe Hrvyst is positioned to revolutionize the agriculture industry by enabling grain operators to achieve significant economies of scale and superior streamlining of their business. This innovative technology platform helps our clients modernize ag commerce and build a productive bridge to farmers. I've asked Kirk to focus exclusively on the initiative going forward, with the expectation that the offering will grow and serve an important role in the industry."

Bonniwell said: "Following our early success with select clients, we will continue to build on our hedge management platform while expanding the Hrvyst ecosystem to deliver – in new and exciting ways – a range of products and services to the market."

Hrvyst enables users to manage their grain risk in real time, enterprise-wide, automatically converting cash grain movement into futures hedging orders. Conceived and developed internally by the RJO Commercial Agricultural team, Hrvyst automates what has historically been a human process, improving communication, accountability and hedging precision for large grain elevator companies and cooperatives, commercial producers and commercial agricultural operations.

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